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Church. * “ If any one shall have immersed a child three times in the water, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen, and shall not have said at the same time, ' I baptize thee in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,' the child is not to be considered baptised.” This decree is by Pope Alexander III, who held the papal throne A. D. 1159–1181.
The apostolical constitutions give the following directions relating to baptism. “And first of all, when women are illuminated (i. e. baptised), pwriteodai, the deacon shall only anoint their forehead with the holy oil, and afterwards the deaconess shall anoint their persons; for there is no need that the women should be seen in the state in which they come out of the bath) by the men; but only in the imposition of hands the bishop shall anoint their head, in the same way in which kings and priests were formerly anointed : not that those who are now baptised are ordained to be priests, but are only made Christians by the Christ (i.e. anointed persons by the anointed one), and become a royal priesthood, a holy nation, the church of God, the pillar and the ground of the light. They who were formerly not a people, are now beloved and elect; on whom a new name is called, as Esaias the prophet witnesseth, saying, “Thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.' Therefore do thou, O bishop, anoint in that type the head of those who are baptised, whether they be men or women, with the holy oil, to represent the spiritual baptism, εις τυπον του πνευματικου βαπτισματος; and then do thou, O bishop, or else the presbyter who is subject to thee, after naming over them the holy invocation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, baptisę them in the water: and let the deacon receive the men, and the deaconess the women, that the infrangible seal of baptism may be communicated with all gravity and decorum : and after this, let the bishop anoint those who have been baptised with the unguent. Baptism, therefore, is administered to (represent) the death of Christ : the water is for the sepulture; the unction is for the Holy Spirit; the seal is for the cross; the unguent is the confirmation of the confession. The Father is named as the cause and originator; the Holy Spirit is associated as a witness. The immersion in the water is our union in the death; the coming out of the water is our union in the resurrection-ή καταδυσις το συναποθανειν, η αναδυσις το συναστήναι.” -(Lib. iii. 15, 16).
In the early part of the fourth century we see, therefore, how they had embarrassed themselves with ceremonies and types, of which they were not a little perplexed to give a tolerable explanation. They had gone back to Judaism, but knew not how to account for the practices they had accumulated in their retrograde journey into superstition. It would seem that they had three unctions, besides three immersions, in the ceremony of baptism ; unction on the forehead before they went into the water, unction when they came out of the water, by the deacon, and a subsequent unction by the bishop. This last was administered in the imposition of hands, in which ceremony they supposed that the Holy Spirit was especially imparted. This imposition of hands is, in fact, that absurd, preposterous, and unmeaning puerility, known by the name of confirmation, administered in the Church of Rome with the unction of the Chrism, according to the ancient tradition, but in the Church of England without the unguent, so that in that communion it is indeed the mere skeleton of a superstition, the useless dregs of a discarded type.
The origin of confirmation it is difficult to conjecture, unless it was intended as a contrivance to exalt the power of the bishop, and to give an impression that he alone could convey the Holy Spirit. Some of the fathers have spoken of this ceremony so highly as even to reduce to a mere preparation the rite of baptism. “Every one,' says Cyprian, “in a state of heathenism and idolatry is considered dead; wherefore, when any one comes from that state to the Christian faith, he is said to live; which life may be compared to a spiritual life; as, in the first creation, God first formed the body of man, and then breathed into him the breath of life ; first made a fit subject to receive the soul before the soul itself was framed: so, in the second creation, God first prepares the man before He gives His Spirit; he first makes the man
* Si quis puerum ter in aquâ immerserit in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritûs Sancti, Amen: et non dixerit, ego baptizo te in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritûs Sancti, non est puer baptizatus.-Decret. Greg. lib. iii. tit. 42.
a fit temple for the Holy Ghost, before he gives the Holy Ghost. Now, the way by which a man is prepared and fitted, is by baptism, by which he is purged and cleansed from sin, and firted for the reception of the Spirit of God, in which respect he is to be regarded as a body. The way by which the Holy Ghost is to be infused, which, as a living soul, must actuate and direct that prepared body, is by prayer and imposition of hands, or by confirmation.'* Tertullian, in his ingenious efforts to explain the superstitions of the Church, refers the imposition of hands to the benediction pronounced by Jacob upon the son of Joseph (de Bap. 8).
“With us," says the Bishop of Lincoln (Dr. Kaye), “the imposition of hands is deferred till the child is brought to be confirmed :" but certainly it used not to be so in the Church of England, for Queen Elizabeth was confirmed immediately after her baptism ; before she was removed from the font.
The ceremony of confirmation, as administered in the Anglican Church, has escaped with less censure than might have been expected; the seceding clergy seem to have omitted all consideration of it in the catalogue of their ecclesiastical grievances, though truly it seems, if possible, worse than the baptismal service. The following are the Rubrics in the Prayer Book relating to confirmation.
