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Baptist. · First Miracle wrought by evinced the divinity of his mission, or, in the blessed Jesus.
other words, prover that he was a teacher
il come from God. But the melancholy soliT HE great Redeemer having thus, com. | tude of a desart, and the anxiety of hunger
plied with the institution of baptism, and thirst, were bot a small part of our and received a most convincing testimony Saviour's sufferingsin the wilderness : Satan, of his heavenly Father's approbation, by the that implacable foe to, mankind, was permiraculous descent and effusion of the Holy Initted to buffet him with the most insinuaGhost 'upon him, while praying on the tiny wiles, and assail him with the most allurbanks of Jordan, in the presence of a mul.
ing temptations, in order to attempt the titude of spectators, entered on his public defeat of heaven's most gracious designs, and ministry, at the age of thirty years, accord I keep wankind, under the dreadful dominion ing to the custom of the priests among the ! of sin and death. Jews.
The enemies of revelation have not failed It was apprebended by the people, that, to represent this event in a most ludicrous as he had just begun his public office, be manner; if any, therefore, should demand would repair to Jerusalem, the seat of why God permitted his only Son, the Savipower and grandeur, in order to display to our of the world, to be temptedby the devil, the mighty and the learned, bis miraculous whose power was deemed to be restrained, abilities and effulgent glories. :
we reply as follows One cause of the
Redeemer's being suffered to be tempted, . But, averse to buman parade, the hea was that he being personally acquainted : venly-minded Jesus preferred solitude to the
with the wile's of Satan, might become a uoise and burry of mortal life : be therefore faithful and compassionate high-priest, retired into the wilderness, in order to pre know hový to succour his people in time of pare himself, by fasting, meditation, prayer, adversity, and pity them when they fell into and sustaining temptation, for the important temptations." work on which he was entering, the salvation of mankind.
"That in order to be a shining pattern of
every virtue, and also a wise and valiant ... To promote this grand design, the eyan General, the blessed Redeemer underwent gelist writes, that this retirement into the all the difficulties and trials attending his wilderness was in consequence of the imme, service, that we being animated by bis glori. diate direction of the divine Spirit. · Though ous example, might not sink under the pressolitude itself is melancholy, the blessed Jesus | sure and troubles which God, for our good, added to the disınal scene, by retiring on a should be pleased to lay upon us.' " .. barren spot, surrounded by high and craggy mountains, and forming a dark and gloomy The Saviour of the world hath not only chaos.
been exposed to poverty and ridicule, but
also to the most trying temptations of Satan; In this wild and dreary situation the great that as the Captain of our salvation has un, Redeemer, as Moses and Elijah had done dergone the same, we ought not to laipt before him, fasted forty days and forty nights, when we are: tempted, but like him, be maintained an incessant communion with | able to withstand the fiery darts of the his heavenly Father, digested the doctrine he | devi...
!:04, s was about to deliver, and the obedience he came to perform : and by a total abstinence
nd by a total abstinence It Joubtless appears bighly proper, in from food for forty days and forty nights, order that our blessed Lord and Master
might both enter upon, and prosecute his , and requiring what was due to none but the ministry, with more glory to himself, and Supreme, religious homage. This blisaurantage to mankind ; that he should pre phemy, as well as insolence, incited the viously overcome the most subtle arts of that blessed Jesus to exert his divine authority, deceiver, who, under the mask of a serpent, and command him in a peremptory mariner, seduced our first parents, and involved to desist, citing his special injunction from them and their posterity in one common sacred writ, 65 Thou shalt worship the Lord ruin.
thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."
