SUMMARY OF BAPTISM IN THE SIXTH CENTURY
Shortly after the beginning of this account, Alcimus is introduced who declares that baptism was prefigured in the suffering of Christ; his testimony, however, in regard to this, is reserved for another place.
Cassiodorus follows Alcimus, saying that in baptism believers are regenerated to new creatures.
He is followed by Fortunatus, who speaks of the virtue and benefit of baptism, saying that those who are regenerated by baptism, become children of God.
People who indicate that infant baptism is not in accordance with the holy Scriptures.
The council of Ilerda, in Spain, establishes various canons or rules against the Anabaptists and those baptized by them; forbidding to eat with them.
The council of Agathe decrees that all Jews who desire baptism must first be instructed for eight
months, with the catechumens. Confession of faith preached to those desiring baptism (see margin as well as column).
In the first council of Constantinople it is decreed that the Eunomians and Montanists must first walk for a considerable length of time with the church (brotherhood), hear the holy Scriptures, and shall then, if found faithful, be baptized.
Of certain persons termed fanatics, who prevailed upon the imperial councilors, to abolish infant baptism.
Justus Origelitanus says excellent things with regard to the nature and efficacy of baptism.
One Peter, and his companion Zoroaras defend Anabaptism.
An account, from Gregory, of certain Jews, some of whom were baptized on Easter, others on Whitsuntide, after previous instruction.
Vincentius shows that it was customary to renounce, before baptism, all pomp, and the works of Satan.
Of the white robes put on the newly baptized, and the gifts it was customary to present to them.
How Brunechildis, the daughter of Arthanagildus, was rebaptized.
Of Euthimius, who entertained some that had been baptized, forty days; and how he admonished them.
Touching a certain prayer pronounced over the candidates, containing very beautiful sentiments respecting the dignity and benefit of baptism.
It is held that Theophilus Alexandrinus differs from the Roman church, in regard to holy baptism and the holy Supper.
The followers of Donatus again cited, and excused in various things.
Christian novices, before baptism, divided in two classes.
Statements with regard to the corruption of the writings of the ancients; yet that on the subject of baptism authentic testimonies still remain. With this we have abbreviated and concluded this century.]
Although in the sixth century, Roman darkness, as regards the corruption of divine worship, began to rise more and more, and the divine and evangelical truth necessarily had to sink out of sight at times, inasmuch as the Roman Bishop and others, who held with him, began, as it were, with the black smoke of manifold superstitions, shamefully and lamentably to darken the bright and transparent commands of Christ, as baptism, the holy Supper, the command not to swear, and others; so that baptism on faith was converted into infant baptism, the Lord's Supper into a superstitious mass, the command not to swear, into a permission to swear, and other articles also greatly corrupted; yet in the meantime nevertheless, there were people, yea, eminent persons, and even such, at times, as (living in quiet as .they did) were reckoned to belong to the Roman church, through whom the aforesaid darkness was illuminated, the superstitions removed, and the pure truth of the holy Gospel brought to light as a brightly shining sun; inasmuch as they, opposing infant baptism, recommended baptism upon faith; abolishing the mass or transubstantiation, taught the simple Supper of Jesus Christ; rejecting, according to the doctrine of Christ and James, oaths and swearing, commanded the people not to use oaths, or to swear at all.
But it would require too much time to treat on, and show, all these things; hence we shall follow the custom we adopted in the beginning, and speak principally of baptism, showing briefly, by whom and in what manner the same was practiced according to the rule of Christ and the usage of His apostles, and confirmed by doctrine or example.
Alcimus writes (lib. 1, de Orig. Mundi) in the 6th Cent. Magdeburg., fol. 112, concerning the doctrine of baptism, "That baptism is prefigured in the suffering of Christ." Thereupon follows a certain verse from Alcimus, in which baptism is compared to the water which flowed from Christ's side, and to the blood of the martyrs; of which, however, we will not speak further at present, as we intend to reserve it for a place where it will be more to the purpose. Jacob Mehrning also notices this verse in Bapt. Hist., page 467.
A. D. 508.-Or at the time of the Emperor Anastasius, surnamed Flavius Valerius, the highly enlightened and gifted Cassiodorus, is stated to have lived and written, who says with regard to baptism (on Cant., cap. 7) "that it is a divine fountain, in which believers are regenerated to new creatures." J. M., Bapt. Hist., page 467.
What else is this, than what our Saviour Himself says (Mark 16:16), that believers must be baptized; and (John 3:5) , that one must be born again of water and of the Spirit; which accords with the words of Paul (Tit. 3:5), where he calls baptism the washing of regeneration, because, believers, when they are baptized, must forsake the old life, and be regenerated into a new life. Rom. 6:4.
