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Observe, 2. Herod calls him the young dream that they should not return to child, not the young king; that word was Herod, they departed into their own too big to come out of Herod's proud
country another way. mouth; he could neither bear the thing, nor brook the title. A king 'tis true he is, but dream not to go back to Herod, they return
God having warned these wise men in a one that will never be thy rival; he has a
But did these wise kingdom, but it is not of this world. Ob- home another way. serve, 3. How craftily Herod lays his plot: men play the parts of honest men, in that he desires the wise men to enquire tho they returned not again to Herod? Answ. roughly, and to inform him privately. To It appears not that they promised Herod to be wise in doing mischief, is the worst wis. return, though he expected it; or if they dom in the world: 'tis not the wisdom from did, it was in consideration that Herod above, but from hell beneath.
should come and worship Christ, not mur
der and destroy bim. But if they promised 9 When they had heard the king, him never so positively, God Almighty they departed : and, lo, the star, gave them a dispensation from that promise, which they saw in the east, went by commanding them to return home anobefore them, till it came and stood ther way. Herod kept his design against over where the young child was.
Christ close from the wise men, but he
could not conceal his intentions from the 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. of his heart, and, by his providence, kept
infinitely wise God; he knew the purposes 11 And when they were come into Christ out of his hand. There is no wisthe house, they saw the young child dom, nor understanding, nor counsel, with Mary his mother, and fell down, against the Lord. and worshipped him: and when 13 And when they were departed, they had opened their treasures, behold, the angel of the Lord apthey presented unto him gifts ; gold, peareth to Joseph in a dream, sayand frankincense, and myrrh. ing, Arise, and take the young child
Observe here, 1. How the star, which and his mother, and flee into Egypt, for some time disappeared, now appears and be thou there until I bring thee again, to their farther direction in finding word : for Herod will seek the young Christ : teaching us, that God will not be child, to destroy him. 14 When he wanting to such as are on the way to seek arose, he took the young child and Christ, but will renew directions and en
his mother by night, and departed couragements to them, according as they into Egypt: 15 And was there unChrist
, but they certainly found him at the til the death of Herod, that it might last. Obs. 2. That the joy which ariseth be fulfilled which was spoken of the in such a soul as has found Christ, is unut- Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of terable and unspeakable: the wise men here Egypt have I called my son. rejoiced with joy, with great joy, with
Observe here, 1. Our Lord's humiliation, erceeding great
joy: Obs. 3. The wise by persecution in the very morning of his men have found this young king, they life; he was banished almost as soon as bring presents to him, according to the born. Flee into Egypt, for Herod will manner of the eastern countries ; namely, seek the young child to destroy him. Ungold, frankincense, and myrrh, which were grateful Herod! Was this entertainment for the principal commodities of the east. But
à Saviour ? What! raise the country upon the best present we can make to Christ, is Christ, as if a destroyer, rather than a Saourselves : he seeks not ours, but us; and viour, had landed upon thy coasts! Oh! rather desires what we are than what we have. Yet the providence of God was protection of those laws under which he
barbarous injustice! to deny a subject the wonderfully seen in these presents, for was born : the child of a beggar might hereby provision was made for the suste, claim that as his birthright, which was here nance of Joseph and Mary, and the child denied to the Son of God. Lord! how Jesus, in their exile, or flight into Egypt, great an humiliation was this, not only to which they were shortly to undergo.
