Tertullian on the Necessirty of Baptism c155-220
Chapter I.-Introduction. Origin of the Treatise.
Happy is our 1 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 2 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 3 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, 4 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?