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therefore take this opportunity of the Preacher says “Their hatred, reading to you four rules, drawn up and their envy, is now perished.” by modern critics, according to which Eccl. ix. 6. Well may we read in the phrase that it might be fulfilled these few words a powerful argument may be applied in the New Testa- against the vain, disquieting, and ment, and according to one or other sinful fear of man. “Who art thou, of which St. Matthew appears to that thou shouldest be afraid of a man have made all his quotations from that shall die, and of the son of man prophecy.
which shall be made as grass; and RULE I. When the thing pre- forgettest the Lord thy Maker, that dicted is literally accomplished. hath stretched forth the heavens, and
Rule II. When that is done, of laid the foundation of the earth; and which the Scripture has spoken not hast feared continually every day bein a literal, but in a spiritual, sense cause of the fury of the oppressor, as
Rule III. When a thing is not if he were ready to destroy? And done either in a literal, or in a spiri | where is the fury of the oppressor ?" tual, sense, according to the fact Isai. li. 12, 13. referred to in the Scripture; but is When Herod was dead ;-not before. similar to that fact.
So that the holy family remained Rule IV. When that which has until that time contentedly in Egypt. been mentioned in the Old Testa “ They continued there until God ment as formerly done, is spoken of | gave the signal for their departure. in the New Testament as accom -Let us, in like manner, remember plished in a larger and more extensive that it is God's part to direct and sense.
ours to obey; nor can we be out of Theophilus. I will endeavour to the way of safety and of comfort bear these rules in mind, and to mark while we are following his directions, their application as instances occur. and steering our course by the inti
mations of his pleasure.” “Oh how READER. Upon this short pas safe and satisfactory it is in all our sage of Scripture we may make | ways to follow the call and command various reflections, for the improve- of God!" ment of our hearts and regulation of An angel of the Lord appeareth in our practice.
I a dream to Joseph in Egypt.—“Our Herod was dead.—There is some intercourse with God, if it be kept thing affecting in this brief notice of up on our part, shall be kept up on the end of this man's earthly history; his, wherever we are. No place can especially when we remember that exclude God's gracious visits. AnJosephus, the Jewish historian, gives | gels came to Joseph in Egypt, to a most shocking account of the man- | Ezekiel in Babylon, and to John in ner of his death. His power to per Patmos." secute has ceased ; and he is num I He arose—and came into the land bered among those concerning whom of Israel.—This strongly reminds me
of what we read in Gen. xii. 5, con- ' He shall be called a Nazarene.-It
(Job viii. 11–22.)
And flags beside the stream ;
But soon their verdure fades and dies, timation of the divine pleasure for
Before the scorching beam, · the direction of his steps. Does it
So is the sinner's hope cut off; appear surprising that full instruc
Or, if it transient rise, tions were not given to him at first, 'Tis like the spider's airy web, when the angel bade him arise, and From ev'ry breath that flies. depart? This is not really strange.
Fix'd on his house, he leans ; God mercifully leads his people in the His house, and all its props, decay; right way, from one stage of their He holds it fast; but, while he holds, progress to another; and he requires
The tott'ring frame gives way. that they shall continually wait Fair, in his garden, to the sun upon him, in the way of faith, of His boughs with verdure smile ;
And, deeply fix'd, his spreading roots prayer, and of duty, in order to be
Unshaken stand awhile. guided and protected, from time to
But forth the sentence flies from Heaven, time, according to their circum
That sweeps him from his place; stances and their need.
Which then denies him for its lord, Being warned-he turned aside.
Nor owns it knew his face. God may sometimes see fit to bring
Lo! this the joy of wicked men, his people into positions of difficulty Who Heav'n's high laws despise; or danger; but he never does so They quickly fall, and in their room, without a cause, or unless it be, in
As quickly others rise. some way or other, good for them to But for the just, with gracious care, be thus afflicted. He rather with
God will his power employ;
He'll teach their lips to sing his praise, draws them from needless danger ;
And fill their hearts with joy. and he teaches them not to rush into it of their own accord.
| in yourselves, 'We have Abra
ham to our father : for I say CHAP. III. 1–12.
unto you, that God is able of
these stones to raise up children John preacheth. His office, life, and baptism. He reprehendeth the Pha- unto
unto Abraham. risees and Sadducees.
10 And now also the axe is
laid unto the root of the trees : In those days came “John the P therefore every tree which Baptist, preaching 'in the wil- | bringeth not forth good fruit derness of Judæa,
is hewn down, and cast into the 2 And saying, Repent ye: fire. for “the kingdom of heaven is at 11 I indeed baptize you with hand.
water unto repentance: but he 3 For this is he that was that cometh after me is mightier spoken of by the prophet Esaias, | than I, whose shoes I am not saying, “The voice of one cry worthy to bear: 'he shall baping in the wilderness, ‘Prepare tize you with the Holy Ghost, ye the way of the Lord, make and with fire: his paths straight.
