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the soul, penetrate every part, and cerning a fictitious purgatorial fire, assimilate the whole to the image of which soon became a fashionable the God of glory.” Perhaps this subject of belief in the corrupt interpretation is the most satisfactory.churches of antiquity. -Others explain the "fire" as re- Theophilus, How thankful we lating to the threatened visitation of ought to be that we have been taught divine judgment;-a view which is to interpret Scripture by itself, and supported, in some degree, by the by the rules of sound criticism,-and mention of “unquenchable fire” in reverently to avoid attempting to this connection, in the next verse. explain it by the reveries of fancy, “He shall baptize, not only with or by the light of a false philosophy! water, but with the pouring out of his Spirit on believers, and with that READER. May we, by the difiery trial, which shall refine the gold, vine blessing, learn much from this the faithful, but separate the dross, remarkable portion of sacred history! and destroy the rebellious unbeliev- Repent ye ! - That was the subers.”—Some expositors combine all stance of the Baptist's preaching. these ideas; supposing fire to be in Turn from your evil thoughts, corthis place an emblem both of the rupt inclinations, and wicked ways, operations of the Holy Spirit, and of to the love and service of the holy judgment upon the impenitent and and heart-searching God!

Suchs unbelieving. “St. John,” say they, the nature of real repentance. " True “ declares that Christ should plenti- penitents have other thoughts of God fully pour down of the gifts and and Christ, of sin and holiness, of graces of the Holy Spirit upon his this world and the other, than they proselytes, which, like fire in their have had; and they stand otherwise operation, should purify their hearts affected towards them. The change from sin, consuming their lusts and of the mind produces a change of the corruptions; but that, at the same way. This repentance is a necessary time, he has a fiery indignation, and duty, in obedience to the conımand flaming judgments, to destroy and of God (Acts xvii. 30); and a necesburn up impenitent sinners like com- sary preparation and qualification for bustible stubble."

the comforts of the Gospel of Christ." Theophilus. Do you remember For the kingdom of heaven is at what view of the matter is taken by hand.—Time is short,—the Judge is early Christian writers ?

at the door,—and there is no room Reader. Some of them take one for delay.-Besides this, encouraging or other of the views already men- motives to repentance are contained tioned; but the speculations of “the in the hopes of pardon and acceptance Fathers” on this passage are, in held out, through divine mercy and many instances, deplorably childish grace, under the gospel covenant. and frivolous. Nay, more; they con

“ The free and full tenders of grace tain the foundation of a doctrine con- in the gospel are most alluring argu

ments to move a sinner to repent and repentance, i.e. suitable to it,-such to turn to God.”

as may manifest the conversion and Prepare ye the way of the Lord.- renovation of your hearts.—"As the "There is a great deal to be done, to body without the spirit, and as faith make way for the entrance of Christ without works, is dead, so repentance into a soul, to bow the heart for the without fruit is dead also.” “Rereception of the Son of David (2 Sam. pentance is seated in the heart. xix. 14); and nothing is more need- There it is as a root; but in vain do ful, in order to this, than the disco- we pretend to have it there, if we do very of sin, and a conviction of the

not bring forth the fruits of it in a insufficiency of our own righteous- universal reformation, forsaking all ness. Prejudices must be removed, sin, and cleaving to that which is high thoughts brought down, and good. It becomes penitents to be captivated to the obedience of Christ.” humble and low in their own eyes,

Prepare ye the way. This prepa- to be thankful for the least mercy, ration must indeed be effected by the and patient under the greatest afflicpower of God ;-but yet man, weaktion, to be watchful against all apas he is, has his part to perform. pearances of sin and approaches " Though it be grace that prepareth towards it, to abound in every duty, for further grace, man's duty must and to be charitable in judging be used thereunto; and the exalting others." These are fruits worthy of work of grace presupposeth the repentance. humbling work of repentance, as a Think not to say within yourselves, necessary preparation.”

