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to God. I saw the Lord make a path through the waters for his redeemed to pass over; but thou shalt find a more wonderful way through the waves of death; and though the floods shall compass thee about, yet shall thy life be brought up from corruption. I beheld the chariots of Pharaoh and the mighty host of Egypt plunging in the deep, when the morning appeared; but thou shalt triumph over principalities and powers, and see them overwhelmed in the lake of fire. I led my people through the wilderness, and gave them a law which had “the “ shadow of good things to come;" but thou shalt conduct thine through the world, and teach them to
worship in spirit and in truth.” I went before Israel to the borders of the promised land; but thou art the true shepherd of souls, and they who follow thee shall « pass from death unto life.”
Zacharias concludes bis divine song with an apostrophe to the infant Baptist, as one who was designed by Providence to be the precursor of such a Saviour, and the publisher of such salvation :
9. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest : for thou shalt go before the face
of the Lord, to prepare his ways; 10. To give knowledge of salvation unto his peo
ple for the remission of their sins
“ The law prophesied until John,” who succeeded it in its office of pointing out the Messiah, and spake the language of its institutions, when he said, “ bold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin
“ of the world." " Remission of sins” is the doctrine in which the Christian religion justly glorieth, as that most necessary and fundamental point, in wbich
every other religion fails. The Heathen confesseth himself to be in the dark; he guesseth only what is the will of God, whom he knoweth not. He hath not strength to perform what he imagineth to be such; and he understandeth not the meaning of the sacrifices and lustrations derived to him by tradition. The blood of bulls and goats cannot wash away the sins of the Jew; and his oblations, since the truth is come which they were intended to prefigure, are preposterous and impious. The Mahometan hath no evidence for the mission of his prophet, no argument for his religion but the sword, and no heaven but sense. The doctrine of " salva.
tion by the remission of sins,” through faith in a Redeemer, was, from the beginning, the sum and substance of true religion, which subsisted in promise, prophecy, and figure, till John preached their accomplishment in the person of Jesus. Paganism was a corruption of it, before that time, as Mahometism hath been since; and modern Judaism is an apostasy from it. And shall we go away, and forsake our Redeemer ? To whom can we go? He hath the words of eternal life: he only can give “ salvation by the remission of sins.” It is this religion which enlightens the understanding with true knowledge, and warms the heart with true charity : it is this which alone brings confidence, and comfort, and joy, and bids fear and despondency fly away: it is this which raises the soul, as it were, from the dead, puts new vigour into all her powers and faculties, and animates her to duty, by the powerful motives it suggesteth: it is this which is a counterbalance to the temptations of sense, by the promises made to our faith ; which supports the infirmity of nature by the glorious objects proposed to our hope; and which triumphs over the opposition of the world, by the love of God shed abroad in our hearts : it procures us the only solid happiness there is in this world, and opens a way to the felicities of the next: it holds him out to us, who is our “shield” on earth, and will be our "exceeding great reward” in heaven; who “guides us with his counsel, and will, “after that, receive us to glory-Whom have we in
heaven, O Lord, but thee; and there is none upon “ earth we can desire in comparison with thee € !"
11. —Through the tender mercy of our God;
whereby the day-spring from on high hath
visited us, 12. To give light to them that sit in darkness,
and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
St. John was the morning-star, that preceded the Sun of righteousness at his rising; an event, the glory of which is due to “ the tender mercy of our
God;" since towards the production of it man could do no more than he can do towards causing the natural sun to rise upon the earth. The blessed
e Psal. lxxiii. 24.
effects of the day-spring which then dawned from on high, and gradually increased more and more unto the perfect day, were—the dispersion of ignorance, which is the darkness of the intellectual world ; the awakening of men from sin, which is the sleep of the soul; and the conversion and direction of their hearts and inclinations into “ the way of peace,” that is, of reconciliation to God by the blood of Christ, to themselves by the answer of a conscience cleansed from sin, and to one another by mutual love. “ Happy is the people that is in such a case; yea,
happy is the people, whose God is the Lord. They " are the children of the light and of the day. Their
sun shall no more go down, neither shall their
moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be unto “them an everlasting light, and the days of their
mourning shall be ended.'
Considerations on St. John's Education in the Deserts.
All the information we have concerning St. John, from the time of his birth to that of his public appearance, is contained in the few following words “ And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, 6 and was in the deserts till the day of his showing “ unto Israel.” There, apart from the world, and
under the tuition of Heaven, he was catechized in the principles of divine wisdom, initiated into the mystery of a holy life, and perfected in the discipline of selfdenial;
The moss his bed, the cave his humble cell,
This dispensation in the case of the Baptist, like many others relative to the prophets, was extraordinary and miraculous; consequently, not to be literally, copied by any one, but in similar circumstances, and under a supernatural direction. Nor has the monastic scheme the sanction of so great an example; as St. John was under the obligation of no vow, but having finished his preparation in solitude, came forth to act his part upon the theatre of the world. And it is well known, that, even in those ages when mankind stood astonished at the austerities practised by recluses and eremites, the episcopal or sacerdotal character was reckoned as much superior to the other, as charity is better than contemplation. “In
solitude," saith a great master of this subject,
a man may go to heaven by the way of prayer and “ devotion ; but in society he carries others with “him by the way of mercy and charity. In solitude “ there are fewer temptations, but then there is like" wise the exercise of fewer virtues. Solitude is a
good school, and the world the best theatre. The " institution is best there, the practice here. The