صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

CHAPTER X.

The Occasional Offices.

Antiquity of the rite

tion with water.

A

SECT. I. BAPTISM.

MONG the occasional offices of the Church,

the first in importance, and the first in the order of the Prayer Book, is the sacrament of baptism.

The washing of the body with water, as a of purifica- symbol that the soul requires to be cleansed from sin, is a rite of great antiquity, and not peculiar to Christianity. The Greeks and Latins had lustrations for those who were guilty of certain offences, as murder; and it would seem, from the verses of Ovid, that the notion of the opus operatum was no less rife among the Romans in a state of paganism, than it has been in modern times:

Ah nimium faciles, qui tristia crimina cædis

Tolli fluminea posse putatis aqua.

Oblations also were used by those who were about to assist in the pagan mysteries, such as the Eleusinia. The rite of Baptism, or plunging the body in water (from βάπτω, βαπτίζω to dip) was employed by the Jews in admitting proselytes to their religion. Our Lord therefore,

in appointing this to be the mode of entering his Church, did not introduce a new ceremony, or a new symbol, but rather invested an old one with greater sanctity and deeper significance.

We derive the practice of baptizing infants Baptism of

infants an

ERRATUM.

Page 264, line 6 from bottom, for Oblations read
Ablutions.

0

converts were baptized, wherever there was convenience of water, in private houses, or by the river-side. While the persecutions lasted, it was necessary to celebrate this and all other rites with as much secrecy as possible. But when the Church had rest, and places for public worship were opened, baptisteries were

B. C. P.

12

place,

and time for baptism.

Above

p. 20.

Commencement of the Office.

erected adjoining them, and it was forbidden to baptize in private houses. At a later period they baptized in the church-porch; and at last the font was placed within the church, but still near the door, to indicate that the sacrament there administered was as it were the door of entrance to the Christian Church.

The season between Easter and Whitsuntide was considered the most appropriate for baptism; and until the eighth century none were baptized in the Western Church at any other time, except in cases of imminent danger. The direction of our rubric that baptisms should be solemnized only on Sundays or holy days, is from Hermann's Consultation;' from which also many parts of the offices of baptism are derived.

[ocr errors]

The introductory part of the service is taken from the ancient office for admitting a convert to the order of catechumens. In the early Church, it was customary for adults, before they were baptized, to go through a preliminary course of instruction and probation. While this was in progress, they were called catechumens (Kaтηxovμevoι, persons under instruction), and they were admitted into this probationary class with prayer, and with certain symbolical ceremonies, such as signing

with the cross, giving salt as a token of divine
wisdom and knowledge (sal sapientia), the
exorcism of the evil spirit, and a benediction.
In process of time this initiatory rite lost its
significance, and was followed immediately by
baptism, without any interval of probation:
and though originally applicable only to adults,
it was prefixed in later times to the office for
the baptism of infants. Our Church, while
abolishing the ceremony, has retained with
some alteration the prayers
which accom-
panied it.

Sponsors are required in infant baptism, Duty of as an assurance to the Church, that the child

Sponsors.

will be brought up in the faith in which he is baptized. Their duty is to answer the interrogatories which are put to him at the font, and afterwards to see that he be duly instructed and admonished concerning the promises which they have made in his name. This custom is derived from the primitive Church, and is mentioned by Tertullian, who De Bapt. uses the word sponsores. St Augustine calls them fide jussores. In his time it appears that the parents were not unusually the sponsors. The parents are of course the most proper guardians of the child in this as in all respects. And when it is laid down by the 29th canon of

18.

Ancient order of Baptism.

our Church, that no one shall be admitted to be godfather of his own child, the intention manifestly is not to exonerate the parents from the duty of instructing and admonishing their children, a duty which is primarily incumbent upon them; but the object of the regulation is to provide an additional security for the fulfilment of that duty; that in case there be any default or impediment on the part of the parents, there may be other persons under an obligation to superintend the religious nurture of the child.

Sponsors were also called Gossips; from God sib, i. e. relations in God; the old word sib meaning kindred.

The provision contained in the rubric as to the number of sponsors for male and female children is as old as the synod of Worcester, held in 1240.

The following is the order of baptism in the ancient Church of Jerusalem, as recorded by St Cyril, in his sermons to the newly-bapMyst. 1. 3. tized, preached in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the middle of the fourth century.

Catech.

You went first into the porch (of the baptistery), and being placed towards the West, you were commanded to stretch out your hands, and to renounce Satan, as if he were present, and to

« السابقةمتابعة »