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country and breeding, unless they be violently tempted by interest or weakness, antecedent or consequent. He that sees all men almost to be Christians, because they are bid to be so, need not question the fittingness of godfathers promising in behalf of the children, for whom they answer.
29. And however the matter be for godfathers, yet the tradition of baptizing infants passed through the hands of Irenæus: "Omnem ætatem sanctificans per illam quæ ad ipsam erat similitudinem. Omnes enim venit per semetipsum salvare, omnes, inquam, qui per eum renascuntur in Deum, infantes, et parvulos, et pueros, et juvenes, et seniores. Ideo per omnem venit ætatem, et infantibus infans factus, sanctificans infantes; in parvulis parvulus"," &c. "Christ did sanctify every age by his own susception of it, and similitude to it. For he came to save all men by himself; I say, all who by him are born again unto God, infants, and children, and boys, and young men, and old men. He was made an infant to infants, sanctifying infants; a little one to the little ones, &c." And Origen is express: "Ecclesia traditionem ab apostolis suscepit etiam parvulis dare baptismum; The church hath received a tradition from the apostles, to give baptism to children." And St. Cyprian, in his epistle to Fidus, gives account of this article: for being questioned by some less skilful persons, whether it were lawful to baptize children before the eighth day, he gives account of the whole question and a whole council of sixty-six bishops, upon very good reason, decreed, that their baptism should at no hand be deferred; though whether six, or eight, or ten days, was no matter, so there be no danger or present necessity. The whole epistle is worth the reading.
30. But besides these authorities of such, who writ before the starting of the Pelagian questions, it will not be useless to bring the discourses of them and others, I mean the reason upon which the church did it both before and after.
31. Irenæus's argument was this: Christ took upon him our nature, to sanctify and to save it; and passed through the several periods of it, even unto death, which is the symbol
2 Lib. ii. c. 39. Vide etiam Constitut. Clementis. Barrilare dè iμõv, xai intgipere åutà iv waidelḍ nai voudería Seo. Lib. v. ad Rom. c. 6. Idem Hom 14. in Lucam, et lib. 8. Hom. 8. in Levitic.
and effect of old age; and therefore it is certain he did sanctify all the periods of it: and why should he be an infant, but that infants should receive the crown of their age, the purification of their stained nature, the sanctification of their persons, and the saving of their souls by their infant Lord and elder Brother?
32. "Omnis enim anima eousque in Adam censetur, donec in Christo recenseatur; tamdiu immunda, quamdiu recenseaturb" Every soul is accounted in Adam, till it be new accounted in Christ; and so long as it is accounted in Adam, so long it is unclean; and we know, "no unclean thing can enter into heaven:" and therefore our Lord hath defined it, "Unless ye be born of water and the Spirit, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven;" that is, ye cannot be holy. It was the argument of Tertullian; which the rather is to be received, because he was one less favourable to the custom of the church, in his time, of baptizing infants, which custom he noted and acknowledged, and hath also, in the preceding discourse, fairly proved. And indeed, (that St. Cyprian may superadd his symbol,) " God, who is no accepter of persons, will also be no accepter of ages. For if to the greatest delinquents, sinning long before against God, remission of sins be given, when afterwards they believe, and from baptism and from grace no man is forbidden; how much more ought not an infant be forbidden, who, being new born, hath sinned nothing, save only that being in the flesh, born of Adam, in his first birth he hath contracted the contagion of an old death? who therefore comes the easier to obtain remission of sins, because to him are forgiven not his own, but the sins of another man. None ought to be driven from baptism and the grace of God, who is merciful, and gentle, and pious unto all; and therefore much less infants, who more deserve our aid, and more need the Divine mercy, because, in the first beginning of their birth, crying and weeping, they can do nothing but call for mercy and relief." "For this reason it was," saith Origen," that they, to whom the secrets of the Divine mysteries were committed, did baptize their infants, because there was born with them the impurities of sin," which did
S. Cyprian, ep. ad Fidum.
Lib, de Anima, c. 59 et 42.
e Origen, lib. v. ad Rom. c. 6.
need material ablution, as a sacrament of spiritual purification. For that it may appear, that our sins have a proper analogy to this sacrament, the body itself is called "the body of sin :" and therefore the washing of the body is not ineffectual towards the great work of pardon and abolition. Indeed, after this ablution there remains concupiscence, or the material part of our misery and sin: for Christ, by his death, only took away that which, when he did die for us, he bare in his own body upon the tree. Now Christ only bare the punishment of our sin, and therefore we shall not die for it; but the material part of the sin Christ bare not: sin could not come so near him; it might make him sick and die, but not disordered and stained. He was pure from original and actual sins; and therefore that remains in the body, though the guilt and punishment be taken off, and changed into advantages and grace; and the actual are relieved by the Spirit of grace descending afterwards upon the church, and sent by our Lord to the same purpose.
