Page:Balthasar Hübmaier.djvu/212

This page has been validated.
Balthasar Hübmaier

This baptism of Uliman was before March 1, 1525. On Palm Sunday Grebel baptised a large number of people from St. Gall in the Sitter River—the only place near the city well adapted for immersion, and some two miles from the town. It would be silly to maintain that the people walked that distance to be sprinkled. This must be taken, therefore, as confirmation of the view that immersion was fast replacing affusion among the Swiss Anabaptists. The action of the Zürich Council on March 7, 1526, in making drowning the penalty of contumacious persistence in Anabaptism (Egli, Actensammlung, No. 936) shows a grim determination to "make the punishment fit the crime," which would be meaningless if immersion were not a general practice in the sect. That this is a correct interpretation of the decree, the words of Zwingli in his Refutation of the Tricks of the Catabaptists, sufficiently testify: "After that conference (the tenth, with the others, public or private) the most honourable senate [council] decreed that he should be drowned who rebaptised another"—the exact words are, aquis mergere, qui merserit baptismo eum qui prius emerserat. (Zwingli, Op., iii., 364.) That the Swiss Anabaptists began with the practice of affusion, but soon generally adopted immersion, seems therefore to be the most probable conclusion from all the facts accessible.

Elsewhere we find definite proofs of immersion only among the Anabaptists of Augsburg, and in Poland, where the practice was introduced in 1575. It has been conjectured that Swiss Anabaptists fled to Poland and were influential in securing the adoption of immersion there, but documentary proof of this is wholly lacking. A conjecture rather more probable is that the Anabaptists of Poland, having before their eyes the practice of