Cassiodorus, on Cant., cap. 4, teaches (Bapt. Hist., page 468), That all believers shall (or must) be baptized."There can be," he says,"no believer without the washing of baptism (that is, no true believer, who can stand before God and His Word, without baptism; for He who commanded faith, also commanded baptism).
Again, in cap. 7, "No one can enter the church, who has not previously been washed with the water of baptism, and made to drink of the fountain of wholesome doctrine. This well agrees with the words of the apostle, who thus testifies of himself and of the Corinthian church, "For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body . . and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (I Cor. 12:13). By this, the apostle (like Cassiodorus) indicates that all who are true members of the church of Jesus Christ, must have communion in two
things: First, they must have been made one body with each other by baptism. Secondly, they must have been made to drink into the Spirit, or the doctrine of the divine Word; which, as every intelligent person knows, are things that cannot be complied with by infants, but only by adult and intelligent persons.
Cassiodorus, on Ps. 23 (page 469), says, "The water of refreshing is the washing of baptism, in which divine gifts are poured upon the souls that have become barren through the withering influence of sin, that they may bring forth good fruits."
Again, "The souls of the elect (or of the baptized) have, in baptism, forsaken the corruption of the old man, and are renewed in Christ."
Again, "As the people (of Israel) were preserved by the Red Sea, in which Pharaoh perished, even so, the church of the heathen, has been redeemed, through baptism, from the bondage of the devil, and brought into the true promised land, the liberty of the Gospel; and thus she (that is the church of the heathen) who was formerly a handmaid of iniquity, has now become the friend of Christ, and been washed, through baptism, from the filth of sin."
Beloved reader, attentively consider the last three passages of Cassiodorus, and you shall find that they, in every particular, indicate that the baptism of which he speaks, is not at all infant baptism, but such a baptism as Christ commanded to be administered upon faith; for, when he says, in the first passage, that in (or through) the water of baptism, divine gifts are poured upon the souls that have become barren through the withering influence of sin, that they may bring forth good fruits, he certainly thereby indicates that he speaks of such candidates as had previously become barren through the withering influence of sin, and to whom gifts were now imparted in (or through) baptism (namely, by God, for the strengthening of their faith), that they might bring forth good fruits, which, as everyone knows, can be done by none but adult and virtuous persons. By the second passage, in which he says, that the souls of the elect (or of the baptized) have forsaken, in baptism, the corruption of the old man, and are renewed in- Christ, .he again indicates that the persons of whom he speaks, had lived, before baptism, in the corruption of the old man, wherefore it was necessary for them to forsake it in baptism, and, by a pious life, to be renewed henceforth in Christ; but how this applies to infants, may be judged.
We now come to the third passage, in which he speaks of the passage of the people of Israel through the Red Sea. He compares the Israelites to those who, having been converted from heathenism, were baptized; the Red Sea, by which the people of Israel were delivered, he compares to baptism, through which those who had been converted from heathenism, had obtained their redemption, according to the soul, depending on the merits of Jesus Christ; Pharaoh, who was drowned with his people in the Red Sea, he compares to the bondage of the devil, from which believers are redeemed in baptism, through the grace of the Son of God; the entrance of Israel into the land of Canaan, he compares to the entrance of believing, baptized Christians into the true promised landthe liberty of the Gospel. Finally he says, in the same passage, "Thus she who was formerly a handmaid of iniquity, has now become a friend of Christ, and been washed from the filth of sin."
All these things militate so clearly against infant baptism, and confirm baptism upon faith, according to the ordinance of Christ, that it seems unnecessary to me, to add anything further respecting Cassiodorus. The impartial will judge aright.
About A. D. 515.-Or properly after Cassiodorus, is placed, in the History of the Holy Baptism, the wise, but as it appears, excessively accused Fortunatus; from whose writings the author of said history adduces several passages, respecting which he makes the following annotation in the margin, "All the preceding commendations must be understood as referring solely to the true baptism of Christ, which is received as he has ordained it, and which consists in the Word, Spirit. and water, and is obtained in (or upon) faith; and not as relating to any self-invented infant baptism."
He then shows, page 468 in his account, what Fortunatus himself writes concerning it, saying, "Of the virtue and benefit of baptism, Fortunatus teaches (lib. 10 in Expos. Orat. Dom.): Man, when regenerated by baptism, becomes a child-of God, who previously, through transgression, belonged to his enemy, and was lost.""Man, before baptism," he further says,"is described as being carnal, but after baptism, as being spiritual."
