Let us look at the words of the Gospel now before us. “Jordan” means “their going down.” The name “Jared” is etymologically akin to it, if I may say so; it also yields the meaning “going down;” for Jared was born to Maleleel, as it is written in the Book of Enoch—if any one cares to accept that book as sacred—in the days when the sons of God came down to the daughters of men. Under this descent some have supposed that there is an enigmatical reference to the descent of souls into bodies, taking the phrase “daughters of men” as a tropical expression for this earthly tabernacle. Should this be so, what river will “their going down” be, to which one must come to be purified, a river going down, not with its own descent, but “theirs,” that, namely, of men, what but our Saviour who separates those who received their lots from Moses from those who obtained their own portions through Jesus (Joshua)? His current, flowing in the descending stream, makes glad, as we find in the Psalms, 4930 the city of God, not the visible Jerusalem—for it has no river beside it—but the blameless Church of God, built p. 372 on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus our Lord being the chief corner-stone. Under the Jordan, accordingly, we have to understand the Word of God who became flesh and tabernacled among us, Jesus who gives us as our inheritance the humanity which He assumed, for that is the head corner-stone, which being taken up into the deity of the Son of God, is washed by being so assumed, and then receives into itself the pure and guileless dove of the Spirit, bound to it and no longer able to fly away from it. For “Upon whomsoever,” we read, “thou shalt see the Spirit descending and abiding upon Him, the same is He that baptizeth with the Holy Spirit.” Hence, he who receives the Spirit abiding on Jesus Himself is able to baptize those who come to him in that abiding Spirit. But John baptizes beyond Jordan, in the regions verging on the outside of Judæa, in Bethabara, being the forerunner of Him who came to call not the righteous but sinners, and who taught that the whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. For it is for forgiveness of sins that this washing is given.
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