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the earth; and that every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father *."
When all these circumstances are taken together, what a magnificent idea do they present to us of the humble Jesus, and how does all earthly splendour fade and die away under this overbearing effulgence of celestial glory! We need not then be ashamed either of the birth, the life, or the death of Christ, “ for they are the power of God unto salvation.” And if the great and the wise men, whose history we have been considering, were induced, by the appearance of a new star, to search out, with so small labour and fatigue, the infant Saviour of the world; if they, though philosophers and deists (far different from the philosophers and deists of the present day) disdained not to prostrate themselves before him, and present to him the richest and the choicest gifts they had to offer; well may we, when this child of the Most High is not only grown to maturity, but has lived, and died, and risen again for us, and is now set down at the right hand of God (angels and
* Philip. ii. 9---11.
principalities and powers being made subject to him), well may we not only pay our homage, but our adoration to the Son of God, and offer to him oblations far more precious than gold, frankincense, and myrrh; namely, ourselves, our souls and our bodies, “ as a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto him;" well may we join with that innumerable multitude in heaven, which is continually praising him, and saying; “ Blessing, and honour, and glory be unto him, that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”
* Rey. V, 13.
T HE subject of this Lecture will be the
I third chapter of St. Matthew, in which we have the history of a very extraordinary person called JOHN THE BAPTIST; to distinguish him from another John mentioned in the New Testament, who was our Saviour's beloved disciple, and the author of the Gospel that bears his name; whence he is called JOHN THE EVANGELIST.
As the character of John the Baptist is in many respects a very remarkable one, and his appearance bears a strong testimony to the divine mission of Christ and the truth of his religion, I shall enter pretty much at large into the particulars of his history, as they are to be found not only in the Gospel of St. Matthew, but in the other three Evangelists; collecting from each all the material circumstances of his life, from the time of his first appearance in the wilderness to his murder by Herod.
St. Matthew's account of him is as follows: * In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying, “ Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camels hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins, and his meat was locusts and wild honey. And there went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the regions round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.”
Here then we have a person, who appears to have been sent into the world, on purpose to be the precursor of our Lord, to prepare the way for him and his religion, here called the kingdom of heaven, and, as the prophet ex, presses it, to make his paths struight. This is a plain allusion to the custom that prevailed in eastern countries, of sending messengers and pioneers to make the ways level and straight
* Matth. iii. 1.-6.. E 4
before kings and princes and other great meri, when they passed through the country with large retinues, and with great pomp and magnificence. They literally lowered mountains, they raised valleys, they cut down woods, they removed all obstacles, they cleared away all roughnesses and inequalities, and made every thing smooth and plain and commodious for the great personage whom they preceded.
In the same manner was John the Baptist in a spiritual sense to go before the Lord, before the Saviour of the world, to prepare his way, to make his paths straight, to remove out of the minds of men every thing that opposed itself to the admission of divine truth, all prejudice, blindness, pride, obstinacy, self-conceit, vanity, and vain philosophy; but above all, to subdue and regulate those depraved affections, appetites, passions, and inveterate, habits of wickedness, which are the grand obstacles to conversion and the reception of the word of God.
His exhortation therefore was, “ Repent ye;" renounce those vices and abominations which at present blind your eyes and cloud your understandings, and then you will be able