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from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repent- 8 ance, and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to 9 our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abralıam. And now also the axe is laid unto 10 the root of the trees; therefore every tree which bringeth not forth
same sins, also, which brought down has been forgotten : these temporal calamities upon the “ They, that on glorious ancestors enlarge, heads of men, would meet with a Produce their debt instead of their discharge.” becoming punishment in the future — God is able, &c. Think not of world.
saying to yourselves, We are Abra8. Bring forth therefore fruits ham's children, and are therefore meet for repentance. Or, consistent fully assured of the favor of God, with amendment of life. Fruits and the benefits of the Messiah's stand for good works, righteous, kingdom. With God all things are holy deeds.
Here is an allusjon to possible. He is not dependent on their noted hypocrisy. Shew by the Jews, or any other nation, for your lives that your repentance is
the success of his purposes; he sincere. Manifest a character and can find other servants and instruconduct appropriate, belonging to, ments. Yea, out of the very stones genuine penitence. Shew forth, if of the Jordan he can through his you really repent, not merely the omnipotence raise up worthy chilleaves and flowers of profession, dren of Abraham; an allusion, perbut the fruits of performance. haps, to God's power in giving a Mat. vii. 20. The proof of good child to Abraham. Gal. iii. 29. ness is in the life. Let not repent- Perhaps in the expression “these ance be a dead form with lis, but a stones," there is also an allusion to living act. Let it produce corres the Gentiles, towards whom the ponding works.
Jews entertained the greatest con9. They deemed their salvation tempt. Some deem it a proverbial insured because they were the de- phrase. It is to be feared, that, as scendants of so righteous and faith some of old trusted in the merits ful a man as Abraham. John viji. of Abraham, so now many rely 33, 39, 53. John understands their upon Christ, a much greater than state of mind, and therefore ad Abraham, as a substitute for their dresses himself, as every teacher own goodness, instead of forming should, to that which, unless cor him within them, reproducing his rected, would nullify all his in spirit in their hearts. But it will structions and warnings. Thus he not do. Personal piety is the inextaught with adaptedness. The tinguishable need of every child same characteristic, in a greater of God. degree, appears in the teachings of 10. The axe is laid unto the root the Saviour. It has been a weak of the trees, &c. i. e. the axe is point in all nations, to put their sal lying, ready to be used, at the very vation in their ancestors, not in root of the trees. The approachtheir posterity; to look back to the ing calamities are no trivial evils, good old days, not to look forward but rather like cutting up the tree to better ones; to locate the Golden by the roots. This was a Jewish Age in the Past, not in an improved proverb. A searching, powerful Future. The couplet of the poet influence is going abroad. A new
11 good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you
with water, unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier
than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you standard is to be erected, by which servants. The strong expression the hearts of men, and the institu of John is, therefore, that he was tions of society, are to be tried. unworthy to perform the most mePrinciples and conduct are to be nial service for the glorious Being tested. Nothing will stand the trial who was soon to appear in the but genuine repentance, true good character and with the credentials
The excuses and subter of the long desired Redeemer.fuges and lies of men will be swept What a touching humility in one, away. Antiquated ceremonies and who was himself the subject of systems will be superseded. The prophecy, at whose birth miracles realities of the spiritual life will stand had been wrought, whose heart forth in their just prominence, when was fired with a spirit more than the rubbish and the corruptions and mortal, and whose privilege it was, the commandments of men have after the long lapse of four hundred been consumed.--Is hewn down. years, to renew the old prophetic Will be, is to be, hewn or cut down. office, and introduce the mighty The present tense, according to Wi Deliverer of the world to his minisner, is not unfrequently used in the What a beautiful resignation, sense of the future. See Luke iii. too, adorned his character ! He
grasped at no honors; living till 11. Unto repentance. As a sign the orb of the sun of righteousness of repentance and reformation. was above the horizon, he yet did Baptism was a sign that the obliga not witness the perfect day. He tion to repent was felt and ac could say, “ This my joy, therefore, knowledged, and that the peniter- is fulfilled; He must increase, but tial sentiments would be cherished. I must decrease." Great as he -He that cometh after me. A cir was, he had that humbleness of cumlocution for Jesus, the Messiah, mind, that is indeed the noblest of the head of the kingdom of heaven, all traits. He was ready at once to that is at hand.-Mightier than 1. resign his own honors before the Of higher dignity and authority - Son of God. Imprisoned for an Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. honest rebuke of wickedness, his Not the article we call shoes, but single anxiety seemed to be, to asthe sandals of the east; which certain whether the Messiah bad were soles for the bottoms of the actually come. Mat. xi. 2, 3. He feet, bound about the feet and an died a martyr to his own integrity, cles with leathern thongs or straps. and the victim of the evil passions These sandals were put off when which he sought in vain to bring a person entered a house, and put under the control of conscience on when he left it. As stockings and the laws of God. Is it strange were then unknown, the feet soon that his memory has been canonbecame soiled, being only protected ized in the Christian church?—He on the bottom, and not at the sides, shall baptize you with the Holy and hence they had to be frequently Ghost, and with fire. Or, with a holy washed. To put on and off the spirit, or breath, and with fire. “ It sandals, upon these various occa is impossible to convey,” says. Fursions, was the office of the lowest ness, “the full force of this word
with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. Whose fan is in his hand, and he 12 will thoroughly purge his floor; and gather his wheat into the garner, but he will burn up the chaff with uniquenchable fire.
Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be bap- 13
spirit in a translation. The original next operation was winnowing. word is much more comprehensive This was to purge or clear up the than the word “spirit.? It signifies threshing floor. The grain and also bair, wind,' and the mean- straw were then separated, and the ing of the Baptist is, Water is the grain thrown up into the wind with symbol of my office, but the power a shovel, and the chaff thus blown of him who is coming after me out from it. The wheat was demay be signified by far subtler and posited in the garner, or granary. more searching elements, wind There was danger, that, after they and fire. This appears from the had been separated, the chaff and connection. He instantly likens broken straw would by a change his successor to a husbandman pre- of the wind be driveu back again pared with his fan to blow the chaff amongst the grain. To prevent it, out of the wheat, and with fire to fire was put to what is called chaff, consume it.” Such was the minis- but which also included the broken try of Jesus, a powerful, searching, pieces of straw, and commencing purifying influence.
on the windward side, it crept on 12. Whose fan is in his hand. and consumed all, before it went Not fan, according to the original out. This made it an unquenchable word, but winnowing shovel, with fire; it burnt until it had done its which the grain when threshed office. Jesus came among the was tossed up in the wind, and the Jews and their institutions like the chaff and kernels thus separated. husbandman among his grain. By Is. xxx. 24. The fan or van was the searching power and purity of more complex. It was designed, his religion, the good and bad by means of sails, to raise an arti- would be divided. The former ficial wind, and was not an imple would be preserved in all calamiment which could be carried in the ties. The latter would be visited hand.-Thoroughly purge his floor, by the most terrible judgments, &c. Here reference is made to the represented in figurative language mode of threshing grain in the by inextinguishable fire. Mal. iv. East. The floor was not made as 1. The antiquated institutions and ours are with planks and boards, burdensome ceremonies of the but consisted of an elevated circu- Jews would be consumed like lar area, formed in the field by chaff in the fire, but the sound smoothing and hardening the soil parts and wholesome laws would with a cylinder.
high location be preserved like wheat put into was more free from wet, and more the granary. The Saviour describaccessible to the wind. There was ed a part of his office, when he frequently no covering, nor walls. said, “For judgment I am come Different methods were employed into this world.” to get out the grain. It was beaten 13—17. Parallel passages, Mark with flails, trodden by oxen, or i. 9-11. Luke iii. 21, 22. John bruised by a heavy kind of sledge, i. 29–34. drawn by cattle. Is. xli. 15. The 13. Galilee. Nazareth, where Je
14 tized of him. But John forbade him, saying: I have need to be 15 baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering
said unto him: Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to ful16 fil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he
was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and, lo, the
sus had been living with his parents, no immunity on account of superior Luke ii. 51, was a village of that holiness. In these cases the master province. Mark i. 9. John was is as the disciple, and the disciple at this time at Bethabara, a place as the master. His words to John on the eastern bank of the river, have been thus paraphrased : “If not far from its mouth. John i. 28. my character be excellent as you He afterwards baptized at Enon, on have represented it, it is peculiarly the western bank. John jj. 23. becoming and natural in me to ful
14. John forbade him. The reason fil every duty, and do whatever is is given; because he felt himself to right and proper to be done, on all be inferior to Jesus. That is, moral occasions. As the ordinance which ly, not officially, inferior. John
you administer is of divine appointwas already acquainted with the ment, I wish to shew my respect pure and exalted character of Je for every institution of God, by sus, and felt the deepest veneration submitting to it; as you announce for him as a private individual, the approach of the Messiah's kingfor their parents were relatives. dom, I wish to bear a public testiLuke i. 36. But he did not yet mony of my faith in your prophetic know that he was the Messiah to
character, and to declare my excome. John i. 31. He knew him pectation of that glorious event." not in an official character, as These reasons satisfied John, and Christ, but he knew him simply as he acquiesced.—We are led here
sus. His ground of unwillingness to contrast the readiness of our dito baptize him was, accordingly, vine Master to fulfil all righteousthat he was conscious of possessing ness, with the backwardness of less goodness and greatness than many persons to comply with the his kinsman. He says, therefore, positively and divinely instituted that the baptism should be the ordinances of Christianity, Baptism other way, and that he himself and the Lord's Supper. His examought to be the subject and not the ple teaches them to comply with administrator of the rite, in the all the commands of God, whether present case, to one too pure to moral or ritual. Of the comparaneed reformation.
