Page images
PDF
EPUB

but my remarks have already been too much extended, and I must bring them to a close. Whenever Syria, Palestine, and Arabia, especially the region of the Dead Sea, shall be examined by a scientific geologist, I have no doubt that so many facts will be brought to bear upon the theory of Voltaic agency having been the means employed by the Almighty, in the destruction of the cities of the plain, as to place it beyond all reasonable doubt. Indeed, in the present state of our knowledge, no other theory can be reconciled with the Scripture account of the catastrophe, and the facts already ascertained. If I have aided, in any degree, in throwing light on a subject which, it seems to me, has been involved in unnecessary doubt and mystery, the object of the present essay will have been attained.

New-York, Feb. Ist, 1840.

ARTICLE V.

BAPTISM:—THE IMPORT OF Bortiça.

By Rev. Edward Beecher, President of Ilinois College, Jacksonville, Illinois.

. [Concluded from page 66.]

§ 14. In Heb. 9: 10, a fair view of the scope and connexion of 1 the passage requires Boatiquoi to be used as synonymous with καθαρισμοι.

In this case the word does not indeed relate to the ordinance of Christian Baptism, but to Mosaic purifications. Yet it is still a religious use of the word ; moreover it is applied with reference to those very usages, of which I have spoken, as adapted to cause the word Bantisw to pass from its original, to the secondary sense, to purify. Hence it is an example of great weight in the case, and, as might have been expected, it has been strongly contested. But with how little reason I shall endeavor to show.

The scope of chapters 8, 9 and 10, is to show that the purifications, legal and moral, provided by Christ for the conscience and the heart, had, in themselves, a real efficacy, and were, therefore, entirely superior to those of the Mosaic dispensation, which related only to the body, and could produce no purity but such as was merely external and symbolical. Let now the following things be noticed.

1. Those things only are spoken of in the whole discussion, which have a reference to action on the worshippersthat is, the whole passage relates to the effects of the Mosaic ritual entirely on persons, and not on things. The gifts, the sacrifices, the blood of sprinkling, the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, all relate to persons.

2. The Bantiquor are spoken of as enjoined, as well as the other rites. But of persons, no immersions at all are en. joined under the Mosaic ritual. As this fact does not seem to have been noticed, as it ought, and as many assume the . contrary, it is necessary to furnish the proof of this assertion,

It lies in this fact, that no washing of persons is ever enjoined by the word 320, to immerse, even in a single instance, nor by any word that denotes immersion—but as I think without exception by the word yoy, which denotes to wash or purify, without any reference to mode.

Those who read the English version might suppose that, where the direction to bathe occurs, immersion is enjoined ; but in every such case the original denotes only to wash.

I do not deny that where the washing of the body, or of the flesh, or of all the flesh is enjoined, it would probably be done, if most convenient, by immersion or bathing. But I affirm that there is no washing of the person enjoined in the whole ritual, which could not be performed wherever there was water enough to wash the body all over, in any way, even though bathing or immersion was out of the question. Why should it not be so ? Could Moses suppose that at all times, and in all circumstances, while in the desert, during journeys, at home and abroad, every man who became unclean, in various and numerous ways specified in the rit. ual, would be able to bathe or to immerse himself ? Even when best supplied with the means of bathing it could not be expected, that every family, rich or poor, and however situated, would be able to have a private bath. Nor could it be expected, that every running stream or rivulet would SECOND SERIES, VOL. III. NO. II.

9

be deep enough to bathe in. But such was the benign regard of God to all these possible contingencies, that he did not enjoin immersion at all; but only a total washing, such as could be performed in any brook, or running stream-or in any suitable vessel at home.

If any doubt whether this is the true view of the import of pon, let him take a Hebrew Concordance and trace it through the whole of the Old Testament, and he will have abundant proof. He will find it used to denote the washing of any thing, in any way,--of the feet, the hands, the face, the body, or the mind. Its translation in the Septuagint denotes how wide its range of meaning is ;-for it is at one time dova, at another vinto, and at another nāvvw, just as circumstances may seem to require. If ever it is applied in cases where bathing was probably performed, the idea depends not at all on the word, but on the circumstances of the case. So a Baptist writer thinks that, in the case of Pharaoh's daughter, Ex. 2: 5, the word denotes bathing. It may be true that the daughter of Pharaoh did, as a matter of fact, bathe herself,— but all our evidence of it lies in the fact, that she went down to the Nile, and not at all in the word yan, and therefore our translators have very properly rendered it wash.

I would quote passages to illustrate all these assertions, did not the proof lie so plainly on the surface of the whole usage of the word that I do not suppose any one, who has investigated the subject, will think of denying it. Let any one, who desires to see a specimen of proof, examine, in the original, Gen. 18: 4, and 43: 31, Lev. 14: 9, Ex. 29: 17, Is. 4: 4, Ps. 26: 6 and 73: 13, Is. 1: 16.

