Infant baptism

BAPTISM, INFANT. The question whether it is right to baptize infants will be gone into under the head of Baptists. Our present service for the Baptism of Infants is the out-come of many much older. Baptism should always be administered in the presence of a congregation, as the Rubric orders. The question about sponsors  will be gone into under that head. The first prayer is by Luther, the second is from an old Office; the Gospel, with nearly all the addresses or exhortations here and elsewhere in the Prayer Book, is from the "Consultation," the work of Hermann, a German reformer. The questions to the sponsors are taken from an old Office. The prayer of Consecration came into the present form in 1661; but by Consecration here we only mean that the element of water is separated from common to sacred uses. It is not a necessary part of Baptism, as is shown by its being omitted in the Office for Private Baptism. The only two things necessary for the validity of Holy Baptism are (1) that it should be administered in water, (2) in the name of the Holy Trinity, as is shown by the questions in that part of the Office for Private Baptism which treats of receiving a child publicly into the Church. It is to be noticed that the rule  of our Church is that the child should be immersed in the water (see the Rubric before the form of words which accompany the act of Baptism). Thus the rite of immersion can be claimed by any Church people. The custom of affusion, or aspersion, or sprinkling, came into use in the Western Church as early as the 13th century; but in the ancient Church Baptism was so administered to the sick. The difference in the climates of Western Europe and the Holy Land is sufficient to account for the custom.

The words which express the reception of the newly-baptized child into the congregation belong altogether to the English Prayer Book. The ceremony of making the sign of the cross has come down from the ancient Church.

The Address to the congregation, the Lord's Prayer, and the Thanksgiving which follows, were placed here in 1552. It is to be noticed how clearly the Church expresses her belief in the regeneration (see Regeneration ) of each baptized infant. The latter part of the last exhortation was added in 1661. "The vulgar tongue" of course means the "common" or English language.

The note at the end of the Office, although declaring the eternal safety of a baptized child, dying before it commits actual sin, does not express any opinion as to the future of an unbaptized child.