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    It was not till a later period than that of which we are now writing, that sprinkling was substituted for baptism. In proof of this we quote the following from ‘McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia,’ concerning Novatian, who lived in the middle of the third century:—
    “It was altogether irregular and contrary to ecclesiastical rules to admit a man to the priestly office who had been baptized in bed; that is, who had been merely sprinkled, and had not been wholly immersed in water in the ancient method. For by many, and especially by the Roman Christians, the baptism of clinics (so they called those who, lest they should die out of the church, were baptized on a sick-bed) was accounted less perfect, and indeed less valid, and not sufficient for the attainment of salvation.”
    FACC 256.1

    Thus we see that it was not till after the third century sprinkling was substituted for baptism. How it finally came to take the place of baptism is very readily seen; for since the Christians thought that if anyone should die without baptism he could not enter Heaven, they introduced “clinical baptism,” that is, the sprinkling of those who were converted while on their death-bed, and who could not leave their beds to be immersed. But the thought would soon very naturally present itself, that if sprinkling were valid baptism in one case it must be in every case, and so, being much more easily administered and received, it soon entirely superseded true baptism.FACC 256.2

    But although in the period of which we are now writing (the second century) immersion was still practiced, we must not suppose that the ordinance of baptism had entirely escaped the prevailing contamination. After speaking of the baptism of bells, Bingham says:—
    “And here we meet with a practice a little more ancient, but not less superstitious, than the former; which was a custom that began to prevail among some weak people in Africa, of giving baptism to the dead. The third council of Carthage [A. D. 252] speaks of it as a thing that ignorant Christians were a little fond of, and therefore gives a seasonable caution against it, to discourage the practice.”—Antiquities of the Christian Church, book 11, chap. 4.
    FACC 257.1

    Killen (Ancient Church, period 2, sec. 3, chap. 2, paragraphs 10, 12) gives the following additional testimony as to how baptism was perverted from its original simplicity:—
    “The candidate, as early as the third century, was exorcised before baptism, with a view to the expulsion of evil spirits; and, in some places, after the application of the water, when the kiss of peace was given to him, a mixture of milk and honey was administered. He was then anointed, and marked on the forehead with the sign of the cross.”
    FACC 257.2

    “Baptism, as dispensed in apostolic simplicity, is a most significant ordinance; but the original rite was soon well-nigh hidden behind the rubbish of human inventions. The milk and honey, the unction, the crossing, the kiss of peace, and the imposition of hands, were all designed to render it more imposing; and, still farther to deepen the impression, it was already administered in the presence of none save those who had themselves been thus initiated. But the foolishness of God is wiser than man. Nothing is more to be deprecated than an attempt to improve upon the institutions of Christ. Baptism, as established by the divine founder of our religion, is a visible exhibition of the gospel; but, as known in the third century, it had much of the character of one of the heathen mysteries. It was intended to confirm faith; but it was now contributing to foster superstition. How soon had the gold become dim, and the most fine gold been changed!”FACC 257.3

    Concerning another superstition connected with baptism, Bingham speaks as follows:—
    “Immediately after the unction the minister proceeded to consecrate the water, or the bishop, if he were present, consecrated it, while the priests were finishing the unction. For so the author under the name of Dionysius represents it. While the priests, says he, are finishing the unction, the bishop comes to the mother of adoption, so he calls the font, and by invocation sanctifies the water in it, thrice pouring in some of the holy chrism in a manner representing the sign of the cross. This invocation or consecration of the water by prayer, is mentioned by Tertullian; for he says, The waters are made the sacrament of sanctification by invocation of God. The Spirit immediately descends from Heaven, and resting upon them sanctifies them by himself, and they, being so sanctified, imbibe the power of sanctifying. And Cyprian declares that the water must first be cleansed and sanctified by the priest, that it may have power by baptism to wash away the sins of man. And so the whole council of Carthage, in the time of Cyprian, says, The water is sanctified by the prayer of the priest to wash away sin.”—Antiquities, book 11, chap. 10.
    FACC 258.1

