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"for another?" Jesus answered and said unto them, " Go and "shew John again those things "which ye do hear and (e) see: "The if) blind receive theirsight, "and the lame walk, the lepers "are cleansed, and the deaf ** hear, the dead are raised up, "and the poor have the Gospel "preached to them. And blessed "is he, whosoever (g) shall not be "offended in me." And, as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, "What went ye out into the "wilderness to see? a (h) reed "shaken with the wind? But "what went ye out for to see? '* a man clothed in soft raiment? *' Behold, they that wear soft "clothing are (/') in kings' houses. "But what went ye out for to *' see ? a prophet ? yea, I say unto "you, and more than a prophet. "For this is he of whom it is
(e) " Sec." According to Luke vii.21. whilst John's Disciples were with Jesus "he cured many of their infirmities and "plagues, and of evil spirits, and unto "many that were blind he gave sight," so that he might properly refer to what they icnu as well as what they might have heard.
(/ J "The blind," &c. Our Saviour refers them to his works because of their agreement with two prophecies in Isaiah: In Isaiahxxxv. 4,5,6. theProphet.alluding to the times of the Messiah,says, " Behold *• your God will come with vengeance, '• even God with a recompence: he will •' come and save you: then the eyes of "the blind shall be opened, and the ears M of the deaf shall be unstopped, then "shall the lame man leap as an hart, and •' the tongue of the dumb sing." And in Isnuh xvi. 1. he says, " TheSpirit of the "I^ord is upon me, because the Lord M hath anointed me to preach good tidM ings unto the meek," &c. &c. His performing the miracles was a decisive proof that God was with him; but it
written, (k) Behold, I send my messenger before thy fa.ee, which shall prepare thy way before thee."
Fourth Sunday in Advent.
O Lord, raise up (we pray thee) thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us, through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord; to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
The Epistle. Phil. iv. 4.
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your 5
added some weight to these miraculous acts that they corresponded with what the prophet had foretold.
(g) "Shall not be offended in,"i.e.shall boldly and firmly adhere tome, without being deterred by persecution or danger.
(A) " Areed,"fcc.that is a mere trifle.
(i) " In kings' houses" and therefore «.i not in the wilderness.
(i)"Behold," &c. Thisistheprophecy in Mai. iii. 1. '< Behold I will send my "messenger, and he shall prepare the way "before me:' and the Lord whom ye seek (i. e. the Messiah) " shall suddenly come "to his temple, even the Messenger of "the covenant, whom ye delight in t "behold he shall come, saith the Lord "of hosts." See an able Commentary upon this prophecy, Chandler's Defence of Christianity, first ed. p. 6*. The way was prepared by reforming their lives, and by that means fitting them to receive the precepts of Christianity, and to undergo all dangers, &c. in adhering to it.
(/) " Known unto all men/' not for ostentation, but to advance the interests of Christianity, by bringing it into good repute. It casts the highest credit upon reiigion, when its professors make a conscience of all their ways, and act as if they had God in all their thoughts— when they abstain from every appearance of evil, and put in practice the virtues their religion inculcates. And we then glorify God, when in every action we consider how far it is agreeable to his will. Our Saviour, in his Sermon on the Mount, Matt. v. 16. recommends good actions with this view. "Let your Tight "so shine before men, that they may •' see your good works, and glorify your "Father which is in heaven." In Tit. ii. i to 5. St. Paul direfts Titus to recommend sobriety, temperance, patience, chastity, and other virtues, to this end, " that the word of God (i.e. Christ's "religion) be not blasphemed." And be inculcates certain particulars of good conduct, in 1 Tim. v. 14. and vi. 1. that " occasion be not given to the ad"versary to speak reproachfully, and "that the name of God, and his doc"trine,be not blasphemed," that is,"evil "spoken of." St. Peter also beseeches the believers "to abstain from fleshly "lusts, which war against the soul, and "to have theirconversation honest among M the Gentiles, that whereas they speak •' against you as evil-doers, they may by "your good works •which they shall beholdt "Scorify God in the day of •visitation." I Pet. ii. 11, 12. And see 1 Pet. iii. 12. To act from ostentation, with a view to obtain praise of men, and not to advance the glory of God, is a different thing, and is condemned by our Saviour, Malt. vi. I 105. and Matt. vi. 16. post.
