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41 place where John was at first baptizing, and there he abode. And

many came to him there ; and having attended upon his preaching,

said, John indeed did no miracle, but all things which John said of 42 this man were true. And many believed on him there,

REFLECTIONS, It is worthy of remark, that we here see our Lord Jesus at a festival, appointed only by human authority, in commemoration of a national deliverance. He came from Galilee to observe it in the temple, though it was winter ; and brought with him, as at all times, a heart glowing with the most ardent and amiable zeal for the honour of God and the salvation of men, even of those who were studying to insnare and destroy him.-What prudence, mingled with spirit and sweetness, runs through his answers to them! What inestimable blessings does he propose, to invite them to enter into his fold! May we never forget those gracious words ! May we ever be entitled to all the comfort of them! I give unto my sheep eternal life ; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. Lord, may we be found in the number of those secure and happy souls, even of those who know thee, and who obey thy voice, and follow thee, whithersoever thou leadest them, by thine example, thy providence, and thy Spirit ! Then may we look on our eternal life and happiness as inviolably secure. Safely indeed may we trust it in his hands who could say, in so sublime and so glorious a sense, I and the Father are one. The enemies of our salvation must triumph then over omnipotence itself before they can wrest the sheep of Christ out of his hands ; nor will his fidelity to God, or his love to them, suffer them to be seduced by fraud, any more than destroyed by violence. Blessed situation of thy little flock ! O thou faithful, thou compassionate, thou Almighty Shepherd, gather thou our souls with theirs; and never suffer us to forget of how great importance it is that we still continue near thee, that we look up to thee for our defence and safety, and confide, not in our own power and wisdom, but in thine !

Who could have imagined that any heart could have been so base às to have intended evil, or any hands so cruel as to have armed themselves with instruments of death against such a person, while speaking such words as these ? Yet behold, these Jews do it ; and that even in so sacred a place as the temple itself; as the genuine offspring of those who slew the prophet and priest of the Lord, even at his altar. But his wise and gentle reply disarmed them for a few months; and the divine care and power in an extraordinary manner provided for his escape, and once more rescued him from their murderous hands. Happy the inhabitants of the country about Jordan to which he retired ! especially happy, in that they knew the day of their visitation ! The testimony of John the Baptist is now recollected to excellent purposes, though he himself was mouldering in his tomb : nor is, there any thing which a faithful minister will more earnestly desire than that, even while dead, he may yet sneak, for the honour of Christ, * and the salvation of souls.

SECTION CXXXV.

Christ declares against divorces, and adds some other particulars rela

ting to the married state. MATT. xix. 3—12. MARK X. 2-12.

AND [among others who attended Jesus at Bethabara) the PhariA sees, came hither also to him with the view of tempting him, and asked him saying, o Is it lawful for a man to dismiss his wife for every cause of dislike? And he said to them in reply, Have ye not read (Gen. i. 27.) that God the creator, from the beginning of the creation, in forming the first parents of mankind made them one male and one female ? and said*, “ For this cause shall a man leave his « father and mother, and adhere to his wife ; and they two shall be 66 one flesh ?" So that it appears that they who are thus joined together are no longer two, but one flesh. What God therefore has yoked together let no man separate.-They say unto him, Why then did Moses command a man to give his wife a bill of divorce, and so dismiss her ? (Deut. xxiv. 1.) And he replied and said unto them, How is it that you take this matter? What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses permitted a man to write a bill of divorce, and give it into his wife's hand, and dismiss her. And Jesus answered and said to them, [it is true] but it was on account of the hardness of your hearts that Moses wrote you this precept, [or rather] gave you a permission to put away your wives ; lest you should use them intola erably ill : but it was not so from the beginning.

