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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 42

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 42.—51.  For what I just now said is put with the greatest clearness in that very epistle of mine, in answering which he has said nothing; and I would beg of you to listen for a few moments to what he there has done.  And although you are partisans of his, and hate us, yet, if you can, bear it with equanimity.  For in his former epistle, to the first portion of which—the only portion which had then come into our hands—I had in the first instance made my reply, he had so rested the hope that is found in baptism in the baptizer, as to say, "For everything consists of an origin and root; and if anything has not a head, it is nothing."  Since then Petilianus had said this, not wishing anything to be understood by the origin and root and head of baptizing a man, except the man by whom he might be baptized, I made a comment, and said "We ask, therefore, 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 is the origin and root and head?"  This therefore I say and exclaim now also, as I did there as well:  "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?  Will it then be urged that, even where 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, ‘He justifieth the ungodly’? 2408   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 briefing; whereas the same Paul says, ‘I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.  So that neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.’ 2409   Nor was the apostle himself their root, but rather He who says, ‘I am the vine, ye are the branches.’ 2410   How, too, could he be their head, when he says that ‘we, being many, are one body in Christ,’ 2411 and expressly declares in many passages that Christ Himself is the Head of the whole body?  Wherefore, whether a man receives the sacrament of baptism from a faithful or a faithless minister his whole hope is in Christ, that he fall not under the condemnation, that ‘Cursed is he that placeth his hope in man!’" 2412



Rom. iv. 5.


1 Cor. 3:6, 7.


John xv. 5.


Rom. xii. 5.


Book I. c. 5, 6.

Next: Chapter 43

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