"The Curate of every parish shall diligently upon Sundays and Holydays, after the Second Lesson at Evening-prayer, openly in the Church, instruct and examine so many children of his parish sent unto him, as he shall think convenient, in some part of the Catechism : All fathers, mothers, masters and dames, shall cause their children, servants, and apprentices (which have not learned their Catechism) to come to the Church at the time appointed, and obediently to hear, and be ordered by the Curate, until such time as they have learned all that is here appointed for them to learn ; so soon as children are come to a competent age, and can say
in their mother tongue the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, and also can answer to the other questions of this short catechism, they shall be brought to the Bishop. And every one shall have a godfather and a godmother as a witness of their confirmation.........and if the Bishop approve of them, he shall confirm them in the manner following." The Bishop in the ceremony reads the following prayer. “ Almighty and Everlasting God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate these thy servants by water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given unto them forgiveness of all their sins ; strengthen them, we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost the Comforter, and daily increase in them thy manifold gifts of grace; the Spirit of wisdom and understanding ; the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength; the spirit of knowledge and true godliness; and fill them, O Lord, with the spirit of thy holy fear now and for ever. Amen." On this follows the imposition of hands
. Here the baptismal regeneration is again affirmed-here those theatrical substitutes of Popery, the godfathers and godmothers, are again called upon the stage-bere all the parish is made to take a part in the farce : all parents, masters, and dames, send their children and apprentices by droves to have the parochial regeneration confirmed—and here the sum total of the knowledge of a Christian is made to consist in saying by heart the Catechism, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer-and here the Bishop touches the heads of the ridiculous troop in order to confer grace! What can be worse? What can be more offensive and odious in a Church which calls itself“ pious and reformed ?"
The clergy, however, who wince under the baptismal service, tolerate the confirmation, because the great scandal of baptismal regeneration is taken out of their hands, and put into those of the Bishop-but this is, after all, a poor evasion ; for every clergyman who sends the children of his parish to confirmation, participates in all that will be done in that ceremony; and if the Bishop confirms a hundred children, then is the clergyman, who sent them, guilty of a hundred falsehoods
, provided he does not believe in baptismal regeneration, a position in which multitudes of the clergy are now placed.f
* So in another place, when he is arguing against the validity of the baptism of heretics, he asks why, when persons come forth from the heretics to join the orthodox, or persons who have been already baptised, it is thought requisite that they should receive imposition of hands, in order to obtain the Holy Ghosť ? “Cur illic baptizatis, quando ad nos veniunt, manus imponitur ad accipiendum Spiritum Sanctum.” Epist. ad Magnum.
† As confirmation is almost avowedly a Popish ordinance we should know what the Papacy decrees respecting it. Thus speak the Decretals: “ All the faithful ought, after their
The baptism of infants has, as might be expected, engendered innumerable absurdities and delusions. Amongst these the institution of Sponsors may without question take the first rank ; for it seems scarcely possible for the wit of man to devise any thing more ridiculous, than that A should promise and vow in the place of B, and, as his substitute, that B, then being a baby, should " renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh.” But this the poor children of the establishment are taught to believe-(and what will man not believe, when he is taught it in his childhood ?)— they are taught, that when they were sprinkled with water in their infancy, they were made members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors “ of the kingdom of heaven,”--that though they then had no reason, or power of comprehending the simplest proposition, though no one could anticipate what their opinions would be, whether they would adopt orthodox or heretical notions, or ever believe in Christianity, whether they would be saints or sinners—then, in the debility of their cradle, did their godfathers and godmothers vow for them, “ to believe all the articles of the Christian faith; to keep God's holy will and commandments, and to walk in the same all the days of their life.”
But superstition had greater victories to achieve than even this ; for it is on record, that, in the palmy days of the Church, they used to make the images of the saints stand sponsors for the children! As proof of this almost incredible fatuity, we translate, from the Greek, a letter of Theodore Studita to a grandee of the Greek empire, John Spatherius, who had made the image of St. Demetrius stand godfather for his little boy.
