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Chap. i. ver. 1-8.
THE OFFICE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.
1. The beginning of the gospel
In Judea, seventeen, or eighteen hundred years ago; and at all times, and in all places to the end of the world. To every one of us now, when we are laid low enough in our own eyes to seek after Jesus Christ, know our own want of him, and that we must be undone without him. Let us ask ourselves what progress we have made in the knowledge, love, and power of it?
"Of the gospel," viz. :-peace with God, forgiveness of sins, release from condemnation, acceptance to a state of sonship, and inheritance by Jesus Christ. What says the heart to all this?
1. Of Jesus Christ,
Let us not separate Jesus from Christ. He is Jesus, a Saviour, as the name imports; but then he is only so to those who receive him as the Christ, the Anointed of God, to be their king, priest, and prophet.
1. The Son of God;
Himself God, as the Son of man is a man; perfectly acquainted with the will of God, sent from him to declare it, and able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.-Lord, help the writer to speak concerning this blessed gospel of glad tidings, and you to receive it in love! Alas! what are we when we stand off from it in un
belief; think coldly of it,
prefer our own lost state in the world to it, or do not receive it into our hearts !
2. As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
The messenger and preacher of repentance. The way to Christ is through the doctrine of John the Baptist.
3. The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
Aloud to every man in the wilderness of sin, and the world.
3. Prepare ye the way of the Lord,
All the impediments to his coming, and presence in your souls, must be removed.-Do thou, O Lord, enable us to discover and remove them.
3. Make his paths straight.
The ways of all flesh are crooked before his coming.
4. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
Viz.-By Christ, for whom John prepared the way by his baptism of repentance. Repentance therefore is the way, and only the way, to Christ; as there is no coming to him without it, so it has no efficacy of itself for the remission of sins, without bringing us to Christ. How plain is this! Without repentance there is no remission. When did we see our sin, so as to be pricked in our hearts for it? When did we repent? When did we come to Christ for remission?
5. 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.
It is to be feared they did these things more in hypocrisy than from the heart. Outward baptism, and the confession of the lips, are easy things, but the truth of repentance, and inward cleansing, are painful work.
6. 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; His habit and manner of living were suitable to his preaching.
7. 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.
Without whom John's baptism, preaching, and exhortations, would be of no effect; repentance not being available to pardon, but through him. He works, that which both he and I preach, viz. repentance; and also faith, and newness of life, by baptizing with the Spirit. Let him come in his might to us, let us expect it, pray for it, and assure ourselves that nothing less than the grace and power of his Godhead can be our remedy.
8. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
The meaning is, he must, it is his prerogative, the peculiar glory of his dispensation, and our great happiness under him. If we stop short of this baptism, we lose all faith, love, and obedience, and do not know him in the very thing which makes him greater than John the Baptist, or all that went before him.
Chap. i. ver. 9-15.
THE BAPTISM, TEMPTATION, AND PREACHING OF
9. And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
Jesus needed not baptism unto repentance for himself; but being in the place of sinners, to show what was necessary to them.
10. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him :
The same happens to all who are rightly baptized, though they do not see it. But our infant baptism will be lost, if we do not take it upon ourselves, and answer the end of it in ourselves.*
11. And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
And for his sake, with all who are in him by faith.
12. And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilder
He drove him into the wilderness that he might undergo all trials, to perfect his obedience as our pattern. This was a state of great humiliation. Let the children of God look for trials. Christ was their pattern herein. Let them not fear; for they too have angels ministering to them.
13. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan;
* A pen is run over this sentence, and the words, "Never to depart till they force him from them," inserted after baptised: the ink is not the same, I think the hand is.-Ed.