Nor is the washing of the clothes, so often spoken of, enjoined by a word denoting immersion. In all such cases,

az is used, which denotes merely to wash, a word commonly confined to the washing of clothes. But it is sometimes also applied to the washing of the mind, as in Ps. 51: 4, 9, (English version Ps. 51: 2, 7,) Jer. 4: 14, Jer. 2: 22.

It is perfectly plain therefore, that, whatever was the practice of the Jews, no immersions of the person were en* joined, and the whole Mosaic ritual, as to personal ablution, could be fulfilled to the letter, without a single immersion. I do not doubt that immersions were common, but nothing but washings of the body was enjoined—and immersions

fulfilled the law, not because they were immersions, but solely because they were washings. Of course, as pmhad only the sense to wash, even in case of bathing, Pantico would tend to the same.

3. Even where immersion was convenient, and, a priori, probable, it was not deemed essential to complete and thorough purification, or to an entire washing of the body. This I infer from the account given in Tobit 6: 2, of the washing of the young man. We are told that he went down to the river-To de toidudlov xoteßn--for what? To immerse himself of course, the advocates of immersion will reply. Whole volumes of argument, as we all know, depend on going down to a river. But, how was it ? did he go down to immerse himself ? Hear the writer: xateľn nepixavonoidi. He went down to wash himself all around, -just as a man stands in a stream and throws the water all over his body, and washes himself by friction ; a mode of washing much more thorough than a mere immersion, and corresponding much more nearly to the import of the word yon.

Let it not be supposed that I regard this as an actual fact. The story may be true or false, and yet be equally in point to illustrate the ideas of the age, in which the writer lived. If he was a Jew, as all admit, and was writing of Jews, it is enough. He would of course write in accordance with the views of his day. He may indeed, after his ntapixàvois, have immersed himself, and very probably he did. But he did not go down for an immersion,but for such a washing as could be performed in any stream, even though immersion was out of the question. I regard the incidental testimony of a case like this, as of far more worth than the formal testimony of the Rabbis of a later age, as to the importance attached, by the Jews, to immersion, which learned writers have so copiously adduced. For the testimony of later Jews, as to the times preceding the fall of Jerusalem, needs to be received with much doubt and suspicion. But on an incidental statement of this kind, of so early a date, no reasonable suspicion can rest.

4. The only immersions enjoined in the Mosaic law were immersions of things to which no reference can be had here,

-as vessels, sacks, skins, etc. In this case no act was performed, that had any tendency to affect the worshipper, but only the thing immersed.' But in all this passage,

nce not the mofthen and dinane

Paul regards the ritual with reference to its effects on the worshipper. In v. 9, he says, that these rites could not make the worshipper, tov IQTQevOVTA, perfect, as to the conscience. In v. 10, he assigns the reason why. They consisted only in services which could affect the body, δικαιωμασι σαρκος and these related to meats and drinks, and divers purifications. The xot, before dixdimuQOL odoxos, ought to be omitted, as it is by Griesbach and others;-so that those words shall not denote other ordinances, but stand in apposition to Bowuool and nouaol, and diagogois Pontiquois, to denote the imperfection of them all, because they affect the body alone and not the mind. Hence it is perfectly plain that no reference can be had here to the immersions of inanimate things, but only to the purifications of persons. Indeed the whole scope of the passage forbids the idea of such immersions. What could any one think that the immersion of vessels of earth, or wood, had to do with purifying the conscience or the heart of a worshipper? A washing of the body, or a sprinkling of blood, or of the ashes of a heifer might seem to purify the unclean- but not surely the immersion of vessels of earth or wood, or of sacks and skins. To refer here, then, to such things, is totally unnatural, and entirely out of the train of thought.

5. Besides, the purifications of the person are diagopol, diverse, various ;- but the immersions of things are not, either in act, or circumstances, or end. If vessels, or things became unclean, in the cases specified, they were all immersed, and all alike—and all for the same end. What various immersions here?

On the other hand the purifications of men were exceed. ingly numerous and of various kinds. Some were legal and sacrificial, relating to the atonement, and made by blood. Others were moral, relating to regeneration and purity of heart, as symbolized, soinetimes by various kinds of washing, and at other times by sprinkling. To all these various kinds, reference is had in the context. Purification by blood, in ch. 9: 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, and ch. 10: 1, 2—and in numerous other places. Purification by water, and by sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, ch. 9: 13, and 10: 22. Why should the Apostle leave purifications so various and numerous as these, and so entirely in point, and speak of a simple regulation as to the immersion of cups and vessels

« PreviousContinue »