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ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Our SAVIOUR, at the opening of his ministry, made use of the same expression as John the Baptist did when he appeared as a public teacher, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! from the last Section we may understand the import of these WORDS.
According to the calculations of learned authors, who have carefully considered Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks, our LORD began his publication of the Gospel in the last of these weeks of years. He therefore reminded the Jews, that the time was fulfilled, that they might be the more ready to believe his assertion, that the kingdom of heaven was at hand.
Our LORD then proceeded to acquaint them, by what means they might become members of this kingdom, Repent ye, and believe the Gospel. Repentance and Faith are both absolutely necessary to produce that heavenly disposition of mind requisite for those who are desirous of obtaining the favour of GoD, and of enjoying the benefit of the new Covenant. By Repentance, we are to understand a sorrow and hatred for sin, and a thorough reformation of inind, with a stedfast purpose of living agreeably to the will of God. By Faith, a sincere belief, that the Gospel which CHRIST preached was really the Word of GOD: that he was truly the Son of the HIGHEST; and that all he has taught, it is the duty of Christians to practise.
As our SAVIOUR was now entered upon his ministry, he resolved to select some chosen persons for his constant companions, that they might be witnesses of his life and conversation, and instructed to teach his doctrine to others. This choice did not fall upon the rich, the power. ful, or the learned, but upon illiterate men; the only
qualification required in them was a humble and pious disposition.
It appears that Simon Peter and Andrew returned to their occupations, after their first conference with our. LORD; but it is supposed Philip remained with him, as it is likely Nathanael did, under the name of BartholoPeter and Andrew immediately obeyed our LORD's invitation to follow him, yielding themselves from that time to his authority as their master.
Simon gave a proof of his faith by his ready obedience to let down the net, which, according to the usual course of things, seemed a very unreasonable command; for, after having toiled all night to no purpose, there was but little room to expect to catch fish: but Peter and his companions were soon convinced that JESUS had dominion over the sea as well as over the land, and that he could perform whatever was necessary to promote the glory of GOD, and the happiness of mankind.
Peter, struck with a strong conviction of GHRIST'S excellency and dignity, and his own imperfections, requested him to depart, thinking himself unworthy to be in his holy presence. Our LORD, pleased with his humility, revived his hopes by an assurance, "that henceforth he should catch men," meaning that he should con.. vert them. Peter, fully persuaded that the same Lord who had given him miraculous assistance in his former occupation, could also qualify him for what he would appoint him to do, resolved to forsake all and follow Jesus, not doubting but that, illiterate and ignorant as he was, he might still, by divine assistance, become instrumental in the conversion of others. Andrew, James, and John, also concurring in Peter's sentiments, attached themselvesfrom that day to the service of our LORD.
An exact imitation of those sacred persons, who were thus set apart for the immediate service of the MESSIAH, cannot be required of Christians in general: we ought rather to copy the example of Peter, who, after having heard the Word of God, let down his net again; for the service which is commonly required of us, is consistent with the pursuit of our worldly occupations; yet if a particular case arises, in which we must part either with our religion or our employment, we certainly should not hesitate, but cheerfully forsake all and follow CHRIST, with a perfect confidence that GoD, under such circumstances, will so order the dispensations of his providence, that we shall be sustained here and rewarded hereafter, Our Lord's words, repent and believe the Gospel! are of general import.
PASSAGES OF THE PROPHECIES, FORETELLING THE COMING OF JEHOVAH TO BRING SALVATION.
From Isaiah, Chap. xxxv. xliii.
I. THE desert and the waste shall be glad; and the wilderness shall rejoice and flourish: Like the rose shall it beautifully flourish; and the well-watered plain of Jordan also shall rejoice: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it; the beauty of Carmel and of Sharon ; there shall ye behold the glory of JEHOVAH, the majesty of our God.
Strengthen ye the feeble hands, and confirm ye the tottering knees. Say ye to the faint-hearted, Be ye strong; Fear ye not; Behold your God; Vengeance will come; the retribution of GoD: He himself will come and deliver you.
Then shall be unclosed the eyes of the blind; and the ears of the deaf shall be opened.
Then shall the lame bound like the hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing: He himself shall be with them walking in the way.
II. And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book; and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.
The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD; and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. And they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel.
They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn his doctrine.
III. Thus saith the Gon, even JEHOVAH, who created the heavens, and stretched them out; who spread abroad the earth, and the produce thereof; who giveth bread to the people upon it, and spirit to them that tread thereon:
I, JEHOVAн, have called thee for a righteous purpose; and I will take hold of thy hand, and will preserve thee; and I will give thee for a covenant to the people, for a light to the nations.
To open the eyes of the blind; to bring the captive out of confinement; and from the dungeon those that dwell in darkness.
I am JEHOVAH, that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another, nor my praise to the gravenimages.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The first of these predictions intimated in figurative language
language that God would visit his people in a manifest manner, and perform many wonderful miracles on earth.
The second was to the same purpose, and implied, that the Holy One of Jacob, by whom was meant the MESSIAH, should be peculiarly sanctified; and the fear of the LORD established through the light which the Holy One should afford to the understanding of those who before wandered in error.
The third is addressed to the HoLY ONE or MESSIAH, and contains a declaration, that the same Almighty Being, who created and who governs the world, had resolved to take him to himself, in order to fulfil the covenant he had entered into with his faithful people. In the latter part of this quotation, the Divine Being asserts, that it was to himself, even to JEHOVAH, that the glory of these wonderful works should be ascribed; therefore the MESSIAH, by whose hand they were performed, must certainly be regarded as united to JEHO. VAH; and those who should worship the MESSIAH as a separate Deity, would be guilty of idolatry as much as those who paid adoration to graven images.
In the course of our LORD's history, we shall endeavour to shew how these predictions were accomplished.
The spiritual meaning may be in some degree illustrated by the Annotations to that part of Sect. XXV. which relates to Galilee and Naphthali.
JESUS CASTETH OUT A DEVIL, AND CURETH PETER'S WIFE'S MOTHER.
From Mark, Chap. i.-Matthew iv.
AND they went into Capernaum, and straightway on