Holy Churches aim being in all her Services to make them Reasonable, that according to S. Paul 1 Cor. 14. We may all joyn with her in her Offices, both with our spirit and understanding, she hath been careful, not only to put them into a known tongue, but also to instruct us in the nature of them; making thus her Prayer-Book a sum of Divinity. Therefore here in the beginning, she instructs out of holy Scripture concerning the necessity and efficacy of Baptism, as very briefly, so very pithily and fully. First, laying down this for a rule, That we are all born in sin, as it is Rom. 5. 18, 19. all guilty in Adams fall, (so the Catholick Church spread over the world always understood it, CON. MILEVAN. c. 2.) and therefore by our first birth have no right to heaven, into which no unclean thing shall enter, Ephes. 5. 5. Secondly, that therefore there is need of a second birth, to give us right to that, as it is S. John 3. 3. Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. Thirdly, that this second or new birth is by Water and the Holy Ghost, S. John 3 5. Except a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. By Water and the Holy Ghost is there meant holy Baptism. For first, this is the most literal interpretation of the words (for what is Baptism but Water and the Holy Ghost?) and therefore the best: for that is certainly the sense of the Holy Ghost, who, as we all believe, was the Author of the letter of the Scriptures, and therefore of the literal sense, where that is not contrary to, but agreeable with the other Scriptures. Now this literal sense given is agreeable to other texts: as namely, to Acts 8. 38. and 10. 47. Where Water is declared to be the element of Baptism. And expresly again, Ephes. 5. 26. Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctifie and cleanse it with the washing of water. And as this is the most literal, so is it the most Catholick interpretation of the words, and therefore also the best, by S. Peters rule, 2 S. Pet. 1. 20. Knowing this first, that no prophesie of Scripture is of private interpretation. That this is the most Catholick interpretation appears by S. August. l. I. de peccator. mer. & rem. c. 30. Tertul. de Bapt. and all the ancient interpreters upon the place, who expound it all of Baptism. And indeed if it were lawful to expound it otherwise, seeing no other Scripture contradicts this literal sense; I know not how it can be avoided, but that men may lose all their Creed, by playing so with Scripture, leaving the letter for figures. Thus are we instructed in the nature, necessity, and efficacy of holy Baptism, that it is the only ordinary means of our Regeneration or second birth, which gives us a right and title to Heaven.
Then is prescribed a Prayer, usually called the Benediction or Consecration of the Water, which is used only for reverence and decency, not for necessity, as if the Water without this were not available to Baptism: For, as the Prayer hath it, Jordan and all other waters are sanctified by Christ to the mystical washing away of sin. So that there needs no Consecration here, as in the other Sacraments there is, where the Bread and Wine must be blessed by us, saith S. Paul, 1 Cor. 10. 16. before it be the Communion of the body and blood of Christ to us. And that the Church does not think any Consecration of Water necessary, appears in her office of PRIVATE BAPTISM, where haste admitting no delays, no such Prayer or blessing is used.
D. Must be ready at the font.] When Christianity first entered the world, she did not find all utensils fitted to her hand, but was constrained to take what occasion did supply: whence it is, that as at first houses were her churches, so rivers were her fonts. No other baptisteries had she for two hundred years ; this is evident from Justin Martyr and Tertullian ; the first treating of persons fitted for the sacred seal, saith, ἔπειτα ἄγονται ὑφ᾽ ἡμῶν ἔνθα ὕδωρ ἐστὶ, “then” (that is, after we had prayed together for and with them, as in the foregoing words) “they are led by us to some place where there is water.” Now lest it should be conceived that this expression may admit of a font within the church, (as we use to carry children according to the rites of our Church,) in the pursuit of this narrative he goes on thus: ἡμεῖς δὲ, μετὰ TO οὕτως λοῦσαι τὸν πεπεισμένον ἐπὶ τοὺς λεγομένους ἀδελφοὺς ἄγομεν ἔνθα συνηγμένοι εἰσὶ, κοινὰς εὐχὰς ποιησόμενοι: “then we, after the believer is thus washed, return with him to the place where the brethren are assembled for common prayer.” The second, aguam adituri ibidem, sed et aliquanto prius in ecclesia, sub antistitis manu contestamur nos renunciare diabolo, &c.; ‘'being ready to step into the water, there also, as we had done a little before in the church, the priest holding us up by the head, we make abrenunciation of the devil,” &c.
Clear proofs that the places where they baptized were distant from the churches. Probably their practice was counter to ours, for as we bring water to our churches, so in all likelihood they carried their churches to the water, that is, they had their places of religious assemblies near unto yivers, (not unlike the Proseucha mentioned Acts xvi. 13,) for the better accommodation of this Sacrament. After the second century baptisteries were erected, but not contiguous or annexed to churches, but a little separated from them ; and not every where neither, but only nigh unto cathedrals, called therefore ecclesie baptismales, “baptismal churches ;” not long after, they were brought into the churches, and then disposed near the door, at the lower end, denoting thereby that persons baptized did in that Sacrament make their first ingress into Christianity, who were therefore situated, by Nazianzen’s description, ἐν προθύροις τῆς εὐσεβείας, “in the entry to godliness.” But now it seems these baptisteries are turned out of doors, and more than so, a note of abomination affixed to the places where they stood. For baptism is to be administered “not in the places where fonts stoode,” and this by the direction of those very men, who yet after ingenuously confess, “no place is subject to such pollution by any superstition formerly used, and now laid aside, as may render it unlawful or inconvenient for Christians to meet together therein, for the public worship.” What can hinder the Directory from being herein felo de se, unless it be interpreted to speak in the first place of what is to be done in order to its directions, not of what is to be done of absolute necessity, flowing from the nature of the thing; and if they so intended, it had been a kindness had those learned divines been more explicit therein.
Rubric 1. Baptism formerly administered only at Easter and Whitsuntide. I. It appeareth by ancient writers, (as was expressed in the rubric till the last review) that the Sacrament of Baptism in the old time was not commonly ministered but at two times in the year, at Easter and at Whitsuntide: at Easter, in remembrance of Christ’s resurrection, of which baptism is a figure; and at Whitsuntide, in remembrance of the three thousand souls baptized by the Apostles at that time. For this reason in the Western Church, all that were born after Easter were kept until Whit-Sunday; and all that were born after Whit-Sunday were reserved until next Easter: unless some imminent danger of death hastened the administration of it before. Though in the Eastern Church, the feast of Epiphany was also assigned for the administration of this Sacrament, in memory of our Saviour’s being, as it is supposed, baptized upon that day. And about the eighth or ninth century, the time for solemn baptism was enlarged even in the Latin Church, all Churches being moved by reason of the thing, to administer baptism (as at first) at all times of the year.
To be administered now only upon Sundays or holy-days. But yet though the custom above mentioned be now grown out of use, and (as the old rubric goes on) cannot, for many considerations, be well restored again; it is thought good to follow the same, as near as conveniently may be. And therefore our present rubric still orders, that the people be admonished, that it is most convenient that baptism should not be administered but upon Sundays and other holy-days, when the most number of people come together: as well for that the congregation there present may testify the receiving of them that be newly baptized into the number of Christ’s Church; as also because in the baptism of infants every man present may be put in remembrance of his own profession made to God in his baptism. For this cause also it is further declared expedient, that baptism be administered in the vulgar tongue. Nevertheless (if necessity so require) children may be baptized upon any other day, or (as it was worded in the old Common Prayers) children may at all times be baptized at home; or lastly, as it was expressed in the first book of king Edward, either at Church or else at home.
§.2. The irregularity and scandal of administering Baptism at home. But then it is to be observed, that if the occasion be so urgent as to require baptism at home, the Church has provided a particular office for the administration of it: which directs, that the essential parts of the sacrament be administered immediately in private; but defers the performance of the other solemnities till the child can be brought into the church. As to the office we are now upon, it is by no means to be used in any place but the church. It is ordered to be said at the font, in the middle of the morning or evening prayer, and all along supposes a congregation to be present; and particularly in one of the addresses which the Priest is to use, it is very absurd for him to tell the godfathers and godmothers in a chamber, that they have brought the child thither to be baptized, when he himself is brought thither to baptize it. It is still more absurd for him in such a place to use that expression, Grant that whosoever is here dedicated to thee by our office and ministry, &c. For he knows that the word here cannot be applicable to the place he is in: nor yet has he any authority to omit or alter the form.
If we look back into the practice of the primitive Church, we shall find that the place where this solemn act was per formed was at first indeed unlimited: In any place where there was water, as Justin Martyr tells us; in ponds or lakes, in springs or rivers, as Tertullian speaks; but always as near as might be to the place of their public assemblies. For it was never (except upon extraordinary occasions) done without the presence of the congregation. A rule the primitive Christians so zealously kept to, that the Trullan Council does not allow this holy sacrament to be administered even in chapels that were appropriate or private, but only in the public or parish churches; punishing the persons offending, if clergy, with deposition; if laity, with excommunication.
In our own Church indeed, since our unhappy confusions, this office hath been very frequently made use of in private; and some Ministers have thought themselves, to prevent the greater mischief of separation, necessitated to comply with the obstinacy of the greater and more powerful of their parishioners: who, for their ease or humour, or for the convenience of a more splendid and pompous christening, resolving to have their children baptized at home, if their own Minister refuse it, will get some other to do it.
But such persons ought calmly to consider how contrary to reason and the plain design of the institution of this sacrament, this perverse custom, and their obstinate persisting in it, is. For what is the end of that sacred ordinance, but to initiate the person into the Church of Christ, and to entitle him to the privileges of it? And where can there be a better representation of that society, than in a congregation assembled after the most solemn and conspicuous manner for the worship of God, and for the testifying of their communion in it? Where can the profession be more properly made before such admission; where the stipulation given, where the promise to undertake the duties of a Christian, but in such an assembly of Christians? How then can all this be done in concision and precipitance, without any timely notice or preparation, in private, in the corner of a bed-chamber, parlour, or kitchen, (where I have known it to be administered) and there perhaps out of a basin, or pipkin, a tea-cup, or a punchbowl, (as the excellent Dr. Wall with indignation observes) and in the presence of only two or three, or scarce so many as may be called a congregation? The ordinance is certainly public; public in the nature and end of it, and therefore such ought the celebration of it to be; the neglect whereof is the less excusable, because it is so easily remedied.
II. Rubric 2. The original and antiquity of godfathers and godmothers. The next rubric (which was added at the last review) is concerning the godfathers and godmothers. The use of which in the Christian Church was derived from the Jews, as well as the initiation of infants itself. And it is by some believed that the witnesses mentioned by Isaiah at the naming of his son, were of the same nature with these sureties.
§.2. The use of them. Whence called sureties, witnesses, and godfathers, &c. In the primitive Church they were so early, that it is not easy to fix the time of their beginning. Some of the most ancient Fathers make mention of them, and through all the successive ages afterwards we find the use of them continued, without any scruple or interruption, till the Anabaptists, and other Puritans of late years, raised some idle clamours against them. Some of these I shall have a proper place to speak to hereafter. In the mean while I desire to observe in general, that since the laws of all nations (because infants cannot speak for themselves) have allowed them guardians to contract for them in secular matters; which contracts, if they be fair and beneficial, the infants must make good when they come to age; it cannot, one would think, be unreasonable for the Church to allow them spiritual guardians, to promise those things in their name, without which they cannot obtain salvation. And this too, at the same time, gives security to the Church, that the children shall not apostatize, from whence they are called sureties; provides monitors to every Christian, to remind them of the vow which they made in their presence, from whence they are called witnesses; and better represents the new birth, by giving the infants new and spiritual relations, whence they are termed godfathers and godmothers.
