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author 21, speaking of some new converts, says, 'they fell down at the bishop's feet, and desired the sign of Christ; upon which, he signed them with the sign of the cross, and made them catechumens, commanding them to attend the church: and so in a short time after, having first instructed them in the catechism, he baptized them.'
4. The circumstance of time here mentioned may lead us in At what the next place to inquire, At what age persons were admitted age persons catechumens? And how long they continued in that state be- ted to be fore they were baptized? The first question concerns only heathen converts: for, as for the children of believing parents, it is certain, that as they were baptized in infancy, so they were admitted catechumens as soon as they were capable of learning. But the question is more difficult about Heathens. Yet I find in one of the Resolutions of Timothy, bishop of Alexandria, that children before they were seven years old might be catechumens: for he puts the question thus 22; Suppose a child of seven years old, or a man that is a catechumen, be present at the oblation, and eat of the eucharist, what shall be done in this case?'-and the answer is, 'Let him be baptized.' By which it is plain, he speaks of Heathen children, and not of Christians, who received not only baptism, but the eucharist in their infancy, by the rule and custom of the Church then prevailing, as will be shewn in their proper place.
5. As to the other point, how long they were to continue How long catechumens? there was no certain general rule fixed about they conthat; but the practice varied according to the difference of that state.
21 Vit. Porphyr. (ap. Galland. [c. 4. n.31.] t. 9. p. 265 a.) Prociderunt ad ejus pedes petentes Christi signaculum. Beatus vero cum eos signasset, et fecisset catechumenos, dimisit illos in pace, præcipiens eis ut vacarent sanctæ ecclesiæ. Et paulo post, cum eos catechesi instituisset, baptizavit. [See Baron. an. 401. (t. 5. p. 139 d.) where the passage is read as follows: Conservatæ sunt animæ, quæ errabant, et accesserunt gregi Christi. Cum eos vero obsignasset episcopus dimisit in pace, jubens ut vacarent sanctis Scrip
turis.-Ibid. (p. 136 c.) Infantem
22 Respons. Canon. quæst. 1. (ap.
times and places, or the readiness and proficiency of the catechumens themselves. In the apostolical age and the first plantation of the Church, we never read of any long interval between men's first conversion and their baptism. The history of Cornelius, and the Ethiopian eunuch, and Lydia, and the jailor of Philippi in the Acts of the Apostles, to mention no more, are sufficient evidence that in those days catechizing and baptism immediately accompanied one another. And there were good reasons for it: the infant-state of the Church and the zeal of the converts both required it. But in after-ages the Church found it necessary to lengthen this term of probation, lest an overhasty admission of persons to baptism should either fill the Church with vicious men, or make greater numbers of renegadoes and apostates in time of persecution. For this reason the Council of Eliberis 23 appointed two years' trial for new converts, that if in that time they appeared to be men of a good conversation, they might then be allowed the favour of baptism. Justinian, in one of his Novels 24, appointed the same term for Samaritans, because it was found by experience, that they were wont frequently to relapse to their old religion again. The Apostolical Constitutions 25 lengthen the term to three but with this limitation, that if men were very diyears, ligent and zealous, they might be admitted sooner; because it was not length of time, but men's conversation and behaviour that was to be regarded in this case. The Council of Agde, anno 506, reduced the time for Jewish converts 26 to eight months, giving the same reason why they made the time of probation so long, because they are often found to be perfidious, and returned to their own vomit again.' In other places the time is thought by some to be limited to the forty days of Lent; for so some learned men
23 C. 42. (t. I. p. 975 b.) Eos, qui ad fidem primam credulitatis accedunt, si bonæ fuerint conversationis, intra biennium placuit ad baptismi gratiam admitti.
24 Novel. 144. c. 2. (t. 5. p. 619.) Dicimus autem.. per duos primum annos in fide instituantur, et pro viribus Scripturas ediscant, tuncque demum sacro redemptionis offerantur baptismati, &c.
25 L. 8. c. 32. (t. I. p. 498 b.) 'o
conjecture from a passage or
μέλλων κατηχεῖσθαι, τρία ἔτη κατηχείσθω· εἰ δὲ σπουδαῖός τις ᾖ, καὶ εὔ νοιαν ἔχει περὶ τὸ πρᾶγμα, προσδε χέσθω· ὅτι οὐχ ὁ χρόνος, ἀλλ ̓ ὁ τρόπος κρίνεται.