In a letter of the orientals to Symmachus, it is written, "Christ our Saviour has taken away, on the cross, our handwriting, that we might henceforward, after the washing of regeneration (that is baptism) be no longer subject to the sins of our wickedness."
These passages pertain only to adults, or at least to such as are possessed of understanding, but in no wise to those who have attained to neither years nor understanding; for it certainly means something, to be regenerated by baptism, yea, to be made a child of God, which Fortunatus, in the first instance, so expressly confesses.
Touching the regeneration of water and the Spirit, Christ did not command it to the unintelligent, but to a master of Israel, John 3:5.; and of those who had put on Christ, through baptism, the apostle says: that by faith they became the children of God. Gal. 3:26, 27.
Thus also it is a matter of moment, to be carnal before baptism, and spiritual after baptism, which he nevertheless adds: For, beloved reader, what is it to be carnal, but to live after the lusts of the flesh? This, says our author, is done before bap
tism; hence it is also evident that he speaks of a baptism before .the reception of which one can live after the flesh.
What, on the other hand, is it to be spiritual, but to live after the inclination of the spirit? that is, according to the rule which agrees with the spirit, and the Word of God; but this, he states, is done after baptism; hence it follows that the baptism of which he treats, is of such a nature, that he who has received it, can live after the Spirit.
But how can these two things, namely, to live after the flesh before baptism, and after the Spirit after baptism, apply to infants, of this he that has experience may judge.
That which is written to Symmachus, in the letter of the orientals, is of the same nature; for there it is said of regenerated baptized persons that after the washing of regeneration, that is, after baptism, they are no longer subject to the sins of wickedness; which sufficiently indicates that he speaks of such people as are subject, before baptism, that is, before they are baptized, to the sins of wickedness, but from which they are freed after baptism, through the grace of God and a holy purpose. Certainly, infants differ widely from this.
A. D. 520.-That at this time, and thence forward, there were persons who not only taught baptism upon faith as ordained by Christ, but who also, now and then, opposed infant baptism; this is unanimously maintained by the well-tried Jacob Mehrning, scholar of the holy Scriptures, and the very learned Montanus, in these words, "Nevertheless, as truth cannot remain suppressed, some were found, in the course of time, who, seeing. that infant baptism did not accord with the holy Scriptures, dared candidly confess this. Of such there were many. A. D. 520, and from that time forward in this century, for several years in succession, as may clearly be gathered from the fourth canon of the council of Gerunda, in Spain, held the afore-mentioned year, in which it was decreed concerning catechumens, that they should be baptized on Easter and on Whitsuntide; but in case of feebleness or sickness, also on other days. From Cent. Magdeb., Cent. 6, cap. 9, de Synodi.
For, that those who were born of Christian parents, and had been brought up from their youth, in the Christian religion, were reckoned among the catechumens, is evident from the example of Ambrose, and his brother, Satyrus, sons of the Christian parents Symmachus and Marcellina, as may be seen in the oration of Ambrose, on the death of Satyrus; and it is further confirmed by the example of Theodosius, Ambrose, Jerome, Basil, M. Augustine himself, his natural son Adeodatus, and Alipius; who though born of Christian parents, as already stated, were nevertheless reckoned among the catechumens, till the day after previous instruction, they were baptized. Bapt. Hist., page 480. H. Mont. Nietigh., pages 79, 80.
Perhaps someone may think, in which of the preceding words is infant baptism spoken against? which is nevertheless so distinctly asserted by Jacob Mehrning and H. Montanus. We reply, that they do not express it in formal words, but indicate it by the circumstances which they adduce. For, when they, in the first place, speak of the fourth canon of the council of Gerunda, in Spain, in which it was decreed that catechumens should be baptized on Easter and on Whitsuntide, they thereby indicate that the baptism of new-born infants cannot have been practiced there, because infants are born not only on Easter and Whitsuntide, but throughout the whole year; and in another place it is stated that not only no catechumens, .but no one else, should be,baptized at any other time than Easter and Whitsuntide.
In the second place, when they declare that by the catechumens here spoken of, there are to be understood not only such youths, or scholars, as were of heathen .descent, but also those born of Christian parents, as is proved by the example of Ambrose, Satyrus, &c., it shows that many Christians, at that time, left their children unbaptized till they, after sufficient instruction, as was given to the catechumens, were baptized of their own accord, on either of the two feasts, Easter or Whitsuntide.
