« PreviousContinue »
“ Father Martene, one of the most indefatigable collec. SECT. tors of monastical antiquities, hath comprised in a narrow compass, from a variety of authentic monuments of Italy, Germany, England, and France, the laws by which infant-monks were governed. The code was called the discipline of infants, or the discipline of the boys, the barnes, the catechislings : in the choir, in the cloister, in the refectory or the eating-room, in the kitchen and scul. lery, in the dormitory or sleeping-room, in the infirmary, in the lavatory, laundry, or washing-room, and every where else. Each article is adjusted with the utmost precision, as lessons, hymns, and processions, the shav. ing of their crowns, the correction with the rod, and some other articles not necessary to be mentioned. The whole proves, beyond all contradiction, that the term in. fancy signified nonage in general.
“ The same language prevails in all modern laws. In English Hence the late learned Judge Blackstone says, ó Infancy is nonage, which is a defect of the understanding. In. fants under the age of discretion ought not to be punished by any criminal prosecution whatever.”[
An instance of the kind of infants baptized in the St. Amtimes of Ambrose occurs in his life written by Paulinus.
ghost seen He relates a great many different occasions on which by infants St. Ambrose's ghost, or shape, appeared to several per- tized. sons, after he was dead; and among the rest, how, he having departed this life on Easter eve, his body was carried and laid in the great church.
" And there it was that night which we spend in watching at Easter, (this was the night before Easter-day, on which, in primitive times, the whole body of the people did always sit up all night in the church at prayers ;)
A. D. 287.
Robinson's Hist. Bapt. p. 141.
CHAP. and a great many of the infants that were then baptized
saw him as they came back from the font; some of them saying, there he sits in the bishop's chair; others of them showed him to their parents, pointing with their hands that he was going there up the steps; but the pa. rents looking could not see him, because they had not
their eyes cleansed (or enlightened.” 5). The word The words employed respecting the baptism of infants, does not ne. therefore, will not of themselves sustain the burden cast cessarily designate a
upon them; the individuals might have been either babe. twenty days, twenty months, or twenty years old. This
view of the use of the term “ infant,” and “ little infant,” is necessary to avoid many difficulties in ancient history, for infants are said to have nominated kings and bishops, erected churches, composed hymns, and suffered martyrdom. It will not, therefore, be deemed unreasonable by any candid mind, that something more should be found than the use of the term infans, or even infantulus, when relating to baptism, to establish it as a fact that it was a babe that was baptized.
BAPTISM IN THE APOSTOLIC AGE, OR FIRST CENTURY.
The five Fathers who flourished during this century, attributed to the early
were Barnabas, Hermas, Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Fathers not Polycarp. There are no writings of these venerable 10 be relied
men that can be safely relied upon as the productions of their pens, except, perhaps, the Epistle of Clement. Indeed, such was the state both of literature and morals,
& Paulinus in Vita Ambrosii. Wall's Hist. vol. ii. p. 276. h Robinson's History of Baptism, p. 157.
in the fourth and subsequent centuries, that the favourite SECT.
IV. occupation of the monks of those days, seems to have been first to write the most ridiculous nonsense by way of indicating their literary taste; and then fraudulently to attach to it the name of some eminent Father of the first or second century, by way of proving the high state of their moral sensibility. That the reader may be convinced this severe censure is not without good authority, I extract Mosheim's opinion of the writings attributed to Barnabas and Hermas.
“ The epistle of Barnabas was the production of some Mosheim's Jew, who, most probably, lived in this century, and
the epistle whose mean abilities and superstitious attachment to Jew- of Barnabas. ish fables show, notwithstanding the uprightness of his intentions(!) that he must have been a very different
person from the true Barnabas, who was Paul's companion.
• The work which is entitled the Shepherd of Her- And the mas,' because the angel, who bears the principal part in
Hermas. it, is represented in the form and habit of a shepherd, was composed in the second century by Hermes, who was brother of Pius, bishop of Rome.
“ This whimsical and visionary writer has taken the liberty to invent several dialogues, or conversations, between God and the angels, in order to insinuate in a more easy and agreeable manner the principles which he thought useful and salutary, into the minds of his readers. But indeed the discourse which he put into the mouths of those celestial beings is more insipid and senseless than what we commonly hear among the meanest of the multitude."
One passage only has been referred to by pædobap
i Mosheim, vol. i. p. 32.
CHAP. tists, as in any way favouring the baptism of babes before VII.
A. D. 100. After what has been said, indeed, it is alPassage most needless to mention it; as the book is believed by from Ber
no good authority to have been written by that Father: it is this; “Baptism is necessary to all.” As Dr. Doddridge justly observes, “this will only prove that baptism is necessary to the proper subjects of it; but cannot determine that infants are so." Dr. Woods, very properly, does not avail himself of this passage, considering probably with Dr. Doddridge, that it proves nothing, or being aware the writings were not from the pen of Hermas. Professor Pond, however, makes much of it, and says not a word respecting the fact that Hermas never wrote it! Dr. Woods begins with Justin Martyr, who flourished more than a hundred years after Christ. Dr. Miller claims no passage till Tertullian.
This is all the evidence the advocates of infant baptism claim from the first century. Individuals who have been led to believe that the practice can clearly be traced to the times of the apostles, will, I know, be filled with astonishment and incredulity. If any of them can find additional facts, for one I shall willingly acknowledge myself their debtor: I delight in facts, especially those
of ancient history. Infant bap- Before closing this section, I will give the reader the practised in statements of Mosheim and others, respecting the prac
tice of the ordinance in this century. proved from “Whoever acknowledged Christ as the Saviour of pædobaptist authorities. mankind, and made a solemn profession of his confidence
in him, was immediately baptized and received into the church. But, in process of time, when the church began to flourish, and its members to increase, it was thought prudent and necessary to divide Christians into
the apostolic age,
two orders, distinguished by the names of believers and SECT. catechumens. The former were those who had been
IV. solemnly admitted into the church by baptism, and in consequence thereof, were instructed in all the mysteries of religion, and were authorized to vote in the ecclesiastical assemblies.
“ The latter were such as had not yet been dedicated to God and Christ by baptism, and were, therefore, ad. mitted neither to the public prayers, nor to the holy communion, nor to the ecclesiastical assemblies. The sacrament of baptism was administered in this century, without the public assemblies, in places appointed and prepared for that purpose, and was performed by the immersion of the whole body in the baptismal font. At first it was usual for all who laboured in the propagation of the gospel, to be present at that solemn ceremony; and it was customary that the converts should be baptized and received into the church by those under whose ministry they had received the Christian doctrine. But this custom was soon changed. When the Christian churches were well established, and governed by a system of fixed laws, the right of baptizing the Christian converts was vested in the bishop alone.” k
To this attestation from so impartial a witness, I will add the opinions of the modern German critics and ecclesiastical historians, which will be found decisive against the claim of infant baptism to be regarded as an apostolic practice.
NEANDER affirms that it cannot possibly be proved that infant baptism was practised in the apostolic age. The late introduction; the opposition it met with still in
k Mosheim, vol. i. p. 29-36.