26 C. 25. [al. 34.] (t. 4. p. 1389 a.) Judæi, quorum perfidia frequenter ad vomitum redit, si ad legem catholicam venire voluerint, octo menses [al. mensibus] inter catechumenos ecclesiæ limen introeant, et si pura fide venire noscuntur, &c.
two in St. Jerom and Cyril's Catechetic Discourses. St. Jerom says 27, 'It was customary in his time to spend forty days in teaching catechumens the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity.' And St. Cyril seems to imply as much when 28 he asks the catechumens, 'Why they should not think it reasonable to spend forty days upon their souls, who had spent so many years upon their own vanities and the world?' The time of Lent is not expressly mentioned in either place, but it seems to be intended, because in those ages Easter was the general time of baptizing over all the world. But I understand this only of the strict and concluding part of this exercise. In some cases the term of catechizing was reduced to a yet much shorter compass, as in case of extreme sickness, or the general conversion of whole nations. Socrates 29 observes, that in the conversion of the Burgundians, the French bishop that converted them only took seven days' time to catechize them, and on the eighth day baptized them. So in case of desperate sickness, the catechumens were immediately baptized with clinic baptism; as appears from the forementioned Council of Agde, which though it prescribes eight months' time for the catechizing of Jews, yet in case of extreme danger 30, if their life was despaired of, it allows them to be baptized at any time within the term prescribed. Cyril of Alexandria, in one of his Canonical Epistles 31, gives the same orders concerning catechumens who had lapsed, and were for their crimes expelled the Church, that notwithstanding this they should be baptized at the hour of death. St. Basil 32 takes notice, that Arintheus, the Roman consul,
27 Ep. 61. ad Pammach. c. 4. p. 167. [al. Lib. cont. Ioan. Hierosol. c. 13.] (t. 2. p.419 e. Consuetudo autem apud nos istiusmodi est, ut iis, qui baptizandi sunt, per quadraginta dies publice tradamus sanctam et adorandam Trinitatem.
28 Catech. 1. n. 5. p. 18. (p. 18 d.) Τοσούτους κύκλους ἐνιαυτῶν διῆλθες, περὶ τὸν κόσμον μάτην ἀσχολούμενος, Kai TEσσαрÁKOVтa ημépas où σxoλáζεις [τῇ προσευχῇ] διὰ τὴν σεαυτοῦ
ἐπὶ ἑπτὰ ἡμέρας παρασκευάσας νηστεῦσαι αὐτοὺς, καὶ τὴν πίστιν κατηχήσας αὐτοὺς, τῇ ὀγδόῃ ἡμέρᾳ βαπτίσας ἀπέλυσε.
30 C. 25. [al. 34.] (t. 4. p. 1389 a.) Quod si casu aliquo periculum infirmitatis intra præscriptum tempus incurrerint, et desperati fuerint, baptizentur.
31 Ep. Canon. ad Episc. Lib. et Pentapol. (ap. Bevereg. Pand. t. 2. part. I. p. 178 d.) Ἐὰν δὲ χωρισμὸν ὑπομείνωσί τινες, ἐπιτιμηθέντες πται
ψυχήν, η. c. 30. (v. 2. p. 379. 17.) σμάτων, ἕνεκα, εἶτα μέλλωσι τελευτάν,
29 L. 7. Γενόμενοί τε ἐν πόλει μιᾷ τῆς Γαλλίας παρακαλοῦσιν ὑπὸ τοῦ ἐπισκόπου TUXEîv Xρiστiaviкoû Bañтíσμatos' ó dè
κατηχούμενοι ὄντες, βαπτιζέσθωσαν. Ep. 186. [al. 269.] ad Conj. Arinth. Præt. (t. 3. part. 2. p. 603 c.
The substance of
being converted by his wife, and in danger of death, was immediately baptized. And there are infinite numbers of such examples to be met with in ecclesiastical history, to verify the general observation which Epiphanius 33 makes upon the practice of the Church, 'that such catechumens as were at the point to die, were always, in hopes of the resurrection, admitted to baptism before their death.'
6. But excepting these cases, a longer time was generally the ancient thought necessary to discipline and train men up gradually for catechisms, baptism; partly for the reason already mentioned, that some of instruc- just experiment might be made of their conversation during that time; and partly to instruct them by degrees, first in the more common principles of religion, to wean them from their former errors, and then in the more recondite and mysterious articles of the Christian faith: upon which account they usually began their discourses with the doctrine of repentance and remission of sins, and the necessity of good works, and the nature and use of baptism, by which the catechumens were taught how they were to renounce the Devil and his works, and enter into a new covenant with God. Then followed the explication of the several articles of the Creed, to which some added the nature and immortality of the soul, and an account of the canonical books of Scripture: which is the substance and method of St. Cyril's eighteen famous Discourses to the Catechumens. The author of the Apostolical Constitutions 34 prescribes these several heads of instruction: 'Let the catechu
