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THAT the Gospel was written by Mark which is commonly ascribed to him, and that it was the second in the order of time, are points confirmed by the unanimous voice of antiquity.

But as to the person here named Mark, authors are not equally agreed. Some have thought that it was he of whom mention is several times made in the Acts, and some of Paul's Epistles, who is called John, whose surname was Mark, and whose mother's name was Mary, Acts xii. 12; of whom we are likewise told, that he was sister's son to Barnabas, Col. iv. 10. From the little we are able to collect out of the apostolical writings, it appears rather improbable, that this is he. Of John, surnamed Mark, one of the first things we learn is, that he attended Paul and Barnabas in their apostolical journeys, when these two travelled together, Acts xii. 25, xiii. 5. And when afterwards there arose a dispute between them concerning him, insomuch that they separated, Mark accompanied his uncle Barnabas, and Silas attended Paul. When Paul was reconciled to Mark, which was probably soon after (for though among good men there may arise differences, as these differences are not embittered by any malignity of disposition, a reconciliation is easily effected), we find Paul again employing Mark's assistance, recommending him, and giving him a very honourable testimony, Col. iv. 10; 2 Tim. iv. 11; Phil. 24. But we hear not a syllable of his attending Peter, as his minister, or assisting him in any capacity. This is so different from the accounts which the most ancient writers give of the Evangelist Mark, that, though they cannot be said to contradict each other, they can hardly be understood as spoken of the same individual. The evangelist is not said to have derived any part of his information from our Lord himself, or even from any of his apostles, except the Apostle Peter (for no other is ever named), whose disciple he is always represented as having been, and who doubtless, speaks of him when he says, 1 Pet. v. 13, "Marcus my son saluteth you;" a denomination commonly given, in those times, by the minister, to every one, who, by his means, had been converted to the Christian faith. But as to the nephew of Barnabas, we have seen how differently he is represented in the Acts, as well as in Paul's Epistles. And if we recur to tradition (for historical evidence cannot be pretended), it represents him as having been a disciple of our Lord, and one of the Seventy, whom Jesus in his lifetime sent out to preach the gospel. Besides, no ancient author, in speaking of this Evangelist, ever calls him John, but always Mark. In brief, the accounts given of Paul's attendant, and those of Peter's interpreter, concur in nothing but the name, Mark, or Marcus; too slight a circumstance to conclude the sameness of the person from, especially when we consider how common the name was at Rome, and how customary it was for the Jews, in that age, to assume some Roman name when they went thither.



1 The office of John the Baptist. 9 Jesus is baptized, 12 tempted, 14 he preacheth: 16 calleth Peter, Andrew, James, and John: 23 healeth one that had a devil, 29 Peter's motherin-law, 32 many diseased persons, 41 and cleanseth the leper.


THE beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, "the Son of God; 2 As it is written in the prophets, "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 And John was 'clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; 7 And preached, saying, "There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. 8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

a Matt. xiv. 33; Luke i. 35; John i. 34. b Mal. iii. 1; John i. 15. 23. d Matt. iii. I; Luke iii. 3; John iii. 23.

Matt. xi. 10; Luke vii. 27. c Isa. xl. 3; Matt. iii. 3; Luke iii. 4; Or unto. e Matt. iii. 5. f Matt. ii. 4. g Lev. xi. 22. h Matt. ii. 11; John i. 27; Acts xiii. 25. Acts i. 5, xi. 16, xix. 4. k Isa. xliv. 3; Joel ii. 28; Acts ii. 4, x. 45, xi. 15, 16; 1 Cor. xii. 13.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God, ver. 1. 1. It is gospel; it is God's word, and is faithful and true; see Rev. xix. 5; xxi. 9; xxii. 6. It is a good word, and well worthy of all acceptation; it brings us glad tidings. 2. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the anointed Saviour, the Messiah promised and expected. The foregoing gospel began with the generation of Jesus Christ -that was but preliminary, this comes immediately to the business-the gospel of Christ. It is called his, not only because he is the Author of it, and it comes from him, but because he is the subject of it, and it treats wholly concerning him. This Jesus is the Son of God. The truth is the foundation on which the gospel is built, and which it is written to demonstrate; for if Jesus be not the Son of God, our faith is vain.

