On Baptism - Tertullian
Translated by the Rev. S. Thelwall.
Text edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and
first published by T&T Clark in Edinburgh in 1867. Additional
introductionary material and notes provided for the American
edition by A. Cleveland Coxe, 1886.
Chapter I. Introduction. Origin of the Treatise.
Happy is our  sacrament Of water, in that, by washing away the sins of
our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life! A
treatise on this matter will not be superfluous; instructing not only such
as are just becoming formed (in the faith), but them who, content with
having simply believed, without full examination of the grounds  of
the traditions, carry (in mind), through ignorance, an untried though
probable faith. The consequence is, that a viper of the Cainite heresy,
lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her
most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism. Which is
quite in accordance with nature; for vipers and asps and basilisks
themselves generally do affect arid and waterless places. But we, little
fishes, after the example of our Icqus  Jesus Christ, are born in
water, nor have we safety in any other way than by permanently abiding in
water; so that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound
doctrine,  knew full well how to kill the little fishes, by taking
them away from the water!
Chapter II. The Very Simplicity of God's Means of Working, a Stumbling-Block
to the Carnal Mind.
Well, but how great is the force of perversity for so shaking the faith or
entirely preventing its reception, that it impugns it on the very principles
of which the faith consists! There is absolutely nothing which makes men's
minds more obdurate than the simplicity of the divine works which are
visible in the act, when compared with the grandeur which is promised
thereto in the effect; so that from the very fact, that with so great
simplicity, without pomp, without any considerable novelty of preparation,
finally, without expense, a man is dipped in water, and amid the utterance
of some few words, is sprinkled, and then rises again, not much (or not at
all) the cleaner, the consequent attainment of eternity  is esteemed
the more incredible. I am a deceiver if, on the contrary, it is not from
their circumstance, and preparation, and expense, that idols' solemnities or
mysteries get their credit and authority built up. Oh, miserable
incredulity, which quite deniest to God His own properties, simplicity and
power! What then? Is it not wonderful, too, that death should be washed away
by bathing? But it is the more to be believed if the wonderfulness be the
reason why it is not believed. For what does it behove divine works to be in
their quality, except that they be above all wonder?  We also
ourselves wonder, but it is because we believe. Incredulity, on the other
hand, wonders, but does not believe: for the simple acts it wonders at, as
if they were vain; the grand results, as if they were impossible. And grant
that it be just as you think  sufficient to meet each point is the
divine declaration which has fore-run: "The foolish things of the world hath
God elected to confound its wisdom; "  and, "The things very difficult
with men are easy with God."  For if God is wise and powerful (which
even they who pass Him by do not deny), it is with good reason that He lays
the material causes of His own operation in the contraries of wisdom and of
power, that is, in foolishness and impossibility; since every virtue
receives its cause from those things by which it is called forth.
Chapter III. Water Chosen as a Vehicle of Divine Operation and Wherefore.
Its Prominence First of All in Creation.
Mindful of this declaration as of a conclusive prescript, we nevertheless
proceed to treat the question, "How foolish and impossible it is to be
formed anew by water. In what respect, pray, has this material substance
merited an office of so high dignity? "The authority, I suppose, of the
liquid element has to be examined.  This  however, is found
in abundance, and that from the very beginning. For water is one of those
things which, before all the furnishing of the world, were quiescent with
God in a yet unshapen  state. "In the first beginning," saith
Scripture, "God made the heaven and the earth. But the earth was invisible,
and unorganized,  and darkness was over the abyss; and the Spirit of
the Lord was hovering  over the waters."  The first thing, O
man, which you have to venerate, is the age of the, waters in that their
substance is ancient; the second, their dignity, in that they were the seat
of the Divine Spirit, more pleasing to Him, no doubt, than all the other
then existing elements. For the darkness was total thus far, shapeless,
without the ornament of stars; and the abyss gloomy; and the earth
unfurnished; and the heaven unwrought: water  alone'always a
perfect, gladsome, simple material substance, pure in itself'supplied a
worthy vehicle to God. What of the fact that waters were in some way the
regulating powers by which the disposition of the world thenceforward was
constituted by God? For the suspension of the celestial firmament in the
midst He caused by "dividing the waters; "  the suspension of "the
dry land" He accomplished by "separating the waters." After the world had
been hereupon set in order through its elements, when inhabitants were given
it, "the waters" were the first to receive the precept "to bring forth
living creatures."  Water was the first to produce that which had
life, that it might be no wonder in baptism if waters know how to give
life.  For was not the work of fashioning man himself also achieved
with the aid of waters? Suitable material is found in the earth, yet not apt
for the purpose unless it be moist and juicy; which (earth) "the waters,"
separated the fourth day before into their own place, temper with their
remaining moisture to a clayey consistency. If, from that time onward, I go
forward in recounting universally, or at more length, the evidences of the
"authority" of this element which I can adduce to show how great is its
power or its grace; how many ingenious devices, how many functions, how
useful an instrumentality, it affords the world, I fear I may seem to have
collected rather the praises of water than the reasons of baptism; although
I should thereby teach all the more fully, that it is not to be doubted that
God has made the material substance which He has disposed throughout all His
products  and works, obey Him also in His own peculiar sacraments;
that the material substance which governs terrestrial life acts as agent
likewise in the celestial.
Chapter IV. The Primeval Hovering of the Spirit of God Over the Waters
Typical of Baptism. The Universal Element of Water Thus Made a Channel of
Sanctification. Resemblance Between the Outward Sign and the Inward Grace.
