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of infants, sponsors answered, as they do with us, those questions, and made those promises in their name; and thus Augustine says, "Infants do profess repentance by the words of them that bring them, when they do by them renounce the devil and this world (u)." Baptism was always accompanied with prayers suited to the occasion.
The antient mode of baptizing was by immersion (w), or by dipping the whole body of the person, whatever was his age, into water; and in the primitive times they made use of any water which was nearest at hand: "It is the same thing," says Tertullian, "whether we be washed in the sea, or in a pond, or in a fountain, or in a river, in a standing or in a running water (a)." But when churches were built, some part of the church, or a building near it, called the baptistery, was appropriated to this
(u) Lib. 1. cap. 19. de. Pec. Mor.
(w) Wall. part 2, c. 9. sect. 2. Mersatione enim, non perfusione, agi solitum hunc ritum baptismi per apostolos, implicat et vocis proprietas, et loca ad eum ritum delecta, Joan. c. 3. v. 23. Acta, c. 8. v. 38, et allusiones multæ, in eorum scriptis, quæ ad aspersionem referri non possunt, Rom. c. 6. v. 3 et 4. Col. c. 2. v. 12. Serius aliquanto invaluisse videtur mos perfundendi sive aspergendi, in eorum gratiam, qui in gravi morbo cubantes nomen dari Christo expetebant quos cæteri xes vocabant. Grot.
(x) De Bapt. cap. 4.
use; and the ministers not only dipped the persons baptized, but they also plunged their heads three times under water, once when they pronounced the name of the Father, a second time when they pronounced the name of the Son, and a third time when they pronounced the name of the Holy Ghost. "Our Saviour commanded," says Tertullian, "that the Apostles should baptize unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost; not unto one person, for we are not plunged once, but three times, once at the naming of each name (y)." And one of the apostolical canons (≈) (which are very antient, though they have no right to be called apostolical) orders, that any bishop or presbyter, who does not use the trine immersion, should be deposed. Jerome (a), Basil, (b), and Chrysostom (c), all mention the three immersions in baptism. Gregory the Great considers it as a matter of no importance, whether a person be dipped once or thrice: "In the same faith different usages of the church do no harm; thus, whereas there is in the three persons but one substance,
(y) Adv. Prax.cap. 26. Vide also de Cor. Mil. cap. 1. (z) Can. 50. in Cotelerius's edition of Apost.Fathers. (a) Epist. cont. Lucif. (b) De Spir. Sanct.
(c) Hom. de Fide.
substance, there could be no blame in dipping the infant either once or thrice; for that by three immersions the three persons are represented, as by one the singularity of the substance is signified (d)." But though trine immersion was the usual mode of baptizing, yet in cases of sickness or weakness, they only sprinkled water upon the face. Both the general practice, and the cases of exception, fully appear from the following passage of an epistle of Cyprian: "You enquire also, dear son, what I think of such as obtain the grace (that is, of baptism) in time of their sickness or infirmity, whether they are to be accounted lawful Christians, because they are not washed all over with the water of salvation, but have only some of it poured on them (e);" and after reasoning at a considerable length, he concludes, that such baptism is valid; and that if persons recover, it is not necessary that they should be baptized by immersion. However, in the early times they did not allow those who had received this clinic baptism, as it was called, to be admitted to the holy order of priesthood; and this was among the objections urged against the election of Novatian to the bishopric of Rome, that
(d) Epist. apud Leand. Reg. lib. 1. cap. 41. (e) Epist. 69. edit. Oxon.
that he had been baptized when sick in bed (ƒ). Baptism by affusion was also used upon other extraordinary occasions, as probably when three thousand persons were baptized at the same time (g), and when the gaoler and his family were baptized in the night by Paul and Silas (h). The earliest author who mentions baptism by aspersion, as a common practice, is Gennadius of Marseilles (i), in the fifth century, who says, that baptism was administered indifferently, either by immersion or by sprinkling, in his time, in the Gallic church. In the thirteenth century Thomas Aquinas says, "that baptism may be given not only by immersion, but also by affusion of water, or sprinkling with it; but it is the safer way to baptize by immersion, because that is the more common custom (k)." Erasmus tells us, that in his time, that is in the reign of King Henry the eighth, it was the custom to sprinkle infants in Holland, and to dip them in England (1). When affusion was first substituted in the room of immersion, they poured the water three times upon the face, as appears from the
(f) Eus. Hist. Ecc. lib. 6. cap. 43.
(g) Acts, c. 2. V.41.
(i) De Eccl. Dogm. cap. 74. (k) 3 In. 66. Art. 7.
(h) Acts, c. 16. v. 33.
(1) In Epist. 76. Cyp.
the Council of Angiers, in the thirteenth century, and the same practice continued in Germany as late as the middle of the fifteenth century (m). In the Common Prayer book, printed in 1549, the second year of King Edward the sixth's reign, the minister is directed to dip the child in the water thrice; but in the Prayer Books published at the end of his reign the word thrice is omitted; and Watson, bishop of Lincoln, in a sermon published 1558, the last year of Queen Mary's reign, says, that, though the antient tradition of the church has been from the beginning to dip the child three times, yet that it is not of such necessity, but that if it be but once dipped in the water, it is sufficient; yea, and in time of great peril and necessity, if the water be but poured on the head, it will suffice." In the reign of Queen Elizabeth immersion came by degrees into disuse; and this alteration was in great measure owing to the principles which some of our divines had imbibed at Geneva, where they had taken refuge during the reign of Queen Mary; for Calvin (n), in his form of baptism, directs that the minister should pour water upon the infant, and this was the first public form of
(m) Vide Wall. part 2. c.9.