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THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE AND BETHANY.
But beyond all question, the most interesting and memorable spot which this celebrated valley (the valley of Jehoshaphat) contains, is the garden of Gethsemane. To this garden an undying interest attaches, as the scene of our Lord's agony. “When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered.”* And here it is, lying on the foot of the Mount of Olives, on the east side of the Kedron, and · occupying the very spot one's eye would turn to, looking up from the page of scripture.'t It is an even plat of ground, ‘not above fifty-seven yards square,' I enclosed by a low broken stone fence. A foot-path intersects it in an oblique direction; and as the monks have determined that this is the ground on which Judas walked when he betrayed bis Master with a kiss, they have walled it off from the rest, and pronounced it accursed. Eight venerable olive-trees still grow here, and vindicate its claim to be regarded as the very garden to which Christ resorted on the night alluded to, and where he offered the prayer—" Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” The soil below them is bare without flower or verdure of any kind,|| as if the penal fires which smote the human nature of the Son of God with such terrible energy, had withered also the earth on which . he stood, and dried up all the springs of its fertility. No more fitting spot could have been chosen for the awful event, of which, eighteen hundred years ago, it was the scene, and which has given to it an eternal interest. Overhung on the one side by the mountain, and on the other by the battlements of the temple and city, while the shadows of the night were still further deepened by the spreading olives of the garden--this was the very spot to which the soul of our surety, which now began to be “exceeding sorrowful,” would naturally turn. The wilderness could not have afforded him a more secluded spot, where his sorrows might flow unseen ; and here he was near at hand, and ready against the hour when he was to be “ led as a lamb to the slaughter.” With regard to the olives of the modern Gethsemane, the monks affirm that they are the literal trees which stood here on the night referred to. This is impossible, since all the trees in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem were cut down by Titus, to serve in the siege of the city. The olive possesses the power of shooting out afresh after it has been cut; and it is just possible that the modern olives of Gethsemane are stems from the old roots. The trees are unquestionably of great age and of enormous size. The monuments we have described partakes deeply in the desolation which characterises all the scenery around Jerusalem. It has a withered, and ruinous aspect. The western acclivity has a white chalky appearance. The generally dry bed of the Kedron, which occupies the bottom- the mouldering tomb-stones in the Jewish and Turkish burial-grounds—the grey rocks at the bottom of the mountain—the inclosing hills, whose sides nearly naked, are of a dull red
* John xviii. 1.
Elliot, vol. ii. p. 434.
+ Lindsay, vol. ii. p. 60.
Robinson, vol. i. p. 122.
Maundrell, p. 169.
colour, and relieved only by a few black and parched vines, with some groves of wild olive-trees—the silent city above," whence no smoke rises, no noise proceeds '-' from the ruinous state of all these tombs, overthrown, broken, and half open, you would imagine that the last trump had already sounded and that the valley of Jehoshaphat was about to render up its dead.'* No one can survey the scene without calling to mind the touching lament which the Saviour poured over the city in the days of her pride, as he surveyed her from the Mount of Olives. “ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them who are sent unto thee, how often would have gathered thy children together, even as a ben gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” And how awfully has the closing prediction been fulfilled—“ Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”+
Beyond the Mount of Olives, on the east, is the village of Bethany -the quiet home of the happy family which “ Jesus loved.” The distance is not more than two miles from Jerusalem. The path winds over the lower heights of Olivet, and has been " sanctified” by the feet which so often trod it at eventide. Here the last evenings of our Saviour on earth were passed; for we are told, that, leaving the stormy scene of the day's labours, he “ went out of the city into Bethany.” On our way to the village, we pass the spot which tradition has fixed on as the site of the fig-tree which Jesus cursed. The path is still bordered by a few straggling fig-trees.Descending the eastern side of the hill, we enter Bethany-at this day a small hamlet, occupied by Arabs, the fields around lying uncultivated and covered with rank grass and wild flowers. It is easy to imagine the deep and still beauty of this spot, when it was the home of Laza. rus, and his sisters Martha and Mary. Defended on the north and west by the Mount of Olives, it enjoys a delightful exposure to the southern sun. The grounds around are obviously of great fertility, though quite neglected ; and the prospect to the south-east commands a magnificent view of the Dead Sea and the plains of Jordan. The monks undertake to shew the ruins of the house in which Lazarus lived. The stones are large and the architecture of a sombre cast; but the building unquestionably is of a much more recent construction than the time of Lazarus. Near to it is shewn his tomb; and travellers are disposed to grant that this may indeed be the sepulchre in which he who was the “ Resurrection and the Life,” stood and cried
_" Lazarus, come forth.” It is obviously of great age; and if not the very tomb, in all probability it is similar in character and construction to that which Lazarus did indeed occupy. A fight of steps leads down into a square chamber hewn in the rock. A second descent communicates with another small room, in the side of which is a recess large enough to contain three bodies. ** " We are allowed to suppose,' says Elliot, `that kindred love had led Martha and Mary to select a resting place for their brother, where their own mortal remains might sleep with his till the day of resurrection.'tt-Modern Judea, Ammon, Moab, &c.
