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which John preached. It was a rite appertaining exclusively to the legal economy, instituted for the use of the Jews alone, for a short time, to prepare them for the kingdom of Messiah then approaching, by an extraordinary, general purification, attended with suitable instructions and exhortations to the people."* Agreeably to this, a Rabbi, in commenting upon Zech. ix. 6, gives this meaning : “ And Elias came to distinguish the unclean, and to purify them.”+ The business of Elias (that is of John the Baptist) was then to purify the nation, by a ceremonial washing, and to prepare them for the reception of the Messiah; an event important in itself, and long expected and desired by the Jews. This appears to have been the grand design of John's ministry and baptism,“ to make ready a people prepared to receive the Lord Jesus in his personal ministry.”—This view of John's baptism, as a ceremonial purification, is supported by the phraseology of the Evangelist John. “Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou bearest witness, behold the same baptizeth, and all men come to him." It is very evident from these words, that the baptism spoken of in the 26th verse, was the subject of dispute, and was the question about purifying stated in the 25th verse.
* Evang. Guard. vol. č. p. 16.
# Chap. iji. 25, 26,
Further; that the baptism of John was not esteemed gospel baptism by the Apostles, we think evident from the conduct of both Peter and Paul. It is hardly to be supposed, considering what multitudes had been baptized by John, that a company of three thousand could be collected in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem without embracing more or fewer who had been baptized by Jolin. It is not to be supposed, that from among a promiscuous assembly three thousand should be made the subjects of grace, without including some, yea many, who had been baptized by John ; yet no exception in favour of such is stated in the history of that memorable day. And all this was perfectly proper, upon the supposition which we have endeavoured to establish ; viz. that John's baptism was not gospel baptism. It gives no countenance for a reapplication of gospel baptism: It does not favour the cause of the Anabaptist, nor weaken the hands of the Pedobaptist.
The case recorded in the xixth chapter of Acts, although the true meaning of that narrative is a matter of controversy between respectable critics, we consider as furnishing additional evidence of the fact, that John's baptism was not gospel baptism ; and that, therefore, those who had been baptized by John had to be inducted into the gospel church, by submitting to a subsequent and Christian baptism. " And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coaste came to Ephesus : and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed ? And they said unto him, we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repertance, saying to the people that they should believe on him which should come after him—that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
1-5. The whole difficulty, the reader will perceive, in regard to this narrative, lies in ascertaining to whom the remark in the 5th verse is to be attributed. Is it Paul, or is it the writer of the Acts, who observes 66 When they heard this ?" If Paul, then the meaning is, that John told his hearers, before he baptized them, that they should believe in the Messiah, about to be manifested ; and that understanding this, they were baptized by him in the name of the Lord Jesus. This may be true; but I cannot discover any force or propriety in the whole passage under this construction. Further; as we have no evidence that John used the name of the Lord Jesus in the administration of his baptism, I greatly question whether the above construction, should it be admitted, will justify the expression that they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus? All this, on the other hand, is perfectly clear; and the whole passage, di
ested of ambiguity, assumes the character of a plain narrative, if the remark," and when they heard this,” be considered as the remark of Luke, the historian. This construction, supported by many writers,* appears to me most decidedly preferable to the other; and if this be adınitted, it will follow, as a matter of course, that the Apostles baptized persons, who had been baptized by John; which they certainly would not have done, if John's baptism had been gospel baptism.
But to return to the objection under consideration. If it were not the fact, that John's baptism was not gospel baptism, his going to Enon would not prove that he baptized by immersion. It must be remembered, that water is an extremely scarce and valuable article in the country where John exercised his ministry. Also that, upon the supposition that he baptized by sprinkling, very considerable water would be necessary to baptize the vast multitudes who resorted to him,f as well as for the ordinary consumption of all who waited on his ministry; many of whom, no doubt, tarried for days, perhaps for weeks. It was, therefore, a most convenient and judicious arrangement for John to locate himself in a part of the country, where he not only could find water for the purpose of baptizing, but where the people could procure a necessary supply of that useful article for ordinary purposes. Enon was a place [xdata mona] of springs and rivulets; and as Dr. Lightfoot has justly remarked, the expression
* Scott's Cum. Dr. Janeway, Letters on the Abrahamic Covenant
† Mark i. 5.
.6 much water" might, with equal propriety, have been rendered “ many waters,”--that is, a number . of springs or small brooks: none of which, notwithstanding all the noise about much water, probably furnished the necessary quantity of water for the purpose of immersion. Certain it is, if travellers who have visited the place make a correct report, our modern advocates for immersion would, upon being brought to the spot, be exceedingly puzzled to point out a sufficiency of water in one place to answer their
purpose. The country must have greatly changed, indeed, since the days of John, (and of this no evidence remains,) if he could find at Enon water enough to have answered his purpose, upon the supposition that he baptized by immersion.
Again : it is alledged by those who differ from us, as to the mode of baptism, that Scripture in giving an account of certain baptisms, states that the subjects went down into the water and came up out of the water. This, say they, is particularly affirmed concerning the Eunuch whom Philip baptized, (Acts, viii.) to which we reply: it is indeed affirmed concerning the Eunuch that he went down into the water, and more than this is affirmed; it is affirmed that they went down both of them into the water, both Philip and the Eunuch. Now unless the advocates for immersion will concede that Philip went under the water-was immersed; the phraseology of this passage can avail them nothing; for the same expression is used in relation to the person baptizing,