Vol. 2, Chapter V (Cont’d) – The Celebration of Baptism


The Lit. see in vol. I. § 54, especially Wall and Höfling. On the archaeology of baptism see Bingham’s Antiquities, Augusti’s Denkwürdigkeiten, the first vol. of Binterim, and the art. Baptism in Smith and Cheetham, I. 155-172. Also Schaff, on the Didache (1885), p. 29-56. For pictorial illustrations see the monumental works of Cav. de Rossi, Garrucci, Roller, on the catacombs, and Schaff, l.c.

The “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” (ch. 7) enjoins baptism, after catechetical instruction, in these words: “Baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost in living (running) water. But if thou hast not living water, baptize into other water; and if thou canst not in cold, then in warm. But if thou hast neither, pour water upon the head thrice, into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

Justin Martyr gives the following account of baptism: “Those who are convinced of the truth of our doctrine, and have promised to live according to it, are exhorted to prayer, fasting and repentance for past sins; we praying and fasting with them. Then they are led by its to a place where is water, and in this way they are regenerated, as we also have been regenerated; that is, they receive the water-bath in the name of God, the Father and Ruler of all, and of our Redeemer Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost. For Christ says: Except ye be born again, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Joh_3:5) Thus, from children of necessity and ignorance, we become children of choice and of wisdom, and partakers of the forgiveness of former sins … The baptismal bath is called also illumination (φωτισμός) because those who receive it are enlightened in the understanding.”

This account may be completed by the following particulars from Tertullian and later writers.

Before the act the candidate was required in a solemn vow to renounce the service of the devil, that is, all evil, give himself to Christ, and confess the sum of the apostolic faith in God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. The Apostles’ Creed, therefore, is properly the baptismal symbol, as it grew, in fact, out of the baptismal formula.

This act of turning front sin and turning to God, or of repentance and faith, on the part of the candidate, was followed by an appropriate prayer of the minister, and then by the baptism itself into the triune name, with three successive immersions in which the deacons and deaconesses assisted. The immersion in thrice dipping the head of the candidate who stood nude in the water. Single immersion seems to have been introduced by Eunomius about 360, but was condemned on pain of degradation, yet it reappeared afterwards in Spain, and Pope Gregory I. declared both forms valid, the trine immersion as setting forth the Trinity, the single immersion the Unity of the Godhead. The Eastern church, however, still adheres strictly to the trine immersion. Baptism by pouring water from a shell or vessel or from the hand on the head of the candidate very early occurs also and was probably considered equivalent to immersion. The Didache allows pouring in cases of scarcity of water. But afterwards this mode was applied only to infirm or sick persons; hence called clinical baptism. The validity of this baptism was even doubted by many in the third century; and Cyprian wrote in its defence, taking the ground that the mode of application of water was a matter of minor importance, provided that faith was present in the recipient and ministrant. According to ecclesiastical law clinical baptism at least incapacitated for the clerical office. Yet the Roman bishop Fabian ordained Novatian a presbyter, though he had been baptized on a sickbed by aspersion.

Thanksgiving, benediction, and the brotherly kiss concluded the sacred ceremony.

Besides these essential elements of the baptismal rite, we find, so early as the third century, several other subordinate usages, which have indeed a beautiful symbolical meaning, but, like all redundancies, could easily obscure the original simplicity of this sacrament, as it appears in Justin Martyr’s description. Among these appendages are the signing of the cross on the forehead and breast of the subject, as a soldier of Christ under the banner of the cross; giving him milk and honey (also salt) in token of sonship with God, and citizenship in the heavenly Canaan; also the unction of the head, the lighted taper, and the white robe.

Exorcism, or the expulsion of the devil, which is not to be confounded with the essential formula of renunciation, was probably practised at first only in special cases, as of demoniacal possession. But after the council of Carthage, a.d. 256, we find it a regular part of the ceremony of baptism, preceding the baptism proper, and in some eases, it would seem, several times repeated during the course of catechetical instruction. To understand fully this custom, we should remember that the early church derived the whole system of heathen idolatry, which it justly abhorred as one of the greatest crimes, from the agency of Satan. The heathen deities, although they had been eminent men during their lives, were, as to their animating principle, identified with demons — either fallen angels or their progeny. These demons, as we may infer from many passages of Justin, Minucius Felix, Tertullian, and others, were believed to traverse the air, to wander over the earth, to deceive and torment the race, to take possession of men, to encourage sacrifices, to lurk in statues, to speak through the oracles, to direct the flights of birds, to work the illusions of enchantment and necromancy, to delude the senses by false miracles, to incite persecution against Christianity, and, in fact, to sustain the whole fabric of heathenism with all its errors and vices. But even these evil spirits were Subject to the powerful name of Jesus. Tertullian openly challenges the pagan adversaries to bring demoniacs before the tribunals, and affirms that the spirits which possessed them, would bear witness to the truth of Christianity.