Sebastian Franck calls the catechumens, of whom the afore-mentioned council speaks, scholars of the faith, and relates the decree of said council, as well as the time when the same was held, on this wise, "The council of Gerunda, held in the seventh year of King Theodoric, passed, among nine decrees, also this: That the catechumens, that is, the scholars in the faith, should be baptized only on Easter and Whitsuntide, except imminent death should require it otherwise." Chron. Rom. Conch., fol. 73, col. 1.
About A. D. 525.-Or in the 15th year of Theodoric, King of France, those of the Roman church again found themselves in great embarrassment with regard to the so-called Anabaptists. The matter rose to such a pitch that it was thought well to assemble a council against them, as had been done by Pope Felix, A. D. 487, at Rome. Accordingly, about A. D. 525, the second council against the Anabaptists was convened, not at Rome, as the first, but at Ilerda, in Spain; to which there assembled, as was usually the case, many of the bitterest papistic bishops-in order to extirpate, or at least check, the heresy, as.it was called-who made a number of rules and laws, not only against the Anabaptists, but also against those who, having separated from the Roman church, had been rebaptized by them; of which rules, among others, the following are noted:
Canon 9. Concerning those who through transgression have been rebaptized, and have fallen without necessity, it is our will, that the statutes of the Nicene synod be observed respecting them, which are considered to have been passed for such offenders: that they shall pray for seven years
among the catechumens, and two years among the cathollcs, and then," &c.
Canon 14."Godly believers shall'not-eat with the rebaptized." Bapt. Hist., pages 477, 478, from the 6th Cent. Magd., cap. 9, fol. 240, ex Decret. Synod, Ilerdensis.
The 13th canon of this synod, also given in the same place, we suspect has been misquoted; however, as it does not apply here, we leave it in its own merit.
That the 14th canon, however, which speaks only of the rebaptized, concerns the so-called Anabaptists, appears from the annotation of Sebastian Franck, of Wordens, in part 3 of his Chronijk, fol. 73, col. 1, who translates this canon thus, "The clergy and believers shall not partake of meals with the Anabaptists."
From this it can be seen in what detestation, yea, abhorrence, the so-called Anabaptists in the time past, were held by the Romanists, inasmuch as they were not considered worthy to eat with, even as once the Samaritans, publicans, and sinners had been regarded by the Jews.
We will not investigate minutely, whether the so-called Anabaptists of that time held the same views, in regard to every article, with those who, at the present day, are designated by that name; nor will we, if perhaps in some points they did not teach aright, or were not fully enlightened, defend, much less, praise them; it suffices us, that they, besides other good and wholesome articles, mentioned by us in another place, held this in common with the Anabaptists of the present day, namely
That they did not approve of the baptism which by the Romanists is administered to infants, but rejected it, so that they baptized, or, at least, baptized aright at first, those who, having come to adult years, embraced their faith.
It also is praiseworthy in them, that they, notwithstanding the anathema of the pope and the councils, yea, regardless of persecution, suffering, and death, as shall be shown in the proper place, maintained and manfully defended their views. We know of nothing further that we could say of them, from authentic writers, but will commend them, as well as ourselves, to God and His grace. As regards the manner in which, they were proceeded against, in subsequent times, as well as how they conducted themselves herein, we shall show in the proper time and place.
About A. D. 530.-D. Joseph Vicecomes, in his treatise records (Bapt. Hist., page 482), the following testimonies from the sixth century.
Of the decree of the Christians, at Agathe, about A. D. 530, he says, lib. 3, cap. 1, "The council of Agathe, cap. 13, says: It is the will of all the church, that on the eighth day before Easter, the confession of faith be preached publicly in the church to those desiring baptism."*
* Touching the Jews who embraced the faith, this rule was established, "A Jew shall be tried for eight months among the scholars of the faith, and then, if he assents to it, be baptized."Seb. Franck, Chron., Rom. Cone, fol. 72, col. 3. We do not especially favor the decrees of councils; yet, when -they agree with the Word of God, we accept them, not because men have uttered them,- but because they have been pronounced already in the Word of God. Thus, when it is said of all the churches which existed at that time, that it was their will that the confession of faitb should be publicly preached on the eighth day before Easter; and also that it was added, how and to whom it was to be preached, namely, before those desiring baptism, we find not only that it well accords with the Word of God, Mark 16:15, 16, but, moreover, that not only a few individuals, but all the churches, namely, those which dissented from the church of Rome, held that view, namely, to baptize after previous instruction.
