« PreviousContinue »
the close of the first century. What were the three chief churches in Christendom at the same period ?
5. Give scriptural proofs of the articles respecting election and the authority of the Church?
6. Explain, historically, the terms Puritans, Antinomian, Moravian, Baptist, Independent,
7. How does it appear credible from analogy that a revelation will contain things liable to objection? Why would a proof of a future life not be a proof of religion ?
THIRD MORNING. Sermon on the Character of Christ as a Teacher. Text—"He spake as never man spake."
ON BAPTISM. MR. EDITOR, -As you have favoured me by inserting my communication on Baptism in your Number for November last, I am induced to: trouble you with a few additional observations, chiefly regarding the practice and opinions of the primitive Church, in reference to this sacrament. I before stated, that some rules and injunctions on this point, issued by competent authority, seemed necessary for the guidance of the Clergy in the present day, when many of the existing canons and rubrics, from the altered state of society, have become quite inapplicable;' and, in the mean time, I doubt not the following decisions of the early Church, and a brief account of her practice in the administration of Baptism, may not be unacceptable to your readers. I am mainly indebted for the following observations to “ The Scholastical History of Lay Baptism,” by the elaborate Bingham, although a considerable part is drawn from other sources.
Decisions of the early Church in regard to Baptism.
1. Two things, and two only, are essential to the validity of Baptism; viz, water, and the express words of Christ's institution.
2. Nothing but water to be used. Wine, or oil, or any other liquid, or matter, invalidates the baptism ; and thus the Jew who had been baptized with sand in the desert, was pronounced still unbaptized. .'
The mode of its application may be either by immersion, affusion, or sprinkling. Either a single application of the water, or a trine application, that is to say, once at the name of each person in the Holy Trinity, is equally valid. Merely to touch a person with a moistened finger is not baptism ; nor is a single drop of water baptism; the rule is “ ut gutta guttam sequatur.” A formal consecration of the water not essential.
3. The form of words must be precisely those of the institution, " In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
The order in which these three names are repeated, is not essential.
We may either say, I baptize such a person; or, such a person is baptized; or, Thou art baptized in the name, &c.
4. The person who administers baptism, is not of the essence of the sacrament.
The right of baptism is in the bishop, by Christ's institution ; presbyters and deacons only baptize by his permission. • The bishop may, therefore, in extraordinary cases, authorise laymen to baptize. If a layman baptize contrary to such order, or without it, such baptism is irregular, but not necessarily invalid; just as a marriage, in the mode of its celebration, may be illegal, and irregular, yet cannot be afterwards set aside.
The Church of Rome allows of baptism by women, and even by Jews, Turks, or Infidels : this is, however, directly contrary to the sense of the primitive Church; for she made the character of the person who administers baptism so far of the essence of this sacrament, that she did not allow baptism administered by any of these as valid ; nor even that administered by all christian laymen indiscriminately.
The rule adhered to seems to have been this : that such laymen only as were capable of holy orders, could administer a valid baptism; whatever excluded from holy orders, excluded from the power of administering this rite. No one, therefore, who had not what was called an entire baptism; or, in other words, no one who, having been baptized only as a clinick, or on a sick bed, wanted some of the ceremonies and customs of baptism, as immersion, confirmation, &c. administered to him in public at the stated and solemn times of baptizing in the church, was allowed this privilege of baptizing others. No one, again, who was a bigamist, (the sense of which word in this respect is controverted, and therefore I shall not attempt its explanation) could exercise this privilege. Clinick baptism and bigamy incapacitated for ever from holy orders, and therefore from the power of administering baptism. In all other cases of clinick or lay baptism, or of that administered by schismatics or heretics, the subsequent ratification of it by the Church in confirmation, was thought fully to cure all defects in the previous rite. This subsequent ratification was, however, in some cases, thought indispensable, insomuch that in extremity, even presbyters or deacons were allowed to administer confirmation; this was, however, for the most part, in the case of those who having been baptized in heresy, wished to be reconciled to the Church on their death-bed. · 5. The time of baptizing publicly was only at Easter and Pentecost; that is, on the preceding Saturdays, or eves of those days; although there is reason to believe that under the term Pentecost, the whole fifty days after Easter were esteemed as one continued festival, and so equally adapted for this solemn rite. To these times, the Eastern Church added Epiphany, as being the day on which they believed our Saviour to have been baptized. But the most solemn and usual time was Easter Eve, or as it was usually called, the Great Sabbath. The administration took place about midnight, and consisted of baptism, confirmation, and the Holy Communion in succession ; that so the Neophytes, or newly baptized, might be prepared to participate again in the Eucharist, with the whole Church, on Easter day. And they continued their fast even till the dawn of that solemn festival;—the supposed hour of our Lord's resurrection, by which time the ceremonies of the initiation of the Neophytes were usually ended. It is here to be remarked, that the Holy Communion being administered as a part of baptism, was looked upon as that which especially perfected and completed it, insomuch that even infants had it given to them; at least, it shows the close connexion supposed to exist betweeen these two sacraments. Confirmation also was administered to infants.
6. The primitive Church required only one sponsor; a man to answer for a man, and a woman for a woman; but in the case of infants, the difference of sex was not regarded. Parents were often sponsors for their own children. Not only the children of believing parents, but any child who had the benefit of a sponsor to answer for his religious education, might be haptized, but without such guarantee for the future, the Church would not allow baptism ; so far was shę from countenancing the indiscriminate baptism of afler ages, or allowing baptism to be separated from a religious education. Idiots might be baptized like infants, on the faith of their sponsors, being regarded in loco infantium.
