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Friday, June 23, 2006

Augustine has difficulty in fielding questions from Boniface in 418 A.D.

"Innocent fell in with this practice and infant communion, and after Zosimus, Boniface, in 418, was bishop of Rome. This Boniface inquires of Augustin, “Suppose I set before you an infant, and ask you whether, when he grows up, he will be a chaste man or a thief? Your answer, doubtless, will be, I cannot tell. And whether he, in that infant age, have any good or evil thoughts? you will say, I know not. Since you therefore dare not say any thing, either concerning his future behaviour, or his present thoughts; what is the meaning, that when they are brought to baptism, their parents, as sponsors for them, make answer and say, to the inquiry, Does he believe in God? they answer, he does believe. I entreat you to give me a short answer to these questions, in such a manner, as that you do not urge to me the prescription of the customariness of the thing, but give me the reason of the thing.” Augustin felt the difficulty of giving a reason for his own custom, and subjoined a silly reply, gets angry, and concludes by saying, “I have given such an answer to your questions as I suppose is to ignorant or contentious persons not enough, and to understanding and quiet people, perhaps more than enough.” Again, “He that does not believe it [infant baptism], and thinks it cannot be done, is indeed an infidel.” Wall’s Hist. pt. 1, c. 15, p. 196. Note. — The questions and answers were the relics of believers’ baptism, which when used about an infant, was a lie before God! If the church had always practised infant baptism, why so many inquiries from Donatists and Catholics in the fifth century? Augustin being required to answer so many questions, and explain its utility, proves how great a share he had in introducing the rite, and in his reply, he considers scripture and tradition on an equal footing in the church, while the catholic community is the only church."

Orchard, A Concise History of the Baptist, pg.248
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