§.3. The number of them. How long the Church has fixed the number of these sureties, I cannot tell: but by a constitution of Edmund, archbishop of Canterbury, A.D. 1236, and in a synod held at Worcester, A.D. 1240, I find the same provision made as is now required by our rubric, viz. That there should be for every male child that is to be baptized, two godfathers and one godmother, and for every female one godfather and two godmothers.
§.4. The qualifications of persons to be admitted godfathers and godmothers. By the twenty-ninth canon of our Church, no parent is to he admitted to answer as godfather for his own child. For the parents are already engaged under such strict bonds, both by nature and religion, to take care of their children’s education, that the Church does not think she can lay them under greater: but still makes provision, that if, notwithstanding these obligations, the parents should be negligent, or if it should please God to take them to himself before their children be grown up; there yet may be others, upon whom it shall lie to see that the children do not want due instructions, by means of such carelessness, or death of their parents. And for a further prevention of people’s entering upon this charge, before they are capable of understanding the trust they take upon themselves, it is further provided by the above-mentioned canon, that no person be admitted godfather or godmother, before the said person so undertaking hath received the holy Communion.
III. Rubric 3. Fonts, why so called. Why placed at the lower end of the church. Formerly very large. Why made of stone. When there are children to be baptized, the parents shall give knowledge thereof over night, or in the morning, before the beginning of Morning Prayer, to the Curate. And then the godfathers and godmothers, and the people with the children must be ready at the font,* so called, I suppose, because Baptism, at the beginning of Christianity, was performed in springs or fountains. They were at first built near the church, then in the church-porch, and afterwards (as it is now usual amongst us) placed in the church itself, but still keeping the lower end, to intimate that Baptism is the entrance into the mystical Church. In the primitive times we meet with them very large and capacious, not only that they might comport with the general customs of those times, viz. of persons being immersed or put under water; but also because the stated times of Baptism returning so seldom, great numbers were usually baptized at the same time. In the middle of them was always a partition; the one part for men, the other for women; that so, by being baptized asunder, they might avoid giving offence and scandal. But immersion being now. too generally discontinued, they have shrunk into little small fonts, scarce bigger than mortars, and only employed to hold less basins with water, though this last be expressly contrary to an ancient advertisement of our Church. It is still indeed required that there be a font in every church made of stone; because, saith Durand, the water that typified Baptism in the wilderness flowed from a rock, and because Christ, who gave forth the living water, is in Scripture called the Corner-Stone and the Rock.
§.2. Baptism, why to be performed after the second Lesson. At this font the children, &c., are to be ready, either immediately after the last Lesson at morning prayer, or else immediately after the last Lesson at evening prayer, as the Curate by his discretion shall appoint. The reason of which I take to be, because by that time the whole congregation is supposed to be assembled; which shews the irregularity (which prevails much in some churches) of putting off christenings till the whole service is over, and so reducing them (by the departing of the congregation) to almost private baptism.
Due notice, normally of at least a week, shall be given before a child is brought to the church to be baptized.
For every child to be baptized there shall be not fewer than three godparents, of whom at least two shall be of the same sex as the child and of whom at least one shall be of the opposite sex; save that, when three cannot be conveniently had, one godfather and one godmother shall suffice. Parents may be godparents for their own children provided that the child shall have at least one other godparent. The godparents shall be persons who have been baptized and confirmed and will faithfully fulfil their responsibilities both by their care for the child committed to their charge and by the example of their own godly living. Nevertheless the Minister shall have power to dispense with the requirement of confirmation in any case in which in his judgement need so requires.
The Minister shall instruct the parents or guardians of an infant to be admitted to Holy Baptism that the same responsibilities rest on them as are in the service of Holy Baptism required of the godparents.
No Minister shall refuse or, save for the purpose of preparing or instructing the parents or guardians or godparents, delay to baptize any infant within his cure that is brought to the church to be baptized, provided that due notice has been given and the provisions relating to godparents are observed. If the Minister shall refuse or unduly delay to baptize any such infant, the parents or guardians may apply to the Bishop of the diocese who shall, after consultation with the Minister, give such directions as he thinks fit.
The Minister, before proceeding to the Baptism, shall have satisfied himself that the child presented to him has not already been baptized.
At the time appointed the godfathers and godmothers and the parents or guardians with the child must be ready at the Font, and the Priest coming to the Font (which is then to be filled with pure Water,) and standing there, shall proceed as follows.
I. The first question. THE people with the children, being ready, and the Priest coming to the font, (which is then to be filled with pure water) as our present rubric directs, and standing there, is, in the first place, to ask, Whether the child has been already baptized or no? The reason of which is, because Baptism is never to be repeated: for as there is but one Lord and one Faith, so there is but one Baptism. And in the primitive Church, those that stood up so earnestly for rebaptizing those who had been baptized by heretics, did not look upon that as a second Baptism, but esteemed that which had been conferred by heretics as invalid; seeing heretics, being out of the Church, could not give what they had not. And others, rather than repeat that sacrament, allowed even that Baptism to be valid which was administered by heretics, if it appeared that it had been performed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
II. The Exhortation If the Minister be answered, that the child hath not been baptized, he then begins the solemnity with an exhortation to prayer; for there being a mutual covenant in this sacrament between God and man, so vast a disproportion between the parties, and so great a condescension on the part of the Almighty, (who designs only our advantage by it, and is moved by nothing but his own free grace to agree to it) it is very reasonable the whole solemnity should be begun with an humble address to God.
Then follows a Prayer for Gods merciful acceptance of the Infant that is brought; that, as he is to receive the Sacrament, so he may receive all the benefits of it, And lest any should doubt whether CHRIST will accept an Infant to Baptism, and the Effects of it, holy Church propounds to us the 10. chap. of S. Mark, out of which she concludes CHRISTS love and good will to children in general; For he commanded them to be brought to him; he rebuked those that would have kept them from him, he embraced them in his arms, and blessed them: which are all plain arguments that he will receive them when they are brought to him: Yea, and that he will so far embrace them as to receive them to eternal life, if they be brought to him, is plain by his own words in that Gospel; Suffer little children to come unto me, for to such, and therefore to themselves (for Quod in uno similium valet, valebit in altero, what belongs to others because they are such as children are, must needs belong to the children) belongeth the kingdom of God. Since then they be capable of the Kingdom of heaven, and there is no ordinary way for them to the Kingdom of heaven, but by a new and second birth of Water and the Holy Ghost, that is, Baptism; Doubt ye not, but that He who exprest so much love to them as is mentioned in the Gospel, will favourably receive the present infant to baptism, and gratiously accept our charitable work in bringing it to him. Thus holy Church concludes out of Scripture according to the practice and doctrine of the Catholick Church.
CYPRIAN tells us that no Infant is to be hindred from baptism. Ep. 59. This was the sentence of that Council: Anno Dom. 246. and this was no new decree, but fides Ecclesiae firmissima, the most established faith of the Church, AVG. ep. 28. ad Hieron. Haec sententia olim in Ecclesia Catholica summa authoritate fundata est. This definition was long before S. Cyprian settled in the Catholick Church by the highest Authority. AVG. de verb. Apost. Ser. 14. Let no man whisper to you any strange doctrines. This the Church always had, always held, this she received from our forefathers, and this she holds constantly to the end. And, Quicunque parvulos recentes, ab uteris matrum, baptizandos negat, Anathema sit, saith the COVNG. of Milevis, c. 2. being the CXth in the African Code. That Council pronounced Anathema to any that shall deny the baptism of Infants. And that Counc. is confirmed by the fourth and sixth GENERAL COVNCILS.
III. The two prayers. For which purpose follow two prayers: in the first of which we commemorate how God did typify this salvation, which he now gives by Baptism, in saving Noah and his family by water, and by carrying the Israelites safe through the Red Sea, as also how Christ himself, by being baptized, sanctified water to the mystical washing away of sin; and upon these grounds, we pray that God by his Spirit will wash and sanctify this child that he may be delivered from his wrath, received into the ark of his Church, and so filled with grace as to live holily here, and happily hereafter.
In the second prayer, to express our earnestness and importunity, we again renew our address, requesting, first. That this child may be pardoned and regenerated; and, secondly. That it may be adopted and accepted by Almighty God.
§.2. Double crossing of the persons baptized in the primitive Church. Between these two prayers in king Edward’s first Liturgy, the Priest was to ask the name of the child of its godfathers and godmothers, and then to make a cross upon its forehead and breast, saying, N. Receive the sign of the holy cross both in thy forehead and in thy breast, in token that thou shall not be ashamed to confess thy faith in Christ crucified; and so on, as in our own form, only speaking all along to the child. This is now done only upon the forehead, and reserved till after the child is baptized: though it is manifest there were anciently in the primitive Church two several signings with the cross: viz. one before Baptism, as was ordered by our first Liturgy; and the other after it, which was used with Unction at the time of Confirmation, of which I shall have occasion to speak hereafter. Why the crossing which we now retain is ordered after Baptism, will be shewn when I come to that part of the service.
§.3. Exorcising, an ancient practice in Baptism. After the second of these prayers, in the first Liturgy of king Edward, follows a form of exorcism, which I have printed in the margin,* which was founded upon a custom that obtained in the ancient ages of the Church, to exorcise the person baptized, or to cast the Devil out of him, who was supposed to have taken possession of the catechumen in his unregenerate state. And it cannot be denied but that possessions by evil spirits were very frequent before the spreading of the Gospel, when we read that many of them were ejected through the name of Christ. But the use of exorcism, as an ordinary rite in the administration of Baptism, cannot well be proved from any earlier authors than the fourth century, when it was taken in to denote that persons, before they were regenerate by Baptism, were under the kingdom of darkness, and held by the power of sin and the Devil. But it being urged by Bucer, in his censure of the Liturgy, that this exorcism was originally used to none but demoniacs, and that it was uncharitable to imagine that all were demoniacs who came to Baptism; it was thought prudent by our reformers to leave it out of the Liturgy, when they took a review of it in the fifth and sixth of king Edward. But to proceed in our own office.
Then shall the Priest say,
E. Didst sanctify the flood Jordan.] Such was the language of the primitive Church, not that they thought the water contracted any new quality in the nature, but was only said to be sanctified in the use thereof, being converted by Christ’s institution from common to sacred purposes. Omnesaque, saith Tertullian, sacramentum sanctificationis consequuntur invocato Deo; i: 6. “all waters obtain the mystery of sanctification by invocation of God.” So Gregory Nazianzen speaketh of our Saviour, ὡγνίζοντα τῇ καθάρσει τὰ ὕδατα i, e. “sanctifying the waters by His own washing.” So Jerome, Dominus noster, Jesus Christus, lavacro suo universas aguas mundavit, “our Lord Christ by His own washing, being exemplary to us, cleansed all waters.” Lastly, Ambrose, sacerdos precem defert, ut sanctificetur fons, et adsit presentia Trinitatis eterne, 1. 6. “ the priest prayeth that the font may be sanctified, and that the eternal Trinity would vouchsafe to be present at the ordinance.”