    Here again we have the “holy water” which plays so important a part in all Catholic ceremonies. All these ceremonies in connection with baptism were performed in order that the newly converted heathen might be impressed with the idea that the new religion had as much of pomp as the old. It was to Tertullian, as we have already seen (pp. 211, 212), that the Catholic Church is indebted for the superstition that the virtue of baptism lay in the water, and that as a consequence it must be sanctified.FACC 258.2

    In another place Bingham says of the superstitions connected with baptism:—
    “We find in some of the ancient ritualists, but not in all, mention made of an unction preceding baptism, and used by way of preparation for it.... But the writers of the following ages speak distinctly of two unctions, the one before, the other after baptism; which they describe by different names and different ceremonies, to distinguish them one from the other.... Dr. Cave and some other learned persons are of opinion, that together with this unction, the sign of the cross was made upon the forehead of the partly baptized.... To understand this matter exactly, we are to distinguish at least four several times, when the sign of the cross was used, during the preparation or consummation of the ceremonies of baptism. 1. At the admission of catechumens to the state of catechumenship and the general name of Christians. 2. In the time of exorcism and imposition of hands, while they were passing through the several stages of catechumens. 3. At the time of this unction before baptism. 4. And lastly, at the unction of confirmation, which was then usually the conclusion of baptism both in adult persons and infants; and many of the passages which speak of the sign of the cross in baptism, do plainly relate to this, as an appendage of baptism, and closely joined to it, as the last ceremony and consummation of it.... The third use of it was in this unction before baptism. For so the author under the name of Dionysius, describing the ceremony of anointing the party before the consecration of the water, says, The bishop begins the unction by thrice signing him with the sign of the cross, and then commits him to the priests to be anointed all over the body, whilst he goes and consecrates the water in the font.”—Id., chap. 9.
    FACC 259.1

    That this was done as early as the second century, is evident from what has been quoted from Tertullian. (See p. 212.)FACC 260.1

    The reader may wonder somewhat how the candidate for baptism could be “anointed all over the body;” but his wonder on this score may be set at rest, while his amazement at the degradating superstition into which men early fell, may be increased, by reading what Bingham has to say further on this subject:—
    “The ancients thought that immersion, or burying under water, did more lively represent the death and burial and resurrection of Christ, as well as our own death unto sin, and rising again to righteousness; and the divesting or unclothing the person to be baptized, did also represent the putting off the body of sin, in order to put on the new man, which is created in righteousness and true holiness. For which reason they observed the way of baptizing all persons naked and divested, by a total immersion under water, except in some particular cases of great exigence, wherein they allowed of sprinkling, as in the case of clinic baptism, or where there was a scarcity of water.”—Id., chap. 11.
    FACC 260.2

    Truly here were “mysteries” which should have compensated the convert from heathenism for all that he had left. For the person who can say that no scandalous practices would necessarily result from the ordinance of baptism thus administered to all classes of people, and in secret, must first take leave of his senses. But Bingham goes on in this same connection to state the reason which they gave for baptizing people naked:— “St. Chrysostom, speaking of baptism, says, Men were as naked as Adam in paradise, but with this difference: Adam was naked because he had sinned, but in baptism, a man was naked that he might be freed from sin; the one was divested of his glory which he once had, but the other put off the old man, which he did as easily as his clothes. St. Ambrose says, Men came as naked to the font, as they came into the world; and thence he draws an argument by way of allusion, to rich men, telling them how absurd it was, that a man who was born naked of his mother, and received naked by the church, should think of going rich into Heaven. Cyril of Jerusalem takes notice of this circumstance, together with the reasons of it, when he thus addresses himself to persons newly baptized: As soon as ye came into the inner part of the baptistery, ye put off your clothes, which is an emblem of putting off the old man with his deeds; and being thus divested, ye stood naked, imitating Christ, that was naked upon the cross, who by his nakedness spoiled principalities and powers, publicly triumphing over them in the cross. O wonderful thing! ye were naked in the sight of men, and were not ashamed, in this truly imitating the first man Adam, who was naked in paradise, and was not ashamed.... And Zeno Veronensis, reminding persons of their baptism, bids them rejoice, for they went down naked into the font, but rose again clothed in a white and heavenly garment, which if they did not defile, they might obtain the kingdom of Heaven. Athanasius, in his invectives against the Arians, among other things, lays this to their charge, that by their persuasions the Jews and Gentiles broke into the baptistery, and there offered such abuses to the catechumens as they stood with their naked bodies, as was shameful and abominable to relate. And a like complaint is brought against Peter, bishop of Apamea, in the council of Constantinople, under Mennas, that he cast out the neophytes, or persons newly baptized, out of the baptistery, when they were without their clothes and shoes. All which are manifest proofs that persons were baptized naked, either in imitation of Adam in paradise, or our Saviour upon the cross, or to signify their putting off the body of sin, and the old man with his deeds.”FACC 260.3

