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to which, in its best sense, the carnal and worldly mind is commonly a stranger. This proves it to be the will of God, that parents should not neglect the children to whom they have given a being, but regard them with that concern which their highest interests require, and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. To this the Jews had been especially commanded. They were to instruct their children in the reason and origin of the ordinances prescribed in this law; they were to "teach them diligently all the words" which God had commanded them to observe. Such was David's example : "When the days drew nigh that he should die, (1 Kings ii. 1-3,) he charged Solomon his son, saying, I go the way of all the earth be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man; and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses." This would be one sure sign of a converted heart.
passage, make it signify the turning the hearts of the rising generation to the ways of their ancestors; i. e. to religion. The original passage in Malachi, shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and of the children to their fathers,' supported by the Septuagint, which says, 'the heart of the father towards his son, and the heart of a man towards his neighbour,' strongly leads us to believe, that the restoration of mutual affection and benevolence, which uniformly accompanies true religion, is specified here as one of the first-fruits of that conversion which the preaching of the Baptist should effect. It is part of the character of the irreligious to be dσropyo, without natural affection. Rom. i. 31.
2 Deut. vi. 7. Exod. xii. 26; xiii. 14.
2. Secondly, John the Baptist was to turn the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. The disobedient are those who do not study to walk after the will of God, righteously, soberly, and piously, but who follow their own devices and desires. These are to be turned to wisdom, to the true wisdom of those who, "by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory and honour and immortality." This was accomplished, when the different classes of people came to John, and asked, "What shall we do then?" what doth God require of us? And it was more fully accomplished when the covenant of grace was disclosed; and those who were really wise, being justified by faith, had peace with God through the blood of the Redeemer, and were enabled to serve him with a quiet mind.
3. The third object of the Baptist was to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
This purpose he eminently fulfilled, when he exhorted his countrymen to "repent, for the kingdom of heaven was at hand:" when he convinced them what they were in the sight of God, and what they ought to be, and what they might become. This was preparing them for the Lord: preparing them for his free offer of salvation, by proving their want of such mercy; and showing their need of that divine grace which might enable them to walk before God in righteousness and holiness. He who should come after him, would "baptize them with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: would put a new heart and a right spirit within them; would strengthem them to 3 Luke iii. 10, &c.
contend successfully against a sinful nature; would teach them to put off the old man, which is corrupt, and to put on the new man, which acceptably serves God, and works righteousness.
After this manner the Jewish people were prepared by the preaching of the Baptist for the first coming of the Lord Jesus. We also look for his appearance, his second coming in glory. We profess to be "waiting for the Son from heaven;" to be looking "for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ." We therefore must be prepared: prepared in the same manner. All who are ready for the Lord's coming, will be zealously affected towards their children and their household; will be seeking first the kingdom of God; will be cherishing an humble sense of their own unworthiness; and will be exercising themselves, that they may "keep a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men."
Thus may we all be found ready: "for we know not the day nor the hour when our Lord cometh."
4 Tit. ii. 13.
ZACHARIAS DOUBTS THE ANGEL'S WORD.-—THE PURPOSE OF GOD IS ANNOUNCED TO MARY.
LUKE i. 18-38.
18. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
19. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
20. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
There was an example known to Zacharias, which he would have done well to imitate. Abraham is commended, (Rom. iv. 18,) "who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be." "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded, that what he had promised he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness."
The appearance of the angel of the Lord to Zacharias carried proof with it that he was God's messenger. And, as God's messenger, he had a right to be
implicitly believed. But Zacharias had not the ready faith of Abraham. Thus taken by surprise, he gave way to doubts, and did not remember that the things which are impossible with man, are possible with God. He inquires, Whereby shall I know this? for 1 am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. He asks for a sign: and the sign given him is indicative of displeasure. Behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words. God expects us to believe, and to act as if we believed, that the things which he has declared to us, and which we have sure evidence that he has declared, shall all be fulfilled in their season.
21. And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.
22. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
23. And it came to pass, that as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
24. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
25. Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
The want of children passed for a reproach among the Jews, probably through the prevailing expectation of the Messiah. It is one of the many instances, when what is a reproach among men, The people may be highly esteemed of God. thought that she must needs be of all women the