The church of Tyre described by Eusebius (H.E. x. 4) seems to have had a font, and the church order of Macarius, bishop of Jerusalem (c. 311-335), orders the font to be placed in the same building as the altar, behind it and on the right hand; but the same order lays down that a font is not essential in cases of illness for "the Holy Spirit is not hindered by want of a vessel."

2. Status of Baptizer. - Ignatius (Smyrn. viii.) wrote that it is not lawful to baptize or hold an agapē (Lord's Supper) without the bishop. So Tertullian (de Bapt. xvii.) reserves the right of admitting to baptism and of conferring it to the summus sacerdos or bishop, Cyprian (Epist. lxxiii. 7) to bishops and priests. Later canons continued this restriction; and although in outlying parts of Christendom deacons claimed the right, the official churches accorded it to presbyters alone and none but bishops could perform the confirmation or seal. In the Montanist churches women baptized, and of this there are traces in the earliest church and in the Caucasus. Thus St Thekla baptized herself in her own blood, and St Nino, the female evangelist of Georgia, baptized king Mirian (see "Life of Nino," Studia Biblica, 1903). In cases of imminent death a layman or a woman could baptize, and in the case of new-born children it is often necessary.

3. Immersion or Aspersion. - The Didachē bids us "pour water on the head," and Christian pictures and sculptures ranging from the 1st to the 10th century represent the baptizand as standing in the water, while the baptizer pours water from his hand or from a bowl over his head. Even if we allow for the difficulty of representing complete submersion in art, it is nevertheless clear that it was not insisted on; nor were the earliest fonts, to judge from the ruins of them, large and deep enough for such an usage. The earliest literary notices of baptism are far from conclusive in favour of submersion, and are often to be regarded as merely rhetorical. The rubrics of the MSS., it is true, enjoin total immersion, but it only came into general vogue in the 7th century, "when the growing rarity of adult baptism made the Gr. word βαπτίζω) patient of an interpretation that suited that of infants only."[2] The Key of Truth, the manual of the old Armenian Baptists, archaically prescribes that the penitent admitted into the church shall advance on his knees into the middle of the water and that the elect one or bishop shall then pour water over his head.

4. Exorcism. - The Didachē and Justin merely prescribe fasting, the use of which was to hurry the exit of evil spirits who, in choosing a nidus or tenement, preferred a well-fed body to an emaciated one, according to the belief embodied in the interpolated saying of Matt. xvii. 21: "This kind (of demon) goeth not forth except by prayer and fasting." The exorcisms tended to become longer and longer, the later the rite. The English prayer-book excludes them, as it also excludes the renunciation of the devil and all his angels, his pomps and works. These elements were old, but scarcely primitive; and the archaic rite of the Key of Truth (see Paulicians) is without them. Basil, in his work On the Holy Spirit, confesses his ignorance of how these and other features of his baptismal rite had originated. He instances the blessing of the water of baptism, of the oil of anointing and of the baptizand himself, the use of anointing him with oil, trine immersion, the formal renunciation of Satan and his angels.

All these features, he says, had been handed down in an unpublished and unspoken teaching, in a silent and sacramental tradition.

5. The Baptismal Formula. - The trinitarian formula and trine immersion were not uniformly used from the beginning, nor did they always go together. The Teaching of the Apostles, indeed, prescribes baptism in the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but on the next page speaks of those who have been baptized into the name of the Lord - the normal formula of the New Testament. In the 3rd century baptism in the name of Christ was still so widespread that Pope Stephen, in opposition to Cyprian of Carthage, declared it to be valid. From Pope Zachariah (Ep. x.) we learn that the Celtic missionaries in baptizing omitted one or more persons of the Trinity, and this was one of the reasons why the church of Rome anathematized them; Pope Nicholas, however (858-867), in the Responsa ad consulta Bulgarorum, allowed baptism to be valid tantum in nomine Christi, as in the Acts. Basil, in his work On the Holy Spirit just mentioned, condemns "baptism into the Lord alone" as insufficient. Baptism "into the death of Christ" is often specified by the Armenian fathers as that which alone was essential.

Ursinus, an African monk (in Gennad. de Scr. Eccl. xxvii.), Hilary (de Synodis, lxxxv.), the synod of Nemours (A.D. 1284), also asserted that baptism into the name of Christ alone was valid. The formula of Rome is, "I baptize thee in the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit." In the East, "so-and-so, the servant of God, is baptized," etc. The Greeks add Amen after each person, and conclude with the words, "Now and ever and to aeons of aeons, amen."

We first find in Tertullian trine immersion explained from the triple invocation, Nam nec semel, sed ter, ad singula nomina in personas singulas tinguimur: "Not once, but thrice, for the several names, into the several persons, are we dipped" (adv. Prax. xxvi.). And Jerome says: "We are thrice plunged, that the one sacrament of the Trinity may be shown forth." On the other hand, in numerous fathers of East and West, e.g. Leo of Rome, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Theophylactus, Cyril of Jerusalem and others, trine immersion was regarded as being symbolic of the three days' entombment of Christ; and in the Armenian baptismal rubric this interpretation is enjoined, as also in an epistle of Macarius of Jerusalem addressed to the Armenians (c. 330). In Armenian writers this interpretation is further associated with the idea of baptism into the death of Christ.