Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 55
Chapter 55.—67. A minister, therefore, that is a dispenser of the word and sacrament of the gospel, if he is a good man, becomes a fellow-partner in the working of the gospel; but if he is a bad man, he does not therefore cease to be a dispenser of the gospel. For if he is good, he does it of his own free will; but if he is a bad man,—that is, one who seeks his own and not the things of Jesus Christ,—he does it unwillingly, for the sake of other things which he is seeking after. See, however, what the same apostle has said: "For if I do this thing willingly," he says, "I have a reward; but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me;" 2451 as though he were to say, If I, being good, announce what is good, I attain unto it also myself; but if, being evil, I announce it, yet I announce what is good. For has he in any way said, If I do it against my will, then shall I not be a dispenser of the gospel? Peter and the other disciples announce the good tidings, as being good themselves. Judas did it against his will, but yet, when he was sent, he announced it in common with the rest. They have a reward; to him a dispensation of the gospel was committed. But they who received the gospel at the mouth of all those witnesses, could not be cleansed and justified by him that planted, or by him that watered, but by Him alone that gives the increase. For neither are we going to say that Judas did not baptize, seeing that he was still among the disciples when that which is written was being accomplished, "Jesus Himself baptized not, but His disciples." 2452 Are we to suppose that, because he had not betrayed Christ, therefore he who had the bag, and bare what was put therein, 2453 was still enabled to dispense grace without prejudice to those who received it, though he could not be an upright guardian of the money entrusted to his care? Or if he did not baptize, at any rate we must acknowledge that he preached the gospel. But if you consider this a trifling function, and of no importance, see what you must think of the Apostle Paul himself, who said, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." 2454 To this we may add, that according to this, Apollos begins to be more important, who watered by baptizing, than Paul, who planted by preaching the gospel, though Paul claims to himself the relation of father towards the Corinthians in virtue of this very act, and does not grant this title to those who came to them after him. For he says, "Though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; p. 626 for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." 2455 He says, "I have begotten you" to the same men to whom he says in another place, "I thank God that I baptized none of you but Crispus and Gaius, and I baptized also the household of Stephanus." 2456 He had begotten them, therefore, not through himself, but through the gospel. And even though he had been seeking his own, and not the things of Jesus Christ, and had been doing this unwillingly, so as to receive no reward for himself, yet he would have been dispensing the treasure of the Lord; and this, though evil himself, he would not have been making evil or useless to those who received it well.
1 Cor. ix. 17.625:2452
John iv. 2.625:2453
John xii. 6.625:2454
1 Cor. i. 17.626:2455
1 Cor. iv. 15.626:2456
1 Cor. 1:14, 16.
Next: Chapter 56
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