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the multitudes concerning John: What went ye out into the wilderness to see ? a reed shaken with the wind ? But what went ye out for 8 to see ? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see ? a 9 prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is 10 he of whom it is written : “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.” Verily I say unto 11 you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist; notwithstanding, he that is least in the king
He appealed directly to his hear- than a prophet. The people crowders themselves.-What went ye outed to hear John as a religious teachinto the wilderness to see? What er, reformer, and prophet. But he was your motive in flocking around was more than a common prophet; John Wilderness means here an because he was himself the subject uncultivated and thinly peopled of prophecy ; because he not only country.-A reed shaken with the predicted the coming of the Mes. wind ? As much as to say, Did you siah, like the other prophets, but go to see a vacillating, inconstant prepared his way, and inaugurated man, bending this way and that, him into his office by baptism; belike a reed shaken in the breeze cause he was the connecting link A strong negative answer is impli- of two dispensations, the twilight, ed, and, agreeably to such an idiom, in which Jewish darkness and the next sentence begins with but. Christian day melted into each No; you went to see one steadfast other. The sketch of Joby here and' immovable, a prophet of the given, though short, is vivid and most inflexible temper.
powerful, drawn by a master's 8. But. A repetition of the ques- hand. tion in a new form.--A man clothed 10, Is written. Malachi ji. 1. in soft raiment? A delicate, volup- Similar language is used by Isaiah, tuous person, a courtier, apparelled xl. 3, and quoted Mat. iii. 3, see in purple and fine linen? Such
note thereon, also Mark i. 2, Luke were not the garments of John. i. 17, 76, John i. 23.—Prepare thy He was dressed in camel's hair, and way before thee. As pioneers prea leathern girdle around his loins, ceded the march of eastern kings but he was greater than courtier or and their arınies, so did John the king. They that wear soft clothing Baptist go before Jesus, to prepare are in kings' houses. You must go, the people for the coming of his not to the wilderness and to John, kingdom of righteousness. but to the palaces of kings, to see 11. Among then that are born of those that are clothed in soft rai
A circumlocution for men. ment and live daintily, and who A greater than John the Baptist. have a corresponding effeminacy He was greater than any others, and capriciousness. Luke vii. 25. greater even than the prophets, on -Soft, i. e. inade of the finest ma account of his office, and privileges, terials.
as the Forerunner and Witness of 9. But. Indicating again a nega- Christ. He saw and heard what tive reply to the question of the kings and priests and prophets had last verse. -A prophet—and more desired to see and hear, and desired
12 dom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the
· Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the 13 violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophe14 sied, until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was 15 for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. But whereunto
in vain.-Least in the kingdom of to force themselves upon him, withheaven is greater than he. Not out any of the dispositions he renecessarily greater in character, or quired in his disciples." virtue, but favored with greater 13. Prophesied, until John. The privileges. For the disciple of prophets were your instructers and Christ, or the subject of his king- masters until John. He has introdom, although comparatively an duced a new era, and the ancient obscure member of it, possessed, af- dispensation is to be superseded by ter the resurrection and the descent a more full and affecting revelaof the Spirit, more correct views of tion of God's will. the divine purposes towards man- 14. If ye will receive it. If you kind, and of the honor, glory, and can credit it. Implying that it immortality to which they were would be difficult for them to becalled, than any Jew, though he lieve it.-This is Elias, which was were the herald of Christ, could for to come. The same name is enjoy. How great are the privi- written Elijah in the Old Testaleges and obligations of Christians,
The history of this great if they are more favorably situated prophet and reformer is found in for divine knowledge and improve- 1st and 2d Kings. It was predicted ment than John the Baptist! that the Messiah would be preceded
