Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 37
Chapter 37.—85. Petilianus said: "But that the truth of this may be made manifest from the apostles, we are taught by their actions, as it is written: It came to pass that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper coasts, came to Ephesus; and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto Johns baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve. 2088 If, therefore, they were baptized that they might receive the Holy Ghost, why do not you, if you wish to receive the Holy Ghost, take measures to obtain a true renewing, after your falsehoods? And if we do ill in urging this, why do you seek after us? or at any rate, if it is an offense, condemn Paul in the first instance; the Paul who certainly washed off what had already existed, whereas we in you give baptism which as yet does not exist. For you do not, as we have often said before, wash with a true baptism; but you bring on men an ill repute by your empty name of a false baptism."
86. Augustin answered: "We bring no accusation against Paul, who gave to men the baptism of Christ because they had not the baptism of Christ, but the baptism of John, according to their own reply; for, being asked, Unto what were ye baptized? they answered, Unto Johns baptism; which has nothing to do with the baptism of Christ, and is neither a part of it nor a step towards it. Otherwise, either at that time the water of the baptism of Christ was renewed a second time, or if the baptism of Christ was then made perfect by the two waters, the baptism is less perfect which is given now, because it is not given with the water which was given at the hands of John. But either one of these opinions it is impious and sacrilegious to entertain. Therefore Paul gave the baptism of Christ to those who had not the baptism of Christ, but only the baptism of John.
87. But why the baptism of John, which is not necessary now, was necessary at that time, I have explained elsewhere; and the question has no bearing on the point at issue between us at the present time, except so far as that it may appear that the baptism of John was one thing, the baptism of Christ another,—just as that baptism was a different thing with which the apostle says that our fathers were baptized in the cloud and in the sea, when they passed through the Red Sea under the guidance of Moses. 2089 For the law and the prophets up to the time of John the Baptist had sacraments which foreshadowed things to come; but the sacraments of our p. 553 time bear testimony that that has come already which the former sacraments foretold should come. John therefore was a foreteller of Christ nearer to Him in time than all who went before him. And because all the righteous men and prophets of former times desired to see the fulfillment of what, through the revelation of the Spirit, they foresaw would come to pass,—whence also the Lord Himself says, "That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them," 2090 —therefore it was said of John that he was more than a prophet, and that among all that were born of women there was none greater than he; 2091 because to the righteous men who went before him it was only granted to foretell the coming of Christ, but to John it was given both to foretell Him in His absence and to behold His presence, so that it should be found that to him was made manifest what the others had desired. And therefore the sacrament of his baptism is still connected with the foretelling of Christs coming, though as of something very soon to be fulfilled, seeing that up to his time there were still foretellings of the first coming of our Lord, of which coming we have now announcements, but no longer predictions. But the Lord, teaching the way of humility, condescended to make use of the sacraments which He found here in reference to the foretelling of His coming, not in order to assist the operation of His cleansing, but as an example for our piety, that so He might show to us with what reverence we ought to receive those sacraments which bear witness that He is already come, when He did not disdain to make use of those which foreshadowed His coming in the future. And John, therefore, though the nearest to Christ in point of time, and within one year of the same age with Him, yet, while he was baptizing, went before the way of Christ who was still to come; for which reason it was said of him, "Behold, I send my messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee." 2092 And he himself preached, saying, "There cometh one mightier than I after me." 2093 In like manner, therefore, the circumcision on the eighth day, which was given to the patriarchs, foretold our justification, to the putting away of carnal lusts through the resurrection of our Lord, which took place after the seventh day, which is the Sabbath-day, on the eighth, that is, the Lords day, which fell on the third day after His burial; yet the infant Christ received the same circumcision of the flesh, with its prophetic signification. And as the Passover, which was celebrated by the Jews with the slaying of a lamb, prefigured the passion of our Lord and His departure from this world to the Father, yet the same Lord celebrated the same Passover with His disciples, when they reminded Him of it, saying, Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover? 2094 so too He Himself also received the baptism of John, which formed a part of the latest foretelling of His coming. But as the Jews circumcision of the flesh is one thing, and the ceremony which we observe on the eighth day after persons are baptized is another; 2095 and the Passover which the Jews still celebrate with the slaying of a lamb is one thing, 2096 and that which we receive in the body and blood of our Lord is another,—so the baptism of John was one thing, the baptism of Christ is another. For by the former series of rites the latter were foretold as destined to arrive; by these latter the others are declared to be fulfilled. And even though Christ received the others, yet are they not necessary for us, who have received the Lord Himself who was foretold in them. But when the coming of our Lord was as yet recent, it was necessary for any one who had received the former that he should be imbued with the latter also; but it was wholly needless that any one who had been so imbued should be compelled to go back to the former rites.