tive importance of the two, moral 15. To fulfil all righteousness. and ritual, we may sum up all in Or, every righteous ordinance. As his words: “These (the moral) has been said, Jesus was baptized, ought ye to have done, and not to not that the water might sanctify leave the other (the ritual) unhim, but that he might sanctify the done."
That is, he did not need it 16. Straightway out of the water. as a sign of repentance and purifi- He went up from the water.
The cation, but conformed to it, because original does not express the idea it was an ordinance of God, and that they had been into the water, was to be a ceremony of his reli as would have been the case if the gion through all time. He claimed mode of baptism was by inimer
heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. And, lo, a voice from 17 heaven, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. sion, but they went down to the only say, that the Scriptures repwater, and then, when the rite had resent the Spirit of God as no been performed, went up from the more a distinct being from God, river's brink.—The heavens, i. e. than the spirit of man is a distinct the visible sky.-Were opened. being from man. God is One, not Some critics would transpose the Three. 1 Cor. ii. 11.-Descending word straightway from the forego- like a dove. Luke says, “in a bodily ing clause, and insert it here. When shape.” This may signify, either it lightens, the clouds appear to that there was a distinct, substantial open. The sky seems to be cleft appearance like a dove in forin, or asunder by the flash, for an instant, that the miraculous symbol of the and then close up again. Such divine spirit descended with a genmight have been the case now. tle, hovering, and dove-like motion. The bright and sudden light might The innocence, gentleness, and appear to make the firmament meekness of Christ were fitly indiopen. Acts vii. 56. This appear cated by this reference to the dove. ance is represented as taking place Mat. x. 16. This pure and gentle while he was praying. Luke iii. emblem was a fitting investiture of 21. The first act of his new office an office of love and good will, of is, to acknowledge his dependence humility and holiness.---Lighting on God, and to supplicate his divine upon him. This would serve to aid in the mighty enterprise before connect, in the view of all the him.-Unto him. The supernatu spectators, the beautiful testimony ral appearance probably occurred of heaven with the person of Jesus. in the sight of both Jesus and Unless it had lighted upon some John, and also of the people.- particular person, it would have Him here refers to Jesus.—He saw,
remained doubtful who was spei. e. Jesus saw. John also sayscially designated in the wonderful he saw it. John i. 32, 33. It was appearance. This circumstance a testimony vouchsafed to John that singled out the individual. So on Jesus was the Messiah. John i. 34. the day of Pentecost, when the ho-The Spirit of God. Here we ly spirit of God descended on the are plainly told what the Holy Apostles, cloven tongues of fire Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, is. It is sat on each of them, pointing out not a person. It is not a numerical the individuals who were divinely distinction of the Godhead. It is inspired and authorized.—A voice not a third part, or quality, or sub- from heaven. Ear as well as eye stance, or person, of the All-Glori was addressed. Probably, the surous Deity. The human mind has rounding multitudes beard the deoriginated these erroneous and claration, descending directly from mystifying notions; not the Bible. God, and confirming the MessiahThe Holy Spirit, or Ghost, is THE ship of Jesus. At subsequent peSPIRIT OF God. And as God is a riods, the same august voice broke spirit, it is but another expression the silence of the skies: on the for God himself. Here we may mount of Transfiguration, Mat. rest. We cannot understand the xvii. 5; in the city of Jerusalem, essence of the Deity. We can John xii. 28; bearing attestation to