« السابقةمتابعة »
spirit and power of that prophet. (See $ 3.) From his infancy he dwelt in the wilderness or hill-country with his father, till the word of God, probably an audible voice from heaven, such as the prophets of old heard, and which he knew to be God's by the majesty thereof, came to him, and called him forth to prepare the Jews for the reception of Messiah. This work he atchieved, by pressing all ranks of men to repent, (ustuvoisy) that is, to alter their practical judgments concerning things, because ignorance and error are the sources of sin ; and to be suitably affected with remorse and shame for their past misconduct. But the Baptist did not stop here. He required all his hearers to bring forth fruits meet for repentance ; that is, enjoined them to make a thorough reformation in their lives. This doctrine he inculcat. ed likewise by the rite of baptism, which represented the nature and necessity of repentance to mens senses, as his sermons set these things before their understandings. Accordingly he administered the rite to all who were so affected with his sermons, as to become his disciples. Matt. iii. 1. In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea. John made his first public appearance in the uncultivated and thinly peopled country on this side Jordan, the hill-country around Hebron where his father dwelt, (Luke i. 39, 40.) But after his fame was spread abroad and many came to him, he left Ju. dea, and passed over Jordan, fixing his residence at Bethabara for the conveniency of baprising, (John i. 28. X. 40. see $ 84.) Luke iii. 3. And he came into all the country about Jordan *. He tra.
Eleazar, in the person of Zadoc, hy Solomon, 1 Kings ii. 27, 35. In latter times the high priesthood was possessed by the Asmoneans, who were neither of the one family nor the other, but common priest of the course of Joarib. The dignity of the high priesthood made him who enjoyed it, whether he was of the posterity of Fileazar or Ithamar, the first of the sacerdotal order; the head of the other family being second only, and next to him. It is supposed that the prophet Jeremiah speaks of both, when he mentions a chief priest and a second priest, chap. lii. 24. In like manner, notwithstanding Abiathar, of the line of Ithamar, was deposed from the high priesthood, he is honoured with the title which in those days was given to the high priests, and set almost on an equality with his successor Zadok, of the line of Elcazar, 1 Kings iv. 4. And Zadoc and Abiat har were the priests. If Caiaphas therefore was the second priest, as is probable from his succeeding Annas, he might be called the high priest in an improper sense. Or if Annas was removed, and Caiaphas succeeded him before the year expired, they might both properly be said to have been high priests that year. But though Annas was deposed to make way for Caiaphas, he was restored to his dignity soon after our Lord's death, Acts iv. 6.
* What Luke terms the country about Fordan, Matthew calls the billcountry of Yudea. Their accounts may be illustrated from Josephus, who tells us Bull. V. 4. that the mountains above Jericho, ran north as far as Scythopolis, and south to the territory of Sodom, at the bottom of the As. phaltite lake. Opposite to this there was another range of mountains, on the other side of Jordan, beginning at Julias, where the river falls into the
3 A 2
sea of Galilee, and extending themselves southwards to the extremity also of the Asphaltite lake. The plain between these mountains, and through which Jordan ran, was called the Aulon, also the Campus Magnus or great plain, and is often mentioned in the Jewish history. According to Josephus, the length of the Aulon was from the village Ginnabris, to the northern extremity of the Asphaltite lake, and measured 1200 stadiums : but its breadth between the mountains was only 120. The Scriptures, however, extend the Campus Magnus to the southern extremity or bottom of the dead sea, Deut. xxxiv. 1,-j. which for that reason it calls the sca of the plain, Eusebius gives it still greater dimensions, namely from Le. banon io the desert of Paran. There is another Campus Magnus mention
ed by Josephus, called also the plain of Esdraclon, from the city of Jeze , Teel, and Meya medsos Asgewros, from a town of that name. This plain ex.
tended itself from Scythopolis on the east, to the plain of Ptolemais or Acta on the west. The plain of Acra on the north was bounded by a range of hills, and to the south by Mount Carmel; but eastward it was joined to the plain of Esdraelon by a narrow valley. As the plain of Esdraelon ran castward to Scythopolis, it comprehended not only a great part of the lower Galilee, but of Samaria also. Hence Josephus calls it the great plain of Samaria. Besides the above mentioned, there is a large extent of flat country lying along the Mediterranean, from Mount Carmel to the ut. most boundary of the land southwards. In this plain there were no mountains, only a few sandy hillocks, such as at Joppa, on which Gath of the Philistines is said to have been built. The northern part of it was called Saron and Saronis, but the southern Sephela.- These were all the remarka. ble plains in the land of Israel, their situations, their boundings, their names, and their extents. The rest of the country was high and mourtainous, having but small openings or flats between the ridges of the hills,
Josephus informs us that the Jordan has two sources, one in the region called Daphne, which supplies the lesser Jordan. This rivulet having passed through a pleasant country, falls into the greater Jordan, a little below where Jeroboam set up his golden calves, Bell. iv. 1. “ The greater Jordan to appearance flows out of a cave in that part of mount Lebanon called Pancas, under which Cæsarea Philipi stands, (See 70.) but in reality it comes out of the lake Phiala, passing thence under ground for the space of fifteen miles till it reaches Paneas. This Philip the tetrarch first discovered by throwing a quantity of chaff into the lake Phiala, which issuing out at a cave whence formerly the Jordan was supposed to spring, shewed clearly the true source of the river. The Jordan issuing from this cave, glides through the lake and marshes of Semechonitis. Then running other fifteen miles, talls helow the city Julias, into the lake Gennczar, through the middle of which it passes, and having watered a large tract of desert land, loses itself in the Asphaltite lake, Bell. ii. 18. I he Hebrews by wildernesses and descris, did not mean barren tracts of ground absolutely uninhabited, but uncultivated and thinly peopled tracts, such as pasture grounds usually are. Of this kind were the mountains and part of the plain along the Jordan. For Josephus not only terms the plain itself senperar, but he calls the mountain ogos 6.901**TOY. Hence Reland affirms, that those geographers must be in an eror, who crowd their maps of Palestine with many cities and villages along the banks of the Jordan.