33. But it is not rationally to be anwsered what St. Ambrose says, "Quia omnis peccato obnoxia, ideo omnis ætas sacramento idonea :" for it were strange that sin and misery should seize upon the innocent and most unconsenting persons; and that they only should be left without a sacrament, and an instrument of expiation. And although they cannot consent to the present susception, yet neither do they refuse; and yet they consent as much to the grace of the sacrament as to the prevarication of Adam; and because they suffer under this, it were but reason they should be relieved by that. And "it were better," as Gregory Nazianzen affirms, "that they should be consigned and sanctified without their own knowledge, than to die without their being sanctified;" for so it happened to the circumcised babes of Israel: and if the conspersion and washing the door-posts with the blood of a lamb did sacramentally preserve all the first-born of Goshen ; it cannot be thought impossible or unreasonable, that the want of understanding in children should hinder them from the blessing of a sacrament, and from being redeemed and
S. Ambros. de Abraham. Patriar. lib. ii. c. 11.
. Greg. Νaz. Κρεῖσσον γὰρ ἀναισθήτως ἀγιασθῆναι, ἢ ἀπελθεῖν ἀσφράγιστα καὶ ȧrinora,- Orat. xl. in S. Bapt.
washed with the blood of the Holy Lamb, "who was slain for all from the beginning of the world.”
34. After all this, it is not inconsiderable, that we say the church hath great power and authority about the sacraments; which is observable in many instances. She appointed what persons she pleased, and in equal power made an unequal dispensation and ministry. The apostles first dispensed all things, and then they left off exterior ministries to attend to "the word of God and prayer:" and St. Paul accounted it no part of his office to baptize, when he had been separated by imposition of hands at Antioch to the work of preaching and greater ministries; and accounted that act of the church
he act of Christ, saying, "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel." They used various forms in the ministration of baptism: sometimes baptizing "in the name of Christ," sometimes expressly invocating the holy and everblessed Trinity; one while, "I baptize thee," as in the Latin church, but in the Greek, "Let the servant of Christ be baptized." And, in all ecclesiastical ministries, the church invented the forms, and in most things hath often changed them, as in absolution, excommunication. And sometimes they baptized people under their profession of repentance, and then taught them; as it happened to the gaoler and all his family; in whose case there was no explicit faith aforehand in the mysteries of religion, so far as appears; and yet he, and not only he, but all his house, were baptized at that hour of the night when the earthquake was terrible, and the fear was pregnant upon them; and this upon their master's account, as it is likely but others were baptized in the conditions of a previous faith, and a new-begun repentance. They baptized in rivers or in lavatories, by dipping or by sprinkling for so we find that St. Laurence did, as he went to martyrdom; and so the church did sometimes to clinics; and so it is highly convenient to be done in northern countries; according to the prophecy of Isaiah', "So shall he sprinkle many nations," according as the typical expiations among the Jews were usually by sprinkling. And it is fairly relative to the mystery, to the "sprinkling with the blood of Christ,"
Non ut, delinquere desinant, sed quia desierunt, as Tertul. phraseth it.
and the watering of the furrows of our souls with the dew of heaven, to make them to bring forth fruit unto the Spirit and unto holiness'. The church sometimes dipt the catechumen three times, sometimes but once". Some churches use fire in their baptisms; so do the Ethiopians; and the custom was ancient in some places. And so in the other sacrament: sometimes they stood, and sometimes kneeled; and sometimes received it in the mouth, and sometimes in the hand; one while in leavened, another while in unleavened bread: sometimes the wine and water were mingled, sometimes they were pure; and they admitted some persons to it sometimes, which at other times they rejected: sometimes the consecration was inade by one form, sometimes by another: and, to conclude, sometimes it was given to infants, sometimes not. And she had power so to do; for in all things, where there was not a commandment of Christ, expressed or implied in the nature and in the end of the institution, the church had power to alter the particulars as was most expedient, or conducing to edification. And although the after-ages of the church, which refused to communicate infants, have found some little things against the lawfulness, and those ages that used it, found out some pretences for its necessity; yet both the one and the other had liberty to follow their own necessities, so in all things they followed Christ. Certainly there is infinitely more reason, why infants may be communicated, than why they may not be baptized. And, that this discourse may revert to its first intention, although there is no record extant of any church in the world, which, from the apostles' days inclusively to this very day, ever refused to baptize their children; yet if they had upon any present reason, they might also change their practice, when the reason should be changed: and therefore, if there were nothing else in it, yet the universal practice of all churches, in all ages, is abundantly sufficient to determine us, and to legitimate the practice, since Christ hath not forbidden it. It is a sufficient confutation to disagreeing people, to use the words of St. Paul, "We have no such
1 Aqua refectionis, et baptismi lavaerum, quo anima sterilis ariditate peccati ad bonos fructus inferendos divinis muneribus irrigatur. — Cassiodor. m. xxiii. ps. 2.
m ̓́Ενιοι τὰ ὦτα τῶν σφραγισαμένων κατεσημήναντο, dixit Heracleon apud Clem. Alex.