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Chapter XVII.—Of the Power of Conferring Baptism.

For concluding our brief subject,87068706    Materiolam. it remains to put you in mind also of the due observance of giving and receiving baptism. Of giving it, the chief priest87078707    Summus sacerdos. Compare de Orat. xxviii., “nos…veri sacerdotes,” etc.:  and de Ex. Cast. c. vii., “nonne et laici sacerdotes sumus?” (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,87088708    Census. can be administered by all. But how much more is the rule87098709    Disciplina. of reverence and modesty incumbent on laymen—seeing that these powers87108710    i.e. the powers of administering baptism and “sowing the word.”  [i.e. “The Keys.” Scorpiace, p. 643.] belong to their superiors—lest they assume to themselves the specific87118711    Dicatum. 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.”87128712    1 Cor. x. 23, where μοι in the received text seems interpolated. Let it suffice assuredly, in cases of necessity, to avail yourself (of that rule87138713    Or, as Oehler explains it, of your power of baptizing, etc., 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,87148714    Quintilla. See c. i. 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 arise87158715    Evenerit. Perhaps Tertullian means literally—though that sense of the word is very rare—“shall issue out of her,” alluding to his “pariet” above. like the former; so that, just as the one abolished baptism,87168716    See c. i. ad fin. 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,87178717    The allusion is to a spurious work entitled Acta Pauli et Theclæ. [Of which afterwards. But see Jones, on the Canon, II. p. 353, and Lardner, Credibility, II. p. 305.] 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 removed87188718    Decessisse. from his office. For how credible would it seem, that he who has not permitted a woman87198719    Mulieri. even to learn with over-boldness, should give a female87208720    Fœminæ. the power of teaching and of baptizing! “Let them be silent,” he says, “and at home consult their own husbands.”87218721    1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35.

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