12. Luke xvi. 16.—The days of by a herald to prepare his way. John the Baptist, i. e. from the be- Mal. iv. 5. See also Mat. xvii. 10 ginning of Jesus' ministry, the at- -13. Hence an expectation had tention of the people had been grown up among the Jews, that eagerly directed to the Messiah's Elijah in his own person would apkingdom. The new religion “suf- pear as the Forerunner. They fereth violence,” like a prize that is seem also to have anticipated that earnestly snatched at and seized, or Jeremiah or some other of the old like a city that is assaulted. We prophets would rise up to grace learn elsewhere that inmense the Saviour's coming. Mat. xvi. crowds pressed around John as he 14. John i. 21. It was predicted preached and baptized, and around in Luke i. 17, that John would be Jesus as he wrought miracles and endued with the spirit and power instructed his disciples and the peo- of Elijah. When John, therefore, ple. Yet their warm interest was replied to the question of the Jews, often a blind enthusiasm. In the John i. 21, he probably only replied language of Norton on this verse, to their literal understanding of the “ Jesus referred to those many prophecy, and denied that he was Jews, who, possessed with false the identical Elijah. He did not notions of the character of the deny that he was an Elijah, in his Messiah, as a deliverer from the spirit, power, and office, à fearless, tyranny of the Romans, and ready successful reformer. for deeds of violence, were eager
15. Let him who hath the faculto enlist as his followers, striving ties of hearing and understanding
shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the 16
see to it that he give candid atten our Saviour's happy illustration. tion. A formula of frequent use, “I have found a comparison for and of frequent need, as well now the inconsistency and obstinacy of as then. The matter was worthy this generation. It is like contrary of their especial notice; for if John children, who are satisfied neither was the predicted Elijah, as had just with playing festival, nor playing been plainly declared, then Jesus funeral, who are sullenly determinwas the predicted Messiah. ed not to be pleased, notwithstand
16. Whereunto shall I liken this ing all the efforts of their playmates generation? Jesus continues the to find something that might suit same subject in sorrowful reference them.” The Jews were so wilful to the stubbornness of the Jews, and fastidious, that they would be and their backwardness to believe pleased, neither by the austerity of on the messengers of God. How, John the Baptist, nor the mild conhe says, shall I describe this way- descension of Jesus Christ. They ward race? It is like unto children. were a nation of fault-finders, and The Jews are compared, not to the nothing could please them. children who called, but to their 18. Neither eating nor drinking: companions who were called, and Not literally going without food who were
so difficult that they and drink, but living very abstemicould neither be pleased by the ously. See Mat. jii. 4. Luke says, song of joy, nor the strains of “neither eating bread, nor drinking mourning--Markets. Places of wine;" i. e. leading an ascetic and public concourse, and thorough- secluded life, and not partaking of fares of business, where children food regularly.--He hath a devil. as well as men would resort.
He hath a demon. He is melan17. We have piped unto you. choly or mad. For the Jews attriHere is a reference to the dramatic buted low spirits and insanity to sports of children, who play fes- possession by demons. The same tivals and funerals. In eastern slander was uttered against Jesus. countries it was customary on joy- John vii. 20, vjij. 48, x. 20, 21. ous occasions for the musician to 19. Came eating and drinking. strike up his tune, and the compa. Observed the usual custonis of sony to dance to it; and at funerals cial life, and kept no fasts.-A man for the mourning song to be com- gluttonous, and a wine-bibber, a menced, and those present to fol. friend, &c. With the cheerful, falow the procession, lamenting and miliar, and gracious manner of Jebeating their breasts. These things sus, and his mingling in all society, were acted by children in the even that of publicans and sinners, streets; and part of them refusing they were as ready to find fault, as to follow their leader gave origin to with the abstemious and stern life
20 children. Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of 21 his rnighty works were done, because they repented not : Woe unto
thee, Chorazin, woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works
of the Baptist. Nothing will satis- way. Some are Boanerges, sons fy those that will not be satisfied. of thunder; others Barnabases, sons But Wisdom is justified of her chil- of consolation; yet all these workdren. Of is old English for by. eth that one and the self-same spirit, The children of wisdom are the and therefore we ought not to conwise, as the children of disobedi- denn either, but to praise both, ence are the disobedient. Eph. ii. and to praise God for both, who 2. Wisdom is the wise course thus tries various ways of dealing adopted by John and Jesus respec- with persons of various tempers. tively, which would be vindicated —Henry. or approved, as best fitted for the 20–24. See Luke x. 12–16. ends they came to fulfil, by all wise 20. A new paragraph begins and candid minds. Such is the here, though it is connected in general maxiin as applied to this sense with the preceding one.particular case. This interpreta- Upbraid. To reprove or chide.tion agrees best with the context; Mighty works, i. e. miracles. They for having just before shown that had