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Christ: teaching as, that God will not bell into Egypt: 15 And was there un-
How our Lord himself in a time of persecu12 And being warned of God in tion flies for safety, who was able a thoua dream that they should not return sand ways to have preserved himself from to Herod, they departed into their danger: teaching us that in times of difi
culty and danger, 'tis neither unwarrantaown country another way.
ble nor unbecoming to preserve our lives God having warned these wise men in a by flight; surely 'tis no shame for us to fly, dream not to go back to Herod, they re- when our Captain doth both practise it and turn home another way. But did these command it also. Christ by his own exwise men play the parts of honest men, in ample hath sanctified that state of life unto that they returned not again to Herod ? | us, and by his command has made it lawAnsw. It appears not that they promised ful for us. Obs. 3. The place which Christ Herod to return, though he expected it; or flies unto for safety, and that is Egypt: an if they did, it was in consideration that unlikely place, considered in itself; who Herod should come and worship Christ, could expect liberty in that house of bondnot murder and destroy him. But if they age? But any place is good, if God sends promised him never so positively, God us thither, and Christ be in our company. Almighty gave them a dispensation from His presence can make Egypt itself not that promise, by commanding them to re- only safe, but delightful also. Obs. 4. How turn home another way. Herod kept his readily Joseph complies with the divine design against Christ close from the wise command : instantly he arose, and took the men, but he could not conceal his inten- young child, and fled. Faith gave wings to tions from the infinitely wise God; he his obedience, and instantly vanquished all knew the purposes of his heart, and, by his fears, and afforded a fuller supply than his providence, kept Christ out of his all the treasures of the Arabian princes. hand. There is no wisdom, nor under- Teaching us, That when our direction is standing, nor counsel, against the Lord. clear, our compliance is speedy. We can
13. And when they were departed, not be too forward and expeditious in the behold the angel of the Lord ap- Though Joseph at the divine command of
execution of divine commands. Obs. 5. peareth to Joseph in a dream, say, God flies presently from Herod's rage, yet ing, Arise, and take the young child he flies privately, by night, and prudently and his mother, and flee into Egypt, begins his journey when least notice should and be thou there until I bring thee be taken of his motion : teaching us, That word: for Herod will seek the young
although we have never so many promises child, to destroy him. 14 When he of safety and deliverance, yet we must not
put God upon working miracles for our arose, he took the young child and preservation, when it may be obtained in his mother by night, and departed the use of means.
16 Then Herod, when he saw that || 19 But when Herod was dead, he was mocked of the wise men, behold, an angel of the Lord apwas exceeding wroth, and sent forth, peareth in a dream to Joseph in and slew all the children that were Egypt, 20 Saying, Arise, and take in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts the young child and his mother, and thereof, from two years old and go into the land of Israel: for they under, according to the time which are dead which sought the young he had diligently inquired of the child's life. wise men.
Observe, 1. Herod's death : like a bloody Observe here, How Herod, having play- persecutor, he is sent unlamented to his ed the fox before, acts the lion now; his grave. Historians say, that out of his body secret policy not succeeding, he breaks out
issued forth such impure streams of blood, into open and inhaman cruelty. Learn,
that the loathsomeness and pain made him That when fraud and subtilty fail the ene attempt the killing of himself. God seldom mies of the church, then they fall to open suffers persecutors to pass in quiet to their sage, and barbarous inhumanity. Thus graves; they rarely die the common death here these holy innocents fall as a sacrifice of all men, having no other balm at their to Herod's rage, and die for Christ, who funeral than their own blood. Observe, 2. came to die for them; and so were martyrs Christ is now called home without danger:
The happy consequence of Herod's death. in deed, though not in will. Some atfirm Herod being sent to his grave, the coast is that Herod did not spare his own child, then at nurse in the coasts of Bethlehem; clear for the return of the holy family. The which made Augustus say He had rather death of persecutors is the delivery of the be Herod's hog, than Herod's child; be- persecuted. Observe, 3. An angel is des. cause the Jews did never eat swine's flesh. patched to acquaint Joseph with Herod's And Herod, in compliance with the Jews, death. O how cheerfully do those glorious abstained from it also.
spirits execute the commands of their sove
reign Master! With what delight do they 17 Then was fulfilled that which carry the message of God's kindness to their was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, is this of thy love unto us, that in this our
fellow-creatures! Lord, what an argument saying, 18 in Rama was there a pilgrimage state thou allowest us thine own voice heard, lamentation, and weep- royal guard to attend and preserve us! ing, and great mourning, Rachel
21 And he arose, and took the. weeping for her children, and would
young child and his mother, and not be comforted, because they are
came into the land of Israel. 22 not.