IV. The Gospel, how properly chose. The people standing up, (which shews that they were to kneel at the two foregoing prayers,) the Minister, in the next place, is to read to them a portion out of the Gospel of St. Mark.* Which, though anciently applied to the sacrament of Baptism, has been censured by some as improper for this place; because the children there mentioned were not brought to be baptized. But if people would but consider upon what account the Gospel is placed here, I cannot think hut they would retract so impertinent a charge. In the making of a covenant, the express consent of both parties is required: and therefore the covenant of Baptism being now to be made, between Almighty God and the child to be baptized; it is reasonable, that, before the sureties engage in behalf of the infant, they should have some comfortable assurances that God on his part will be pleased to consent to and make good the agreement. For their satisfaction, therefore, the Priest, who is God’s ambassador, produces a warrant from Scripture, (the declaration of his will,) whereby it appears that God is willing to receive infants into his favour, and hath by Jesus Christ declared them capable of that grace and glory, which on God’s part are promised in this baptismal covenant: wherefore the sureties need not fear to make the stipulation on their part, since they have God’s own word that there is no impediment in children to make them incapable of receiving that which he hath promised, and will surely perform.
Then shall the people stand up, and the Priest shall say, "Hear the words of the Gospel, written by Saint Mark, in the tenth Chapter, at the thirteenth Verse."
An Exhortation. From all which premises, the Church, in a brief exhortation that follows, concludes, that the sureties may cheerfully promise that which belongs to their part, since God by his Son hath given sufficient security that his part shall be accomplished. But this being the overflowings of God’s pure mercy and goodness, and not owing to any merits or deserts in us, it is fit it should be acknowledged in an humble manner.
After the Gospel is read, the Minister shall make this brief Exhortation upon the words of the Gospel.
Next follows a Thanksgiving for our Baptism, which we are put in mind of by this occasion, with an excellent prayer for our selves; and the Infants before us, that we may walk worthy of baptism; and they be accepted to it graciously.
V. The Thanksgiving. And therefore next follows a thanksgiving† for our own call to the knowledge of, and faith in God, which we are put in mind of by this fresh occasion: and wherein we also beg of God to give a new instance of his goodness, by giving his holy Spirit to the infant now to be baptized, that so it may he born again, and made an heir of everlasting salvation.
§.2. An old ceremony in king Edward's first book. After this thanksgiving in king Edward’s first Liturgy, the Priest was to take one of the children oy the right hand, the other being brought after him: and coming into the church toward the font (for all the former part of the service was then said at the church-door) he was to say. The Lord vouchsafe to receive you into his holy household, and to keep and govern you always in the same, that you may have everlasting life. Amen[.]
Then shall the Priest demand of the Godfathers, &c. These questions, Dost thou forsake, &c. This Form of interrogating the Godfathers in the name of the child, is very Ancient and Reasonable.
For the Antiquity of it, see S. Chrys. in Psal. 14. Adducit quisquam infantem ubera sugentem, ut baptizetur, & statim sacerdos exigit ab infirma aetate, pacta, conventa, assensiones, & minoris aetate fide jussorem accipit susceptorem, & interrogat an renunciat Satanae. The sucking Infant is brought to baptism. The Priest exacts of that Infant covenants, contracts and agreements: and accepting of the Godfather in the Infants stead, he asks, whether he does forsake the Devil, &c.] Cyprian ep. 7.
H. The moving of these following interrogatories to infants, seemed over light for a Sacrament of so high importance ; and I confess, at the first glance, and perfunctory view, it exhibits much in favour of that misapprehension. But go nearer and behold it with a stricter scrutiny, the practice will appear not only defensible enough, but decently accommodated to the sacred office of peedo-baptism.
This Sacrament, all men know and grant, is the initiation, the first admission into the gospel-covenant ; a covenant must be bipartite, there must be at least two parties to it, Christ here for His part promiseth to persons baptized, remission of sins, Acts il. 38, (as also in that great charter of “ask and ye shall have,”’) and all other things advancing their eternal salvation. And that this prove not nudum pactum, “a naked contract,” without guid pro guo, reason good he should covenant with persons to be baptized, “that they forsake the devil and all his works, and constantly believe God’s holy word, and obediently keep His commandments.” Now because tender babes are in no capacity to stipulate for themselves, therefore the Church, who is the common mother to all such as profess Christianity, assigneth to those infants, and to all persons naturally so impedited, sponsores, i. e. “ godfathers” or guardians to undertake and assume for them what they ought to do for themselves, were it consistent with their, rather days than, years. For the presentment of children at the font, is most properly the act of the Church, and but ministerially the act of the sponsores. Accommodat illis mater Ecclesia aliorum pedes, ut veniant, aliorum cor ut credant, aliorum linguam ut fateantur, saith St. Augustine; i. 6. “the Church furnisheth them with others’ feet to come, with the heart of others to believe, and with the tongue of others to confess their faith.” And it is an act of her charity indulged unto the infants of all such as have consigned up their names to Christianity, without regard to the either, perhaps blameworthy conversation, or misbelief in points of religion of the parents, much less to spurious generation.
Nor this a practice rare and unheard of, but hath its parallel amongst almost all nations in civil transactions, they indulging the like favour not only to infants, but also to all that labour of the like incapacity: Valerius Flaccus quem edilem creaverant, quia Flamen Dialis erat, jurare in leges non poterat, magistratum autem plus quinque dies, nisi qui jurasset in leges, non licebat gerere, ideo petiit ut legibus solveretur: quare dutus alter, viz., Frater ejus, qui pro eo juraret, plebesque scivit, ut perinde esset, ac si ipse edilis jurasset, i.e. “ Valerius being before Flamen Dialis, or Jupiter’s high-priest, soon after was created aedile,” (or overseer of dilapidations ;) ‘‘as he was high-priest he ought not to swear,” (the law of the Romans supposing such a sacred person would voluntarily do what an oath would compel, much like the value our nation hath for her nobility upon that very account, not demanding corporal oath from such persons of honour,) “and no man could hold any office of magistracy above five days, unless he first took oath to observe the laws: whereupon, he moved the law might be dispensed with; wherefore another was assigned for his proxy, and his brother sworn in his stead, the people decreeing that it should be as firm in law as if the edile himself had taken the oath.” So the civil law confirmeth all stipulations of the guardians or tutors of pupils, which are made for the benefit of the minor, and so doth the common law of this land. Authoritas custodum est, ut contrahant, in judicio stent, reliquaque faciant pro pupillo suo, que rerum statusque sui vel conservationem, vel incrementum spectant, 1. 6. “ guardians have full authority to contract, to bring an action, and to act any thing in their pupil’s behalf, which may tend to the preservation of his estate, or advantage of his affairs.” Yea, custos in animam minoris jurare potest, 1. 6. “the guardian may swear for his minor,” saith the same author: and I myself am not ignorant, that in court-rolls, entries are to be, found of several persons, who have been sworn for minors and infants, who, in respect of tenure, were obliged in course to bear offices relating to their lord paramount.
VI. The preface to the covenant. And now no doubt remaining but that God is ready and willing to perform his part of the covenant, so soon as the child shall promise on his; the Priest addresses himself to the godfathers and godmothers to promise for him, and from them takes security that the infant shall observe the conditions that are required of him. And in this there is nothing strange or new; nothing which is not used almost in every contract. By an old law of the Romans, all magistrates were obliged, within five days after admission to their office, to take an oath to observe the laws. Now it happened that C. Valerius Flaccus was chosen edile, or overseer of the public buildings. But he being before Flamen Dialis, or Jupiter’s high priest, could not be admitted by the Romans to swear; their laws supposing that so sacred a person would voluntarily do what an oath would oblige him to. C. Valerius however desired that his brother, as his proxy, might be sworn in his stead: to this the commons agreed, and passed an act that it should be all the same as if the edile had sworn himself. Much after the same manner, whenever kings are crowned in their infancy, some of the nobility, deputed to represent them, take the usual oaths. The same do ambassadors for their principals at the ratifying of leagues or articles; and guardians for their minors, who are bound by the law to stand to what is contracted for them. Since then all nations and orders of men act by this method, why should it be charged as a fault upon the Church, that she admits infants to baptism, by sponsors undertaking for them?
Then shall the Priest speak unto the Godfathers and Godmothers on this wise.
VII. The stipulation to be made by question and answer. Having thus justified the reasonableness of a vicarious stipulation, let us now proceed to consider the form that is here used. It is drawn up all along by way of question and answer, which seems to have been the method even in the days of the Apostles: for St. Peter calls baptism the answer of a good conscience: and in the primitive Church, queries were always put to the persons baptized, which persons at age answered themselves, and children by their representatives, who are therefore to answer in the first person, (as the advocate speaks in the person of the client,) I renounce, &c., because the contract is properly made with the child.
§.2. In the name of the child. For which reason, in the first book of king Edward, the priest is ordered to demand of the child these several questions proposed; and in our present Liturgy, though the Minister directs himself to the godfathers and godmothers, yet he speaks by them to the child, as is manifestly apparent from the third question: and consequently the child is supposed to return the several answers which are made by the godfathers, &c., and to promise by those that are his sureties (as the above preface expresses it) that he will renounce the Devil and all his works, and constantly believe God’s holy word, and obediently keep his Commandments.
§.3. An account of the queries. The queries proposed are four, of which the last was added at the Restoration; there being but three of them in any of the former books, though in the first of king Edward they are broken into eight. They being all of them exceedingly suitable and proper, I think it not amiss to take notice of them severally.
§.8. This baptismal vow very primitive. I cannot conclude this section till I have observed, that this whole stipulation is so exactly conformable to that which was used in the primitive Church, that it cannot be unpleasant to compare them together. All that were to be baptized were brought to the entrance of the baptistery or font, and standing with their faces towards the west, (which being directly opposite to the east, the place of light, did symbolically represent the prince of darkness, whom they were to renounce) were commanded to stretch out their hands as it were in defiance of him; and then the bishop asked them every one, “Dost thou renounce the Devil and all his works, powers, and service?” To which each party answered, “I do renounce them.”—”Dost thou renounce the world, and all its pomps and vanities?” Answer, “I do renounce them.” In the next place they made an open confession of their faith, the bishop asking, “Dost thou believe in God the Father Almighty, &c., in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who, &c. Dost thou believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, and in one baptism of repentance for remission of sins, and the life everlasting?” To all which each party answered, “I do believe;” as our Church still requires in this office.
We renounc'd the world when we were baptized: and their form of abrenunciation was much like ours, as you may see, Salvian. l. 6. Aug. Ep. 23. and Cyril. Cat. Mist. 1. Where you may see at large the ancient Form and Manner of Abrenunciations.
