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A Rationale upon the Book of Common Prayer
by Anthony Sparrow, D.D.

London, 1672.


THough holy Church prescribes the Font for the place, and Sundaies and Holydays for the usual times of baptism, that she may conform as much as conveniently may be to the usages of Primitive Antiquity, (which is her aim in all her services) and for other reasons mentioned Rubr. 1. before Baptism. Yet in case of necessity she permits and provides that a child may be baptized in any decent place at any time: in such cases requiring the performance only of Essentials, not of Solemnities of baptism: according to the practice of the Apostles who baptized at any time as occasion required, and in Fountains and Rivers: and according to the use of succeeding Ages. CONC. MATISCON. 2. c. 3. Dist. de Consec. 4. c. 16, 17. Elibert. Conc. c. 38. Anno 313. He that is baptized himself, may in a case of necessity baptize, if there be no Church nere. Nor can I see what can be reasonably objected against this tender and motherly love of the Church to her children, who chooses rather to omit solemnities, than hazard souls: Which indulgence of hers cannot be interpreted any irreverence or contempt of that venerable Sacrament; but a yielding to just necessity (which defends what it constrains) and to Gods own rule, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, S. Mat. 12. 7.

If it be objected that this may be an occasion of mischief, that the form of baptism may be vitiated and corrupted in private, by heretical Ministers, and so the child robb'd of the benefits of baptism; it is answered, that this is possible; but were it not great folly to prevent a possible danger, by a certain? to deny all infants in such cases baptism, lest some few should be abused by the malice of the Priest? Which possible, but scarce probable mischief, the Church hath taken all possible care to prevent. For if the child lives, it is to be brought to the Church, 1. Rubr. in private baptism, and there the Priest is to demand [by whom the child was baptized, and with what matter and words:] and if he perceives plainly that it was well baptized for the substance, then shall he add the usual solemnities at publick baptism, that so the child may want nothing, no not of the decent pomp: but if he cannot by such questioning be assured that it was truely baptized for essentials, then shall he baptize it thus, [If thou be not already baptized, I baptize thee] as it was ordered Carthage, 5. c. 6. Anno Dom. 438.

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