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CHAP. istered to babes ;- -Say not within yourselves, we have
Abraham to our father.” Places.- John came “ preaching in the wilderness of Judea.” Wilderness The term “ wilderness,” or “ desert,” as used in Scrip
ture, by no means generally denotes a dry or barren spot. David sings, of “the beauty of the desert,” Ps. Ixv. 12, 13–scarcely any town in the Holy Land was without its “ wilderness ;” or “common lands for pasturage and timber.” The wilderness of Judea extended from Jericho to the mountains of Edom, south of the Dead Sea ; of course embracing a considerable portion of the course of the Jordan, which river constitutes John's
principal baptistery. The river Some have ventured to suppose that during a great Jordan.
part of the year the Jordan did not contain water enough to immerse the human body. Mr. Robinson justly ob
serves on this :Hist. p. 9. “ The river Jordan, far from wanting water, was sub
ject to two sorts of floods, one periodical at harvest time, in which it resembled the Nile in Egypt, with which some supposed it had a subterranean communication. When this food came down, the river rose many feet, and overflowed the lower banks, so that the lions that lay in the thickets there were roused and fled. To this Jeremiah alludes, Behold the king of Babylon shall come up, like a lion from the swelling of Jordan. The other swellings of Jordan were casual, and resembled those of all other rivers in uneven countries.”
The following description of what may be termed the physical geography of John's baptism, from the pen of Mr. Robinson, fully sustains the fact of John's itineracy being always within convenient distance of natural baptisteries.
“ John, setting out from the place of his birth, Hebron,
a city in the hilly part of the tribe of Judah, two and sect.
I. twenty miles from Jerusalem, travelling northward, and leaving Tekoa, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem on the left, Itineracy of went toward Bethhoglah, Engedi, Gilgal, and Jericho, taking his road through the wilderness of Judah, near the banks of the lake Asphaltites, and crying or preaching to the inhabitants of the towns, arrived at that part of the wilderness which was bounded on the east by the river Jordan, which met him, as it were, running along. side full south, and hereabouts fixed his first baptismal station. The word “wilderness” did not signify in Judea, an uninhabited country, but woody, grazing lands, in distinction from arable fields, which were champaign or open, and vineyards, olive-yards, orchards, and gardens which were inclosed. There were, in the time of Joshua, six cities with their villages in this wilderness, and the inhabitants of those parts were graziers and sheepmasters.
“All the evangelists affirm, John baptized in Jordan. Mark, who says he baptized in Jordan, says also, he baptized in the wilderness. Of course he baptized in that part of the river which bounded the lands of Benjamin and Judah on the east, about four or five miles above the mouth where it discharged itself into the lake Asphaltites, and where the woodlands of Judah abutted on those of Benjamin. The river here was about seven miles east of Jericho, and about twenty-five or six east of Jerusalem. Hereabouts the Israelites passed over Jordan; and about half a mile from the river, the remains of a convent, dedicated to John the Baptist, are yet to be seen; for the Syrian monks availed themselves of the zeal of early pilgrims, who aspired at the honour of being baptized where they supposed John had baptized Jesus. The Greeks have imagined a place three or four
CHAP. miles distant; others have supposed it higher up the II. stream northward toward Galilee; and others, again,
the passage right over against Jericho; but some ford a little nearer the mouth, somewhere about the lines that parted the lands of Benjamin and Judah, seems best to agree with the account given by the evangelists, and it exactly agrees with the ancient geography; for the line that parted the two tribes ran through a place called Bethbarah, in the wilderness of Judah, or the house at the ford next the woodlands.
- In such rivers there are shallows in the greatest floods, and in the greatest droughts there are, in various parts of their beds, a kind of natural cisterns, perfectly clean, and every way convenient for the baptism of im
mersion.” i John bap
Error of all kinds is built upon suppositions—truth Jordan. upon facts; and the fact is John did baptize in Jordan, &V to lop- (en to Jordano potamo, “in the river Jordan.” Mr. Pendevo ToTao gilly (in his excellent tract on baptism) suggests, that ro.
