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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 33

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 33.—77.  Petilianus said:  "But that I may thoroughly investigate the baptism in the name of the Trinity, the Lord Christ said to His apostles:  ‘Go ye, and baptize the nations, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I command you.’ 2081   Whom do you teach, traditor?  Him whom you condemn?  Whom do you teach, traditor?  Him whom you slay?  Once more, whom do you teach?  Him whom you have made a murderer?  How then do you baptize in the name of the Trinity?  You cannot call God your Father.  For when the Lord Christ said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God,’ 2082 you who have not peace of soul cannot have God for your Father.  Or how, again, can you baptize in the name of the Son, who betray that Son Himself, who do not imitate the Son of God in any of His sufferings or crosses?  Or how, again, can you baptize in the name of the Holy Ghost, when the Holy Ghost came only on those apostles who were not guilty of treason?  Seeing, therefore, that God is not your Father, neither are you truly born again with the water of baptism.  No one of you is born perfectly.  You in your impiety have neither father nor mother.  Seeing, then, that you are of such a kind, ought I not to baptize you, even though you wash yourselves a thousand times, after the similitude of the Jews, who as it were baptize the flesh?"

78.  Augustin answered:  certainly you had proposed thoroughly to investigate the baptism in the name of the Trinity, and you had set us to listen with much attention; but following, as it would seem, what is the easiest course to you, how soon have you returned to your customary abuse!  This you carry out with genuine fluency.  For you set before yourself what victims you please, against whom to inveigh with whatsoever bitterness you please:  in the midst of which last latitude of discourse you are driven into the greatest straits if any one does but use the little word, Prove it.  For this is what is said to you by the seed of Abraham; and since in him all nations of the earth are blessed, they care but little when they are cursed by you.  But yet, since you are treating of baptism, which you consider to be true when it is found in a just man, but false when it is found in the unjust, see how I too, if I were to investigate baptism in the name of the Trinity, according to your rule, might say, with great fullness, as it seems to me, that he has not God for his father who in a Count has God for his companion, 2083 nor believes that any is his Christ, save him for whose sake he has endured suffering; and that he has not the Holy Ghost who burned the wretched Africa in so very different a fashion with tongues of fire.  How then can they have baptism, or how can they administer it in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost?  Surely you must now perceive that baptism can exist in an unrighteous man, and be administered by an unrighteous man, and that no unrighteous baptism, but such as is just and true,—not because it belongs to the unrighteous man, but because it is of God.  And herein I am uttering no calumny against you, as you never cease to do, on some pretense or other, against the whole world; and, what is even more intolerable, you do not even bring any proof about the very points on which you found your calumnies.  But I know not how this can possibly be endured, because you not only bring calumnies against holy men about unrighteous men, but you even bring a charge against the holy baptism itself, which must needs be holy in any man, however unrighteous he may be, from a comparison with the infection arising from the sins of wicked men, so that you say that baptism partakes of the character of him by whom it is possessed, or administered, or received.  Furthermore, if a man partakes of the character of him in whose company he approaches sacred mysteries, and if the sacraments themselves partake of the character of the men in whom they are, holy men may well be satisfied to find consolation in the thought that they only fare like holy baptism itself in hearing false accusap. 551 tions from your lips.  But it would be well for you to see how you are condemned out of your own mouths, if both the sober among you are counted as drunken from the infection of the drunken in your ranks, and the merciful among you become robbers from the infection of the robbers, and whatever evil is found among you in the persons of wicked men is perforce shared by those who are not wicked; and if baptism itself is unclean in all of you who are unclean, and if it is of different kinds according to the varying character of uncleanness itself, as it must be if it is perforce of the same character as the man by whom it is possessed or administered.  These suppositions most undoubtedly are false, and accordingly they in no wise injure us, when you bring them forward against us without looking back upon yourselves.  But they do injure you, because, when you bring them forward falsely, they do not fall on us; but since you imagine them to be true, they recoil upon yourselves.



Matt. 28:19, 20.


Matt. v. 9.


See above, 23, 53.

Next: Chapter 34

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