“We have heard that a divine deed has been performed by your lordship, and have been amazed at your great and sincere faith, O‘man of God. For I am told by one who knows the fact, that you have made use of the holy image of the great martyr Demetrius as a sponsor, and by means of it completed the baptism of your son, now under the protection of God. But O! what a degree of blessed confidence is this ! I protest · I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel,' for I think these words were pronounced not only for the centurion, but for you also, his rival in faith. He found that which he was anxiously seeking for, you have gained that in which you trusted. He took a divine command instead of a bodily presence, but you have taken the bodily image in the place of the prototype. To him the great WORD was present to assist by his word, invisibly working a wonderful cure by his divine power, but to you the great martyr was present by the spirit, receiving the child by his own image. These things appear to profane and unbelieving ears as impossible and incredible, and especially to the opponents of images (elkovouáxois), but they are clear arguments and evidences of your piety. For what is there that God cannot allow to them that believe? Or why should it be that he who is represented by his image, should not be seen and believed in a corresponding way in his image: for the reverence paid to an image, as the great Basil says, is transferred to the prototype ; therefore, the martyr was clearly receiving your child by his image, inasmuch as your faith believed it. But O, how great is the glory of your magnificence, that you should have obtained such a friend and fellow-worker as this blessed martyr: not merely a prince or lord, or one crowned with a diadem-for the friend whom you
baptism, to recceive the Holy Ghost by imposition of hands of the Bishops, that they may be found to be Christians complete-pleni Christiani— because when the Holy Spirit is poured in to the faithful, the heart is enlarged unto prudence and constancy.” Dist. iv. cap. i. “Omnes fideles.”
“ It is a question which is the greater Sacrament, the imposition of the Bishop's hands, that is, confirmation, or baptism : know then that each is a great Sacrament. But as one is performed by the superiors, that is, by the Chief Priests (Bishops), which may not be performed by the inferior ones, so is it to be held and venerated in a reater veneration. But these two Sacraments are so conjoined together, that they cannot by any means whatsover be separated except by the intervention of death, and one cannot be rightly performed without the other.” Id. cap. 3. “ De his vero."'
" Whoever shall affirm that the confirmation of the baptized is a trifling ceremony (otiosam cæremoniam), and not a true and proper Sacrament, or that formerly it was nothing more than a kind of catechizing, in which young persons explained the reasons of their faith before the Church, let him be accursed."— Concil: Trident.
have found is far superior; he is the most noble of the martyrs, the most famous of the wonder-workers, the kinsman of the friends of Christ, the fellow-citizens of the angels, who was and who is able to do so many and so great things in the parts below the heavens, so that from one end of the earth to the other there is an echo from the trumpet of his marvellous deeds. Thou art truly blessed, O most pious man, who hast obtained such a godfather for thy child, one endued with such great power
and glory. God grant that I may see your child, who carries the name of the holy Demetrius, that, embracing him, as if he were the martyr's own son, I might, even sinner as I am, be able to make known to others your noble act; for it is not right to be silent of good actions, but rather to propose them to others, as splendid proofs of a devout faith.”*
After all, this admirable block would be an uninjurious godfather, which is more than can be said of many who undertake the functions assigned to the holy image of Saint Demetrius.
Infant baptism has indeed fostered many evils, and is an inevitable concomitant of nationalised Christianity, but it is probable that it emanated from the Judaising practices and opinions which began to pullulate in the early part of the second century, and that it is not so much a cause as an effect of a corrupted faith. By the Judaising tendency, we mean the desire to return to all visible signs of the kingdom of God, to every thing which the flesh could comprehend and relish, and which need not be spiritually discerned. Now, it was the privilege of the Jews, under the law, to be outwardly, and according to the flesh, reputed the people of God; they were the sons of Abraham, and, by their carnal descent were, through the first covenant, which was one of obedience, dedicated to God as his portion. " Israel is my firstborn.” Israel, seen and known in the flesh, “ This is my covenant which ye shall keep, between you and me, and thy seed after thee. Every man child among you shall be circumcised, and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.” Now, in exact opposition to this is “the Israel of God” under the Lord Jesus Christ in the covenant of grace (Gal. vi. 19), for the people of the Lord are in that covenant, under the Lord Jesus, as He is in an eminent manner THE LORD to the Church (1 Cor. viii. 6); and to those who received Him “ to them
power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John i. 12, 13). In the new covenant this is a fundamental doctrine, " that we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus,”—from whence it follows that we “who are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham, are his seed, and heirs, according to the promise" (Gal. iii).
They then who introduce infants into the Church invade the covenant of grace, and return to an impotent imitation of the Mosaic covenant ; for impotent it must be, as infants cannot now be added to the Mosaic dispensation, which is abolished; and in the kingdom of Jesus none but believers can be introduced. But this error, as we have said, was but a part of the corruptions of early Christianity; the government of God under the Gospel is through the Holy Spirit, to the glory of the Son of God; the Christians had, as early as Ignatius, substituted the flesh for the Spirit ; for almost every thing that Ignatius has said in his epistles relating to “the Bishop," ought to have been spoken of“ the Holy Spirit :" it is not, therefore, the least surprising that teachers who had in the government of the Church set up man in the place of God, should also return to the flesh in the interpretation of baptism. Now any view of infant baptism, the very lowest to be found in the books of the Pædobaptist Dissenters, is still a return to the flesh, and to Judaism, and to a national religion ; for only grant that baptised infants are in the lowest degree
# Theodore Studita flourished A. D. 810. He was one of the monks who suffered a sort of persecution on behalf of idolatry. The Greek emperor cast this clever fanatic into prison, who, from his confinement, issued many letters and tracts in favour of image worship. Baronius translated his epistles into Latin, as the zeal of their author in the cause of idolatry was dear in his eyes. Thus he speaks of the preservations of his epistles: “Quæ fermè omnes quod integræ ad hæc tempora fuerint divinitus custoditæ, Deo ipsi optimo maximo iterum atque iterum plurimas agimus gratias." Baronius frequently mentions Theodore Studita, in terms of the highest eulogium, and assures us that he was illustrious, by the stupendous miracles he wrought, " ingentibus miraculis illustratus."