Quotations are here (ver. 2, 3) borrowed from two prophecies-that of Isaiah, and that of Malachi (there were above three hundred years between them), both of whom spoke to the same purport concerning the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the ministry of John.

1. Malachi, in whom we have the Old Testament farewell, spoke very plainly (Chap. iii. 1), concerning John the Baptist, who was to give the New Testament welcome. Behold I send my messenger before thy face, ver. 2. Christ himself had taken notice of this, and applied it to John (Matt. xi. 10), who was God's messenger, sent to prepare Christ's way.

2. Isaiah, the most evangelical of all the prophets, begins the evangelical part of his prophecy with this, which points to the beginning of the gospel of Christ (Isa. xl. 3); The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, ver. 3. Matthew had taken notice of this, and applied it to John, Chap. iii. 3. But from these two put together here, we may observe-(1.) That Christ in his gospel, comes among us, bringing with him a treasure of grace, and a sceptre of government. (2.) Such is the corruption of the world, that there is something to do to make room for him, and to remove that which gives not only obstruction, but opposition to his progress. (3.) When God sent his Son into the world, he took care, and when he sends him into the heart, he takes care, effectual care, to prepare his way before him; for the designs of his grace shall not be frustrated; nor may any

expect the comforts of that grace, but such as, by conviction of sin and humiliation for it, are prepared for those comforts, and disposed to receive them. (4.) It is in a wilderness, for such this world is, that Christ's way is prepared, and theirs that follow him, like that which Israel passed through to Canaan. The messengers of conviction and terror, that come to prepare Christ's way, are God's messengers, whom he sends, and will own, and must be received as such. (5.) They that are sent to prepare the way of the Lord, in such a vast howling wilderness as this, have need to cry aloud, and not spare, and to lift up their voice like a trumpet.

The gospel began in John Baptist; for, the law and the prophets were, until John, the only divine revelation, but then the kingdom of God began to be preached, Luke xvi. 16. His baptism was the dawning of the gospel day; for, in John's way of living, there was the beginning of a gospel spirit; for it bespoke great self-denial, mortification of the flesh, a holy contempt of the world, and non-conformity to it, which may truly be called the beginning of the gospel of Christ in any soul, ver. 6. He was clothed with camel's hair, not with soft raiment; was girt, not with a golden, but with a leathern girdle; and, in contempt of dainties and delicate things, his meat was locusts and wild honey. Matt. iii. 4. In John's preaching and baptizing there was the beginning of the gospel doctrines and ordinances, and the first fruits of them. He preached the remission of sins, which is the great gospel privilege; showed people their need of it, that they were undone without it, and that it might be obtained. He preached repentance, in order to it; he told people that there must be a renovation of their hearts, and a reformation of their lives, that they must for sake their sins and turn to God, and upon those terms, and no other, their sins should be forgiven. Repentance for the remission of sins, was what the apostles were commissioned to preach to all nations, Luke xxiv. 47.-Ile preached Christ, and directed his hearers to expect him speedily to appear, and to expect great things from him. The preaching of Christ is pure gospel, and that was John Baptist's preaching, vers. 7, 8. Like a true gospel minister, he preached the great pre-eminence Christ is advanced to; so high, so great, is Christ, that John, though one of the greatest that was born of women, thinks himself unworthy to be employed in the meanest office about him, even to stoop down and untie his shoes. Thus industrious is he to give honour to him, and to bring others to do so too. He showed the great power Christ is invested with. He comes after me in time, but he is mightier than I, mightier than the mighty ones of the earth, for he is able to baptiz with the Holy Ghost; he can give the Spirit of God, and by him govern the spirits of men.-lle preached the great promise Christ makes in his gospel to those who have repented, and have had their sins forgiven them; They shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, shall be purified by his graces, and refreshed by his comforts.-All those who received his doctrine, and submitted to his institution, he baptized with water, as the manner of the Jews was to admit proselytes, in token of their cleansing themselves by repentance and reformation (which were the duties required), and of God's cleansing them both by remission and by sanctification, which were the blessings promised. Now this was afterward to be advanced into a gospel ordinance, which John's using it was a preface to. In the success of John's preaching, and the disciples he admitted by baptism, there was the beginning of a gospel church. Île baptized in the wilderness, and declined going into the cities; but there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, inhabitants both of city and country, families of them, and were all baptized of him. They entered themselves his disciples, and bound themselves to his discipline; in token of which, they confessed their sins; he admitted them his disciples, in token of which, he baptized them. Here were the stamina of the gospel church, the dew of its youth from the womb of the morning, Psal. cx. 3. Many of these afterward became followers of Christ, and preachers of his gospel, and this grain of mustard-seed

became a tree.