First, you entred into the Church Porch the place of the Font or Baptistery, and standing towards the West, you heard it commanded you, that with hands stretched out you should renounce the Devil, as if he were there present. It behoves you to know that a Type or Sign of this, you have in the Old Testament. When Pharaoh the most bitter and cruel Tyrant oppressed the free people of the Jews, God sent Moses to deliver them from the grievous servitude of the Egyptians, the posts of the doors were anointed with the blood of the Lamb, that the destroying Angel might pass by the houses which had that sign of blood: and the people were delivered beyond expectation. But after that the Enemy saw them delivered, and the Red sea divided; he followed and pursued them, and was over-whelmed with the waves of the Sea. Pass we from the Figure to the Truth, there was Moses sent by God into Egypt; here Christ is sent into the world; he to deliver the people oppressed by Pharaoh, Christ to deliver the Devils captives; there the blood of the Lamb turn'd away the Destroyer; here the blood of the immaculate Lamb Christ Jesus is the defence against the Devil; That Tyrant followed our Fathers to the Red Sea, this impudent Prince of wickedness the Devil, follows there even to the waters of Salvation; he was drowned in the Sea, this is stifled in the waters of Life. Hear now what with a beck of the hand is said to the Devil, as present; I renounce thee Satan: It is worth the while, to explain why you stand to the West when you say this. The sun-set is the place of darkness, and the Devil is the Prince of darkness; and therefore in token of this, ye renounce the Prince of darkness, looking towards the West, I renounce thee Satan thou cruel Tyrant, I fear thy force no more, for Christ hath dissolved the power of darkness, I renounce thee, subtle Serpent, who under the shew of friendship, actest all thy villany, Then he adds, and all thy works. Those are sins of all sorts, which you must of necessity renounce. And this you must not be ignorant of, that whatsoever thou sayest in that dreadful hour, is written down in Gods book, and shall be accounted for. After this you say, And all his pomp, all vain shews from which holy David prayes to be delivered. Turn away mine eyes lest they behold vanity, Psal. 119. and all thy worship, all Idolatry and Superstition, all Magick and South-saying, all worship of, and prayers to the Devil. Take heed therefore of all these things which thou hast renounced: For if after the renunciation of the Devil, you fall back again into his captivity, he will be a more cruel Master than before; the last state of that man is worse than the beginning.
When you have renounced the Devil, then the Paradise of God is opened to you, which was planted in the East; and therefore as a Type of this you are turn'd from the West to the East, the Region of light.
We have seen that it was Ancient. And that it is Reasonable we shall perceive, if we consider, that in baptism we are making or concluding a Covenant, the New Covenant of the Gospel; in which Covenant Gods part is promises, precious promises, as S. Peter calls them, 2 S. Pet. 1. 4. for performance of which he hath given his word; and therefore good reason it is, that we also should give our word, and promise for performance of conditions on our parts, viz. to renounce the Devil and the World, and swear fidelity to our LORD. In all other Covenants and Contracts it is thought reasonable, that the several parties should mutually engage for performance of conditions, and that at the making and concluding of the Contract.
And why should not that which is thought reasonable in all other contracts, be thought reasonable in this? As thus to give our faith and word for performance of conditions is reasonable; so, if it be done with grave solemnity and in publick, it is so much the better, and more obliging: For grave solemnities make a deep impression upon the apprehension: (whence it is, that a corporal oath vested with the religious solemnity of laying on the hand upon, and kissing the holy Gospels, is more dreaded, than a naked and sudden oath) and promises made in publick bind more, because of the shame of falsifying, where so many eyes look on: which very shame of being noted to be false, oft-times is a greater bridle to sin, than the fear of punishment, as the World knows.
And this use the ancient Fathers made of it, to shame gross offenders by remembring them of their solemn promise made in Baptism to renounce the Devil, and give up themselves to God. Children, who by reason of their tender age, cannot perform this solemnity, have appointed them by the Church, Susceptores, Godfathers, who shall in the name of the child do it for them. As, by the wisest laws of the World, Guardians may contract for their Minors or Pupils to their benefit; and what the Guardians in such cases undertake, the Minors or Pupils are bound, when they are able to perform. For the Law looks upon them, not the Guardians, as obliged. So did the Church always account, that these promises which were made by the God-fathers in the name of the childe, did bind the child, as if in person himself had made it. And when the Ancients did upbraid any offenders with the breach of their promise made in baptism; none of those that were baptised in their infancy, were so desperate, as to answer scornfully, it was not I but my Godfathers that promised; and if any should so have answered, he would have been loudly laught at for that his empty criticism.
Though this promise of Abrenunciation made in baptism be ancient and reasonable; yet is it not absolutely necessary to baptism, but when danger requires haste, it may be omitted, as the Church teaches in Private Baptism: yet if the child lives, it is to be brought to Church, and this solemnity to be performed after baptism. Rubr at private Bapt.
I. Dost thou forsake the devil, &c.] This form of abrenunciation is no novice, Tertullian mentions it expressly ; sub antistitis manu contestamur nos renunciare diabolo et pompie et angelis ejus: “whilst the hand of the priest is upon us, we declare that we renounce the devil, his pomp and his angels.” St. Cyprian; seculo renunciaverimus cum baptizati sumus : “we gave defiance to the world when we were first baptized.” The direction in the Constitutions is very considerable; ἀπαγγέλλετω οὖν ὁ βαπτιζόμενος ἐν τῷ ἀποτάσσεσθαι: τάσσομαι TO Σατανᾷ καὶ τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ, καὶ ταῖς πομπαῖς αὐτοῦ, καὶ ταῖς λατρείαις αὐτοῦ, καὶ τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ, καὶ ταῖς ἐφευρέσεσιν αὐτοῦ. μετὰ δέ τὴν ἀποταγὴν συντασσόμενος λεγέτω, ὅτι καὶ συντάσσομαι τῷ Χριστῷ: “let him who is to be baptized renounce in this form, ‘I renounce the devil and all his works, and his pomps, and his services, and his angels, and all his devices.’ And after this renunciation let him proceed thus, ‘I list and enrol myself in the service of Christ.’” The ancient mode in this renunciation presents us with these remarkables: first, it was distinguished into, sometimes two, sometimes three questions, as it was in the first liturgy of Edw. VI., and as many replications. Quando te interrogavit Sacerdos, Abrenuntias diabolo, et operibus ejus; quid respondisti? Abrenuntio. Abrenuntias seculo et voluptatibus ejus ; quid respondisti 2? Abrenuntiot. “ Whilst the priest demanded of thee, ‘Dost thou renounce the devil and all his works,’ what didst thou answer? ‘I renounce them all.’ ‘Dost thou renounce the world and all the pleasuresthereof,’ what didst thou answer? ‘I renounce them all.’” This for double renunciation. As for triple, the author of the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, and St. Gregory the Great, witnesseth it.
Secondly, it is observable that the party renouncing did use first to turn himself to the west, primum renunciamus ei, qui in occidente est, and so renounce; and then versi ad orientem, pactum inimus cum sole justitie : “turning about to the east, there we make a covenant with the Sun of righteousness.” Now this abrenunciation denoting a motion from the service of the world, the flesh, and the devil, to the worship of Jesus Christ, it is also very remarkable that Satan observes the same rule in the admission of his neophytes. For (which I note as a singular evidence for the verity of Christian religion) the first operation in the first method of his stipulation is, that all his converts renounce their baptism, that is, recant their baptismal renunciation; and this he observes precisely towards all such as he subverts, as well in the profession of the Church of Rome, as England.
§.4. Query 1. First, then, when we enter into covenant with God, we must have the same friends and enemies as he hath; especially when the same that are enemies to him are also enemies to our salvation. And therefore, since children are by nature the slaves of the Devil, and, though they have not yet been actually in his service, will nevertheless be apt to be drawn into it, by the pomps and glory of the worlds and the carnal desires of the flesh; it is necessary to secure them for God betimes, and to engage them to take all these for their enemies, since whoso loveth them cannot love God.
§.5. Query 2. Secondly, faith is a necessary qualification for baptism; and therefore before Philip would baptize the eunuch, he asked him, if he believed with all his heart: and received his answer that he believed Jesus to be the Son of God? From which remarkable precedent the Church hath ever since demanded of all those who enter into the Christian profession, if they believe all the Articles which are implied in that profession: and this was either done by way of question and answer, or else the party baptized (if of age) was made to repeat the whole Creed.
§.6. Query 3. But thirdly, it is not only necessary that the party to be baptized do believe the Christian faith; but he must also desire to be joined to that society by the solemn rite of initiation: wherefore the child is further demanded, whether he will be baptized in this faith; because God will have no unwilling servants, nor ought men to be compelled by violence to religion. And yet the Christian religion is so reasonable and profitable, both as to this world and the next, that the godfathers may very well presume to answer for the child, that this is his desire: since if the child could understand the excellency of this religion, and speak its mind, it would without doubt be ready to make the same reply.
§.7. Query 4. Lastly, St. Paul tells us, they that are baptized must walk in newness of life: for which reason the child is demanded, fourthly, If he will keep God’s holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of his life? For since he now takes Christ for his Lord and Master, and lists himself under his banner, it is fit he should vow, in the words of this sacrament, to observe the commands of his general. Wherefore as he promised to forsake all evil before, so now he must engage to do all that is good, without which he cannot be admitted into the Christian Church.
Then follow certain short prayers. O merciful God, &c. which I conceive to be the same in substance with the ancient Exorcismes, which were certain prayers taken out of holy Scripture, Cyril. Cat. 1. and compos'd by the Church, CONC. CARTH. 4. c. 7. for the dispossessing of the person to be baptized; who being born in sin is under the Devils tyranny, from which the Church by her prayers, endeavours to free him. And so available they were, that oftentimes those that were corporally possessed, were freed by them, Cyp. ep. 77. and thereupon Cyril, Nazianz. Gennadius, and others, earnestly perswade not to despise the Churches Exorcisms. That it was ancient to use these Exorcisms before baptism, Nazianz. in lavacrum, S. Cypr. ep. 77. and Gennadius witness, who sayes, that it was observed Uniformiter in universo mundo, uniformly throughout the World.
I. The prayer for the sanctification of the child. THE contract being now made, it is fit the Minister should more peculiarly intercede with God for grace to perform it; and therefore, in the next place, he offers up four short petitions for the child’s sanctification. Most of our commentators upon the Common Prayer think, that they were added to supply the place of the old Exorcisms. But it is certain they were placed in the first book of king Edward with no such intent. For by that (as I have observed) a form of Exorcism was to be used over every child that was brought to be baptized: whereas these petitions were only to be used at such times as the water in the font was to be changed and consecrated, which was not then ordered to be done above once a month. For which reason the form for consecrating it did not, as now, make a part of the public office for baptism, but was placed by itself, at the end of the office for the administration of it in private, (i.e. at the end of the whole; for there was no office then for the baptism of such as are of riper years.)
And for the consecration of the water. The form that was used then was something different from what we use now. It was introduced with a prayer, that was afterwards left out at the second review.* And these petitions that are still retained, ran then in the plural number, and the future tense, in the behalf of all that should be baptized till the water should be changed again. And this is the reason that the last of these petitions still runs in general terms, it being continued word for word from the old form. Between the two last also were four other petitions inserted, which are now omitted.† And after all (the usual salutation intervening, viz. The Lord be with you. And with thy spirit) followed the prayer, which we still retain for the consecration of the water. There is some little difference in it towards the conclusion, because the water being sanctified by the first prayer above mentioned, there was no occasion to repeat the consecration in this; for which reason the words then, and in all the books to the last review, ran in this form: Regard, we beseech thee, the supplications of thy congregation, and grant that all thy servants, which shall be baptized in this water, prepared for the ministration of thy holy Sacrament, [which we here bless and dedicate in thy name to this spiritual washing,]‡ may receive the fulness of thy grace; and so on.