"Christians," then must it follow that they are children of God; for to be a Christian, and not a child of God, is contrary to the whole tenor of the New Testament; and if they are children of God it must be by some other method, than by“ believing and receiving” the Lord Jesus ; in short, it must be to those who are born of blood, and of the will of the flesh, and of the will of man, and not of God;" just as the Israelites were born into Israel by the flesh ; the difference between the Jew and the Christian, being in nothing but in the mode of imitation, the one by cutting, the other by sprinkling the flesh.
Now these difficulties, and many others, were in the way of those who introduced infant baptism; and to obviate this great perplexity--that “we are all by faith the children of God” (Gal. iii. 26), they bethought themselves of the portentous invention of sponsors ; and, moreover, dogmatised, that children by the grace of baptism had faith given to them! this does seem, indeed, the ne plus ultrá of theological aberration; but, thus it is stated in the catechism of the Council of Trent; when infants “ are baptised that they receive the mysterious gift of faith cannot be doubted; not that they believe by the formal assent of the mind, but because their incapacity is supplied by the faith of their parents, if the parents possess the true faith; if not, to use St. Augustine's words, by that of the universal society of saints, for they are said with propriety to be presented for baptism by all those to whom their initiation in that sacred rite was a source of joy, and by whose charity they are united in the communion of the Holy Ghost.”.
Luther entertained similar opinions, which he stated still more extravagantly“ natural reason, wit, and understanding, availeth nothing to faith ; therefore, and even for that cause, children so much the more, and rather ought to be baptised, in wanting natural wit, reason, and understanding, and, by reason thereof, they are best fitted and prepared to receive baptism; for natural reason, wisdom, sense and understanding, is the greatest hindrance to faith ; neither hath it any thing to do in spiritual cases, by reason it holdeth every thing that is of God, to be foolish and ridiculous, and always taketh offence at God's word, and what the same saith to us. To conclude, if God can give the Holy Spirit to old people which are stricken in years, much more is he able also to give it to children. Besides faith proceedeth out of God's word being heard. Now the children do hear God's word when they are buplised, therefore they obtain faith in baptism, as the example of John the Baptist witnesseth, for so soon as he heard the salutation of Mary the mother of God, directed to Elizabeth, he leapt immediately in his mother's womb, and felt by the same salutation, that Christ was present.” Indeed, Luther had gone so far in these speculations as not to reckon faith a necessary qualification, even in an adult ;
he had persuaded himself, in the spirit of controversy, that “water and the word”. were the only requisites—“ it is not grounded on faith," said he, “ but on the word of God;" and as if to exceed all possible exaggerations of this statement, he thus illustrates his meaning : “ Although a Jew should come to us, in knavery and of evil purpose, and we earnestly baptised him, yet must we say, nevertheless, that the baptising of him is right, for it is the water together with God's word, although he receiveth it not as he should, like as they which go unworthily to the Holy Sacraments, do receive the right sacrament, though they believe not."*—Luther's Colloquia, 155.
Whether Luther inherited these notions from the Church of Rome, or whether he was driven to the necessity of upholding a palpable absurdity by still greater absurdities, we need not here inquire ; but it is not improbable that the Romish doctors borrowed their dogma of “the faith of baptised infants” from Augustin, to whom infant baptism is indebted for its supremacy; for certainly the practice was
It is well known that Luther wished baptism to be administered by inimersion ; but his views on this subject will be better seen by the following extract :-“ Luther advised Justus Menius, who asked his counsel concerning the baptising of a Jew, to fill a great tub with water, to strip the Jew, putting upon him a white garment, and to dive him over head and ears under the water. And so to do because the ancients used to wear white apparel when they were baptised, and they used also to put a white garment on the dead. For baptism unto us must be a sign of our death. “I hold,” said Luther, " that our Saviour Christ was baptised in that manner by John, in Jordan. But, if I get another Jew to be baptised, I will lead him upon the bridge over the Elbe, and I will baptise him in the river.” Id. 156.