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we judge that not so necessary, but that it is free for the Church to baptize either by dipping or sprinkling ;" so that (as Mr. Walker * observes) · no wonder if that custom prevailed at home which our reformed divines, in the time of the Marian persecution, had found to be the judgment of other divines, and seen to be the practice of other churches abroad, and especially of Mr. Calvin and his Church of Geneva.”
And when there was added to all this the resolution of such a man as Dr. Whitaker, Regius Professor at Cambridge, † “ Though in case of grown persons that are in health, I think dipping to be better, yet, in the case of infants, and of sickly people, I think sprinkling sufficient.” The inclination of the people, backed with these authorities, carried the practice against the Rubric, which still required dipping, except in case of weakness; so that, in the later times of Queen Elizabeth, and during the reigns of King James and of King Charles I. very few children were dipt in the font. I have heard of one or two persons now living, who must have been born in those reigns, that they were baptized by dipping in the font; and of one clergyman now living, that has baptized some infants so; but am not certain.-P.S. I have since heard of several. And I myself have had one opportunity of administering baptism so, by the parents' consent. But the children were, however, all that time carried to the font; as much as to say, the minister is ready to dip the child, if the parents will venture the health of it.
Mr. Blake, who wrote in 1645 , a pamphlet, entitled Infants Baptism freed from Antichristianism, says, p. 1 (in answer to his adversary, who had said that infants pretended to be baptized by the ministers of the Church have not true baptism, since they are not dipped, but sprinkled)." I have been an eye-witness of many infants dipped, and know it to have been the constant practice of many ministers in their places for
* Chap. 10.
many years together.” And again, p. 4, speaking of the present practice of that time, says,
"Those that dip not infants, do not yet use to sprinkle them; -there is a middle way between these two ; I have seen several dipped ; - I never saw nor heard of any sprinkled, or (as some of you use to speak) rantized.
Our way is not by aspersion, but perfusion ; not sprinkling drop by drop, but pouring on, at once, all that the hand contains." And for sprinkling, says, " I leave them to defend it that use it.”
Of what age Mr. Blake was when he wrote this, I know not; but, in a pamphlet which he wrote the year before, viz. 1644, called The Birth Privilege, and which he dedicates to his parishioners of Tamworth in Staffordshire, he so speaks, as that one may guess him to have been about forty-two years old. He says, in the said Dedication, “ I have served you for Christ a double apprenticeship of years almost complete ; which time has seemed to some, to have added more than a third to the years of the days of my pilgrimage,” What he means by seem to some, I cannot imagine. But if he, at 1644, were about forty-two, and could remember, as he says, the dipping of infants must have been pretty ordinary during the former half of King James's reign, if not longer. And for sprinkling, properly called, it seems it was, at 1645, just then beginning, and used by very few. It must have began in the disorderly times after 41; for Mr. Blake had never used it, nor seen it used.
But then came the Directory (1544], which forbids even the carrying of the child to the font; and says, “ Baptism is to be administered, not in private places, or privately (these are the men that have since brought baptism in private houses to be so spreading a custom as it is) but in the place of public worship, and in the face of the congregation, &c.; and not in the places where fonts, in the time of popery, were unfitly and superstitiously placed.” So (parallel to the rest of their reformations) they reformed the font into a bason, This learned assembly could not remember that fonts
to baptize in, had been always used by the primitive Christians, long before the beginning of Popery, and ever since churches were built; but that sprinkling, for the common use of baptizing, was really introduced (in France first, and then in other popish countries) in times of Popery; - and that, accordingly, all those countries in which the usurped power of the pope is, or has formerly been owned, have left off dipping of children in the font; but that all other countries in the world (which had never regarded his authority) do still use it ; — and that basons, except in case of necessity, were never used by Papists, or any other Christians whatsoever, till by themselves.
The use was: — The minister continuing in his reading-desk, the child was brought and held below him; and there was placed for that use, a little bason of water, about the bigness of a syllabub-pot, into which the minister dipping his fingers, and then holding his hand over the face of a child, some drops would fall from his fingers on the child's face ; for the Directory says, it is not only lawful, but most expedient to use pouring or sprinkling."