6. John takes the inhabitants of Jerusalem, not to the brook Cedron which ran hard by the city, but to the distant large river of Jordan;" but this is unnecessary straining. So far as water is concerned, the pools and public watering-places of Jerusalem were amply sufficient to have baptized all its inhabitants in a short time; but the crowd would have been excessively inconvenient, and might have engendered public disturbance. For the former reason baptist ministers, in our large cities, have recently, during times of revival, been obliged to forsake houses of worship provided with the baptisteries, and repair to the adjacent rivers. Into Jordan John went with his candidates, and there immersed them “in water.”
i Robinson's History of Baptism, p. 9, 11 and 12.
No, says the pædobaptist, Mark says John baptized sECT. w with water.” But Mark does not say any such thing ;
I. King James's translators make the Evangelist appear to Mark v. 8. say so.
Mark says, en udati, which Dr. Campbell, ev udath. Mr. Hervey, and many other pædobaptist writers, admit can only mean in water: but what is more decisive still is the fact that in the first four English versions these words are rendered properly “ in water;" its being al. tered to “ with water,” in the last translation, to say the least, induces a suspicion that the translators of James consulted, in this instance, the custom of their church, instead of the meaning of the Greek; a plan which has recently found much favour among pedobaptists on both sides of the Atlantic. The last time the fact of John's baptizing is referred Enon ;
Much to in the Sacred History, it is found associated with the phrase “much water;"— And John also was baptizing Tonne udein Enon,' near to Salim, because there was much water
k Booth's Pædobaptism Examined, vol. i. p.
103. 1 Enon, literally Dove's eye.-Much has been said respecting the nature of this large fountain. I extract for the curious reader some of the most interesting of Mr. Robinson's suggestions.
“Enon was either a natural spring, an artificial reservoir, or a cavernous temple of the sun, prepared by the Canaanites, the an. cient idolatrous inhabitants of the land. The eastern versions, that is the Syriac, Ethiopic, Persic, and Arabic of the gospel of John, as well as the Hebrew and Chaldean Ain-yon, or Gnain. yon, suggest these opinions, and it is difficult to say which is the precise meaning of the Evangelist's word Enon, and it is not certain whether the plain meaning be, John was baptizing at the Dove-spring near Salim, or John was baptizing at the Sun-fountain near Salim.
“Springs issuing from the fissures of a rock, gurgling through the chinks as waters out of bottles, falling from crag to crag, mur. muring from bed to basin, and from basin to bed, fretting along the ragged sides of a rocky channel, and echoing through rude and
CHAP. there." Calvin considers “that, from these words, it II.
may be inferred that baptism was administered by John and Christ by plunging the whole body under water. m The Founder of Presbyterianism is not presbyterian
spacious caverns, would form what the Jews called a Dove-water, or, if it flowed from a natural spring, in their figurative style, a Dove's-eye. It is credible, such a clean and plentiful baptismal stream was much to the purpose, and much in the taste of such a man as John.
“ Adjacent to some of the fountains of Judea were buildings, reservoirs, and large receptacles of water, cisterns of great size, and baths both simple and medicinal. Of the latter were the hot wells of Tiberias, Gadara, Callirhoe, and other places. Near Ramah there yet remains, of very ancient work, a reservoir a hundred and sixty feet long, and a hundred and forty broad. Such also of different sizes, and for different purposes, were those at Tabor, Jeru. salem, Etham, and the gardens of Solomon. One of the fountains of Judah was called Ain-rogel, the Fuller's-eye, because there Ful. lers cleansed stuffs.
“The learned Mr. Bryant supposes that the word Enon signified the fountain of the sun,' and that the ancient Canaanites had given this name to the place before the Hebrews occupied the land, to signify that these celebrated waters were sacred to the sun. It is, however, worthy of observation, that the Hebrews changed the name of many places. Moses gave a special charge to the people, not only to destroy altars, pillars, images, groves, and places where the former inhabitants had practised idolatry, but, he added, “De. stroy the names of them out of the place. Be circumspect, make no mention of the names of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.' It is, therefore, very credible that the name of this fountain was changed, and that Ain-yon was, in the dialect of the country in the days of John, the fountain of the dove.”- Robinson's History of Baptism, p. 15, 17, 18, 19.
m Dr. Miller (the professor of one virtue-boldness) says, “ that John baptized by immersion is utterly incredible!” And again : “ there is not the smallest probability that he (John) ever baptized an individual this manner !"— Tract on Baptism, p. 73. What a poor, weak, deluded man Calvin must have been !