Of this form Bucer, in his Censure, could by no means approve. Such blessings and consecrations of things inanimate tends strangely (he tells us) to create in people’s minds terrible notions of magic or conjuration. He allows such consecrations indeed to be very ancient, but however they are not to be found in the word of God. At the second reformation therefore, the Common Prayer Book comes out with all that relates directly to the consecration of the water omitted. The first prayer above mentioned was left out entirely, and the last purged from those words, prepared for the ministration of the holy Sacrament. And thus the form continued till the last review, when a clause was again added to invocate the Spirit, to sanctify the water to the mystical washing away of sin. Now by this is meant, not that the water contracts any new quality in its nature or essence, by such consecration; but only that it is sanctified or made holy in its use, and separated from common to sacred purposes. In order to which, though the primitive Christians believed, as well as we do, that water in general was sufficiently sanctified by the baptism of our Saviour in the river Jordan; yet when any particular water was at any time used in the administration of baptism, they were always careful to consecrate it first by a solemn invocation of the Holy Spirit.
Then shall the Priest say,
Next follows the Commemoration of Christs institution of Baptism; and his Commission to his Disciples to Baptize. Thus the Priest reads his Commission, and then acts accordingly: and because no man is sufficient for these things, 2 Cor. 2. 16. therefore he prayes for Gods assistance and acceptance of his ministration.
Then the Priest asks the childs name. As under the Law at Circumcision the name was given, so now at Baptism, because then we renounce our former Lord and Tyrant, and give up our names to God as his servants.
Then the Minister Baptizes the child dipping or sprinkling it, &c. either of which is sufficient Gennad. dog. 74. For it is not in this spiritual washing, as it is in the bodily, where if the bath be not large enough to receive the whole body, some part may be foul when the rest are cleansed. The soul is cleansed after another manner, Totum credentibus conferunt divina compendia, a little water can cleanse the believer, as well a whole River, CYPR. ep. 77.
The old fashion was to dip or sprinkle the person thrice, to signifie the mystery of the TRINITY, and the Apost. can. 50. deposes him that does otherwise. The Church so appointed then because of some Hereticks that denied the Trinity: upon the same ground afterwards it was appointed to do it but once (signifying the unity of substance in the Trinity) left we should seem to agree with the Hereticks that did it thrice. Toletan. 4. c. 5.
This baptizing is to be at the FONT. What the Font is, every body knows, but not why it is so call'd. The rites of baptism in the first times were perform'd in Fountains and Rivers, both because their converts were many, and because those ages were unprovided of other Baptisteries: we have no other remainder of this rite but the name. For hence it is that we call our Baptisteries, Fonts; which when Religion found peace, were built and consecrated for the more reverence and respect of the Sacrament. These were set at first some distance from the Church, Cyril cat. myst. 1. after, in the Church-Porch, and that significantly, because Baptism is the entrance into the Church mystical, as the Porch to the Temple. At the last, they got into the Church, but not into every, but the City-Church, where the Bishop resided, hence call'd the Mother Church, because it gave spiritual birth by baptism; afterward they were brought into Rural Churches. Wheresoever they stood, they were had in high veneration. Anastas. ep. ad Orthodox. complains sadly of impiety in his time; such as never was heard of in war, that men should set fire to Churches and Fonts, and after mentioning the Fonts. Good God! Christ-killing Jews, and heathenish Atheists, have without all reverence entred and defiled the Fonts.
K. Naming the child.] The imposition of the name in baptism, is both a decent imitation of the same practice in circumcision, whereof there are, besides those of our Saviour and St. John Baptist, several other instances, and a prudent parcel of religious policy, whereby the person baptized might be the better distinguished, in albo Christianorum, “in the Christian register;”and for this cause the priests were anciently commanded, ἀπογράψασθαι τὸν ἄνδρα, καὶ Tov ἀνάδοχον, “to enrol the names both of the person baptized, and of his godfather or surety.” Indeed, fit it was, that they who gave themselves up to Christ, and listed themselves in His militia, should be enrolled upon their first admission, that the Church might the better know who were hers. Now whereas proselytes adult were entered into the register under their former names, unless they thought fit to assume others, when they were in composition for baptism: so infants, upon whom no names were formerly imposed, were, as before they were brought to the sacred font, named by their parents, or such as represented them, viz. the godfathers.
L. Shall dip. Immersion or dipping is not of the necessity of this Sacrament, sprinkling being every way as energetical and operative, as St. Cyprian hath (for it is one of the questions he undertakes to resolve) most excellently determined. Non sic in sacramento salutari delictorum contagia, ut in lavacro carnali sordes corporis abluuntur : “the filth and pollution of our sins is not so cleansed in the sacramental laver, as our bodies are in natural water.’' And though dipping was the more ancient custom, in respect of persons adult, who were better able to undergo it; yet after, when whole nations became Christian, and rarely any were offered to the font but infants, whose tender bodies would not well endure it, this custom, in the western Church especially, was discontinued, and aspersion only used; so that Erasmus noted it as a piece of singularity in us English, that in his time we used immersion, And though dipping was constantly practised in the eastern countries, and is so still at this day, yet for children the use was then, and so is now, to warm the water μετὰ φύλλων τινῶν εὐωδῶν, “with sweet herbs,” a trouble avoided by aspersion.
Again, sprinkling is much more to the advantage of modesty, as to women especially, or where many are baptized together, as the then fashion was. For even when baptisteries were erected, they were made susceptible and capable to receive more than one: μὴ ἀπαξιώσῃς συμβαπτισθῆναι πένητι πλούσιος ὦν ὁ εὐπατρίδης τῷ δυσγενεῖ, ὁ δεσπότης τῷ δούλῳ, saith Gregory Nazianzen, i. e. “do not disdain, if thou beest rich, to be baptized in the same font with the poor; if nobly born, with the obscure ; if a master, with thy servant.” Nor could the company and presence of others create any inconvenience, had they not entered the font stripped of all, and totally naked, as it is clear they did. In fontem nudi demergitis, sed etherea veste vestiti : “ye dive into the font naked, only invested with an airy mantle.” An usage not peculiar to men, but practised also by women, as is evident by St. Chrysostom, who, speaking of an outrage acted by rude people in the time of persecution, maketh amongst other things this relation ; καὶ γυναῖκες τῶν εὐκτηρίων οἴκων πρὸς τὸ βάπτισμα ἀποδυσάμεναι γυμναὶ ἔφυγον, i. 6. “the women of the sacred oratories having put off their clothes in order to baptism, ran away naked.” True it is, these women were not baptized promiscuously with men: for the baptistery was parted in the middle with a screen or traverse of wood, one division being allotted for the men, and the other for the women, which were so close joined, that neither could make any discoveries into the other; that they were thus separated, Augustine gives us cause to believe, who related a miracle of Innocentia, that was cured of a cancer in her breast, by being signed there with the cross, by the new-baptized woman, who first came to her as she stood in parte feminarum ad baptisterium, “in the division assigned for the baptizing of women.” And these divisions probably the fathers had an eye to, when they mention baptisteries in the plural number, (as Ambrose in his epistle to Marcellina,) not intending several structures, but several divisions in one structure. But though this traverse blinded them from the view of men who came upon the same account they did, it did not hide them from the sight of the baptist, who was regularly to be a man: and therefore that all possible provision for modesty might be made, certain women were set apart for that service, their office being ἐξυπηρετεῖσθαι τοῖς διακόνοις ἐν τῷ βαπτίζεσθαι τὰς γυναίκας διὰ τὸ εὐπρεπὲς, “to assist the deacons in baptizing women more decently,” as the author of the Constitutions hath it: the like is repeated also by Epiphanius, who hath transcribed much from him; διακονίσσαι καθίστανται eis ὑπηρεσίαν γυναΐκων διὰ τὴν σεμνότητα, ἀν χρεία κατασταίη λουτροῦ ἕνεκα: i. 6. “ deaconesses are appointed for the ministration of women, for modesty sake, in case there be any occasion to baptize them.” I have dwelt the longer upon this subject, not only to discover the manifold inconveniences of immersion and dipping, in persons adult, but also to represent the various customs of the primitive times, perhaps not known to all.
Μ. Thrice.] What the Apostolical mode was, whether single or triple mersion, there is no direct constat: the Church devτεροπρώτη, and next to it, for certain practised it thrice, and applied the same quotient to confirmation, and the confession to their faith. In mysteriis interrogatio trina defertur, et confirmatio trina celebratur ; nec potest quis nisi trina confessione purgari, saith Ambrose, i. e. “in the mystery of initiation or baptism, three interrogatories are put, thrice is the party confirmed, so that no man can be cleansed in that laver, but by a threefold confession.” And for the manner, more explicitly in another place; Interrogatus es, Credis in Deum Patrem Omnipotentem ὃ dixisti, Credo, et mersisti. Iterum interrogatus es, Credis in Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, et in crucem ejus ? dixisti, Credo, et mersisti. Tertio interrogatus es, Credis οἱ in Spiritum Sanctum ὃ dixisti, Credo, tertio mersisti: “Thou art asked, Dost thou believe in God the Father Almighty ? thou answerest, I believe, and thou wert dipped. Again, thou wert demanded, Dost thou believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and in His cross? thou answerest, I believe, and then thou wert dipped again. Thirdly, thou wert asked, Dost thou believe in the Holy Ghost? thou answerest, I believe, and then thou wert dipped the last time.” This ceremony of interrogating thrice, St. Ambrose, in this place, and Cyril on John, deriving from our Saviour’s thrice demanding of St. Peter if he loved Him, John xxi. But I rather think it was so ordered as a distinct denotation of the personal Trinity, as single mersion or aspersion answereth the unity of the Deity, and upon that account was enjoined by the fourth council of Toledo, in opposition to the Arian heretics. The truth is, neither practice can justly be condemned, and are which she will, and judgeth best accommodated to the temper of her members. As for ours, a late bishop of no mean note, in his Articles of Visitation, positively asserts that the child is thrice to be aspersed with water on the face. An error, certainly, and to prove it so, this very rubric of the first book of Edward the Sixth is argumentative enough: for this rubric enjoining triple sprinkling, and being clearly omitted and outed by the second reformers, infallibly argueth they intended the discontinuance of the former practice. And the sense of those reformers must be the rule of our obedience.
II. Name, why given at Baptism. All things being thus prepared for the baptism of the child, the Minister is now to take it into his hands, and to ask the godfathers and godmothers to name it. For the Christian name being given as a badge that we belong to Christ, we cannot more properly take it upon us, than when we are enlisted under his banner. We bring one name into the world with us, which we derive from our parents, and which serves to remind us of our original guilt, and that we are born in sin: but this new name is given us at our baptism, to remind us of our new birth, when, being washed in the laver of regeneration, we are thereby cleansed from our natural impurities, and become in a manner new creatures, and solemnly dedicate ourselves to God, So that the naming of children at this time hath been thought by many to import something more than ordinary, and to carry with it a mysterious signification. We find something like it even among the heathens: for the Romans had a custom of naming their children on the day of their lustration, (i.e. when they were cleansed and washed from their natural pollution,) which was therefore called Dies nommalis. And the Greeks also, when they carried their infants, a little after their birth, about the fire, (which was their ceremony of dedicating or consecrating them to their gods,) were used at the same time to give them their names.