But it will suffice to have thus called at the outset those points in which
withal is recognised that primary principle of baptism,'which was even then
fore-noted by the very attitude assumed for a type of baptism,'that the
Spirit of God, who hovered over (the waters) from the beginning, would
continue to linger over the waters of the baptized.  But a holy
thing, of course, hovered over a holy; or else, from that which hovered over
that which was hovered over borrowed a holiness, since it is necessary that
in every case an underlying material substance should catch the quality of
that which overhangs it, most of all a corporeal of a spiritual, adapted (as
the spiritual is) through the subtleness of its substance, both for
penetrating and insinuating. Thus the nature of the waters, sanctified by
the Holy One, itself conceived withal the power of sanctifying. Let no one
say, "Why then, are we, pray, baptized with the very waters which then
existed in the first beginning? "Not with those waters, of course, except in
so far as the genus indeed is one, but the species very many. But what is an
attribute to the genus reappears  likewise in the species. And
accordingly it makes no difference whether a man be washed in a sea or a
pool, a stream or a fount, a lake or a trough;  nor is there any
distinction between those whom John baptized in the Jordan and those whom
Peter baptized in the Tiber, unless withal the eunuch whom Philip baptized
in the midst of his journeys with chance water, derived (therefrom) more or
less of salvation than others.  All waters, therefore, in virtue of
the pristine privilege of their origin, do, after invocation of God, attain
the sacramental power of sanctification; for the Spirit immediately
supervenes from the heavens, and rests over the waters, sanctifying them
from Himself; and being thus sanctified, they imbibe at the same time the
power of sanctifying. Albeit the similitude may be admitted to be suitable
to the simple act; that, since we are defiled by sins, as it were by dirt,
we should be washed from those stains in waters. But as sins do not show
themselves in our flesh (inasmuch as no one carries on his skin the spot of
idolatry, or fornication, or fraud), so persons of that kind are foul in the
spirit, which is the author of the sin; for the spirit is lord, the flesh
servant. Yet they each mutually share the guilt: the spirit, on the ground
of command; the flesh, of subservience. Therefore, after the waters have
been in a manner endued with medicinal virtue  through the
intervention of the angel,  the spirit is corporeally washed in the
waters, and the flesh is in the same spiritually cleansed.
Chapter V. Use Made of Water by the Heathen. Type of the Angel at the Pool
of Bethsaida. 
"Well, but the nations, who are strangers to all understanding of spiritual
powers, ascribe to their idols the imbuing of waters with the self-same
efficacy." (So they do) but they cheat themselves with waters which are
widowed.  For washing is the channel through which they are
initiated into some sacred rites'of some notorious Isis or Mithras. The gods
themselves likewise they honour by washings. Moreover, by carrying water
around, and sprinkling it, they everywhere expiate  country-seats,
houses, temples, and whole cities: at all events, at the Apollinarian and
Eleusinian games they are baptized; and they presume that the effect of
their doing that is their regeneration and the remission of the penalties
due to their perjuries. Among the ancients, again, whoever had defiled
himself with murder, was wont to go in quest of purifying waters. Therefore,
if the mere nature of water, in that it is the appropriate material for
washing away, leads men to flatter themselves with a belief in omens of
purification, how much more truly will waters render that service through
the authority of God, by whom all their nature has been constituted! If men
think that water is endued with a medicinal virtue by religion, what
religion is more effectual than that of the living God? Which fact being
acknowledged, we recognise here also the zeal of the devil rivalling the
things of God,  while we find him, too, practising baptism in his
subjects. What similarity is there? The unclean cleanses! the ruiner sets
free! the damned absolves! He will, forsooth, destroy his own work, by
washing away the sins which himself inspires! These (remarks) have been set
down by way of testimony against such as reject the faith; if they put no
trust in the things of God, the spurious imitations of which, in the case of
God's rival, they do trust in. Are there not other cases too, in which,
without any sacrament, unclean spirits brood on waters, in spurious
imitation of that brooding  of the Divine Spirit in the very
beginning? Witness all shady founts, and all unfrequented brooks, and the
ponds in the baths, and the conduits  in private houses, or the
cisterns and wells which are said to have the property of "spiriting
away,"  through the power, that is, of a hurtful spirit. Men whom
waters have drowned  or affected with madness or with fear, they
call nymph-caught,  or "lymphatic," or" hydro-phobic." Why have we
adduced these instances? Lest any think it too hard for belief that a holy
angel of God should grant his presence to waters, to temper them to man's
salvation; while the evil angel holds frequent profane commerce with the
selfsame element to man's ruin. If it seems a novelty for an angel to be
present in waters, an example of what was to come to pass has forerun. An
angel, by his intervention, was wont to stir the pool at Bethsaida. 
They who were complaining of ill-health used to watch for him; for whoever
had been the first to descend into them, after his washing, ceased to
complain. This figure of corporeal healing sang of a spiritual healing,
according to the rule by which things carnal are always antecedent 
as figurative of things spiritual. And thus, when the grace of God advanced
to higher degrees among men,  an accession of efficacy was granted
to the waters and to the angel. They who  were wont to remedy bodily
defects,  now heal the spirit; they who used to work temporal
salvation  now renew eternal; they who did set free but once in the
year, now save peoples in a body  daily, death being done away
through ablution of sins. The guilt being removed, of course the penalty is
removed too. Thus man will be restored for God to His "likeness," who in
days bygone had been conformed to "the image" of God; (the "image" is
counted (to be) in his form: the "likeness" in his eternity: ) for he
receives again that Spirit of God which he had then first received from His
afflatus, but had afterward lost through sin.
Chapter VI. The Angel the Forerunner of the Holy Spirit. Meaning Contained
in the Baptismal Formula.
Not that in  the waters we obtain the Holy Spirit; but in the water,
under (the witness of) the angel, we are cleansed, and prepared for the Holy
Spirit. In this case also a type has preceded; for thus was John beforehand
the Lord's forerunner, "preparing His ways."  Thus, too, does the
angel, the witness  of baptism, "make the paths straight" 
for the Holy Spirit, who is about to come upon us, by the washing away of
sins, which faith, sealed in (the name of) the Father, and the Son, and the
Holy Spirit, obtains. For if "in the mouth of three witnesses every word
shall stand: "  'while, through the benediction, we have the same
(three) as witnesses of our faith whom we have as sureties  of our
salvation too'how much more does the number of the divine names suffice for
the assurance of our hope likewise! Moreover, after the pledging both of the
attestation of faith and the promise  of salvation under "three
witnesses," there is added, of necessity, mention of the Church; 
inasmuch as, wherever there are three, (that is, the Father, the Son, and
the Holy Spirit, ) there is the Church, which is a body of three. 
Chapter VII. Of the Unction.
After this, when we have issued from the font,  we are thoroughly
anointed with a blessed unction,'(a practice derived) from the old
discipline, wherein on entering the priesthood, men were wont to be anointed
with oil from a horn, ever since Aaron was anointed by Moses. 