(m) " The Lord is at hand." Tba- % , ^ the time spoken of as the coming of tlx Lord, the day of vengeance to the wicked and unbelievers, and of redemption and salvation to the faithful converts, is near approaching. See ante 25. on Rom.xiii. 11. The Epistle to the Philippians is supposed to have been written in the year 59, about 11 years before the destruction of Jerusalem.
(b) "Careful for nothing." So t Peter, «. 6. v. 7. " Cast all your care upon him, "for he careth for you.''
(0) " Passeth all understanding," i e. ei *. 7» ther, better than all knowledge, or greater than we can conceive, inconceivable. See post, Eph. iii. 19. the like expression. "The love of Christ, which passeth "knowledge.''
(p) " John," i.e. " the Baptist." v. 19.
(q) " Elias." The Jews expected that v. 21, Elijah the prophet would appear again before the coming of the Messiah, in consequence of the prophecy, Mai. iv. c. "Behold I will sena you Elijah the "prophet, before the coming of the "great and dreadful day of the Lord." In Matt. xvii. 10. the disciples noticed this tradition to our Saviour, "Why then "say the Scribes, that Elias must first "come?" And our Saviour admits that Elias was first to come, but explains to them that John the Baptist, who, according to Luke i. 17. " was to go before the "Messiah in the spirit and power of Elias," was the person to whom Malachi refers.
(r) " That Prophet." It is not clear v. 21. whether they referred to any particular 25. prophet, or whether the translation should not be indefinitely " a prophet." See Mark vi. 15. and viii. 28.^-Lukeix. 8. 19. If the former was the case,they might perhaps refer to the Prophet foretold by Moses, Deut.xviii. 15. "The Lord thy God will
"raise up unto thee a Prophet from the "midst of thee, of thy brethren, like "unto me; unto him shall ye hearken." And they might be uncertain whether that might not look forward to some other person than the Messiah.
w. 23. (s) "I am the voice," &c. that is, " I '* am the person referred to by that pro"phecy." It was the practice of eastern monarchs, when they undertook an expedition or journey, to send messengers before to prepare all things for them, and pioneers to open the passes, level the ways, and remove all impediments; and in like manner John the Baptist was to go before our Saviour, to endeavour to prepare men's minds for his reception. Malachi had explained the means by which he should attempt to "make *' straight the way of the Lord," by "turning the hearts of the fathers to the «' children, and the heart of the children "to their fathers." Mai. iv. 6. He was to remove the impediments of sin, pride, obstinacy, &c. ; to make men to be " of "one mind in a house," Ps.lxviii. 6.; to produce unanimity; todestroy dissensions, animosities, ill-will, &c. And accord, ingly, when he began his ministry, his preaching was, " Repent ye, for the king"dom of heaven is at hand."
v. 26. (') "One among you," that is, Jesus Christ.
*. 27. (u) " Whose shoe's latchet,'' i.e. who is so transcendently great, that I am unworthy to do even the meanest offices for him. Would an impostor, or one who sought his own glory, thus disparage himself, and aggrandize another? Can any motive be ascribed to John's conduct, but that which the Scripture ascribes, *• to pre"pare the way for Christ's kingdom ?*' According to John iii. 28. he appeals to his disciples if he had not told them he was not the Christ, and adds, v. 30. he
and said unto him, '"' Why bap"tizest thou then, if thou be "not that Christ, nor Elias, "neither that prophet?" John 3& answered them, saying, " I bap"tize with water: but there "standeth (t) one among you, "whom ye know not; He it is, 27. "who, coming after me, is pre"ferred before me, (u) whose "shoe's latchet I am not worthy
must increase, but I must decrease. See Bp. Porteus"s Lecture on the Character, &c. of John the Baptist. Matt. iii.