9 'And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of Jolin in Jordan. 10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens || opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: 11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, "Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 12 And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness. 13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan; was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. Or, cloven, or, rent. n Psal. ii. 7; Matt. iii. 17; Chap. ix. 7. o Matt. iv. 1; Luke iv. 1. p Matt. iv. 11.

7 Matt. iii. 13; Luke iii. 21. m Matt. iii. 16; John i. 32.


We have here a brief account of Christ's baptism and temptation, which were largely related

Matt. iii. and iv.

At his baptism, our Lord made his first public appearance, after he had long lived obscurely in Nazareth. In his first public appearance, we may observe how humbly he owned God, by coming to be baptized of John. Thus he took upon him the likeness of sinful flesh, though he was perfectly pure and unspotted, yet he was washed, as if he had been polluted; thus for our sakes he sanctified himself, that we also might be sanctified, and be baptized with him, John xvii. 19. Observe farther, how honourably God owned him, when he submitted to John's baptism. He saw the heavens opened; he thus was owned to be the Lord from heaven, and had a glimpse of the glory and joy that were set before him, and secured to him, as the recompence of his undertaking. He saw the Spirit like a dove descending upon him. Then we may see heaven opened to us, when we perceive the Spirit descending and working upon us. God's good work in us is the surest evidence of his good will towards us, and his preparations for us. He heard a voice which was intended for his encouragement to proceed in his undertaking, and, therefore, it is here expressed as directed to him, Thou art my beloved Son. God lets him know that he loved him never the less for that low and mean estate to which he had now humbled himself. That he loved him much the more for that glorious and kind undertaking in which he had now engaged himself. God is well pleased in him, as referee of all matters in controversy between him and man; and so well pleased in him, as to be well pleased with us in him.

The Holy Spirit that descended upon Christ, led him into the wilderness, ver. 12. Retirement from the world is an opportunity of more free converse with God, and therefore must sometimes be chosen, for a while, even by those that are called to the greatest business. Mark observes this circumstance of his being in the wilderness-that he was with the wild beasts. It was an instance of his Father's care of him, that he was preserved from being torn in pieces by the wild beasts, which encouraged him the more that his Father would provide for him when he was hungry. Special protections are earnests of seasonable supplies. It was likewise an intimation to him of the inhumanity of the men of that generation, whom he was to live among-no better than wild beasts in the wilderness, nay abundantly worse. In that wilderness the evil spirits were busy with him; he was tempted of Satan; not by any inward injections (the prince of the world had nothing in him to fasten upon), but by outward solicitations. Solitude often gives advantages to the tempter, therefore two are better than one. Christ himself was tempted, not only to teach us, that it is no sin to be tempted, but to direct us whither to go for succour when we are tempted, even to him that suffered, being tempted, that he might experimentally sympathize with us when we are tempted. The good spirits were busy about him; the angels ministered to him, supplied him with what he needed, and dutifully attended him. The ministration of the good angels about us, is matter of great comfort in reference to the malicious designs of the evil angels against us; but much more doth it befriend us, to have the indwelling of the Spirit in our hearts. They that have this are so born of God, that, as far they are so, the evil one toucheth them not, much less shall he triumph over theni.

14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, 'preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. 16 "Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. 18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him. 19 And when he had gone a little farther thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. 20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him. 21 And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. 22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.


q Matt. iv. 12. r Matt. iv. 23. s Dan. ix. 25; Gal. iv. 4; Eph. i. 10. t Matt. iii. 2, iv. 17. u Matt. iv. 18; Luke v. 4, * Matt. xix. 27; Luke v. 11. y Matt. iv. 21. z Matt. iv. 13; Luke iv. 31. a Matt. vii. 28.

A general account is here given of Christ's preaching in Galilee, ver. 14-16. John gives an

K k

account of his preaching in Judea, before this (Chaps. ii. and iii.), which the other evangelists had omitted, who chiefly relate what occurred in Galilee, because that was least known at Jerusalem. Jesus began to preach in Galilee; after that John was put in prison. When he had finished his testimony, then Jesus began his. The silencing of Christ's ministers shall not be the suppressing of Christ's gospel; if some be laid aside, others shall be raised up, perhaps mightier than they, to carry on the same work.