Dr Shaw in his Travels, p. 373. describes the Jordan thus, “ Though all those fountains and rivulets which I have just now mentioned, together with the Kardaneh, the Kishon, the brook of Sychem, and other lesser ones dispersed over the Holy Land should be united together, they would not form a stream in any degree equal to the Jordan, which, excepting the Nile, is by far the most considerable river I have seen in the Lerant or Barbary. However, I could not compute it to be more than thirty yards broad, though this is in a great measure made up by the depth, which even
velled through all that country, preaching the baptism * of repentance for the remission of sins, i. e. explaining the nature and declaring the necessity of baptism, as a testimony on the part of
at the brink I found to be three. If then we take this during the whole year for the main depth of the stream, which by the way runs about two iniles an hour, the Jordan every day discharges into the dead sea 6,090,000 tuns of water."
Mr Maundrel in his Travels, p. 81. describes the Jordan thus, “ On the farther side of the convent of St John, there runs along a small descent, which you may fairly call the first and extremest brink of Jordan, as far as which it may be supposed that the river did anciently overflow, at the same season of the year, viz. at the time of harvest, Josh. iii. 15. or as it is expressed, i Chron. xii. 15. in the first month, that is, March. But at present (whether it is because the river by its rapidity of current hath worn its channel deeper than formerly, or whether because its waters are diverted another way) it seems to have forgot its ancient greatness. For we could discern no sign nor probability of such overflowings when we were there, which was the 30th of March, the proper time for this inundation. Nay, so far was the river from overflowing, that it runs almost two yards below the brink of its channel. After having descended the outermost bank, you go about a furlong upon a level strand before you come to the immediate bank of the river. The second bank is so beset with bushes and trees, such as tamarisks, willows, oleanders, &c. you can see no water till you have made your way through them. In these thickets anciently, (and the same is reported of it at this day) several sorts of wild beasts are wont to harbour themselves, who being washed out of their covert by the overflowing of the river, gave rise to the allusion (Jer. xlix. 19.) Behold he shall come up like a lion from the swellings of Jordan. The water of Jordan is too rapid to be swam against. Its breadth is about twenty yards, and in depth it far exceeded my height. On the other side, there appeared to be a much larger thicket than the one in which we were.”'
The reader who compares these accounts of the Jordan, with the histor ry of the Israelites passage through it under the conduct of Joshua, ch. iii. but especially if he attends to the circumstance mentioned, ver. 15. that they passed at the time Jordan overflowed all his banks, will form, a proper idea of the greatness of the miracle, which God wrought for their pas. sage, stopping the current of so vast and rapid a river, when so full of wa. ter.
The particular part of the river where John baptised, was called BeIbabara, or the House of the Passage, either because the Israelites anciently passed over at this place, or because it was the common fording or ferry. ing place to and from Judea. On either supposition, the banks of the river i here must have been free of wood, and not so steep as those described by Mr Maundrel. If Bethahara was the place where the people under Joshua passed this river, it stood directly opposite to Jericho. If it was the then common ferrying place, we may suppose that the Baptist chose it for the sake of making himself better known ; and that he might have an opportunity of addressing great numbers of his countrymen, as they travelled from one part of the country to another.
