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THE writings of Moses and the prophets are confessedly instructive, important, and highly interesting; yet in these particulars they are far exceeded by those of the evangelists and apostles of our Lord. The histories, the ritual services, the commands and promises of the former were indeed suitable to the pædagogue state of the church ; and if properly regarded, they showed that another and more perfect dispensation would fulfil and supersede them. They were but shadows of future good things, and referred to them as their end and design. The first promise, and the appointment of animal sacrifices in illustration of it; the subsequent covenant with Abraham and his seed, that in him all nations should be blessed; the covenant made with his descendants at Horeb; the clearer predictions of the prophets in successive ages,—all contributed to excite the hope of Messiah’s appearance and kingdom. At length he came as the Great Prophet, High Priest, and King of the church ; and as such he made known the divine will, gave laws, appointed the rites of baptism, and of his own supper; and then yielded himself up as a holy, willing victim, to expiate the sins of the world. But it was not possible that he should be holden of death ; on the third day he rose according to his own repeated declarations; aud having continued forty days, often appearing to the apostles, and teaching them the nature of his kingdom, he ascended to heaven, and fulfilled his promise by the outpouring of the Spirit, and thus enabling his disciples to execute his commission, and go out into all the world and preach the glad tidings to every creature.
The new Covenant contains the authentic writings of our Lord's apostles, and the important doctrines which he taught, and which he commissioned them to propagate in the world. They have been deservedly held in the highest esteem by the wise and the good, as the ground of faith and hope, and as containing the purest system of morals, enforced by the strongest motives. As they display the love and grace of God, they require of man suitable returns of love, esteem, and gratitude to his Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. They also inculcate the cultivation and exercise of the personal and social virtues in the highest degree; while they strongly condemn all excess of passion, or self-indulgence, and all hatred, discord, and strife among men. The spirit they breathe is that of sympathy, kindness, and universal good-will. In the beautiful parable of the good Samaritan, we are taught to regard every man as a brother, however he may differ from us in opinions, or to whatever nation' he may belong; and if be stand in need of our aid, charity, or counsel, to afford it with readiness and pleasure.
In proportion to the inportance of these Holy Writings, they should be carefully perused, studied, and regarded ; and as far as possible, preserved pure, and transmitted from one generation to another. This has been done in a commendable degree; for although innumerable various readings are found on comparing ancient manuscripts, there are comparatively few which affect materially
the sense. Considering the multitude of copies which were early taken from the originals, the overthrow of the Roman empire, the inundations of so many barbarous nations, the devastation of so many cities and countries, and the destruction of the works of the learned, and of the monuments of the arts and the sciences, it is an instance of a kind superintending providence, that the scriptures have been
The business of a translator divides itself into two branches. The first is to obtain as correct a copy of his author or authors as possible; and the second to convey the sense, spirit, and manner of his authors, in the language into which he translates. The first of these has been performed by a succession of the most able Greek scholars and critics, who have most carefully examined all the existing mss. of the sacred writers, diligently compared them, and weighed in the balance of sound judgment their comparative worth. Among these may be mentioned our own countryman, the learned and laborious Dr. John Mills, whose edition of the new Greek Testament contains such a mass of various readings, quotations from the Greek fathers, and illustrations of the text, as makes it yet of great value. This was published in 1707 ; and in 1710, Kuster published at Rotterdam a corrected edition of Mills, with various readings, from twelve mss. which he had not collated.. Albert Bengel followed, and published a critical edition of the 'Greek Testament in 1734, with select various readings, from Mill' and from some good' mss. Next followed John Wetstein, who gave to the public his edition in 1751-52, a work which has immortalized his name? He adopts the received text, and places next below those readings which he regards as genuine, and which, in his judgment, ought to be introduced into the text Next below these are arranged his collection of various readings, with their respective authorities. See Introd. p. 20. 1
}; The last critical edition of the Greek Testament is that of Dr. John James Griesbach.. He has introduced into the text such readings as are judged to be genuine, but printed them in a smaller type; and thrown the common reading into the inner margin. Then below he gives his authorities. This edition I have gonerally, followed ; though in some few instances I have been compelled to adopt readings which he has rejected. Whenever I have done so, I have assigned the reasons of it; and considering his diligence, judgment, and fidelity, I have hesitated, and examined the subject in every light possible, lest I should substitute error for truth.
