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§ 14. Doctrine of the Church of Rome.

The Canons of the Council of Trent on the subject of baptism are brief and comprehensive. The Canons anathematize those who teach that Christian baptism has no superior efficacy to that of John; that true, natural water is not essential in the administration of this sacrament, or that the language of our Lord in John iii. 5, “Except a man be born of water,” etc., is to be understood metaphorically; that heretical baptism if performed in the right way and with the intention of doing what the Church does is not valid; that baptism is a matter of indifference, and not necessary to salvation; and also those who deny the propriety, necessity, or efficacy of infant baptism, etc. The Roman Catechism enters much more fully on the subject. It defines baptism as the “sacramentum regenerationis per aquam in verbo.” Its material is “omne naturalis aquæ genus, sive ea maris sit, sive fluvii, sive paludis, sive putei, aut fontis, quæ sine ulla adjunctione aqua dici solet.619619II. ii. quæs. 4, 6 [7]; Streitwolf, Libri Symbolici, vol. i. pp. 259, 260. The form prescribed by Christ in Matthew xxviii. 19, is to be observed. As baptism is an ablution it may be performed by immersion, affusion, or sprinkling. There should be sponsors to assume the responsibility of the religious education of the newly baptized. Sponsorship is such an impediment to marriage that if a sponsor should marry his or her godchild, the marriage would be null and void. Baptism by laymen or by women, in cases of necessity, is allowable. Infants receive in baptism spiritual grace; “non quia mentis suæ assensione credant, sed quia ‘parentum fide, si parentes fideles fuerint, sin minus, fide (ut D. Augustini verbis loquamur) universæ societatis sanctorum muniuntur.’” Those who are admitted to baptism must desire to be baptized. Hence the unwilling, the insane, the unconscious (nisi vitæ periculum immineat), are not the proper subjects of baptism. In the case of infants, the will of the Church answers for their will. Faith also is necessary; for our Lord says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” So also is repentance. “Cum baptismus ob eam rem expetendus sit, ut Christum induamus, et cum eo conjungamur, plane constat, 610merito a sacra ablutione rejiciendum esse, cui in vitiis et peccatis perseverare propositum est; præsertim vero, quia nihil eorum, quæ ad Christum, et Ecclesiam pertinent, frustra suscipiendum est: inanemque baptismum, si justitiæ, et salutis gratiam spectemus, in eo futurum esse, satis intelligimus, qui secundum carnem ambulare, non secundum Spiritum cogitat: etsi, quod ad sacramentum pertinet, perfectam ejus rationem sine ulla dubitatione consequitur, si modo, cum rite baptizatur, in animo habeat id accipere, quod a sancta Ecclesia administratur.620620II. ii. 27 [xxxiii.] 30 [xxxviii.]; Streitwolf, pp. 276, 279.

The first effect of baptism is the remission of sin. And by remission is meant not only pardon, but the removal of sin. The soul is so cleansed that nothing of the nature of sin remains in it. “Hoc primum tradere oportet, peccatum sive a primis parentibus origine contractum, sive a nobis commissum, quamvis etiam adeo nefarium sit, ut ne cogitari quidem posse videatur, admirabili hujus sacramenti virtute remitti, et condonari.” The Catechism quotes the anathema pronounced by the Council of Trent on those who teach, “Quamvis peccata in baptismo remittantur, es tamen prorsus non tolli, aut radicitus evelli, sed quodam modo abradi, ita ut peccatorum radices animo infixæ adhuc remaneant.621621Catechismus Romanus, II. ii. 31 [xlii.]; Streitwolf, vol. i. pp. 280, 281. The language of the Council is, “In renatis nihil odit Deus, quia nihil est damnationis iis, qui vere consepulti sunt cum Christo per baptisma in mortem: qui non secundum carnem ambulant, sed veterem hominem exuentes, et novum, qui secundum Deum creatus est, induentes, innocentes, immaculati, puri, innoxii, ac Deo dilecti effecti sunt.622622Sess. v. 5; Ibid. vol. i. p. 19.Concupiscentia, quæ ex peccato est, nihil aliud est, nisi animi appetitio, natura sua rationi repugnans: qui tamen motus si voluntatis consensum, aut negligentiam conjunctam non habeat, a vera peccati natura longe abest.623623Catechismus Romanus, II. ii. 32 [xliii.]; Ibid. pp. 281, 282.

One of the propositions which Perrone lays down on this subject, is, that “Per D. N. J. C. gratiam, quæ in baptismo confertur, reatus originalis peccati remittitur, ac tollitur totum id, quod veram et propriam peccati rationem habet.624624Prælectiones Theologicæ, De Baptismo, cap. vi. 170, 5th edit. Turin, 1839, vol. vi. p. 59.

Baptism, according to Romanists, avails not only for the remission and removal of all sin, but also for the inward sanctification of the soul. “Exponendum erit, hujus sacramenti virtute nos non solum a malis, quæ vere maxima dicenda sunt, liberari, verum etiam eximiis bonis augeri. Animus enim noster divina gratia 611repletur, qua justi, et filii Dei effecti, æternæ quoque salutis heredes instituimur.625625Catechismus Romanus, II. ii. 38 [l.]; Streitwolf, vol. i. p. 286. It thus appears, that, according to the Church of Rome, all the benefits of the redemption of Christ are conveyed to the soul by baptism; and that there is no other divinely appointed channel of their communication.

The Council of Trent declared, “Si quis dixerit, in tribus sacramentis, baptismo scilicet, confirmatione, et ordine, non imprimi characterem in anima, hoc est signum quoddam spirituale, et indelebile, unde ea iterari non possunt; anathema sit.626626Sess. vii. De Sacramentis in genere, canon 9; Streitwolf, pp. 39, 40. What this internal spiritual something is, does not admit of explanation. It neither reveals itself in the consciousness nor manifests itself in the life. It is assumed to be something analogous in the spiritual sphere, to the insignia of merit or decorations of nobility in the sphere of civil or social life.

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