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and but new born, when we embrace that which is of his VII.
making.”i Reasons for To any one acquainted with the general history of this infant bap- portion of the world, it will appear highly probable that gaining the descent of baptism from youth to children, (which ground in Africa. was opposed by Tertullian some half century before,)
and then from children to babes, was accelerated by a natural desire, on the part of the priesthood, to place their numerous illicit progenyk within the pale of the Christian church; perhaps, also, a benevolent effort to rescue others from their condition, to which, as pagans, they were exposed of being sold as slaves, had a cooperative tendency in producing this result. It is still more certain, that as error proceeds with a rapidity proportioned to the ignorance which surrounds it, these Afri. can churches constitute the location where the appeara
ance of infant baptism might be first expected. Not found
Let it be duly considered, that during this century
this practice is not heard of either in the Roman, Greek, Roman and
or heretical churches, as they are termed; it is confined churches during this solely to Africa. This circumstance led the celebrated century. Grotius to believe “ that infant baptism was not univer
sally held to be necessary ; because, in the councils, one finds no earlier mention of it than in the council of Car
thage.” Infant com
There is another passage from Cyprian which proves munion. that infant communion existed at this same period. I
shall extract it in a subsequent chapter. This circumstance accounts for Dr. Doddridge declining the testimony of Cyprian. He thus cuts the matter short :
« Cyprian is allowed by all to speak expressly of in
i Cypriani Epist. 64, (Pamelii Edit. 59,) ad Fidum. See Ancient Christianity, by Isaac Taylor, p. 121.
facts in this
the limited existence of
fant baptism as generally used in the church; but it is SECT.
VI. justly answered, that he speaks as expressly of infant communion in the eucharist; and eonsequently that the divine original of the latter may as well be argued from him, as that of the former; yet almost all pædobaptists allow that to be an innovation."
The testimony of the history of the third century on Summary of infant baptism, then, is this ;--that it is found sanctioned
century. by an African council, and in company with the doctrine of washing away Adam's sin, and with the practice of infant communion; and cannot, during even the third century, be found any where else.
But this is not all; its non-existence in other parts can Proofs of be proved. If the quotation be deemed by any somewhat transgressing the grounds of propriety, I must re-infant bapmind the reader that it is the introduction of infant bap-century. tism that renders such allusions
pursuance of historical investigation of the truth; and assure him that, (although the production of such quotations would forever forbid the charge of indecency" in the practice of immersion being again even hinted at by the advocates of sprinkling,) I shall refrain from quoting much that would tend to show the absurdities which speedily grew out of infant baptism, and which are inevitably associated with the doctrines which gave it birth, out of a regard to the feelings of my readers. The quotation is from the acts of the council of Neo Cæsarea, held at the close of this century. “ A woman with child may be baptized when she Canon of
the council pleases; for the mother in this matter communicates nothing to the child; because in the profession, every one's sarea,
A. D. 314. own (or peculiar) resolution is declared, (or, because
of Neo Cae
| Doddridge's Miscell. Works, p. 494.
tions of Grotius and
CHAP. every one's resolution at the profession, is declared to be VII.
peculiar to himself.") Observa- Grotius produces two commentators on this canon,
Balsamon and Zonaras, who interpret it, as if the coun. others upon cil had understood infant baptism to be unlawful. Gro
tius's words are these :-“ How much soever the commentators draw it to another sense, it is plain that the doubt concerning the baptizing women great with child, was for that reason, because the child might seem to be baptized together with its mother; and a child was not
wont to be baptized, but upon its own will and profesCompend. sion; and so Balsamon explains it, • That cannot be en
lightened (or baptized) because it is not yet come into the light, nor has any choice of the divine baptism;' and, also Zonaras, • The child that is now in the womb has no need of baptism; then when it shall be able to choose,
In the next section it will fully appear that infant baptism had not become general during the fourth century, which will be conclusive proof, that it was not so during the third ; for none have ever presumed that this error has gone back till the present time; and it
may be considered as an indication that the glorious day of the “ restitution of all things” is approaching, that the scales are now so rapidly falling from the eyes of God's children.
m Concilii Neo Cæsariensis, canon 6. n Annot. in Matt. 19, 14.
BAPTISM IN THE FOURTH AND FIFTH CENTURIES.
IF, as ecclesiastical historians agree, a material change SECT. for the worse had taken place in the Christian church in the third century, before the fires of pagan persecution Progress of had finally ceased, we may form some just idea how
corruption rapidly such corrupt tendencies both in doctrine and church. practice must have advanced when the imperial power, and the influence of office and wealth, were arrayed on the side of the church; as the prophet foretold, many clave to them with flatteries." If the church decreased in piety, however, it was not so in talents. The fourth century was the age of eloquence in the Christian churches. Of the remaining Fathers, all but one lived in this century, or very early in the fifth. Eusebius, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Lactantius, Basil, Gregory of Nazianzen, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Chrysostom, all belong to this period.
It is very remarkable that no satisfactory reference to the existence of infant baptism, as a general practice, (with the African exception) is found until the writings of Jerome and Augustine. On the contrary, the evidence from the extracts given by Dr. Wall bear strongly in the opposite direction. Of the writings of this age Mr. Taylor uses language as forcible as it is just: “There is no degradation of the intellect, no bondage of the moral sentiments, no fatal substitution of forms for realities; there is no ineffable drivelling belonging to the middle age monkery, that may not be matched, to the full, in the monkery of the bright times of Chrysostom, Ambrose, and Augustine. I here put the question aloud
CHAP. to any opponent— What is it that you precisely mean VII.
by the corruptions of popery, in respect to the monastic system ? or, in other words, can you make it appear, to the satisfaction of thinking men, that this same system had become more frivolous, and therefore, in a religious sense, more pernicious, in the twelfth century, than it was at the opening of the fourth ?!"a
Oration of The first public allusion in the Greek church to the A. D. 31. subject of the baptism of infants, is in the fortieth oration
of Gregory Nazianzen, the bishop of Constantinople, so late as A. D. 381 :
“But, say some, what is your opinion of infants, who are not capable of judging either of the grace of baptism, or of the damage sustained by the want of it; shall we baptize them too? By all means, if there be any apparent danger. For it were better they were sanctified without their knowing it, than that they should die without being sealed and initiated. As for others, I give my opinion, that when they are three years of age, or thereabouts, (for then they are able to hear and answer some of the mystical words, and, although they do not fully understand, they may receive impressions, they may be sanctified, both soul and body, by the great mystery of initiation.”
a Ancient Christianity, p. 149.
u Gregory Nazianzen, the son of the bishop of Nazianzen, in Cappadocia, was born A. D. 328, and studied at Cæsarea, Alex. andria, and Athens. After having displayed great theological and other talents, he was raised by Theodosius, in 380, to the archicpiscopal throne of Constantinople. He, however, soon resigned his high office, and retired to Nazianzen, where he died in 389. His works, which form two folio volumes, consist of sermons, poems, and letters, and are pure in their stylc, and highly cloquent.--Ency. Rel. Know.