Thus repelled, he repeated the attempt, and The peculiar devices used by the serpent
having carried our Lord through the air, to trepan the Son of God, during the time placed him on the pinnacle of a temple, and, of his fasting, are not recorded in holy by a taunt of insolence, urged him to prove writ, and consequently canuot be ascer the truth of bis mission, by casting himtained.
self down from thence, citing as an en
couragement to comply with his desire, a But at the expiration of the forty days,
text from the Psalms, “ If thou be the Son when the blessed Jesus had endured the of God, cast thyself down, for it is written, keepest hunger, the tempter, to make proof he shall give his angels charge concerning of the divinity of his mission, insolently de
thee, and in their hands they shall bear tbee manded, why he bore the sensations of hun
up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot ger, since, if he was the Son of God, be
against a stone.” Matt. iv, 6. But our Savimust have power to change even the stones
our soon baffled this atteinpt, by another of that dreary wilderness into bread ; and
apt quotation from scripture, “ Thou shalt by so marvellous a transınutation he might
not.tempt the Lord thy God.” Matt. iv. 7. have the satisfaction of knowing the truth Thou shalt not provoke the Lord, either by of what was said concerning hiin at his
disobeying his continand, or by an impertibaptism ?.
nent curiosity , to know more concerning But our blessed Saviour repelled this de
his mind and will, than he is. pleased to vice, by citing the words of Moses, wbich
reveal. implied, that God, whenever it seemed good Thus bafiled in all his art and devices, by. in his sight could, by extraordivary meas, the wisdom and power of the Son of God, provide for the support of the human race. he departed from him for a season, and a - Man shall not live by bread alone, but by host of celestial spirits, dispatched from the every word of God.” Luke iv. 4.:
regions of bliss, came and ministered re
freshment to him, after his victory over the Satan, being defeated in this effort, car great enemy and deceiver of mankind. ried him to the top of a very high mountain,
Hence, notwithstanding the ridicule of and thinking to gain upon bis ambition, shewed him a bright view of all the king
the infidel, Christians may derive great endoms of the world, with their alluring glo.
couragement to fight manfully against the ries, promising him universal, empire over
flesh, the world, and the devil, under the tbe whole, if he would bow dow) and
banner of the great Captain of their salva. yield to him the bonour of the benefac
tion, wiro is ever ready to supply them with
spiritual armour, to sustain the combat with tion.
that inveterate and subcle foe, whose de"But observe his accursed pride and airo
vioes lie has experienced, being in every gance in promising that which is the gift of
respect tempted like thein, God alone, universalempire over the earth ; | During the time of our Saviour's retire
ment in the wilderness, his faithful harbin., is actually upon earth, and among ye, though ger the Baptist, being assured, from the mi ye know him not, because he hath not maraculous descent of the Holy Spirit, and nifested himself unto the world. The other concurring testimovies, that Jesus was Messiah is so far exalted beyond me in the promised and long-expected Messiah, power and dignity, that I am not worthy to continued publishing bis mission to the mul do bim the meanest offices. titude ; so that the rulers in Jerusalem received information of the surprising events The day after the departure of the priests that happened in Bethabara, beyond Jordan, | and levites from Bethabara, our blessed Lord before they saw the blessed J eus, in con left the wilderness, and repaired thither himfirmation of whose mission and doctrine they selt, wbile John was yet baptizing and were effected. : ::::... : ;.
preaching the doctrine of repentance.
· Prompted by curiosity, they dispatched a | The Baptist, as his grand business was to deputation of priests and levites to the Bap- direct all persons to the Messiah, for life tist, to demand of him, who this wondrous and salvation, in and through him, emperson was? whether he was the Messiah, braced this seasonable opportunity of point. or Elias ; or that Prophet who was to rise ing him out to the multitude." Behold from the dead and precede the Messiah, ibe the Lamb of God, which taketh away tie powerful Princeso earnestly expected by the sins of the world." Lest the attending whole nation of Israel.