n.2.) Πρὸς αὐταῖς ταῖς ἐξόδοις τοῦ
33 Hær. 28. Cerinth. n. 6. (t. I.
34 L. 7. c. 39. (Cotel. v. I. p. 378.) Ο μέλλων τοίνυν κατηχεῖσθαι τὸν λόγον τῆς εὐσεβείας, παιδευέσθω πρὸ τοῦ βαπτίσματος τὴν περὶ τοῦ ̓Αγεννήτου γνῶσιν, τὴν περὶ Υἱοῦ μονογε
νοῦς ἐπίγνωσιν, τὴν περὶ τοῦ ̔Αγίου Πνεύματος πληροφορίαν μανθανέτω δημιουργίας διαφόρου τάξιν, προνοίας εἰρμὸν, νομοθεσίας διαφόρου δικαιωτήρια παιδευέσθω, διατί κόσμος γέγονε, καὶ δι ̓ ὃ κοσμοπολίτης ὁ ἄνθρωπως κατέστη· ἐπιγινωσκέτω τὴν ἑαυτοῦ φύσιν οἷα τις ὑπάρχει παιδευέσθω ὅπως ὁ Θεὸς τοὺς πονηροὺς ἐκόλασεν ὕδατι καὶ πυρὶ, τοὺς δὲ ἁγίους ἐδόξασε καθ ̓ ἑκάστην γενεάν λέγω δὴ τὸν Σήθ, τὸν Ἐνῶς, τὸν ̓Ενώχ, τὸν Νῶς, τὸν ̓Αβραὰμ, καὶ τοὺς ἐκγόνους αὐτοῦ· τὸν Μελχισεδέκ, καὶ τὸν Ἰὼβ, καὶ τὸν Μωσέα, Ἰησοῦν τε, καὶ Χαλέβ, καὶ Φι νεὲς τὸν ἱερέα, καὶ τοὺς καθ ̓ ἑκάστην γενεὰν ὁσίους· ὅπως τε προνοούμενος οὐκ ἀπεστράφη ὁ Θεὸς τὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων γένος ἀλλὰ ἀπὸ πλάνης καὶ μας
men be taught before baptism the knowledge of the Father unbegotten, the knowledge of his only-begotten Son, and Holy Spirit. Let him learn the order of the world's creation, and series of divine providence, and the different sorts of legisla tion. Let him be taught why the world, and man, the citizen of the world, were made. Let him be instructed about his own nature, to understand for what end he himself was made. Let him be informed how God punished the wicked with water and fire, and crowned his saints with glory in every generation, viz. Seth, Enos, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and his posterity, Melchisedech, Job, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, and Phineas the priest, and the saints of every age. Let him also be taught how the providence of God never forsook mankind, but called them at sundry times from error and vanity to the knowledge of the truth, reducing them from slavery and impiety to liberty and godliness, from iniquity to righteousness, and from everlasting death to eternal life. After these he must learn the doctrine of Christ's incarnation, his passion, his resurrection and assumption; and what it is to renounce the Devil, and enter into covenant with Christ.'
These were the chief heads of the ancient catechisms before baptism in which it is observable there is no mention made of the doctrine of the eucharist, or confirmation, because these were not allowed to catechumens till after baptism; and the instruction upon the former points was not given all at once, but by certain degrees, as the discipline of the Church then required, which divided the catechumens into several distinct orders or classes, and exercised them gradually according to the difference of their stations; of which I shall give a more particular account in the following chapter.
ταιότητος εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας ἐκάλει κατὰ διαφόρους καιροὺς, ἀπὸ τῆς δουλείας καὶ ἀσεβείας, εἰς ἐλευθερίαν καὶ εὐλάβειαν ἐπανάγων, ἀπὸ ἀδικίας εἰς δικαιοσύνην, ἀπὸ θανάτου αἰωνίου εἰς ζωὴν ἀΐδιον. [Ταῦτα καὶ τὰ τούτοις ἀκόλουθα μανθανέτο ἐν τῇ καταχήσει, ὁ προσίων. Προσκυνείτω δὲ ὁ χειροθετῶν αὐτὸν τὸν Θεὸν τὸν τῶν ὁλῶν Δεσπότην· εὐχαριστῶν, κ. τ. λ. Καὶ μετὰ τὴν εὐχαριστίαν ταύτην παιδευσάτω αὐτὸν τὰ περὶ τῆς τοῦ
Κυρίου ἐνανθρωπήσεως, τά τε περὶ τοῦ πάθους αὐτοῦ, καὶ τῆς ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστάσεως, καὶ ἀναλήψεως. — Vid. ibid. (c. 40.) Καὶ ὅταν ᾖ πρὸς αὐτὸ λοιπὸν τὸ βαπτισθῆναι ὁ καταχηθεὶς, μανθανέτο τὰ περὶ τῆς ἀποταγῆς τοῦ Διαβόλου, καὶ περὶ τῆς συνταγῆς τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Δεῖ γὰρ αὐτὸν πρῶτον μὲν ἀποσχέσθαι τῶν ἐναντίων, καὶ τότε ἐντὸς γενέσθαι τῶν μυστηρίων, κ.τ.λ. ED.]