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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 56

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 56.—68.  And if this is rightly said of the gospel, with how much greater certainty should it be said of baptism, which belongs to the gospel in such wise, that without it no one can reach the kingdom of heaven, and with it only if to the sacrament be added righteousness?  For He who said, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," 2457 said Himself also, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." 2458   The form of the sacrament is given through baptism, the form of righteousness through the gospel.  Neither one without the other leads to the kingdom of heaven.  Yet even men of inferior learning can baptize perfectly, but to preach the gospel perfectly is a task of much greater difficulty and rarity.  Therefore the teacher of the Gentiles, that was superior in excellence to the majority, was sent to preach the gospel, not to baptize; because the latter could be done by many, the former only by a few, of whom he was chief.  And yet we read that he said in certain places, "My gospel;" 2459 but he never called baptism either his, or any one’s else by whom it was administered.  For that baptism alone which John gave is called John’s baptism. 2460   This that man received as the special pledge of his ministry, that the preparatory sacrament of washing should even be called by the name of him by whom it was administered; whereas the baptism which the disciples of Christ administered was never called by the name of any one of them, that it should be understood to be His alone of whom it is said, "Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." 2461   If, therefore, the gospel, which is Christ’s, but so that a minister also may call it his in virtue of his office of administering it, can be received by a man even at the hands of an evil minister without danger to himself, if he does according to what he says, and not after the example of what he does, how much more may any one who comes in good faith to Christ receive without fear of contagion from an evil minister the baptism of Christ, which none of the apostles so administered as to dare to call it his own?



John iii. 5.


Matt. v. 20.


2 Tim. ii. 8.


Acts xix. 3.


Eph. 5:25, 26.

Next: Chapter 57

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