This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
ENERALLY the baptism of children forms a part of the morning services of the church, after the opening prayer, the first hymn, and the responsive reading of selections from the Psalms. The minister coming from the pulpit into the chancel, the parents, guardians, godfathers and godmothers (if there are any) range themselves before him, with the child, or children, uncovered, in front of the baptismal font. Then the minister addresses the congregation:
Dearly Beloved: You have heard in the Gospel the words of our Saviour, commanding children to be brought to him; how he blamed all those who would have kept them from him; how he exhorts all men to follow innocency as little children. You perceive how by his outward conduct and gentle words, he declared his good-will toward them; for he took them into his arms, laid his hands upon them and blessed them. You are not to doubt, therefore, but earnestly believe, that he will likewise favorably receive these infants now presented here for baptism; that he will embrace them with the arms of his love and mercy; that he will make them partakers of his everlasting kingdom.
Being thus persuaded, let us de-voutly return thanks:
Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, we thank Thee that Thou hast brought us to a certain knowledge of the truth, and that Thou wilt make these children inheritor? of eternal life. We pray Thee to increase in us knowledge. Bestow upon these infants Thy heavenly blessing, and enable them by Thy grace to overcome evil and to accept Thee for their best friend, Saviour, counselor and guide, following Thee in all wisdom, humility and obedience. Bless these parents and guardians, and help them by Thy grace and Spirit to bring up these children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, so that both parents and children may be united to Thee on earth and together enjoy the pleasures of the world to come. Amen.
Naming each one separately and distinctly, as he comes to it, the minister, who usually baptizes by sprinkling water upon the child's head, says:
(Naming it), I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
When all have been baptized, the minister addresses the parents and guardians as follows:
ON certain days throughout the year, it is customary, in most churches, to baptize those children that may be presented by their parents. At that time, in commemoration of the occasion, it is usual to decorate the church beautifully with flowers. The view here displayed shows the position taken before the altar by the fathers and mothers, as they present their little ones for the reception of this very beautiful ordinance. As will be seen, when standing before the clergyman, the husband or godfather stands at the right of the lady.
Beloved: The children of our love should come to us as blessings, gathering like "olive-plants about our table," living "well-springs of pleasure " in our homes. Yet while we enjoy their presence, their winning ways, their loving smiles and innocent amusements, we should never forget our responsibility in bringing them into this world, nor the duty which their coming imposes upon us. From the moment that they enter into our households, until they go hence in the strength of manhood and womanhood, upon us rests the burden of preparing them for good and useful lives.
Not only have we to provide, day by day, for their bodily needs, their comfort and their education, but a heavier responsibility rests upon us of instilling into their innocent minds the principles of virtue and truth. The wisest man that ever lived has left it on record for our instruction that if we " train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it." Thus much for our encouragement to teach the right thing in the right way; to guide the young to do the right and avoid the wrong; to lead them in the paths of moral integrity, to respect the rights of others, and to become sober, industrious, honest, polite and trustworthy men and women.
In accordance with our religion, we may - nay, we should - devote ourselves to this service, believing that the Divine blessing attends the proper instruction of an infant soul. Therefore, by this act of baptism, we to-day consecrate them to the cause of truth and purity, believing that with the blessing of heaven upon our endeavors they may become happy and prosperous, and be helpful to others who are not so. In the water which we place upon their foreheads we behold the representative of that purity and innocency which we would preserve in their existence.
And to you who have brought these children into being, and have presented them at this altar, we look for the solemn promise that as your circumstances permit, will you follow the injunction to lead them carefully in wisdom's ways, always having their best interests, spiritual and moral, as well as physical and mental, at heart, encouraging them in seeking after truth and embracing it; by your example, also, teaching them to live aright? Answer - We will.
We, therefore, welcome these little ones into the visible and corporate church of Christ on earth. Then follows a brief prayer. Parents and children then retire, and the regular service proceeds.