ency of a mature piety. Why should they “strive or cry?” Why should their voice be heard in the streets, whose life has been sheltered under the shadow of the Most High, and nurtured into the peace and strength of habitual faith? There is in the deep, burning zeal of a saintly mind an intensity which the excitement of converts can never approach. Even in those peculiar graces which are thought to be the all-but exclusive property of penitents, the fervor, self-chastisement, resolution, entire devotion of their whole being to God, what is there to compare with the glowing charity, the vivid compunction, the perfect mortification, and absolute self-oblation of those that are early sanctified ? Great and blessed as are the graces and acts of penitents, they are but approximations to the sanctity which they might themselves have attained, had they preserved their baptismal life from soils and lapses. The very visibleness and loudness, I may say, of their religion betrays difficulty and effort. The movements of nature are easy and spontaneous, and though done without reflection, are more truly the acts of the whole being than those things which we do by rule, and thought, and with conscious preparation. In the one case it has become our own, in the other it is a borrowed nature. This is the ripe fruit of holy

a childhood; and to this every one that is born again may, in his measure, attain. The holiness of children is the very type of saintliness ; and the most perfect conversion is but a hard and distant return to the holiness of a child. Let us, then, lay to heart the great gift which has been bestowed upon us.

Our baptism was a change greater than any which can come on the sons of Adam, except death and the resurrection. Let us humble ourselves with plaints which cannot be uttered, for the sins, by deed and thought, which in childhood, boyhood, and youth, we have committed


against the grace of our regeneration. And though perhaps it may be now too late for us—though we cannot make what is done to be undone-though we cannot hope to be numbered among those who have never fallen from the favor of our heavenly Father, yet we may hope to have our lot in the regeneration among the order of penitents. For us, alas, the unconscious purity, the ripe wisdom, clear illumination, piercing insight, calm strength, meek inflexibility, the patience, the charity, the full, consistent, changeless perfection of the saints, is perhaps impossible. But let us, by prayers and labors, by word and by example, strive to rear up the elect of God, from their childhood, in the sanctity of Jesus Christ. Strive to make your homes to be

. holy, and your families to be households of saints. There is one great school of the regenerate, which is the Church, and one Master, the “Holy Child Jesus.” Under and through Him let us foster the children of His kingdom. And then who can say how broad and resplendent the note of sanctity may once more shine forth upon our tossed and distracted Church? what virtues of grace and truth may go forth from our spiritual sons to heal the springs of life throughout this fallen world?



St. Mart. iii. 13-15. " Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now : for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then He suffered Him."

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Of all the acts of our blessed Lord, there is hardly any which at first sight seems more difficult to explain than His submitting to be baptised. It was not like His circumcision, which was received in infancy by the care of His holy mother, and in accordance with the existing law of the Church; nor like His prayers and fastings, which are perpetual examples to us ; because the baptism of John was but for a time, and is now passed away. We shall nevertheless find that hardly any one of His acts contains deeper and more direct

for our imitation. It was certainly a strange and incomprehensible sight when He who was called the Son of God, who was born by the power of the Holy Ghost, drew nigh to receive from the hands of a man like ourselves the baptism of repentance. Well might St. John Baptist forbid Him, and say, “I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?"


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What could that baptism confer upon Him? or what part could He have in that baptism who could have no part in repentance ? Was it not an act of presumption in a man, albeit“ more than a prophet,” to administer the sacrament of penitence and cleansing to One that was without sin ? No doubt St. John shrank back with awe and fear, as well as humility and self-abasement. And Jesus said, “ Suffer it to be so now.” It is all well and in season, as hereafter

" it shall be seen : 66 for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” There was some law of His Father's kingdom to which therein he rendered His obedience, some deeper reason than appeared; for St. John then gave way: " then he suffered Him."

Now, in the first place, the baptism of our Lord was an act of obedience to the appointment of His Father. He was born under the law, and by circumcision He was brought into the elder covenant. He honored that law by a perfect submission to it throughout His whole life. Though greater than the law, and Lord of that very law, He obeyed it by observing all things which it enjoined on the obedience of others; as, for instance, the observance of the feasts and worship of the Temple, and the offerings which Moses commanded. When John was sent to baptize, a new appointment of God appeared. In that baptism, as before in the command of circumcision, the will of His Father was revealed. In receiving it He obeyed a divine precept. It was a part of holy obedience, which is most living and expressive when it is rendered to appointments in which the will of God alone is the reason of obeying. To the Holy One of God baptism was as needless as circumcision ; but in both the will of God was Yevealed from heaven, and in both the grace of holy obedience « fulfilled all righteousness."

Moreover it was not an act of obedience and submission alone, but also of humiliation. The baptism of John was emphatically the baptism of sinners. It was a baptism of cleansing unto repentance, that is, given to penitents as a means of perfecting their repentance. The Baptist stood by the river, surrounded by a multitude of sinners, publicans and harlots, “ confessing their sins.” Men and women of all characters, the most notorious and outcast, the reckless and unclean, pressed to him with “ violence,” to be washed of their impurities. The whole land seemed moved to give up its sinners to the discipline of repentance; the whole city poured out its evil-livers to this new and austere guide of penitents. “Then went out unto him Jerusalem, and all

6 Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” * It was an act of public humiliation to join Himself and to mingle in such a crowd ; to partake their shame; to seek the same cleansing, with all the circumstantials of repentånce. And at that time he was known only as “ the carpenter,” “ the son of Joseph.” He had wrought no miracles, exhibited no tokens of His Divine nature and mission. He was but as any other Israelite, and as one of a thousand sinners He came and received a sinner's baptism. This was a part of His humiliation.

And we may further observe, that the time of His baptism had been appointed as the time of His open manifestation as the Son of God. St. John was commissioned not only to prepare His way in the souls of men, but also to proclaim Him to be the Lamb of God. He says, “I knew Him not : but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven

* St. Matt. üi. 5,

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