He preached The gospel of the kingdom of God. Christ came to set up the kingdom of God among men, that they might be brought into subjection to it, and might obtain salvation in it; and he set it up by the preaching of his gospel, the power of the Spirit going along with it. The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. This refers to the Old Testament, in which the kingdom of the Messiah was promised, and the time fixed for the introducing of it. They were not so well versed in those prophecies, nor did they so well observe the signs of the times, as to understand it themselves, and therefore Christ gave them notice of it: "The time prefixed is now at hand; glorious discoveries of divine light, life, and love, are now to be made; a new dispensation far more spiritual and heavenly than that which you have hitherto been under, is now to commence." Christ gave them to understand the times, that they might know what Israel ought to do; they fondly expected the Messiah to appear in external pomp and power, not only to free the Jewish nation from the Roman yoke, but to make it have dominion over all its neighbours, and therefore thought, when that kingdom of God was at hand, they must prepare for war, and for victory and preferment, and great things in the world; but Christ tells them, in the prospect of that kingdom approaching, they must repent, and believe the gospel. They had broken the moral law, and could not be saved by a covenant of innocency, for both Jew and Gentile are concluded under guilt. They must therefore take the benefit of a covenant of grace, must submit to a remedial law, and this is it-repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. They had not made use of the prescribed preservatives, and therefore must have recourse to the prescribed restoratives. By repentance we must lament and forsake our sins, and by faith we must receive the forgiveness of them. By repentance we must give glory to our Creator whom we have offended; by faith we must give glory to our Redeemer who came to save us from our sins. Both these must go together; we must not think either that reforming our lives will save us without trusting in the righteousness and grace of Christ, or that trusting in Christ will save us without the reformation of our hearts and lives. Christ hath joined these two together, and let no man think to put them asunder. They will mutually assist and befriend each other. Repentance will quicken faith, and faith will make repentance evangelical; and the sincerity of both together must be evidenced by a diligent conscientious obedience to all God's commandments. Thus the preaching of the gospel began, and thus it continues; still the call is, Repent, and believe,—live a life of repentance and a life of faith. Christ next calls his disciples, ver. 16-20. Observe, 1. Christ will have followers. If he set up a school, he will have scholars; if he set up his standard, he will have soldiers; if he preach, he will have hearers. He has taken an effectual course to secure this; for all that the Father has given him, shall, without fail, come to him. 2. The instruments Christ chose to employ in setting up his kingdom, were the weak and foolish things of the world. The disciples were not called from the great sanhedrim, or the schools of the rabbin, but picked up from among the fishermen by the sea side, that the excellency of the power might appear to be wholly of God, and not at all of them. 3. Though Christ needs not the help of man, yet he is pleased to make use of it in setting up his kingdom, that he may deal with us not in a formidable but in a familiar way, and that in his kingdom the nobles and governors may be of ourselves, Jer. xxx. 21. 4. Christ puts honour upon those who, though mean in the world, are diligent in their business, and loving to one another; so those were, whom Christ called. He found them employed, and employed together. Industry and unity are good and pleasant, and there the Lord Jesus commands the blessing, even this blessing, Follow me. 5. The business of ministers is to fish for souls, and win them to Christ. The children of men, in their natural condition, are lost, wander endlessly in the great ocean of this world, and are carried down the stream of its course and way; they are unprofitable. Like leviathan in the waters, they play therein; and often, like the fishes of the sea, they devour one another. Ministers, in preaching the gospel, cast the net into the waters, Matt. xiii. 47. Some are enclosed and brought to shore, but far the greater number escape. Fishermen take great pains, and expose themselves to great perils, so do ministers; and they have need of wisdom. If many a draught brings home nothing, yet they must go on. 6. Those whom Christ calls, must leave all, to follow him; and by his grace he inclines them to do so. Not that we must needs go out of the world immediately, but we must sit loose to the world, and forsake every thing that is inconsistent with our duty to Christ, and that cannot be kept without prejudice to our souls. Mark takes notice of James and John, that they left not only their father (which we had in Matthew), but the hired servants, whom perhaps they

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