Upon the review of the Common Prayer Book at the Restoration, the Church of England did not think fit (however prevalent the custom of sprinkling was) to forego their maxim ; - that it is most fitting to dip children that are well able to bear it. But they leave, it wholly to the judgment of the Godfathers, and those that bring the child, whether the child way well endure dipping, or not, as they are indeed the most proper judges of that. So the priest is now ordered, “ If the Godfathers do certify him, that the child may well endure it, to dip it in the water discreetly and warily; but if they certify that the child is weak, it shall suffice to pour water upon it.” The difference is only this : By the Rubric, as it stood before, the priest was to dip, unless there were an averment or allegation of weakness ; - now he is not to dip, unless there be an averment or certifying of strength sufficient to endure it.
Except such Antipædobaptists as do not allow of
affusion in any case (and I think there are few such but in England) all the rest of the world will agree that this Order is the most unexceptionable of could be given, and does keep as close to the primitive way as the coldness of our region, and the tenderness to which infants are now used, will admit. But in the practice, the Godfathers take so much advantage of the reference that is made to their judgment, that they never do certify to the priest" that the child may well endure it.” And the priests do now seldom ask that question; and, indeed, it is needless, because they do always bring the child so drest in clothes, as to make it plain that they do not intend it shall be dipl. When dipping in the font was in fashion, they brought the child wrapt up in such a sort of clothing as could presently, and without trouble, be taken off, and put on again. I think they called it a Chrysom, or some such name.
And besides, the fonts that have been built since the times I spoke of, are, many of them, built so small and bason-like, that a child cannot well be dipt in them, if it were desired.
Since the times that dipping of infants has been generally left off, many learned men in several countries have endeavoured to retrieve the use of it; but more in England than anywhere else in proportion.
Sotus gives his opinion * that“ baptism ought still to be given by dipping ; so as that it is not lawful to give it otherwise, unless for some necessary, or creditable, and reasonable cause.” But Vasques † takes him up for this with some anger; and he maintains that now-a-days, since it is grown the common custom, affusion is perfectly as well as dipping. This he says of affusion, or “ pouring on of water;"  but for sprinkling of water, he says “ That is not at all in use, and sọ cannot be practised without sin, unless for some particular cause." Estius also does much commend
* In 4. Dist. 3. Q. Unicâ, art. 7.
dipping; but now that the other is the common custom, would have nothing altered.
In England, Mr. Mede shewed his inclination to retrieve the ancient custom plain enough (indeed he carried the argument for it too far) when he said * That “there was no such thing as sprinkling or rhantism used in baptism in the apostles days, nor many ages after them.” If he takes sprinkling strickly (as it is distinguished from pouring on of water) it may be true; but if he say so of pouring water, it is not true, unless he limit to ordinary cases.
Bishop Taylor, in his Rule of Conscience, and also Mr. Dan. Rogers, in his Treatise of Sacraments, have said so much on this head, that Danvers, the Antipadobaptist, catches hold of their words, and brings them among his authorities, † that to baptize is nothing else but to dip. But he is forced to curtail and misrepre. sent their words; for they do both of them in their own words (which he has left out) own, that baptism by affusion is true baptism; but so much is true, that they do both of them plead hard that it ought not to be used but in case of necessity, and that the ministers should in no other case dispense with the act of immersion ; and indeed, as the Rubric then stood, it required immersion positively, unless the child were weak, Here, by the way, I cannot but take notice, how much trouble such an adventurous author as this Danvers, is able to give to such a careful and exact answerer as Mr. Walker. Danvers does in this place deal with above twenty other writers after the same rate as he does with the two I mentioned, viz. Scapula, Stephanus, Pasor, Vossius, Leigh, Casaubon, Beza, Chamier, Hammond, Cajetan, Musculus, Piscator, Calvin, Keckerman, Diodat, Grotius, Davenant, Tilenus, Dr. Cave, Wal, Strabo, and Archbishop Tillotson. He does in the space of twelve pages I quote all these in such words, as if they had made dipping to be of the essence of bap
* Diatribe on Tit. iii. 5.
From 192 to pag. 204,
+ Treat, of Bapt. part. 2, ch. 4,