Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Baptism in The Jordan

       Yesterday on horseback we left Jericho, and having dipped in the Dead Sea, we came with a feeling that we cannot describe upon the Jordan, a river which more people have desired to see than any other. On our way we overtook an American who requested me to baptize him by immersion in the river Jordan. We dismounted at the place where Joshua and his host crossed the river dry-shod. We were near a turn in the river and not far off from where rocks and sands are piled up in shape of cathedrals, domes and battlements. We pitched our tent, and after proper examination of the candidate for baptism, I selected portions of Scripture appropriate. One of our Arab attendants had a garment not unlike a baptismal robe. With that garment girdled around me, I led the candidate down under the trees on the bank, while near by were groups of friends and some strangers who happened to be there. After a prayer, I read of Christ's baptism in the Jordan, and the commission "Go teach all nations, baptizing them." The people on the bank then joined in singing to the familiar tune that soul-stirring song:
"On Jordan's stormy bank I stand."
       With the candidate's hand in mine, we waded deep into the Jordan, and I then declared, "In this historical river, where the Israelites crossed, and Naaman plunged seven times for the cure of his leprosy, and Christ was baptized and which has been used in all ages as a symbol of the dividing line between earth and heaven, I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen." As the candidate went down under the waves and then rose, I felt a solemnity that no other scene could have inspired. As the ordinance was observed under the direction of no particular denomination of Christians, and no particular church could be responsible for it, I feel it my duty to report what I did to the Church Universal.
       On our way up from Jericho to Jerusalem the sun was very hot. I got off and sat under the shadow of the horse. I felt as if I could not ride another step, but the dragoman informed us that a little way off was a cool place. Soon we halted by a ledge of rocks, the mountain was between us and the sun, and threw a sombre blanket over us. And three or four of us spontaneously cried out: "This is the shadow of a great rock in a weary land!"

 A modern baptism on the river Jordan.

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