The institution of sponsors,, first mentioned by Tertullian, arose no doubt from infant baptism, and was designed to secure Christian training, without thereby excusing Christian parents from their duty.

Baptism might be administered at any time, but was commonly connected with Easter and Pentecost, and in the East with Epiphany also, to give it the greater solemnity. The favorite hour was midnight lit up by torches. The men were baptized first, the women afterwards. During the week following, the neophytes wore white garments as symbols of their purity.

Separate chapels for baptism, or baptisteries, occur first in the fourth century, and many of them still remain in Southern Europe. Baptism might be performed in any place, where, as Justin says, “water was.” Yet Cyprian, in the middle of the third century, and the pseudo-Apostolical Constitutions, require the element to be previously consecrated, that it may become the vehicle of the purifying energy of the Spirit. This corresponded to the consecration of the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, and involved no transformation of the substance.


71. The Doctrine of Baptism

This ordinance was regarded in the ancient church as the sacrament of the new birth or regeneration, and as the solemn rite of initiation into the Christian Church, admitting to all her benefits and committing to all her obligations. It was supposed to be preceded, in the case of adults, by instruction on the part of the church, and by repentance and faith (i.e. conversion) on the part of the candidate, and to complete and seal the spiritual process of regeneration, the old man being buried, and the new man arising from the watery grave. Its effect consists in the forgiveness of sins and the communication of the Holy Spirit. Justin calls baptism “the water-bath for the forgiveness of sins and regeneration,” and “the bath of conversion and the knowledge of God.” It is often called also illumination, spiritual circumcision, anointing, sealing, gift of grace, symbol of redemption, death of sins, etc. Tertullian describes its effect thus: “When the soul comes to faith, and becomes transformed through regeneration by water and power from above, it discovers, after the veil of the old corruption is taken away, its whole light. It is received into the fellowship of the Holy Spirit; and the soul, which unites itself to the Holy Spirit, is followed by the body.” He already leans towards the notion of a magical operation of the baptismal water. Yet the subjective condition of repentance and faith was universally required. Baptism was not only an act of God, but at the same time the most solemn surrender of man to God, a vow for life and death, to live henceforth only to Christ and his people. The keeping of this vow was the condition of continuance in the church; the breaking of it must be followed either by repentance or excommunication.

From Joh_3:5 and Mar_16:16, Tertullian and other fathers argued the necessity of baptism to salvation. Clement of Alexandria supposed, with the Roman Hermas and others, that even the saints of the Old Testament were baptized in Hades by Christ or the apostles. But exception was made in favor of the bloody baptism of martyrdom as compensating the want of baptism with water; and this would lead to the evangelical principle, that not the omission, but only the contempt of the sacrament is damning.

The effect of baptism, however, was thought to extend only to sins committed before receiving it. Hence the frequent postponement of the sacrament, which Tertullian very earnestly recommends, though he censures it when accompanied with moral levity and presumption. Many, like Constantine the Great, put it off to the bed of sickness and of death. They preferred the risk of dying unbaptized to that of forfeiting forever the baptismal grace. Death-bed baptisms were then what death-bed repentances are now.

But then the question arose, how the forgiveness of sins committed after baptism could be obtained? This is the starting point of the Roman doctrine of the sacrament of penance. Tertullian and Cyprian were the first to suggest that satisfaction must be made for such sins by self-imposed penitential exercises and good works, such as prayers and almsgiving. Tertullian held seven gross sins, which he denoted mortal sins, to be unpardonable after baptism, and to be left to the uncovenanted mercies of God; but the Catholic church took a milder view, and even received back the adulterers and apostates on their public repentance.