Whence Aaron is called "Christ,"  from the "chrism," which is "the
unction; "which, when made spiritual, furnished an appropriate name to the
Lord, because He was "anointed" with the Spirit by God the Father; as
written in the Acts: "For truly they were gathered together in this city
 against Thy Holy Son whom Thou hast anointed."  Thus, too, in
our case, the unction runs carnally, (i.e. on the body, ) but profits
spiritually; in the same way as the act of baptism itself too is carnal, in
that we are plunged in water, but the effect spiritual, in that we are freed
Chapter VIII. Of the Imposition of Hands. Types of the Deluge and the Dove.
In the next place the hand is laid on us, invoking and inviting the Holy
Spirit through benediction.  Shall it be granted possible for human
ingenuity to summon a spirit into water, and, by the application of hands
from above, to animate their union into one body  with another
spirit of so clear sound;  and shall it not be possible for God, in
the case of His own organ,  to produce, by means of "holy hands,"
 a sublime spiritual modulation? But this, as well as the former, is
derived from the old sacramental rite in which Jacob blessed his grandsons,
born of Joseph, Ephrem  and Manasses; with his hands laid on them
and interchanged, and indeed so transversely slanted one over the other,
that, by delineating Christ, they even portended the future benediction into
Christ.  Then, over our cleansed and blessed bodies willingly
descends from the Father that Holiest Spirit. Over the waters of baptism,
recognising as it were His primeval seat,  He reposes: (He who)
glided down on the Lord "in the shape of a dove,"  in order that the
nature of the Holy Spirit might be declared by means of the creature (the
emblem) of simplicity and innocence, because even in her bodily structure
the dove is without literal  gall. And accordingly He says, "Be ye
simple as doves."  Even this is not without the supporting
evidence  of a preceding figure. For just as, after the waters of
the deluge, by which the old iniquity was purged'after the baptism, so to
say, of the world'a dove was the herald which announced to the earth the
assuagement  of celestial wrath, when she had been sent her way out
of the ark, and had returned with the olive-branch, a sign which even among
the nations is the fore-token of peace;  so by the self-same law
 of heavenly effect, to earth'that is, to our flesh  'as it
emerges from the font,  after its old sins flies the dove of the
Holy Spirit, bringing us the peace of God, sent out from the heavens where
is the Church, the typified ark.  But the world returned unto sin;
in which point baptism would ill be compared to the deluge. And so it is
destined to fire; just as the man too is, who after baptism renews his
sins:  so that this also ought to be accepted as a sign for our
Chapter IX. Types of the Red Sea, and the Water from the Rock.
How many, therefore, are the pleas  of nature, how many the
privileges of grace, how many the solemnities of discipline, the figures,
the preparations, the prayers, which have ordained the sanctity of water?
First, indeed, when the people, set unconditionally free,  escaped
the violence of the Egyptian king by crossing over through water, it was
water that extinguished  the king himself, with his entire forces.
 What figure more manifestly fulfilled in the sacrament of baptism?
The nations are set free from the world  by means of water, to wit:
and the devil, their old tyrant, they leave quite behind, overwhelmed in the
water. Again, water is restored from its defect of "bitterness" to its
native grace of "sweetness" by the tree  of Moses. That tree was
Christ,  restoring, to wit, of Himself, the veins of sometime
envenomed and bitter nature into the all-salutary waters of baptism. This is
the water which flowed continuously down for the people from the
"accompanying rock; "for if Christ is "the Rock," without doubt we see
baptism blest by the water in Christ. How mighty is the grace of water, in
the sight of God and His Christ, for the confirmation of baptism! Never is
Christ without water: if, that is, He is Himself baptized in water; 
inaugurates in water the first rudimentary displays of His power, when
invited to the nuptials;  invites the thirsty, when He makes a
discourse, to His own sempiternal water;  approves, when teaching
concerning love,  among works of charity,  the cup of water
offered to a poor (child);  recruits His strength at a well;
 walks over the water;  willingly crosses the sea; 
ministers water to His disciples.  Onward even to the passion does
the witness of baptism last: while He is being surrendered to the cross,
water intervenes; witness Pilate's hands:  when He is wounded, forth
from His side bursts water; witness the soldier's lance! 
Chapter X. Of John's Baptism.
We have spoken, so far as our moderate ability permitted, of the generals
which form the groundwork of the sanctity  of baptism. I will now,
equally to the best of my power, proceed to the rest of its character,
touching certain minor questions.
The baptism announced by John formed the subject, even at that time, of a
question, proposed by the Lord Himself indeed to the Pharisees, whether that
baptism were heavenly, or truly earthly:  about which they were
unable to give a consistent  answer, inasmuch as they understood
not, because they believed not. But we, with but as poor a measure of
understanding as of faith, are able to determine that that baptism was
divine indeed, (yet in respect of the command, not in respect of efficacy
 too, in that we read that John was sent by the lord to perform this
duty, )  but human in its nature: for it conveyed nothing celestial,
but it fore-ministered to things celestial; being, to wit, appointed over
repentance, which is in man's power.  In fact, the doctors of the
law and the Pharisees, who were unwilling to "believe," did not "repent"
either.  But if repentance is a thing human, its baptism must
necessarily be of the same nature: else, if it had been celestial, it would
have given both the Holy Spirit and remission of sins. But none either
pardons sins or freely grants the Spirit save God only.  Even the
Lord Himself said that the Spirit would not descend on any other condition,
but that He should first ascend to the Father.  What the Lord was
not yet conferring, of course the servant could not furnish. Accordingly, in
the Acts of the Apostles, we find that men who had "John's baptism" had not
received the Holy Spirit, whom they knew not even by hearing. 