become an infant, but in thine infancy to 12 And being warned of God in a be hurried up and down, and driven out of thine own land as a vagabond ! Obs. 2. rage, and die for Christ, who came to die How our Lord himself in a time of persecu- for them; and so were martyrs in deed, tion flies for safety, who was able a thousand though not in will. Some affirm that Heways to have preserved himself from danger: rod did not spare his own child, then at teaching us that in times of difficulty and nurse in the coasts of Bethlehem; which danger, 'tis neither unwarrantable nor unbe- made Augustus say, He had rather be Hecoming to preserve our lives by flight; rod's hog, than Herod's child; because the surely 'tis no shame for us to fly, when our Jews did never eat swine's flesh. And Captain doth both practise it, and command Herod, in compliance with the Jews, abit also. Christ by his own example hath stained from it also. . sanctified that state of life unto us, and by
17 Then was fulfilled that which his command has made it lawful for us. Obs. 3. The place which Christ flies unto was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, for safety, and that is Egypt: an unlikely saying, 18 În Rama was there a place, considered in itself; who could ex. voice heard, lamentation, and weeppect liberty in that house of bondage? Buting, and great mourning, Rachel any place is good, if God sends us thither, weeping for her children, and would and Christ be in our company. His pre- not be comforted, because they are sence can make Egypt itself not only safe, not. but delightful also. Obs. 4. How readily
Observe here, The loud and bitter cry Joseph complies with the divine command: which the mothers of Bethlehem make for instantly he arose, and took the young the death of their innocent children which child, and fled. Faith gave wings to his were barbarously slain by the sword of obedience, and instantly vanquished all his Herod; here was lamentation, weeping, fears, and afforded a fuller supply than all and great mourning made by Rachel, that the treasures of the Arabian princes. Teach. is, by the women inhabiting in and about ing us, That when our direction is clear, Bethlehem, where Rachel's sepulchre was ; our compliance is speedy. We cannot be for the land about Bethlehem was called too forward and expeditious in the execution Rachel, from her sepulchre, so famous in of divine commands. Obs. 5. Though those parts. Rachel here is not the name Joseph at the divine command of God flies of a person, but of a place. Observe, 2. presently from Herod's rage, yet he flies The cause and reason of this cry and bitter privately, by night, and prudently begins lamentation : the mothers weep, not because his journey when least notice should be the children are, but because they are not ; taken of his motion : teaching us, That they did not, with some wicked parents, although we have never so many promises repine because they had children, but beof safety and deliverance, yet we must not
cause they had lost them: mothers have put God upon working miracles for our the sharpest throes both in their children's preservation, when it may be obtained in births and burials. As children in their the use of means.
births are their mothers' Benjamins; so in 16 Then Herod, when he saw that their burial they are their mothers' Benonis, he was mocked of the wise men,
sons of sorrow. was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, 19 But when Herod was dead, and slew all the children that were behold, an angel of the Lord apin Bethlehem, and in all the coasts peareth in a dream to Joseph in thereof, from two years old and Egypt, 20 Saying, Arise, and take under, according to the time which the young child and his mother, and he had diligently enquired of the go into the land of Israel : for they wise men.
are dead which sought the young Observe here, How Herod, having played
child's life. the fox before, acts the lion now; his secret Observe, 1. Herod's death : like a bloody policy not succeeding, he breaks out into persecutor, he is sent unlamented to his open and inhuman cruelty. Learn, That grave. Historians say, that out of his body when fraud and subtilty fail the enemies of issued forth such impure streams of blood, the church, then they fall to open rage, and that the loathsomeness and pain made him barbarous inhumanity. Thus here these attempt the killing of himself
. God seldom holy innocents fall as a sacrifice to Herod's suffers persecutors to pass in quiet to their graves; they rarely die the common deathlution. Christ was a holy person, but no of all men, having no other balm at their Nazarite, in a strict sense; for he drank funeral than their own blood. Observe, 2. wine, and touched the dead. 2. Others The happy consequence of Herod's death. read the words, He shall be called a NetChrist is now called home without danger: zer, a branch, in allusion to Isa. xi. 1. Herod being sent to his grave, the coast is where he is called a Branch of the root of clear for the return of the holy family. The Jesse. Christ was the true branch of which death of persecutors is the delivery of the the prophets had so often spoken. 3. Others persecuted. . Observe, 3. An angel is des. will have the word Nazarene refer to the patched to acquaint Joseph with Herod's city of Nazareth, where Christ was conceivdeath. O how cheerfully do those glorious ed, and lived most of his time: He shall spirits execute the commands of their sove- be called a Nazarene, because he dwelt at reign Master ! With what delight do they Nazareth. Hence his disciples were called carry the message of God's kindness to their the sect of the Nazarenes; that is, the folfellow-creatures! Lord, what an argument lowers of him that dwelt at Nazareth: and is this of thy love unto us, that in this our Christ himself is pleased to own the title, pilgrimage state thou allowest us thine own Acts xxii. 8. I am Jesus of Nazareth, royal guard to attend and preserve us ! whom thou persecutest. Learn from hence,
21 And he arose, and took the the great humility of mind that was found young child and his mother, and hem, a little city; he lives at Nazareth, a
in our Saviour. He was born at Bethlecame into the land of Israel. 22
poor, contemptible place: he aspires not But when he heard that Archelaus after the grandeur of the world, but is meek did reign in Judea in the room of and lowly in spirit. May the same humble his father Herod, he was afraid to mind be in us, which was also in Christ go thither : notwithstanding, being Jesus ! ! warned of God in a dream, he turned
CHAP. III. aside into the parts of Galilee :
This Evangelist having declared our Saviour's mira.