But when he heard that Archelaus Observe here, The loud and bitter cry did reign in Judea in the room of which the mothers of Bethlehem make for his father Herod, he was afraid to the death of their innocent children which were barbarously slain by the sword of warned of God in a dream, he turned
go thither: nothwithstanding, being Herod; here was lamentation, weeping, and great mourning made by Rachel, thai aside into the parts of Galilee : is, by the women inhabiting in and about Observe here, 1. The just fear that JoBethlehem, where Rachel's sepulchre was: seph has upon his mind, that Herod's son for the land about Bethlehem was called would be as bloody a tyrant as his flagitious Rachel, from her sepulchre, so famous in father. No wonder that the children of those parts. Rachel here is not the name cruel persecutors are suspected to tread in of a person, but of a place. Observe, 2. their bloody parents' steps. Observe, 2. The cause and reason of this cry and bitter How God's warrant and direction doth lamentation: the mothers weep, not because quiet Joseph's mind, resolve his doubts, and the children are, but because they are not; remove his fears, and make him readily they did not, with some wicked parents, comply with the command of God: Being repine because they had children, but be warned of God, he removes out of Egypt cause they had lost them: mothers have into Galilee. O how safe and satisfactory the sharpest throes both in their children's is it in all our ways to follow the call ana births and burials. As children in their command of God! Joseph and Mary durst births are their mothers' Benjamins; so in not move their feet, no not out of Egypt their burial they are their mothers' Benonis, itself, till God gives them a warrant for their sons of sorrow.
i departure, and bids them go.
23 And he came and dwelt in a || derness, where inhabitants are few, and city called Nazareth : that it might probably very ignorant and rude. Leam be fulfilled which was spoken by the hence, That it is God's prerogative to send prophets, He shall be called a Na- whither, and to what people, he pleases;
forth the preachers of the gospel when, and
and none must assume the office before he A threefold interpretation is given of be sent. Observe, 3. The doctrine that he these words, He shall be called a Nazarene. preaches; namely, the doctrine of repentSome read the words, 1. He shall be called ance, Repent ye. This was to prepare the a Nazarite. The Nazarites were a reli- people for the Messiah, and the grace of gious and separate rank of persons among
ihe gospel. Learn thence, That the preachthe Jews, who abstained from wine, and ing of the doctrine of repentance is absocame not near the dead for fear of pollu-lutely necessary, in order to the preparing tion. Christ was a holy person, but no
of the hearts of sinners for the receiving Nazarite, in a strict sense; for he drank Christ Jesus and his holy doctrine. Ob wine, and touched the dead. 2. Others serve, 4. The motives which St. John uses read the words, He shall be called a Netzer, to enforce the exhortation to repentance: a branch, in allusion to Isa. xi. 1. where The kingdom of heaven is at hand: that he is called a Branch of the root of Jesse
. is, Now is the so much expected time of Christ was the true branch of which the the appearing of the Messiah come; the prophets had so often spoken. 3. Others Old Testament dispensation is now to be will have the word Nazarene refer to the abolished, and the mercy and grace of the city of Nazareth, where Christ was con
gospel is now to be revealed: therefore received, and lived most of his time : He shall pent, and amend your lives. Note thence be called a Nazarene, because he dwelt at
That the free and full tenders of grace and Nazareth. Hence his disciples were call- mercy in the gospel, are the most alluring ed the sect of the Nazarenes; that is, the arguments to move a sinner to repent, and followers of him that dwelt at Nazareth : be converted to God. and Christ himself is pleased to own the
3 For this is he that was spoken title, Acts xxii. 8. I am Jesus of Nazareth, of by the prophet Esaias, saying, whom thou persecutest. Learn from hence, The voice of one crying in the wilthe great humility of mind that was found derness, Prepare ye the way of the in our Saviour. He was born at Bethlehem, a little city; he lives at Nazareth, a
Lord, make his paths straight. poor, contemptible place: he aspires not The papists, from John Baptist's living after the grandeur of the world, but is meek in the wilderness, would make him the first and lowly in spirit. May the same hum-founder of the order of the hermits, but ble mind be in us, which was also in very groundlessly. For, 1. What he did Christ Jesus !
was by God's command; what they do, is
by the dictates of their own fancy. He CHAP. III.
