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his public appearance, which was in the fifteenth year of the emperor Tiberius; Pontius Pilate being then governor of Judea, when the word of God came to John in the wilderness, from whence he departed, and went into all the coun. try round about; preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
St. John, according to the prophecies of him, and the designation of his person by the Holy Ghost, was the forerunner of Christ, sent to prepare the way for him, and to dispose the people for the reception of him; and therefore it was necessary he should in his person appear eminent for sanctity, and extraordinarily great in all the occurrences and circumstances of his life, so as he might gain credit to the testimony he was to give concerning the Lord the Saviour of the world. And this the Baptist's character most exactly answered; for at his quiting the solitary desert he seemed what indeed he was, an excel. lent person. The contempt of the world, which he bore, with his mortified deportment, his austere life, and his admirable zcal in preaching, created so high an opinion of him among the people, that all held him for a prophet, especially when by bis baptism he added a greater solemnity to his office. By this he so prevailed, that he made a suitable preparation for the Lord's appearing. And now it was, that multitudes thronged from all parts of the country, to hear the joyful news of salvation froin the mouth of the baptist : cities and towns were deserted, whilst the spaci. ous fields were crouded with their inhabitants. Jerusalem, Judea, and all the country about Jordan, which hear his doctrine, which he delivered with force and power, severely reprehending the Pharisees and Sadducees, exhering the people to works of mercy, the publicans to decline oppression, and to do justice; the soldiers to abstain from plun. der and violence ; declaring he was not the Christ, that he only baptized with water, but that the Messiah should
Locusts. Commentators differ respecting these locusts. The insect properly so called is yet however used for food by many of the natives of Arabia, and the coasts of the Red Sea ; and Judea, produced so much honey, that in several places of scripture, it is said, “ to Aow with honey," which was frequently found in the trunks of trees, and in the clefts of the rocks.
baptize with the Holy Ghost, and with fire ; and this was the joyful dawn of the gospel, to which St. John Baptist was like the morning star, foretelling the approach of the Sun of righteousness, who was just about to enlighten the world with his presence.
The full time being come, Jesus took leave of his mother and his kindred, to commence his public' ministry, and take upon him the prophetical office which he was to sustain. * Now whilst St. John was baptizing the people at the river Jordan, Jesus himself came to him to be baptized of him: but the baptist, who, it should seem, had never before seen his face, being by the Holy Ghost inspired with a discerning spirit, at his first arrival knew bim, and paid him reverence; for when Jesus desired to be baptized, John declined it, saying, “ I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” John was atonished that the Messiah, the Lamb of God, pure and without spot, who needed not the cleansing of repentance, or the washing of baptism, should demand it, and of him a sinner, and his servant. But though he was no sinner himself, yet was he“ made sin for us;” and therefore it was proper for him to submit to an ordinance, denoting the impurity of the subject, for he was designed to bear the punishment of sin, in behalf of his people. Accord. ingly therefore the holy Jesus who came, as he declares in his answer to the baptist's question, to fulfil all righté. ousness, would receive that rite which his Father had appoi nted in order to the manifestation of his Son.
John, having by the impulse of the Holy Spirit already descried the Saviour of the World, who offered himself to be baptized, among the vast crouds of people who came to the banks of Jordan for that purpose, after a short expostulation with him of his own unworthiness, who ought rather to receive the honour and blessing of baptism from his Saviour, than his Saviour from him, no longer disputes his Lord's commands, but baptizes him. The Baptist having performed his ministry, the heavens were opened, and being filled with an unusual and glo. rious light, the Holy Ghost in the manner of a dove* alighted upon his sacred head, and God the Father gave a voice from heaven, saying, “ Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This was the inauguration and proclamation of the Messiah, when he was about to begin to take upon him the office of the great prophet of the new covenant. And this was the greatest meeting that ever was upon earth, where the whole mystery of the Trinity was opened, and shewn as fully as human apprehension was capable of receiving it. The first Person, God the Father, kept his state in heaven, giving testimony to his holy Son, and was manifested only by a voice, without any visible representation: the second Person appeared in the veil of humanity : and the third, descending in a glorious body of light with the motion of a doye. Thus was manifested to Israel the blessed Re. deemer of the world by baptism, to which, by his submission, he gave the most honourable sanction.