As to the second part of a translator's work, I must leave a judicious public to judge how far I have succeeded. My aim has been to give clearly the sense of the sacred writers; but I will not be confident that I have always attaiyed my design. Every scholar knows how difficult it'is to ascertain the precise train of thought which occupied the mind of his author; and that it is frequently more so, to convey this train of thought in another language, as the words of one language do not exactly correspond to those of another. It is from this cause that so many different, and, in not a few instances, discordant opinions arise, as to the sense of particular passages of the Holy Scriptures ; pas sages which are confessedly of very great importance in respect both to doctrine and practice. In the sense attributed to them, the bias in favour of some theological system is manifest; and every art is tried to explain the terms in accordance with it. It's
1 In proof of the above remark may be mentioned the controversies which have arisen, and which are still carried on, respecting the mode and subjects of christian baptism ; the divinity of the Saviour, the work of the Holy Spirit, the moral state of man, the method of a sinner's acceptance to favour, and the ground of his right to eternal life. On these subjects what variety of opinion exists! and the combatants all assert that the real sense of the sacred authors supports their dogmas. Some baptist friends are offended that I have not followed Campbell, and rendered baptize, immerse, and baptism, immersion. In answer, I reply, that had I been convinced that this was the sense of the terms,
I should have fearlessly adopted it; 'but after a patient and often repeated investigation, I am fully convinced, that in reference to the christian ordinance, this is an assumed sense, and wholly unsupported by scriptural usage. Nay, I contend, that no ancient writers, sacred or profane, so far as I can find, ever use the terms, in the sense of “one person putting another over the head in water, and raising him up again,” which is the sense attributed by antipædobaptists. It is used, indeed, in the passive voice for a ship sinking, or foundering; and in the active, for a stream rushing upon those swimming, and overwhelming them. Also, figuratively, for any calamity, burden, or distress, or other thing coming upon an individual, as Is. xxi. 4. .“ Transgression overwhelms or oppresses me.” Greek, baptises
, me. It is only once used by the Seventy, 2 Kings r. 14, and by comparing this with the toth verse, it is evidently used in the sense of washing, though Naaman most probably washed his whole body; but this he performed himself. It is also once used in the Apocrypha, Judith xii. 7, “She washed or baptized herself in the camp at the fountain of water.” The idea of immersion must be here wholly excluded. For surely a modest woman would not strip and baptize or immerse herself amidst an army of soldiers ; not to say, to do this at a fountain or spring was impossible. The son of Sirach uses the participle, Ch. xxxi. 25, or xxxiv, 25. “ He that is washed, baptized, or purified from the pollution of a dead body, and again toucheth it, what availeth his washing ?” Here the sense is clearly that of ceremonial washing or purification. Comp. Numb. xix. 9--22, to which there is a reference; and the person who was polluted by touching a dead body was both to wash or bathe himself, and to be sprinkled with the purifying water, made with the ashes of the red heifer.
In the New Covenant it is used also to denote ritual and ceremonial washing, where the idea of immersion seems highly improbable. ; In Mark vii. 245, we are informed that the Pharisees were offended at our Lord's disciples, for eating with defiled or unwashed hands; and the Evangelist gives the Gentile reader a reason of this, by stating that they followed the tradition of the elders, and did not eat without ceremonially washing their hands, and the utensils employed. “ For when they come from the market, except they wash, (baptize,) they eat not. And many other things there are, which they have received and hold, as the washings, (baptisms,) of cups and pots, and brazen vessels, and beds.” It is wholly, incredible, that they bathed or immersed themselves every time they eat; and
appears that washing the hands, or the utensils mentioned, in the usual manner, is only intended, and yet is called baptism. The mode of washing their hands or feet was by pouring water upon them, and wiping them as the water flowed down. ,." Here is Elisha, the son of Shaphat, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.” 2 Kings iii. 11. “ Let a little water be fetched, and wash your feet.” Gen. xviii. 4. In this manner Jesus seems to have washed the feet of his disciples. John xiii. 4—20. Nothing is said of their dipping their feet in the bason, or rather ewer; 'nor would it have been decent thus to have washed the feet of twelve persons, one after another in the same water. The fact is, a little water was poured on the feet of each, and then wiped ; and Peter, when his master came to him, and he had heard his remark, supposed he was provided with water sufficient to wash his head also. Whatever might be the manner of washing cups or pots, brazen vessels and the beds of the dining-room, on which they reclined, could not be immersed. Pouring water into, or upon, aceording to the nature of the subject, and then wiping these utensils clean, appears the most probable manner of baptizing them. If pouring water on the hands be called baptism, may not pouring water on the face be so called too? Would a Greek have hesitated thus to have called it?