* Chateaubriand, vol. ii. p. 34.
+ Matt. xxiii. 38.
# Dr. Shaw, p. 342. Sandy's p. 196. Richardson, vol.ii. p. 371.
Lindsay, vol. ii. p. 62. ** Wilson, p. 158 ; Richardson, vol. ii: p. 370.
tt Elliot, vol. ii. p. 463.
AN INQUIRY WHETHER THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND MAINTAINS, AND THE BIBLE TEACHES, THAT BAPTISM IS REGENERATION, OR NECESSARILY
CONVEYS THE BLESSING.* CONTROVERSY on religious subjects too frequently becomes, through the depravity of the heart, the occasion of sin. When opinions are stated and maintained, not from a regard to truth, but to victory in the‘argument—not with a view to the glory of God, but to the exaltation of self or of a party-not with a design to inform and conciliate, but to confound and to irritate; the unhappy disputant has reason to mourn over his work.
On the other hand, when the discussion of a serious subject is undertaken with seriousness of soul, under a real impression of its vital importance to the moral and eternal condition of mankind, in a spirit of cordial kindness towards those who may differ in opinion ; and with the prayer of David in the heart—" Oh ! send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me;" when the end is important, and the motives are pure, and the means blameless, controversy loses all its deformity, and most of its danger.
The question at issue is of unspeakable importance. It involves consequences which affect the salvation of souls and the honour of God. If baptism be regeneration, or necessarily convey the blessing, · they who deny the doctrine “ are found false witnesses of God.” They are incurring the guilt of making those sad, whom the Lord hath not made sad. They are robbing the Saviour's sacred ordinance of its grandest character and office. They may be bringing upon themselves a swift destruction. On the other hand, if the “ outward and visible sign” be not, of necessity, accompanied by the “ inward and spiritual grace”—by “ a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness” – they who affirm that it is so accompanied, are encountering a responsibility most awful and overwhelming. They are confirming their fellow-sinners in most fatal ignorance; they are leading them to seek an evidence of their acceptance with God in an external rite, and not in the conscious experience of a divine operation upon their souls ; in a sacramental sign, and not in the baptism by the Holy Ghost; and they may stand convicted, at the last day, of having very largely contributed to their damnation.
Before the subject can be suitably discussed, it is necessary that our views, both of the necessity and the nature of regeneration, should be scriptural and distinct.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, and the description which he has given us, in bis sacred word, of the natural condition of man as a sinner fallen from God, must be altogether correct. To deny this is blasphemy. And what is that description ? “ There is none that understandeth ; there is none that seeketh after God.” “ The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked ; who can know it ?” “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another." " That which is born of the flesh is flesh," and " the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these : adul
* From an unfinished M. S. by the late Rev. Robert Housman.
tery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, ha- . tred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” “ So then, they that are in the flesh, cannot please God.” “The carnal mind is enmity against God.” “ Dead in trespasses and sins." " And were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” And, if we may venture to add the suffrage of high human authority to the infallible declarations of Jehovah, the Ninth Article of the established church assures us, that man is “ of his own nature inclined to evil.”
Sucb is man, as fallen from God. He is depraved in every faculty, and defiled in thought, motive, and conduct. He is base, wretched, and ruined. But if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” He is regenerated, born again, born of God, renewed in the spirit of his mind. He has received from the Holy Ghost a new nature. He is blest with spiritual discernment and spiritual feeling. Hence he repents. He acquiesces and trusts in the redemption of Jesus as all his salvation and all his desire. He is emancipated from his former idolatrous attachment to an evil world. He loves God in Christ. He prays, with the spirit and with the understanding. He obeys the Lord. He takes hold of the grace and promise of his Saviour, while fighting against the enemies of his soul; and he is prepared, through the diligent use of means, and in the exercise and growth of holy affections, for the enjoyment of God both here and for ever. This change in the mind and heart is Regeneration. It is effected by the same Power which made the worlds. And “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” He cannot relish the gospel of his grace. He can have no meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. The worship of Heaven, the singing of the “ new song,” the company of saints and angels, and the presence of the most Holy God, would be torment to bis unholy soul.
