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4 And the same John had his rusalem, and all Judea, and all raiment of camel's hair, and a the region round about Jordan, leathern girdle about his loins : 6 And were baptized of him and his meat was locusts and in Jordan, confessing their sins. wild honey
7 But when he saw many 5 Then went out to him Je- of the Pharisees and Sadducees
4. Cumel's hair. The hair of the Judea. || Judea. See on 3: 1. || Jorcamel, which was shed every year, dan ; the river so named. By inspectwas manufactured into a coarse cloth, ing the Map, it will be seen that the which constituted the clothing of the Jordan is the principal river of Palespoorer class of people. In Zech. 13: tine. It rises in the northern part of 4, there seems to be an intimation that the country, and pursues a southerly dress of an inferior quality was usual course, with various windings, till it among the ancient prophets. || Leath- empties into the Dead Sea. || The ern girdle. Such a girdle" Elijah region round about Jordan; the counwore. 2 Kings 1:8. The dress worn try lying along the Jordan, on each at that time was loose and flowing; side. The meaning of the sacred and when persons went abroad, they writer, in the whole verse, is, that used a girdle, which was bound great multitudes from the several around the loins. The girdle made places mentioned, repaired to John; of leather was an ordinary one. It not that every individual from all was sometimes made of cotton, some- these places went; just as we say, times of silk. || Meat. This word, the whole world knows some particunow applied solely to animal food, lar thing, when we mean that it is a was formerly of more general signifi- matter of common notoriety ; or, the cation, like the word food. || Locusts. whole city was in commotion, when In Eastern countries, locusts are roast- we mean. that multitudes of the citied, and sometimes boiled, for the use zens were excited. of the common people. They are 6. In Jordan ; that is, more propersalted and preserved, and used as oc- ly, and more strictly in accordance casion requires. The inhabitants of with the original, in the Jordan. || ConPalestine, as well as the other Orien- fessing their sins. John required retals, have always been accustomed to pentance in those who would be bapmake several species of the locust an lized by him. See v. 8. Hence, in article of food. See Lev. 11: 22. Mark 1: 4, he is said to have preached || Wild honey. This was probably not the baptism of repentance,” that is, the honey of bees, but what is called baptism, which implied repentance on honey-devo - a sweet substance, found the part of the persons baptized, and very plentifully on the leaves of trees which was a special method of acin some Oriental countries.
knowledging their repentance. ConThus, both in regard to clothing sequently, confession of sin was reand to food, John lived in an auştere quired. Those who were baptized by and self-denying manner; using such John, were understood, by that act, food and clothing as were compara- to indicate themselves as penitents, tively mean and easily procured. professing to enter on a new life, Compare Matt. 11:8–18. Notice and thus to be preparing for the Meshere, that an exterior garb of poverty siah. may be consistent with rare excel. 7. Pharisecs and Sadducees. These lence in the sight of God. Compare were the two principal sects among v. 4 with Matt. 11:11.
the Jews in the time of John and of 5. Jerusalem; the metropolis of the Jesus. For an account of them, see Jewish nation, situated, as the Map the INTRODUCTORY Explanations, at shows, in that part of the land called the beginning of this work, III. 1 come to his baptism, he said 9 And think not to say withunto them, generation of in yourselves, We have Abravipers, who hath warned you ham to our father : for I say to flee from the wrath to come? unto you, that God is able of
8 Bring forth therefore fruits these stones to raise up chilmeet for repentance :
dren unto Abraham.
