CHRISTIAN people are in agreement in understanding that the New Testament teaches baptism, although there is a great diversity and confusion of thought respecting its mode and significance.

The great falling away from the faith, alluded to by the apostles in the New Testament, had gained such headway by the second century that very superstitious views respecting baptism had gained control in the nominal church by that time. Water baptism was supposed not only to bring the subject into relationship with God by canceling past sins, but also to bring to him certain graces or favors from God as a member of the Church of Christ which could not otherwise be secured. Hence, at that early day, not only did believers seek baptism for themselves, but also for their children; and because infants could neither believe nor enter into covenant promises for themselves, an arrangement was made by which other than the parents might become sponsors for such children–“spiritual parents.” They solemnly promised that the children should believe in the Lord and walk in his ways, and obligated themselves to see to their religious training. These were called godfathers and godmothers.

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