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penter's son, and the poverty of his birth. You may, possibly, reject Christ for reasons every whit as trifling. You say, you do no harm, and so never see your sin; or you say, that others are worse,-or that you are unlearned,— or that your daily business will not allow you time to think of Christ, and your souls. Look into your hearts; for all is unsound within us, so long as we stand upon these, or any other pretences. Whatever keeps us from Christ is miserable blindness, and self-deceit.

7. And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth two by two; and gave them power over unclean spirits ;

What a mercy is it that he can, and will, give thee power over thy own spirit!

8. And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:

The meaning is, that they should enter immediately upon their work, and trust to Providence without spending time to make preparation, or to lay in provision for their journey. Does not this teach us that the ministers of the gospel, at all times, must be free from the cares of a maintenance, and have it found for them, that they may be at liberty to attend wholly to their office? And woe be to them if they do not!

9. But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.

10. And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place.

11. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them.

To declare in the strongest manner, the extreme danger of their condition, and God's utter rejection of them.

11. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

It shall be more tolerable for the worst, and most wicked

heathen. Think of this, ye who live where the gospel is preached. And observe, that, though there is a difference in the degrees of punishment, in another world, yet the least is intolerable.

12. And they went out, and preached that men should repent.

That all men should repent, except there ever was a man upon earth who needed no repentance. But there is no other way of coming to Christ, and the man who never repented from his heart, seeing himself lost and undone in sin, whatever he may think, does not yet believe in him.

13. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.

Not by anointing them with oil, according to the custom of the Jews, but in the virtue of Christ's commission to them, and by his power going along with it. The medicines we take might still do miracles,* if we trusted more to Christ, than to them. Certain it is, that without God they can do nothing, however well chosen and adapted to the case.


Chap. vi. ver. 14-28.


14. And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad :) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him.

* The word miracles is perhaps rather too strong an expressión but the term may have a harmless meaning.-Ed.

15. Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.

16. But when Herod heard thereof, he said, it is John, whom

I beheaded he is risen from the dead.


17. For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife for he had married her.

18. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife.

"It is not lawful for thee."-This is a hard saying to a sinner. Tell a man he is so, and wherein, and if he does not repent, he will never forgive.

19. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not:

20. For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

Perhaps Herod feared John more before his reproof of him, than after.* However, so we do by Christ. We fear him in some degree, know him to be just and holy, observe him, hear him gladly, and do many things at his bidding, and yet are not converted to him, and by him. The sense of good and evil which we have naturally; the startling of conscience now and then, and doing some, yea many things for Christ, as we think, is not conversion. Conversion is seeing our sin, repenting from our hearts, coming to Christ for forgiveness, and for a new will to please him. Till we know such a work as this, corrupt nature prevails in us, and not grace.

21. And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birth-day made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee;

22. And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod, and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.

* Vide Whitby in loco.

23. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.

24. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.

25. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.

26. And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.

John had galled Herod's conscience, by speaking the truth, and therefore it is likely that at the bottom he was glad at the pretence for taking him out of the way; or else he would soon have perceived that this oath was not binding. Wicked men seldom want a reason for doing ill; and the devil sometimes helps them to a goodly one.Note. All have Herod's blindness, and hug sin in their bosoms, till grace opens their eyes.

27. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought and he went and beheaded him in the prison,


28. And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.

In the character and description of Herod, we may see that conviction is not conversion. And perhaps we may discover something of ourselves in him, though we do not commit murder as he did.


Chap. vi. ver. 29–46.




29. And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up corpse, and laid it in a tomb.

The disciples honoured John with a decent burial. The treatment and end of John the Baptist, constitute one of the great mysteries of a divine providence; and an argument for the probability of a resurrection from the dead.— Edit.

30. And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.

31. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

The necessities which pertain to humanity are graciously consulted for by our Saviour. He made it his meat and drink to do his Father's will; but he did not design to press so heavily upon his disciples; nor will he be unmindful of our wants and necessities.-Edit.

32. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. 33. And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran a-foot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him.

34. And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd.

So he is still towards all, even towards you. He did not leave his compassionate heart behind him, when he went. to heaven. But his compassion towards us does not take effect till we have pity on ourselves; and we never have, till we know ourselves in some measure as he knows us,sinful creatures and perishing without his help.

34. And he began to teach them many things.

What has Christ taught you? To know God, to know yourselves, and to be happy in God's favour? This is a blessed teaching indeed! And unless we have this knowledge, what can it profit us that he ever came into the world? He had compassion on them, and why? because of their ignorance, and want of teaching, and true teachers.

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