A reader contacted me just today on a point we discussed some time back, namely, the prevalence (or otherwise) of infant baptism in the Post-Nicene Church. Our case in that instance makes this discovery from our reader all the more interesting.
A while back, there was a discussion on your blog about Infant Baptism, and when it came in. Apropos of that, I came across an intriguing little quotation from St. Gregory Nazianzen’s Orations 40.28:
“Be it so, some will say, in the case of those who ask for Baptism; what have you to say about those who are still children, and conscious neither of the loss nor of the grace? Are we tobaptize them too? Certainly, if any danger presses. For it is better that they should be unconsciously sanctified than that they should depart unsealed and uninitiated.
“A proof of this is found in the Circumcision on the eighth day, which was a sort of typical seal, and was conferred on children before they had the use of reason. And so is the anointing of thedoorposts, Exodus 12:22 which preserved the firstborn, though applied to things which had no consciousness. But in respect of others I give my advice to wait till the end of the third year, or a little more or less, when they may be able to listen and to answer something about the Sacrament; that, even though they do not perfectly understand it, yet at any rate they may know the outlines; and then to sanctify them in soul and body with the great sacrament of our consecration. For this is how the matter stands; at that time they begin to be responsible for their lives, whenreason is matured, and they learn the mystery of life (for of sins of ignorance owing to their tender years they have no account to give), and it is far more profitable on all accounts to be fortified by the Font, because of the sudden assaults of danger that befall us, stronger than our helpers.”
Evidently, he feels the need to justify it, but it was moving further and further back.
Interesting, isn’t it?