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which his parents, however, understood not. He instantly rose, in obedience to his earthly parents' will, and followed them to Nazareth, where he remained in the lowly capacity, it is supposed, of a carpenter: but he continued to increase in wisdom until he had attained the age of maturity, when the time approached when he was to quit the dwelling of Joseph and Mary.
While our beloved Lord thus increased in knowledge, stature, and grace, John was effecting much good in Jordan, and people were congregating from all quarters to him, to enquire of the truth of the gospel, and to be baptized.
He told them, that all flesh shall see the salvation of God; that" in the beginning was the Word, (signifying Christ Jesus;) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not." That is, that all men who do not believe God are in darkness, therefore cannot see, consequently neither comprehend God nor the things of God. He declared, that " he came to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that light, but was sent
to bear witness of that light. That was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, (Christ was then at Nazareth,) and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God: even to them that believe on his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, (for you will remember, my love, man is too wicked to coma to God of himself,) but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us: (and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. This is he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me, for he was before me; and of his fulness have we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man has seen God at any time: the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." Thus did John address the assembled multitudes. The axe is laid to the root of the trees: every tree, therefore, which bringeth not forth good fruits is hewn to the ground, and cast into the fire.
What did he mean, Mamma?
Those people, my love, who continued in wickedness, and who would not seek the Spirit, and come to Jesus to be baptized of the Spirit, so that they might bear the fiuits of the Spirit, the axe, which is death, would soon remove them, and they would be given over to Satan, who resides in hell, where they remain in everlasting fire.
Were not the people alarmed, Mamma?
They were, for they enquired, what they should do to be saved ?" He that hath two coats," replied John, "let him impart to him who hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise." And some Publicans, (very great sinners,) who came to be baptized, enquired also, what they should do? "Exact no more," retorted John, "than what is appointed you." Some soldiers, likewise, were earnest in their enquiries; to whom he recommended, that they should do no violence to any man, neither accuse any falsely; and to be content with their wages.
This language convinced his hearers, that he spake with the power of God, and they mused in their hearts, whether he were Christ or not: but he declared to them: "I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose; he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner, but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable." That is, my love, the Spirit would cleanse man from his sins, even as fire destroys the rubbish of this world, and it would be like a furnace; which many Christians would have to experience from the reproach and persecution of the wicked; but Christ would finally deliver them into heaven, even as man secures his wheat in his garner; and the wicked he would burn, as man burns useless chaff, saving that the fire in which the wicked would burn, would be unquenchable.
While John was thus addressing the multitude, Jesus arrived from Nazareth in Galilee, and desired John to baptize him. John instantly recognized his beloved Lord, and felt quite astonished at our Lord's request; so that he forbad him, observing, "Lord, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" John was therefore ignorant, that it was our beloved Saviour's glorious means of redemption to fulfil every tittle of the law, which man from his sinful nature was incapable of doing, and that by this obedience Christ would become an acceptable sacrifice and atonement for the sins of the world. By the disobedience of one all men were lost; so by the obedience of one all
' would be saved. Our precious Lord, therefore,' replied, " Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. In obedience to our Lord's commandment, John, therefore, took him in the river Jordan, and there baptized him. But on the rising of Jesus out of the water, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting" upon him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Thus, you observe, my dear child, were seen at the same instant the three persons of the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The first spake from heaven; the second was seen enlightening the world ; the third fulfilling the law, to become an acceptable sacrifice.
"Thou art, O God, the life, the light
When day, with farewell beam, delays
Among the opening clouds of even,
And we can almost think we gaze
Through golden vistas into heaven;
Those hues which mark the sun's decline,
So soft, so radiant, Lord, are thine. • .