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FORM OF BAPTISM AMONG THE GREEKS.
From a very scarce book, entitled, “ An Account of the Greek Church. by Thomas Smith, B. D. and Fellow of St. Mary Magdalen College, Oxford. London, Printed by Miles Fletcher, for Richard Davis. 1680. Svo.
ALTHOUGH there be no time prescribed for the baptism of infants, yet they seldom either defer it beyond the eighth or tenth day, or hasten it before, unless in case of violent sickness, and for fear of sudden death. For they believe such an absolute necessity of this Sacrament, which they ground on those words of our Saviour, St. Jahn, iii. 5. «Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” as that they entertain hard and cruel thoughts of the state of infants, which by some misfortune and casualty are deprived of it. To prevent which mischief, and secure their fears, where there is a real and certain danger of imminent death, in the absence of a priest, who is at all other times the only lawful minister of this sacred rite, it is allowed to lay-persons of either sex, as it is expressly laid down in their public confession of faith, written in the vulgar Greek, and printed in the year 1662" It is not lawful and proper for any one to baptize, but a lawful priest, except in time of necessity: and then a secular person, whether man or woman, may do it.'
At all other times, the infant, if well, is to be brought to Church: In the entrance of which, toward the Narthex, is the font, usually large, and about a foot and a half deep, which they call by several names, as the Laver,or Pool; (alluding to that in Jerusalem, mentioned in the 5th chapter of St. John, whose waters had a miraculous virtue in them of healing divers diseases; or to that other in Siloam, St. John ix. 7. where the blind man, by the command of Christ, washed, and received his sight; the waters of baptism having the same effect upon the mind by virtue of our blessed Saviour's institution, as they had upon the body.)
The water made use of is usually consecrated for this purpose on the feast of the Theophania, or Baptism of our Saviour, and that with great solemnity, after the celebration of the other blessed sacrament: for which there is a peculiar office. This they call the great sanctification. But because a sufficient quantity of water for the whole year may not be blessed at that tiine, and (besides) what is reserved may be apt to putrify, and so be unfit to be used, every month, or sooner, in great cities, they furnish themselves with more.
In the winter, that the tender body of the infant may not suffer by cold, they for the most part warm the water (perfumed with sweet herbs) upon which the priest breathes and makes a cross, and then poureth oil upon it in the form of a cross three times, with which having anointed the child, and holding him upright with both his hands, and his face turned toward the east, he performs the mystical right with this form of words : « The servant of God, such a one, is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and
of the Holy Ghost, now and forever. Amen.” At the mention of each person of the Trinity, the priest dips the child under water; at which time, the godfather, if it be a male child, who is here always single, answers, Amen, in all thrice; which threefold immersion they for the most part rigidly retain, according to the custom and practice of the first ages; though they do not scruple to vary from it upon occasion, being content sometimes to pour water upon the face of the infant three times, in acknowledgment of the mystery of the Holy Trinity, in whose name the infant is christened. But whether the sacramental rite be either by immersion or by affusion, the effect of the sacrament is the same, that is, the washing away of original sin, derived from the first parent of mankind, and an undoubted seal of eternal life, the baptized persons being regenerated and made members of the body of Christ.
The form of baptism is always pronounced passively in the way of declaration : “ The servant of God, such a one, he or she, is baptized,” &c. not actively, “ I baptize thee.” For which Gabriel, archbishop of Philadelphia, assigns these two poor reasons, or shifts rather : the one, that although our blessed Saviour, at the institution of this sacrament, used the active voice, when he said, “Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name, &c." yet it is read passively in St. Mark, chap. xvi. 16. “He that believes and is baptized, shall be saved :" the other, that this way of expression savours more of modesty and humility; which he pretends to fetch from St. Chrysostom. Whereas there is but little difference in the forms, and none in the sense : « Such a one is baptized,” that is, he adds by way of explication, “ by me," being indeed the very same with, I baptize such an one. The zealous men of both communions are certainly to blame, while they are so eager and fierce in defence of their own form, and use bitter and severe invectives one against another for a matter of so small moment, as this variety of expression seems to be. But as to the latter words, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," in which both agree; the Greeks universally hold them so necessary and essential to the sacrament, that unless they are entirely and distinctly pronounced, they think that it is not so much the sacrament of baptism which is celebrated, as a ludicrous imitation, or heretical and profane abuse of it.
They never use the same water a second time: but if two or three infants are to be baptized at the same time, so often they empty and fill the laver. But the water which has been made use of for this or the like sacred purpose, is not thrown away into the street, like other common water, but poured into a hollow place, under the altar, where it is soaked into the earth, or finds a passage.
• Soon after, a prayer or two being interposed, the priest proceeds to anoint the newly baptized infant, lately covered with its mantle and swaddling clothes : for in the Greek Church, Chrismation is inseparable from Baptism, and though reckoned as a distinct mystery, as indeed it is, is in a manner a necesssry appendage and complement of it ; according to the 48th canon of Laodicea, which orders the baptized persons to be anointed with the heavenly Chrism;
Which Chrism,” as Matthæus Blastares explains it out of Zona
ras and Balsamon, whose words for the most part he retains, “ being sanctified by prayer and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, sanctifies the persons anointed with it, and makes them partakers of the heav. enly kingdom of Christ; unless impenitence and impiety of life afterwards alienate and render them unworthy of it.
+ Mark Anthony.
Thy philosophic muse's calm retreats,
[To be continued.] The two Scipios. li Where Cæsar and Pompey fought for the supreme authority of Rome, and consequently of the world.
THE GARDENER AND ROSE-TREE.
A FABLE. Affectionately addressed to Mrs. J.
H o n the death of her child, by her truly sympathizing friend,
“ IN a sweet spot, which Wisdom chose,
Nor did the Rose unconscious bloom,
As months roll'd on, the spring appear'd,
Offspring most dear (she fondly said,)
Transported with maternal joy,
“What though my present charms decay,
Thus had the Rose-tree scarcely spoken,