In reviewing the patristic doctrine of baptism which was sanctioned by the Greek and Roman, and, with some important modifications, also by the Lutheran and Anglican churches, we should remember that during the first three centuries, and even in the age of Constantine, adult baptism was the rule, and that the actual conversion of the candidate was required as a condition before administering the sacrament (as is still the case on missionary ground). Hence in preceding catechetical instruction, the renunciation of the devil, and the profession of faith. But when the same high view is applied without qualification to infant baptism, we are confronted at once with the difficulty that infants cannot comply with this condition. They may be regenerated (this being an act of God), but they cannot be converted, i.e. they cannot repent and believe, nor do they need repentance, having not yet committed any actual transgression. Infant baptism is an act of consecration, and looks to subsequent instruction and personal conversion, as a condition to full membership of the church. Hence confirmation came in as a supplement to infant baptism.

The strict Roman Catholic dogma, first clearly enunciated by St. Augustin though with reluctant heart and in the mildest form, assigns all unbaptized infants to hell on the ground of Adam’s sin and the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. A dogma horribile, but falsum. Christ, who is the truth, blessed unbaptized infants, and declared: “To such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” The Augsburg Confession (Art. IX.) still teaches against the Anabaptists: “quod baptismus sit necessarius ad salutem,” but the leading Lutheran divines reduce the absolute necessity of baptism to a relative or ordinary necessity; and the Reformed churches, under the influence of Calvin’s teaching went further by making salvation depend upon divine election, not upon the sacrament, and now generally hold to the salvation of all infants dying in infancy. The Second Scotch Confession (a.d. 1580) was the first to declare its abhorrence of “the cruel [popish] judgment against infants departing without the sacrament,” and the doctrine of “the absolute necessity of baptism.”


72. Catechetical Instruction and Confirmation


I. Cyril (Κυρίλλος) of Jerusalem (315-386): Eighteen Catechetical Lectures, addressed to Catechumens (Κατηχήσεις φωτιζομένων), and Five Mystigogical Lectures, addressed to the newly baptized. Best ed. byTouttée, Par. 1720, reprinted in Migne’s Patrol. Gr. vol. 33.

Augustin (d. 430): De Catechizandis Rudibus.

II. Bingham: Antiquities, X. 2.

Zezschwitz (Tüb.): System der christl. Kirchl. Katechetik. Leipzig, vol. I. 1863; vol. II. in 2 Parts, 1869 and 1872.

Joh. Mayer (R.C.): Geschichte des Katechumenats, und der Katechese, in den ersten sechs Jahrh. Kempten, 1866.

A. Weiss (R.C.): Die altkirchliche Pädagogik dargestelit in Katecumenat und Katechese der ersten sechs Jahrh. Freiburg, 1869.

Fr. X. Funk (R. C): Die Katechumenats-classen des christl. Alterthums, in the Tübing. “Theol. Quartalschrift,” Tüb. 1883, p. 41-77.


Catechetical Instruction and Confirmation

1. The catechumenate or preparation for baptism was a very important institution of the early church. It dates substantially from apostolic times. Theophilus was “instructed” in the main facts of the gospel history; and Apollos was “instructed” in the way of the Lord. As the church was set in the midst of a heathen world, and addressed herself in her missionary preaching in the first instance to the adult generation, she saw the necessity of preparing the susceptible for baptism by special instruction under teachers called “catechists,” who were generally presbyters and deacons. The catechumenate preceded baptism (of adults); whereas, at a later period, after the general introduction of infant baptism, it followed. It was, on the one hand, a bulwark of the church against unworthy members; on the other, a bridge from the world to the church, a Christian novitiate, to lead beginners forward to maturity. The catechumens or hearers were regarded not as unbelievers, but as half-Christians, and were accordingly allowed to attend all the exercises of worship, except the celebration of the sacraments. They embraced people of all ranks, ages, and grades of culture, even philosophers, statesmen, and rhetoricians, — Justin, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Arnobius, Lactantius, who all embraced Christianity in their adult years.

The Didache contains in the first six chapters, a high-toned moral catechism preparatory to baptism, based chiefly on the Sermon on the Mount.

There was but one or at most two classes of Catechumens. The usual division into three (or four) classes rests on confusion with the classes of Penitents.

The catechetical school of Alexandria was particularly renowned for its highly learned character.