Heathen or wanton names prohibited. And that the Jews named their children at the time of circumcision, the holy Scriptures, as well as their own writers, expressly tell us. And though the rite itself of circumcision was changed into that of baptism by our Saviour, yet he made no alteration as to the time and custom of giving the name, hut left that to continue under the new, as he had found it under the old dispensation. Accordingly we find this time assigned and used to this purpose ever since: the Christians continuing from the earliest ages to name their children at the time of baptism. And even people of riper years commonly changed their name, (as Saul, saith St. Ambrose, at that time changed his name to Paul,) especially if the name they had before was taken from any idol or false god. For the Nicene Council forbids the giving of heathen names to Christians, and recommends the giving the name of some apostle or saint: not that there is any fortune or merit in the name itself, but that, by such means, the party might be stirred up to imitate the example of that holy person whose name he bears. And by a provincial constitution of our own Church, made by archbishop Peccham, A.D. 1281, it is provided, that no wanton names be given to children; or if they be, that they be changed at Confirmation.
§.2. To be given by the godfathers, and why. As to the appointment of the name, it may be pitched upon by the relations, (as we the godfathers, may see has been the custom of old:) but the rubric directs that it be dictated by the godfathers and godmothers. For this being the token of our new birth, it is fit it should be given by those who undertake for our Christianity, and engage that we shall be bred up and live like Christians; which being confirmed by the custom and authority of the Church in all ages, is abundantly enough to justify the practice, and satisfy us of the reasonableness of it.
III. The outward sign in Baptism. Immersion or dipping most primitive and significant. But the ends of baptism answered by affusion. After the name is thus given, the Priest (if the godfathers, &c. certify him that the child may well endure it) is to dip it in the water discreetly and warily; which was in all probability the way by which our Saviour, and for certain was the usual and ordinary way by which the primitive Christians did receive their baptism. And it must be allowed that by dipping, the ends and effects of baptism are more significantly expressed; for as in immersion there are three several acts, viz. the putting the person under water, his abiding there for some time, and his rising up again; so by these were represented Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection; and in conformity thereunto (as the Apostle plainly shews) our dying unto sin, the destruction of its power, and our resurrection to newness of life. Though indeed affusion is not wholly without its signification, or entirely inexpressive of the end of baptism. For as the immersing or dipping the body of the baptized represents the burial of a dead person under ground; so also the affusion or pouring water upon the party answers to the covering or throwing earth upon the deceased. So that both ceremonies agree in this, that they figure a death and burial unto sin: and therefore though immersion be the most significant ceremony of the two, yet it is not so necessary but that affusion in some cases may supply the room of it. For since baptism is only an external rite, representing an internal and spiritual action, such an act is sufficient, as fully represents to us the institution of baptism; the divine grace which is thereby conferred, being not measured by the quantity of water used in the administration of it. It is true, dipping and affusion are two different acts; but yet the word baptize implies them both: it being used frequently in Scripture to denote not only such washing as is performed by dipping, but also such as is performed by pouring or rubbing water upon the thing or person washed.
Which was therefore used upon some occasions by the primitive Christians. And therefore when the Jews baptized their children, in order to circumcision, it seems to have been indifferent with them, whether it was done by immersion or affusion. And that the primitive Christians understood it in this latitude, is plain, from their administering this holy sacrament in the case of sickness, haste, want of water, or the like, by affusion, or pouring water upon the face. Thus the jailor and his family, who were baptized by St. Paul in haste, the same hour of the night that they were converted and believed, are reasonably supposed to have been baptized by affusion: since it can hardly be thought that at such an exigency they had water sufficient at hand to be immersed in. The same may be said concerning Basilides, who, Eusebius tells us, was baptized by some brethren in prison. For the strict custody under which Christian prisoners were kept, (their tyrannical jailors hardly allowing them necessaries for life, much less such conveniences as they desired for their religion,) makes it more than probable that this must have been done by affusion only of some small quantity of water. And that baptism in this way was no unheard-of practice before this, may be gathered from Tertullian, who, speaking of a person of uncertain repentance offering himself to be baptized, asks, Who mould help him to one single sprinkling of water? The Acts also of St. Laurence, who suffered martyrdom about the same time as St. Cyprian, tell us how one of the soldiers that were to be his executioners, being converted, brought a pitcher of water for St. Laurence to baptize him with. And lastly, St. Cyprian, being consulted by one Magnus, in reference to the validity of clinick baptism, (i.e. such as was administered to sick persons on their beds by aspersion or sprinkling,) not only allows, but pleads for it at large, both from the nature of the sacrament, and design of the institution. It is true, such persons as were so baptized, were not ordinarily capable of being admitted to any office in the Church; but then the reason of this, as is intimated by the Council of Neocæsarea, was not that they thought this manner of baptism was less effectual than the other, but because such a person’s coming to the faith was not voluntary, but of necessity. And therefore it was provided by the same Council, that if the diligence and faith of a person so baptized did afterwards prove commendable, or if the scarcity of others, fit for the holy offices, did by any means require it, a clinick Christian might be admitted into holy orders. However, except upon extraordinary occasions, baptism was seldom, or perhaps never, administered for the four first centuries, but by immersion or dipping. Nor is aspersion or sprinkling ordinarily used, to this day, in any country that was never subject to the pope. And among those that submitted to his authority, England was the last place where it was received. Though it has never obtained so far as to be enjoined, dipping having been always prescribed by the rubric. The Salisbury Missal, printed in 1530, (the last that was in force before the Reformation,) expressly requires and orders dipping. And in the first Common Prayer Book of king Edward VI, the Priest’s general order is to dip it in the water, so it be discreetly and warily done; the rubric only allowing, if the child be weak, that then it shall suffice to pour water upon it. Nor was there any alteration made in the following books, except the leaving out the order to dip it thrice, which was prescribed by the first book.
How affusion or sprinkling first came in practice. However, it being allowed to weak children (though strong enough to be brought to church) to be baptized by affusion; many fond ladies at first, and then by degrees the common people, would persuade the Minister that their children were too tender for dipping. But what principally tended to confirm this practice was, that several of our English divines flying into Germany and Switzerland, &c. during the bloody reign of queen Mary, and returning home when queen Elizabeth came to the crown, brought back with them a great love and zeal to the customs of those Protestant Churches beyond sea, where they had been sheltered and received. And consequently having observed that in Geneva, and some other places, baptism was ordered to be performed by affusion, they thought they could not do the Church of England a greater piece of service, than to introduce a practice dictated by so great an oracle as Calvin. So that in the latter times of queen Elizabeth, and during the reigns of king James and king Charles I, there were but very few children dipped in the font. And therefore when the questions and answers in relation to the sacraments were first inserted at the end of the Catechism, upon the accession of king James I to the throne, the answer to the question, What is the outward visible sign or form in baptism? was this that follows: Water, wherein the person baptized is dipped, or sprinkled with it in the name of the Father, &c. And afterwards, when the Directory was put out by the Parliament, affusion (to those who could submit to their ordinance) began to have a shew of establishment; it being declared not only lawful, hut sufficient and most expedient mat children should be baptized, by pouring or sprinkling of water on the face. And as it were for the further prevention of immersion or dipping, it was particularly provided that baptism should not be administered in the places where fonts, in the time of popery, were unfitly and superstitiously placed. And accordingly (which was equal to the rest of their reformation) they changed the font into a basin: which being brought to the Minister in his reading desk, and the child being held below him, he dipped in his fingers, and so took up water enough just to let a drop or two fall on the child’s face. These reformers, it seems, could not recollect that fonts to baptize in had been long used before the times of popery, and that they had no where been discontinued from the beginning of Christianity, but in such places where the pope had gained authority. But our divines at the Restoration, understanding a little better the sense of Scripture and antiquity, again restored the order for immersion; however, for prevention of any danger to the child, the Priest is advised to be first certified that it will well endure it. So that the difference between the old rubric, and what it is now, is only this: As it stood before, the Priest was to dip, unless there was an averment or allegation of weakness; as it stands now, he is not to dip, unless there be an averment or certifying of strength, sufficient to endure it.
This order, one would think, should be the most unexceptionable of any that could be given; it keeping as close to the primitive rule for baptism, as the coldness of our region and the tenderness wherewith infants are now used, will sometimes admit. Though Sir John Floyer, in a discourse on cold baths, hath shewn, from the nature of our bodies, from the rules of medicine, from modern experience, and from ancient history, that nothing would tend more to the preservation of a child’s health, than dipping it in Baptism. However, the parents not caring to make the experiment, take so much the advantage of the reference that is made to their judgments concerning the strength of their children, as never to certify they may well endure dipping. It is true, indeed, the question is now seldom asked; because the child is always brought in such a dress, as shews that there is no intention that it should be dipped. For whilst dipping in the font continued in fashion, they brought the child in such sort of clothing, as might be taken off and put on again without any hinderance or trouble. But since the Church not only permits, but requires dipping, where it is certified the child may well endure it; and consequently since the Minister is always ready to dip, whensoever it is duly required of him; it is very hard that any should urge the not dipping or immersing, as a plea for separation.
§.2. Trine immersion an ancient practice. But to proceed: by king Edward’s first book, the Minister is to dip the child in the water thrice; first dipping the right side: secondly, the left side; the third time, dipping the face toward the font. This was the general practice of the primitive Church, viz. to dip the person thrice, i.e. once at the name of each Person in the Trinity, the more fully to express that sacred mystery. Though some later writers say this was done to represent the death, burial, and resurrection of our Saviour, together with his three days’ continuance in the grave. St. Austin joins both these reasons together, as a double mystery of this ancient rite, as he is cited by Gratian to this purpose. Several of the Fathers, that make mention of this custom, own, that there is no command for it in Scripture: but then they speak of it as brought into use by the Apostles; and therefore the fiftieth of the Canons that are called Apostolical, deposes any Bishop or Presbyter that administers Baptism without it.
Why discontinued. But afterwards, when the Arians made a wicked advantage of this custom, by persuading the people that it was used to denote that the Persons in the Trinity were three distinct substances; it first became a custom, and then a law, in the Spanish Church, only to use one single immersion; because that would express the Unity of the Godhead, while the Trinity of Persons would be sufficiently denoted by the person’s being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, ana Holy Ghost. However, in other parts of the Church, trine immersion most commonly prevailed, as it does in the Greek Church to this very day. Upon what account it was omitted in the second book of king Edward, I do not find: but there being no order in the room of it to confine the Minister to a single immersion, I presume it is left to his judgment and discretion to use which he pleases.
V. Of the white vesture, or chrisom. By the first Common Prayer of king Edward, after the child was thus baptized, the godfathers and godmothers were to lay their hands upon it, and the Minister was to put upon him his white vesture, commonly called the chrisom, and to say,
Take this white vesture as a token of the innocency, which, by God’s grace, in this holy Sacrament of Baptism, is given unto thee, and for a sign whereby thou art admonished so long as thou livest, to give thyself to innocence of living, that after this transitory life thou mayest be partaker of the life everlasting. Amen.
Why so called. This was a relic of an ancient custom I have formerly had occasion to mention: the intention and design of it is sufficiently expressed in the form above cited: I therefore need only observe further, that it receives its name from the chrism or ointment with which the child was anointed when the chrisom was put on.
