« AnteriorContinuar »
We do know that there was this effect, but we cannot know, without assuming the point in question, that there was the other. This, of all possible effects, is the one most obviously connected with religion, it is the one most likely to be mentioned, even if many were combined, and it is, therefore, most likely to be the signification of the word. The general context of Banrisa, in the New Testament, favors the opinion that it does not mean to dip, and that it does mean to purify.
II. In all cases where the word occurs in the New Testament, it is applied to things connected with religion, generally to a sacred rite significant of the purifying of the soul. Whatever may be supposed to be the symbolical meaning of Christian baptism, that of the Jews to which reference is made in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that of the Pharisees, and that of John, were unquestionably rites of purification ; this was the meaning of them all, and their only meaning. Now the meaning of a rite being of more importance than the mode, would be more frequently referred to when the rite was mentioned. If, therefore, a term at first descriptive of mode was employed, it might be expected that it would, as an appellative for the rite, sometimes lose its reference to the manner of action, and denote merely its end. Words always change in their meaning with modes of thought, and, from either, inferences may be drawn in reference to the other. We know that the Jews, at the time of our Lord, were accustomed to think and speak of their sacred washings in relation to their design rather than in relation to their manner; for where, in reference to the ablutions of the priests, the word Yap, to wash, is used in the Old Testament, the word w7?, to sanctify or purify, is commonly employed in the Chaldee Targums. If their baptisms were regarded by them as purifyings, and in this way habitually referred to by them, it would naturally happen, that, whatever may have been its first sense, Bantitw would, from this cause, come to have the sense of, to purify. It is unlikely that a word applied to a religious rite, and scarcely ever to anything besides, if originally it denoted mode, should continue to express that only. According to the history of words similarly situated, we should expect that it would change its meaning, first denoting mode and end, and then end alone. Thus we find that partlouós primarily denoted sprinkling; but though a word of common use, it could not be applied to sacred things without having associated with it the sense of purifying, and at last it came to denote the purifying of the mind, where there is no sprinkling, nor anything resembling it. The terms for circumcision and anointing were used primarily to denote a mode of action, but afterwards they were employed to denote the things signified, purifying and consecrating, without any respect of mode. It will scarcely be pretended that the words, the Messias, and the Christ, retained, in the common usage of the Jews, any reference to the pouring out of oil, or that the exhortation to circumcise their hearts directed
them to make circular incisions on that organ, or to do anything similar to this with their minds. The following terms are applied to sacred objects ; primarily they denoted mode—subsequently, meaning or design, without any reference to mode. 717, to kneel, to address God without kneeling ; 17, to throw or cast, to give thanks or celebrate ; 17, to fumigate, to pray without offering incense ; s'ap, to lift up, to praise without doing so; 197, to cover over, to forgive or expiate without covering over; nşy, that which ascends, a sacrifice though it does not ascend; yap, to seven, to swear without reference to the number seven ; and, to bend down, to worship without bending down. These, and many similar words, have deviated from their primary meaning, and have acquired a religious sense.
The common tendency to use, in speaking of sacred things, words significant of their design, rather than of their mode, appears in own language. The terms christen, commune, ordain, consecrate, worthip, are of such a nature, that neither their etymology, nor their ordinary signification, would give the least clue to the manner in which the service thus named was performed. The remark already made, that when the word employed for a religious rite is primarily expressive of mode, it becomes commonly expressive of design, may receive similar confirmation. The designation of the Lord's Supper is retained by us, though that ordinance is no longer observed as a meal. And in many countries where terms expressive of dipping were first used for baptism, because it was thus administered, the same terms continue to be used when the mode is no longer in accordance with their primary signification, and when, consequently, these words cannot, in their application to this rite, denote mode.* General considerations, as well as those referring to the language of the Jewish people, support the inference, that Bantítw, having been used almost exclusively for a rite which was a symbol of the purifying of the mind, would, like many other words employed by them, lose sometimes its signification of mode, and indicate nothing but the meaning of the rite, so that, instead of meaning to overwhelm, if it meant that when first applied, it would mean to purify.