These particulars being premised, I proceed to inquire -is baptism regeneration, or does it necessarily convey that essential blessing? I trust it will appear that the doctrine is neither taught by the Established Church, nor countenanced by the Bible. I will endeavour to ascertain the mind of the Church, as declared in her formularies; and the mind of God, as revealed in his own word. I examine,
1. The mind of the Church. This we shall discover in her baptismal service, and in ber Article on Baptism. I consider,
1. The Public Baptism of Infants. In the first collect we are taught thus to pray :-“ We beseech thee, for thine infinite mercies, that thou wilt mercifully look upon this child; wash him and sanctify him with the Holy Ghost." Here the Church presumes, that very importunate supplication is offered up to a faithful God, for the renewal and sanctification of the child. In the second collect we thus address the Father of mercies : “ Almighty and Immortal God, the aid of all that need, the helper of all that flee to thee for succour, the life of them that believe, and the resurrection of the dead; we call upon thee for this infant, that he, coming to thy holy Baptism, may receive remission of his sins by spiritual regeneration; Receive him, O Lord, as thou hast promised by thy well-beloved Son, saying, Ask and ye shall have; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. So give now unto us
that ask : let us that seek, find ; open the gate unto us that knock; that this infant may enjoy the everlasting benediction of thy heavenly washing, and may come to the eternal kingdom which thou hast promised by Christ our Lord.” In this collect we ask, and seek, and knock, that the vast blessing of Regeneration may then be granted, while, in reverent obedience to the Lord's command, we dedicate the child to God in his own most holy ordinance. We do not plead any revealed or supposed divine appointment, by which the “ inward and spiritual grace” shall invariably accompany the “ outward and visible sign;" we simply plead the general promise, which is made to those who ask, whatever be the spiritual mercy which they implore. That this view of the Church's meaning is correct, we have the strongest evidence, in a subsequent address to the godfathers and godmothers : “ Dearly beloved, ye have brought this child here to be baptized; ye have prayed that our Lord Jesus Christ would vouchsafe to receive him, to release him of his sins, to sanctify him with the Holy Ghost, to give him the kingdom of Heaven, and everlasting life. Ye have beard also, that our Lord Jesus Christ hath promised in his Gospel to grant all these things that ye have prayed for ; which promise, he, for his part, will most fully keep and perform.” In this address, the sponsors are reminded of three things; first, that they have prayed that spiritual and eternal blessings may be the portion of the infant whom they have brought to be baptized ; secondly, that they have heard the promise of the Saviour to grant what they have supplicated; thirdly, that Jesus will assuredly ful6l his own sacred engagement.
Here then, I take a firm and decided stand. I would appeal to the understanding and the conscience of my reader, while I ask,is there the slightest intimation given, that the image of God is expected to be impressed upon the child's soul, through the instrumen. tality of the baptismal water? Is not the assured hope of the immense mercy, grounded exclusively on the fidelity of God to his general promise, of which we have ventured “ to put him in remembrance ?" Unless impenetrable confusion and darkness rest upon the language of our Church, she has certainly taught us to look for the regeneration of the infant, in answer to the prayer of faith-in the fulfilment of the Lord's promise, which has been pleaded—“ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Many other supplications are presented before the throne of mercy, that the regenerating and strengthening influences of the Spirit may be imparted to the child, in this most solemn hour of its dedication to the Christian's God.
We are now arriving I trust calmly and rationally, at a couclusion, intended by our Church, and sanctioned by the Scriptures. This is the conclusion. If the several petitions for the new and spiritual birth of the infant have been offered up in faith,-in a steady unwavering reliance on the promises and mercy of Jehovah, through the mediation of Jesus, the consequence is sure. The blessing will and must be given, for the Lord is faithful. He cannot deny himselt. He has said " If two of you shall agree on earth, as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father wbich is in beaven," 66 All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” These promises are clear, absolute, and irrevocable. Our Church, therefore, presuming that