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Chapter LXII.—Constantine’s Appeal to the Bishops, requesting them to confer upon him the Rite of Baptism.

The time is arrived which I have long hoped for, with an earnest desire and prayer that I might obtain the salvation of God. The hour is come in which I too may have the blessing of that seal which confers immortality; the hour in which I may receive the seal of salvation. I had thought to do this in the waters of the river Jordan, wherein our Saviour, for our example, is recorded to have been baptized: but God, who knows what is expedient for us, is pleased that I should receive this blessing here. Be it so, then, without delay:33593359    Or “no hesitation.” On this clause a deal of controversy has hinged. “No hesitation shall longer prevail” is the rendering of Molz., and Keim (Uebertritt C. p. 1) similarly gives “let all duplicity be banished.” In the view of this translation, Constantine had been hedging all his life, trying to be Christian to Christians and heathen to heathen. The basis of the hypothesis is too slight for it to have any weight in view of the overwhelming documentary evidence of the frequent public professions of Christianity by Constantine, for which see Prolegomena, under Character. Discussion of various points relating to his baptism will be found under Literature, under the names Busæus, Castelli, Dalhus, Frimelius Fuhrmann, Guidi, Halloix, Hynitzsch, Jacobus of Sarug, Nicolai, Polus, Schelstrate, Scultetus, Tentzel, Walther, Withof. for should it be his will who is Lord of life and death, that my existence here should be prolonged, and should I be destined henceforth to associate with the people of God, and unite with them in prayer as a member of his Church, I will prescribe to myself from this time such a course of life as befits his service.” After he had thus spoken, the prelates performed the sacred ceremonies in the usual manner, and, having given him the necessary instructions, made him a partaker of the mystic ordinance. Thus was Constantine the first of all sovereigns who was regenerated and perfected in a church dedicated to the martyrs of Christ; thus gifted with the Divine seal of baptism, he rejoiced in spirit, was renewed, and filled with heavenly light: his soul was gladdened by reason of the fervency of his faith, and astonished at the manifestation of the power of God. At the conclusion of the ceremony he arrayed himself in shining imperial vestments, brilliant as the light,33603360    [It was customary for neophytes to wear white garments, which they laid aside on the eighth day from their baptism.—Bag.] and reclined on a couch of the purest white, refusing to clothe himself with the purple any more.


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