« PreviousContinue »
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 latgevorta, perfect, as to the conscience. In v. 10, he assigns the reason why. They consisted only in services which could affect the body, dizaiMUQOI GOLOXOS — and these related to meats and drinks, and divers purifications. The xai, before dixclouCOL odpxos, 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 Bomuaor and nouncoi, and diogopois Bantiouois, 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 exceedingly 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
etc., things altogether foreign to the scope of the passage, as διαφοροι βαπτισμοι, that were unable to make perfect the worshipper? No man who had not a theory to support could bring himself to do such violence to all the laws of interpretation in a case so plain.
6. Το conclude,-to give βαπτισμοι the sense καθαρισμοι, fits the word to include all the kinds of purification spoken of in the context. For, as we have seen, xacoito has an established legal and sacrificial use, in all cases of atone. ment by blood. And we have also seen Bonusw standing in relations of the same kind. Now in this passage the idea of purification by blood greatly predominates, as may be seen by examining the passages just referred to; and yet the idea of moral purification is also most clearly presented to . the mind;-and no sense but the one assigned gives the word the scope necessary to take in both kinds. But that does, and it ihus fully meets all the exigencies of the case. It is a sense fully to the purpose of Paul; it is natural, sim. ple, easy, obvious, and gives a richness and fullness to all his ideas. The idea of immersions is out of the scope and spirit of the passage ;-it is forced and unnatural : it is unfitted for the purposes of Paul, and narrows down his ideas to topics totally foreign to the subject, and has but one solitary advantage-it aids in escaping an unwelcome result.
What evidence is there against all this mass of presumptive reasoning? Does any previous probability, any law of language or of the mind, any thing in the context demand the idea of immersions? Nothing of this kind. All is the other way. The meaning claimed is highly probable, a priori, and the whole scope of the passage tends to establish it. By all laws of sound philology, then, it is here the sense.
In Mark 7: 4, 8, and in Luke 11: 38, xc00015w is the natural and obvious sense of pantığa, and xabagiquos of Bantuuos.
1. This sense fulfils perfectly all the exigencies of the passages. I know indeed that it is said by some, that in Mark there is a rise in the idea from the lesser washing of the hands, which was common before all meals, to the greater
washing implied in the immersion of the body after coming from the market. But on the other hand, there is simply a rise from the specific to the general and indefinite. They always wash their hands before meals, and when they return from market they also purify themselves, (as the nature of the case may require,) before they eat. In the latter case, Bloomfield remarks, it denotes a washing of the body, but not an immersion. The sense, xalupiša, also more naturally suggests the reply of Christ in Luke. Now do ye Pharisees make clean, xaboitete, the outside of the cup, and the platter, etc.—where puntığw seems to suggest xadapibw. I admit indeed that the object of immersion might suggest the same idea. But such associations of thought are more likely, the more obvious the similarity in the meaning of the words. But, not to rely on this, I remark,
2. Nothing in the context demands the sense, immerse, and powerful reasons forbid it.
All must confess that purification is the only idea involved in the subject of thought. Now it is no more likely that a want of immersion offended the Pharisee, Luke 11: 38, in the case of Christ, than it is that this was the ground of offence in the case of the disciples, Mark 7. It does not appear that Christ had been to the market. Nor is it likely at all that an immersion was expected, as a matter of course, before every meal, even on coming from a crowd. The offence, in the case of the disciples, was that they had not washed their hands. An immersion was not expected of them, though they had been in crowds. Why should it be of Christ?
