When any such person as is of riper years and able to answer for himself is to be baptized, the Minister shall instruct such person, or cause him to be instructed, in the principles of the Christian religion, and exhort him so to prepare himself with prayers and fasting that he may receive this Holy Sacrament with repentance and faith.
At least a week before any such baptism is to take place, the Minister shall give notice thereof to the Bishop of the Diocese or whomsoever he shall appoint for the purpose.
The person to be baptized shall choose three, or at least two, to be his sponsors, who shall be ready to present him at the Font and afterwards put him in mind of his Christian profession and duties. No person shall be admitted to be a sponsor who has not been baptized and confirmed. Nevertheless the Minister shall have power to dispense with the requirement of confirmation in any case in which in his judgement need so requires.
At the time appointed, the sponsors shall be ready to present the person to be baptized at the Font, and standing there the Priest shall ask whether the person presented be baptized or no, and if he shall answer, No, then shall the Priest say thus.
Dearly beloved, forasmuch as all men are conceived and born in sin, (and that which is born of the flesh is flesh,) and they that are in the flesh cannot please God, but live in sin, committing many actual transgressions; and that our Saviour Christ saith, none can enter into the kingdom of God, except he be regenerate and born anew of Water and of the Holy Ghost; I beseech you to call upon God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that of his bounteous goodness he will grant to these persons that which by nature they cannot have; that they may be baptized with Water and the Holy Ghost, and received into Christ's holy Church, and be made lively members of the same.
Then shall the Priest say,
Let us pray.
(And here all the Congregation shall kneel.)
Almighty and everlasting God, who of thy great mercy didst save Noah and his family in the ark from perishing by water; and also didst safely lead the children of Israel thy people through the Red Sea, figuring thereby thy holy Baptism; and by the Baptism of thy well-beloved Son Jesus Christ, in the river Jordan, didst sanctify the element of water to the mystical washing away of sin: We beseech thee, for thine infinite mercies, that thou wilt mercifully look upon these thy servants; wash them and sanctify them with the Holy Ghost; that they, being delivered from thy wrath, may be received into the ark of Christ's Church; and being stedfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in charity, may so pass the waves of this troublesome world, that finally they may come to the land of everlasting life, there to reign with thee world without end, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Almighty and immortal God, the aid of all that need, the helper of all that flee to thee for succour, the life of them that believe, and the resurrection of the dead: We call upon thee for these persons, that they, coming to thy holy Baptism, may receive remission of their sins by spiritual regeneration. Receive them, O Lord: and as thou hast promised by thy well-beloved Son, saying, Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: So give now unto us that ask; let us that seek find; open the gate unto us that knock; that these persons may enjoy the everlasting benediction of thy heavenly washing, and may come to the eternal kingdom which thou hast promised by Christ our Lord. Amen.
Then shall the people stand up, and the Priest shall say,
Hear the words of the Gospel, written by Saint John in the third chapter, beginning at the first verse.
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof; but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
After which he shall say this exhortation following.
Beloved, ye hear in this Gospel the express words of our Saviour Christ, that except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Whereby ye may perceive the great necessity of this Sacrament, where it may be had. Likewise, immediately before his ascension into heaven, (as we read in the last chapter of Saint Mark's Gospel,) he gave command to his disciples, saying, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Which also sheweth unto us the great benefit we reap thereby. For which cause Saint Peter the Apostle, when upon his first preaching of the Gospel many were pricked at the heart, and said to him and the rest of the Apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? replied and said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is to you and your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words exhorted he them, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. For (as the same Apostle testifieth in another place) even Baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Doubt ye not therefore, but earnestly believe, that he will favourably receive these present persons, truly repenting, and coming unto him by faith; that he will grant them remission of their sins, and bestow upon them the Holy Ghost; that he will give them the blessing of eternal life, and make them partakers of his everlasting kingdom. Wherefore we being thus persuaded of the good will of our heavenly Father towards these persons, declared by his Son Jesus Christ; let us faithfully and devoutly give thanks to him, and say,
Almighty and everlasting God, heavenly Father, we give thee humble thanks, for that thou hast vouchsafed to call us to the knowledge of thy grace and faith in thee: Increase this knowledge, and confirm this faith in us evermore. Give thy Holy Spirit to these persons, that they may be born again, and be made heirs of everlasting salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
Then the Priest shall speak to the persons to be baptized on this wise.
Well-Beloved, who are come hither desiring to receive holy Baptism, ye have heard how the Congregation hath prayed that our Lord Jesus Christ would vouchsafe to receive you and bless you, to release you of your sins, to give you the kingdom of heaven and everlasting life. Ye have heard also that our Lord Jesus Christ hath promised in his holy Word, to grant all those things that we have prayed for; which promise he, for his part, will most surely keep and perform. Wherefore, after this promise made by Christ, ye must also faithfully, for your part, promise in the presence of these your witnesses, and this whole Congregation, that ye will renounce the devil and all his works, and constantly believe God's holy Word, and obediently keep his commandments.