III. In many passages the word is applied to the minds of their spirits are said to be baptized. That when thus used, it is employed properly, and not figuratively, is probable, from the frequency of its occurrence, and from the simple unpoetic character of the style. But whether the term, when applied to mind, is used tropically or in a secondary sense, it would be subject to the same laws, and have essentially the same meaning. If Battitw, when applied first to a body, meant to dip it; when applied to mind, it must necessarily have a dif
If it were said that a mind was dipped, the meaning must be, that that was done to it which had some resemblance to dip
* As in the Dutch doopen, and the German taufen, words primarily denoting mode, to dip, but which are now used for the rite of baptism, though it is not thus adminis
ping, either in manner or effect. We cannot easily conceive of anything
of the word, it should be remarked, that when in the classics the mind is said to be baptized (i.e. overwhelmed or oppressed) never is reference made to an abundance of good, but always and only to an abundance of evil. Thus a man's mind is said to be baptized with misfortune, with intemperance, with excessive labours, with debts, with cares, with sins, with every thing that is bad. Such is the classical usage of Bantitw in respect to mind. No reasoning surely is required to prove that the classical cannot be the Scriptural sense of the word in its application to the soul. Christian baptism is a blessing, and not
If the sense of overwhelming were not, both in the classics and in the Scriptures, appropriated to calamities, there would be strong reasons for believing that this could not be the sense of Battitw, as expressing the spiritual blessings of the Gospel, but that the other effect mentioned, purifying, was the definite good referred to. Baptism having been long used by the Jews as a symbol of the purification of mind, would be closely associated with mind by this idea. It would therefore be most unnatural to speak of the baptism of mind, except in the sense of the purifying of mind. The rite having been constantly connected with mind by this notion, the name of the rite could not properly be applied to mind, to express any less obvious connexion. If the baptism of the body was a symbol for the purifying of the mind, then the baptism of the mind must surely mean the purifying of the mind. And if in its application to mind Banrisw had the sense of, to purify, it would follow as a natural consequence, that it would have that signification in reference to the body; it would bear the same meaning when used for the sign, that it bore when used for the thing signified. That it always, in reference to mind, retained the idea of immersion, as well as of purification, is improbable, and destitute of all proof. From its application to mind, in connexion with a rite denoting the purification of mind, we may be certain that it did express the idea of purifying, but we have no evidence that in this application it suggested any idea of dipping, or overwhelming, and therefore we conclude that both ritually and spiritually it means to purify. The accordance of this sense with all the passages which relate to the baptism of mind, and especially with those which refer this baptism to the Spirit of God, may be readily ascertained. It will be enough here to direct attention to 1 Pet. iii. 21, from which it clearly appears that baptism literally was “the removal of corporeal defilement," i. e. the purification of the ody, and spiritually, “the regard of a good conscience,” i. e. the purification of the mind.
From what has been adduced we think it appears, that the meaning of any word of unknown or doubtful signification is to be determined principally by the direct evidence which is afforded by the passage in which it stands, by parallel passages in works most closely allied, and by the sense of corresponding words in the languages most familiar to the writer. It has been already shown that in Hebrew and Chaldee, words denoting with Battitw, to overwhelm, denote, also, to cleanse or purify, without overwhelming : that in Chaldee and Syriac words, denoting with Bantitw, to dip, denote, also, to cleanse or purify without dipping. If, therefore, from classic Greek usage, it is probable that in Hebraistic Greek it never meant any thing but to dip and overwhelm ; from the usage of Hebrew, Chaldee, and Syriac words, it is equally or more probable that it does sometimes mean to purify without dipping or overwhelming. We have seen, that if in the classics Battico mean, to put into water, it generally means, to put there permanently. And if it were necessary to retain one part of the classic signification, it is likewise necessary to retain the other. We have seen, also, that if when applied to the mind it means, in classic usage, to affect largely, it means also to affect largely with calamities; and if we must preserve the sense of abundance, we are equally bound to preserve the evil of which there is an abundance. And lastly it appears, that so far as the words have a common context and a common subject, either corporeal or mental, that this context and subject are of a kind which leads us to the conclusion that Barriów in Hebraistic Greek has copied the signification of corresponding words in Hebrew, Chaldee, and Syriac, and with them denotes, to cleanse or purify. We shall next proceed to the investigation of particular passages.
[In reference to the often-quoted statement of Dr. Campbell, that év idatı means in water, it should be observed,-first, That he acknowledges that év does signify with as well as in. Secondly—That the authority of the ancient versions is inconclusive, they being as ambiguous as the Greek. Thirdly—That it is not the practice of the sacred writers to omit prepositions ; but it is their common practice to insert them in opposition to classic usage. The phrase given by the most classic of the Scripture writers, St. Luke, must be taken as the classic expression, the other as the Hebraistic form. Fourthly—That there is scarcely any point on which critics are so generally agreed, as that the sense of év Ūdatı is, with water. Dr. Campbell admits, that nearly all translators are against him-Ancients and Moderns, Catholics and Protestants, those who thought that Baptism was to dip, and those who thought otherwise, agree in this. It is so translated by Chrysostom, Munster, Erasmus, Vatablus, Capellus, Beza, Rosenmüller, Kuinöel, &c. &c.]
There the sun, with joy exceeding,
Like a bridegroom greets the eye; Like a champion, onward speeding,
Traverses the circling sky. Lord, thy perfect laws are purer
Than the sun's effulgent flame; And thy testimonies surer
Than the heaven's enduring frame. Thy commandments, light reflecting,
Inward pour reviving rays; Thy decisions, well directing,
Guard from error's devious maze.
Not with finest golden treasure
Can I be enriched so well ;
Gathered from its sweetest cell.
Comfort to the spirit mourning
Thy benignant words afford; Give thy servant faithful warning,
And ensure a blest reward.
The voice of Jehovah has spoken,
Who can render due confession ?
Who recount his hourly sin ?
Cleanse me from my guilt within !
Let my overflowing song,
FROM THE GERMAN OF LUDWIG UHLAND.
What gentle sounds salute my ear, “ I nothing hear! I nothing see!
Thy fancy is beguiled!
Man brings no serenade for thee,
My poor, my dying child !"
Thy poor child with its spell !
Dear mother, Fare thee well!
Coues, Isle of Wight, Jan. 19, 1841.