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4 that was their usual phraseology for the initiat
* ing of heathen proselytes into the Jewish religion.
* But that he, a Jew, and (as such) already one of
* the people of God, should have occasion for
* being initiated, like a heathen proselyte, was 4 what he could not understand. He therefore,
* could think of no other meaning to Jesus's
* words, but the literal meaning; and yet was
* surprized to hear him talk of being born again,
* in the natural sense.'
All that is here pretended from Nicodcmus's answer is a mere supposition, not only without the least evidence from any authentic history, but also quite contrary to reason. .For, if there had been any such proselyte baptism amongst the Jews, before and in our Saviour*$ time; and which they were every day making use of, as Dr. Benson pretends: no common Jew, much less a ruler, and master in Israels could ever have been so surprised, and so much at a loss, how to understand our Lord ; and therefore, must have returned a much better answer to him. Such, as this, would naturally have occurred to mind. 4 I know very well that it is common 4 and usual, even daily, for heathen proselytes to
* be initiated into our religion by baptism and cir
* cumcision but, as we are the people of God,
* circumcised Jews already, can there be any 1 reason or any occasion for us to be baptized, as 4 well as proselytes.' This, upon the doctor's supposition, would have been the most ready and the most natural reply, when Christ told him, he must be born again, or be could not fee the kingdom of God: but by the answer which NJcodemus gave, he appears to be so sar from knowing any thing at all about Jewish proselyte baptism -, or of having the least notion of any such thing, that the only idea, which he had, of being born again, was entirely confined to that of the natural birth; and it is remarkable also, that his answer universally extends to all men, whether Heathen or Jews for
a he he fays, not, how can I, or how can a Jew, but, How can a Man be born when be is old? Can be enter thesecond time into bis mother's womb, andbe born? which therefore isa strong presumptive proof, that no such Jewish proselyte baptism was ever heard of by him. It is a thing vastly incredible, that a ruler, and master in Israel should be quite ignorant of it, if there then was, or had ever been, any such practice amongst the Jews, and so very common, that they were daily making use os it. This passage of scripture therefore, and the other fix, I produced in my supplement, afford so many convincing arguments against this opinion, which has not one text, nor any other good authority to support it, that one would think it should never be admitted by any Christians, who seriously consider them.
4 But Dr. Benson proceeds: " Jesus explained
* himself, and confirmed what he had said, assur4 ing him that unless a man (even a Jew) were re4 gularly initiated into his church, or born of wa4 ter and of the spirit, he could not fee for enter
* into) the kingdom of God. And, from the his4 tory of the Æls of the apostles, and their epif
* ties, we accordingly find, that that was the
* way, in which Jews, as well as other persons,
* were initiated into the christian church, being
* first baptized with water, and then with the Holy
* Spirit. (See, besides many other places, Atls ii.
* 38.andviii. 12. i£c. andxix. 1. &?<:.) Our Saviour 4 goes on to say, ver. 6. Being born of the flesh, 4 being a Jew by birth, did not initiate him into
* the christian church; neither would it have done
* so, if it had been ever so often repeated. But 4 being born of water and of the spirit, would 4 initiate him into the spiritual dispensation. Ni
* codemus, deeply tinctured with the Jewish preju
* dices, was very much astonished at Jesus's talk. 4 Our IjOrd observed it, and said unto him, Mar
* vel not that I said unto you, that you (Jews) 4 must be born again. And then ver. 8. he at
4 tacks tacks another Jewish prejudice in Nicodemus, and intimated that the Gentiles should be called into the kingdom of GoH, under the Messiah, and should enjoy equal privileges; the wind bloweth were it pleafeth, and you hear the found there: of, but cannot tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth; (you cannot tell all the points from whence it cometh, nor to how many points it steereth its course but it appeareth, from the sound, and other effects of it, that it bloweth to and from all points of the compass) so is every one that is born of the spirit; so shall men come from all parts of the world, from every point of the compass, and (by being baptized with water and with the spiritj be initiated as proselytes to my religion : or fas our Saviour elsewhere expressed the same thing) they shall come from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south j and shall sit clown in the kingdom of God. This additional discovery increased Nicodemus's surprise, and he said unto him, how can these things be? Jesus, with the greatest propriety, answered, are you a master in Israel, and know not these things? Can you be ignorant of your own phrases, in which being born again signifies proselytism and which you are every day using, concerning heathens coming over to your religion? And, why cannot you understand the same phrases, when applied to.Jews entering into my church? And, can you (a master in Israel) be ignorant of God's design to accept the Gentiles, as his people, under the Messiah, when, your ancient prophets have, in many places and clearly, spoken of this remarkable event? I could easily go on to shew you, how our Saviour attacked some other of Nicodcmus's prejudices j intimating that he was to be crucified j and that they were wrong in expecting a temporal triumphant prince, when the a 2 4 pro4 prophets had foretold a spiritual, suffering Mef4 siah ; and that the heathen world was not to be
* condemned, but saved, by his coming. B'Jt
* enough has been said, to shew that this text doth
* not prove that for which your author hath al4 ledged it.'