VI. Unction prescribed by the first book of king Edward VI. For by the same book of king Edward, as soon as the Priest had pronounced the foregoing form, he was to anoint the infant upon the head, saying,
Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath regenerated thee by water and the Holy Ghost, and hath given unto thee remission of all thy sins; he vouchsafe to anoint thee with the unction of his Holy Spirit, and bring thee to the inheritance of everlasting life. Amen.
Whether this unction belonged to Baptism of Confirmation. Whether the compilers of king Edward’s Liturgy designed this as a continuance of the unction that anciently made a part of the office of Baptism; or of the unction which, though frequently used at the same time with Baptism, was yet rather a ceremony belonging to Confirmation, is not clearly to be discovered. According to the best of my judgment, I take it rather to be the latter; for the unction that was an immediate ceremony of Baptism, was always applied as soon as the party to be baptized was unclothed, and before his entrance into the water: whereas the unction enjoined by king Edward’s Liturgy is ordered to be applied after the child is thoroughly baptized. For this reason, I suppose, it was continued as a relic of the unction which the Priest used to perform preparatory to Confirmation. And what makes my opinion the more probable is, that in the old office for Confirmation, in that book, there is no order for the Bishop to anoint those whom he confirms; which yet it is not to be imagined our reformers (who shewed such regard to all primitive customs) would by any means have omitted, if they had not known that the ceremony of unction had been performed before. But to help the reader to a clear notion in this matter, it will be necessary to give him some little light into the ancient practice in relation to both these unctions.
How they were distinguished in the primitive Church. He must know then, that the unction that was used before baptism, was only with pure oil, with which the party was anointed just before he entered the water, to signify that he was now becoming a champion for Christ, and was entering upon a state of conflict and contention against the allurements of the world: in allusion to the custom of the old wrestlers or athletæ, who were always anointed against their solemn games, in order to render them more supple and active, and that their antagonists might take the less advantage and hold of them. This was commonly called the unction of the mystical oil: whereas the unction wherewith the party was anointed after baptism, was called the unction or chrism, being performed with a mixed or compound unguent, and applied by the Bishop at the time of the imposition of his hands, partly to express the baptism with fire, of which oil, we know, is a proper material, partly to signify the invisible unction of the Holy Spirit, and partly to denote that the person so anointed is admitted to the privileges of Christianity, which are described by the Apostle to be a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, &c., in the designation to which office anointing was generally used as a symbol. And this account Tertullian favours, where, speaking of the unction that followed baptism, he tells us it was derived from the ancient, i.e. the Jewish discipline, where the Priests were wont to be anointed to their office.
But further, the anointing in Baptism might be performed by either a deacon or deaconess; whereas the chrism that belonged to confirmation could not at first be ordinarily applied by any under the order of a Bishop. Afterwards indeed, when Christianity began to spread far and wide, so that Bishops could not be procured upon every extraordinary emergency, the Bishops found it necessary to give liberty to the Presbyters to anoint those whom they baptized, in cases of extremity: that so, if a Bishop could not be sent for in convenient time, a sick member of the Church might not depart wholly deprived of all those spiritual assistances which Confirmation was to supply. However, the privilege of making and consecrating the holy unguent, and the rite of laying on of hands, they still reserved to themselves; and only took care to supply their Presbyters with a due quantity of chrism, that they might not be without it upon any necessity. And this, though at first indulged only upon occasion, came in a little time afterwards to be the general practice: insomuch that for the Presbyter to anoint in baptism became the ordinary method; and the Bishop, when he confirmed, had nothing to do but to impose his hands, except by chance now and then to apply the chrism to a person that by accident had missed of it in his baptism.And this I take to be the unction intended in the form we are now speaking of, as well for the reasons above mentioned,.as because this, of the two, appears to have been the most ancient and universal, and so the most likely to be retained by our reformers. Bucer indeed prevailed for the leaving out the use both of this and the chrisom at the next review; not because he did not think them of sufficient antiquity or standing, or of good use and edification enough where they were duly observed; but because he thought they carried more shew of regard and reverence to the mysteries of our religion than men really retained; and that consequently they tended to cherish superstition in the minds of the people, rather than religion and true godliness.
Then the Priest shall take the Child into his hands, and shall say to the Godfathers and Godmothers, "Name this Child." And then naming it after them (if they shall certify him that the Child may well endure it) he shall dip it in the Water discreetly and warily, saying,
IV. The form of words. When the Priest dips or pours water upon the child, he is to say, (calling the child by its name,) N. I baptize thee, which was always the form of the Western Church. The Eastern Church useth a little variation, Let N. be baptized, &c., or else, The servant of God, such a one is baptized, &c.; but the sense is much the same: however, in the next words, viz. in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, all orthodox Christians did ever agree; because they are of Christ’s own appointment, and for that reason unalterable. Wherefore, when the heretics presumed to vary from this form, they were censured by the Church, and those baptisms declared null, which were not administered in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Some indeed took liberty to mingle a paraphrase with them, baptizing in the name of the Father who sent, of the Son that came, and of the Holy Ghost that witnessed; but our reformers thought it more prudent to preserve our Lord’s own words entire, without addition or diminution.
Now by baptizing in the name of three Persons, is not only meant that it is done by the commission and authority of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; but also that we are baptized into the faith of the holy Trinity; and are received into that society of men, who are distinguished from all false professions in the world, by believing in three Persons and one God.
But if they certify that the Child is weak, it shall suffice to pour Water upon it, saying the foresaid words,
After the Priest hath baptized the child, he receives it into the congregation, by this solemnity declaring that he is by baptism made a member of the Church, 1 Cor. 12. 13. We are all baptized into one body. And when he thus receives it, he signs it with the sign of the Cross, as of old it was wont, AVG. in Psal. 30. and on the forehead, the seat of blushing and shame, that he may not hereafter blush and be ashamed of the disgraced cross of Christ, Cypr. ep. 56. By this badge, is the childe dedicated to his service, whose benefits bestowed upon him in baptism, the name of the cross in holy Scripture does represent. Whosoever desires to be fully satisfied concerning the use of the cross in baptism, let him read the 30. Can. of our Church, Anno 1603.
P. Shall make a cross.] This rubric must be expounded by the thirtieth canon of our Church, and by that which followeth; for the signing is not immediately to succeed the formal words of baptism. But the minister is first to say, “we receive this child into the congregation of Christ’s flock ;” and then to sign, and so the words ‘do sign,’ in the present tense, do infallibly import. For the Church, studious to retain this ancient and universal ceremony of the purest primitive times, was also careful to decline all fear of superstitious intendment, as if she thought the Sacrament imperfect without it. Therefore, whereas the primitive mode made it to usher in baptism, our Church inverted the order, and made it come after, and so to follow it, as she expressly first declareth “ the child to be received into the congregation of Christ’s flock, as a perfect member thereof, and not by any power ascribed unto the sign of the cross.” And further to assure all distrustful minds, that she maketh it not of the substance of the Sacrament, she hath totally omitted it in the office of Private Baptism. Having yielded a reason of this remove in the service of our Church, it will be proper and pertinent to enquire into the original inducement to this ceremony.
These I observe to be three: first, an ancient rite it was for servants or captives to be stigmatized or branded with the names of their masters on their foreheads, as it was for their soldiers enrolled, with the names of their emperors or generalissimos on the hands, declaring thereby to whom they did belong. To this custom the prophet Ezekiel is thought to allude, ch. ix. ver. 4: “set a mark upon the forehead of them that mourn, and cry for all the abominations that are done in the midst of Jerusalem.” To this custom the angel in the Revelation is thought to regard, ch. vii. ver. 3: “hurt ye not the earth, &c., until we have sealed the servants of God on the forehead ;” and ch. xiv. ver. 1, where the retinue of the Lamb are said to “have His Father’s name written on their foreheads.” And as Christ’s flock carried their cognizance on their foreheads, so did His great adversary, the beast, sign his servants there also; Rev. xiv. 9, “if any man shall receive the mark of the beast on his forehead or on his hand.” Now that the Christian Church might hold some analogy with those sacred applications, she conceived it a most significant ceremony for baptism, (it being our first admission into Christian profession,) that all her children should be signed with the cross on their foreheads, at their reception of it, signifying thereby their consignment up to Christ, whence it is so often called by the fathers, signaculum Dominicum, “the Lord’s signet,” σφραγίς τοῦ Χριστοῦ, “ Christ’s broad seal,’ or by words of the same import: and hence Tertullian, signat illic in fronte milites suos; “he marketh in the forehead his own soldiers.”
Secondly, the real miracles which were in those times daily wrought by the use thereof, both in expelling and driving out of the devil, and by healing of corporal diseases, whereof I lately produced one testimony out of St. Augustine, who from that very place can furnish you with many more: so that woman in Epiphanius was preserved from poison, διὰ τῆς σφραγῖδος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, καὶ πίστεως ἐβοηθήθη : “she was helped by the sign of the cross and faith in Christ.” Not by either separated, but by both together. Many other instances might be produced. Now, in case any shall object that many of those anciently recorded miracles were impostures and mere fables ; were it possible to be proved, it would be of no force, unless they could also prove all were so, which is a thing impossible, considering that so many of the primitive fathers witness the contrary; nor is there any Protestant of remark who doth not acknowledge as much. Confessed it is, this gift of working miracles lasted not many centuries after Christ; and that for two reasons, one, lest the familiarity of them should breed contempt: for τὰ ὀντὰ θαυμάσια καταπεφρόνηται TS συνήθει, saith elegant Philo, “real miracles lose their estimation when they grow common.” Again, the work was done for which they were wrought: ὅτε ἡ γνῶσις τοῦ Θεοῦ οὔπω ἐκτείνατο, τὰ σημεῖα ἐγίνετο: “when the knowledge of the Christian faith was not far diffused, miracles were wrought as necessary,” for the conversion of proselytes; but when the gospel began to be spread abroad, νυνὶ δὲ οὐκ ἔστι χρεία ταύτης τῆς διδασκαλίας, “there was no further need of that way of teaching.” Therefore St. Paul saith, τὰ σημεῖα τοῖς ἀπίστοις, ov τοῖς πιστεύουσιν, “wonders were exhibited more for the unbelievers than for the faithful,’' which is the cause that Timothy and Epaphroditus being sick, 1 Tim. v. 23, Phil. ii. 30, no miracle was applied to recover them, they being faithful and confirmed believers.
Lastly, the heathens were wont to deride the Christians, and to speak disdainfully of them, as worshippers of a malefactor crucified: to encounter which reproach, and to shew that they “gloried in the cross of Christ,” Gal. vi. 14, taking it to be an honour, not an ignominy, they assumed this ceremony of signing themselves with the cross, both in baptism, and at several other times. Cor quidem habemus, non tamen tale quale vos habetis, nec nos pudet crucifixi, sed in parte ubi pudoris signum est, signum ejus crucis habemus': “we have a heart,” saith Augustine to the pagans, “but of a better mould than yours, nor are we at all ashamed of Christ crucified, but bear His cognizance in our foreheads, the seat of shamefacedness.”
