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gravated condemnation of those who, when light is come into the world, prefer darkness to it, and obstinately shut their eyes against it, though it be the dawnings of an eternal day.
May integrity and uprightness preserve us! And, conscious of a real desire to govern ourselves according to the light we have, may we cheerfully lay ourselves in the way of more ; that in the last awful day, when the sentence of Divine wrath shall be executed on all the servants of sin, and their character shall stand disclosed in the most odious colours, ours may shine out beautiful and fair, and the good deeds that we have done, being now wrought in God, may then not only be accepted and applauded, but through the grace of the Redeemer abundantly rewarded by him!
John's last testimony to Christ, on occasion of a dispute concerning his
baptism and that of our Lord's disciples. John üi. 22, &c.
FTER these things, Jesus and his disciples came into the
land of Judea, and there he continued with them, and by their 23 ministry* baptized. And John was also baptizing at Enon near
Salim, because there was a great quantity of water there : and 24 they came and were baptized by him ; (for John was not yet thrown
into prison, as he was soon after.) 25 And there was a dispute between some of the disciples of John,
and a certain] Jewt who had been baptized by Christ, about this 26 rite of purifying, or baptism. And they came to John (solicitous
for his honour) and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee on
the other side Jordan, to whom thou gavest testimony (viz. Jesus) 27 behold he now baptizeth, and all come to him. John replied and said, Do not give
way to such vain partiality to me, for a man can 28 receive nothing unless it be given him from heaven.
selves bear witness to me, that I said, from the first, that I am not 29 the Christ ; but that I am sent as a harbinger before him. It is
the bridegroom that hath the bride ; but the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him express his delightot 80 far from envying, he rejoices with great joy on account of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this my joy is completed in my
Master's 30 success, He must increase, but I must decline : he that cometh 31 from above is above all ; he that was of the earth, like me is still of
the earth, and speaketh of the earth ; he who cometh from hea32 yen is above all. And what he hath seen and heard that does he
testify : and yet no man receives his testimony : among all that
hear him there are very few who are duly affected with what he de33 livers. He who hath indeed received his testimony hath set his
* Ch. iv. 2,
# Many copies, as well as the Syriac version, and the citations of some of the Fathers, determine me to prefer this reading, which gives an easier sense.
† Some suppose this alluccs to a peculiar ceremony in the Jewish marriagcs. See Hammond.
34 seal [to ít] that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speak
eth the words of God, for God giveth not the spirit (to him) by 35 measure. The Father loveth the Son, and bath given all things 36 into his hand. He who believeth on the Son hath eternal life ;
but he that is disobedient to the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth upon him.
REFLECTIONS, It is indeed too true that the spirit which naturally duvelleth in us all lusteth to envy, and it is far from being a low attainment in religion to look with complacency and thankfulness on the superior abilities and acceptance of others, especially of those who once appeared in an inferior rank. But for the cure of this unreasonable and restless passion, sò contrary to the true spirit of the gospel, let us remember that a man can receive nothing at all except it be given him from heaven. It is God that makes one man to differ from another; and surely nothing can be more unreasonable than that, when we ourselves have received all from bounty, our eye should be evil because he is good.
If we are indeed the friends of Christ we shall rejoice to see his interest advance, and especially to see souls espoused to him as the great Bridegroom of the church, whoever are the instruments of promoting so happy a work. Would to God that, in this sense, all the Lord's people were even as the greatest of the prophets, or as the very chief of the apostles!
But if indeed they were so, yet, like those brighest - luminaries of the church, they must in time have their change and their wane. If God does not darken their glories by a sudden eclipse, yet they who are now, like the Baptist, burning and shining lights, must like him gradually decrease, while others are increasing about them; as they in tlieir turns, grew up amidst the decays of the former generations. Let us know how to set as well as to rise ; and let it comfort our declining days to trace in those that are like to succeed us in our work, the openings of yet greater usefulness. So shall we grow in our meetness for that world where all the righteous shall shine forth together, (8 the sun, in the kingdom of their Father, in a bright resemblance of him with whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning.