. There were two kinds of baptism in use among the Jews ; one was that of the priests at their consecration, and of which we have an example, Lev. viii. 6. It is true, the text terms this a washing with water ; but such washings were called baptisms by the Jews, when they spoke or wrote in Greek; and the person so washed, was said to be baptized, Judith xii. 7. 2 Kings v. 14. The other baptism was that of the heathens proselyted to the Jewish religion. This latter indeed is not expressly mentioned in
Scripture, those who submitted to it of the sincerity of their repentance, and on the part of him who administered it by the commandment of God, as a seal or token of the remission of their sins. Withall, as the Jews themselves were required by John to submit to baptism, it signified that together with their sins they were to renounce the institutions of Moses ; just as the Gentile proselytes, by their baptism, were understood to renounce, not their
Scripture, neither has Philo or Josephus taken any notice of it. But the silence of ancient writers will by no means prove the rite to be of modern original ; for as the easterns greatly delighted in emblematical instructions, it was natural for the Jews, by the religious washing of their proselytes with water, to teach them that in becoming Moses' disciples, they were cleansed from all the defilements of Paganism, and that they were pardon. ed and accepted of God. Perhaps, the rite took its rise from God's having commanded the Israelites to sanctify thems-lves, and wash their clothes, before he spake to them from Mount Sinai, Exod. xix. 10. But be that as it will, there seems to be a plain allusion to the baptism of proselytes, Ezek. xxxvi. 24, 25. Not to mention that we have a remarkable proof of it in Arian's Commentary on Epictetus, Lib. II. g. fine, where a convert to the Jewish religion is called a baptised person, (Biodujevo). In the mean time, though the baptism of proselytes should be given up, the ceremonies practised at the consecration of the priests, shew that it was no unheard of rite which the Messiah's harbinger made use of. His countrymen were well acquainted both with the thing itself and its signification. They knew that it denoted some great change, either in the opinions or practices of those who submitted to it, and implied a promise of acceptance with God on the part of him who administered it. Moreover, they had been led by a passage in their sacred books, Zech. xiii. 1. to expect that either the Messiah himself, or some of his attendants would baptise; as is evident from the question which the messengers of the sanhedrim pot to the Baptist: John i. 25. They asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, nor that prophet? They must have known therefore that John's baptism represented purification both of heart and life, as necessary even to Jews themselves, before they could become the subjects of so holy a prince as the Messiah ; and that it was a solemn obligation, binding those who received it, to lead such lives. Hence, as Dr Whitby observes, they are mistaken who think John's baptism the same in kind with that which Christ afterwards instituted for the admission of disciples into his church. The difference between the two was considera. ble : 1. John did not baptise either in the name of Christ or of the Holy Ghost, much less did he baptise them with the Holy Ghost, a circumstance mentioned by himself, as what remarkably distinguished Christ's baptism from his. 2. They who were baptised with John's baptism did not profess their faith in the Messiah as actually come, neither did they receive his baptism in testimony of their entertaining that belief: for after having administered it, he e horted his disciples to believe on him who was to come. Therefore his baptism could not initiate men unto the Christian Church; as appears likewise from the Apostl.s rebaptizing some who had been baptised by John, Acts xix. 4, 5. 3. John's was the baptism of repentance, whereby all that had a sense of their sins and professed repentance, were promised pardon, and exhorted to believe in the Messiah who was soon to appear; or it was a washing with water, to shew the Jews not only that they must be clansed both from their prejudices and vices, but that they must relinguish Judaism in order to their becoming fit members of the Mes. siah's kingdom.
sins only, but the profession of heathenism also. Wherefore, in every view of this rite, the Baptist, by preaching it as necessary, and by administering it to all who were willing to receive it, prepared the people for the coming of Messiah. 4. As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, (ch. xl. 3. saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight. The Evangelist, by citing this prophecy as accomplished in the Baptist's preaching, shews us what the true meaning of the prophecy is. Isaiah, by expressions taken from the custom of the kings, who commonly have the roads through which they pass prepared for them, signified that Messiah's fore-runner was to prepare his way, by insinuating that the institutions of Moses were to be relinquished, as the means of salvation, and by exhorting the people to repentance and amendment of life. Matthew tells us that John enforced his exhortations to repentance, from the consideration that Messiah's kingdom was at hand; the kingdom of heaven foretold by Daniel the prophet, the new dispensation of religion, wherein all ceremonial observances were to be abolished, and nothing but repentance, flowing from faith, and producing sincere obedience, would avail towards the pardon of sin, accepa tance with God, and the enjoyment of eternal life. Matt. iii. i. Preaching in the wilderness of Judea : 2. And saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. According to Luke in the passage above mentioned, the argument whereby John enforced his exhortations to repentance was, that sinners would thereby obtain the remission of their sins. Wherefore, the two Evangelists, compared, shew that the great and distinguishing privilege of the kingdom of heaven or new dispensation is, that therein pardon is promised to penitents. Matthew as well as Luke observes, that John's preaching, the design of it, its efficacy upon the minds of the people, and even the place where he first appeared publicly, were all foretold by the prophet Isaiah. 3. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his pathis straight. Luke however cites the passage more fully than the rest. Luke iii. 5. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crook. ed shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth. Of these metaphors, which are plainly taken from the making of roads, the meaning is, that Messiah's fore-runner, by preaching the doctrine of repentance, shall produce such a change in the minds of the Jews, that many of them, laying aside their prejudices, shall receive and acknowledge Messiah when he appears.-6. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God: after such a preparation of the way, as was just now described, mankind shall behold, not a splendid temporal monarch, accompanied with