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A. The following statements are worthy of consideration :
“The learned author of Letters addressed to Bishop Hoadley, in defence of Anabaptist Principles, expressly concedes,' that bapto signifies to sprinkle.'”-Rev. Enoch Pond.
“ Zealous as he (the said author of 'Letters') is for immersion, he is constrained to acknowledge, that bapto is never used in the Septuagint ‘for the rite of washing a person's whole body : but, on the contrary, is sometimes used for wetting the body by sprinkling ; as in Dan. iv. 33; and chap. v. 21; where Nebuchadnezzar's body is said to be wet with the dew of heaven. Now, he says, “We all know, that a person is wet with dew, not by immersion into it, but by its distillation in gentle drops : we are sprinkled with it.'”—DR. LATHROP.
Q. Do any of the other Greek writers afford instances to justify the assertion that bapto does not exclusively signify immerse ?
A. Yes: among others the following are given :
“HOMER.—The lake was tinged (ebapteto) with the purple blood." Surely the lake was not immersed in, or plunged under, the purple blood! If not, then, bapto here cannot mean immerse, or plunge under.
" ARISTOPHANES.—. He,' Magnes, 'used the Lydian music, and shaved his face, (baptomenos) smearing it with tawny washes.'" Here, also, baptomenos, the participle of bapto, does not mean immerse.
“Aristotle speaks of a substance, which being pressed (baptei) staineth the hand.” Here the proof is irrefragable, that bapto does not mean immerse exclusively: for in no just sense can it be said, that the substance immerses the hand, or the hand is immersed in the colouring substance.
“MR. WALKER quotes the following sentence from SCHREVELIUS' and Robinson's Lexicons :- - He indeed (baptei) baptizeth the bottle, but it never the liquid water.' Words cannot declare more plainly than these, that bapto does not always signify immerse; for though the bottle is baptized, yet it never goeth under the water. N.B. These exaniples are taken from Pond's Treatise.
Q. What then would the exclusive immersionists gain, were we to admit that bapto and baptizo are words synonymous ?
A. Nothing at all; as the proof above submitted is incontrovertible, that bapto itself does not always signify immerse.
Q. But regarding baptizo as truly and properly a diminutive, what follows ?
A. It must of necessity“ be somewhat less in its signification” than bapto ; and therefore less favouring the idea of total immersion.
Q. Is the word baptizo ever used in the SEPTUAGINT version ?
Q. Is it there used for the washing or bathing the whole person?
A. The writer of the Letters to Bishop Hoadley, beforementioned, concedes that “ the word baptizo is never but once used, in those very numerous places of the Old Testament, where bathing the person is commanded.”
Q. What one instance is this?
A. It is found in 2 Kings v. 14, of our version, or 4th Kings v. 14, of the Septuagint version : “ And Naaman went down and baptized himself (ebaptisato) in Jordan seven times, according to the saying of Elisha."
Q. Is there any certainty that Naaman dipped himself altogether under the water ?
A. The matter is at best doubtful. The prophet said, “Wash seven times," doubtless, in reference to the law, which enjoined, that the leper should be sprinkled seven times for his cleansing. (Lev. xiv. 7.) The Hebrew word, RacHaTZ, which Elisha used, and is rendered by our translators, “ Wash,” does not necessarily imply the washing the whole person : but, according to Professor Lee, it is used for washing any part of the body, and is rendered by Montanus, in the passage in question, in his interlinear translation, by the Latin lavo, which signifies, wash, wet, moisten, beden, besprinkle. The word employed by the prophet conveys, then, no idea of immersion. Evident, also, is it, that the Hebrew word TaBaL, rendered in our version "dip," is, in this instance, used synonymously with “wash;” and so it is translated by Montanus, in the margin, by abluo, which signifies, to wash. “Go," says Elisha, "and wash seven times.” “And he went and dipped,” washed himself, “ according to the saying of the man of God." Now, baptizo is used by THE SEVENTY, to convey this precise idea of washing. That this great and honourable man (v. 1,? —this mighty general of the Syrian host, plunged himself from the river's bank seven times successively, when he was commanded only to wash, and that ceremonially, is exceedingly improbable. From the indications of his temper
recorded in the narrative, he was evidently not disposed to do more than the prophet required; and that he did not, is plain,---for he acted “according to the saying of the man of God,” who commanded him simply to wash. His disease was only local, (v. 11,) and only a local application of the water was necessary: How he was baptized we learn from Lev. xiv. 7, ‘And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean. This was the method God had appointed; and we can hardly suppose the prophet would have enjoined any other,--at least, not till it is proved.”—Rev. WM. THORN.
