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might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be
III. 4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. And the same John preached in those villages, which were scattered in the desert ; living in an austere and retired fashion; being clothed in an unusual, rough, neglected habit, and feeding on such homely and voluntary diet as that wild place would atford; that, by this strange manner of his life, the minds of men might be raised to a conceit of some extraordinary matter, both in his person and message.
III. 7, 8 O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance : () ye Pharisees and Saducees, who are rather venomous serpents than men, so full are ye of despight and wickedness; how comes it about, that ye are grown thus spiritually wise, to seek thus seasonably to avoid the wrath and judgments of God to come, by betaking yourselves to this holy institution of baptism, and washing in this sacred laver of regeneration? Who hath put this into your hearts? Can this be any other, but a motion of the Spirit of God, whose blessed suggestions, if ye would follow to purpose, See that your repentance be serious and effectual : do not content yourselves what this formal profession, but bring forth such fruits, both of good affections and of good works, as may be meet for true penitents, and as will necessarily flow from true grace wrought in the heart.
III. 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father : for 1 say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. Do not rest in this, or boast of it as an all-sufficient privilege, that Abraham is your father after the Hesh : the thank of this is God's, and not yours ; neither is this any more than the power of God is able to do for these very stones of the wilderness, of which he is no less able to make children unto Abrabam, than he was to make Adam of the clay, or Eve of his rib.
III. 10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees : therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Please not yourselves therefore with these pretences; but know, that now God intends take a severe and round course, with all the hypocritical and fruitless professors of his Name: grant that Abraham is your root, and that ye are sprung up from him; yet know, that God's judgment, like an axe, is now laid to you, to hew you down speedily, that ye may be cast into hell fire, if ye bring not forth good fruit, such as may beseem the trees that grow from such a root.
III. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance : but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear : he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. I indeed, as being a mere man, can only apply unto you the outward sign of baptism, which is a sacrament of repentance and spiritual regeneration ; and can go no further : but the great Messiah of the World, whose forerunner I am, and whose shoes I am not worthy to bear, hath a power infinitely above mine: he shall confer upon you the inward graces of his Spirit, which is of a purging and cleansing quality; and shall so work upon your souls, as the fire doth upon metals : which Spirit of bis, 'shall, on the day of Pentecost, descend upon your heads, in the forms of
III. 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner ; but will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. The Church of God is like a cornfloor, wherein there is not only wheat, but chaff, and straws, and dross, and much offal. The Messiah, whom I forerun, comes with a fan in his band, whereby he will cleause and purge bis Church, by the effectual and powerful preaching of his Gospel, which shall seal up the good unto everlasting life; so as they, like unto pure wheat, shall be by him set apart for the garner of heaven : while the wicked, as the chaff and soil of the floor, shall be swept up, and cast by him into unquenchable fire.
III. 15 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. It is not for thee, to stand upon these points of the excellency of my person, above thine, now at this time when my Baptism is in hand : do tbou readily yield to that, which I require of thee; as that, which God the Father hath willed, both me to undergo, and thee to perform : for thus it is fit for us to accomplish, in all due obedience, all that part of God's will which concerns us.
III. 16 And, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him, And there was a visible kind of opening in the heaven, as if the
curtain of the sky had been drawn; and a .glorious brightness shewed itself, as it were, above the firmament; and He, who had before received the Spirit, not by measure, now that he was to enter upon the execution of this work of man's redemption, He saw the Spirit of God descending upon him, in the form of a Dove, and lighting upon him ; as in a gracious and public attestation from heaven, of the designation and enabling of him to so great a work.
IV. 1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Then was Jesus moved by the Spirit of God, to go aside into the wilderness; that he might there enter the combat with the great enemy of man's salvation ; that so he might begin this great office in many and strong temptations.
IV. 4 It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. It is not the very material substance of bread, that can or doth maintain the life of man; but the blessing of God, giving power to that bread to nourish : neither is Almighty God tied to the ordinary means of bread, as if without that he could not sustain man's life; but he is able, by his infinite power, either to create new means, or to work without or against the means.
IV. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple. Then Jesus, that he might give all advantage to the challenges of Satan, suffered himself to be led to Jerusalem, and to be set upon a high pinnacle of the temple.
IV. 7 Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. See Deut. vi. verse 16.
IV. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. And represented to his eye divers countries round about ; and, withal, represented to his imagination all the kingdoms of the world, and the magnificence and glory thereof, setting them forth in all their pomp, and pleasure, and royalty.