resisted the highest evidence the Jews were inconsistent and he could give of a divine commiscavilling, Christ now, by way of sion, and still continued impenitent. contrast, exhibits the different judg- What sin could be more unpardonment which the wise would pass able than this, which took away the upon the same measures. They motives to repentance, and the conwould justify John in his mode of ditions of forgiveness? life, and Jesus in his, aware that 21. Woe unto thee. This is not so each acted best according to the much a denunciation as a predichigh office he filled, and the cir- tion; not, let woe be unto thee, but, cumstances in which he was placed. woe will be unto thee. See Mat. The character and conduct of each xxiv. 19. There is compassion also were hest adapted to his particular in it, and we may suppose that Jesphere and duties. We find at the sus uttered it with a tone of the present day some, like the ancient tenderest sorrow and pity. Alas Jews, that are disposed to cavil for thee would, according to some when a good object is presented to. commentators, more truly express them, no matter what its nature or the sentiinent of Jesus. The order claims. To find fault is their ele- of the warnings is varied in Luke ment, and a wilful fastidiousness by the mention of Sodom first, and lawless caprice their besetting chap. X. 12, whereas in Matthew it sin. They may indulge in the is put last.—Chorazin—Bethsaida. same disposition now that led the These were villages in Galilee, Jews to reject John for his austeri- situated near Capernaum, where he ty, and Jesus for his cheerfulness, then was, and on the shores of the and he subject to a like condem- Sea of Galilee. Their very locanation.—“Observe especially that tions are now matters of conjecGod's ministers are variously gift- ture.
Jesus had preached and perthe ability and genius of some formed bis miracles in all places in lies one way, of others, another that vicinity. The shores of this
which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But 1 say unto you, 22
inland sea were his resort. But under less light will be punished with increase of privileges there al- with less rigor, and the opportuniways comes increase of responsi- ties and motives to repentance that bility; and these towns, where were not addressed to them at one the miracles of Christ had been time may be at another.-Sackwrought, and his discourses deliv- cloth. Esther iv. 1. Jonah iii. 5. ered, and his daily shining life of Neb. ix. 1. A rough cloth, made goodness passed, must have been of goat's hair, or coarse linen, or tenfold hardened, if they continu- wool. It was worn by mourners, ed impenitent.-Tyre and Sidon. or as a sign of humiliation.--Ashes. Those cities, so proverbially wick- It was customary in the east, where ed, were situated in Phænicia, all einotions, whether of joy or north-west of Palestine, on the sorrow, are ardently expressed, to Mediterranean Sea, about twenty lie in the ashes, or to cover the miles distant from each other, and head with dust or ashes, as a token were distinguished for their com- of grief. Job ï. 12, Jer, vi. 26. merce, wealth, and luxury. Judg- Says an interesting writer, “We ments were denounced by the cannot read the record of sorrow: prophets, Is. xxiii., Ezek. xxvi., ful and depressing remembrances xxviii., against Tyre, on account of which this train of thought (see verher idolatry and wickedness, which ses 16—19) summons before Jesus, were signally fulfilled.
It was re- without a keen feeling of the painpeatedly taken and destroyed, and ful trials and disappointments of not a vestige of its former glory re- that tender and sympathetic mind. mains. A few fishermen now There fitted before his quick spread their nets to dry amongst thought the scenes where he had the ruins of its walls. A like fate spent his strength for nought,—tbe befell Sidon. The waves of the sea cities on whose houses and people now dash on lonely rocks, upon his spirit had shed its best energies which were built the palaces in and love,--and shed them only to which thousands and tens of thou- be like water spilt upon the ground, sands once revelled in pomp and and that cannot be gathered. Depleasure. So surely is sin not only voted to them, life and miod, there a reproach, but a ruin to any peo- comes back to him no return but ple, however powerful or rich. this recurring experience, that they Such is the law of God.—They were offended in him. Nazareth, would have repented long ago. Tyre Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Sidon, like Nineveh, might are all before him, pressing their have repented and reformed, had bitter memories on his fainting they been warned of their impend- heart; all sought and lost, toiled ing desolation. They were not for, but not won; sought by works irreclaimable. Jesus used these that might have averted heathen places as illustrations; yet inciden- Tyre and Sidon from their despetally. It was a remarkable decla- rate courses; and ministered unto ration, and is not without its remote by one, who, if he had preached significance touching the laws of unto Sodom, might have awakened retribution. For they who sinned even it to repentance, and stayed