As the surest means of guiding us to that happy world, let us make it our great care, by recieving the testimony of Christ, to set our seal to the truth of God, engaged in his cause.With how much pleasure should we do it, and with what joy should we reflect that the Father so loveth the Son that he has not only given him the rich and unmeasurable communication of the Spirit, but has committed also into his hand the reins of government ! Let his faithful servants remember it with joy, and cheerfully commit their concerns to him who is made head over all things for the benefit of his church.
And to conclude ; let it engage us to see to the sincerity of our faith in him, and subjection to him ; since it is not a light matter, but our life, even the very life of our souls. May God awaken those on whom his wrath now abideth to a sense of their danger; and máy he strengthen in each of our souls that faith which is the pledge of a hap-py immortality.
John the Baptist imprisoned by Herod. LUKE ii. 19, 20,
17-20. MATT. xiv. 3-5.
THUS John prosecuted the design of his appearance : but Herod
Antipas the tetrarch of Galilee, being reproved by him on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife (for he had taken her from her husband and married her) and also for all the other evils that Herod had done-added yet this to all (the rest] of his crimes, that he shut up John in prison. For Herod himself
, of his own resentment, sent officers and seized John, and bound him and put him in prison; for John had told Herod to his face, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. And for this Herodias also, more furiously incensed, hung upon him*, and would have put him to death, but she could not immediately compass that design : for Herod still reverenced John in his heart, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man ; and, calling him to frequent audiences, he heard him with attention and pleasure, and did many things according to his exhortations. And when he would have consented to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they looked upon him as a prophet.
REFLECTIONS. What dangerous things are grandeur and power, if divine grace does not secure the hearts of those who possess them! How unhappy are they whose fatal prerogative it is to be able to oppress with impunity, and to render it hazardous even to reprove them! John well deserved the veneration and esteem of Herod when he thus took the freedom to perform this dangerous office of friendship, and to manifest a fidelity so seldom to be found in courts, and indeed so often wanting elsewhere. A wise prince would have courted his friendship, and sought his advice ; but he is at length rewarded with imprisonment and death. This good man was taken from his work, and laid aside in the midst of his days and his usefulness; but he calmly acquiesced in the disposals of Providence, and no doubt carried along with him to his prison incomparably more happiness than his persecutors could find on the throne.
In this confinement the prophet was not forgotten; but as if Herod had studied to increase his own torment, he must be sent for again and again to discourse before him. That he reverenced a man of such profound integrity none can wonder : but while he would not be entirely reformed by his remonstrances, that he should hear him. with pleasure, and do many things, is very surprising. Delusive pleasure ! unprofitable reformation! while, whatsoever instances he gave of his regarding him, Herodias was yet retained. May divine grace preserve us from such fatal partiality! since, did we keep the whole law, and offend allowedly but in one point, we should become guilty of all.
* The phrase seems an allusion to a dog's holding down his prey with his teeth.
We cannot wonder if a reformation thus insincere and partial was but short lived, and was followed at length by a grosser apostacy. More bitter than death is the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands bands. To what may not the artifices of such an abandoned creature work up the wretch that is entangled with her charms! Such was the influence of Herodias over him, that at her instigation Herod is prevailed upon to seek the death of that righteous and holy man, whose virtues he revered, and whose preaching he had attended with pleasure. But tlie fear of the people restrained him, though he was destitute of the fear of God, and had not any generous regard to
Thus does God govern the world, and thus does he protect his church, by often making it the interest even of the worst of men to forbear those injuries and cruelties which the malignity of their natures might otherwise dictate. Let us courageously commit the keeping of our souls to him in well-doing, as firmly believing that, whatever hazards we may be exposed to, the wrath of man shall on the whole be found to praise him, and the remainder of that wrath shall be restrained !
