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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness...: Chapter 34

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 34 [XXIV.]—Baptism is Called Salvation, and the Eucharist, Life, by the Christians of Carthage.

The Christians of Carthage have an excellent name for the sacraments, when they say that baptism is nothing else than “salvation,” and the sacrament of the body of Christ nothing else than “life.” Whence, however, was this derived, but from that primitive, as I suppose, and apostolic tradition, by which the Churches of Christ maintain it to be an inherent principle, that without baptism and partaking of the supper of the Lord it is impossible for any man to attain either to the kingdom of God or to salvation and everlasting life? So much also does Scripture testify, according to the words which we already quoted. For wherein does their opinion, who designate baptism by the term salvation, differ from what is written: “He saved us by the washing of regeneration?” 313 or from Peter’s statement: “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us?” 314 And what else do they say who call the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper life, than that which is written: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven;” 315 and “The bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world;” 316 and “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye shall have no life in you?” 317 If, therefore, as so many and such divine witnesses agree, neither salvation nor eternal life can be hoped for by any man without baptism and the Lord’s body and blood, it is vain to promise these blessings to infants without them. Moreover, if it be only sins that separate man from salvation and eternal life, there is nothing else in infants which these sacraments can be the means of removing, but the guilt of sin,—respecting which guilty nature it is written, that “no one is clean, not even if his life be only that of a day.” 318 Whence also that exclamation of the Psalmist: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me!” 319 This is either said in the person of our common humanity, or if of himself only David speaks, it does not imply that he was born of fornication, but in lawful wedlock. We therefore ought not to doubt that even for infants yet to be baptized was that precious blood shed, which previous to its actual effusion was so given, and applied in the sacrament, that it was said, “This is my blood, which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins.” 320 Now they who will not allow that they are under sin, deny that there is any liberation. For what is there that men are liberated from, if they are held to be bound by no bondage of sin?



Tit. iii. 5.


1 Pet. iii. 21.


John vi. 51.


John vi. 51.


John vi. 53.


Job xiv. 4.


Ps. li. 5.


Matt. xxvi. 28.

Next: Chapter 35