And in the house where he lodged, his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he says to them, I tell you (as I formerly did) Whosoever shall dismiss his wife, except it be fort adultery and shall marry another, commits adultery against her that was his former wife : and he that shall marry her that is dismissed, commits adultery. And if a woman shall put away her husband and be married to ano. ther man, she also commits adultery.-Then his disciples say unto him, If this be the case between a man and his wife, it is not expedient to marry. But he said to them, All men cannot receive this saying, but they to whom it is given. For as there are some who are born o enuchs, and there are some made such by the wickedness of ment, there are some also who have as it were made themselves (such) on account of the kingdom of heaven, having conquered the propensities of nature to be free from incumbrances, that they might promote the interest of my gospel. He therefore that is able to receive this saying, let him receive it. Let him choose a single life, who is in his own con. science persuadedıhat he can therein most glorify God.

* Adam being taught by a revelation so to say, when the woman was first brought to him, this may be looked upon as a divine testimony, Gen. ii. 14,

+ See Note (1) page 80.

I Referring to that scandalous traffic which the luxury and effeminacy of the East has rendered so common. [By a small liberty taken here, this passage is rendered less indelicate.]

REFLECTIONS. From what we have been reading we may justly take occasion to adore the wisdom and goodness of divine Providence in creating the human species male and female, and providing for his new formed creature Adam so suitable and so amiable a companion, to enliven every other object of delight, and to crown the pleasures of paradise itself. Let us also acknowledge the apparent interposition of a wise and kind providence in maintaining such a proportion between the sexes, even to this day, which so apparently tends to the benefit of both, as well as to the support of the race in future ages; as also in perpetuating in their hearts through succeeding generations that mutual tenderness for each other which the purest bosoms inay feel and avow, and which is the foundation of such an union of souls as no other friendship will admit.

Let those who are married, considering the indissoluble bond by which God has joined them together, make it their constant care to promote the comfort and happiness of each other : and let them most cautiously guard against every degree of contention, or even of distaste, which might at length occasion an alienation in their affections, and render so close a bond proportionably grievous.--Let none rashly run into these important engagements, nor determine their choice by light considerations, of a low and transitory nature. And if any, on the whole, prefer the freedom of a single life to a state which, with its peculiar comforts, must necessarily have its peculiar cares and trials too, let them diligently improve that disengagement, as an obligation to seek the kingdom of God with greater ardour, and to pursue its interests with more active zeal and application. To conclude ; since it appears in this respect, as well as in some others, that the gospel revokes some indulgences which the law of Moses gave, let us endeavour to form our hearts by divine grace to a wisdom, seriousness, and spirituality, which may suit this robler dispensation ; and while wc are reading the precept of the Jewish legislator, let us remember we have a sublimer Master, and are to do and forbear more than others.

SECTION CXXXVI. Christ blesses the little children that were brought to him, and rebukes

his disciples who would have forbid them.-MATT. xix. 13-15. MARX X. 13-16. LUKE xviii. 15–17.

A ND while Jesus continued here they brought to him infants and 71 young children, that he might touch them, or say his hand upon them, and pray for them. And when his disciples saw it, they rebuked those that brought them apprehending them too troublesome. But Jesus seeing it, was greatly displeased, and said to them, Let the little children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to me: for of such* is the kingdom of God. I say unto you, Whosoever shall not

* I cannot approve of renilering told?ery such as resemble these. I acknowledge this text will not of itself prove Infant-baptism to be an institution of Christ. [But an argument may be drawn from hence in favour of it.] VOL. I.

ff

receive the kingdom of God, the Gospel disficnsation and the blessings il promises, as a little child, with humility and meekness, simplicity and teachableness, he shall not in any wise enter into it. And having called them to him, ordering the infants to be brought, he tock them up in his arms, laid his hands upon them, and blessed them; recommending them to the divine Olessing and favour. And he departed from thence to another place in the neighbourhood.

