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to perform an act of religious worship by bathing another ; far less, is there an instance of a public bathing in a worshipping assembly: an immersion before the church, and before the world. Nay, I know not, if any thing like this is to be found among all the corruptions and enormities of an idol's temple.
In the writings of Homer, (one of the earliest monuments of heathen mythology, and one of the best sources of classical illustration of the holy scriptures,) I have not met with a single instance of Immersion, as a religious purification, or, in any respect what
as a religious ceremony. He gives many instances of the religious application of water ; but they are all by pouring, as we have already shown. See pp. 99–102. He also gives many instances of bathing, sometimes in the sea, sometimes in rivers, and frequently in baths in the tents, or the palaces, of the great; but they are all merely for the purposes of refreshment, comfort, and bodily health, and they are all occupations of privacy, or of the retirement of domestic life : never a social exhibition of general concourse: never seen, or heard of, among any of the solemnities of public worship.
It will not be said that any thing like Immersion was ever beheld in the Jewish Tabernacle or Temple. The purifications by water to be there used are very distinctly specified. Exod. xxx. 17--21. “And the
. Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal : and thou shalt put it between the
tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein : For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat. When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord ; So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed, throughout their generations.” Exod. xl. 3032. « And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal. And Moses, and Aaron, and his sons, washed their hands and their feet thereat. When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar, they washed ; as the Lord commanded Moses."
For no other purpose could Solomon have added the brazen sea, as mentioned 1 Kings vii. 23—26. which is expressly classed with the lavers (verses 43, 44,) now increased to ten in number in consequence of the increased service of the sanctuary. Compare Ps. xxvi. 6. lxxiii. 13. and 1 Tim. ii. 8.
The use of water was, in like manner, constant in the Grecian Temples ; but in no case by Immersion. “ Temples (says Robinson of Ravenstonedale,) were divided into two parts, the sacred and profane; of which the latter was denominated το έξω περιγραντήριον, the part without the perirhanterium, and the former το έσω, the part within. The περιρραντήριον was a vessel of stone or brass filled with holy water, with which they who were admitted to the sacrifices were sprinkled, and beyond which it was not lawful for any Bébraos, or profane person, to pass.
that it was placed in the entrance of the õdurov, the inacces. sible place, or sanctuary, which was the inmost recess of the temple, and into which none but the priest, was allowed to enter; and hence Béßnaos TÍTOS, the profane place, is so called in opposition to the ãduroy. But others, with more probability, tell us that the tegib
avruzov was placed at the door of the Temple.”— "Every person, who attended the solemn sacrifices, was purified with water. For that purpose, a vessel, which was filled with holy water, and which was denominated περιρραντήριον, was placed at the entrance of the temples ; and the verbs περιρραίνειν, περιμάττεσθαι, περιθειούν, περιαγνίζειν, &c. are derived from the custom of surrounding with water. This water was consecrated by putting into it a torch, which had been taken from the altar, and which was sometimes used in sprinkling those who entered into the temple, (pége δε το δαδίον, τόδ' εμβάψω λαβών, Bring the torch, I will take and dip it. Aristoph. Pac.; Eurip. Hercul. Furent. v. 228.) Instead of torches, they sometimes used a bunch of laurel or olive (Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. v. cap. 30; Virg. Æneid. lib. vi. v. 229.) Before the worshippers sacrificed to the celestial góds, they washed their whole bodies;" (that is, in some retirement by themselves, as in Livy I. 45. quoted p. 41) “but before they performed the sacred rites to the infernal deities, a sprinkling of water was sufficient. Sometimes the feet, as well as the hands, were washed :
and hence the proverbs ανίπτους χερσίν, and ανίπτοις ποσίν, with unwashed hands, and with unwashed feet, which were commonly applied to men, who undertook any matter without due care and preparation. It was ordered that no man should go beyond the περιρραντήριον before he had washed his hands; and to omit this ceremony was reckoned so great a crime, that one Asterius is fabled to have been struck dead with thunder, because he approached the altar of Jupiter with unwashen hands." (Archæologia, Book III. Chap. 2.)
The indecency of the practice of Immersion in Baptism is incalculably increased by the consideration, that those ancient christians, who were baptized by immersion, were all' baptized naked. This one fact is a strong proof, that Immersion did not originate in the purity of scriptural ordinances, but in the rudeness of growing superstition. It arose at a time, when a barbarous, but ambitious clergy presumed to enjoin submission, to whatever regulations they thought proper to introduce, however abhorrent from what nature itself must ever teach mankind. The abominable practice has been utterly exploded by a sense of propriety, in modern times; in so much that they, who plead for immersion, as an ancient custom, are under the necessity of adopting along with it a mitigating innovation.
From the very first practice, indeed, of immersion, it became necessary to construct what were called Baptisteries, (edifices altogether unknown in scripture,) which were a kind of Bathing-Houses, separate
from the places of public worship, in which people might be immersed by the church office-bearers, in the presence of a few attending friends, without being exposed to the eyes of the congregation. A woeful change on the administration of the Ordinance of Baptism, which confessedly rendered it unfit to be seen! Even this innovation, however, could not satisfy the human sense of decency; and therefore a bathing dress has been added, (a thing equally unknown in scripture, or even in the early practice of immersion, but, I acknowledge,) a great improve-ment, which has done much to conceal the enormity of the practice of Immersion, and has changed the separate Bathing-House into an open cistern in the centre of some of the Antipædobaptist places of worship.
For the naked immersion of adults, we presume no one will plead ; and even that of infants, however innocent and proper the scene may be in the nursery, it would surely be altogether inadmissible in a public, especially a worshipping, assembly. It is very remarkable, however, that, in defending the present order concerning Baptism in the Church of England, and at the same time excusing the Clergy for abandoning immersion in practice, the reasons offered are these two, that the sponsors never certify the Priest that the child may well endure it, and that they bring the child so dressed, that it cannot be conveniently stripped at the font. “ In the practice, (says Mr. Wall, History of Infant Baptism, Part II. Chap. IX.) the God-fathers take so much advantage of the