Now as to the establishment of this ceremony by our Church, though we have slender expectation that it should operate as formerly, yet why may it not be retained as an honourable memorial of its miraculous effects of old. But the Church is so exceedingly express and perspicuous in her explanation of the use thereof, as nothing can be desired more; which explication being the product of the conference at Hampton Court, was so abundantly satisfactory to the foreman of those opponents, Dr. Reynolds, as, having once perused it, he ingenuously professed “he would never gainsay that ceremony any more.” In that explication not a syllable appears of any operation ascribed to this sign, therefore they who have adhered to any such opinion, cannot plead the Church of England for their guide. Eminent and most remarkable was the great prudence of King James in this concernment. All along King Edward the Sixth’s and Queen Elizabeth’s reign, when the strumosi, such as had the king’s evil, came to be touched, the manner was then for her to apply the sign of the cross to the tumour ; which raising cause of jealousies, as if some mysterious operation were imputed to it, that wise and learned king not only (with his son, the late king) practically discontinued it, but ordered it to be expunged out of the prayers relating to that cure: which hath proceeded as effectually, that omission notwithstanding, as it did before. The sign of the cross being then significant only, and not operative, and significant of a duty to be elicited by future practice, good reason hath our Church to continue it, in which sense, non est reprobanda, with Zanchy, “it is not to be disallowed;” adhibere nec indecens, nec inutile esse existimo, saith Bucer, “in my opinion, the use of it is neither unseemly nor unprofitable.”
VII. The reception of the child into the Church. But to return to our own office: the child, being now baptized, is become a member of the Christian Church, into which the Minister (as a steward of God’s family) doth solemnly receive it; and, for the clearer manifestation that it now belongs to Christ, solemnly signs it in the forehead with the sign of the cross.
The antiquity and meaning of the sign of the Cross. For the better understanding of which primitive ceremony, we may observe, that it was an ancient rite for masters and generals, to mark the foreheads or hands of their servants and soldiers with their names or marks, that it might be known to whom they did belong; and to this custom the angel in the Revelation is thought to allude; Hurt not the earth, &c., till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads: thus again, the retinue of the Lamb are said to have his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And thus, lastly, in the same chapter, as Christ’s flock carried his mark on their foreheads, so did his great adversary the beast sign his servants there also: If any man shall receive the mark of the beast in his forehead, or in his hand, &c. Now that the Christian Church might hold some analogy with those sacred applications, she conceived it a most significant ceremony in Baptism, (which is our first admission into the Christian profession,) that all her children should he signed with the cross on their foreheads, signifying thereby their consignment np to Christ; whence it is often called by the ancient Fathers, the Lord’s signet, and Christ’s seal.
And it is worth observing, that this mark or sign seems to have been appropriated from the very beginning to some great mystery: the Israelites could overcome the Amalekites no longer than Moses by stretching out his arms continued in the form of a cross; which undoubtedly prefigured that our salvation was to be obtained through the means of the cross: as was also further signified by God’s commanding a cross (for that Grotius supposes to be the mark understood) to be set upon those who should be saved from a common destruction.
But to come nearer; when our blessed Redeemer had expiated the sins of the world upon the cross, the primitive disciples of his religion (who, as Minucius Felix affirms, did not worship the cross) did yet assume that figure as the badge of Christianity: and long before material crosses were in use, Tertullian tells us, that “upon every motion, at their going out or coming in, at dressing, at their going to bath, or to meals, or to bed, or whatever their employment or occasions called them to, they were wont [frontem crucis signaculo terere] to mark, or (as the word signifies) to wear out their foreheads with the sign of the cross; adding, that this was a practice which tradition had introduced, custom had confirmed, and which the present generation received upon the credit of that which went before them.” It is pretended indeed by our adversaries, that this is only an authority for the use of this sign upon ordinary occasions, and gives no countenance for using it in Baptism. Suppose we should grant this; it would yet help to shew from some other passages in the same author, that the same sign was also used upon religious accounts. Thus, in his book concerning the resurrection of the flesh, shewing how instrumental the body is to the salvation of the soul, he has this expression: “The flesh is washed that the soul may be cleansed; the flesh is anointed that the soul may be consecrated; the flesh is signed that the soul may be fortified; the flesh is overshadowed by the imposition of hands, that die soul may be enlightened by the Spirit of God; the flesh is fed on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul may receive nourishment or fatness from God.” Thus again, in another place, shewing how the Devil mimicked the holy sacraments in the heathen mysteries; “He baptizeth some,” saith he, “as his faithful believers; he promises them forgiveness of their sins after baptism, and so initiates them to Mithra, and there he signs his soldiers in their foreheads,” &c. Now here is plainly mention made of signing or marking the flesh, and signing too in the forehead, even in the celebration of religious mysteries; and we know no sign they so religiously esteemed, but what Tertullian had in the other place mentioned, viz. the sign of the cross. I will not indeed be certain, but that the signing in both these places may refer to the cross which was made upon the forehead, when they were anointed in confirmation: but still this proves that crossing on the forehead was used upon religious as well as ordinary occasions; that it was used particularly at Confirmation, and therefore it is highly probable it was used also in Baptism: since they who used it upon every slight occasion, and made it a constant part of the solemnity in one office, would not omit or leave it out in another, where the use of it was full as proper and significant. We have gained so much therefore from Tertullian’s authority, that the use of the cross, even in religious offices, was, in his time, a known rite of Christianity. This will gain an easier belief to a passage among the works of Origen, where there is express mention of some, who were signed with the cross at their baptism, and better explain what is meant by St. Cyprian, when he tells us, that “those who obtain mercy of the Lord are signed on their foreheads,” and that “the forehead of a Christian is sanctified with the sign of God,” But further, in Lactantius, we find that Christians are described by those that have been marked upon the forehead with a cross. Again, St. Basil tells us, that “an ecclesiastical constitution had prevailed from the Apostles’ days, that those who believed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ should be signed with the sign of the cross.” St. Chrysostom again makes it the glory of Christians, that “they carry in their foreheads the sign of the cross.” And lastly St. Austin, speaking to one who was going to be baptized, tells him, that he was “that day to be signed with the sign of the cross, with which all Christians were signed,” (i.e. at their baptism.)
I need not surely (after this long detail) instance in the writings of any other of the Fathers, who frequently used being signed in the forehead for being baptized. I shall only add this remark; that the first Christian emperor, Constantine the Great, had his directions from heaven to make the cross the great banner in his wars with this motto on it, Ἐν τούτῳ νίκα, By this sign thou shalt overcome. And sure we cannot suppose that our blessed Lord would, by so immediate a revelation, countenance such a rite as this already used in the Church, if he had resented it before as superstitious and unwarrantable. And we may add, that we ought not to be too petulant against that which the Holy Spirit has sometimes signalized by very renowned miracles; as those who consult the ecclesiastical histories of the best authority cannot but be convinced. In a word, when any are received into the society of our religion, it is as lawful to declare it by a sign as by words. And surely there is no signature so universally known to be the mark of a Christian as that of the cross, which makes St. Paul put the cross for Christianity itself; the belief of a crucified Saviour being the proper article of the Christian faith, distinguishing the professors of it from all other kinds of religion in the world.
§.2. The Cross, why made after Baptism. There were anciently indeed, in the primitive Church, two several signings or markings with the cross, viz. one before Baptism, as was ordered by the first Liturgy of king Edward, as I have already observed in page 375; the other afterwards, which was used at Confirmation, and which (as I shall shew hereafter) was also prescribed by the same book of king Edward.
In a word, the Cross in Baptism, till of late years, has been so inoffensive to the most scrupulous minds, that even Bucer could find nothing indecent in it, if it was used and applied with a pure mind. He only disapproved of directing the form that was used at the imposing of it, to the child itself, who could not understand it. For which reason he wished it might be turned into a Prayer. The reviewers of our Liturgy did not indeed exactly comply with him; but however they have ordered the form to be spoken to the congregation, and further, to remove all manner of scruple, have deferred the signing with it till after the child is baptized, that so none may charge us with making the ceremony essential to Baptism, which is now finished before the Cross is made, and which is esteemed, in case of extremity, not at all deficient, where it is celebrated without it.
§.3. Why made upon the forehead. The forehead is the seat of blushing and shame; for which reason the child is to be signed with the Cross on that part of him, in token that hereafter he shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, &c.
I. The Exhortation. THE holy rite being thus finished, it is not decent to turn our backs upon God immediately, but that we should complete the solemnity by thanksgiving and prayer: and therefore, that we may do both these with due understanding, the Minister teaches us, in a serious exhortation, what must be the subjects of our praises and petitions.
Then the Priest shall say,
Then shall the Priest say,
II. The Lord's Prayer. And since (as we have already hinted) the Lord’s Prayer was prescribed by our Saviour to his disciples as a badge of their belonging to him; it can never be more reasonable or proper to use it than now, when a new member and disciple is admitted into his Church. And therefore, whereas, in other offices, this prayer is generally placed in the beginning, it is here reserved till after the child is baptized, and received solemnly into the Church; when we can more properly call God Our Father, with respect to the Infant, who is now by Baptism made a member of Christ, and more peculiarly adopted a child of God. And this is exactly conformable to the primitive Church: for the Catechumens were never allowed to use this prayer, till they had first made themselves sons by Regeneration in the waters of Baptism. For which reason, this prayer is frequently, by the ancient writers, called The Prayer of the Regenerate, or Believers, as being, properly speaking, their privilege and birthright.
Then shall be said, all kneeling:
After thanksgiving for Gods gracious admitting the child to baptism, and a most divine Prayer, that he may lead his life according to that beginning[.]
III. The Collect. After this follows a Prayer wherein we first give God thanks for affording this child the benefits of Baptism; and then pray for his grace to assist it in the whole course of its life.
Then shall the priest say,
This Office ends with a grave and pious exhortation to the Godfathers, to remember their duty towards the Infants; the like to which you may read, S. Aug. de Temp. Ser. 116.
IV. The application to the godfathers. And lastly, because nothing tends more directly to the securing of holiness and religion than a conscientious performance of this vow of Baptism, here are added endeavours to our prayers for the fulfilling thereof. In the first ages, when those of discretion were baptized, the Applications were directed to the persons themselves, (as they now are in our office of Baptism for those of riper years:) but since children are now most commonly the subjects of Baptism, who are not capable of admonition, here is a serious and earnest exhortation made to the sureties.
§.2. The ill practice of choosing unfit persons for sureties. Which, if it be well considered, will shew how base it is for any to undertake this trust merely in compliment; how absurd to put little children (whose bond is not good in human courts) upon this weighty office; and also how ridiculous for those who have taken this duty upon them, to think they can shake off this charge again, and assign it over to the parents. But yet this is frequently the custom of this licentious age, and the chief occasion of many people’s falling into evil principles and wicked practices, which might easily be prevented, if the sureties would do their duty, and labour to fit their god-children for Confirmation, and bring them to it; which therefore the Minister is in the last place to advertise the sureties of:* for till the child by this means enters the bond in his own name, the sureties must answer for all miscarriages through their neglect; whereas as soon as the child is confirmed, the sureties are freed from that danger, and discharged from all but the duty of charity.
The office being thus ended, the first Common Prayer piously adds, And so let the congregation depart in the name of the Lord.
Then all standing up, the Priest shall say to the Godfathers and Godmothers this Exhortation following.
Then shall he add and say,