busied himself in preaching in the wilderThis Evangelist having declared our Saviour's ness; they bury themselves alive, and do
miraculous conception in the first chapter, and re- nothing. 2. He lived in the wilderness but corded several remarkable circumstances relating for a time, afterwards we find him at court, to his birth in the second chapter, in this chapter
he passes oer in silence the whole preaching a sermon to Herod, but they bind course of our Saviour's life in private; laking no themselves by a vow to live and die her. notice how he spent his minority whilst he dwell ai Nazareth, which was till he was thirty years
mits. old; at which time he entered upon his public 4 And the same John had his raiministry, having John the Baptist for his harbin. ger and forerunuer, as this chapter fully in- ment of camel's hair, and a leathern
girdle about his loins : and his meat IN those days came John the Bap- was locusts and wild honey.
tist, preaching in the wilderness The plainness of John's habit and diet of Judea, 2 And saying, Repent is here declared: He was habited in a plain
suit of camel's hair, much as Elijah was ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
before him : and as his habit was plain, so
his diet was ordinary ; feeding upon herbs, Observe here, 1. The preacher sent by and such things as the wilderness affords. God, John the Baptist ; a pattern of mor. Hence it was that Nazianzen said, He was tification, and a preacher of repentance. all voice; a voice in his habit, a voice in Observe, 2. The place he was sent to his diet, and a voice in his whole converpreach in, The wilderness of Judea ; not sation. His example teaches us, that the iu populous Jerusalem, but in a barren wi!- ,, ministers of the gospel are not to affect
bravery in apparel, or delicacy in diet
, ||. Here we have the entertainment which but having the necessary comforts and John gave to his unexpected auditors, the needful conveniences of life, to be there- || Pharisees and Sadducees, which came to with content.
hear him, and to be baptized by him. He 5 Then went out to him Jerusa- gives them first a quick and cutting comlem, and all Judea, and all the region pellation, generation of vipers! next a round about Jordan,
sharp and severe reprehension, Who hoth
warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Observe here, The great encouragement It was matter of wonder and admiration to which John had in his ministry, from the see such men turn proselytes. Note thence, people's attendance upon it: he was now That the condition of proud Pharisees, fishing for souls, and God brought the pretending and false-hearted hypocrites, people very thick about the net of the gos- though it be very dangerous, yet is not pel, and multitudes were enclosed, no hopeless and desperate; and their salvadoubt, to his joy and great satisfaction. tion, though very improbable, yet must For it is matter of great rejoicing to the not be despaired of as impossible: and ministers of Christ, when they find their accordingly the Baptist, having given them people forward to encourage their minis- || a smart reproof, subjoins a seasonable extry by a diligent attendance.
hortation, Bring forth fruits meet for repente 6 And were baptized of him in ance; as if he had said, Do not satisfy Jordan, confessing their sins.
yourselves with a bare profession of reThis place the papists bring to support pentance, but let us see the fruits of repenttheir doctrine of auricular confession; but ance in your daily conversation. Learn very groundlessly. For, 1. The confes- // thence, That sincere repentance is not a sion of those converts was voluntary, and barren thing, but constantly brings forth the not constrained. 2. It was general
, and | As the body without the spirit, and as faith
fruits of holiness answerable to its nature. not of every particular sin. 3. It was pub- || without works, is dead; so repentance lic and open, not in the ear of a priest. 4. It was a confession of sin committed be without fruits is dead also. Observe farther, fore baptism, not after they were baptized : How he enforces his exhortation with a in all which circumstances it differs from necessary caution: Think not to say within the auricular confession of the church of || yourselves, We have Abraham to our father, &c. Rome very greatly. Note, The confession | As if he had said, Trust not to your outward of sin past, together with a profession of privileges, and glory not in them; flatter faith in, and obedience to, Christ for the not yourselves, that because you are Abratime to come, are necessary requisites and ham's seed, and the only visible church, qualifications in all persons of riper years
that therefore the judgments of God will that are admitted to baptism. John admit- pot reach you; for God can, out of the ted these persons to baptism, upon their obdurate Gentile world, who now worship confession of sin and promises of amend- stones, raise up a people to himself and ment. From whence we may learn, that take them into covenant with himself
, and such persons as have been very bad, upon blood running in your veins, but nothing
cast you all out, who have Abraham's a profession of their repentance, and pro- of Abraham's faith in your hearts, nor of mising to become better, may be admitted his obedience in your lives. Now from St. to the holy sacrament, provided that we warn them, as the Baptist did these, not critical Pharisees, we learn, That it is the
John's plain dealing with these hypoonly to make profession of repentance, but duty, and ought to be the endeavour, of the to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance. ministers of Christ, to drive hypocrites
7 But when he saw many of the from their vain confidence, who do conPharisees and Sadducees come to his stantly bear up themselves upon their exbaptism, he said unto them, O gene- ternal privileges, in the enjoyment of ration of vipers, who hath warned which they promise themselves a freedom
from the judgments of God. Think not to you to flee from the wrath to come ?
