On Baptism, Against The Donatists

The Seven Books of Augustin, Bishop of Hippo, On Baptism, Against the Donatists

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Philip Schaff

received from the friend of the Bridegroom, this it was right that they should receive from the
Bridegroom Himself, of whom that friend had said, "The same is He which baptizeth with the Holy
Ghost."

Chapter 13.—15. For the Lord Jesus might, if He had so thought fit, have given the power of
His baptism to some one or more of His chief servants, whom He had already made His friends,
such as those to whom He says, "Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends;"1497 that, as Aaron
was shown to be the priest by the rod that budded,1498 so in His Church, when more and greater
miracles are performed, the ministers of more excellent holiness, and the dispensers of His mysteries,
might be made manifest by some sign, as those who alone ought to baptize. But if this had been
done, then though the power of baptizing were given them by the Lord, yet it would necessarily be
called their own baptism, as in the case of the baptism of John. And so Paul gives thanks to God
that he baptized none of those men who, as though forgetting in whose name they had been baptized,
were for dividing themselves into factions under the names of different individuals.1499 For when
baptism is as valid at the hands of a contemptible man as it was when given by an apostle, it is
recognized as the baptism neither of this man nor of that, but of Christ; as John bears witness that
he learned, in the case of the Lord Himself, through the appearance of the dove. For in what other
respect he said, "And I knew Him not," I cannot clearly see. For if he had not known Him in any
sense, he could not have said to Him when He came to his baptism, "I have need to be baptized of
Thee."1500 What is it, therefore, that he says, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove,
and it abode upon Him. And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptizewith water, the same
said unto me, Upon whom thou shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same
is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost?"1501 The dove clearly descended on Him after He was
baptized. But while He was yet coming to be baptized, John had said, "I have need to be baptized
of Thee." He therefore already knew Him. What does he therefore mean by the words, "I knew
Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt
see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy
Ghost," since this took place after He was baptized, unless it were that he knew Him in respect of
certain attributes, and in respect of others knew Him not? He knew Him, indeed, as the Son of
God, the Bridegroom, of whose fullness all should receive; but whereas of His fullness he himself
had so received the power of baptizing that it should be called the baptism of John, he did not know
1497

John xv. 15.

1498

Num. xvii. 8.

1499

1 Cor. i. 12-15.

1500

Matt. iii. 14.

1501

John i. 32, 33.

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