The gospel account of the Baptist corresponds with what is said of him by the Jewish historian Josephus, born A.D. 37: for we learn from him that he was a very good man, that he baptized, that his doctrine was that they should re. nounce their sins, and purify their souls, and that divers flocked and followed him to hear his doctrine, and that he had the greatest influence over them. After mentioning a signal defeat of Herod's army, he says, (Antiquities, b. 18. c. 7. s. 2.), "Divers Jews were of the opinion, that "Herod's army was overthrown by the "just vengeance of God, who punished "himmostjustly,becauseoftheexecution "which he caused to be done on John, "sirnamed Baptist: for he had put this "man to death, who was endued with all "virtue, and who exhorted the Jews ta "addict themselves thereto, and to prac"tice justice towards men, and piety "towards God; exhorting them to be "baptized, and telling them, that bap"tism should at that time be acceptable "unto God, if they should renounce not "only their sins, but if to purity of their "bodies they should add the cleanness of "their souls, repurified by justice And "whereas it came to pass, that divers "flocked and followed him to hear his "doctrine, Herod feared, lest his sub"jects, allured by his doctrine and per"suasions, should be drawn to revolt • "for it seemed that they would subscribe "in all things to his advice: he there'* fore thought it better to prevent a "mischief by putting him to death, thaa •' to expeft some sudden commotion, "which he might afterwards repent. "Upon this suspicion, Herod caused "htm to be bound,'' &c.
"to unloose." These things were done in Bethabara, beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
St. Thomas the apostle's Day.
Almighty and everlasting God, who for the more confirmation of the faith, didst suffer thy holy Apostle Thomas to be doubtful in thy Son's resurrection: Grant us so perfectly, and without all doubt, to believe in thy Son Jesus Christ, that our faith in thy sight may never be reproved. Hear us, O Lord, through the same Jesus Christ ; to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, now and for evermore. Amen.
>• 10. .(*) " Saints." i. e. The Jews, who, before our Saviour's time, were the onlypeople who wor/hipped the true God, and were called " God's people, the •' Holy of the Lord." x. 20. (y) " Built." This is an instance of the figurative stile of the Scripture. All Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles, and wherefoever dispersed, are considered as forming one Church, one Temple, one House or Habitation for God. So 1 Pet. ii. c. "Ye also as lively stones "are built up a spiritual house, an holy "priesthood to offer up spiritual sacri"fices, acceptable to God by Jesus "Christ." So in the Apostles Creed, and in other parts of the Liturgy, the whole body of Christians throughout all the world, is called " The Holy Catholic "Church." In I Cor. iii. 16. he fays to the converts, to prevent their dishonouring their bodies, " Know ye not u that ye are the Temple of God ;" and 2 Cor. vi. 16. "ye are the Temple of "the living God." •■ 20. (s) "Corner Stone." Our Saviour is often consideredas the corner stone of the Christian Temple. According to Isaiah xxviii. 16 "Thus saith the Lord God, "Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation
The Epistle, Ephes. ii. 19.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the (>Jsaints, and of the household of God; and 20. are (y) built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone(z); in whom all the 21. building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are 22. builded together for an habitation of God through the spirit.
The Gospel. John xx. 24.
Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them (a) when Jesus came. The 24. other disciples therefore said unto
"a Stone, a tried Stone, a precious Cor"ner Stone, a sure Foundation." In Ps. cxviii. 22. is this passage, "The same '* Stone which the builders refused, is "become the Head Stone in the corner;'' and this is applied to our Saviour by himself, and also by St. Peter. Our Saviour says, " Did ye never read in the "Scripture, " the Stone which the "builders reje&ed, the same is become "the Head oftheCorncr/'Matt.xxi. 42. Mark xii. 10.—Luke xx. 17. And when St. Peter was questioned by the rulers, &c. by what pownr or by what name he had healed the impotent man, and he told them it was by the name of Jesus Christ, he adds, " This is the Stone which was "set at naught of you Builders, which "is become the Head of the Corner." A&s iv. u, 12.
(a) "When Jesus came," i.e. atone of his appearances after his Resurrection. The disciples were assembled on the day of his Resurrection, the first day of the week, and Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said unto them, " feace be "unto you;" shewed them his hands and his side, breathed on them the Holy Ghost, and gave them power to remit or retain sins. Post, John xx. 19 to 23.
v. 25. (3) «' Seen the Lord." St.John, who was one of the apostles, must have known whether they had really seen the Lord. According to Luke xxiv. 33. the eleven were present at this time. The certain assurance that our Saviour had risen from the dead, and that they had received the gift of tongues, and the other privileges of the Holy Ghost, affords an easy solution to what otherwise appears unaccountable, the difference in their conduit just before this period and after it. When he was apprehended, all the disciples forsook him and fled. Matt. xxvi. 56. Whilst he was before the High Priest, Peter thrice denied that he knew him: and at the time of this appearance of Christ, the doors of the place where they were assembled were shut for fear of the Jews. Indeed, the crucifixion of him on whom all their hopes were placed, was calculated to depress their spirits. And yet in a very short time we find a meeting of about one hundred and twenty,with Peter amongst them, to choose an apostle in the room of Judas, "to be a witness with them of "Christ's ResurreBion." Alts i. 15. On the day of Pentecost, seven weeks after the Resurrection, when they had received - the power of speaking languages they had never learnt, we find Peter publicly stating, in Jerusalem, that Jesus Christ had by wicked hands been crucified and slain, but that God had raised him up, Ads ii. 23, 24. We find him repeating the same thing after his healing the lame man, Alts iii. 13 to 15. He repeats it again when he is brought before the Chief Priest, the Rulers, Elders, and Scribes, on this account, Alts iv. 10 ; and when they commanded him and John not to speak at all, nor teach at all in the name of Jesus, they boldly answered that they should. "Peter and John answered "and said unto them, "whether it be "right in the sight of God to hearken "unto you more than unto God, judge
"ye > f°r <we cannot fa* speak the things "which we have seen and heard." Altsiv. 19, 20. Indeed, from this time all the apostles, without exception, devoted their lives to the propagation of Christ's religion, and underwent the greatest hardships, and in many instances death itself, in attestation of the truth of his Resurreltion. They could have been altuated by no temporal views; their conduit could have proceeded from nothing but conviction ; and their conviction was founded on falts in which they could not have been deceived; what they had themselves seen, that is, our Saviour's appearance to them after his Crucifixion; and what they had experienced in themselves, namely, the power of speaking languages they had never learned, and of working miracles. Their conduit, therefore, affords us a strong " reason for the "hope that is in us.'' And Dr. Paley has treated it in a masterly way, as affording of itself, independently of other grounds, the most satisfactory evidence of the truth of the Christian religion. See also post, note on John xvi. 20.
(r) "After eight days," that is, accord- • ing to the Jewish manner of expressing themselves, the 8th day, the first day of the succeeding week. Rehoboam ordered the people to come " after three days," when he meant them to come the third day. 2 Chron. x. 5. 12. The Jews imputed to our Saviour that he said, that '* after three days he should rise again;" and yet they understood him to mean that he should rise the third day; for after mentioning to Pilate what our Saviour had said, they desired "that the sepulchre •' might be made sure until the third day." Matt, xxvii. 63, 64.
(d) " Then came Jesus." The other' disciples were present at this appearance also; so that John, who records it, could not have been mistaken ai to this fait.