Chapter XXVIII.—This Perverse Doctrine Deprives Baptism of All Its Grace. If Marcion Be Right, the Sacrament Would Confer No Remission of Sins, No Regeneration, No Gift of the Spirit.
And what will happen to him after he is cast away? He will, they say, be thrown into the Creators fire. Then has no remedial provision been made (by their god) for the purpose of banishing those that sin against him, without resorting to the cruel measure of delivering them over to the Creator? And what will the Creator then do? I suppose He will prepare for them a hell doubly charged with brimstone, 2666 as for blasphemers against Himself; except indeed their god in his zeal, as perhaps might happen, should show clemency to his rivals revolted subjects. Oh, what a god is this! everywhere perverse; nowhere rational; in all cases vain; and therefore a nonentity! 2667 —in whose state, and condition, and nature, and every appointment, I see no coherence and consistency; no, not even in the very sacrament of his faith! For what end does baptism serve, according to him? If the remission of sins, how will he make it evident that he remits sins, when he affords no evidence that he retains them? Because he would retain them, if he performed the functions of a judge. If deliverance from death, how could he deliver from death, who has not delivered to death? For he must have delivered the sinner to death, if he had from the beginning condemned sin. If the regeneration of man, how can he regenerate, who has never generated? For the repetition of an act is impossible to him, by whom nothing any time has been ever done. If the bestowal of the Holy Ghost, how will he bestow the Spirit, who did not at first impart the life? For the life is in a sense the supplement 2668 of the Spirit. He therefore seals man, who had never been unsealed 2669 in respect of him; 2670 washes man, who had never been defiled so far as he was concerned; 2671 and into this sacrament of salvation wholly plunges that flesh which is beyond the pale of salvation! 2672 No farmer will irrigate ground that will yield him no fruit in return, except he be as stupid as Marcions god. Why then impose sanctity upon our most infirm and most unworthy flesh, either as a burden or as a glory? What shall I say, too, of the uselessness of a discipline which sanctifies what is already sanctified? Why burden the infirm, or glorify the unworthy? Why not remunerate with salvation what it burdens or else glorifies? Why keep back from a work its due reward, by not recompensing the flesh with salvation? Why even permit the honour of sanctity in it to die?
Suffectura. A something whereon the Spirit may operate; so that the Spirit has a præfectura over the anima. [Kaye, p. 179.]293:2669
Resignatum. Tertullian here yields to his love of antithesis, and makes almost nonsense of signo and resigno. The latter verb has the meaning violate (in opposition to signo, in the phrase virgo signata, a pure unviolated virgin).293:2670