That, then, was no celestial thing which furnished no celestial
(endowments): whereas the very thing which was celestial in John'the Spirit
of prophecy'so completely failed, after the transfer of the whole Spirit to
the Lord, that he presently sent to inquire whether He whom he had himself
preached,  whom he had pointed out when coming to him, were
"HE."  And so "the baptism of repentance"  was dealt
with  as if it were a candidate for the remission and
sanctification shortly about to follow in Christ: for in that John used to
preach "baptism for the remission of sins,"  the declaration was
made with reference to future remission; if it be true, (as it is, ) that
repentance is antecedent, remission subsequent; and this is "preparing the
way."  But he who "prepares" does not himself "perfect," but
procures for another to perfect. John himself professes that the celestial
things are not his, but Christ's, by saying, "He who is from the earth
speaketh concerning the earth; He who comes from the realms above is above
all; "  and again, by saying that he "baptized in repentance only,
but that One would shortly come who would baptize in the Spirit and fire;
"  'of course because true and stable faith is baptized with water,
unto salvation; pretended and weak faith is baptized with fire, unto
Chapter XI. Answer to the Objection that "The Lord Did Not Baptize."
"But behold, "say some, "the Lord came, and baptized not; for we read, 'And
yet He used not to baptize, but His disciples!' "  As if, in truth,
John had preached that He would baptize with His own hands! Of course, his
words are not so to be understood, but as simply spoken after an ordinary
manner; just as, for instance, we say, "The emperor set forth an edict," or,
"The prefect cudgelled him." Pray does the emperor in person set forth, or
the prefect in person cudgel? One whose ministers do a thing is always said
to do it.  So "He will baptize you" will have to be understood as
standing for, "Through Him," or" Into Him," "you will be baptized." But let
not (the fact) that "He Himself baptized not" trouble any. For into whom
should He baptize? Into repentance? Of what use, then, do you make His
forerunner? Into remission of sins, which He used to give by a word? Into
Himself, whom by humility He was concealing? Into the Holy Spirit, who had
not yet descended from the Father? Into the Church, which His apostles had
not yet founded? And thus it was with the selfsame "baptism of John" that
His disciples used to baptize, as ministers, with which John before had
baptized as forerunner. Let none think it was with some other, because no
other exists, except that of Christ subsequently; which at that time, of
course, could not be given by His disciples, inasmuch as the glory of the
Lord had not yet been fully attained,  nor the efficacy of the
font  established through the passion and the resurrection; because
neither can our death see dissolution except by the Lord's passion, nor our
life be restored without His resurrection.
Chapter XII. Of the Necessity of Baptism to Salvation.
When, however, the prescript is laid down that "without baptism, salvation
is attainable by none" (chiefly on the ground of that declaration of the
Lord, who says, "Unless one be born of water, he hath not life"  ),
there arise immediately scrupulous, nay rather audacious, doubts on the part
of some, "how, in accordance with that prescript, salvation is attainable by
the apostles, whom'Paul excepted-we do not find baptized in the Lord? Nay,
since Paul is the only one of them who has put on the garment of Christ's
baptism,  either the peril of all the others who lack the water of
Christ is prejudged, that the prescript may be maintained, or else the
prescript is rescinded if salvation has been ordained even for the
unbaptized." I have heard'the Lord is my witness'doubts of that kind: that
none may imagine me so abandoned as to ex-cogitate, unprovoked, in the
licence of my pen, ideas which would inspire others with scruple.
And now, as far as I shall be able, I will reply to them who affirm "that
the apostles were unbaptized." For if they had undergone the human baptism
of John, and were longing for that of the Lord, then since the Lord Himself
had defined baptism to be one;  (saying to Peter, who was
desirous  of being thoroughly bathed, "He who hath once bathed hath
no necessity to wash a second time; "  which, of course, He would
not have said at all to one not baptized; ) even here we have a
conspicuous  proof against those who, in order to destroy the
sacrament of water, deprive the apostles even of John's baptism. Can it seem
credible that "the way of the Lord," that is, the baptism of John, had not
then been "prepared "in those persons who were being destined to open the
way of the Lord throughout the whole world? The Lord Himself, though no
"repentance" was due from Him, was baptized: was baptism not necessary for
sinners? As for the fact, then, that "others were not baptized"'they,
however, were not companions of Christ, but enemies of the faith, doctors of
the law and Pharisees. From which fact is gathered an additional suggestion,
that, since the opposers of the Lord refused to be baptized, they who
followed the Lord were baptized, and were not like-minded with their own
rivals: especially when, if there were any one to whom they clave, the Lord
had exalted John above him (by the testimony) saying," Among them who are
born of women there is none greater than John the Baptist." 
Others make the suggestion (forced enough, clearly "that the apostles then
served the turn of baptism when in their little ship, were sprinkled and
covered with the waves: that Peter himself also was immersed enough when he
walked on the sea."  It is, however, as I think, one thing to be
sprinkled or intercepted by the violence of the sea; another thing to be
baptized in obedience to the discipline of religion. But that little ship
did present a figure of the Church, in that she is disquieted "in the
sea," that is, in the world,  "by the waves," that is, by
persecutions and temptations; the Lord, through patience, sleeping as it
were, until, roused in their last extremities by the prayers of the saints,
He checks the world,  and restores tranquillity to His own.
Now, whether they were baptized in any manner whatever, or whether they
continued unbathed  to the end'so that even that saying of the Lord
touching the "one bath"  does, under the person of Peter, merely
regard us'still, to determine concerning the salvation of the apostles is
audacious enough, because on them the prerogative even of first choice,
 and thereafter of undivided intimacy, might be able to confer the
compendious grace of baptism, seeing they (I think) followed Him who was
wont to promise salvation to every believer. "Thy faith," He would say,
"hath saved thee; "  and, "Thy sins shall be remitted thee,"
 on thy believing, of course, albeit thou be not yet baptized. If
that  was wanting to the apostles, I know not in the faith of what
things it was, that, roused by one word of the Lord, one left the toll-booth
behind for ever;  another deserted father and ship, and the craft
by which he gained his living;  a third, who disdained his
father's obsequies,  fulfilled, before he heard it, that highest
precept of the Lord, "He who prefers father or mother to me, is not worthy
of me." 
Chapter XIII. Another Objection: Abraham Pleased God Without Being Baptized.
Answer Thereto. Old Things Must Give Place to New, and Baptism is Now a Law.