Q. Seeing, then, that there is no clear, satisfactory instance in the SEPTUAGINT, in which baptizo is used for immersing the whole body, can you cite any instances from general Greek writers, in which baptizo is used to signify something less than a total immersion in water ?
A. Yes. The following instances are quoted from Pond's Treatise :
“Porphyry mentions'a river in India, into which, if an offender enters, or attempts to pass through it, he is immediately baptized up to his head.' Baptizetai mekri kephales.' Here immersion, or a going wholly under water, is out of the question. The head was out of the water ; and yet
person was baptized, according to the Greek writer, but not so according to the exclusive immersionists. We believe Porphyry.
“Mr. SYDENHAM quotes the following sentence, as delivered by the oracle :-"Baptize (baptize) the bottle ; but it is not right to plunge it wholly under water.” Here is another plain instance, in which baptizo is used for something less than immersion. According to this direction of the oracle, a thing may be baptized, and yet not be wholly under water.
“Origen, speaking to the Pharisees of the wood on the altar, over which water was profusely poured at the command of Elijah, (see 1 Kings xviii. 33,) expressly says, that this wood was baptized. This term, then, was used by ORIGEN (one of the earliest Christian fathers) to signify pouring."
"EUSEBIUS mentions a fountain near the church at Tyre, where the people washed previous to their entering the temple. This washing,” he observes, "resembled baptism.”
The following instances are quoted from Thorn's Treatise :
"ÆLIAN.~' Having baptized with precious ointment a garland woven of roses.' The garland was surely not dipped
into a box of ointment, but the ointment was poured or sprinkled on the garland."
“ I AMBLICHUS.—' Baptize not in the periranterion.' This was a small vessel like those kept at the doors of Roman Catholic chapels.—(Potter's Ant.) The act here is evidently sprinkling."
“ Justin.— Sprinkling with holy water was invented by demons, in imitation of the true baptism, signified by the Prophets, (Isaiah lii. 15 ; Ezek. xxxvi. 25,) that their votaries might have their pretended purifications by water.' Here sprinkling and baptism are used synonymously.”
“Suidas.—' Being carried before a tribunal, he was scourged by the executioners, and, flowing with blood, baptized the hollow of his hand.' That is, some of the flowing blood fell into the hollow of his hand, and thus baptized it."
Q. Are you disposed now to appeal to the New Testament, in proof that baptizo signifies less than immersion ?
A. Yes: the following instances are in point:
Mark vii. 4.—“And when they (the Pharisees and all the Jews) come from market, except they wash, (baptisontai, or be baptized,) they eat not.”
Q. Does the context throw any light on the practice here mentioned ?
A. Yes : the Evangelist, having stated the fact, that the Pharisees and certain of the Scribes found fault with our Lord's disciples for having eaten with defiled, that is to say, unwashen, hands,” gives the reason of their censure: "For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not. And when they come from the market, except they wash, (baptize themselves, they eat not." Here, it is evident that the baptizing of themselves, and the washing of their hands, are phrases used synonymously. Application of water, therefore, to a part of the person, if the Evangelist knew what he was writing, is truly and properly BAPTISM. Moreover, it is absurd, unless the case can be clearly proved, to suppose, that all the Jews, would not take a mouthful of food without dipping themselves head and ears under water, and, in addition to this, that every time they came from the market, they restrained themselves from all food, until they practised a similar immersion.
Q. Can you state anything respecting the mode in which the Jews washed their hands ? Was it by immersing them in water, or by having water poured upon them?