The duration of this catechetical instruction was fixed sometimes at two years sometimes at three, but might be shortened according to circumstances. Persons of decent moral character and general intelligence were admitted to baptism without delay. The Councils allow immediate admission in cases of sickness.

2. Confirmation was originally closely connected with baptism, as its positive complement, and was performed by the imposition of hands, and the anointing of several parts of the body with fragrant balsam-oil, the chrism, as it was called. These acts were the medium of the communication of the Holy Spirit, and of consecration to the spiritual priesthood. Later, however, it came to be separated from baptism, especially in the case of infants, and to be regarded as a sacrament by itself. Cyprian is the first to distinguish the baptism with water and the baptism with the Spirit as two sacraments; yet this term, sacrament, was used as yet very indefinitely, and applied to all sacred doctrines and rites.

The Western church, after the third century, restricted the power of confirmation to bishops, on the authority of Act_8:17; they alone, as the successors of the apostles, being able to impart the Holy Ghost. The Greek church extended this function to priests and deacons. The Anglican church retains the Latin practice. Confirmation or some form of solemn reception into full communion on personal profession of faith, after proper instruction, was regarded as a necessary supplement to infant baptism, and afterwards as a special sacrament.


73. Infant Baptism

On Infant Baptism comp. Just. M.: Dial. c. Tryph. Jud. c. 43. Iren.: Adv. Haer. II. 22, § 4, compared with III. 17, § 1, and other passages. Tertul.: De Baptismo, c. 18. Cypr.: Epist. LIX. ad Fidum. Clem. Alex.: Paedag. III. 217. Orig.: Com. in Rom. V. Opp. IV. 565, and Homil. XIV. in Luc.

See Lit. in vol. I., especially Wall. Comp. also W. R. Powers: Irenaeus and Infant Baptism, in the “Am. Presb. and Theol. Rev.” N. Y. 1867, pp. 239-267.

While the church was still a missionary institution in the midst of a heathen world, infant baptism was overshadowed by the baptism of adult proselytes; as, in the following periods, upon the union of church and state, the order was reversed. At that time, too, there could, of course, be no such thing, even on the part of Christian parents, as a compulsory baptism, which dates from Justinian’s reign, and which inevitably leads to the profanation of the sacrament. Constantine sat among the fathers at the great Council of Nicaea, and gave legal effect to its decrees, and yet put off his baptism to his deathbed. The cases of Gregory of Nazianzum, St. Chrysostom, and St. Augustin, who had mothers of exemplary piety, and yet were not baptized before early manhood, show sufficiently that considerable freedom prevailed in this respect even in the Nicene and post-Nicene ages. Gregory of Nazianzum gives the advice to put off the baptism of children, where there is no danger of death, to their third year.

At the same time it seems an almost certain fact, though by many disputed, that, with the baptism of converts, the optional baptism of the children of Christian parents in established congregations, comes down from the apostolic age. Pious parents would naturally feel a desire to consecrate their offspring from the very beginning to the service of the Redeemer, and find a precedent in the ordinance of circumcision. This desire would be strengthened in cases of sickness by the prevailing notion of the necessity of baptism for salvation. Among the fathers, Tertullian himself not excepted — for he combats only its expediency — there is not a single voice against the lawfulness and the apostolic origin of infant baptism. No time can be fixed at which it was first introduced. Tertullian suggests, that it was usually based on the invitation of Christ: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not.” The usage of sponsors, to which Tertullian himself bears witness, although he disapproves of it, and still more, the almost equally ancient abuse of infant communion, imply the existence of infant baptism. Heretics also practised it, and were not censured for it.

The apostolic fathers make, indeed, no mention of it. But their silence proves nothing; for they hardly touch upon baptism at all, except Hermas, and he declares it necessary to salvation, even for the patriarchs in Hades (therefore, as we may well infer, for children also). Justin Martyr expressly teaches the capacity of all men for spiritual circumcision by baptism; and his “all” can with the less propriety be limited, since he is here speaking to a Jew. He also says that many old men and women of sixty and seventy years of age have been from childhood disciples of Christ. Polycarp was eighty-six years a Christian, and must have been baptized in early youth. According to Irenaeus, his pupil and a faithful bearer of Johannean tradition, Christ passed through all the stages of life, to sanctify them all, and came to redeem, through himself, “all who through him are born again unto God, sucklings, children, boys, youths, and adults.” This profound view seems to involve an acknowledgment not only of the idea of infant baptism, but also of the practice of it; for in the mind of Irenaeus and the ancient church baptism and regeneration were intimately connected and almost identified. In an infant, in fact, any regeneration but through baptism cannot be easily conceived. A moral and spiritual regeneration, as distinct from sacramental, would imply conversion, and this is a conscious act of the will, an exercise of repentance and faith, of which the infant is not capable.