Here, then, those miscreants  provoke questions. And so they say,
"Baptism is not necessary for them to whom faith is sufficient; for withal,
Abraham pleased God by a sacrament of no water, but of faith." But in all
cases it is the later things which have a conclusive force, and the
subsequent which prevail over the antecedent. Grant that, in days gone by,
there was salvation by means of bare faith, before the passion and
resurrection of the Lord. But now that faith has been enlarged, and is
become a faith which believes in His nativity, passion, and resurrection,
there has been an amplification added w the sacrament,  viz., the
sealing act of baptism; the clothing, in some sense, of the faith which
before was bare, and which cannot exist now without its proper law. For the
law of baptizing has been imposed, and the formula prescribed: "Go," He
saith, "teach the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and
of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."  The comparison with this law
of that definition, "Unless a man have been reborn of water and Spirit, he
shall not enter into the kingdom of the heavens,"  has tied faith
to the necessity of baptism. Accordingly, all thereafter  who
became believers used to be baptized. Then it was, too,  that Paul,
when he believed, was baptized; and this is the meaning of the precept which
the Lord had given him when smitten with the plague of loss of sight,
saying, "Arise, and enter Damascus; there shall be demonstrated to thee what
thou oughtest to do," to wit'be baptized, which was the only thing lacking
to him. That point excepted, he bad sufficiently learnt and believed "the
Nazarene" to be "the Lord, the Son of God." 
Chapter XIV. Of Paul's Assertion, that He Had Not Been Sent to Baptize.
But they roll back an objection from that apostle himself, in that he said,
"For Christ sent me not to baptize; "  , as if by this argument
baptism were done away! For if so, why did he baptize Gaius, and Crispus,
and the house of Stephanas?  However, even if Christ had not sent
him to baptize, yet He had given other apostles the precept to baptize. But
these words were written to the Corinthians in regard of the circumstances
of that particular time; seeing that schisms and dissensions were agitated
among them, while one attributes everything to Paul, another to Apollos.
 For which reason the "peace-making"  apostle, for fear he
should seem to claim all gifts for himself, says that he had been sent "not
to baptize, but to preach." For preaching is the prior thing, baptizing the
posterior. Therefore the preaching came first: but I think baptizing withal
was lawful to him to whom preaching was.
Chapter XV. Unity of Baptism. Remarks on Heretical Any Jewish Baptism.
I know not whether any further point is mooted to bring baptism into
controversy. Permit me to call to mind what I have omitted above, lest I
seem to break off the train of impending thoughts in the middle. There is to
us one, and but one, baptism; as well according to the Lord's gospel
 as according to the apostle's letters,  inasmuch as he says,
"One God, and one baptism, and one church in the heavens."  But it
must be admitted that the question, "What rules are to be observed with
regard to heretics? "is worthy of being treated. For it is to us 
that that assertion  refers. Heretics, however, have no fellowship
in our discipline, whom the mere fact of their excommunication 
testifies to be outsiders. I am not bound to recognize in them a thing which
is enjoined on me, because they and we have not the same God, nor one'that
is, the same'Christ. And therefore their baptism is not one with ours
either, because it is not the same; a baptism which, since they have it not
duly, doubtless they have not at all; nor is that capable of being counted
which is not had.  Thus they cannot receive it either, because they
have it not. But this point has already received a fuller discussion from us
in Greek. We enter, then, the font  once: once are sins washed
away, because they ought never to be repeated. But the Jewish Isreal bathes
daily,  because he is daily being defiled: and, for fear that
defilement should be practised among us also, therefore was the definition
touching the one bathing  made. Happy water, which once washes
away; which does not mock sinners (with vain hopes); which does not, by
being infected with the repetition of impurities, again defile them whom it
Chapter XVI. Of the Second Baptism'With Blood.
We have indeed, likewise, a second font,  (itself withal one with
the former, ) of blood, to wit; concerning which the Lord said, "I have to
be baptized with a baptism,"  when He had been baptized already.
For He had come "by means of water and blood,"  just as John has
written; that He might be baptized by the water, glorified by the blood; to
make us, in like manner, called by water, chosen  by blood. These
two baptisms He sent out from the wound in His pierced side,  in
order that they who believed in His blood might be bathed with the water;
they who had been bathed in the water might likewise drink the blood.
 This is the baptism which both stands in lieu of the fontal
bathing  when that has not been received, and restores it when
Chapter XVII. Of the Power of Conferring Baptism.
For concluding our brief subject,  it remains to put you in mind
also of the due observance of giving and receiving baptism. Of giving it,
the chief priest  (who is the bishop) has the right: in the next
place, the presbyters and deacons, yet not without the bishop's authority,
on account of the honour of the Church, which being preserved, peace is
preserved. Beside these, even laymen have the right; for what is equally
received can be equally given. Unless bishops, or priests, or deacons, be on
the spot, other disciples are called i.e. to the work. The word of the Lord
ought not to be hidden by any: in like manner, too, baptism, which is
equally God's property,  can be administered by all. But how much
more is the rule  of reverence and modesty incumbent on
laymen'seeing that these powers  belong to their superiors'lest
they assume to themselves the specific  function of the bishop!
Emulation of the episcopal office is the mother of schisms. The most holy
apostle has said, that "all things are lawful, but not all expedient."
 Let it suffice assuredly, in cases of necessity, to avail yourself
(of that rule  , if at any time circumstance either of place, or of
time, or of person compels you (so to do); for then the stedfast courage of
the succourer, when the situation of the endangered one is urgent, is
exceptionally admissible; inasmuch as he will be guilty of a human
creature's loss if he shall refrain from bestowing what he had free liberty
to bestow. But the woman of pertness,  who has usurped the power to
teach, will of course not give birth for herself likewise to a right of
baptizing, unless some new beast shall arise  like the former; so
that, just as the one abolished baptism,  so some other should in
her own right confer it! But if the writings which wrongly go under Paul's
name, claim Thecla's example as a licence for women's teaching and
baptizing, let them know that, in Asia, the presbyter who composed that
writing,  as if he were augmenting Paul's fame from his own store,
after being convicted, and confessing that he had done it from love of Paul,
was removed  from his office. For how credible would it seem, that
he who has not permitted a woman  even to learn with over-boldness,
should give a female  the power of teaching and of baptizing! "Let
them be silent," he says, "and at home consult their own husbands."