IV. 12 He departed into Galilee. He departed into the upper Galilee, which was out of Herod's dominions, called Galilee of the Gentiles.
IV. 15, 16 Gulilce of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness &c. See Isaiah ix. verses 1, 2. IV. 19 And he said unto them, Follow me, and I will make
you fishers of men. Follow me, and I will prefer you to a higher function : for, whereas now your trade is this toilsome fishing in the sea, I will advance you to that spiritual calling, wherein you shall take men instead of fishes; by the nets of wholesome doctrine, drawing them up out of the sea of the world, into the ship of my Church.
V. 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, And he composed himself to speak unto the multitude ; and taught them, saying,
V. 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit : for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessedness is the end ye all aim at; and that, which the most men are apt to mistake : ye are wont commonly to account them blessed, which abound with wealth, and honour, and pleasure ; and those, on the contrary, miserable, who are wanting in any of these : but I must teach you other doctrine : would therefore know who are truly blessed: howsoever then the world esteems them, they are blessed, who, being dejected by the hand of God, have learned to make a good use of his affliction, being thereby inwardly humbled under that mighty and just band; for God will recompense their want with abundance, their abasement with heavenly glory.
V. 4 Blessed are they that mourn : for they shall be comforted. And, whereas the world accounts none blessed but the merry and jovial, I tell you that they are blessed, who mourn for their sing, and are sadly affected whether with their own or others evils; for this sorrow shall end in joy and comfort.
V. 5 Blessed are the meek : for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the lowly and gentle, and patient and longsuffering; for God shall reward their humility, and meek and quiet disposition, with a comfortable fruition of these earthly blessings, and of better above.
V. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness : for they shall be filled. Blessed are they, who, when they have so moderated their appetite, that their desires are no other than just and equal, yet wait and languish under the forbearance' and want thereof, and do eagerly affect spiritual blessings; for God will find a time to satisfy their longing, and to fill them with all good things.
V. 13 Ye are the salt of the earth : but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted ? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye, my Apostles and Disciples, are unto the world as salt is to meat: without your Doctrine the world would be altogether unsavoury: consider therefore in what state ye are; the greater your use and service is, the more is your danger and judgment. Other things, when they have lost their savour, recover it by the virtue. of salt applied unto them; but if salt itself have lost the savour, what can be able to fetch it again ? Even so, ye serve to season the graceless hearts and lives of men, by your good doctrine and life; but if ye yourselves become graceless, what remedy can there be for you? Other things, when they have lost their nature and good qualities, yet even after their corruption may be useful for some purposes; but for salt, if that have once lost the savour, it is, it can be, good for nothing ; and therefore must necessarily be cast out, as utterly unprofitable. Even so it is with you, if ye shall degenerate from this holy calling, wherein ye are set.
V. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, &c. God hath not given unto you these stations or these graces, that ye should keep them to yourselves, and smother them in an obscure privacy; but that ye should bring them forth to the benefit of the world, and improve them to the direction and salvation of many, as men do not light a candle to hide it, &c.
V. 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the pro. phets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Because ye hear some doctrines from me, whereto your cars were not formerly inured, do not imagine or conceive, that I am come to make any innovation or change of that doctrine or holy covenant, that is contained in the law of Moses or the Prophets : no; it is so far from that, as that I am come to make good, and ratify, and perfect the same; in that by my Spirit I shall quicken the dead letter of the law, and really exhibit and perform that which was shadowed out by the figures of the law.
V. is For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tiltle shull' in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. For verily I say unto you, The truth of this law is firm, and stable, and inviolable : as soon shall the frame of heaven and earth be dissolved, as any the least part of the law shall miscarry and fall to the ground unfulfilled, or as the truth and equity of any clause of the moral law of God shall cease or be abrogated,
V. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least command. ments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever, therefore, shall break any one of these commandments, which in the opinion of men shall seem the very least and slightest, and shall either by example or doctrine draw men to a neglect or violation thereof, be shall justly be held unworthy to sustain any the meanest place or charge in the Church of God, under the Gospel; but, on the contrary, he, who both in life and doctrine shall set forth and commend this law of God to his people, that man shall be accounted worthy of great honour and respect in God's Church.
V. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in na çase enter into the kingdom of heaven. The Scribes and Pharisees take upon them to be the great masters of the law, and profess much rigorous austerity in their traditional observations; but, in the mean time, they place the breach and fulilling of the law in outward actions, and do by their false glosses corrupt the holy law of God: except therefore ye go fur, ther than they, both in the understanding and observing of this law, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.