culous conception in the first chapter, and reObserve here, 1. The just fear that Jo
corded several remarkable circumstances relating
to his birth in the second chapter, in this chapter seph has upon his mind, that Herod's son
before us he passes over in silence the whole would be as bloody a tyrant as his flagitious course of our Saviour's life in private; taking no father. No wonder that the children of
notice how he spent his minority whilst he dwelt
at Nazareth, which was till he was thirty years cruel persecutors are suspected to tread in old ; at which time he entered upon his public their bloody parents' steps. Observe, 2. ministry, having John the Baptist for his harbin How God's warrant and direction doth
ger and forerunner, as this chapter fully inquiet Joseph's mind, resolve his doubts, and remove his fears, and make
him readily IN those days came John the Bapcomply with the command of God: Being
tist, preaching in the wilderness warned of God, he removes out of Egypt of Judea, 2 And saying, Repent into Galilee. O how safe and satisfactory ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at is it in all our ways to follow the call and hand. command of God ! Joseph and Mary durst Observe here, 1. The preacher sent by not move their feet, no not out of Egypt God, John the Baptist ; a pattern of moritself, till God gives them a warrant for their tification, and a preacher of repentance. departure, and bids them go.
Observe, 2. The place he was sent to 23 And he came and dwelt in a preach in, The wilderness of Judea ; not city called Nazareth : that it might in populous Jerusalem, but in a barren wilbe fulfilled which was spoken by the derness, where inhabitants are few, and prophets, He shall be called a Na- hence, That it is God's prerogative to send
probably very ignorant and rude. Learn
forth the preachers of the gospel when, and A threefold interpretation is given of whither, and to what people, he pleases; these words, He shall be called a Naza and none must assume the office before he
Some read the words, 1. He shall be sent. Observe, 3. The doctrine that he be called a Nazarite. The Nazarites were preaches; namely, the doctrine of repenta religious and separate rank of persons ance, Repent ye. This was to prepare the among the Jews, who abstained from wine, people for the Messiah, and the grace of and came not near the dead for fear of pol- the gospel. Learn thence, That the preach
ing of the doctrine of repentance is abso- Observe here, The great encouragement lutely necessary, in order to the preparing which John had in his ministry, from the of the hearts of sinners for the receiving people's attendance upon it: he was now Christ Jesus and his holy doctrine. Ob- fishing for souls, and God brought the serve, 4. The motives which St. John uses people very thick about the net of the gosto enforce the exhortation to repentance: pel, and multitudes were enclosed, no doubt,
The kingdom of heaven is at hand: that to his joy and great satisfaction. For it is is, Now is the so much expected time of matter of great rejoicing to the ministers of the appearing of the Messiah come; the Christ, when they find their people forward Old-Testament dispensation is now to be to encourage their ministry by a diligent abolished, and the mercy and grace of the attendance. gospel is now to be revealed : therefore re- 6 And were baptized of him in pent, and amend your lives. Note thence, Jordan, confessing their sins. That the free and full tenders of grace and
This place the papists bring to support mercy in the gospel, are the most alluring their doctrine of auricular confession ; but arguments to move a sinner to repent, and very groundlessly. For, 1. The confesto convert to God.
sion of those converts was voluntary, and 3 For this is he that was spoken not constrained. 2. It was general
, and of by the prophet Esaias, saying, not of every particular sin. 3. It was pubThe voice of one crying in the wil- lic and open, not in the ear of a priest. 4.
It was a confession of sin committed bederness, Prepare ye the
fore baptism, not after they were baptized : Lord, make his paths straight.
in all which circumstances it differs from The papists, from John Baptist's living in the auricular confession of the church of the wilderness, would make him the first Rome very greatly. Note, The confession of founder of the order of the hermits, but very sin past, together with a profession of faith groundlessly. For, 1. What he did was in, and obedience to, Christ for the time to by God's command; what they do, is by come, are necessary requisites and qualifithe dictates of their own fancy. He busied cations in all persons of riper years that are himself in preaching in the wilderness; admitted to baptism. John admitted these they bury themselves alive, and do nothing. persons to baptism, upon their confession 2. He lived in the wilderness but for a time, of sin and promises of amendment. From afterwards we find him at court, preaching whence we may learn, that such persons a sermon to Herod, but they bind themselves as have been very bad, upon a profession by a vow to live and die hermits.
of their repentance, and promising to be4 And the same John had his rai- come better, may be admitted to the holy ment of camel's hair, and a leathern sacrament, provided that we warn them, girdle about his loins: and his meat profession of repentance, but to bring forth
as the Baptist did these, not only to make was locusts and wild honey.