In the second place, when it is said here that the confession of faith should be preached to those desiring baptism (this is, not to infants), it clearly follows that the candidates here spoken of, had themselves to desire baptism, yea, that they themselves had to profess the confession of faith preached to them, else there would have been no reason to preach it to them.
Vicecomes (lib. 2, cap. 2, page 483), quotes the following words from the 7th chapter of the first council of Constantinople: "As many of the Eunomians and Montanists as desire to embrace the faith, we receive, as we do the Grecians; on the first day we instruct them in Christianity, on the second day we receive them as disciples, and on the third day we bless them (or require them to renounce Satan); and thus we instruct them, taking care that they walk in the church for a considerable time, and hear the holy Scriptures, and then, and not before, if they are found upright, we baptize them.
This first council of Constantinople is placed, according to the order of D. I. Vicecomes, in Bapt. Hist., immediately after the council of Agathe, held about A. D. 530; and although we have long searched for it, we have not been able to ascertain the correct date of it; hence we make no change in the order.
After this, Vicecomes places the sixth council of Constantinople, in which several things illustrating the point we have in view respecting baptism upon faith are presented; but since we find from other writers, that said council was not held in this century, but many years after, Vicecomes having greatly erred in this, we will not proceed further with it here, but reserve our account of it for the proper time and place. We therefore turn to what is quoted in the 7th chapter of the first council of Constantinople, where it is said in regard to those of the Eunomians and Montanists who should desire to unite with that church, that they should not be baptized until they had been instructed one, two, or three days, yea, had walked for a considerable time in the church, and heard the holy Scriptures.
Take this matter, as you may, and it indicates that the Constantinopolitan teachers recognized no
other baptism than that administered in their own church, namely, after previous instruction; notwithstanding the Eunomians and Montanists might have alleged that they had been baptized in their infancy; yet this was regarded as useless and of no value.
About A. D. 538.-It is recorded that at the time of Justin and Justinian, the Roman Emperors, there were people, termed fanatics by their opponents, who brought over to them and persuaded the imperial councilors and ministers, that infant baptism should be abolished; against which the afore-mentioned Emperors set themselves to prevent it. Concerning this, Jacob Mehrning, in Ba˘t. Hist., page 487, says, "M. Ruliehius, page 249, from whom M. Glaneus quotes this, acknowledges (page 627) that at that time there came forth many strange fanatics (he calls them fanatics, though they were far more pious teachers and Christians than Rulichius and Glaneus, and reproved, from the ordinance of the baptism of Christ, the encroaching abuses of infant baptism) who prevailed on and persuaded the imperial councilors and ministers, that infant baptism should be abolished. But Justin, and other Emperors would prevent the same by their authority and interdiction."
He then relates, from the constitutions [laws] of the Emperors, Justin and Justinian, in what the interdiction, or, at least, the decree, ordained by these Emperors respecting this matter, consisted; from which it can be seen, that not only was infant baptism rejected and condemned by those contemptuously called fanatics, but that even by the adherents of the Roman church it was not looked upon as a command, but merely as a matter which was permitted; though at other times again, through the decrees of popes and councils, it exceedingly prevailed.
In the meantime, it is gratifying to us, that even our opponents, who were strenuous advocates of infant baptism, I mean M. Rulichius and M. Glaneus, confess that also at that time (about A. D. 538), there were persons who sought to abolish infant baptism; from which it appears that the troth of baptism upon faith could not be suppressed to such an extent that it did not, according to opportunity, manage to raise its head; and that, on the other hand, the error of infant baptism did not triumph to such a degree that it did not have its opponents when opportunity offered. Thus blooms the rose among thorns, Cant. 2:2. God remains faithful to His promises, Ps. 33:4. Christ is with His church even unto the end of the world, Matt. 28:20.
About A. D. 542. Justus Origelitanus says (in Cant., Bapt. Hist., page 469), "They that are baptized in the name of Christ, are filled with the Holy Ghost." Doubtless, this has reference to Acts 3:37, 38, where Peter says to those who inquired what they must do to be saved, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ . . . and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost;" which certainly was not spoken to infants.
Again, "The fair church of Christ," says Justus,"is cleansed by the washing of water (that is, by baptism)."
Thus also Paul speaks, Eph. 5:26, saying that Christ has cleansed His church with"the washing of water by the word;" whereby he indicates that the believers of whom he speaks were cleansed not only with the washing of water (that is, baptism), but also by the Word, that is, the doctrine of the Gospel; upon which passages Justus has based his declaration, though he, for the sake of being brief, it seems, is silent about the Word.
Again, "They have ascended," he says,"from the washing of water, when they, having received the forgiveness of sins by baptism, have increased in:Christ."