crowd should surmise, that it had been pre
viously concerted between Jesus and John, The Baptist frankly replied, that he was that the former should assume, and the latter not the Messiah whom they expected, nor give him the appellation of Messiah, he pubElias, who, as they vainly thought, would licly and solemnly declared, that he was personally appear amongst then, nor any equally with them ignowant of the pretenother prophet risen from the dead : but at sions of Jesus to that high character, till he the same time hinted to them, that though saw the miraculous descent of the Holy he was not Elias himself, yet he was that Ghost, and heard bim pronounced, in the person spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, and most awful manner, the Son of God. of whom he thus prophesied, “ The voice of 6 And John bare record, saying, I saw the him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare Spirit descending from heaven, like a dove, ye the way of the Lord ; make straight and it abode upon him. And I knew him in the desart a highway for our God.” Isa. not : but he that sent me to baptize with xl. 3.
water, the same said unto me, Upon whom
thou shalt see the Spirit descending and re- The priests and levites, not sufficiently maining on him, the same is he which bapgratified with this reply of the Baptist, de tizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, manded of him, why he assunied the power and bare record, that this is the Son of God.” of baptizing the people, if he was neither | John i. 32, 33, 34. the Messiah, nor Elias, nor any of the ancient prophets risen from the dead ? To this The Baptist having made this public dedemand John answered, I indeed baptize, claration, the Messiah left Bethabara, but to shew the necessity of repentance, but my returned the day following; and John, hap. baptism is only that of water, and wbolly pening to stand with two of his followers on ineffectual in itself to the remission of sins: the bank of the river Jordan, pointed to him but that washing, foretold by Zacharias, is | as he passed, and in a pious rapture, re
of most sovereign effect; it is not my pro- peated what John had addressed to the mul· vince, but solely that of the Messiah, who titude the preceding day, “Behold the
Lamb of God.” It is hence imagined, that Philip meeting with Nathaniel, an inha. these two disciples, or followers of the Bap- bitant of Cana, a town in Galilee, informed tist, were absent at the time of the Holy him of the actual coming of the long-expecGhost, and for that reason this method was ted Messiah, that great Deliverer of Israel, taken of pointing out to them the venerable spoken of by Moses, and the ancient properson of the promised Redeemer of the pbets; « Jesus of Nazareth the Son of world.
Joseph.” Nathaniel was assured, from the
predictions concerning the Messiah, that Animated with an arduous desire of hear- he was to be descended from the line of ing, as well as seeing this extraordinary per. | David, and born in the city of Bethlehem, son, they left John, and followed Jesus, and therefore discovered an amazement at wbo, conscious of their design, turned his being called Jesus of Nazareth ; "Can about, and with the utmost affability, gave any good thing come out of Nazareth ? them an invitation to the place of his resi- Can that most contemptible of places, dence. The evangelist John, informs. us, Nazareth, be supposed to bave given birth that one of these disciples was Andrew, the, to the mighty Saviour, the Prince of Peace, brother of Simon Peter; and it is conjec especially as it was expressly foretold by the tured, from his silence, that himself was the prophet, that he was to be born in Bethleother ; for it is remarkable, that in his writ- | hem, the city of David ?" ings he studiously concealed bis own name.
Notwithstanding theimprobability of such Be that as it will, it is abundantly evident,
an event, Nathaniel listened to Philip, and that the testiinony of the Baptist, added to
determined on an examination of the person the tokens he had from the blessed Jesus, in the course of his converse with him, amply
whom he said was 'the promised Messiah.
Accordingly, under his direction, he resatisfied Andrew that he was indeed the pro
paired to the blessed Jesus, who, knowing mised Messiah, the Saviour and Redeemer
his character, saluted him on his approach, of lost and miserable sinners.
with this honourable appellation : « An
Israelite, indeed, in whom there is no Andrew soon after found his brother Peter, and brought him to our blessed Lord, who immediately called him by his name, Nathaniel, amazed at our Lord's pertitelling him, that he should afterwards be | ment address, as he had never before seen called Cephas, (which signifies a rock) from him, asked by what means he obtained such his firm resolution of mind, and also because precise knowledge of him ? Our Lord rehe should contribute towards the foundation plied, he had seen him under the tig-tree. of the Christian church.