and 2. page xv. It may here be ob- ed that a messenger would precede served, that they were men of dis- the Messiah, in order to effect a gentinction, expecting the Messiah, in eral reformation, he made it distinctly common with the great body of the known, that, unless such a reformation nation. As the people in general as was adapted to the Messiah's obwere attracted towards John, and ject should take place, God would many were receiving baptism from smite the people with a curse. him in reference to the coming of the 8. Fruits. This word, as applied Messiah, they too, doubtless from to men, is equivalent to the term conwrong motives, such as a love of duct or course of life. | Meet for repopularity, and a wish not to lose pentance ; consistent with repentance, their hold upon the people, requested or suited to repentance. Let your baptisin. John, discerning their du- lives henceforth be such as will be plicity, and struck with the inconsis-consistent with repentance, and suitatency of such men as they, who ble for persons who profess reformaprided themselves upon their superior tion of heart and life. John presanctity, seeking admission to an or- scribes the same rule which the dinance which spoke of sin, and re- Saviour afterwards so distinctly mainpentance, and confession, promptly tained (Matt. 7: 20)—By their fruits declined their request. Il Generation ye shall know them. Let us never of vipers ; offspring of vipers. The forget, that a merely external profesviper was a figure of a hypocritical sion of piety is utterly valueless. and injurious man. See Matt. 12: 34. 9. Think not to say; that is, Say 23:33. These men made great pre. not. A similar manner of speaking tensions to piety, but they were really is found, in the original, in Mark 10: destitute of piety, and were injurious 42—"they which are accounted to to the people. || Who hath warned rule ;” which thought is expressed you? You, who "make such profes- in Matt. 20: 25, by the term “the sions of strict piety, and so rigidly princes," that is, those who rule. enforce obedience upon others, who | || Abraham to our father ; Abraham for, has undertaken to warn you ? Have or as, our father. The Jews, espeyou come hither, under the influence cially the Pharisees, placed great reof such warning, to amend your lives, liance on their being descended from and to seek deliverance from the pun- Abraham. They regarded it as alishment due to sinners? Or have most a matter of course, that they, as yoy come in a hypocritical manner, children of Abraham, possessed the seeking to maintain your reputation favor of God, and would enjoy the among the people, while yet you blessings of the Messiah's administra feel not your need of repentance ? tion. The ground of acceptance they 1. The wrath to come ; the punishment considered to be, the merits of Abra with which the sins of the people ham, circumcision, and the offering were to be visited. The expression of sacrifices. || Of these stones. John is general, and includes whatever endeavored to correct the erroneous iniseries should befall the people in notions which were so current, and consequence of their sins, both in to show that natural descent' does this world and in the world to come. not communicate good desert, and When Malachi (4:5, 6) had predict- I cannot be of avail as to acquiring an
10 And now also the axe is eth not forth good fruit, is hewn laid unto the root of the trees: down, and cast into the fire. therefore every tree which bring- 11 I indeed baptize you with interest in the blessings of the new tize in water, as in the phrase They dispensation. Descent from Abraham were baptized in the Jordan; and the was hereafter to be regarded as of little same impropriety in saying baptize importance; personal repentance was with water, as in saying baptize with demanded. God was not dependent the Jordan. || Unto repentance; as if on the Jews for acquiring suitable he had said, The baptism which I adsubjects for the Messiah's reign ; the minister, implies a profession of remost unlikely materials he could pentance, an acknowledgment of your mould, so as to answer his purposes. being sinners, and of your obligation The very stones on the Jordan's bank, and determination to reform your he could transform, if he saw fit, into hearts and lives. Those who receive human beings, possessing characters baptism from me, are, by that act, like Abraham's.
marked as persons professing hearty 10. Is laid unto the root; lies at the reformation, and thus waiting for the root, ready for use. In the Messiah's coming Messiah. Such is the nature reign, regard is paid to the real char- of my office.-A proper view of John's acters of men, not to outward dis- office must at once have shown these tinctions. The same principles which impenitent Pharisees and Sadducees, an owner of trees applies to them, that they were not fit subjects for his are applied to men. Trees which baptism. The language of John, I produce not good fruit, and are, there- baptize you, does not imply that he fore, useless to the proprietor, are cut had baptized the Pharisees, and all down and burnt up. So, in the Mes- others whom he was addressing. Insiah’s dispensation, there is a dis- deed his remarks clearly imply the crimination according to character. contrary; this also appears from Luke To belong to this dispensation, in re- 7:30. His use of the word you must spect to its distinguishing benefits, is be explained by referring to the lanan individual matter, not a national guage of ordinary life. In address
Decisions are made now ac- ing a collection of people, such an cording to personal character. The expression would be understood as allusion to useless fruit-trees being meaning, those of you whom I baptize, cut down and used for fuel, would &c. || Unto repentance; that is, in be strongly felt in Palestine, where reference to repentance, as professing was very little spare land, and every the obligation to repentance and the foot was needed for profitable culti- exercise of it. vation. See Luke 13:6-9. || Cast John, having thus explicitly deinto the fire. As applied to men, this clared the nature and extent of his expression necessarily denotes rejec- office, proceeds to make known, with tion and being doomed to misery. Let equal explicitness, the superior digthe solemn admonition of John im- nity of the great Lord of the new press us deeply with the sentiment, dispensation, whose servant he did that the piety of our ancestors, or of not feel himself worthy to be. || He our relatives, will not avail for our sal- that cometh after me ; that is, the vation. Personal piety is required. Messiah, whose approach John an
11. With water. The translation nounced. The whole of John's teachin water would be more in accord- ing, and his proclaiming of “the ance with the original. The prepo- kingdom of heaven," or the reign of sition employed is precisely the same the Messiah, would make this exas is used in the sixth verse, and pression well understood. || Mightier there translated in. There is the ihan I; of greater authority and pow. same propriety in the phrase I bap- er. || Whose shoes, &c.; sandals,
water unto repentance: but he not worthy to bear: he shall that cometh after me is mighti- baptize you with the Holy Ghost, er than I, whose shoes I am and with fire : probably, coverings for the bottom of the Holy Spirit. By the Holy Spirit, the feet, bound around the feet with we are here to understand those dileather straps. As stockings were vine influences which were so abunnot worn, the feet would become dantly imparted to the first Christians, soiled; and when persons entered a making them truly of one heart, fill house, the sandals were taken off and ing them with spiritual consolation, laid aside, so that the feet might be and enabling them, by pious example, washed. This was the office of the and, in many instances, by miraculowest servants. John, then, by say- lous operations, to stand forth as witing I am not worthy to bear [to carry nesses for the truth of Christianity, away] his sandals, conveyed this and preparing them for the glories of idea - I am not worthy to be the most heaven. By a reference to the pasmenial servant to so distinguished a sages which speak of this baptism, or personage as the Messiah. The evan- immersion, in the Holy Spirit, what gelist Mark (1 : 7) varies slightly the has now been stated as drawn from form of expression, yet retains the the meaning of the terms, will be same idea.