His speaking here of ascending, that is, climbing up from, the washing of water, and of increasing in Christ, clearly shows that he does not speak of infants, but of persons who have the ability to climb up from the washing of water, and to increase in Christ, which is peculiar to believers only.
He then gives some additional testimony, in the same place, corroborative of the point we have in view; but as it is expressed in almost the same language as that quoted above, we pass it by, so as not to repeat the matter.
About A. D. 545.-Or immediately after Justus Origelitanus, Olympiodorus is placed, who speaking of baptism, says, "The spiritual birth, which is effected by the washing of regeneration, resembles the death (of Christ) in that those who are regenerated, in this divine washing, are buried with Christ in Baptism." Bapt. Hist., 469, from Olympiodor., in Eccles., cap. 3.*
Certainly, this is clearly following, though in other words, that which the apostle presents to the consideration of the believing Romans (Rom. 6:3), where he asks them whether they knew not that they all who were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into His death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so they also should walk in newness of life. We need not say anything further in regard to this, since the matter as to what persons and what baptism are here spoken of, is selfevident.
About A. D. 548.-Or 550, it is related, that one Peter, as well as one Zoroaras, defended Anabaptism; but as to how and in what manner it was done, whether they rejected infant baptism, or whether they recognized no other baptism than that upon faith and administered in their own church, or otherwise, of this I find no other account than that recorded in Bapt. Hist., Page 472,
* Olympiodorus (in Eccles., cap. 9), says, "Through the washing of regeneration white robes are also given us, which doubtless remain clean as long as we refrain from the evil of sin."-Bapt. Hist., page 474.
from Nicephorus, where it is said, "Nicephorus writes (lib. 17, cap. 9): Peter, Bishop of Apamea in Spain, and Zoroaras, a Syrian monk, defended Anabaptism."*
But if these men have erred in other respects perhaps, which in that dark age could very easily have been the case, we would not justify it; it suffices us that they, as regards this article, dared oppose the common doctrine of the Roman church; which could not have been done without peril of life, or, at least, not without reaping calumny and obloquy.
About A. D. 551.-That it was customary at this time, tQ baptize -on Easter and Whitsuntide, is recorded from Gregory, who says that several Jews were baptized on Easter, and several on Whitsuntide. Bapt. Hist., page 472, from Gregor., lib. 5, Hist. cap. 11.
That this custom of baptizing on Easter and Whitsuntide, .pertained only to believing penitents, and in no wise to children, we have previously sufficiently shown;. to which we refer the reader. But to remove all doubt, mention is also made in the same place, in the History of Holy Baptism,- of the preaching or doctrine of faith which it was then customary to present to the novices, who were to be baptized. As an example of this is adduced the wife of Sigibert, who, having been rightly instructed in the faith through such holy preaching, was ultimately baptized. Bapt. Hist., page 472, from Greg. Turon., lib. 4, cap. 26.
About A. D. 553.-When, as it appears, the good old custom of renouncing.and forsaking Satan, which was wont to be done publicly at baptism, in connection with the confession of faith, began to cease, or, at least, fall into neglect, it was revived and again brought to remembrance, by the teacher Vincent;** concerning which the following observation is found inBapt. Hist., page 473, from hinc., lib. 21, cap. 6, "It was the custom, to renounce (that is, forsake), before baptism, all pomp and the works of the devil, which can certainly not be done by children."
About A. D. 556.--At this time white robes were put on the newly baptized, after baptism. Thus, Gregory Turon (lib. 5, cap. 11), says-that at Avernio five hundred Jews were baptized at once, and then went their way clothed in white robes.
Gifts were also presented to the baptized; thus, Guentheramus gave presents to Clotharius, when the latter had been baptized. Bapt. Hist., p. 484, from Gregor. Turon., lib. 10, cap.27.
This putting on of the white robes after baptism; signified that the newly baptized, having put off the garment of sin, must henceforth be clothed in the clean white robe of true righteousness and holiness; to which applies Eccl. 9:8, "Let thy garments be always white"; and Rev. 3:4, "They shall
P. J. Twisck it appears, makes mention of this Peter, for the year 586, as we have also noted for that- year.
fi This Vincent is to be distinguished from Vincent Victor, who is spoken of in another place. walk in -white"; also, Rev. 19:8, "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed -in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."
As, to the giftstpresented to the newly baptized, this indicated that God thus imparts His heavenly gifts and blessings to them; as Peter said to those whom he exhorted to be baptized, "And ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38).
