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367
BAPTISM

self-consecration into an opus operatum. How long after this it was before infant baptism became normal inside the Byzantine church, we do not exactly know, but it was natural that mothers should insist on their children being liberated from Satan and safeguarded from demons as soon as might be. The change came more quickly in Latin than in Greek Christendom, and very slowly indeed in the Armenian and Georgian churches. Augustine's insistence on original sin, a doctrine never quite accepted in his sense in the East, hurried on the change.

7. Confirmation.—In the West, however, the sacrament has been saved from becoming merely magical by the rite of confirmation or of reception of the Spirit being separated from the baptism of regeneration and reserved for an adult age. The English church confirms at fifteen or sixteen; the Roman rather earlier. The catechetic course, which formerly preceded the complete rite, now intervenes between its two halves; and the sponsors who formerly attested the worthiness of the candidate and received him up as anadochi out of the font, have become god-parents, who take the baptismal vows vicariously for infants who cannot answer for themselves. In the East, on the contrary, the complete rite is read over the child, who is thus confirmed from the first. The Roman church already foreshadowed the change and gave a peculiar salience to confirmation as early as the 3rd century, when it decreed that persons already baptized by heretics, but reverting to the church should not be baptized over again, but only have hands laid on them. It was otherwise in Africa and the East. Here they insisted in such cases on a repetition of the entire rite, baptism and confirmation together. The Cathars (q.v.) of the middle ages discarded water baptism altogether as being a Jewish rite, but retained the laying on of hands with the traditio precis as sufficient initiation. This they called the spiritual baptism, and interpreted Matt. xxviii. 19, as a command to practise it, and not water baptism.

8. Disciplina arcani.—The communication to the candidates of the Creed and Lord's Prayer was a solemn rite. Cyril of Jerusalem, in his instruction of the catechumens, urges them to learn the Creed by heart, but not write it down. On no account must they divulge it to unbaptized persons. The same rule already meets us in Clement of Alexandria before the year 200. In time this rule gave rise to what is called the Disciplina arcani. Following the fashion of the pagan mysteries in which men were only permitted to gaze upon the sacred objects after minute lustrations and scrupulous purifications, Christian teachers came to represent the Creed, Lord's Prayer and Lord's Supper as mysteries to be guarded in silence and never divulged either to the unbaptized or to the pagans. And yet Justin Martyr, Tertullian and other apologists of the 2nd century had found nothing to conceal from the eye and ear of pagan emperors and their ministers. In the 3rd century this love of mystification reached the pitch of hiding even the gospels from the unclean eyes of pagans. Probably Mgr. Pierre Battifol is correct in supposing that the Disciplina arcani was more or less of a make-believe, a bit of belletristic trifling on the part of the over-rhetorical Fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries.[1] It is in them that the atmosphere of mystery attains a maximum of intensity. They clearly felt themselves called upon to out-trump the pagan Mystae. Yet it is inconceivable that men and women should spend years, even whole lives, as catechumens within the pale of the church, and really remain ignorant all the time of the Trinitarian Epiclesis used in baptism, of the Creed, and above all of the Lord's Prayer. Wherever the Disciplina arcani, i.e. the obligation to keep secret the formula of the threefold name, the creed based on it and the Lord's Prayer, was taken seriously, it was akin to the scruple which exists everywhere among primitive religionists against revealing to the profane the knowledge of a powerful name or magic formula. The name of a deity was often kept secret and not allowed to be written down, as among the Jews.

9. Regeneration.—The idea of regeneration seldom occurs in the New Testament, and perhaps not at all in connexion with baptism; for in the conversation with Nicodemus, John iii. 3-8, the words "of water and" in v. 5 offend the context, spiritual re-birth alone being insisted upon in vv. 3, 6, 7 and 8; moreover, Justin Martyr, who cites v. 5, seems to omit them. Nor is there any mention of water in ch. i. 13, where, according to the oldest text, Christ is represented as having been born or begotten not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

In 1 Pet. i. 3, it is said of the saints that God the Father begat them anew unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus, and in v. 23 that they have been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible through the word of God. But here again it is not clear that the writer has in view water baptism or any rite at all as the means and occasion of regeneration. In the conversation with Nicodemus we seem to overhear a protest against the growing tendency of the last years of the 1st century to substitute formal sacraments for the free afflatus of the spirit, and to "crib, cabin and confine" the gift of prophecy.

The passage where re-birth is best put forward in connexion with baptism is Luke iii. 22, where ancient texts, including the Gospel of the Hebrews, read, "Thou art my beloved Son, this day have I begotten Thee." These words were taken in the sense that Jesus was then re-born of the Spirit an adoptive Son of God and Messiah; and with this reading is bound up the entire adoptionist school of Christology. It apparently underlies the symbolizing of Christ as a fish in the art of the catacombs, and in the literature of the 2nd century. Tertullian prefaces with this idea his work on baptism. Nos pisciculi secundum ΙΧΘΥΝ nostrum Jesum Christum in aqua nascimur. "We little fishes, after the example of our Fish Jesus Christ, are born in the water." So about the year 440 the Gaulish poet Orientius wrote of Christ; Piscis natus aquis, auctor baptismatis ipse est. "A fish born of the waters is himself originator of baptism."

But before his time and within a hundred years of Tertullian this symbolism in its original significance had become heretical, and the orthodox were thrown back on another explanation of it. This was that the word ΙΧΘΥΣ is made up of the letters which begin the Greek words meaning "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour." An entire mythology soon grew up around the idea of re-birth. The font was viewed as the womb of the virgin mother church, who was in some congregations, for example, in the early churches of Gaul, no abstraction, but a divine aeon watching over and sympathizing with the children of her womb, the recipient even of hymns of praise and humble supplications. Other mythoplastic growths succeeded, one of which must be noticed. The sponsors or anadochi, who, after the introduction of infant baptism came to be called god-fathers and god-mothers, were really in a spiritual relation to the children they took up out of the font. This relation was soon by the canonists identified with the blood-tie which connects real parents with their offspring, and the corollary drawn that children, who in baptism had the same god-parent, were real brothers and sisters, who might not marry either each the other or real children of the said god-parent. The reformed churches have set aside this fiction, but in the Latin and Eastern churches it has created a distinct and very powerful marriage taboo.

10. Relation to Repentance.—Baptism justified the believer, that is to say, constituted him a saint whose past sins were abolished. Sin after baptism excluded the sinner afresh from the divine grace and from the sacraments. He fell back into the status of a catechumen, and it was much discussed from the 2nd century onwards whether he could be restored to the church at all, and, if so, how. A rite was devised, called exhomologesis, by which, after a fresh term of repentance, marked by austerities more strict than any Trappist monk imposes on himself to-day, the persons lapsed from grace could re-enter the church. In effect this rite was a repetition of baptism, the water of the font alone being omitted. Such restoration could in the earlier church only be effected once. A second lapse from the state of grace entailed perpetual exclusion from the sacraments, the means of salvation. As has been remarked above, the terror of post-baptismal sin and the fact that only one restoration was allowable influenced many as late as the 4th century to remain catechumens all their lives, and, like Constantine, to receive baptism on the

  1. Études historiques, Essai sur Disc. arc. (Paris 1902).