« AnteriorContinuar »
the glory of God and the myftery of redemption : and now he could better describe the exceliency of “the holy Jerufalem," in which is the throne of God and of the Lamb*.”
That exalted ftate is prepared, not for the Apostles only, but, as we trust, for many among ourselves. Do you aspire to that high honour? You must possess a meetness for it: you must have the seal of God in your foreheads; you must wash your robes, and make them white in the blood of thé Lambt. Like St. John, cultivate an intercourse with Jesus, and apply for freih communications out “ of his fulness,” even grace for grace I." Be willing to labour and to suffer for him, till you finish your course on earth, and then you shall shortly join with Prophets and Apostles in that elevated song, « Bleffing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever g." Amen.
# Rev. xxii. 3. † vii. 3, 14. John i. 16. Rev. v. 13.
CH A P. VIL.
Herod Antipas, his rank and character- his incestuous marriageimprisoned John Baptist for his reproofs
- yet revered him-heard him gladly—and made of partial reformation was restrained from destroying bim, through fear of the people—at length beheaded him-afraid of his being raised from the dead. threatened Fejus examined and insulted him-died. in exile.
Human nature will be found the fame, under alf
UMAN the variety of circumstances, in which it can be placed. If, therefore, we compare past and present times, or take a view of different situations in life, we may expect that similar characters will occur to our observation. But, while we remark, in what respects others have failed, or by what teinptations they have been overcome, may we be warned from their examples, and avoid those snares, which have already proved fo fatal!
One of exalted rank is now introduced to our no. tice; yet, possibly, a near resemblance of him may be traced in persons of a lower condition. It is Herod, surnamed Antipas, of whom certain particulars are related by the Evangelists. He was the fon of that Herod, called the Great, who fought the destruction of the infant Sa jour, and massacred the children at Bethlehem. This man possessed only a part of his father's dominions, over which he presided merely as the vicegerent of the Roman Emperor, with the title N3
of Tetrarch or King of Galilee. Historians are agreed, that he was a prince of licentious and abandoned conduct, of which, indeed, sufficient proofs are given. We fall confine ourselves to those circumstances, which the scriptures have recorded : and, agreeably to this short account, he will appear to have oppofed the most folemn warnings and strong convictions, and facrificed every principle to the gratification of his lust. May we be aware of our own danger, and learn to restrain those sensual desires, “ which war against the foul !”
Herod had divorced his own wife, and joined himself to another by an adulterous and inceltuous connection : he had married the wife of his brother Philip, after having basely seduced her from her husband. This led to various enormities, and produced complicated troubles. John the Baptist, being sent for, probably from motives of curiosity, to court, perceived, and dared not connive at, the sinful practices of the king. The preacher sought not his favour, and feared not his difpleafure. As a bold advocate for God, not “having respect to persons,” he brought a heavy charge of guilt against the royal hearer, and reprehended him with fidelity and plainnels, “ for all the evils which he had done *." This was not a general invective against his immoralities : a particular application was made to his conscience, for the continued commission of adultery and inceft. John declared his connection with Herodias to be highly criminal, and called upon him to put away
the woman, with whom the laws both of Gad and man forbad him to cohabit.
What was the effect of this honest addrefs ? Alas! reproofs are seldom well received. Do not most perfons rise with anger against him, who is so much their friend as to tell them of their faults ? What, then,
Matte xiv. 3.-5. Mar. xi. 17---20. Luke iii. 19, 30.
could be expected from an imperious and licentious prince! There are few, who dare to rebuke lin in a palace : it is the unhappy prerogative of dignity, to be confidered as above control. Those, therefore, who poffefs an exalted station, are apt to spurn with indig, nation at any restraint, which an inferior, and especially a preacher, may attempt to impose. But resentment, on such occasions, is not confined to kings: we perceive that many in lower life are incapable of hearing any sharp reprehension. Have we not been disa pleased with the faithful admonitions of a companion or minifter? Have we not desired to hear no more of fuch unpleasant fubjccts, and, instead of profiting by the serious counsel, meditated revenge against its author ? But, surely, we are our own enemies, when we quarrel with those, who from pure benevolence point out to us “ all the evils which we have done," and charge us to relinquish, what we cannot lawfully retain.
Herod was enraged, and his oficers were immediately commissioned to bind and imprison the Baptist. It is remarked, that he “ added yet this above all,” as if it were the greatest enormity “ that he shut up John in prison.” The persecution of God's servants, for the upright and zealous performance of their duty, is an offence peculiarly heinous : and He, whose cause they plead, will avenge the injury. The opposition, as in the case before us, generally arises from the uneasiness, which sinners feel, upon a bold and unreferved representation of their guilt and danger. O that their anger were turned against themselves, and not against their reprover ; that they would endeavour, not to filence him, but to reform their own evil conduct! If Herod had understood his true happiness or interest, he would have embraced John as his best friend; and the ministry of that good man might have been continued for a much longer period. Yet there were some favourable appearances in
Herod; and it may seem a matter of wonder, that the strong convictions, which he felt, were so tranfient or inefficacious. His adulterous queen was more incensed than he, and, from the first, wished to destroy the Baptist. Probably, she apprchended, that, through the preacher's admonitions, the thould lose her influence, and be dismissed with disgrace. She, therefore, urged the king not merely to imprison but dispatch him, that they might no longer be troubled with his insolence. To this proposal, however, Herod would not yield an immediate compliance: he was restrained by a powerful impreffion
his mind. “ He feared John, knowing that he was a just man, and an holy.” This circumstance demands our attention. The Lord God put an honour upon his faithful servant, and made him respectable in chains, even before the most enraged enemies. Such a power very frequently accompanies eminent examples of godliness. It keeps in awe, and often terrifies, the persons, who are disposed to perfecute. Herod was struck with reverence for the man, whom he had cast into a dungeon, and, under the view of his fingular holiness, probably perceived his own basea nefs, so as to be distressed with painful apprehensions.
The prisoner, it should seem, was not afraid of the king. What have those to dread, who have the Lord Jehovah on their side? They possess a never-failing source of confidence and joy, and may, therefore, exult in defiance of their most violent opposers, though racks and tortures be prepared for their deItruction. Be of good courage, you who follow the Lamb, and be “ not terrified by your adversaries," whatever strength or authority they may boast of They themselves, perhaps, may be inwardly dismayed, at the very time when they appear most formidable. That furious prince and perfecuto, “Saul, was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him *".
3 Sam, xviii. 12.