Mark 1:4. John Who was the very person spoken of by those prophets, being sent of God for that end, did baptize in the wilderness Which lay east from Jerusalem, along the river Jordan and the lake Asphaltites, also called the Dead sea. By wilderness, in the Scriptures, it is plain that we are not always to understand what is commonly denominated so with us, a region either uninhabitable or uninhabited. No more seems to have been denoted by it than a country fitter for pasture than for agriculture, mountainous, woody, and but thinly inhabited. These ερημοι , wildernesses, did not want their towns and villages. And preach the baptism of repentance That is, preach repentance, and baptize as a sign and means of it. Thus John endeavoured to prepare men for the coming of that Messiah who was to save his people from their sins. See notes on Matthew 3:2-3. This baptism, says Dr. Lightfoot, may belong to children, though it be the baptism of repentance, and they know not what repentance means; for it requireth not their repentance at the receiving of this sacrament, but it engageth them to it for the time to come, namely, when they shall come to the use of reason, and the knowledge of the engagement. And so was it with the children that were circumcised; for they by that sacrament became debtors to observe the whole law, Galatians 5:3, when they knew not what obedience or the law meant; but that bound them to it when they came to years of knowledge and discretion.
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