We have Abraham to our father.--Then went out to him Jerusalem, God observes what passes within and all Judea, and all the regions men's hearts, their hidden principles, round about Jordan.— The rejection secret hopes, and matters of private of the Messiah by the great body of confidence.—Here is a warning to the Jews makes it appear to how us all not to rest satisfied with the little purpose they had heard the

mere possession of outward priviexhortations of his forerunner. So leges, with bearing a religious name, also, in the present day, “there may or with the credit and advantages of be a multitude of forward hearers, church-membership. Our duty and where there are but few true believ- happiness consist, not in the possesers. Curiosity, and affectation of sion, but in the due use and improvenovelty and variety, may bring many ment, of these blessings. Many, it is to attend upon good preaching, and to to be feared, who pride themselves be affected with it for awhile, who upon belonging to this or that church, are yet never subject to the power of and who rest in the supposed benefit it (Ezek. xxxii. 31, 32).”—May we, of their connection with a body of by God's grace, be not only hearers, professing Christians, will come short but also doers, of the word !

of heaven.-Nor will the mere cirBring forth therefore fruits meet for cumstance of our connection with

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pious relatives and friends be of any | magnified; to be anything, to be avail to us. “What though we be nothing, so that Christ may be all.” descended from pious ancestors; have He shall baptize you with the Holy been blessed with a religious educa- Ghost, and with fire.--It is the pretion; have had our lot cast in families rogative of Christ to bestow the gifts where the fear of God is uppermost, and graces of the Holy Spirit. It and have good friends to advise us, is the office of the Holy Spirit, in and pray for us ; what will all this the work of sanctification, to conavail us, if we do not repent, and live vince of sin, to enlighten the undera life of repentance;"—that is to say, standing, to

standing, to renew the soul, to -if we do not give our hearts to God, strengthen and comfort the believer, and live like the children of our to sustain his hope, and to inflame heavenly Father?

his love to God, and zeal in God's The are is luid unto the root of the service. May this sacred fire ever trees.-" They whose hearts are not more and more shine into our hearts, pierced with the sword of God's kindle our affections, and consume word, shall certainly be cut down the dross of our corruptions! and destroyed by the axe of his Whose fan is in his hand, and he judgments.” And the threatening will thoroughly purge his floor. “In extends to every tree which bringeth a floor there is straw as well as not forth good fruit. The barren tree, grain, chaff as well as corn, tares as as well as that which brings forth well as wheat, cockle and darnel as bad fruit, is in danger. Remember well as good seed. Thus in the the parable of the barren fig-tree. church, on earth, there is, and will Well may we pray to God to forgive be, a mixture of good and bad, saints us our sins! We should be on our and sinners, hypocrites and sincere guard against omission of duty as well Christians." But Christ will fan as against the commission of ungod this floor, and purge out all its corliness in act and deed.

ruptions. “Something of this kind He that cometh after me is mightier is often done in this world, when thun 1.This is a thought in which God calls his people out of Babyall ministers of Christ may thank- lon; Rev. xvii. 4. But it is the fully rejoice; trusting that his strength day of the last judgment that will be will be made perfect in their weakness, the great winnowing, distinguishing not only in their individual experi- day, which will infallibly determine ence, but with regard to the work concerning doctrines and works and success of their ministry.

(1 Cor. iii. 13), and concerning perWhose shoes I am not worthy to bear. sons (Matt. xxv. 32, 33), when saints . - Let us take a lesson from John's and sinners shall be parted for ever.” humility. “Those whom God puts He will guther his wheat into the honour upon, are made very humble garner, but he will burn up the chaff and low in their own eyes; willing with unquenchable fire.—“Heaven is to be abased, so that Christ may be

the garner into which Jesus Christ


me ?

will shortly gather all his wheat, and from Galilee to Jordan unto not a grain of it shall be lost. In John, to be baptized of him. beaven the saints are brought toge- 14 But John forbad him, sayther, and no longer scattered; they | ing, I have need to be baptized are safe and no longer exposed ; of thee, and comest thou to separated from corrupt neighbours without, and from corrupt affections within, and there is no chaff among

15 And Jesus answering said them.—Hell is the unquenchable unto him, Suffer it to be so now: fire, which will burn up the chaff; for thus it becometh us to fulfil and this will certainly be the portion all righteousness. Then he sufand punishment and everlasting de- fered him. struction of hypocrites and unbeliev

16 And Jesus, when he was ers. So that here are life and death, good and evil, set before us ; accord- | baptized, went up straightway ing as we now are in the field, we

out of the water : and, lo, the shall then be in the floor."

heavens were opened unto him,

and he saw * the Spirit of God HYMN.

descending like a dove, and Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire, And lighten with celestial fire.

lighting upon him : Thou the anointing Spirit art

17 And lo a voice from heaWho dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.

ven, saying, “This is my beloved Tby blessed unction from above,

Son, in whom I am well pleased. Is comfort, life, and fire of love. Enable with perpetual light The dulness of our blinded sight. Anoint and cheer our soiled face With the abundance of thy grace.

