THE Daily News, commenting on the fact that certain children have been baptized by Miss Maude Royden at the City Temple, tells us that the status of women in matters ecclesiastical is advancing. This point we shall not discuss. The fact, however, has for us a different interest. Apparently Miss Royden, who claims to be a Churchwoman, usurped the functions of the incumbent of the parish. If the children baptized had been in weak health, she would have been, as a Churchwoman, completely justified in what she did. But the fact that they were taken to the City Temple was proof of their vigour. The interesting point in the matter is that the descendants of the old Puritans, the heirs of the Millenary petitioners, have allowed a woman to administer this sacrament. The rule of the Catholic Church on the matter is clear. The proper person to administer the sacrament is the parish priest; but in case of necessity a layman or laywoman may baptize. It is true that the language in the rubrics as altered in 1662 has seemed to some to be ambiguous on the point. Great divines have said of lay baptism in our Communion: “Fieri non delet; factum valet.” There is, however, no doubt that baptism by a woman, assuming the right form and matter to be used, is valid, according to the teaching alike of the whole Catholic Church and of the Church of England. Whether it is expedient except in case of necessity is a different question, which it is needless here to discuss. But the position of the Puritans, of the spiritual ancestors of the congregation of the City Temple, was very different. . . This is a confession by the modern Nonconformists before the world that on one of the points on which the Nonconformity of the 17th century broke from the Church it was ludicrously in error.
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