Then shall the Priest demand of each of the persons to be baptized, severally, these Questions following.
Question.Dost thou renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the carnal desires of the flesh, so that thou wilt not follow nor be led by them?
Answer.I renounce them all.
Question.Dost thou believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth?
And in Jesus Christ his only-begotten Son our Lord? And that he was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; that he suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; that he went down into hell, and also did rise again the third day; that he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; and from thence shall come again at the end of the world, to judge the quick and the dead?
And dost thou believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Catholick Church; the Communion of Saints; the Remission of sins; the Resurrection of the flesh; and everlasting life after death?
Answer.All this I stedfastly believe.
Question.Wilt thou be baptized in this faith?
Answer.That is my desire.
Question.Wilt thou then obediently keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of thy life?
Answer.I will endeavour so to do, God being my helper.
Then shall the Priest say,
O merciful God, grant that the old Adam in these persons may be so buried, that the new man may be raised up in them. Amen.
Grant that all carnal affections may die in them, and that all things belonging to the Spirit may live and grow in them. Amen.
Grant that they may have power and strength, to have victory, and to triumph against the devil, the world, and the flesh. Amen.
Grant that they, being here dedicated to thee by our office and ministry, may also be endued with heavenly virtues, and everlastingly rewarded, through thy mercy, O blessed Lord God, who dost live, and govern all things, world without end. Amen.
Almighty everliving God, whose most dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of our sins, did shed out of his most precious side both water and blood; and gave commandment to his disciples, that they should go teach all nations, and baptize them in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: Regard, we beseech thee, the supplications of this Congregation; sanctify this Water to the mystical washing away of sin; and grant that the persons now to be baptized therein may receive the fulness of thy grace, and ever remain in the number of thy faithful and elect children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Then shall the Priest take each person to be baptized by the right hand, and placing him conveniently by the Font, according to his discretion, shall ask the Godfathers and Godmothers the Name; and then shall dip him in the water, or pour water upon him, saying,
N. I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Then shall the Priest say,
We receive this person into the Congregation of Christ's flock; and *do sign him with the sign of the Cross, in token that hereafter he shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his banner against sin, the world, and the devil, and to continue Christ's faithful soldier and servant unto his life's end. Amen.
*Here the Priest shall make a Cross upon the person's forehead.
Then shall the Priest say,
Seeing now, dearly beloved brethren, that these persons are regenerate and grafted into the body of Christ's Church, let us give thanks unto Almighty God for these benefits, and with one accord make our prayers unto him, that they may lead the rest of their life according to this beginning.
Then shall be said the Lord's Prayer, all kneeling.
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.
We yield thee humble thanks, O heavenly Father, that thou hast vouchsafed to call us to the knowledge of thy grace and faith in thee; Increase this knowledge, and confirm this faith in us evermore. Give thy Holy Spirit to these persons; that, being now born again, and made heirs of everlasting salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ, they may continue thy servants, and attain thy promises; through the same Lord Jesus Christ thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, everlastingly. Amen.
Then, all standing up, the Priest shall use this exhortation following; speaking to the Godfathers and Godmothers first.
Forasmuch as these persons have promised in your presence to renounce the devil and all his works, to believe in God, and to serve him: Ye must remember that it is your part and duty to put them in mind, what a solemn vow, promise, and profession they have now made before this Congregation, and especially before you their chosen witnesses. And ye are also to call upon them to use all diligence to be rightly instructed in God's holy Word; that so they may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and live godly, righteously, and soberly in this present world.
(And then, speaking to the new baptized persons, he shall proceed, and say,)
And as for you, who have now by Baptism put on Christ, it is your part and duty also, being made the children of God and of the light by faith in Jesus Christ, to walk answerably to your Christian calling, and as becometh the children of light; remembering always, that Baptism representeth unto us our profession; which is, to follow the example of our Saviour Christ, and to be made like unto him; that as he died and rose again for us, so should we, who are baptized, die from sin and rise again unto righteousness, continually mortifying all our evil and corrupt affections, and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living.
It is expedient that every person, thus baptized, should be confirmed by the Bishop so soon after his Baptism as conveniently may be; that so he may be admitted to the holy Communion.
If any persons not baptized in their infancy shall be brought to be baptized before they come to years of discretion to answer for themselves; it may suffice to use the Office for Publick Baptism of Infants, or (in case of extreme danger) the Office for Private Baptism; only changing the word [Infant] for [Child or Person] as occasion requireth.
Text from The Book of Common Prayer, the rights in which are vested in the Crown,
is reproduced by permission of the Crown's Patentee, Cambridge University Press.