say within yourselves, We have, &c. 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet
10 And now also th for repentance: 9 And think not unto the root of the trees: therefore to say within yourselves, We have every tree which bringeth not forth Abraham to our father : for I say good fruit is hewn down, and cast unto you, That God is able of these into the fire. stones to raise up children unto
The Baptist having preached the doc Abraham.
trine of repentance in the former verses, he
axe is laid
backs it with a powerful motive in this but he will burn up the chaff with verse, drawn from the certainty, the seve- unquenchable fire. rity, and suddenness of that vengeance
In these words the Baptist compares which would come upon them if they continued impenitent; Now is the axe laid to the Christ, the promised Messiah, to an husroot of the irees. Learn, 1. That those whose bandman, the Jewish church to a barn-floor. hearts are not pierced with the sword of The office of the husbandman is to thrash, God's word, shall certainly be cut down fan, and winnow his corn, separating it and destroyed by the axe of his judgments.
from the chaff; preserving the one, and conLearn, 2. s'hat it is not unsuitable for gos- suming the other. Learn hence, 1. That
2. That this pel-preachers to press repentance and the church is Christ's floor. holiness of life upon their hearers from floor Christ will purge, and that thoroughly. arguments of terror; John does it here, 3. That the word of Christ is the fan in and Christ elsewhere. Observe farther, his hand, by and with which he will tho
roughly purge his floor. That forasmuch as the sin here specified is a sin of omission, which brings this is compared to a floor, upon account of sore and severe judgment, Every tree that that mixture which is in the church; in a bringeth not forth good fruit, as well as that floor there is straw as well as grain, chaff which bringeth forth evil fruit, is hewn down, as well as corn, tares as well as wheat, and cast into the fire; we may gather, that | Thus in the church there is and will be a
cockle and darnel as well as good seed. sins of omission are certainly damning as well as sins of commission; the neglects of mixture of good and bad, saints and sinners, duty are as dangerous and damnable as the hypocrites and sincere christians. But this acts of sin. Such trees as stand in God's Poor Christ will purge ; purge it but not orchard, and bring forth no good fruit, are destroy not its essence and existence : and
break it up; purge out its corruptions, but marked out as fuel for the devil's fire.
the fan with which he will purge his floor 11 I indeed baptize you with water is his word, accompanied with the wind of unto repentance: but he that cometh | discipline. The fan detects and discovers after me is mightier than I, whose | the chaff, and the wind dissipates and scatshoes I am not worthy to bear; he is purged. His fan is in his hand, &c.
ters it; and by the help of both, the floor shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.
13 Then cometh Jesus from Ga
lilee to Jordan unto John, to be bapIn these words John declares the excellency of Christ's person and ministry
tized of him. above his own. As to his person, he owns Here we have our Saviour's solemn inthat he was not worthy to carry his shoes auguration and public entrance upon his after him, or to perform the lowest offices prophetic office, by baptism, or washing of service for him. And as to his office, with water, according to the manner of the he declares that Christ should not baptize priests under the ceremonial law, Exod. as he did, with water, but with the Holy || xxix. 4. Where we have observable, 1. Ghost, and with fire; that is, should plenti- | The circumstance of time; Then cometh fully pour down of the gifts and graces of Jesus ; that is, after he had lain hid in the Holy Spirit upon his proselytes, which, || Nazareth thirty years, he comes abroad, like fire, in their operation should purify | and enters upon his public ministry. their hearts from sin, consuming their lusts Teaching us by his example, that when and corruptions; but at the same time he we are ripe and fit for public service, we has a fiery indignation, and flaming judg. I should no less willingly leave our obscu. ments, to destroy and burn up impenitent|rity, than we took the benefit of it for our sinners like combustible stubble. Where preparation. Observe, 2. The action itself; observe, How Christ is represented by one Christ is baptized now, as he was circumand the same metaphor of fire, in a way of cised before; not because there was any comfort to his children, and in a way of ter- impurity in him, either filth or foreskin, ror unto his enemies; he is a fire unto both : | which wanted either the circumcising he sits in his church as a refiner's fire; he knife, or the baptismal water; yet purity is among his enemies as a consuming fire; | itself condescends to be washed, Christ to a fire for his church to take comfort in, a be baptized; for these reasons: 1. That by fire for his enemies to perish by.
this symbol he might enter himself into 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and | sien he had done into the society of Jews;
the society of christians, as by circumcihe will thoroughly purge his floor, as a king condescends sometimes to be and gather his wheat into the garner; || made a freeman of a city or corporation.