Page images

Called Lovincer, says upch, that the that the the hands, as quotede gate of hout the

this, nay its very essence. Nor could he call it an immersion. It is a sprinkling. It can purify, but it cannot immerse. But the sense, xanpitw, can include both the sprinkling and the washing :-for, taken together, they purify, and this is the complex result of the whole rite, and nothing else. If any object, that it is not consistent to apply Lovroq to a coinplex operation, like this, I ask them, how then is it consistent to apply it to the blood of Christ, which is spoken of as the blood of sprinkling? And yet we are spoken of as washed from our sins in his own blood, where hovo is used. The truth is that the sense of lovo is general too, and denotes merely a washing or cleansing, without respect to mode. Besides, an actual washing is a part of the complex rite.

The effort of Prof. Ripley to establish the sense, bathing, from the word lovtoor, is vain. No fact is more notorious than that lova, of itself, does not mean to bathe. In this respect it is as unlimited to any mode as yn7; so much so that the vessels, in the vestibules of ancient churches, for washing the hands, were called λουτηρες, as well as νιπτηρες. One of the Fathers, as quoted by Suicer, says Lovrnges údatos nen, nemuevol, stand before the gate of the church, that you may wash your hands (vions), so without the church, sit the poor, that by alms you may wash (alvors) the hands of your soul. I do not quote this passage for the sake of its theology, but to show that lova and its derivatives mean simply to wash or to cleanse, and not to bathe, any more than the Latin lavo. Circumstances may show that bathing is meant, but the word itself does not.

Mr. Carson says that all reasoning from this passage proceeds on the assumption that the Jews had made no additions to the rite. Not so. It proceeds upon the assumption that they had not omitted its very essence, the sprinkling with the ashes of a heifer, and that they would not call this an immersion, but a purification, as in fact it was; and that as no iminersion was enjoined, but simply washing, so the sense, immersion, is not to be assumed without necessity and without proof, and against the whole probability of the case.

That the Jews did take the view of this rite that I claim, is plain from the account given of it by Philo. He directs the whole attention to sprinkling and nothing else ; vol. 2.

Wone of the von sta hands.bumay wage for ivative

p. 251.* He says Moses does this philosophically, for most others are sprinkled with unmixed water, some with sea or river water, others with water drawn from the fountains. But Moses employed ashes for this purpose. Then, as to the manner, they put them into a vessel, pour on water,then moisten branches of hyssop with the mixture, (EX tov κραματος βαπτοντας υσσοπου κλαδους,) then sprinkle it upon those who are to be purified, τους καθαιρομενοις. And this account was written after the passage in question. Here we note, in passing, a use of Pants with ex, at war with the idea to dip, and consistent only with the idea to moisten or wet.

Now for what reason are we to set aside probabilities like these? Merely to avoid so simple, natural and probable a conclusion, as that Banrico sometimes means simply to purify, as in this case it most clearly does.

§ 17.

The case of Judith also sustains the same view. In Ju. dith 12: 7, we are told that she remained in the camp of Holofernes three days, and, by night, that is, on each night, she went out to the valley of Bethulia and purified or washed herself, in the camp at the fountain of water. IagEuELVEV EV τη παρεμβολη ημερας τρεις, και εξεπορεύετο κατα νυκτα εις την φαραγγα Βετυλουα και εβαπτιζετο εν τη παρεμβολη επι της πηγής του υδατος. .

Here we notice that the purification in question was performed in the camp, and at or near the fountain--and for three nights in succession. In the case of Tobit, a man at a river, and away from all observation, we know that immer. sion was more probable. Bu here a female, in a camp, and at or near a fountain, it is insisted, did immerse herself

, three nights in succession. We are told of her courage and faith, and of possible bathing places near the spring, and all for what? To avoid so obvious a conclusion as that the writer merely means to say that she purified, or washed herself, without reference to the mode. ' In the case of Susannah, we

* The edition in the Andover Library. Its edition and date I did not note.

are told that she desired to wash herself, Lovracha, in the garden, because it was warm. Here she could shut the doors and be alone, v. 17. Yet the writer says merely wash. But in the case of Judith, even in a camp, he must needs insist, it seeins, on the mode, and that mode must be immersion. And what reason is there for all this? Is not the sense xalapigw, a priori, probable? Yes. Does it not fulfil all the exigencies of the case? Yes.

Yes. Was it of any importance to specify the mode? No. Do the circumstances of the case call for immersion ? No; they seem, at first sight entirely to forbid it; and nothing but skill in suggesting possibilities can at all remove the impression. In fact the circumstances of the case have led the vast majority of minds in all ages to feel that immersion is not the meaning here,—and that to purify or to wash is. Hence it is that Mr. Carson, in his arduous attempt to prove that Bantitw never means to wash, irrespective of mode, is obliged to admit that he has “ all the lexicographers and commentators" against him. p. 79.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

No contrary probability, or usage, can be established from the writers of the New Testament age, or of the preceding age, who used the Alexandrine Greek. It will be noticed that the argument thus far is specific, and relates to a relig. ious usage, produced at a particular time, and by particular circumstances definitely and clearly marked. Now to refute this argument, it is of no use to go to writers who lived and wrote entirely out of this range of circumstances and ideas. It could only prove that, in other circumstances, another usage of the word did exist, and this no one need deny.