In the churches of Egypt infant baptism must have been practised from the first. For, aside from some not very clear expressions of Clement of Alexandria, Origen distinctly derives it from the tradition of the apostles; and through his journeys in the East and West he was well acquainted with the practice of the church in his time.

The only opponent of infant baptism among the fathers is the eccentric and schismatic Tertullian, of North Africa. He condemns the hastening of the innocent age to the forgiveness of sins, and intrusting it with divine gifts, while we would not commit to it earthly property. Whoever considers the solemnity of baptism, will shrink more from the receiving, than from the postponement of it. But the very manner of Tertullian’s opposition proves as much in favor of infant baptism as against it. He meets it not as an innovation, but as a prevalent custom; and he meets it not with exegetical nor historical arguments, but only with considerations of religious prudence. His opposition to it is founded on his view of the regenerating effect of baptism, and of the impossibility of having mortal sins forgiven in the church after baptism; this ordinance cannot be repeated, and washes out only the guilt contracted before its reception. On the same ground he advises healthy adults, especially the unmarried, to postpone this sacrament until they shall be no longer in danger of forfeiting forever the grace of baptism by committing adultery, murder, apostasy, or any other of the seven crimes which he calls mortal sins. On the same principle his advice applies only to healthy children, not to sickly ones, if we consider that he held baptism to be the indispensable condition of forgiveness of sins, and taught the doctrine of hereditary sin. With him this position resulted from moral earnestness, and a lively sense of the great solemnity of the baptismal vow. But many put off baptism to their death-bed, in moral levity and presumption, that they might sin as long as they could.

Tertullian’s opposition, moreover, had no influence, at least no theoretical influence, even in North Africa. His disciple Cyprian differed from him wholly. In his day it was no question, whether the children of Christian parents might and should be baptized — on this all were agreed, — but whether they might be baptized so early as the second or third day after birth, or, according to the precedent of the Jewish circumcision, on the eighth day. Cyprian, and a council of sixty-six bishops held at Carthage in 253 under his lead, decided for the earlier time, yet without condemning the delay. It was in a measure the same view of the almost magical effect of the baptismal water, and of its absolute necessity to salvation, which led Cyprian to hasten, and Tertullian to postpone the holy ordinance; one looking more at the beneficent effect of the sacrament in regard to past sins, the other at the danger of sins to come.


74. Heretical Baptism

On Heretical Baptism comp. Eusebius: H. E. VII. 3-5. Cyprian: Epist. lxx.-LXXVI. The Acts of the Councils of Carthage, a.d. 255 and 256, and the anonymous tract, De Rebaptismate, among Cyprian’s works, and in Routh’s Reliquiae Sacrae, vol. v. 283-328.

Hefele: Conciliengeschichte, I. 117-132 (second ed.).

G. E. Steitz: Ketzertaufe, in Herzog, rev. ed., VII. 652-661.

Heretical baptism was, in the third century, the subject of a violent controversy, important also for its bearing on the question of the authority of the Roman see.

Cyprian, whose Epistles afford the clearest information on this subject, followed Tertullian in rejecting baptism by heretics as an inoperative mock-baptism, and demanded that all heretics coming over to the Catholic church be baptized (he would not say re-baptized). His position here was due to his high-church exclusiveness and his horror of schism. As the one Catholic church is the sole repository of all grace, there can be no forgiveness of sins, no regeneration or communication of the Spirit, no salvation, and therefore no valid sacraments, out of her bosom. So far he had logical consistency on his side. But, on the other hand, he departed from the objective view of the church, as the Donatists afterwards did, in making the efficacy of the sacrament depend on the subjective holiness of the priest. “How can one consecrate water,” he asks, “who is himself unholy, and has not the Holy Spirit?” He was followed by the North African church, which, in several councils at Carthage in the years 255-6, rejected heretical baptism; and by the church of Asia Minor, which had already acted on this view, and now, in the person of the Cappadocian bishop Firmilian, a disciple and admirer of the great Origen, vigorously defended it against Rome, using language which is entirely inconsistent with the claims of the papacy.