Probably Nathaniel bad been praying under
the fig-tree, and been overheard by our - Some time after Jesus casually met with Lord, who, from the substance of his prayer,
Philip, an inhabitant of the town of Beth- thus concluded his character; for when the saida, and said to him, “ follow me.” Philip blessed Jesus informed him that he gave him immediately obeyed the divine command, that character on account of what bad having heard of the character and mission of passed under the fiy-tree, Nathaniel perour blessed Saviour. It is supposed that ceived that he knew not only what passed this disciple was present at the miraculous at a distance, but had access to tbe inmost descent of tbe Holy Spirit on our Lord at his thoughts of the heart, a property not allotbaptism, which being admitted, his ready ted to mortals; and therefore exclaimed compliance with his call is no matter of with rapture, “ Rabbi, thou art the Son of admiration.
God, thou art the King of Israel!"
Our Saviour then told him, he should words, « Woman, wlint kave to do with hereafter bare much stronger testimonials of thee? Mine hour is not yet come:" that the divinity of his puission, when he slidult is the time or period of my public ministry be eve-witness to what the old patriarel is not yet arrived, nor is it time for me to Jacob had before seen in a vision, the angels display my supernatural powers. of heaven, widescending and ascending," to attend the person, and execute the com 1 Notwithstanding this mild reproof, bis mands of the “Son of Man;" an appella mother stiil entertained an opinion that he tion our dear Lord assumed not only as co!) would interest bimself in behalf of her and sidering his bivanity, but in order to fulal the company, and therefore ordered the sermost peremptorily that remarkable predico vants punctually to obey his conrmands. tion of the prophet Daniel concerning hiny: i I saw in the night, risions, and behold, Our blessed Lord being assured that otje like the Son of Man came with the working a miracle would greatly tend to clouds of heaven, and came to the ancient confirm the faith of his young disciples, exof days, and they brought him near before erted his divine power, by ordering the serhim. And there was given him dominion, | vauts to fill six water pots, containing each and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, about twenty gallons, with water; which nations and languages should serve hiny. was no sooner doue, than the whole was His dominion is an everlasting dominion, converted into excellent wine. which shall not pass away, and his kingdom, that which shall not be destroyed.” He then ordered them to draw, and bear. Dan. vii. 13, 14, .
to the governor of the feast, who being igno
rant of the miracle that had been wrought, · . The great Redeemer having attested the and astonished at the preference of this wine divinity of his mission by many incontestable to that which had been served up at the beevidences, and made five disciples, deuar ginning of the feast, addressed hintself to ted for Galilee, where, soon after his arrival, the bridegroom, in the hearing of the whole he was invited, with his mother and disci company, telling him, that, contrary, to the ples, to a marriage-feast at Cana, a place lisual custom, he had reserved the best wine near Nazareth.
to the last, at the same time commending
so judicious a practice, as a plain proof of At these nuptials there happened to be a his approbation of his friends present at the searcity of wine, and bis mother, who inter entertainment. The bridegroom was equally ested herself in the conduct of the feast, surprised at the address of the governor of and was therefore desirous that every thing || the feast, and the occasion of it, which was should be done with decorum, applied to effected by the supernatural power of our ber Son, hoping he would be able to blessed Lord... remedy the defect.
| This miracle, which was the first wrought She had, doubtless, been eye-witness to by Jesus, contirmed the faith of his followbis power of working miracles, and was ers, and spread bis renown thoughout the therefore desirous that he would give proof adjacent country. The votaries of infidelity of his ability in the presence of her friends, I have not failed to arraign the truth of this who were assembled at the marriage.
event as well as to vent their sarcastio hu
mour upon it. Their mirth and ridicule · Addressing herself, therefore, to her Son, seem chietly founded on a supposition, that, she said to him, “They have no wine” most of the company were intoxicated, and Our Lord gently reproved her, in these consequently more liable to delusion; but