Chapter XVIII. Of the Persons to Whom, and the Time When, Baptism is to Be
But they whose office it is, know that baptism is not rashly to be
administered. "Give to every one who beggeth thee,"  has a
reference of its own, appertaining especially to almsgiving. On the
contrary, this precept is rather to be looked at carefully: "Give not the
holy thing to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine; "  and,
"Lay not hands easily on any; share not other men's sins."  If
Philip so "easily" baptized the chamberlain, let us reflect that a manifest
and conspicuous  evidence that the Lord deemed him worthy had been
interposed.  The Spirit had enjoined Philip to proceed to that
road: the eunuch himself, too, was not found idle, nor as one who was
suddenly seized with an eager desire to be baptized; but, after going up to
the temple for prayer's sake, being intently engaged on the divine
Scripture, was thus suitably discovered'to whom God had, unasked, sent an
apostle, which one, again, the Spirit bade adjoin himself to the
chamberlain's chariot. The Scripture which he was reading  falls in
opportunely with his faith: Philip, being requested, is taken to sit beside
him; the Lord is pointed out; faith lingers not; water needs no waiting for;
the work is completed, and the apostle snatched away. "But Paul too was, in
fact, 'speedily' baptized: "for Simon,  his host, speedily
recognized him to be "an appointed vessel of election." God's approbation
sends sure premonitory tokens before it; every "petition "  may
both deceive and be deceived. And so, according to the circumstances and
disposition, and even age, of each individual, the delay of baptism is
preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children. For why is
it necessary'if (baptism itself) is not so necessary  'that the
sponsors likewise should be thrust into danger? Who both themselves, by
reason of mortality, may fail to fulfil their promises, and may be
disappointed by the development of an evil disposition, in those for whom
they stood? The Lord does indeed say, "Forbid them not to come unto me."
 Let them "come," then, while they are growing up; let them "come"
while they are learning, while they are learning whither to come; 
let them become Christians  when they have become able to know
Christ. Why does the innocent period of life hasten to the "remission of
sins? "More caution will be exercised in worldly  matters: so that
one who is not trusted with earthly substance is trusted with divine! Let
them know how to "ask" for salvation, that you may seem (at least) to have
given "to him that asketh."  For no less cause must the unwedded
also be deferred'in whom the ground of temptation is prepared, alike in such
as never were wedded  by means of their maturity, and in the
widowed by means of their freedom'until they either marry, or else be more
fully strengthened for continence. If any understand the weighty import of
baptism, they will fear its reception more than its delay: sound faith is
secure of salvation.
Chapter XIX. Of the Times Most Suitable for Baptism.
The Passover affords a more than usually solemn day for baptism; when,
withal, the Lord's passion, in which we are baptized, was completed. Nor
will it be incongruous to interpret figuratively the fact that, when the
Lord was about to celebrate the last Passover, He said to the disciples who
were sent to make preparation, "Ye will meet a man bearing water." 
He points out the place for celebrating the Passover by the sign of water.
After that, Pentecost is a most joyous space  for conferring
baptisms;  wherein, too, the resurrection of the Lord was
repeatedly proved  among the disciples, and the hope of the advent
of the Lord indirectly pointed to, in that, at that time, when He had been
received back into the heavens, the angels  told the apostles that
"He would so come, as He had withal ascended into the heavens; " 
at Pentecost, of course. But, moreover, when Jeremiah says, "And I will
gather them together from the extremities of the land in the feast-day," he
signifies the day of the Passover and of Pentecost, which is properly a
"feast-day."  However, every day is the Lord's; every hour, every
time, is apt for baptism: if there is a difference in the solemnity,
distinction there is none in the grace.
Chapter XX. Of Preparation For, and Conduct After, the Reception of Baptism.
They who are about to enter baptism ought to pray with repeated prayers,
fasts, and bendings of the knee, and vigils all the night through, and with
the confession of all by- gone sins, that they may express the meaning even
of the baptism of John: "They were baptized," saith (the Scripture),
"confessing their own sins."  To us it is matter for thankfulness
if we do now publicly confess our iniquities or our turpitudes: 
for we do at the same time both make satisfaction  for our former
sins, by mortification of our flesh and spirit, and lay beforehand the
foundation of defences against the temptations which will closely follow.
"Watch and pray," saith (the Lord), "lest ye fall into temptation."
 And the reason, I believe, why they were tempted was, that they fell
asleep; so that they deserted the Lord when apprehended, and he who
continued to stand by Him, and used the sword, even denied Him thrice: for
withal the word had gone before, that "no one untempted should attain the
celestial kingdoms."  The Lord Himself forthwith after baptism
 temptations surrounded, when in forty days He had kept fast.
"Then," some one will say," it becomes us, too, rather to fast after
baptism."  Well, and who forbids you, unless it be the necessity
for joy, and the thanksgiving for salvation? But so far as I, with my poor
powers, understand, the Lord figuratively retorted upon Isreal the reproach
they had cast on the Lord.  For the people, after crossing the sea,
and being carried about in the desert during forty years, although they were
there nourished with divine supplies, nevertheless were more mindful of
their belly and their gullet than of God. Thereupon the Lord, driven apart
into desert places after baptism,  showed, by maintaining a fast of
forty days, that the man of God lives "not by bread alone," but "by the word
of God; "  and that temptations incident to fulness or immoderation
of appetite are shattered by abstinence. Therefore, blessed ones, whom the
grace of God awaits, when you ascend from that most sacred font  of
your new birth, and spread your hands  for the first time in the
house of your mother,  together with your brethren, ask from the
Father, ask from the Lord, that His own specialties of grace and
distributions of gifts  may be supplied you. "Ask," saith He, "and
ye shall receive."  Well, you have asked, and have received; you
have knocked, and it has been opened to you. Only, I pray that, when you are
asking, you be mindful likewise of Tertullian the sinner. 
The argument (p. 673, note 6,) is conclusive, but not clear. The disciples
of John must have been baptized by him, (Luke 7:29-30) and "all the
people," must have included those whom Jesus called. But, this was not
Christ's baptism: See Acts 19:2, 5. Compare note 8, p. 673. And see the
American Editor's "Apollos."
 i.e. Christian (Oehler).