    Benjamin Franklin, in his “Autobiography,” tells how he came to break his resolution not to eat anything that had had life, and the conclusion which he draws seems very appropriate here. He says:—
    “I had been formerly a great lover of fish, and when it came out of the frying-pan it smelt admirably well. I balanced some time between principle and inclination, till, recollecting that when the fish were opened I saw smaller fish taken out of their stomachs, then, thought I, ‘If you eat one another, I don’t see why we may not eat you;’ so I dined upon cod very heartily, and have since continued to eat as other people, returning only now and then occasionally to a vegetable diet. So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.”
    FACC 262.1

    Franklin’s conclusion is very apt. When people determine upon a certain course, there is never any lack of “reasons” for so doing. These early Christians (?) had determined to copy the heathen “mysteries” as closely as possible, and consequently they were not at a loss to find “scriptural” warrant for their course. But we have not heard all of Bingham’s testimony. Although he does not accuse them of any licentious act, he gives evidence which, taking human nature into the account, and especially human nature as it then was, leaves no room for conjecture as to the effect. He continues:—
    “And this practice was then so general, that we find no exception made, either with respect to the tenderness of infants, or the bashfulness of the female sex, save only where the case of sickness or disability made it necessary to vary from the usual custom. St. Chrysostom is an undeniable evidence in this matter. For writing about the barbarous proceedings of his enemies against him on the great Sabbath, or Saturday before Easter, among other tragical things which they committed, he reports this for one, That they came armed into the church, and by violence expelled the clergy, killing many in the baptistery, with which the women, who at that time were divested in order to be baptized, were put into such a terror that they fled away naked, and could not stay in the fright to put on such clothes as the modesty of their sex required.”—Antiquities, book 11, chap. 11.
    FACC 262.2

    We will not disgust the reader with more of this at present. We do not give this much with the idea that it will give him pleasure, nor because we take pleasure in dwelling upon the frailties of others. We do it in order to show that a thing is not necessarily proper and right because it was practiced in the church at a very early period. It is a very common thing for people to argue that, although we have no direct scriptural warrant for the observance of Sunday, it must be proper to do so, because many of the early Christians kept it, and they must have received the practice from the apostles. But we think that no one will claim that the early Christians received from the apostles the custom of baptizing people naked; and therefore the argument from the custom of “the church,” in behalf of Sunday-keeping, falls to the ground. We do not believe that all professed Christians indulged in such shameful perversions of a sacred ordinance. That there were those who adhered to the gospel as delivered in its simplicity and purity by our Saviour, there can be no doubt; but the fact that abominable and heathenish things were done in the name of Christianity, should cause us unhesitatingly to reject anything which we are urged to adopt on the sole ground that it was practiced by the early church.FACC 263.1

    It may be well to add right here that the men from whom we have quoted cannot be accused of being prejudiced against the early church, for, in spite of the evidence which they give of its corruption, they blindly follow the “custom” of the church in many particulars, especially in the matter of Sunday observance, and seem to imagine that, “the custom of the church” can sanctify any act to which they are inclined. “So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature.”FACC 264.1

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