Christ's conference with a woman of Samaria. John iv. 1—26.
HEN therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had
heard with great concern that Jesus made and baptized 2 more disciples than John ; (though Jesus himself did not baptize
with his own hands, but his disciples did it in his name) to avoid their 3 envy and their curiosity, he left Judea, and departed again into 4 Galilee. Now, he was obliged to go through Samaria*. He 5 cometh therefore to a city of Samaria, called Sichar, originally
Sichem, near that piece of ground which Jacob gave to Joseph his 6 beloved Sont. And there was Jacob's well. Now Jesus, being
wearied with his journey, sat down immediately by the well ;
[and] it was about the sixth hour, or high noon. © At this juncture there comes a woman of Samaria to draw water. 8 Jesus says unto her, Give me [some water] to drink; for his dis9 ciples were gone to the city to buy food. Then says the woman of
Samaria to him, How is it that thou who art a Jew, askest drink
of me, who am a woman of Samaria ? for the Jews have no frienda 10 ly intercouse with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto
her, If thou hadst known the gift of God, and who it is that says unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest surely have asked him,
and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman (who understood him only of common water) says to
him, Sir, thou hast no bucket, and the well is very deep; whence 12 hast thou then this living water? Art thou greater than our father
Jacob who gave us this well, and drank of it himself, with his chil13 dren and his cattle ? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whoever
* Unless he had taken a wide circuit. + Gen. xxxiii. 19. xlviii. 22. Josh, xxiv. 32.
14 drinketh of this water will thirst again : But he that drinketh of
the water which I shall give him, will never thirst; but the water which I shall give him will be in him a fountain of water spring
ing up to everlasting life. 15 The woman (still ignorant of his sfuiritual meaning) says unto
him, Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come hither 16 to draw. Jesus says unto her, Go call thy husband and come hith
The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus .18 says to her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband : for thou hast
had five husbands, and he whom thou hast now, is not thy husband : this thou hast spoken truly.
The woman says to him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a proph20 et*.
Our fathers worshipped on this mountain ; whereas you say 21 that at Jerusalem is the place where we ought to worship. Jesus
says to her, Woman, believe me, The hour is coming when nei
ther on this mountain, nor at Jerusalem, shall ye worship the 22 Father as you now do. You worship you know not what : we 23 know what we worship; for salvation is from the Jews. Never
theless the hour approaches, and now is, when the true worship
pers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father 24 seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit ; and they that
worship him, ought to worship in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that the Messiah, who is
called Christ, is coming, [and] when he is come, he will teach us 26 all things. Jesus directly tells her, I that am speaking to thce,
REFLECTIONS. Condescending and compassionate Redeemer! who would thus graciously converse with a Samaritan, with a woman of an infamous reputation too, from whom, on various accounts, a haughty Pharisee would have turned away in proud disdain ! and could forget his thirst, pressing as that appetite is, that he might instruct and lead her to the waters of life! Gracious gift of God to the children of men ! how noble and how lasting a delight does it administer! Let it be our language, Lord, evermore give us this living water ! Oh, pour out this enlivening spirit on us, which alone can allay the thirst of our souls, and give us that lasting satisfaction which we in vain would seek from these broken cisterns, from these precarious streams; till at length the fountain springs up in Paradise, and flows on to life everlasting!
May this good Spirit anticipate those immortal delights to our souls, by leading us into that spirituality of worship which the nature of God demands, and which the gospel dispensation is so eminently calculatd to promote ! Let it be inscribed on our hearts that God is a Spirit ; and let it teach us to worship him in spirit and in truth. Such worshippers the Father seeks ; such may he ever find in us ! May all intemperate zeal for matiers of doubtful disputation, all sentiments of bigotry and severity against our brethren, be happily swal
9.d. Inform me therefore concerning the question which divides the Jews and Samaritans. VOL. I.