The doctor might, perhaps, take up this groundless opinion of Jewifi proselyte baptism, upon the credit of such Christians, who had before imbibed it from Jewtjh sables, without thoroughly examining the foundation, upon which it stands, as he might have done. But I have shewn in my supplement, that there is no clear evidence, nor express mention of such a thing in any of their books, till the Getnara, a part of the Jewijh Talmud, not written till five or fix hundred years after our blessed Lord ; much too hue to be regarded, if the authority of it was not at the lowest ebb imaginable. For the supposition grounded upon the misehna in the third century, which is the first pretended proof, may only relate to bathing for purification from the blood of circumcision, with which, thro' their superstitious delusion, they might then pretend the patient was defiled : tho', as it was no natural purgation, but arose solely from the divine command, it could not be attended with any kind of pollution, or uncleanness, to need a purification. And according to the law of Moses, the sprinkling or striking with blood, was so far from polluting, that it was the most solemn purification; whereby not only the people, but also the priests, their garments, the sanctuary, with all ;he vessels of the ministry, and even the book of the law itself, were sanctified or hallowed, Exod. xxiv. 6—S. ch. xix. 20, zi, Levit. iv. 6, 17, 18. vh. viii. 15, 30. ch. xvi. 14, 20. ch. xvii. w.Heb. ix. 7, J3, 19—22. And there is no mention in script me, that any kind of pollution attended the blood of circumcision ; or the least, most distant hint, that any manner of purification by water
was was necessary to prepare the patient for circumcision, any more than for cleansing him after it ; no account that any such thing was practised, when Abraham, at the command of God, circumcised himself and all the males of his samily, Gen. xvii. 23—27; or when he circumcised his son Isaac, the year after, upon the eighth day, Gen. xxi. 4. Nor do we read, that the child of Moses was bathed in water, when Zipporab bis wife, who was no Jewess, circumcised it with a sharp stone, Exod. iv. 25; or those many thousands of Israel circumcised by Joshua, at the bill of foreskins, after their forty years travel in the wilderness, Joshua v. 2—9; tho' it is reasonable to suppose that many of them were polluted by the idolatries, for which so many thousands had been cut off, as well as by their other sins. Neither was there any thing of this kind ap
Jews, by Moses and Aaron, the law for circumcising of proselytes, and their families, Exod. xii. 48; where, if it had been the will of God, it must certainly have been expressly mentioned. For the precepts of the Jewish law, concerning their religious rites, are so very particular, and exact in every thing, that they are often repeated over and over again, to prevent any mistake in the one, or any omission in performance of the other. And therefore to be sure nothing of the divine will so very essential, as to be made the plan of christian baptism afterwards, could ever be wholly omitted by Moses; who, we are assured, was a faithful servant ; and told the children of Israel, according to all that the Lord commanded him, Num. xxix. 40.Heb. iii. 5. ch. viii. 5. And moreover, it is remarkable, that in the command of God for circumcising proselytes and their samilies, it is expressly said, that one law shall be to him that is home born, and unto the stranger that fojourneth among you, Exod. xii. 48, 49. Nor was there any such thing practised or required of the Shechemites, when they were circum
pointed by the Lord,