* Sustain. Acts iii.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, had opened the heavens, which hitherto had never been opened to man, and was declared to be the Son of God, that he might give some evidence of his piety and constancy before he entered on his prophetic office, it was thought fit that some trial should be endured by him, and to that end, by the impulse of the Spirit of God (of which he was full, Luke iv. 1,) he went from Jordan further into the desert, not voluntarily putting himself upon temptation, but submitting to it according to the appointment of God; being led into the wilderness by the good Spirit, to be tempted by the evil one. Being there, he was enabled by the miracy
Dove. As soon as Jesus was baptized, and come out of the water, he fel! down on his knees in prayer to his Father, Luke iii. 21, and while he was pray. ing, the heavens in a very remarkable manner parted asunder visibly before Christ
, and the Spirit of God descended upon him as a dove descends or alights upon any thing; not in the shape of a dove, but a body of light came down, and alighted up on him. And though St. Luke says in a bodily shape, yet he does not say the bo. dily shape of a dove ; but that this body of light, which fell on our Saviour as he was praying, fell after the hovering manner and motion of a dove.
lous power of Deity to continue forty days and nights without food or drink : during which time he was assauited with a variety of temptations, but that of hunger seemed to be the most pungent; for at the expiration of the forty days, the devil himself taking advantage of that opportunity, attacks him, inviting him to eat bread of his own providing, which might refresh his human nature, and at the same time prove his divinity; hoping that his hunger, and the desire of convincing the adversary, might tempt him to eat before the time appointed : “ If thou art the Son of God,” says he, “ make use now of that power to thine own relief, and turn these stones into bread;" but Jesus answered, “ It is wriţten, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word* that procerdeth out of the mouth of God.” Meaning, that in the word of God a promise is expressed or implied of the supply of all things necessary for him that is doing the work of God.
The devil failing in this attempt, tries him again, requiring only a demonstration of his being the Son of God. He taketh him up into the holy city, that is, he carried kim in the air, without doing him any hurt, to Jerusalem, being permitted by God so to do, and set him on the battlementt of the temple ; and urging Psalm xci. 11, to him, he proposed to him to cast himself down from thence, by that means to testify himself to be the Son of God; for if it were so, he might do this securely. Jesus understood his design; and though he was secure of God's protection, yet he would not tempt God, nor vainly solicit his providence, by tempting him to an unnecessary conservation. This assault also, proving as ineffectual as the former, the devil unites all his force of art and stratagem; places the holy Jesus upon an ex: ceedingly high mountain, and by a supernatural* power draws into one view an admirable map of all the beauties and glory of the world, in as splendid and inviting man. ner as possible, and represents it to the eyes of Jesus, saying, “ All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” The devil growing thus violent in his temptations, and so impudent and blasphemous in his demands, provoked the blessed Jesus to assert his authority, and with holy indignation to dismiss him, repeating the words of the law (Deut. vi. 13, “ Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him onlyť shalt
* Word. Bread or ordinary means of sustaining nature is not absolutely necessary to the life of man; God can feed and uphold him other ways, by whatever he pleaseth to make use of to that purpose ; his bare word or appointment, Deut. viii.s.
+ Battlement. The Greek word Pterugion signifies literally a little wing; but it here denotes the exterior circuit of the top of an house, which compasseth it in to keep men from danger of falling from the roof, and is therefore in the law enjoined in their buildings, Deut. xxii. 8, so that the Greek ought to be rendered Battlement,
Parkhurst thinks it was the King's Portico, built by Herod, of which Josephus says,
" It was one of the most memorable works that was ever seen under the sun; for whereas the valley itself was here so deep, that one could not bear to look down into it; on the edge of this, Herod raised the immense height of the portico, so that if any one from the roof of this portico should look through both these depths at once, his head would grow dizzy.” Somewhere then on the roof of this portico, it is probable, that the devil placed our Saviour.
• Supernatural. Mr. Maundrell in his travels, visited the scene (as generally supposed) of our Lord's temptation, of which he says, “ It is a miserable dry place, consisting of high rocky mountains, so torn and disordered, as if the earth here had suffered some great convulsion. From the top of these hills of desolation, we had, however, a delightful prospect of the mountains of Arabia, the Dead Sea, and the plains of Jericho, into which last we descended, after about five hours' march from Jerusalem. As soon as we entered the plain, we turned upon the left hand, and going about one hour that way, came to the foot of the Quarantania, (so called from our Lord's forty days' fast) which, they say, is the Mountain, where the devil tempted him with the visionary scene of all the kingdoms and glories of the world. It is very steep and high, and its ascent not only difficult, but dangerous."
+ Only. St. Augustin, and the Romanists after him, to defend their saint and image-worship, observe that our Saviour in Mat. iv. 10, does not say, "Thou shalt only worship the Lord thy God," though he says, “ Him only shalt thou serve :" inferring from hence, That because the word Only is not used before or with the word Worship, that therefore we may worship saints and images as they do. But this is to be more subtle than the devil himself, who having only required of our Saviour to fall down and worship bim, went off bafled at his answer, which yet would have been imperfect and impertinent, if St. Augustin's fancy were true ; and on which the devil, no doubt, who is not wont to neglect any advantage
, would have taken hold. But if this father, and those who blindly fotlowed his authority,