« PrécédentContinuer »
Christ, and loves him less, who yet can tell such an inquirer, that by believing he shall find him, and instruct him somewhat about the notion of faith, and inseparable repentance, and leaving off sin, which things he himself who directs, makes no use of, hath no experience of at all; yet may his information be useful to the soul seeking Christ, and in following them it may find him. And as it is in the first inquiry and journey to Christ, so, in after seeking, upon his withdrawments: as Cant. iii. and v. Though the watchmen that should direct thee, deride and mock thee, yea, though they smite and wound thee, yet, if once thou hast found the sweetness of his love, or but heard his voice speaking to thy heart and desiring it to open to him, thou wilt not leave off thy search day nor night, till thou hast found him, in how mean a condition and outward appearance soever: thou wilt see through that, and behold him thy king, thy beloved Lord, and see him beautiful, all beauty and loveliness, and wilt be forced to declare him so, that he outvies all creature loves, as not worthy to be compared: yea, that their enjoyments have not near so much sweetness as the very seekings and mournings after Jesus Christ.
Ver. 11. Fell down and worshipped him.] When a soul is busy asking after Jesus Christ, if it be inquired what would you do with him, Why this is my purpose, will it say, I would worship him. I would not only be saved by him, but I would fall down and adore him, and acknowledge him my king; and if I had any thing better than another, I would offer it him. But what hast thou? Hast thou rich presents for him? Alas! no. These are called wise men, and were, it seems, rich; had rich gifts. I am a foolish and a poor creature, and I have nothing to offer.-Nothing. Hast thou a heart? Yes: a heart I have; but, alas! there can be nothing more unfit for him, and unworthy of him: it is dark, and foul, and hard, all disorder and filthiness. Yet, wilt thou give it him as it is, and be willing that he use and dispose of it as it pleases him? Oh, that he would accept of it, that he would take it upon any terms! Here it is: if it would fly out from this offer, I would
he would lay hold of it. Oh! that it were once received by him, that it were in his hand; and then let him do with it what seems him good. Sayest thou so? Then it is done. Give it really and freely, and he will take, and make it better at its worst, than all the gold, and frankincense, and myrrh of all those rich countries where they abound, and will purify, rectify, and make it quite another thing than it is. And it shall never repent thee to have made a gift of it to him. He shall frame it to his own likeness, and in return will give thee himself, and be thine for ever.
ALTHOUGH the enemies of Jesus Christ, and, for a time, even his friends and followers, mistook the nature of his kingdom, yet he is a king. This being questioned, he himself avowed it before the Roman judge; and even in his low estate on earth, yet were there intermixed signs and characters of royalty. To instance here no more, the former chapter hath the history of one of them, and this of another. In that was the hoinage done to him a little after his entering into the world by birth In this, we have his harbinger preparing his way a little before his coming forth into the world, to manifest himself in his words and works.
This chapter, you see, contains the history of John Baptist -1st. the nature of his office; 2dly. the exercise of his office; and that both generally to the multitude of the Jews that resorted to his baptism, and particularly, to some of more eminent note amongst them, the Pharisees and Sadducees, and singularly on the person of Jesus Christ.
Ver. 1. In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea.] This relates not to the history that goes before, but to that which follows to be recorded, as the usual style of the Hebrew bears. It is clear that many VOL. III.
Ver. 10. And this is a sifting, trying time. He comes, who will unmask your hypocrisies and search you to the bottom; who will lay his axe to the root of the trees, and cut up the fruitless. Where the Gospel comes in greatest power, there is the certainest and saddest weight of judgment on the unbelieving and impenitent, the formal and fruitless.
Ver. 11. I indeed baptize you with water.] The true badge of a messenger of Jesus Christ, is, to abase himself and to magnify his master. Baptism with the Holy Ghost, and with fire, may, possibly, have some aspect to the singular sending of the Holy Ghost in fiery tongues. That purifying virtue, that flame of love, Oh that we found it!
Ver. 12. And only they, the wheat, are for the garner, they that are pure and spiritual: the chaff, light and vain hearts, are fuel for the fire. No middle class: we must be either baptized in that fire, or burnt in this.
