« PreviousContinue »
CHAP. lity or extravagance of those notions which gave support VII.
to the practices of religious celibacy; and that the attendant abuses of this system were nearly, or quite, as flagrant at the earlier as at the later date.
“ 2. That, at the very earliest time when we find these notions and practices to have been generally prevalent, and accredited, they were no novelties, but had come down from a still earlier era.
6 3. That, as these notions and practices are of immemorial antiquity, so did they affect the church universal
eastern, western, and African; and that thus they come fully within the terms of the rule-quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus.
64. That these opinions and practices, in their most extreme form, received an ample and explicit sanction, and a solemn authentication from all the great writers and doctors of the church, during the most prosperous and enlightened age of any preceding the reformation ; and that, on this head, popery has no peculiar culpability.
“5. That the notions and practices connected with the doctrine of the superlative merit of religious celibacy, were, at once, the causes and the effects of errors in theology, of perverted moral sentiments, of superstitious usages, of hierarchical usurpations; and that they furnish us with a criterion for estimating the GENERAL VALUE OF ANCIENT CHRISTIANITY ; and, in a word, afford reason enough for regarding, if not with jealousy, at least with extreme caution, any attempt to induce the modern church to imitate the ancient church.”
e Mr. Taylor alludes to the expression of Augustine, and other ancient fathers, that what had been believed “always-every where -and every body," must be considered as apostolic, and of divine authority.
Ancient Christianity, pp. 106, 107.
The limits of this work will not admit of a detail of SEC'T. the proofs of the truth of these positions; it is sufficient
II. to say, that they are all most abundantly sustained in the volume itself, to which the reader is referred. It may be added that a most lamentable amount of proof disgusting proof-remains unexhibited, if any yet remain sceptical as to the justice of the following conclusions :-
“ If it were allowed, which I think it must be, that Character some periods have very far excelled others in piety and
church in wisdom, I should still demur to the allegation that the the three era immediately following the death of the apostles can ries. claim any such pre-eminence. Nay, I am compelled to say, that the general impression, made upon my mind by the actual evidence, is altogether of a contrary kind.
... There is little risk in affirming that the first five centuries, or we might say the first three, of the Christian history, comprise a sample of every form and variety of intellectual or moral aberration of which human nature is at all susceptible, under the influence of religious excitement. No great ingenuity therefore can be needed in matching any modern form of error or extravagance, with its like, to be produced from the museum of antique specimens.”
In the chapter relating to the corruptions which are ever found where infant baptism is heard of, I may have occasion to refer to some few of the details contained in Ancient Christianity. The object of the present section was to rectify a prevailing impression respecting the authority attached to the practice of the primitive church, which leads to an incorrect infer. ence from the fact of the comparatively early existence of infant baptism.
6 Ancient Christianity, p. 57.
MEANING OF THE TERM "INFANT.”
The term infant.
BEFORE investigating the facts of history, it is necessary we should have a correct idea of the meaning of the terms used in treating on the special subject of our investigation. The use of words varies materially in different countries speaking the same language, and in different eras of the same language. For instance, in America the word “ clever” means “ good-naturedwell disposed,” but in England it conveys the idea of " acute-skilful.” So even in different uses at the same period ; for instance, in legal language, an “infant” is any age under twenty-one years; in the language of the domestic circle, it means a babe in his mother's
It is to the Greek and Latin languages that we have Latin terms to look for the early history of the church; the question used.
is, therefore, what terms were used by writers in those days relating to children and babes, and what is their
proper meaning? The terms in the Greek are pais, παιδιον, , paidion, brephos, brephullion; in Latin, puer, puericulus, βρεφος, , Prafuarcor. parvulus, infans, infantulus. It is maintained that pais
and paidion, in the Greek, and all the Latin terms, are general, and not confined to babes ; but used for children of several years old; and that to ascertain that a babe is referred to in any passage, the circumstances alluded to must be depended on, and not the word itself.
With respect to the terms pais and paidion, as they are generally admitted to be extended in point of age, an instance or two shall suffice.
1. That of a Greek inscription on sepulchral monu
ment, which was taken out of the churchyard of St. SECT. Agnes, at Rome.
III. “This tomb contains Menophilus, an infant (paida) Greek monto be lamented with many tears : whom, adorned with
scriptions. the beauty of the three graces, cruel fate snatched away from his unfortunate parents. Here you behold him, who lived eight years and five months." "b
2. The learned Montfaucon has exhibited a sepulchral monument of the Greeks, which describes dif. ferent stages of " infancy.” The first figure is that of a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in the lap of the parent, who is sitting in a car. The second shows the parent in the same manner, and the child sitting up on the knee, as if grown.
The third represents him on the ground playing with a kind of go-cart with two wheels. The fourth describes him at play with some birds, as having arrived at a further period. What would a history of the baptism of an infant mean, when infancy includes persons so different, and the term covers more than twenty years of life.”c
In the Greek writers of the early ages, princes and their companions are called paides, their literary tutor, maisus, paidagogos, their gymnastic teacher, paidotribes. As, Taide
gegos. therefore, a pedogogue was the instructor of Greek 7xidoyouth, so a pædobaptist was a baptizer of them-quite a opins. different affair from that of new-born babes.
In the Latin the term infantulus is a diminutive of infans, as in the Greek brephullion is of brephos. It
Montfaucon, Ital. p. 321. • ΜΗ ΝΟΦΙΛΟΝ ΤΑΦΟC OYTOC ΕΚΕΙ ΠΟΛΥΠΕΝΘΕΑ NAJAA ON XAPITÔN TPICCWN IIANEHHPATON EJAOC EXONTA AINOTOK2N EwN QONOC HP. . IIACE NON KADOPATE OKT MONIOC ETECIN BEBIOKATA MECITE NIENTE. c Robinson's Hist. Bap. p. 139,
CHAP. will be only necessary to show that even this term is VII.
extended to several years of age. Robinson has quoted Infantulus
, from “ the learned and indefatigable Muratori,” (who as used in Latin deeds spent a great part of his life in researching into the and ecclesi- ecclesiastical antiquities of the middle ages,) three inastical writings.
tances of " last wills and testaments,” that of “ Adald, the little infant of Lucca,” that of “the little infant Count Gaiffer,” and that of “the little infant Hubert;" all wills regularly made by the little infants," and duly attested by competent witnesses ; in each case the Latin word used is “infantulus.” a
After the division of the Roman Empire into eastern and western, the law in both terminated infancy not till the age
of twenty-five. When the northern nations overran the empire they fixed the termination of minority at various ages, from eighteen to twenty-five. There were laws for the maintenance of infants till twelve years old; for the nullity of marriage of infants, except in certain cases; the alienation of the property of an infant; and the punishment of an infant for killing a man.
“ Ecclesiastical laws respecting infants, that is minors, are extremely numerous, and among other things concern the catechizing of them, and in express terms enjoin the instruction of them previous to baptism, and the administration of baptism by immersion.
Robinson's History, p. 136. Tlie reader will generally find in Robinson a store of authorities more than enough to prove his points. This volume is designed to be a work in which “children” in lite.
may walk;"— Mr. Robinson's is one in which "elephants” in ecclesiastical antiquity may "swim.”
c"Qualiter catechizantur infantes. ... Interim autem dum lectiones leguntur, presbyteri catechizant infantes, et præparent ad baptizandum. ... Dicet hanc orationem ad catechizandos infantes.
.. Deinde pontifex baptizet unum de ipsis infantibus. . . . Ibi baptizentur parvuli,” &c.—Ordo Roman. De Sabbato Sancto.