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and it is to this principle perhaps that the latter alludes, when he prefaces his narrative by saying, “ Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses.” St. John's Gospel requires a different view, which need not be here discussed.
It will be found however, as we proceed through St. Mark's Gospel, that although it contains in itself enough to preserve the connection of our Lord's teaching, still much light may be gathered from statements omitted by him and recorded by the others.
The plan of reading his Gospel will be simply this—to distribute each chapter into portions according to the various topics embraced by it; and to follow up each portion with some explanatory remarks.
In adopting the established division of the Bible into chapter and verse, it may be necessary to caution some few against supposing that this division is essential to the genuine character of the Scriptures, or that it was originally used. It was introduced in a comparatively late period of the Church, for convenience in reading and referring; and on this ground only it is now retained. It is, on the whole, a good and useful arrangement, although it will be found occasionally to interfere with the course of an argument, or the thread of an historical statement.
The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
In what sense the Gospel begins with the baptism of Jesus has been noticed in the introductory remarks. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, in the meaning in which St. Mark here employs the phrase, is his ministry, or the glad tidings proclaimed by him. Accordingly, a little further in this first chapter, our Lord is represented, immediately after his baptism and temptation, as preaching the Gospel, and saying, “ the kingdom of God is at hand."
Gospel is an old Saxon word meaning “good news ;” and the title of good news appears to have been affixed to the message
of God to man in Christ, by the angel who said to the shepherds of Bethlehem on the night of the nativity, “I bring you good tidings of great joy."
c Luke ii. 10.
It is not however uniformly employed in the same sense. Sometimes it is used for the whole of Christianity; sometimes, as in this passage, for our Lord's ministry.
JOHN THE BAPTIST'S OFFICE.
Ver. 2-8. As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judæa, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; and preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water : but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
It will be observed that the Jews very readily flocked to John. It is said that “ all the land of Judæa, and they of Jerusalem, went out to him." All Judæa knew that the time specified by the prophets for the Messiah’s appearance was come; and were ready to listen to any per
son who should present himself either as the Messiah, or as Elias, whom they expected to precede the Messiah, agreeably to the prophecy of Malachi.
Two circumstances respecting John are noticed by St. Mark-his dress and habits of lifehis testimony to Jesus.
As Elias, in whose “ spirit and power” he came, lived much in the wilderness, and was often secluded from public notice, this circumstance in the life of John was probably intended to direct the attention of the Jews to him as the person in whom Malachi's prophecy was fulfilled. Malachi had said that “ Elias should come before the great and terrible day of the Lord,” meaning thereby the Elias of the new dispensation, the great prophet of the latter days; even as we should speak of any very distinguished living admiral, as the Nelson of his age. Now John wrought no miracles, and made no assertion respecting his claim to be the Elias. It was the more needful therefore, that even the minutest points of coincidence between Elijah and him should have been brought under notice. If the
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