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reference that is made to their judgment, that they never do certify the Priest that the child may well endure it: And the Priests do now seldom ask that question. And indeed it is needless, because they do always bring the Child so drest in cloaths, as to make it plain that they do not intend it shall be dipt. When dipping in the Font was in fashion, they brought the Child wrapt up in such a sort of clothing as could presently and without trouble be taken off, and put on again."
That nudity was a necessary appendage of Immersion appears to have been admitted by all Immersionists, whether Pædobaptists or Antipædobaptists. They even recommended a change of raiment, on the occasion; particularly the providing of new and white garments, and applied to the silly exhibition the scriptural exhortations to a holy life, under the figure of putting off the old man, and putting on the new. I am aware that some are eager to deny the facts above stated. But I have never seen or heard of
any evidence that could set them aside. I shall produce two well known testimonies in support of them; the one from a Pædobaptist, but an advocate for immersion, and the other from an Antipædobaptist.
My first testimony is that of Mr. Wall, in his History of Baptism. «The ancient christians, when they were baptized by immersion, were all baptized naked; whether they were men, women, or children.
* Ubi Supra.
Vossius has collected several proofs of this; which I shall omit because it is a clear case. The English Antipædobaptists need not have made so great an outcry against Mr. Baxter for his saying that they baptized naked: for if they had, it had been no more than the primitive christians did. They thought it better represented the putting off the old man, and also the nakedness of Christ on the Cross: moreover as Baptism is a washing, they judged it should be the washing of the body, not of the cloaths."
They took great care for preserving the modesty of any woman that was to be baptized. There was none but women came near or in sight till she was undressed, and her body in the water: then the Priest came, and putting her head also under water, used the form of Baptism. Then he departed, and the women took her out of the water, and clothed her again in white garments."
My second testimony is that of Mr. Robinson of Cambridge, in his History of Baptism,+ "Let it be observed, that the primitive christians baptized naked. Nothing is easier than to give proof of this by quotations from the authentic writings of the men who administered baptism, and who certainly knew in what way they themselves performed it. There is no ancient historical fact better authenticated than this. The evidence doth not go on the meaning of the single word naked; for then a reader might suspect allegory: but on many facts reported, and many reasons assign
* De Baptismo, Disp. I. c. 6, 7, 8.
+ Chap. XV. p. 85.
ed for the practice. One of these facts is this. Chrysostom criminates Theophilus because he had raised a disturbance without, which so frightened the women in the baptistery, who had just stripped themselves naked in order to be baptized, that they fled naked out of the room, without having time to consult the modesty of their sex.' Another is this:
Basil rose up with fear and trembling, undressed himself, putting off the old man, and went down praying into the water; and the Priest going down along with him, baptized him.' The reasons assigned for this practice are, that christians ought to put off the old man before they put on a profession of christianity; that as men came naked into the world, so they ought to come naked into the church, for rich men could not enter into the kingdom of heaven; that it was an imitation of Christ who laid aside his glory, and made himself of no reputation for them; and that Adam had forfeited all, and christians ought to profess to be restored to the enjoyment of all, only by Jesus Christ. That most learned and accurate historian, James Basnage, than whom no man understood church history better, says, . When Artists threw garments over pictures of the Baptized, they consulted the taste of the spectators more than the truth of the fact.'
The many inconveniencies attending Immersion form a strong presumption, that it is not the proper mode of dispensing an ordinance, which is connected with the preaching of the Gospel to every creature.
In scripture history, the act of Baptism is always considered as immediately possible, as soon as water can, in any quantity, great or small, be procured. Is this the case with the act of immersion? Is Baptism a debt, which the immersion Baptist can pay to the believer on demand? Must he not first go to a river, or procure a bath, and prepare changes of raiment? It is not enough for his purpose to "See here is water." It must be ascertained that the water is sufficiently deep and abundant to plunge ; sufficiently shallow and gentle to plunge with safety.
No man can be more favourable than I am to cold bathing. It is a bracer and a luxury. No great hardship could be experienced, in any climate, were the practice enjoined every day. And surely that would be a very extraordinary constitution, which could not, at any age, "well endure" to be plunged once in one's life. But an attendant on bathers, a person whose work it is to wade in with them-to plunge them to lift them up again—and to lead them out again—has a task which, I conceive, is not quite so pleasant. Many a worthy person, I have no doubt, makes his bread by it; and some may do so, without injury or inconvenience. But if there should be much to do in this business, I should suppose it must be very severe labour, and very trying to health. The warmer the country, so much the worse: the pores being more open, the evaporation more rapid, and every change of temperature more sensibly felt.
Jacob complained of this hardship, in the ordinary labours of the pastoral life. "In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night," Gen. xxxi. 40. What must have been the condition of John the Baptist, had his office consisted in preaching, and wading into the river, and plunging others, and splashing himself, wading back to the bank, returning into the river again; all the while instructing those who were asking him what they should do, replying to the questions of the messengers who were asking, "Who art thou?" and "Why baptizest thou?" and bearing testimony to Him who was coming after him, and was to be preferred before him!
Poor "Joannes de Dooper," John the Dipper, as the Dutch Bible calls him, if such was the nature of his ministry, what an amphibious life must he have lived! The three thousand baptized on the day of Pentecost might be divided among a number. But there went out to John "Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized" by him alone. This must have been a work of time; and, on the supposition of his immersing them, he could be little out of the water from morning to night, as long as his public ministry lasted. His legs and arms at least, whatever more of him, must have been soon excoriated by the friction of his soaking "camel's hair" garment.* "The leathern girdle about his loins" must have become
* Dr. Campbell gives us, on Matth. iii. 4. the following Note.