 This curious allusion it is impossible, perhaps, to render in our
language. The word IChThUS (ikhthus) in Greek means "a fish;" and it was
used as a name for our Lord Jesus, because the initials of the words
(i.e. Jesus Christ the Son of God, the
Savior), make up that word. Oehler with these remarks, gives abundant
references on that point. [Dr. Allix suspects Montanism here, but see Kaye,
p. 43, and Lardner, Credib. II. p. 335. We may date it circa A.D. 193.]
 As being a woman. See 1 Tim. ii. 11, 12.
 Consecutio aeternitatis.
 i.e. that the simple be vain, and the grand impossible.
 1 Cor. i. 27, not quite exactly quoted.
 Luke xviii. 27, again inexact.
 Compare the Jews' question, Matt. xxi. 23.
 Its authority.
 Gen. i. 1, 2, and comp. the LXX.
 Gen. i. 6, 7, 8.
 Acts viii. 26-40.
 See c. vi. ad init., and c. v. ad fin.
 Bethesda, Eng. Ver.
 i.e., as Oehler rightly explains, "lacking the Holy Spirit's
presence and virtue."
 Or, "purify."
 [Diabolus Dei Simius.]
 "Nypholeptos," restored by Oehler, =
 So Tertullian reads, and some copies, but not the best, of the New
Testament in the place referred to, John v. 1-9. [And note Tertullian's
textual testimony as to this Scripture.]
 Compare 1 Cor. xv. 46.
 John i. 16, 17.
 Qui: i.e. probably "angeli qui."
 Or, "health"'salutem.
 Conservant populos.
 Compare c. viii., where Tertullian appears to regard the Holy
Spirit as given after the baptized had come out of the waters and recieved
 Luke i. 76.
 Arbiter. [Eccles. v. 6, and Acts xii. 15.]
 Isa. xl. 3; Matt. iii. 3.
 Deut. xix. 15; Matt. xviii. 16; 2 Cor. xiii. 1.
 Compare de Orat. c. ii. sub fin.
 Compare the de Orat. quoted above, and de Patien. xxi.; and see
Matt. xviii. 20.
 See Ex. xxix. 7; Lev. viii. 12; Ps. cxxxiii. 2.
 i.e. "Annointed." Aaron, or at least the priest, is actually so
called in the LXX., in Lev. iv. 5, 16, as in the
Hebrew it is the word whence Messiah is derived which is used.
 Acts iv. 27. "In this city" is omitted in
the English version; and the name "Jesus," is omitted by
Tertullian. Compare Acts x. 38 and Lev. iv. 18 with Isa. lxi. 1 in the LXX.
 [See Bunsen, Hippol. Vol. III. Sec. xiii. p. 22.]
 The reference is to certain hydraulic organs, which the editors
tell us are described by Vitruvius, ix. 9 and x. 13, and Pliny, H.N. vii.
 i.e. Man. There may be an allusion to Eph. ii. 10, "We are His
worksmanship," and to Ps. cl. 4.
 Compare 1 Tim. ii. 8.
 i.e. Ephraim.
 In Christum.
 See c. iv. p. 668.
 Matt. iii. 16; Luke iii. 22.
 Ipso. The ancients held this.
 Matt. x. 16. Tertullian has rendered (unmixed) by
"simplices," i.e. without fold.
 See de Orat. iv. ad init.
 Compare de Idol. xxiv. ad fin.
 [II. Pet. i. 9. Heb. x. 26, 27, 29. These awful texts are too
little felt by modern Christians. They are too often explained away.]
 Patrocinia'"pleas in defence."
 "Libere expeditus," set free, and that without any conditions,
such as Pharaoh had from tome to time tried to impose. See Ex. viii. 25, 28,
x. 10, 11, 24.
 "Extinxit," as it does fire.
 Ex. xiv. 27-30.
 See Ex. xv. 24, 25.
 "The Tree of Life," "the True Vine," etc.
 Matt. iii. 13-17.
 John ii. 1-11.
 John vii. 37, 38.
 Agape. See de Orat. c. 28, ad fin.
 Dilectionis. See de Patien. c. xii.
 Matt. x. 42.
 John. iv. 6.
 Matt. xiv. 25.
 Mark iv. 36.
 John xiii. 1-12.
 Matt. xxvii. 24. Comp. de Orat. c. xiii.
 John xix. 34. See c. xviii. sub fin.
 Matt. xxi. 25; Mark xi. 30; Luke xx. 4.
 See John i. 33.
 It is difficult to see how this statement is to be reconciled
with Acts v. 31. [i.e. under the universal illumination, John i. 9.]
 Matt. iii. 7-12, xxi. 23, 31, 32.
 Mark ii. 8; 1 Thess. iv. 8; 2 Cor. i. 21, 22, v. 5.
 John xvi. 6, 7.
 Acts xix. 1-7, [John vii. 39.]
 Matt. iii. 11, 12; John i. 6-36.
 Matt xi. 2-6; Luke vii. 18-23. [He repeats this view.]
 Acts xix. 4.
 Mark i. 4.
 Luke i. 76.
 John iii. 30, 31, briefly quoted.
 Matt. iii. 11, not quite exactly given.
 John iv. 2.
 For instances of this, compare Matt. viii. 5 with Luke vii. 3, 7;
and Mark x. 35 with Matt. xx. 20.
 Cf. 1 Pet. i. 11, ad fin.
 John iii. 5, not fully given.
 See Gal. iii. 27.
 See Eph. iv. 5.
 "Volenti," which Oehler notes as a suggestion of Fr. Junius, is
adopted here in prefrence to Oehler's "nolenti."
 John xiii. 9, 10.
 Exerta. Comp. c. xviii. sub init.; ad Ux. ii. c. 1. sub fin.
 Matt. xi. 11, ommited.
 Matt. viii. 24, xiv. 28, 29. [Our author seems to allow that
sprinkling is baptism, but not Christian baptism: a very curious passage.
Compare the foot-washing, John xiii. 8.]
 Lavacrum. [John xiii. 9, 10, as above.]
 i.e. of being the first to be chosen.
 Luke xviii. 42; Mark x. 52.
