The Donatists arose in Numidia, in the year 311. They taught:
First, for purity of church members, by asserting that none ought to be admitted into the church but such as are visibly true believers and true saints.
Secondly, for purity of church discipline.
Thirdly, for the independency of each church.
Fourthly, they baptized again those whose first baptism they had reason to doubt. They were consequently termed rebaptizers and Anabaptists.
The Donatists rejected infant baptism and were congregational in their form of government.
It is evident that the Donatists held, at some period of their history, many of the principles which are regarded as axioms by modern Baptists. In their later history, after a stern discipline of persecution, they maintained, as cardinal truths:
absolute freedom of conscience,
the divorce of church and state,
and a regenerate church membership.
The form of baptism, according to Optatus, was immersion.