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So remarkably hath God verified to her his gracious words, “Trust in the Lord and do good,
so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou “ shalt be fed.” 1
I was induced by your correspondent C. L's criticism in your second volume p. 715, on Isaiah lxiv. 6, “ All our righteousnesses are as filthy “rags,” to examine the subject with some care ; and, as I have good reasons for wishing to be satisfied about it, I shall be obliged to you to insert the following remarks in your useful publication.
A singular noun, like that plural in the passage abovementioned, is rendered ornament or ornaments, Exod. xxxii. 4, 5, 6. 2 Sam. i. 24. Is. xlix. 18. Jer. ii. 32. iv. 30. Ezek. xvi. 7, 11. xxiii. 40; and perhaps in some other places. I say a singular noun, though sometimes translated as plural, because the old lexicons considered it as such : the construction in some places (the points out of the question,) absolutely require it to be so considered, as it is neither in regimine, nor with an affir; and especially because in Ezek. xvi. 7. the words rendered excellent orna. ments are in the original and in the margin ornament of ornaments, the first word being the same as in the other places, the second being the only instance in which the plural of that word occurs in the whole scripture, at least as far as I can find; and this plural is regularly formed from the singular which precedes it—though some consider it as a dual. In none of these places is the epithet gaudy necessarily implied. In some, as Is. xlix. 18, it cannot be admitted; it is simply a substantive; and how far being added to the word garment can intitle it to that epithet I do not determine. According to this interpretation it is literally a garment of ornaments, and in what sense they who confessed themselves to be “all
* Psalm xxxvii. 3.-Of the person (named Elizabeth Moulder,) to whom this letter relates, and who was for nearly thirty years an inmate in the writer's family, a further account may be seen in bis Life, p. 369, &c.-J. S.
as an unclean thing" could properly add, “ and “ all our righteousness are as a garment of orna“ ments," may be the subject of future consideration. The plural word in Is. lxiv. 6. not only differs from the plural in Exek. xvi. 7. in respect of the masoretic pointing, but by the want of the additional jod, and is the plural from ny not ny. One meaning of the root is to remove or take away, (Prov. xxv. 8.) and from this meaning the word, in question is supposed to signify sordes, quod ab oculis removeri solent ; filthiness, because it is usual to remove them from the sight; or re-.
in ים nouns masculine take :ער' ער"ם (ער ערים
גריים ,alkid גדי שנים ,a tooth שן the plural, a5
jectimenta, things to be cast away. In this sense it is literally a garment of filthinesses, which to me appears more consistent with the context than the other interpretation, as also the most ancient; but I should be glad to receive further light on the subject. It being evidently the contrast to the robe of righteousness mentioned Is. Ixi. 10, no doubt the pointing, joined to the consideration of the context, had great weight with the venerable translators of the scripture; and, unquestionably, this is often an useful guide to the proper reading, though not always to be adhered to. Castalio translates the clause panniculus abjectissimus : the Septuagint has the same sense, and so has our old version, though not so well expressed: and, considering the passage (as I do) to be a prophetical prayer, suited to the case of the Jews when converted to their long rejected Messiah, and the clause as referring to their own righteousnesses on which they had hitherto depended, there seems to be a peculiar propriety in the humiliating language : and whether, compared with the perfect rule of the holy law, and in respect of justification before God, it be too humiliating even for true Christians concerning their best works, I very much question. Since, though as fruits of the spirit they are intrinsically good, there is in them all a mixture of evil and very many defects.
ON THE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION OF BAPTISM.
Having observed the impression made on a full congregation by the baptism of a child during the service, and by a serious address in the sermon to parents, sponsors, and all baptized persons, concerning their obligations and duties, and their criminality if they did not attend to them ; I was led to conclude that the public administration of this ordinance during divine service (which except in cases of necessity our church inculcates most decidedly,) would, if generally adopted, be productive of most important advantages : and consequently I was induced to conclude, that the too common custom of baptizing on other days than the Lord's day, or, if on the Lord's day, after the congregation has separated; was at least foregoing those advantages.
The Antipedobaptists do all baptize very publicly: and this administration of baptism, according to their sentiments, is very impressive, and has a great effect in producing a favourable opinion of their mode of baptizing, in the minds of those who have not maturely weighed the subject ; besides giving the minister an occasion of addressing the consciences, the judgments, the passions, or even the prejudices of the assembly. But the retired and concealed way, now generally adopted by the ministry of our church (contrary to the rubric undoubtedly,) seems to say to the people,
It is a mere form : there is no need to make it public; no instruction can be grafted on it; it needlessly lengthens the service. And the unchristian custom of making baptisms an occasion of a sensual dissipated feast, which is too generally connived at, gives countenance to this conclusion, and advantage to those who administer the sacrament in another manner, less scriptural, I apprehend, in other respects, but more scriptural in that it is made a public, serious, and religious service. Indeed I am fully convinced, that the public administration of infant-baptism, with apposite instructions to all concerned, would do more to establish its scriptural authority than all the controversial publications which have appeared on the subject.
But this is by far the least part of what I would wish to point out. A great deal has been said of baptismal regeneration. If we say that this always, and of course, takes place, however the sacrament is administered, not to adduce other objections, it is plain that we return to the opus operatum of the Papists. Yet far be it from me to deny that regeneration may accompany baptism, and that it frequently does when baptism is properly administered. Now I was peculiarly impressed on seeing baptism administered during the service with the idea, that a considerable number of Christians were, all over the congregation, unitprayer,
that the child might be baptized by the Holy Spirit, and made an heir of eternal life. Surely thought I, this way of administering the sacred ordinance gives the most scriptural ground