 "Remittentur" is Oehler's reading; "remittuntur" others read; but
the Greek is in perfect tense. See Mark ii. 5.
 i.e. faith, or perhaps the "compendious grace of baptism."
 Matt. ix. 9.
 Matt. iv. 21, 22.
 Luke ix. 59, 60; but it is not said there that the man did it.
 Matt. x. 37.
 i.e. probably the Cainites. See c. ii.
 i.e. the sacrament, or obligation of faith. See beginning of
 Matt. xxviii. 19: "all" ommited.
 John ii. 5: "shall not" for "cannot;" "kingdom of the heavens"'an
expression only occurring in Matthew'for "kingdom of God."
 i.e. from the time when the Lord gave the "law."
 i.e. not till after the "law" had been made.
 See Acts ix. 1-31.
 1 Cor. i. 17.
 1 Cor. i. 14, 16.
 1 Cor. i. 11, 12, iii. 3, 4.
 Matt. v. 9; referred to in de Patien. c. ii.
 Oehler refers us to c. xii. above, "He who hath once bathed."
 i.e. the Epistle to the Ephesians especially.
 Eph. iv. 4, 5, 6, but very inexactly quoted.
 i.e. us Christians; of "Catholics," as Oehler explains it.
 i.e. touching the "one baptism."
 Ademptio communicationis. [See Bunsen, Hippol. III. p. 114, Canon
 Comp. Eccles. i. 15.
 Compare de Orat. c. xiv.
 In John xiii. 10, and Eph. iv. 5.
 Lavacrum. [See Aquinas, Quaest. lxvi. 11.]
 Luke xii. 50, not given in full.
 1 John v. 6.
 Matt. xx. 16; Rev. xvii. 14.
 John xix. 34. See c. ix. ad fin.
 See John vi. 53, etc.
 Lavacrum. [The three baptisims: fluminis, flaminis, sanguinis.]
 Summus sacerdos. Compare de Orat. xxviii., "nosveri
sacerdotes," etc.: and de Ex. Cast. c. vii., "nonne et laici sacerdotes
 i.e. the powers of administering baptism and "sowing the word."
[i.e. "The Keys." Scorpiace, p. 643.]
 1 Cor. x. 23, where moi in the recieved thxt seems interpolated.
 Or, as Oehler explains it, of your power of baptizing, etc.
 Quintilla. See c. 1.
 Evenerit. Perhaps Tertullian means literally'though that sense of
the word is very rare'"shall issue out of her," alluding to his "pariet"
 See c. i. ad fin.
 The allusion is to a spurious work entitled Acta Pauli et
Thecloe. [Of which afterwards. But see Jones, on the Canon, II. p. 353, and
Lardner, Credibility, II. p. 305.]
 1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35.
 Luke vi. 30. [See note 4, p. 676.]
 Matt. vii. 6.
 1 Tim. v. 22; omitted, rendered by "facile," and
mēde by "ne."
 "Exertam," as in c. xii.: "probatio exerta," "a conspicuous
 Comp. Acts viii. 26-40.
 Acts viii. 28, 30, 32, 33, and Isa. liii. 7, 8, especially in
LXX. The quotation, as given in Acts, agrees neraly verbatim with the Cod.
 Tertullian seems to have confused the "Judas" with whom Saul
stayed (Acts ix. 11) with the "Simon" with whom St. Peter stayed (Acts ix.
43); and it was Ananias, not Judas, to whom he was pointed out as "An
appointed vessel," and by whom he was baptized. [So above, he seems to have
confounded Philip, the deacon, with Philip the apostle.]
 See note 24, [where Luke vi. 30 is shown to be abused].
 Tertullian has already allowed (in c. xvi) that baptism is not
indispensably necessary to salvation.
 Matt. xix. 14; Mark x. 14; Luke xviii. 16.
 Or, "whither they are coming."
 i.e. in baptism.
 See beginning of chapter, [where Luke vi. 30, is shown to be
 Virginibus; but he is speaking about men as well as women. Comp.
de Orat. c. xxii. [I need not point out the bearings of the above chapter,
nor do I desire to interpose any comments. The Editor's interpolations,
where purely gratuitous, I have even stricken out, though I agree with them.
See that work of genius, the Liberty of Prophesying, by Jer. Taylor, sect.
xviii. and its candid adnissions.]
 Mark xiv. 13, Luke xxii. 10, "a small earthen pitcher of
 [He means the whole fifty days from the Paschal Feast till
Pentecost, including the latter. Bunsen Hippol. III. 18.]
 Frequentata, i.e. by His frequent appearance. See Acts i. 3,
 Comp. Acts i. 10 and Luke ix. 30: in each place St. Luke says,
andres as also in xxiv. 4 of his Gospel.
 Acts i. 10, 11; but it is throughout in the Greek.
 Jer. xxxi. 8, xxxviii. 8 in LXX., where is
found, which is not in the English version.
 Matt. iii. 6. [See the collection of Dr. Bunsen for the whole
primitive discipline to which Tertullian has reference, Hippol. Vol. III.
pp. 5-23, and 29.]
 Perhaps Tertullian is referring to Prov. xxviii. 13. If we
confess now, we shall be forgiven, and not put to shame at the judgment day.
 See de Orat. c. xxiii. ad fin., and the note there.
 Matt. xxvi. 41.
 What passage is referred to is doubtful. The editors point us to
Luke xxii. 28, 29; but the reference is unsatisfactory.
 Lavacro. Compare the beginning of the chapter.
 Viz. by their murmuring for bread (see Ex. xvi. 3, 7); and
again'nearly forty years after' in another place. See Num. xxi. 5.
 Aquam: just as St. Paul says the Israelites had been "baptized"
(or "baptized themselves") "into Moses in the cloud and in the sea." 1 Cor.
 Matt. iv. 1-4.
 In prayer: comp. de Orat. c. xiv.
 i.e. the Church: comp. de Orat. c. 2.
 1 Cor. xii. 4-12.
 Matt. vii. 7; Luke xi. 9; in
 [The translator, though so learned and helpful, too often
encumbers the text with superfluous interpolations. As many of these, while
making the reading difficult, add nothing to the sense yet destroy the
terse, crabbed force of the original, I have occasionally restored the
spirit of a sentence, by removing them.]
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