However, if it should be, that with this putting on of white robes, and giving of presents, there was coupled any superstition (of which, however, we are not aware), we would not commend, but rather speak against it.. What we have in view here, is simply this, that such ceremonies were not, and could not be, performed with infants, inasmuch as the latter are too weak in understanding to comprehend, as well as in ability to perform; the same. Hence it follows, that such baptism, at that day, was not administered to infants, but to adult, reasonable,and believing persons.
About A. D. 560.-It is stated, from Adon. Actat. 4, and Turon., lib. 4, cap. 26, that Brunechildis, the daughter of Arthanagild, had been baptized, probably in her, infancy, by the Arians, but that subsequently, having been married to Sigibcrt, she was rebaptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. This is related more fully by J. Mehrning, in Bapt. Hut., p. 475. But whether Brunechildis continued in the true footsteps of the faith, after her rebaptism, of this we have no account; it suffices us to know that -having been baptized, probably in infancy, by the Arians, she was afterwards, in adult age, rebaptized, or, at least, baptized aright, -upon confession of faith; the first baptism having no foundation.
About A. D. 562-Joseph Vicecomes (lib. 5, cap. 53), quotes -Cyril Monachus, in the life of the Patriarch, Enthymius as follows, "When he had entertained for forty days, several persons that had been baptized, had admonished, and diligently instructed them in godliness, and inculcated in them, in various ways, the things necessary to their salvation, he let them depart in peace." Bapt. Hist., page 484.
In what place and manner, and under what circumstances, the afore-mentioned persons were baptized, is not stated; hence we must be content with what is shown,. from which we can infer that those persons were baptized upon faith, seeing they were yet confirmed, after baptism, in the doctrine of faith and godliness,; and thus it follows that the custom of baptizing upon faith was practiced at the place where this occurred. .
About A. D. 570.-Vicecomes (lib. 4, cap. 12), quotes, from. Severus Alexandrinus, a certain prayer, which it was customary, at that time, for the teacher to pronounce over those who were baptized, "O God! take out from them the old man, which destroys himself through the lusts of error, and clothe them with the new man, which is daily renewed in Thy knowledge."
Again (lib. 5, cap. 27), "O Lord God! who hast imputed unto us redemption through Christ, and through the water, in the Holy Ghost, hast given to these Thy servants, regeneration; Thou, O Lord, who lovest light, confirm and uphold them in holiness, that they, illuminated by the light of Thy grace, and standing before Thy table, may be made worthy of Thy eternal salvation."
In chap. 38 he relates how the candidates, immediately after baptism, were brought to the holy Supper, and crowned with wreaths, and how the teacher then addressed them, exhorting them to joy and holiness of life, saying, "Dear brethren, sing a hymn of praise unto the Son of the Lord over all, who has crowned you with royal crowns. You have now, my beloved, received unfading crowns from the waters of Jordan, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Dear brethren, ye have put on today the glory of the baptism of the heavenly Adam."
He finally adds the wish addressed by the teacher to God, saying, "The holy God give you holiness with this seal wherewith you are sealed, and mark you with the ring of a sweet-smelling anointing, by this baptism wherewith you are baptized; may He make you worthy of His kingdom; and crown you, instead of this perishable crown, with the crown of righteousness and every good work."
Having quoted this much, Jacob Mehrning says, "All this is utterly inapplicable to infant baptism." Bapt. Hist., page 486.
Same year as above.-It is stated that about this time there also lived Theophilus Alexandrinus, who, it appears, held views entirely different from those of the Roman church, with regard to baptism as well as to the holy Supper; so that he wrote against the manifold adjurations which were wont to be connected with the consecrating of the baptismal water, as also against transubstantiation or the essential change of the bread into the body of Christ, as follows, "A false Christian (namely, one who deems adjurations over the baptismal water necessary), does not consider that the water, in holy baptism, is sanctified by the Word of God (which was wont to be spoken to the candidates who confessed the faith), and the advent of the Holy Ghost; and that the bread of the Lord, by which the body of our Saviour is signified, and which we break for our sanctification, is consecrated through invocation of the Lord." Observe, he does not say, transubstantiated, but consecrated.* See Bapt. Hist., page 486, from D. J. hicecomes, lib. 1, carp. 14.