Ver. 13-15. In the baptism of Christ, observe the exemplary humility both of the master and of the servant: of the master, in subjecting himself to this ordinance; of the servant in administering it, first, in his modest question and declining it, and secondly, in his quiet yielding and obedience. He that was so pure and spotless, had no need of that, or any other washing; He, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, as this John testified; He, the fountain opened for sin and iniquity, and therefore, well says he, I have need of thy baptism. Yet here he humbles himself to be baptized. Oh! that we who are baptized, had more of his likeness in this humble reverence for Divine ordinances, looking on them as his in every warranted hand. What though he that teaches be less knowing and less spiritual than thou that hearest, one that might rather learn of thee, yet the appointment of God obliges thee to attend as humbly and regardfully to his ministry as if he were an angel.
John recoils a little. Thus, truly, as he in regard to the person, so will every humbled, self-knowing minister, even in reference to the ordinances themselves, wonder often, and be some
times at the point of forbearing. Oh who am I, to handle such holy things, to stand in so high a service, to convey life, I that am dead; to administer so high, so pure and purifying ordinances, myself so impure! But again being commanded and engaged of God's own hand, that overcomes and silences; and in the continuing in the work upon that consideration, there is no less, yea, the greater humility, than in the other thoughts of unfitness; a submissive resignation of a man to his Lord. However the matter seem to me, and truly I deem myself unworthy of the lowest employment without thee, yet, Thou, appointing, I have no more to say: good reason Thy will stand, and not mine.
Ver. 16, 17. Now in the Baptism, the humility of both is richly rewarded with so glorious a vision and voice. The thing is mean and low in the common form of it; baptized in the common river. Oh! what transcendent glory in such a manifestation of that blessed Trinity on earth, that is the perpetual wonder and happiness of Heaven. Oh, that we had eyes to see it, and that our hearts were more taken with this glance here, and the hopes of full vision ere long! Like a dove. Oh! that that Spirit were more abundant in us, flowing from our Head, on whose head it here rested.
My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.] In this word lies all the comfort of a Christian. No pleasingness, nor acceptance, indeed, out of him; but in him, all acceptance of all who are in him. Nothing delights the Father but in this view. All the world is as nothing in his eye, and all men hateful and abominable by sin. Thou, with all thy goodnature, and good-breeding, and good-carriage, art vile and detestable out of Christ. But if thou get under the robe of Jesus, thou and all thy guiltiness and vileness, then art thou lovely in the Father's eye. Oh! that we could absolutely take up in him, whatsoever we are, yet shrouded under him! Constant, fixed believing is all. Let not the Father then see us but in the Son, and all is well.
Ver. 1. Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
THE Apostle doth fitly style our Lord Jesus, the captain, or leader, of our salvation. He marches, leads all the way, puts us on nothing that he hath not first encountered. And in his going before, there is that decorum there marked, Heb. xii. 10. It was meet he should be made perfect by sufferings. So particularly by this kind, that is the sharpest sensation, by these he was entered into his calling; initiated or consecrated, as the word there is. Let none, therefore, of his followers think to go free. If you mean to follow Christ, reckon for temptations, to meet them even at first, and so in all the way. We readily misreckon, though warned; we count as we would have it; write up such ease and joys, &c., and think not on afflictions without, and temptations within, which yet are much our portion here. Unwise, to put to sea and expect no storms, nothing but fair weather! Let this be our warning, that we be not secure; we shall meet temptations. But let this be our comfort, that we be not dismayed, that in this we do follow him. He went before us in this conflict, and overcame before us, and for us; and we likewise, in his strength, shall
Then.-When? Look backward. he was baptized, and not simply by the water of Jordan, but by the Spirit from Heaven, and was singularly replenished, full of the Holy Ghost, as St. Luke hath it, Luke iv. 1. Thus shalt thou be sure to be assaulted when thou hast received the greatest enlargements from Heaven, either at the sacrament or in prayer, or in any other then look for an This arch-pirate lets the empty ships pass, but lays
wait for them when they return richest laden.
Then.-Again, look forward. Then-when he was to enter