88. Wherefore do not seek to raise confusion out of the baptism of John, the source and intention of which was either such as I have here set forth; or if any other better explanation of it can be given, this much still is clear, that the baptism of John and the baptism of Christ are two distinct and separate things, and that the former was expressly called the baptism of John, as is clear both from the answer of those men whose case you quoted, and from the words of our Lord Himself, when he says, "The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?" 2097 But the latter is never called the baptism of Cæcilianus, or of Donatus, or of Augustin, or of Petilianus, but the baptism of Christ. For if you think that we are shameless, because we will not allow that any one should be bapp. 554 tized after baptism from us, although we see that men were baptized again who had received the baptism of John, who certainly is incomparably greater than ourselves, will you maintain that John and Optatus were of equal dignity? The thing appears ridiculous. And yet I fancy that you do not hold them to be equals, but consider Optatus the greater of the two. For the apostle baptized after baptism by John: you venture to baptize no one after baptism by Optatus. Was it because Optatus was in unity with you? I know not with what heart a theory like this can be maintained, if the friend of the Count, 2098 who had in the Count a god for his companion, is said to have been in unity, and the friend of the Bridegroom to have been excluded from it. But if John was preeminently in unity, and far more excellent and greater than all of us and all of you, and yet the Apostle Paul baptized after him, why do you then not baptize after Optatus? Unless indeed it be that your blindness brings you into such a strait that you should say that Optatus had the power of giving the Holy Spirit, and that John had not! And if you do not say this, for fear of being ridiculed for your madness even by the insane themselves, what answer will you be able to make when you are asked why men should have required to be baptized after receiving baptism from John, while no one needs to be baptized after receiving it from Optatus, unless it be that the former were baptized with the baptism of John, while, whenever any one is baptized with the baptism of Christ, whether he be baptized by Paul or by Optatus, there is no difference in the nature of his baptism, though there is so great a difference between Paul and Optatus? Return then, O ye transgressors, to a right mind, 2099 and do not seek to weigh the sacraments of God by considerations of the characters and deeds of men. For the sacraments are holy through Him to whom they belong; but when taken in hand worthily, they bring reward, when unworthily, judgment. And although the men are not one who take in hand the sacrament of God worthily or unworthily, yet that which is taken in hand, whether worthily or unworthily, is the same; so that it does not become better or worse in itself, but only turns to the life or death of those who handle it in either case. And in respect of what you said, that "in those whom Paul baptized after they had received the baptism of John, he washed off what had already existed," you certainly would not have said it had you taken a moment to consider what you were saying. For if the baptism of John required washing off, it must, beyond all doubt, have had some foulness in it. Why then should I press you further? Recollect or read, and see whence John received it, so shall you see against whom you have uttered that blasphemy; and when you have discovered this, your heart will surely be beaten, if a rein be not set on your tongue.
89. To come next to what you think you say against us with so much point: "If we do ill in urging this, why do you seek after us?" cannot you even yet call to mind that only those are sought after who have perished? Or is the incapacity for seeing this an element in your ruin? For the sheep might say to the shepherd with equal absurdity, If I do wrong in straying from the flock, why do you search after me? not understanding that the very reason why it is being sought is because it thinks there is no need for seeking it. But who is there that seeks for you, either through His Scriptures, or by catholic and conciliatory voices, or by the scourgings of temporal afflictions, save only Him who dispenses that mercy to you in all things? We therefore seek you that we may find you; for we love you that you should have life, with the same intensity with which we hate your error, that it might be destroyed which seeks to ruin you, so long as it is not itself involved in your destruction. And would to God that we might seek you in such a manner as even to find, and be able to say with rejoicing of each one of you, "He was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found!" 2100
Acts xix. 1-7.552:2089
1 Cor. 10:1, 2.553:2090
Matt. xiii. 17.553:2091
Matt. 11:9, 11.553:2092
Mark 1:2, Mal. 3:1.553:2093
Mark i. 7.553:2094
Matt. xxvi. 17.553:2095
In his treatise on the Sermon on the Mount, Book I. iv. 12, Augustin again compares the "celebratio octavarum feriarum quas in regeneratione novi hominis celebramus" with the circumcision on the eighth day; and in Serm. 376, c. ii. 2, he says that the heads of the infants were uncovered on the eighth day, as a token of liberty. Cp. Bingham, Orig. Sacr. XII. iv. 3.553:2096
Augustin apparently supposed that the sacrifice of the paschal lamb was still observed among the Jews of the dispersion; cp. Retract. I. x. 2. It was, however, forbidden them to sacrifice the Passover except in the place which the Lord should choose to place His name there; and hence the Jews, though they observe the other paschal solemnities, abstain from the sacrifice of the lamb.553:2097
Matt. xxi. 25.554:2098
Gildo; see above, 23, 53.554:2099
Isa. xlvi. 8.554:2100
Luke xv. 32.
Next: Chapter 38
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