fruits worthy of repentance. The plainness of John's habit and diet 7 But when he saw many of the is here declared : He was habited a plain Pharisees and Sadducees come to his suit of camel's hair, much as Elijah was be- baptism, he said unto them, O genefore him : and as his habit was plain, so
ration of vipers, who hath warned his diet was ordinary ; feeding upon herbs, and such things as the wilderness affords. you to flee from the wrath to come? Hence it was that Nazianzen said, He was
8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet all voice; a voice in his habit, a voice in for repentance : 9 And think not his diet, and a voice in his whole conver- to say within yourselves, We have sation. His example teaches us, that the Abraham to our father : for I say ministers of the gospel are not to affect unto you, That God is able of these bravery in apparel, or delicacy in diet; stones to raise up children unto but having the necessary comforts and need
Abraham. ful conveniences of life, to be therewith con
Here we have the entertainment which tent. 5 Then went out to him Jerusa- Pharisees and Sadducees, which came to
John gave to his unexpected auditors, the lem, and all Judea, and all the region hear him, and to be baptized by him. He round about Jordan,
gives them first a quick and cutting compellation, O generation of vipers ! next a suddenness of that vengeance which would sharp and severe reprehension, Who hath come upon them if they continued imwarned you to flee from the wrath to come penitent; Now is the are laid to the root of It was matter of wonder and admiration to the trees. Learn, 1. That those whose see such men turn proselytes. Note thence, hearts are not pierced with the sword of That the condition of proud Pharisees, God's word, shall certainly be cut down pretending and false-hearted hypocrites, and destroyed by the axe of his judgments. though it be very dangerous, yet is not Learn, 2. That it is not unsuitable for goshopeless and desperate; and their salvation, pel-preachers to press repentance and though very improbable, yet must not be holiness of life upon their hearers from despaired of as impossible: and accordingly arguments of terror; John does it here, the Baptist, having given them a smart re- and Christ elsewhere. Observe farther, proof, subjoins a seasonable exhortation, That forasmuch as the sin here specified is Bring forth fruits meet for repentance ; a sin of omission, which brings this sore as if he had said, Do not satisfy yourselves and severe judgment, Every tree that bringwith a bare profession of repentance, but eth not forth good fruit, as well as that let us see the fruits of repentance in your which bringeth forth evil fruit, is hewn down, daily conversation. Learn thence, That and cast into the fire; we may gather, that sincere repentance is not a barren thing, but sins of omission are certainly damning as constantly brings forth the fruits of holiness well as sins of commission; the neglects of answerable to its nature. As the body duty are as dangerous and damnable as the without the spirit, and as faith without acts of sin. Such trees as stand in God's works, is dead; so repentance without fruits orchard, and bring forth no good fruit, are is dead also. Observe farther, How he en- marked out as fuel for the devil's fire. forces his exhortation with a necessary caution : Think not to say
11 I indeed baptize you with water within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father, fc. Asunto repentance: but he that cometh if he had said, Trust not to your outward after me is mightier than I, whose privileges, and glory not in them; flatter shoes I am not worthy to bear : he not yourselves, that because you are Abra- shall baptize you with the Holy ham's seed, and the only visible church, that Ghost, and with fire. therefore the judgments of God will not
In these words John declares the exreach you; for God can, out of the obdurate Gentile world, who now worship stones, above his own. As to his person, he owns
cellency of Christ's person and ministry raise up a people to himself and take them that he was not worthy to carry his shoes into covenant with himself
, and cast you all after him, or to perform the lowest offices out, who have Abraham's blood running in of service for him. And as to his office, your veins, but nothing of Abraham's faith he declares that Christ should not baptize in your hearts, nor of his obedience in your as he did, with water, but with the Holy lives. Now from St. John's plain dealing Ghost, and with fire; that is, should plenwith these hypocritical Pharisees, we learn, tifully pour down of the gifts and graces of That it is the duty, and ought to be the endeavour, of the ministers of Christ, to drive like fire, in their operation should purify
the Holy Spirit upon his proselytes, which, hypocrites from their vain confidence, who their hearts from sin, consuming their lusts do constantly bear up themselves upon their and corruptions; but at the same time external privileges, in the enjoyment of he has a fiery indignation, and flaming which they promise themselves, a freedom judgments, to destroy and burn up imfrom the judgments of God, Think not to penitent sinners like combustible stihble. say within yourselves, We have, &c.
Where observe, How Christ is represented 10 And now also the axe is laid by one and the same metaphor of fire, in a unto the root of the trees: therefore way of comfort to his children, and in a way every tree which bringeth not forth of terror unto his enemies; he is a fire unto good fruit is hewn down, and cast both: he sits in his church as a refiner's fire; into the fire.
he is amongst his enemies as a consuming The Baptist having preached the doctrine fire; a fire for his church to take comfort of repentance in the former verses, he backs in, a fire for his enemies to perish by. it with a powerful motive in this verse,
12 Whose fan is in his hand, and drawn from the certainty, the severity, and he will thoroughly purge his floor,