It is contended, that though the terms baptize and baptism should be allowed to be ambiguous, their signification is defined and limited to immersion by the prepositions és, into, and ex, out of, and other circumstances and allusions. As to the prepositions, they are so indeterminate as to define
nothing. The first signifies to, unto, at, as well as into. “They came to (es) the Jordan, and cut down wood.”. 2 Kings vi. 4. Common sense must admit, that the sons of the prophet did not go
into the Jordan, much less immerse themselves in it, in order to cut down wood. They came to its banks, where the trees were growing, and it is very probable that they did not wet the soles of their feet. “The king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from (ex) Lachish to (es) Jerusalem.” Is. xxxvi. 2. Here both prepositions are used, and simply denote departure from a place and arrival at another. We are sure that Rabshakeh did not get into Jerusalem, for he only came to the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field. Instances without end occur both in the Seventy, New Covenant, and profane authors, of this sense of the prepositions. See Matt. v. I.; vii. 13; x. 22. ; xii. 41. ; xx. 15, &c. But do not the verbs connected with these prepositions, indicate the genuine sense to be immersion ? Have we not such phrases as, "they went down to the water, or into the water, and came up from it, or out of it? These phrases only denote the place where baptism was administered, and not the act or mode of baptizing ; and this language is perfectly natural, as water is in general found in low grounds, in wells, streams, or rivers, which flow within their channels. Hence, if they made use of water in the act of baptizing, and took it out of a well, stream, or river, they must go down to it, and come up from it, in whatever way it was used. According to Matthew, when Jesus was baptized by John, he went up from (ATO) the water, (Matt. iii. 16. Mark i. 10,) which proves nothing as to the mode. But are not the multitudes, whom he baptized, said to be baptized by him in the Jordan, and in the river Jordan. Matt. iii. 6. Mark i. 5. This language may be used, if John and the people went within the channel, or stood on the banks of the Jordan ; and in the account contained John i. 28, we are informed, that John baptized at or in Bethabara, or Bethany, beyond or upon the Jordan. This is expressly said to be the place where Jesus was with John, and to wbom he bore testimony, John iii. 26. Hence, it follows, from a comparison of the two accounts, that John actually baptized Jesus and the multitudes who came to him, beyond or upon the banks of the Jordan ; and the manner in which he did this could only be by taking water out of the river and pouring it on the persons. This is the only way in which I can reconcile the two accounts. This explains Acts viii. 38, “Here is water;" he does not say, here is a river. It is probable it was nothing more than a fountain, as I can find no river in the way from Jerusalem to Gaza. See Reland.
It is certain John usually preached and baptized in the country about Jordan; and two reasons might influence his conduct. The first and the chief was, that the people, who flocked in multitudes to hear him, and who most probably abode a day or two with bim, might supply themselves with so necessary an article as water, an article extremely scarce in many parts of Judea. The other, that he might have water with which to baptize those who requested it. These were the reasons, doubt. less, of his conduct in going to Ænon, where there was much water, or a fountain sending forth some little streams. When it is remembered that both men and women went to hear him, without any intention of being baptized, and yet were induced to submit to this rite, is it probable that they were provided with change of raiment, or that they would return home, a distance, to some of them, of twenty or thirty miles, dripping wet! Or shall we say, that one sex stripped in the sight of the other, to be immersed ? Decency forbids the thought. Nor could John have baptized the thousands, who came to him, without spending his whole time in the water.
As to the version of Dr. Campbell, it decides nothing. He has supported it by no authorities, deserving regard. What is the authority of Tertullian, a Latin writer, to determine the sense of a Greek term? His version supposes John to refer to the mode of baptizing. “I indeed baptize, or immerse you in water-but He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire.” In what manner he intended the latter clause to be understood I know not; for I can form no conception of being im