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therefore take this opportunity of reading to you four rules, drawn up by modern critics, according to which the phrase that it might be fulfilled may be applied in the New Testament, and according to one or other of which St. Matthew appears to have made all his quotations from prophecy.

RULE I. When the thing predicted is literally accomplished.

RULE II. When that is done, of which the Scripture has spoken not in a literal, but in a spiritual, sense.

RULE III. When a thing is not done either in a literal, or in a spiritual, sense, according to the fact referred to in the Scripture; but is similar to that fact.

RULE IV. When that which has been mentioned in the Old Testament as formerly done, is spoken of in the New Testament as accomplished in a larger and more extensive


Theophilus. I will endeavour to bear these rules in mind, and to mark their application as instances occur.

READER. Upon this short passage of Scripture we may make various reflections, for the improvement of our hearts and regulation of our practice.

Herod was dead.-There is something affecting in this brief notice of the end of this man's earthly history; especially when we remember that Josephus, the Jewish historian, gives a most shocking account of the manner of his death. His power to persecute has ceased; and he is numbered among those concerning whom

the Preacher says "Their hatred, and their envy, is now perished.” Eccl. ix. 6. Well may we read in these few words a powerful argument against the vain, disquieting, and sinful fear of man. "Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy Maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? And where is the fury of the oppressor ?" Isai. li. 12, 13.

When Herod was dead ;-not before. So that the holy family remained until that time contentedly in Egypt. "They continued there until God gave the signal for their departure. -Let us, in like manner, remember that it is God's part to direct and ours to obey; nor can we be out of the way of safety and of comfort while we are following his directions, and steering our course by the intimations of his pleasure." "Oh how safe and satisfactory it is in all our ways to follow the call and command of God!"

An angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt.-" Our intercourse with God, if it be kept up on our part, shall be kept up on his, wherever we are. No place can exclude God's gracious visits. Angels came to Joseph in Egypt, to Ezekiel in Babylon, and to John in Patmos."

He arose and came into the land of Israel.-This strongly reminds me

of what we read in Gen. xii. 5, concerning faithful Abraham and his family,-"They went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came." Oh that the faith of Abraham and of Joseph may be ours throughout our earthly pilgrimage! "Did we but look upon the world as our Egypt,

He shall be called a Nazarene.—It was for our sake that the blessed Redeemer endured reproach, as well as pain. Let us not be unwilling to endure unmerited reproach and scorn, for his name's sake, if we should at any time be exposed to sufferings of this kind. "Let us go forth unto him without the camp, the place of our bondage and ba-bearing his reproach. For here we have no continuing city; but we seek one to come." Heb. xiii. 13,

nishment, and heaven only as our Canaan, our home, our rest, we should as readily arise, and depart thither, when we are called for, as Joseph did out of Egypt."


Being warned of God in a dream. -This took place after Joseph had quitted Egypt, and was a farther intimation of the divine pleasure for the direction of his steps. Does it appear surprising that full instructions were not given to him at first, when the angel bade him arise, and depart? This is not really strange. God mercifully leads his people in the right way, from one stage of their progress to another; and he requires that they shall continually wait upon him, in the way of faith, of prayer, and of duty, in order to be guided and protected, from time to time, according to their circumstances and their need.

Being warned-he turned aside.-God may sometimes see fit to bring his people into positions of difficulty or danger; but he never does so without a cause, or unless it be, in some way or other, good for them to be thus afflicted. He rather withdraws them from needless danger;and he teaches them not to rush into it of their own accord.


(Job viii. 11-22.)

The rush may rise where waters flow,
And flags beside the stream;
But soon their verdure fades and dies,
Before the scorching beam.

So is the sinner's hope cut off;
Or, if it transient rise,

'Tis like the spider's airy web,
From ev'ry breath that flies.

Fix'd on his house, he leans;

His house, and all its props, decay; He holds it fast; but, while he holds, The tott'ring frame gives way.

Fair, in his garden, to the sun

His boughs with verdure smile;
And, deeply fix'd, his spreading roots
Unshaken stand awhile.

But forth the sentence flies from Heaven,
That sweeps him from his place;
Which then denies him for its lord,
Nor owns it knew his face.

Lo! this the joy of wicked men,

Who Heav'n's high laws despise;
They quickly fall, and in their room,
As quickly others rise.

But for the just, with gracious care,
God will his power employ;
He'll teach their lips to sing his praise,
And fill their hearts with joy.

§ X.

CHAP. III. 1-12.

John preacheth. His office, life, and baptism. He reprehendeth the Pharisees and Sadducees.

IN those days came "John the Baptist, preaching 'in the wilderness of Judæa,

2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

in yourselves, "We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: " therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not cry-worthy to bear: 'he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, "The voice of one ing in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

4 And 'the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was "locusts and 'wild honey.

5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judæa, and all the region round about Jordan,

6 'And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from "the wrath to come?

Reader. "In those days," namely, while our Lord continued to reside at Nazareth, John began his remarkable and divinely-appointed ministry. He came, we are told, "preach

8 Bring forth therefore || fruits ing;" that is, according to the force meet for repentance:

of the original, proclaiming some9 And think not to say with- thing as a public crier,-speaking

12 'Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will 'burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

a Mark i. 4, 15. Luke iii. 2, 3. John i. 28. b Josh. xiv. 10. Dan. ii. 44. ch. iv. 17, & x. 7.d Is. xl. 3. Mark i. 3. Luke iii. 4. John i. 23. e Luke i. 76.-f Mark i. 6. g 2 Kin. i. 8. Zech. xiii. 4. h Lev. xi. 22. il Sam. xiv. 25, 26.-k Mark i. 5. Luke iii. 7.- Acts xix. 4, 18.-m ch. xii. 34, & xxiii. 33. Luke iii. 7, 8, 9. n Rom. v. 9. 1 Thess. i. 10.- Or, answerable to amendment of life.-o John viii. 33, 39. Acts xiii. Romans iv. 1, 11, 16.-p ch. vii. 19. Luke xiii. 7, 9. John xv. 6.-q Mark i. 8. Luke iii. 16. John i. 15, 26, 33. Acts i. 5, xi. 16, & xix. 4. r Is. iv. 4, & xliv 3. Mal. iii. 2. Acts ii. 3, 4. 1 Cor. xii. 13.-s Mal, iii. 3. t Mal. iv. 1. ch. xiii. 30.



aloud, by authority, and inviting | to one like the Son of Man." general attention, like a herald. He Dan. ii. 44; vii. 13, 14. In the was, indeed, a herald of the King of apocryphal book of Wisdom (x. 10), kings. we find the expression "kingdom of God;" and in later Jewish writings, the terms "kingdom of God" and "kingdom of heaven" are common.

Theophilus. What are we to understand by these expressions in the New Testament?

Theophilus. Does the appearance of John in the wilderness of Judea give any sanction to the lives of hermits or recluses?

Reader. Certainly not. Their retirement into a wilderness is no imitation of the Baptist; at least, it is a following of the example of this holy man no farther than it is an adoption of the conduct of a certain seducer of whom we read in Acts xxi. 38; for it is said that he "led his followers into the wilderness."

The place in which John preached was not altogether uncultivated or uninhabited. It was a mountainous and thinly-populated part of Judea, but it contained hamlets and even towns. Thus, in Joshua xv. 61, 62, we read of six cities or towns in a part of the country called the desert or wilderness.

Theophilus. While you were reading the second verse, it occurred to me that, although we often find the expression "kingdom of heaven" or "kingdom of God" in the New Testament, yet we never meet with it in the Old.

Reader. This phrase, which became current among the Jews after the completion of the Old Testament Scriptures, appears, however, to have been founded by them upon certain expressions in the prophecies of Daniel, in which it is said that the "God of heaven" should "set up a kingdom," and that "dominion, and glory, and a kingdom," were given

Reader. Sometimes they describe the Church on earth, and sometimes the perfection and happiness of the future state. Or rather, I would say, they present to our minds one great idea, under various phases or modifications. They denote the divine supremacy over men's wills and persons throughout the whole course of its development, beginning within men's hearts, and extending to their outward circumstances and to external nature,-beginning with individuals, and spreading through the whole mass of mankind, or over the whole surface of society. Or, to speak at once more fully and precisely, by the kingdom of God, or of heaven, we are to understand the Church of Christ in all the various stages of its progress towards perfection ;-that state of things in which God in Christ is acknowledged and served by a body of faithful people, and which will eventually issue in the complete establishment and universal acknowledgment of divine authority, perfect conformity to the divine will, and abundant manifestation of the divine glory,-in one word, in the holiness and happiness of heaven. "The kingdom of heaven," says Baxter, "is a special go

vernment of God by a Saviour sent | being part of his description of the

from heaven to lead men to heaven."

We may thus apprehend the full meaning of this general and most significant expression. Of course, the precise import of the term must vary a little in different places where it occurs, according to its connection, and according to the prominence which may be given to some particular part of the whole complex idea.

Theophilus. The application of the prophecy which the Evangelist quotes appears obvious and simple. I suppose it involves no peculiar difficulty.

Reader. It is taken from the prophecies of Isaiah, or as the name is here given, in the Greek form, Esaias (xl. 3). In its primary sense, it refers to the return of the Jews to their own country after their liberation by the king of Persia. In its secondary and farther signification, -equally according to the prophetic design of the Holy Spirit,-it points to John the Baptist, in his work of preparing the Jews to receive Christ, by exhorting them to repentance, and by bearing testimony to his person as the Messiah.-Do you understand the allusion to an oriental custom which runs through this passage?

Theophilus. The reference is to the work of pioneers employed in opening the passes, levelling or raising the roads, and removing obstructions for a monarch when about to march through a marshy or mountainous district.

Reader. I have before me an ex、 tract from Diodorus Siculus (lib. 2),

march of Semiramis into Media and Persia; which I will read to you, as containing a lively illustration of this passage of Holy Scripture.— "In her march to Ecbatane," the historian," she came to the Zarean mountains, which, extending many furlongs, and being full of craggy precipices and deep hollows, could not be passed without fetching a great compass. Therefore, being desirous of leaving a lasting memorial of herself, as well as of shortening the road, she ordered the precipices to be digged down, and the hollows to be filled up; and, at a great expense, she made a shorter and more expeditious passage, which, to this day, is called The Road of Semiramis. Afterwards, she went into Persia, and all the other countries of Asia subject to her dominion; and, wherever she went, she ordered the mountains and precipices to be levelled, raised causeways in the plain country, and, at a great expense, made the roads passable."

In like manner, the ministry of John was appointed for the purpose of bringing down the haughty spirit of the proud, and raising the grovelling minds of the carnal and thoughtless, and thus preparing them for the reception of the great God and their Saviour, Jesus Christ.

The mention of the Baptist's dress and appearance, in the fourth verse, reminds us of what is said concerning one of the old prophets in particular. Can either of you tell me to which prophet I allude?

Mary. His hair-cloth and girdle

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