7. When the conditions here mentioned as necessary to constitute a valid baptism had been complied with, it might never be repeated; insomuch that when once some youths, in sport, had gone through all the ceremonies of baptism, the Church of Alexandria even admitted this as a valid baptism, and received those thus baptized to immediate confirmation. The Church never repeated baptism; those cases which look like rebaptization, were either cases where it was doubtful whether baptism had been administered at all, or where it was from some defect deemed utterly null and void ; and these cases the Church did not esteem a second baptism.
8. The most important branch of inquiry on this subject, is undoubtedly the opinion of the Church as to the necessity of baptism; and this is the more important, as the primitive Church is generally supposed to have entertained very harsh and unfounded notions as to this necessity; and I fear similar sentiments are generally entertained as to the doctrine of our own Church. Now our own Church never has asserted the indispensable necessity of baptism to salvation; her doctrine is, that the sacraments are not absolutely, but only “ generally, necessary to salvation ; " nor when she says that “ children dying after baptism, before they commit actual sin, are undoubtedly saved," does she mean to say that those who die unbaptized, perish : in fact, she pronounces no judgment in the case, though perhaps it had been better not to have made even the above declaration. Her doctrine is, that “ the sacraments are necessary where they may be had ;" but an involuntary want of them can surely never endanger our salvation. Such, I believe, too, is the doctrine of the primitive Church. Where the want of baptism was involuntary, they did not suppose it endangered salvation. They supposed martyrdom to supply the want of it. Faith and repentance in such as were piously preparing for it, but were by sudden death hindered from receiving it, was another way in which it might be supplied; and the means of supplying this want, was the holy communion ; for when a man had been many years in the habit of communicating in the Church, and was afterwards found to be unbaptized, it was decided that the Eucharist supplied the want of baptism, and he was not allowed to be baptized. A single act of communion, indeed, without baptism, was not sufficient to remedy the want of it, but he who had communicated for many years, under a supposition that he was baptized, and then discovered that he was not so, was thought to have this defect remedied by his long course of communicating. Again, although there are many harsh expressions in the Fathers about infants dying unbaptized, inasmuch as they not only wanted the outward sign, but were incapable of faith and repentance, and those other things which were supposed to supply the want of them; yet, when closely considered, and allowed to explain themselves by other expressions on the same subject, it may safely be said that the Church did not generally exclude infants from the hope of salvation, on account of being unbaptized. I need not say that these sentiments of the ancient Church seem dictated by an enlarged and enlightened view of the doctrines of revelation. I believe them to be essentially those of our own Church, which has preserved a just medium between so insisting on an external rite as to consign those deprived of it to absolute destruction; anà, on the other hand, making it of so little importance that men might think it could be neglected with impunity. Walworth.
A SABBATH AT SEA.
AGAIN we awake to the day,
And not to his temples alone
But to us, when his Sabbaths return,
CHURCH SOCIETIES. * Mr. Editor,-A subject of much interest and importance to the members of the Church in the capital, has been lately discussed at “ The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge." It relates to the present internal condition of this Society in the metropolis, and to the best means of extending and enlarging its local operations. Certain it is, that we of the capital partake less of its local and immediate benefits than those of the country districts; and if any plan can be devised, by which its members may be more practically united in the cities of London and Westminster, it must meet with the cordial approbation of all the real friends of our Establishment.
To arrange the members according to the parishes in which they reside, and to allow them to add the respectable tradesmen of the neighbourhood, as local subscribers, for carrying on the Society's operations in their own vicinity, appears the easiest and most practical means for obtaining this important object. It is, in fact, only following out in the metropolis, the same method which has already been pursued in most of our large provincial towns and cities. I am persuaded it would be attended with the best effects, not merely to the funds of the Society, but to the whole population of this immense city. It would increase the influence of the Clergy over their flocks, endear the rich to the poor, and secure the middle orders, on whose attachment to the Church so much of its safety depends. I hail it as the best and surest of all ecclesiastical reforms; because it proceeds not from any external or political form, but from our moral and internal convictions of its own expediency. I am, yours, &c. &c.
COLLECTANEA. PsaLMODY.—It is found in Queen Elizabeth's injunctions to the Clergy, 1559, directing that there be a modest and distinct song used in all parts of the Common Prayers of the Church; yet nevertheless, for the comforting of such as delight in music, it may be permitted that in the end or beginning of the Common Prayer, morning or evening, there may be sung an hymn to the praise of Almighty God. Strype tells us, that in the month of September, the new morning prayer began " at St. Antholine's, London, the bell beginning to ring at five, when a Psalm was sung after the Geneva fashion, all the congregation, men, women, and boys, singing together.” Bishop Jewel remarks, speaking of 1560, that a change appeared visible among the people, which nothing promoted more, than the inviting them to sing Psalms. This was begun in one church in London, and soon spread itself, not only through the city, but in the neighbouring places; sometimes, he adds, there will be 6000 people singing together.
Kit-Cat PAINTING.-The term of Kit-Cat Painting arose from those celebrated wits Addison, Congreve, Steele, &c. being drawn less than half-length, and being put up in a club-room which they frequented