A. D. 586.-Long since, namely, for the year 317, we cited Donatus, and showed, according to Seb. Franck, Chron. Roan. Kill., letter D., that he was a very learned Bishop of Carthage, a native of Numidia,.and that he taught that the pope and his adherents did not have a Christian church, and,
' What he says about the water of baptism, is somewhat obscure, and hence every one may judge for himsel; but that which he remarks about the bread of the Supper, is clearer. consequently, no true baptism; and hence held that those who had been baptized in the Roman church, needed to be rebaptized, saying that there was only one church, one baptism, one faith, one Gospel, and that no children should be baptized, but only believing adults who desired baptism. At first almost all Africa adhered to him. See the place indicated above.
This doctrine, however, did not die with him, seeing mention is made of his followers much later (namely A. D. 586), that they at that time, under the leadership of one Peter, Bishop of Apamia, rebaptized those who had been baptized by the orthodox (or Catholic) church. See concerning this, P. J. Twisck, Chron., 6th book, page 201, col. 1, from Greg. lib. 8,Merul., fol. 446. Also our account for the year 548.
NOTE.-The followers of Donatus, of whom we speak here, have of old been severely accused by their opponents of gross errors, tyranny, &c., but are acquitted thereof by other celebrated authors. Nevertheless, we would not accept them in every respect, but only in those of their teachings which are good and true.
H. Bullinger compares them throughout to the Anabaptists, or as he calls them Baptists, saying, "Here our Baptists again disclose their ignorance, when they teach that no one should be compelled to that which is good, or to the faith;" and, continuing, he says, "They resemble the ancient Baptists, the Donatists, in every respect.""These," he writes further,"were of the opinion, that heretics should be allowed to live without restraint and with impunity in their faith;" that is, without persecution or blood shedding. They were opposed by Augustine. H. Bulling., lib. 5, fol. 216, 222.*
As to the accusations formerly brought against their faith as well as their life, these have been refuted by several prominent authors."It would be desirable," writes P. J. Twisck,"if we ourselves had their writings, doctrines, and deeds; for, if it is true, that they resemble the Baptists in every respect, and are not willing that any one should be compelled in matters of faith." It is therefore sufficiently, as Bullinger says, evident, that they were unjustly accused. Chron., 5th book, page 147, col. 2. This is more fully spoken of in the account for the year 317.
About A. D. 600.-We will now bring the history of baptism in the sixth century to a close. We would adduce more writers in confirmation of said matter, but we fear that many authors of that time did not write faithfully and uprightly; besides, that many of their decendants, in order to give color to infant baptism and similar doctrines, appear to have corrupted their writings, of which many excellent men have complained.
Jacob Mehrning, in his Indachtigmaeckinge over het Doopsel, of the 6th century, says, "Thus the Centuriatores Magdeburgenses, also the two doc-
* The writings of Bullinger against the said people are more fully explained elsewhere.
tors, Calixtus and Brandanus Detrius, in their disputations about baptism, must themselves confess that in this century, and much longer, the Christian novices were divided into two classes, as in the primitive church, which observed a distinction between the catechumens and believing applicants for baptism, or the"elect," as they were called by the ancients.
But continuing, he writes the following concerning the corruption of the writings of the true teachers, "Here must also be taken into consideration, that which the Centuriatores Magdebtcrgenses, Dr. Calixtus, Dr. Meysner, Dr. Johan Gerhard, Dr. Guil. Perkins, in Ementito Catholicismo, and many others so frequently complain of, namely, that the writings of the fathers and the primitive teachers of the church, have been so amazingly abused, in manifold ways, corrupted, interpolated and mutilated. Pray, who indeed will be our surety, that Augustine and others of the fathers have written and taught about infant baptism, all that is ascribed to them.
However, the fathers and teachers of the church, whose writings are extant; constitute but a very small part of the whole number. Were the writings, books and testimonies of the countless hundreds and thousands of other teachers of the church, bishops, and laymen experienced in the Word of God, who have written, preached, taught, and spoken against it, in various parts of the wide world, to come to light, and could we also have the original manuscripts of the fathers, namely, those who have written against infant baptism, and compare them together, we would be astonished to see how faithfully the truth has been maintained in all ages, but also, how it has been suppressed by the innovators of baptism (that is, those who baptized infants). Yet, however mutilated and corrupted the writings of the fathers as we now have them, are, there are nevertheless to be found in them many very excellent testimonies respecting Christ's true ordinance of baptism, and very confused ones as regards infant baptism; for which we owe special thanks to God, and to Him only, who thereby mightily confirms us in the truth. Bapt. Hist., Zd part, pages 481, 482.
Thus, not we, but those who have unfaithfully dealt with the writings of the fathers, are the cause that we must here close our account of the baptism of this time; however, in some of the following centuries, where we meet with more authentic writers, we shall be able to explain and amplify this more conclusively.