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baptism. For the adult no less than for the infant, the 'whole society of the saints and the faithful' is integrally involved in the process of salvation -which is precisely why a heretical or schismatic community can perform a proper baptism, without being able to sustain the one thus baptised along the arduous pilgrimage of the Christian life.66 These supporting links within the community are indispensable. Consequently, the claims made on behalf of the infant by the sponsors are taken very seriously indeed. In fact, there is evidence for a strong presumption that the vows of the sponsor are binding upon the newly baptised Christian, even when that Christian matures to adulthood-and that, well before any form of ritual confirmation is attested.67 In all these cases, what emerges is the possibility of the community in general (and the sponsors and celebrants in particular) acting on behalf of children who could not act for themselves.

One of the factors that led to increased prominence for baptising infants during this time was surely that it neatly complemented another favoured cause: the struggle against postponing baptism. Noteworthy men had often delayed seeking baptism. Perhaps the most conspicuous was the emperor Constan-tine, whose decision Eusebius characterised as a way of taking very seriously the ritual purity conferred by the event.68 He may have been right. But there is no reason to doubt that many other Roman men were likely motivated by pragmatic concerns; they postponed baptism in order to manage competing loyalties.69 And yet, at the same time, there is no reason to doubt that people could sincerely hold to such a belief, which in itself is a perfectly comprehensible and indeed pious attitude toward the life-changing event. It seems entirely probable that numerous catechumens shared in this belief. For similar reasons, the scions of pious Christian families (or at least devout Christian mothers!) were sometimes not baptised until the heat of youth had abated; one thinks of

66 See Augustine, Letter 98.5 (CSEL 342: 526-7).

67 See Cassian, Incarnation 6.3-23 (CSEL 17: 327-51), where he exposits the baptismal creed of Antioch and challenges Nestorius to remain true to it - even if it were recited by sponsors on his behalf as a child: for this rhetoric to have any effect at all, Cassian must have supposed most people would think the sponsors' vows obliged the child even into adulthood. A comparable argument against an unnamed opponent is found in Mark the Monk, On the incarnation 40 (SC 455: 298).

68 Eusebius, Life of Constantine 4.61-4; see further the discussion by Averil Cameron and Stuart G. Hall in Eusebius. Life of Constantine, 340-1. Jacob of Sarug's 'On the baptism of Constantine' (ed. Frothingham) indirectly emphasises the (ritual) purification ofbaptism by drawing on a legend about Constantine being leprous.

69 Thus, Peter Brown, The body and society, 342 - with references to the Council of Elvira, canon 45 (in F. Lauchert, ed., Die Kanones der wichtigsten altkirchlien Concilien, 20) and to Augustine, Divjak letters 2.4.1-7 and 7.4 (CSEL 88: 11-12, 14): 'O Firmus, so infirm in purpose . . .'

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