12 Whose fan is in his hand, 4 And the same John 'had and he will thoroughly purge his raiment of camel's hair, and his floor, and gather his wheat a leathern girdle about his loins; into the garner; but he will and his meat was "locusts and
'burn up the chaff with uni wild honey.
quenchable fire. 5 * Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judæa, and all the region round about Jordan,
6 ’And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 9 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said | Reader. “In those days," namely, unto them, O generation of vi- while our Lord continued to reside pers, who hath warned you to
at Nazareth, John began his remarkflee from ”the wrath to come ?
able and divinely-appointed minis
try. He came, we are told, “preach8 Bring forth therefore || fruits
ing;” that is, according to the force meet for repentance:
of the original, proclaiming some9 And think not to say with- thing as a public crier,-speaking
aloud, by authority, and inviting | to “ one like the Son of Man.". general attention, like a herald. He Dan. ii. 44 ; vii. 13, 14. In the was, indeed, a herald of the King of apocryphal book of Wisdom (x. 10), kings.
we find the expression “ kingdom of Theophilus. Does the appearance God;” and in later Jewish writings, of John in the wilderness of Judea the terms “ kingdom of God” and give any sanction to the lives of her. “ kingdom of heaven" are common. mits or recluses ?
Theophilus. What are we to unReader. Certainly not. Their re- derstand by these expressions in the tirement into a wilderness is no imi- New Testament? tation of the Baptist; at least, it is Reader. Sometimes they describe a following of the example of this the Church on earth, and sometimes holy man no farther than it is an the perfection and happiness of the adoption of the conduct of a certain future state. Or rather, I would seducer of whom we read in Acts say, they present to our minds one xxi. 38; for it is said that he “led | great idea, under various phases or his followers into the wilderness." modifications. They denote the di
The place in which John preached | vine supremacy over men's wills and was not altogether uncultivated or persons throughout the whole course uninhabited. It was a mountainous of its development, beginning within and thinly-populated part of Judea, men's hearts, and extending to their but it contained hamlets and even outward circumstances and to extertowns. Thus, in Joshua xv. 61, 62, nal nature,-beginning with indiviwe read of six cities or towns in a duals, and spreading through the part of the country called the desert whole mass of mankind, or over the or wilderness.
whole surface of society. Or, to Theophilus. While you were read speak at once more fully and preing the second verse, it occurred to
cisely, by the kingdom of God, or of me that, although we often find the
heaven, we are to understand the expression “ kingdom of heaven” or Church of Christ in all the various “ kingdom of God” in the New
| stages of its progress towards perfecTestament, yet we never meet with tion ;—that state of things in which it in the Old.
God in Christ is acknowledged and Reader. This phrase, which be served by a body of faithful people, came current among the Jews after
and which will eventually issue in the completion of the Old Testament
the complete establishment and uniScriptures, appears, however, to have versal acknowledgment of divine aubeen founded by them upon certain thority, perfect conformity to the expressions in the prophecies of Da divine will, and abundant manifestaniel, in which it is said that the tion of the divine glory,—in one "God of heaven” should “set up a word, in the holiness and happiness kingdom," and that “ dominion, and of heaven. “The kingdom of heaglory, and a kingdom,” were given ven,” says Baxter, “is a special go
vernment of God by a Saviour sent being part of his description of the from heaven to lead men to heaven." | march of Semiramis into Media and
We may thus apprehend the full Persia; which I will read to you, meaning of this general and most as containing a lively illustration of significant expression. Of course, this passage of Holy Scripture.the precise import of the term must “In her march to Ecbatane," says vary a little in different places where the historian, “she came to the Zait occurs, according to its connec rean mountains, which, extending tion, and according to the promi-, many furlongs, and being full of nence which may be given to some craggy precipices and deep hollows, particular part of the whole complex | could not be passed without fetching idea.
a great compass. Therefore, being Theophilus. The application of the desirous of leaving a lasting memoprophecy which the Evangelist quotes rial of herself, as well as of shortenappears obvious and simple. I sup- ing the road, she ordered the precipose it involves no peculiar difficulty. pices to be digged down, and the hollows
Reader. It is taken from the pro- to be filled up; and, at a great exphecies of Isaiah, or as the name is pense, she made a shorter and more here given, in the Greek form, expeditious passage, which, to this Esaias (xl. 3). In its primary sense, day, is called The Road of Semirait refers to the return of the Jews to | mis. Afterwards, she went into Pertheir own country after their libera- sia, and all the other countries of tion by the king of Persia. In its | Asia subject to her dominion ; and, secondary and farther signification, wherever she went, she ordered the
-equally according to the prophetic mountains and precipices to be levelled, design of the Holy Spirit,-it points raised causeways in the plain country, to John the Baptist, in his work of and, at a great expense, made the preparing the Jews to receive Christ, / roads passable.” by exhorting them to repentance, In like manner, the ministry of and by bearing testimony to his per John was appointed for the purpose son as the Messiah.—Do you under of bringing down the haughty spirit stand the allusion to an oriental of the proud, and raising the grovelcustom which runs through this pas- ling minds of the carnal and thoughtsage?
less, and thus preparing them for the Theophilus. The reference is to reception of the great God and their the work of pioneers employed in Saviour, Jesus Christ. opening the passes, levelling or rais | The mention of the Baptist's dress ing the roads, and removing obstruc- and appearance, in the fourth verse, tions for a monarch when about to reminds us of what is said concernmarch through a marshy or moun- ing one of the old prophets in partitainous district.
cular. Can either of you tell me to Reader. I have before me an ex. || which prophet I allude ? tract from Diodorus Siculus (lib. 2), Mary. His hair-cloth and girdle