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rejected him, and by that rejection prove that Jesus was he of whom Moses wrote-for the Lord has executed the punishment he threatened should befall them, if they refused to hearken unto this prophet; thus the Jews are living monuments of the truth as it is in Jesus. Oh, may we take warning from their calamities, and receive the sent, the sealed, the anointed of the Father, as our prophet, priest, and king; even Jesus the Messiah, the Christ of God!
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.- Isaiah xl. 3.
The Prophets Isaiah and Malachi were commissioned to inform the church, that when the period should arrive for the coming of the Messiah, a messenger would be sent to announce his near approach. This promise was most strictly fulfilled : Jesus, the Son of the Most High God, did not visit this our world, without first directing an herald to proclaim his coming; even John, who was sent to prepare the way before him.* This harbinger deserves our attention; he was no ordinary character. An angel, even Gabriel, posted from heaven to speak of his birth, and declare he should be filled with the Holy Ghost from the first dawn of life. If such distinguishing honour was paid to the messenger, how great that due to the master! John demands our respect, on account of the sanctity of his life, the simplicity of his manners, and the active zeal and ardent love he manifested in the cause, and towards the person, of his Lord, and for the integrity and faithfulness exhibited in every part of his conduct towards man. He feared not to reprove sin in whatever class of persons he beheld it, from the common soldier even to the monarch on the throne. To a character so exemplary as John's, the highest respect and veneration are due; and the testimony of such a
* Mal. iii. 1., iv. 5.
man deserves not to be lightly regarded. John's birth was six months prior to his Lord's, † and being the first who used water-baptism as a divine ordinance, he was surnamed the Baptist. He abode “in the deserts” of Judea “until the day of his showing unto Israel,” and had never seen his Lord
* Matt. iii. 3., xi. 2-15. Mark i. 2-8. Luke i. 5–26. + Luke i. 39–44.
(who resided at Nazareth, in Galilee), until he came to Jordan for baptism. The testimony he then gave to the person of Jesus merits observation. He publicly acknowledged him to be the person whose way he was sent to prepare, and spoke of him as one whose shoe's latchet he was not worthy to unloose. We see John, when surrounded by his own disciples, point to Jesus,
“ Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,” and “this is he of whom I said, after me cometh a man which is preferred before me; for he was before me.” John gave the most decided testimony to the Godhead of Jesus, for he said he would“ baptise with the Holy Ghost,” which is the prerogative only of God. What man can, by any means, redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for his soul? but John spake of his Lord as Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Yes, he is the “ Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Under the Mosaic dispensation, the lamb slain, as a morning and evening sacrifice, and on the great day of atonement, was only a type of this Lamb of God's own providing, who offered himself up as a sacrifice for the sins of many. When the disciples of John appeared displeased at the growing popularity of Jesus, their master instantly checked them by
saying “ he must increase, but I must decrease; he that cometh from heaven is above all.” After John was cast into prison, we find him sending two of his disciples to Jesus, to inquire if he were the Christ or not.* Having heard the testimony John had before given to the person of Jesus, we cannot suppose he had
any doubts in his own mind as to his being the Messiah, but rather that he was fully convinced of the fact himself; and wishing his disciples to be firmly established in the same faith, he, as the most effectual method, sent them to Jesus for satisfactory proofs of a truth which he (John) had been continually teaching through the whole course of his ministry. John was a faithful witness in his master's cause, and to him we are much indebted. But let us not bestow on him the honours due to Jesus, who is deservedly preferred before him; for, as John justly observed, he was before him. This is strictly true, for although Jesus did not take on him our nature until six months after the birth of John, yet, being God as well as man, his existence is from everlasting to everlasting.
Josephus, in his history of the Jews, speaks of John the Baptist in the highest terms of respect and venera
* Luke vii. 18—28.
sinful principles, and evil propensities of the human
His name shall be called “Immanuel, which, being interpreted, is, God with us,” God in our nature.* Yes, the uncreated word was “made flesh and dwelt amongst us and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” “In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” The Socinian may smile with contempt when the Deity of Jesus is attested, but is it not written? “ Behold ye despisers, and wonder and perish!”
Shall not " he that sitteth upon the circle of the heavens, laugh ?—the Lord shall have them in utter derision.” We would candidly confess, there are mysteries in this doctrine above the powers of a finite mind fully to comprehend. But are we, for that cause, to refuse our belief of its truth? We should indeed be reduced to a most distressing dilemma, if we were to disbelieve every thing we cannot fully comprehend. Who can discover or fully explain the nature, crder, and beauteous economy, displayed in the animate and inanimate creation ? They are so many problems unsolvable by man,
* Col. ii. 9. 1 Cor. xv. 47. Rom, ix. 5. 1 Tim. üi. 16. John i. 1., i. 14.