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occasional offices of the Jacobites or Monophysites of Alexandria, Antioch, and Armenia, and of the Nestorians, have been published by Assemani, in his “ Codex Liturgicus.” Many of the oriental offices for ordination, as well as all the western, are to be found in the learned treatise of Morinus “de Ordinationibus." The most valuable collection of records relative to the occasional offices of the western churches has been published by Martene, in his work, “ De Antiquis Ecclesiæ ritibus." This author, with indefatigable industry, transcribed and edited a multitude of ancient manuscripts, and collected whatever had previously been published. So that there is scarcely any branch of ritual knowledge which he has not greatly elucidated.
It is almost needless to add, that the learned Bingham, in his “ Origines Ecclesiasticæ,” has collected almost every thing which the monuments of primitive antiquity contain relative to baptism and all the other offices.
The office of holy baptism, according to the English ritual, may be divided into three parts: first, the introduction, which includes nearly one half of the office, extending from the beginning to the prayer which follows the exhortation after the gospel, inclusively; secondly, the preparatory office, including the renunciations and professions; and, thirdly, the action of the holy sacrament, and the conclusion.
THE INTRODUCTION OF THE OFFICE.
While it is certain that this portion of the baptismal office is excellently calculated to be placed in the position which it now occupies, it is nevertheless
true, that the introduction of the baptismal service was not originally derived from the rites celebrated at the time of baptism, but from those by which the candidate for baptism was made a catechumen, and thus prepared in due time to receive regeneration. During the primitive ages, those persons who desired to become Christians were first received into the class of catechumens, and gradually instructed in the doctrines and duties of Christianity, according to the capacity of their faith and morals. Some form of admission to the class of catechumens was used in all churches at an early period; and it seems most commonly to have consisted of the imposition of hands, with prayer for the person. To this in many places were added various rites; such as signing the forehead of the candidate with the cross, the consecration and giving of salt, which was entitled the Sacrament of Catechumensd, repeated exorcisms, or prayers and adjurations to cast out the power of Satan, anointing with oil, and other mystical and figurative rites. In the course of many ages, when the Christian church had overspread the face of the world, and infidelity had become in most places extinct, the
c Bingham's Antiquities, &c. salt contained the following book x. ch. 1. §. 2, 3.
“ Exorcizo te cread Concil. Carthag. 3. canon. tura salis—ut in nomine sanctæ 5. “ Per solemnissimos Pas- Trinitatis efficiaris salutare sachales dies sacramentum cate- cramentum ad effugandum inichumenis non detur, nisi soli- micum.” Manuale Sarisb. fol. tum sal.” Augustine alludes 34. It also occurs in a sacrato this custom thus: “ Et quod mentary above nine hundred accipiunt (catechumeni) quam- years old, referred to by Mar
sit corpus Christi; tene, de Antiq. Eccl. Rit. tom. sanctum est tamen, et sanctius i. p. 40. The sacrament of quam cibi quibus alimur, quo- salt was peculiar to the western niam sacramentum est.' Li- churches, as we do not find ber ii. de Peccatorum meritis, any notice of it in the monuc. 26. The consecration of this ments of the eastern' church.
form of admission to the class of catechumens was from a veneration for old customs, in many places conjoined to the office of baptism, and administered at the same time with it to the candidates for that sacrament, whether they were infants or note. It is not easy to determine the exact reasons which induced the practice of admitting infants as catechumens before they received baptism; it is probable that the custom was recent, and proceeded in a great degree from want of consideration, and ignorance of the original of ecclesiastical rites. It is, however, a certain fact, that at the period when our offices were revised, in the reign of king Edward the Sixth, the church of England had been accustomed to perform the rite of making the infant a catechumen immediately before it was baptized. For we find in the manuals of the churches of Salisbury and York, that the office of baptism commenced with the “ Ordo ad catechumenum faciendum.” This ordo contained all the ancient rites of making a catechumen, including signing with the cross, imposition of hands, benediction and giving of the sacrament of salt; and finally, the officiating minister took the infant by the hand, and introduced him into the church as a complete catechumenf. From this ordo, which (as
e This may be seen in the any distinction, under the title manuals of the churches of Sa- of “ Ordo Baptismi Parvulolisbury and York, the latter of rum.” It seems from the of. which places the title of “ Bap- fices of the oriental churches, tismus Puerorum” at the top of published by Asseman in the each page, both of the office three first volumes of the Cofor making a catechumen, and dex Liturgicus, that something the actual office of baptism. of the same kind has occurred The Roman ritual also, pub- amongst them. lished by order of Paul the
f Manuale Sarisb. fol. 33— Fifth, bishop of Rome, com- 36. Manuale Eboracens. bines the two offices, without
I have observed) immediately preceded baptism, the revisers of our ritual chiefly derived the introductory part of the office of baptism. In this part of the office, as first revised, were contained the rite of signing with the cross, and the exorcism; and at the end of it, the priest was to “take one of the children by the right hand, the others being brought after him, and coming into the church toward the font," to repeat a certain benediction. On further consideration, the revisers of the English ritual did not think it advisable to retain any of these rites in the introductory part of the office of baptism. Nor was it proper that they should have retained them. For if they be regarded as a portion of the baptismal office, they are comparatively modern rites, and are never mentioned by the Fathers. And if they be regarded as forming the office for making a catechumen, it appears to be perfectly unnecessary to use them in infant baptism, because, though infants may receive remission of sins and divine grace by baptism, they cannot be instructed in the doctrines and duties of Christianity, and therefore cannot really be catechumens. And nearly the same reason will justify the omission of these rites in the introduction to adult baptism. For the ancient catechetical discipline of the church being extinct, it is useless to continue ceremonies which have no longer any meaning; and at all events men were not baptized immediately after they were made catechumens, as is now the case in the Roman ritual. However, as the prayers which accompanied these ceremonies at the first revision of the English ritual were very
& Prayer Book, 1549. Public Baptism, fol. 3.
good, it was not thought expedient to remove them. So that to the present day the introduction to the office of baptism derives its origin, in some measure, from the ancient office for making a catechumen.
From the custom of considering the office for making catechumens as a portion of the baptismal office, it happened that the corresponding introduction of the revised English ritual, when it received several alterations or additions of prayers and exhortations, assumed much more of the appearance of a portion of the baptismal office than it had formerly possessed. In the ancient offices the priest prayed that “the child might advance from day to day, that he might be made fit to obtain the grace of baptism f.” This evidently inferred that baptism was not yet to be conferred for some time longer. In the revision of the office, baptism was spoken of throughout, as then and there to be administered.
The office is preceded by an inquiry whether the child hath been already baptized or not. This question is also directed by the ancient manuals of the churches of Salisbury and York 6. After this the priest commences an address or preface to the congregation, inviting them to pray for the child. We can perhaps scarcely find any parallel to this amongst the primitive rituals of the church, except
ad faciendum Catechumenum,
Aperi ei Domine januam pietatis tuæ, ut signo sapientiæ tuæ imbutus omnium cupiditatum fætoribus careat, et ad suavem odorem præceptorum tuorum lætus tibi in ecclesia tua deserviat, et proficiat de die in diem, ut idoneus efficiatur accedere ad gratiam baptismi tui.” Manuale Sar.
g “ Inprimis deferatur infans ad valvas ecclesiæ et inquirat sacerdos ab obstetrice utrum sit infans masculus an fæmina. Deinde si infans fuerit baptizatus domi.” Man. Sar. fol. 33. Man. Eborac. Baptism. Pueror.