Reader. The great principle of Keep far our foes, give peace at home : Where thou art guide, no ill can come.

duty, in accordance with which our

blessed Lord submitted to the bapTeach us to know the Father, Son, And thee, of both, to be but One.

tism of John, was this, that it became That, through the ages all along,

him, and his followers, to "fulfil all This may be our endless song :

righteousness,"—to own, and put Praise to thy eternal merit,

honour on, every religious institution Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

of divine appointment. It became ORDINATION SERVICE.

him, as man, to comply with a call

given by a divinely commissioned § XI.

teacher. Perhaps also, say some, he

saw fit to act, in this instance, as the CHAP. III. 13-17.

representative of sinful men; and he John baptizeth Christ in Jordan.

may also have designed it as a formal

consecration or dedication to his 13 f. Then cometh Jesus office, according to the manner of

u Mark i. 9. Luke iii. 21. #ch, ii. 22.-y Mark i. 10. 2 Is. xi. 2, & xlii. 1. Luke iii, 22. John 1.32, 33.- John xii. 28. b Ps. ii. 7. Is. xlii. 1. ch. xii. 18, & xvii. 5. Mark i. 11. Luke ix. 35. Eph. i. 6. Col. i. 13. 2 Pet. i, 17.

the priests under the ceremonial law. words, "like a dove," denote that it Exod. xxix. 4.

came down with a motion resembling Theophilus. It is said, v. 16, that the descent of that bird. he saw the Spirit of God descend- Theophilus. There is something ing." Does that refer to Jesus or to very solemn and affecting in the anJohn ?

nouncement of our Saviour's

person Reader. The pronoun in this place, and character by “a voice from and in Mark i. 10, seems to refer to heaven." Jesus; but it is certain, from John i. Reader. And you remember, per12, that the Baptist also beheld this haps, on what other occasions this remarkable appearance,—the visible voice was repeated. It was heard, symbol of the peculiar presence of for the second time, on the mount of the Holy Spirit.

transfiguration (Matt. xvii. 5; Luke Mary. It is said that Jesus “went ix. 35, 36; 2 Pet. i. 17);—and, for up-out of the water." This implies the third and last time, shortly bethat he had been immersed, does it fore our Saviour's crucifixion (John not?

xii. 28-30). Reader. We shall have occasion

Theophilus. “Why did the Holy to speak of the original mode of ad- Spirit descend upon Christ, seeministering baptism hereafter. But ing that he was truly and really it is remarkable, that the original ex- God?" pression in this place, and in Mark Reader. Remember that he was i. 10, is, that our Lord went up not man as well as God; otherwise he out of the water, but from the water. could not have sustained that illusIf a person were plunged into the trious character, "one mediator bewater, then it would be natural to tween God and man, the man Christ say that he afterwards went up out of Jesus." At his baptism, the Holy the water; but if he were taken, or Ghost descended, “first, for the desigwent down to the water, or the water's nation of his person, to show that he edge, then we should say that he after

person set apart for the work wards went up from the water. And and office of the Mediator; secondly, such is the Evangelist's expression for the qualification of his person for in this place.

the performance of his office. This Theophilus. Do you suppose that was Christ's unction (Isa. vi. 1), when the shape, or likeness, of a dove was he was anointed above his fellows, to assumed by the Holy Spirit on this be the king, prophet, and priest of occasion ?

his church." Ps. xlv. 6,7. He is Reader. It appears, from Luke the Head of his church; and through iii. 23, that this must be the mean- him the Spirit is derived to all being of the sacred writer; although lievers. some commentators suppose

that the Theophilus. I think I have heard form assumed was that of fire, or this passage quoted, as one among some luminous body, and that the many others, in support of the scrip

was the

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