REFLECTIONS. Let us make a pause here, that we may more attentively review this delightful and instructive sight ; that we may see this compassionate Sh pheril of Israel thus gathering the lambs in his arms, and carrying them in his bosom with all the tokens of tender regard, rebuking his disciples who forbade their coming, and laying his gracious hands upon them to bless them. How condescending and engaging a behaviour ! how encouraging and amiable an image!-Let his ministers view it, to teach them a becoming regard to the lambs of their flock, who should early be taken notice of and instructed ; and for and with whom they should frequently frray ; remembering how often divine grace takes possession of the heart in the years of infancy, and sanctifies the children of God almost from the womb. Let every first impression made upon their tender minds be cherished ; and let not those whom Christ himself is ready to receive be disregarded by his servants, who upon all occasions should be gentle unto all, and apt to teach. · Let Parents view this sight with pleasure and thankfulness : let it enceurage them to bring their children to Christ by faith, and to commit them to him in baptism, and by prayer. And if he who has the keys of death and the unseen world see fit to remove those dear creatures from us in their early days, let the remembrance of this story comfort us, and teach us to hope that he who so. graciously receive ed these children has not forgotten curs, but that they are sweetly fullen asicen in him, and will be the everlasting objects of his care and love; for of such is the kingdom of God."

Let Children especially observe this. The great and glorious Redeemer did not desfiise these little ones ; nay, he was much displeased with those who would have prevented their being brought to him. As kindly would he, no doubt, have received you, ye dear children, who read or hear this; as kindly will he still receive you, if you go to him in the sincerity of your hearts, and ask his blessing in humble and earnest prayer. Though you see not Christs he sees and hears you; he is now present with you, to receive you, to bless you, and to save you. Happy the weakest of you when lodged in the arms of Christ ! nothing can pluck you from thence, or ever hurt you there. In a word, let us all commit ourselves to him ; and let us be disposed to become as little children, if we desire to enter into his kingdom. Let us not govern ourselves by the vain maxims of a corrupt and degenerate age. Let not pride, ambition, lust, or avarice, possess, torment, and enslave our minds ; but, with the amiable simplicity of children, let us put ourselves into the wise and kind hands of Jesus, as our Guardian, and refer ourselves to his pastoral and parental care, to be clothed and fed, to be guided and disposed of, as he shall see fit. For this purpose, O God, may we be born again by the Spirit, and formed anew by thy grace! since by this method alone we can be made meei to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, and be so the children of God, as to be at length the children of the resurrection,

SECTION CXXXVII.

A rich young ruler applies to Christ for direction in the way to eternal life,

but parts with him out of regard to his possessions. Matt. xix. 16, &c. Mark X: 17–31. LUKE xviii. 18-30.

AND as he went out into the way, behold there came* a certain rich

A young magistrate, running ; and kneeling down to him he asked him saying, Good mastert, What good thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said to him, Why dost thou call me good ? None is good but one, even God. But if thou art determined to enter into life, keep the commandments. He says to him, Which? Jesus said, Thou knowest the commandments. " Thou shalt not kill: thou 6 shalt not commit adultery: thou shalt not steal : thou shalt not “ bear false witness: thou shalt not defraud nor covet : honour thy “ father and thy mother : and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy« self.” And the young man (not apprehending the extent and spirit. ual meaning of these precepts) replied and said to him, Master, I have observed all these from my infancy ; What do I further need? And Jesus, r when he heard these things, looking stedfastly upon him, loved him : felt the emotions of complacency mingled with compassion, and said unto him, One thing tirou still wantest : if thou wilt be perfect, go thy way, sell all thy possessions, and distribute the money to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven ; and come take up the cross and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he was troubled, and went away in great sorrow, for he was very rich, and had great possessions. And when Jesus saw that he was sorrowful to think of parting with his estate, he looked round about, and said to his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! Verily I say unto you, that a rich man will hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answering again, says to them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in Their riches (as the generality do) to enter into the kingdom of God. I say to you agair, It is easier for a camelt to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And

* MARK “ one."

† This was a title which the Jewish Rabbies affected, which might be one. reason for our Lord's remark.

Theophylact and others, for ropy now read nopidon, which they explain of a cable-rope. Others assert that there was near Jerusalem a low gate called the needle's eye. But the proverbial expression, as commonly understood, is agreeable to the eastern taste.

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