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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 5

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 5.—6.  We ask, therefore, since he says, "He who receives faith from the faithless receives not faith, but guilt," and immediately adds to this the further statement, that "everything consists of an origin and root; and if it have not something for a head, it is nothing;"—we ask, I say, in a case where the faithlessness of the baptizer is undetected:  If then, the man whom he baptizes receives faith, and not guilt; if, then, the baptizer is not his origin and root and head, who is it from whom he receives faith? where is the origin from which he springs? where is the root of which he is a shoot? where the head which is his starting-point?  Can it be, that when he who is baptized is unaware of the faithlessness of his baptizer, it is then Christ who gives faith, it is then Christ who is the origin and root and head?  Alas for human rashness and conceit!  Why do you not allow that it is always Christ who gives faith, for the purpose of making a man a Christian by giving it?  Why do you not allow that Christ is always the origin of the Christian, that the Christian always plants his root in Christ, that Christ is the head of the Christian?  Do we then maintain that, even when spiritual grace is dispensed to those that believe by the hands of a holy and faithful minister, it is still not the minister himself who justifies, but that One of whom it is said, that "He justifieth the ungodly?"  1927   But unless we admit this, either the Apostle Paul was the head and origin of those whom he had planted, or Apollos the root of those whom he had watered, rather than He who had given them faith in believing; whereas the same Paul says, "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase:  so then neither is he that planteth anything, nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase." 1928   Nor was the apostle himself their root, but rather He who says, "I am the vine, ye are the branches." 1929   How, too, could he be their head, when he says, that "we, being many, are one body in Christ," 1930 and expressly declares in many passages that Christ Himself is the head of the whole body?



Rom. iv. 5.


1 Cor. 3:6, 7.


John xv. 5.


Rom. xii. 5.

Next: Chapter 6

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