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will you become one of us?” Coleman, in his Ancient Christianity, says: “The rise of this order may be traced back to the latter part of the second century. The system was gradually developed in the third century, and reached its culminating point about the beginning of the fifth century, after which it fell by degrees into disuse."* He adds elsewhere: “The institutions of the church during the first five centuries concerning the requisite preparation for baptism, and all the laws and rules that existed during that period relating to the acceptance or rejection of candidates, necessarily fell into disuse when the baptism of infants began not only to be permitted, but enjoined as a duty, and almost universally observed. The old rule, which prescribed caution in the admission of candidates, and a careful preparation for the rite, was, after the sixth century, applicable for the most part only to Jewish, heathen, and other proselytes." In other words, the voluntary, intelligent profession of faith which during the first five centuries ordinarily preceded baptism was in the sixth century superseded by the involuntary, unintelligent act involved in infant baptism. In this statement of Coleman concur all the best historians. But it is evident that this wide prevalence of the catechumenical system during the first five centuries utterly precludes the general practice of infant baptism during that period.
2. Many of the most distinguished men in the Patristic period were not baptized till adult age, although of Christian parentage. Athanasius, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, Chrysostom, Jerome, and Augustine were all baptized after they had reached adult life, yet they were all sons of parents one or both of whom were Christians. Some of them, as Gregory, were sons of Christian bishops; and of Basil,
* Page 118.
Gregory, and Augustine we have the record that they were specially dedicated to God in infancy by pious mothers, but not by baptism. Indeed, there is no clear proof of the baptism in infancy of any distinguished Father, although it is possible that Origen was baptized in early youth. Surely these facts, which cannot be set aside, are plain proof that infant baptism was not then the prevailing practice, however strongly insisted on in theory. Dr. Schaff justly remarks: “The cases of Gregory of Nazianzen, St. Chrysostom, and St. Augustine, who had mothers of exemplary piety, yet were not baptized before early manhood, show sufficiently that considerable freedom prevailed in this respect even in the Nicene and post-Nicene age."*
3. The highest historical testimony leads to this result. Neander, in his Church History, affirms of the period A. D. 312-590 : “It was still very far from being the case, especially in the Greek Church, that infant baptism, although acknowledged to be necessary, was generally introduced into practice ;” and he adds that it “entered rarely and with much difficulty into the church-life during the first half of this period.” | Meyer, in his Commentary on Acts, after strongly denying its apostolic origin, says: “Concerning infant baptism, there is no witness before Tertullian, and it did not become general until after the time of Augustine.” Schaff, also speaking of the postNicene age, says: “Notwithstanding the general admission of infant baptism, the practice of it was by no means universal.” | But it is needless to multiply citations; for all reputable church historians, as Hagenbach, Gieseler, and Mosheim, concur in this statement. The general results of this investigation, therefore, may * Church History vol. i., p. 401.
+ Vol. ii., p. 319. | Church History, vol. ii., p. 483.
be thus stated : 1. That infant baptism had no existence in the first two centuries, and no formal recognition in the church till the middle of the third century, and then only in North Africa. 2. That it was based, then and afterward, on a supposed magical power in baptism and its necessity in order to salvation. ' 3. That, notwithstanding this superstition, on which it was founded, was widely prevalent, the practice itself did not become general till the sixth century. 4. That the triumph of infant baptism was thus coincident with the triumph of the superstitions of the Papacy and with the beginning of the Dark Ages.
DOCTRINE OF THE LORD'S SUPPER.
This ordinance, which commemorates the dying love of Christ, has been for ages the centre of fierce theological conflict. In the Roman Church many a martyr perished for his temerity in opposing the papal dogma, and among the Reformers it proved the chief occasion of division and strife. These controversies relate chiefly to the question how, or in what manner, Christ is present in the Supper; in respect to which the Christian world is divided by four different theories.
I. TRANSUBSTANTIATION. Many of the Fathers used language which implied a supernatural presence of Christ in the Supper, but none of them conceived of an actual change of the bread and wine into his flesh and blood. This was first taught, in formulated statement, by Paschasius Radbert, in the ninth century, who held that after the words of consecration are uttered there remains only the appearance of bread and wine: the actual substance is the body and blood of Christ. After three centuries of conflict this was proclaimed a dogma in the Roman Catholic Church by the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215, and in the sixteenth century it was reaffirmed with more ample statement and higher solemnity by the Council of Trent.
The doctrine, as thus stated, involves the following points: 1. That when the words of consecration are uttered by the priest, the bread and wine are instantly changed into the real body and real blood of Christ just as they actually existed on the cross. The properties of bread and wine, indeed, remain, such as color, form, and taste, but the substance is wholly changed. 2. That, as the body and spirit of Christ cannot be separated, it follows that not the body and blood only, but also the soul and divinity, the whole Christ is contained in the elements thus changed, and is contained in each separate particle of them. 3. That the Lord's Supper, or mass, is a true and proper sacrifice to God, the priest therein offering the real body, soul, and divinity-the whole Christ as he was offered up on the cross; it is, therefore, a real propitiation for sin and a means of securing God's favor. 4. That the elements, having thus become the true and real Christ, are to be worshipped and adored with the adoration and worship offered to God. 5. That, as the whole Christ is in each separate particle of the elements, the communicant receives in the bread or wafer, not the body only, but also the blood, of the Lord; and, as in the universal administration of the cup there is special danger of spilling the blood, the cup is to be withheld from the laity and given only to the clergy.
This miracle, which at the word of a mere man transmutes a wafer into God and makes the eucharist a perpetual repetition of the sacrifice of the cross, is affirmed chiefly from two passages.
1. The words of Christ (John vi. 53): "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” In this, however, a reference to the Lord's Supper is plainly inadmissible. For when Christ spoke these words, that ordinance had not been instituted. If they relate to it, the Old Testament saints and all who have died without the Supper have perished. The withholding of the ordinance from infants would be, in this case, fatal to their salvation. This literal interpretation of the passage, moreover, is condemned by Christ in verse 63: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Whatever, therefore, be the meaning of these words, plainly they do not relate to the Supper.
2. The words used by Christ at the institution of the sacrament: “This is my body,” “This is my blood.” It is affirmed that these words are to be literally construed, and that with such construction they necessarily teach that the sacred elements are the true body and blood of Christ. But we deny the necessity of a literal construction. For the verb to be in all languages has a common meaning to signify, to represent, and in the New Testament this usage is frequent. Thus it is said: "I am the door;" “That rock was Christ ;”> “ The seven candlesticks are the seven churches.” In these passages, and in many others, the verb clearly means to signify or represent; and if in these, why not also in the words relating to the Supper? Indeed, the most imperative reasons require this interpretation. For, (1.) Christ, when he uttered these words, was sitting at the table with his disciples in his own proper body, and it is impossible that they could have understood