Rosenmuller, on this passage, well remarks, that the existence of any such custom of regular immersion, before all meals, cannot be proved. And the opinions and statements of Jewish writers, in after ages, are of very little weight. The case narrated in Tobit has, in my mind, more weight, in throwing light on actual opinions, than a host of such more modern writers. It teaches us clearly that, even in cases where it was possible, they attached no peculiar importance to the form of immersion, and thought only of a suitable washing. How much more is this likely to be true of a purification, which the Pharisee seemed to expect, as a matter of course,
before But above all, the immersion of the couches on which they
every meal ?
reclined at meals is out of the question. That this is the meaning of %ivov here, the whole context shows, and all impartial critics allow ; and these were large enough for them to recline upon, at their ease. And are we to believe that the Pharisees, and all the Jews, were in the habit of immersing these, just to avoid the inference that Bantiw means to purify? What if remarkable instances of superstition, in particular sects, can be pointed out ? Is it likely that a whole nation, all the Jews, ever held to a practice like this? That they should purify them with various and uncommanded rites is altogether probable. But that they should immerse them is totally incredible.
Mr. Carson seems to feel this point keenly, and yet manfully maintains his ground. He says that he will maintain an immersion until its impossibility is proved, and suggests that the couches might be so made as to be taken to pieces for this end! He has proved, he says, the meaning of the word,--the Holy Ghost affirms that the couches were immersed,- and to call this absurd, is to charge the Holy Ghost with uttering an absurdity ;-and he is filled with horror at the thought, and warns his opponents to beware of so fearful a crime, and he has a long dissertation on the infidel and Unitarian tendencies of allowing difficulties to shake our faith in the assertions of God. But what is all this to the point? The question is not, Will we believe that the couches were immersed if the Holy Ghost says so?—but this, Has he said so? And what has Mr. Carson proved ? Why truly that, in other instances, Bantitw means immerse. But does this prove that it means so here? Does it even create a probability that it does ? Not at all. The probability, as we have shown, is all the other way. Hence the demand to prove an impossibility of immersion is altogether unreasonable. And it is against his own practice in other cases. Does he not admit that Bonto means to dye, or color, when it is applied to the beard and hair ? And is it impossible to dip these ? Improbable it surely is, but not half so much so as the immersion of couches.
The fact is that the whole reasoning against the sense claimed for Baarita, in these passages, rests on false principles. It assumes a violent improbability of the meaning in question, and resorts to all manner of shifts, to prove the possibility of immersion, as though that were all that the
f the has whicco me Does babi
Y of inforts to lent impassage
case required, whilst the truth is that no such im probability exists, but one directly the reverse, and the whole scope of the passage demands the meaning claimed, that is, to purify.
Were it necessary I would remark more in detail on the statements of Prof. Ripley, as to the dipping of hands, and the Jewish rules concerning couches, as quoted by Dr. Gill. It is sufficient to remark that these ideas are the result of the ingenuity of later ages, and the existence of any such rules or practices, in the days of Christ, is totally devoid of proof and even of probability.'
In the case so often quoted from Sirach, 31: 25, Baruto requires the sense, καθαριζω. The passage is this :βαπτιζομε1ος απο νεκρου και παλιν απτομενος αυτόυ τι ωφελησε το λουτρο avrov. He that is cleansed from a dead body, and again toucheth it, of what profit to him is bis cleansing ?
Here I remark:
]. The sense, xadvoga, purify, suits the preposition (70,immerse does not. It is natural to speak of purifying, or cleansing from, but not of immcrsing from, a dead body.
2. No immersion, in the case of touching a dead body, was enjoined, but simply a washing of the body, so as to leave room for various modes in various circumstances, and it is not likely that this would be spoken of as an immersion.
3. The rite of purification from a dead body was complex, and no import of the word Bantito, but the one claimed, is adapted to include the whole. By far the most important part of the rite was the sprinkling of the water, in which had been put the aslies of the heifer. Concerning this it is said, Num. 19: 13, that whosoever shall not purity himself with it, after touching a dead body, “ that soul shall be cut off from Israel, because the water of separation was not sprinkled on him.” Of the washing no such thing is said, and Paul, Heb. 9: 13, refers to the sprinkling, as if it included the part of the rite on which the effect mainly, if not entirely, depends. It is the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, that is spoken of as sanctifying to the purification of the flesh,dylatel noos tnv ens Gooxos xa6dpornta. Of course the writer could not mean to exclude so essential a part of the rite as