The Roman bishop Stephen (253-257) appeared for the opposite doctrine, on the ground of the ancient practice of his church. He offered no argument, but spoke with the consciousness of authority, and followed a catholic instinct. He laid chief stress on the objective nature of the sacrament, the virtue of which depended neither on the officiating priest, nor on the receiver, but solely on the institution of Christ. Hence he considered heretical baptism valid, provided only it was administered with intention to baptize and in the right form, to wit, in the name of the Trinity, or even of Christ alone; so that heretics coming into the church needed only confirmation or the ratification of baptism by the Holy Ghost. “Heresy,” says he, “produces children and exposes them; and the church takes up the exposed children, and nourishes them as her own, though she herself has not brought them forth.”

The doctrine of Cyprian was the more consistent from the hierarchical point of view; that of Stephen, from the sacramental. The former was more logical, the latter more practical and charitable. The one preserved the principle of the exclusiveness of the church; the other, that of the objective force of the sacrament, even to the borders of the opus operatum theory. Both were under the direction of the same churchly spirit, and the same hatred of heretics; but the Roman doctrine is after all a happy inconsistency of liberality, an inroad upon the principle of absolute exclusiveness, an involuntary concession, that baptism, and with it the remission of sin and regeneration, therefore salvation, are possible outside of Roman Catholicism.

The controversy itself was conducted with great warmth. Stephen, though advocating the liberal view, showed the genuine papal arrogance and intolerance. He would not even admit to his presence the deputies of Cyprian, who brought him the decree of the African synod, and he called this bishop, who in every respect excelled Stephen, and whom the Roman church now venerates as one of her greatest saints, a false Christ and false apostle. He broke off all intercourse with the African church, as he had already with the Asiatic. But Cyprian and Firmilian, nothing daunted, vindicated with great boldness, the latter also with bitter vehemence, their different view, and continued in it to their death. The Alexandrian bishop Dionysius endeavored to reconcile the two parties, but with little success. The Valerian persecution, which soon ensued, and the martyrdom of Stephen (257) and of Cyprian (258), suppressed this internal discord.

In the course of the fourth century, however, the Roman theory gradually gained on the other, received the sanction of the ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325, was adopted in North Africa during the Donatistic controversies, by a Synod of Carthage, 348, defended by the powerful dialectics of St. Augustin against the Donatists, and was afterwards confirmed by the Council of Trent with an anathema on the opposite view.



The Council of Trent declares (Sessio Sept., March 3, 1547, canon 4): “If any one says that the baptism, which is even given by heretics in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, with the intention of doing what the church doth, is not true baptism: let him be anathema.” The Greek church likewise forbids the repetition of baptism which has been performed in the name of the Holy Trinity, but requires trine immersion. See the Orthodox Conf. Quaest. CII. (in Schaff’s Creeds II. 376), and the Russian Catch. (II. 493), which says: “Baptism, is spiritual birth: a man is born but once, therefore he is also baptized but once.” But the same Catechism declares “trine immersion” to be “most essential in the administration of baptism” (II. 491).

The Roman church, following the teaching of St. Augustin, bases upon the validity of heretical and schismatical baptism even a certain legal claim on all baptized persons, as virtually belonging to her communion, and a right to the forcible conversion of heretics under favorable circumstances. But as there may be some doubt about the orthodox form and intention of heretical baptism in the mind of the convert (e.g. if he be a Unitarian), the same church allows a conditional rebaptism with the formula: “If thou art not yet baptized, I baptize thee,” etc.

Evangelical creeds put their recognition of Roman Catholic or any other Christian baptism not so much on the theory of the objective virtue of the sacrament, as on a more comprehensive and liberal conception of the church. Where Christ is, there is the church, and there are true ordinances. The Baptists alone, among Protestants, deny the validity of any other baptism but by immersion (in this respect resembling the Greek church), but are very far on that account from denying the Christian status of other denominations, since baptism with them is only a sign (not a means) of regeneration or conversion, which precedes the rite and is independent of it.