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THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST.
AFTER John the Baptist had been for some months exercising his ministry, our blessed Saviour thought fit to quit his retirement at Nazareth, and, taking leave of his family, he passed into Judea to Bethlehem on the banks of the river Jordan, where John was then baptizing. Jesus had no sooner received the rite of baptism, than "straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened and the spirit like a dove descending upon him*." "There are other reasons," says Calmet," which might induce our Lord to come to John's baptism besides what himself alleges, namely, the performance of all righteousness, or whatever had a tendency to the peoples' edification; as, that he might authorise this baptism of John by his public approbation; that by this rite he might be instigated to his prophetic office and consecrated to the service of God; that hereby he might abolish the ceremony of the Jewish baptism, and more effectually recommend that of his own institution, to which this of the Baptist was an introduction; and, more especially, that in the presence of the Baptist and all the company that had resorted to him, he might obtain the testimony of the Holy Ghost and of his heavenly Father, to confirm John in the belief of his being the promised Messiah, and to induce the people as soon as he began his ministry to follow and attend to him." The following passage from Wells's Geography of the New Testament may be interesting to the readers of these descriptions. "Bethabara does in the Hebrew language signify as much as a place of passage, and therefore, whereas we read in the second chapter of Joshua at the seventh and twenty-third verses, that there was a fording-place over Jordan, not far from Jericho; and again, in the third chapter of Joshua at the sixteenth verse, that the people passed over right against Jericho it is probably conjectured that hereabouts stood Bethabara, and was the place of reception and entertainment for passengers out of Judea into Perea or the country beyond Jordan; nay, it is imagined by some that in the very same place of the river, where the ark stood, whilst the Israelites passed over, our blessed Saviour, the ark of the covenant of grace, was baptized by John the Baptist."