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TO JESUS' FIRST MIRACLE
BAPTISM OF JESUS.
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan; and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruit meet for repentance; and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree
which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and he will gather his wheat into the garner; but burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering, said unto him, Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and lo, 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.
What a comment does this account afford us, on the emptiness of our excuses for neglecting the ordinances of religion! We think, perhaps, that we stand in no need of them: we suppose our principles too firmly fixed to receive aid from the ministrations of a fellow mortal in public worship. Or we are over fearful of appearing ostentatious in our goodWe fear lest the world should suspect us of a desire to appear holier than others. How many, from feelings like these, refrain from approaching the table of Christian communion! How many, by such thoughts, are withheld from engaging in family worship, from regular attendance on the public service of God, nay even from private prayer!
Such thoughts derive no sanction from the example of Jesus. Wherever an opportunity presented itself of leaving his testimony to the cause of holiness, of acknowledging his God, of instructing those around him, that opportunity he improved. Does not his example speak to each of us, in his own words, "Go, and do thou likewise?"
"SUFFER IT TO BE SO NOW; FOR THUS IT
US TO FULFIL ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS.
And shall I, of my strength secure,
When thou, the holy and the pure,
Oh let me meekly serve my God,
Unmoved, if mortals blame or praise,
TEMPTATION IN THE WILDERNESS.
THEN was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he
said, If thou be the son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple; and saith unto him, If thou be the son of God, cast thyself down; for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee; and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
Such is ever the call
"All these things will I give thee." of temptation. "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship thy passions, if thou wilt sacrifice what is noble in thee to what is base, philanthrophy and religion to selfish enjoyment, the future to the present, heaven to earth." Let us flee from idolatry. The moment when inclination becomes sufficiently strong within us to banish from our minds the thought of God, and make duty seem unattractive, that moment we are in danger. That moment we may be sure that an idol has erected an altar in our hearts. Let us at that moment resolve never more to worship before
it. All those things for which we ask, it may give us or it may withhold; but it will rob us of our peace of mind, our social and religious feelings, the rational esteem of the wise and virtuous, the approbation of our conscience and of our God.
"THOU SHALT WORSHIP THE LORD THY GOD, AND HIM ONLY SHALT THOU SERVE."
When a thousand voices raise
Sweeter strains of soft desire
Mammon bids thee view the store
Heavenly treasures are thine own: