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pious relatives and friends be of any
avail to us. "What though we be
descended from pious ancestors; have
been blessed with a religious educa-
tion; have had our lot cast in families
where the fear of God is uppermost,
and have good friends to advise us,
and pray for us; what will all this
avail if we
us, do not repent, and live
a life of repentance;"-that is to say,
-if we do not give our hearts to God,
and live like the children of our
heavenly Father?

The axe is laid unto the root of the
trees." They whose hearts are not
pierced with the sword of God's
word, shall certainly be cut down
and destroyed by the axe of his
judgments." And the threatening
extends to every tree which bringeth
not forth good fruit. The barren tree,
as well as that which brings forth❘
bad fruit, is in danger. Remember
the parable of the barren fig-tree.
Well may we pray to God to forgive
us our sins! We should be on our
guard against omission of duty as well
as against the commission of ungod-
liness in act and deed.

He that cometh after me is mightier thun I.-This is a thought in which all ministers of Christ may thankfully rejoice; trusting that his strength will be made perfect in their weakness, not only in their individual experience, but with regard to the work and success of their ministry.

magnified; to be anything, to be nothing, so that Christ may be all."

He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.-It is the prerogative of Christ to bestow the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. It is the office of the Holy Spirit, in the work of sanctification, to convince of sin, to enlighten the understanding, to renew the soul, to strengthen and comfort the believer, to sustain his hope, and to inflame his love to God, and zeal in God's service. May this sacred fire ever more and more shine into our hearts, kindle our affections, and consume the dross of our corruptions!

Whose fan is in his hand, and he "In will thoroughly purge his floor. a floor there is straw as well as grain, chaff as well as corn, tares as well as wheat, cockle and darnel as Thus in the well as good seed. church, on earth, there is, and will be, a mixture of good and bad, saints and sinners, hypocrites and sincere Christians." But Christ will fan this floor, and purge out all its corruptions. "Something of this kind is often done in this world, when God calls his people out of Babylon; Rev. xvii. 4. But it is the day of the last judgment that will be the great winnowing, distinguishing day, which will infallibly determine concerning doctrines and works (1 Cor. iii. 13), and concerning persons (Matt. xxv. 32, 33), when saints and sinners shall be parted for ever."

He will gather his wheat into the garner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.-"Heaven is the garner into which Jesus Christ

Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. --Let us take a lesson from John's humility. "Those whom God puts honour upon, are made very humble and low in their own eyes; willing to be abased, so that Christ may be

will shortly gather all his wheat, and not a grain of it shall be lost. In heaven the saints are brought together, and no longer scattered; they are safe and no longer exposed;

separated from corrupt neighbours without, and from corrupt affections within, and there is no chaff among them.-Hell is the unquenchable fire, which will burn up the chaff; and this will certainly be the portion and punishment and everlasting destruction of hypocrites and unbelievers. So that here are life and death,

ing as we now are in the field, we shall then be in the floor.”

from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to


15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

16 And Jesus, when he was

good and evil, set before us; accord-baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and him : lighting upon


Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
And lighten with celestial fire.
Thou the anointing Spirit art
Who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.
Thy blessed unction from above,
Is comfort, life, and fire of love.
Enable with perpetual light
The dulness of our blinded sight.

Anoint and cheer our soiled face
With the abundance of thy grace.
Keep far our foes, give peace at home:
Where thou art guide, no ill can come.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And thee, of both, to be but One.
That, through the ages all along,
This may be our endless song:-
Praise to thy eternal merit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


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17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

u Mark i. 9. Luke iii. 21. a cho ii. 22. g Mark i. 10. 2 Js. xi. 2, & xlii. 1. Luke iii. 22. John i.32, 33.-a John xii. 28. b Ps. ii. 7. Is. xlii. 1. ch. xii. 18, & xvii. 5. Mark i. 11. Luke ix. 35. Eph. i. 6. Col. i. 13. 2 Pet. i. 17.

Reader. The great principle of duty, in accordance with which our blessed Lord submitted to the baptism of John, was this, that it became him, and his followers, to "fulfil all righteousness,"-to own, and put honour on, every religious institution of divine appointment. It became him, as man, to comply with a call given by a divinely commissioned teacher. Perhaps also, say some, he saw fit to act, in this instance, as the representative of sinful men ; and he may also have designed it as a formal consecration or dedication to his office, according to the manner of

the priests under the ceremonial law. | words, "like a dove," denote that it Exod. xxix. 4. came down with a motion resembling the descent of that bird.

Theophilus. It is said, v. 16, that "he saw the Spirit of God descending." Does that refer to Jesus or to John?

Reader. The pronoun in this place, and in Mark i. 10, seems to refer to Jesus; but it is certain, from John i. 12, that the Baptist also beheld this remarkable appearance,-the visible symbol of the peculiar presence of the Holy Spirit.

Mary. It is said that Jesus "went up-out of the water." This implies that he had been immersed, does it not?

Reader. We shall have occasion to speak of the original mode of administering baptism hereafter. But it is remarkable, that the original expression in this place, and in Mark i. 10, is, that our Lord went up not out of the water, but from the water. If a person were plunged into the water, then it would be natural to say that he afterwards went up out of the water; but if he were taken, or went, down to the water, or the water's edge, then we should say that he afterwards went up from the water. And such is the Evangelist's expression in this place.

Theophilus. Do you suppose that the shape, or likeness, of a dove was assumed by the Holy Spirit on this occasion?

Reader. It appears, from Luke iii. 23, that this must be the meaning of the sacred writer; although some commentators suppose that the form assumed was that of fire, or some luminous body, and that the

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Reader. Remember that he was man as well as God; otherwise he could not have sustained that illustrious character, "one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." At his baptism, the Holy Ghost descended, "first, for the designation of his person, to show that he was the person set apart for the work and office of the Mediator; secondly, for the qualification of his person for the performance of his office. This was Christ's unction (Isa. vi. 1), when he was anointed above his fellows, to be the king, prophet, and priest of his church." Ps. xlv. 6, 7. He is the Head of his church; and through him the Spirit is derived to all believers.

Theophilus. I think I have heard this passage quoted, as one among many others, in support of the scrip

tural doctrine of the Holy Trinity | start objections against the will of in Unity.


Reader. Yes. "At the baptism of our great High Priest, there was an exhibition to the senses of the Three Persons in the ever-blessed Trinity, each acting according to the economy of the scheme of redemption; the Father appointing the Son to be Mediator, the Son accepting the appointment, and the Holy Spirit anointing him with the oil of gladness above his fellows, and qualifying him for the work he had undertaken." "It is impossible to explain this transaction consistently in any other way than by admitting this truth, that there are three equal persons in the divine nature, or essence, and that each of these sustains an important part in the work of redeeming men."


I have need to be baptized of thee. It is said of John that "he was filled with the Holy Ghost" from his very infancy. (Luke i. 15). But "they who have much of the Spirit of God, yet, while here, in this imperfect state, see that they have need of more, and need to apply themselves to Christ for more." "The more holy a person is, the more sensible he is of his unholiness; where there is most grace, there is the greatest sense of the want of grace," the deepest conviction of remaining impurity and imperfection, and the most earnest desire for final and complete deliverance.-John made this confession in public, and in the presence of those who had a high opinion of his character and dignity. Let not our honour, or our desire of esteem, make us ashamed to acknowledge our need of Christ.

Comest thou to me ?-How lovely is the conduct of the Baptist, as a Then cometh Jesus-unto John.-picture of humility! Such also was

"How dares the greatest upon earth despise the ministry of man, being appointed by God, which Christ honoured in his own person, and graced with his own presence!"

the humility of his pious mother ;"Whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke i. 43).-But God delights to honour and exalt the lowly: and he "has farther honour in store for those whose spirits continue low when their reputation rises."

John forbad him. So also did St. Peter, when our Lord went about to wash his feet (John xiii. 6-8). "Christ's gracious condescensions are so surprising, as to appear at first incredible to the strongest believers; so deep and mysterious, that even those who know his mind well cannot soon find out the meaning of them, but, by reason of darkness,

Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.-This conduct becomes us, as the disciples of our Lord and Master. "They who are of greatest attainments in gifts and graces, should yet, in their place, bear their testimony to instituted ordinances, by a

READER. Let us now consider this history in some practical points of view.

humble and diligent attendance on them; that they may give a good example to others," as well as that they may themselves receive the appointed and expected blessing.

Then he suffered him.-Here observe that "the same modesty which made John at first decline the honour Christ offered him, now made him do the service Christ enjoined him.” And hence we may learn, for the guidance of our own conduct, that no pretence of humility will excuse our declining, or retiring from, a duty which we may be summoned to fulfil.

Lo, the heavens were opened unto him. And, in one sense, not unto him alone. "In and through Jesus Christ, the heavens are opened to the children of men. Sin shut up heaven, put a stop to all friendly intercourse between God and man; but now Christ has opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.' Divine light and love are darted down upon the children of men, and we have boldness to enter into the holiest. We have receipts of mercy from God, we make returns of duty to God; and all by Jesus Christ, who is the ladder that has its foot on earth and its top in heaven, by whom alone it is that we have any comfortable correspondence with God, or any hope of getting to heaven at last."

Lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.-Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, by eternal generation (Col. i. 15; Heb. i. 3); by supernatural conception (Luke i. 35); and by special appointment to

the office and work of the Redeemer (Ps. lxxxix. 27; Rom. i. 4).—He is the beloved of the Father;-his dear Son, or the Son of his love, as it is elsewhere expressed (Col. i. 13).And the consideration of this truth may well be a source of great comfort and encouragement to us, as believers in his name. As such we are accepted in the Beloved; Eph. i. 6. Yes:-"Let all the world take notice, that this is the Peacemaker, the Daysman, who has laid his hand upon us both; and that there is no coming to God as a Father, but by Christ as a Mediator; John xiv. 6. In him our spiritual sacrifices are acceptable, for he is the altar that sanctifieth every gift; 1 Pet. ii. 5. Out of Christ, God is a consuming fire; but, in Christ, a reconciled Father. This is the sum of the whole Gospel; it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that God has declared, by a voice from heaven, that Jesus Christ is his beloved Son in whom he is well pleased; with which we must by faith cheerfully concur, and say, that he is our beloved Saviour, in whom we are well pleased,"-in whose hands we are willing to entrust our highest interests, and to whose governance and guidance we are willing to yield ourselves, in body, soul, and spirit.


Jesus, how precious is thy name!
Beloved of the Father Thou!
Oh, let me catch th' immortal flame

With which angelic bosoms glow. As angels love thee, I would love, And imitate the bless'd above.

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