But it is very noticeable that, in the very writers where alone proof of an opposite religious usage, or even of a probability of it, can, reasonably be looked for, there is none to be found. It is in these very writings that the whole current of probability, and of usage, sets strongly the other way.

do not deny that these writers do also use the word Barricw, in other circumstances, and in a secular sense, to denote immersion, sinking, overwhelming or oppression. But this only proves that the two usages did coexist ; just as Mr.

Carson proves that the two usages of Bantu did coexist in Hippocrates, and that the existence of the one did not disprove the existence of the other. So, at least four meanings of the word spring coexist, and yet no one infers from one that the others do not exist.

That the religious usage of these writers all sets one way, one obvious and admitted fact may show. Mr. Carson admits that all the lexicographers and commentators do assign to the word BanTIĞw the unlimited sense to wash, or cleanse. Now on what writers do they rely? 'Beyond all dispute on the writers of Alexandrine Greek,—the very writers who have furnished all the facts on which this argument is based. And these writers, be it noticed, furnish no presumption or usage the other way. Even in those minuter shades of meaning, which are furnished by allusion, comparison or associa. tion of ideas, all things tend the same way. So, in the account of the baptism of Paul, the sacrificial reference of Baptism is plainly indicated, Acts 22: 16: Arise and be baptised, and wash away thy sins, Avaotas Bantiou na anolovGAL TAS duoptias Gov, calling upon the name of the Lord. Here we have faith in Christ, the washing away or pardon of sins, and a purification intended to symbolize it. Bartom, purify thyself, or be purified bodily,-arohovoai tas duaprias, wash away thy sins, as to the niind, by calling on the name of the Lord. Here the antithesis and correspondence are beautiful and complete, and one seems naturally to suggest the other. So the case in Peter 3: 21, where he speaks of baptism as saving us, is far more natural and beautiful, if we adopt this sense, for he seems to think that, if he left the word Buatioua unguarded, he might be taken to mean the external purification of the body. But as this does not save us, and as nothing but the purification of the mind does, he guards himself and says, I do not mean the putting away of the filth of the flesh, by the purification of which I speak, but the answer of a good conscience towards God. Hence, too, the legal or sacrificial sense lies upon the very face of the passage,—for it is the purification of the conscience by atoning blood, to which he refers, and not to an external washing at all; and I need not say to any one who can feel the nice correspondencies of words, how much more beautiful and clear the whole passage becomes by assigning to Bantiouc the sense of a spiritual purification, by the blood of Christ, which

Peter affirms that it has. On the subject, however, of the external washing in this case, I shall speak more at large under another head.

So too the account given by Josephus of the baptism of John, Antiq. B. xviii. c. 5, $ 2, presents the same train of thought to the mind. Instead of the awkward translation of Whistoa I prefer to give a free statement of the obvious sense, and to quote the original where critical exactness is needed.

John, he says, informed the Jews that before they could be baptized they must commence and profess the practice of piety towards God, and justice towards each other and that their baptism would be acceptable to God, if they did not rely upon it as a means of putting away a part only of their sins, but used it merely as a means of purifying the body, to indicate that the soul had been previously, thoroughly purified by righteousness.

To denote baptism he uses the word Bantnis, and to denote its import he states that they are to use it, εφ' αγνεια του σωματος, ατε δε και της ψυχης δικαιοσυνη προεκκεκαθαρμενης. Now here, I remark that there was nothing to cause Josephus or any other Jew to think of the mode, or to attach any importance to it. No idea of a fancied reference, in the rite, to the death of Christ, could bias his mind towards the sense immerse. To him, it is plain, that it meant nothing but purifying the body, to indicate that the mind had been previously thoroughly purified by righteousness; and he speaks just as he would, if these ideas had been suggested by the name of the rite ; in other words, just as he would if xafapois had stood in the place of Baninois.

Now although I would not rely on such places for proof, against a strong contrary probability, yet when I find them so perfectly coincident with all other facts, when all shades of probability so perfectly harmonize and blend in a common result, I cannot hesitate, for I see no good reason for doubt. It is not a solitary fact on which the argument rests. To overthrow it, the whole current of probability must be reversed, and so striking a coincidence and harmony of meaning, in so many independent passages, be supposed to exist without a cause. Particular errors may no doubt be detected in the argument, and individual passages, viewed out of their relations, may be made to admit another possible



« PreviousContinue »