|| He shall baptize you confirmed. In Acts 1: 5, the remark with the Holy Ghost. The term Holy occurs, “ John truly baptized with Spirit is preferable to the term Holy water, but ye shall be baptized with Ghost, as the word ghost is attended the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” with unpleasant associations in many The fulfilment of this promise we minds. The word translated with find in the second chapter of Acts, would be better rendered in; it is the vs. 2, 4, 17, 18, 33, 38. A most cosame word, in the original, as is used pious imparting of the Holy Spirit's in the beginning of this verse, and as influence was granted, giving new is translated in, in the sixth verse. light and courage to the apostles, and But what is it to baptize in the Holy enabling them to speak with other Spirit? This expression, which has tongues," that is, in other languages occasioned so much difficulty, would than their own. Thus were they be rendered in a great measure clear, baptized (immersed] in the influences by referring to the radical meaning of the Holy Spirit. In other words, of the Greek word corresponding to abundant influences of the Holy Spirit our word baptize. Light would also were shed forth upon them, so that be shed on other passages, if the word they might be said to have been surbaptize, in translating, were used rounded by those influences. only in those places which relate to In Acts 11: 16, again occurs the the ordinance of baptism, and the same declaration of Jesus as we find original meaning of the word were in Acts 1: 5-6 Then remembered I expressed by a corresponding word the word of the Lord, how that he in other places; or if the primary said, John indeed baptized with [in] meaning of the word were kept dis- water; but ye shall be baptized with tinctly in view. The primary, radical [immersed in) the Holy Spirit.” Im. meaning of this word in the original mediately before this declaration, and is, to dip, to immerse. As intimately as reminding of what the Lord had connected with this primary mean- said, it is stated, that when Peter ing, the word also expresses the idea began to speak to Cornelius and his of a most copious imparting, inasmuch company, * the Holy Spirit fell on as one who is immersed in a fluid, most them as on us at the beginning." copiously partakes of it. To be im- The imparting, then, of the Holy mersed in the Holy Spirit, then, is to Spirit, on this occasion, was the receive a most copious imparting of same as baptizing in the Holy Spirit. 12 Whose fan is in his hand, / into the garner; but he will and he will thoroughly purge burn up the chaff with unhis floor, and gather his wheat quenchable fire. If, now, we turn to Acts 10: 44–47, baptize those who professed repentwe shall find that when “ the Holy ance, as a preparation for the MessiSpirit fell on all them that heard the ah, whose coming he announced. word” from Peter, they spoke “ with But soon the great Lord of the new tongues,” that is, in other languages, dispensation would appear, and that - and magnified God” - a striking with far greater authority than he similarity to what occurred on the possessed; he would come with powday of Pentecost; and clearly show- er to bestow the rewards, and to ining, that to be baptized in the Holy flict the punishments, appropriate to Ghost is, to enjoy a most copious the new dispensation; and, as the communication of divine influence. result of his coming, on some would
There is another passage, which be most copiously shed tokens of may be brought into comparison with divine favor, while on others would those already produced. It is in 1 be most copiously poured tokens of Cor. 12: 13. “For by one Spirit are divine indignation. we all baptized into one body;” the A similar instance of contrast, in idea of which words seems to be, respect to the Messiah, though in less that, by our copious partaking of forcible language, occurs in Luke 2: divine influences, we have become 34 : “ This child is set for the fall and closely united together, whatever the rising again of many in Israel : may be our outward distinctions. that is, he will prove an occasion for Here, no allusion is made to the be- the ruin of many, and for the exalted stowal of miraculous gifts, but to bliss of many, in Israel. mutual love, and to the mutual par- 12. In still further urging this ticipation of the blissful hope which thought of separation, as to destiny, the gospel inspires.
between the righteous and the wicked, He will baptize you in the Holy John draws an illustration from the Spirit, then, means, he will most copi- operations of husbandry, with which ously impart divine influences, which his hearers were familiar. In the will be connected with signal bliss Eastern countries, the grain, when on earth, and lead to most distin- ripe, is deposited upon the threshing guished bliss in heaven. And with floor, and, after being trodden by fire; he will baptize you with fire; cattle, or beaten out, is by the winthat is, he will immerse you in fire. nowing fan separated from the chaff. And what is the meaning of this ex. The pure kernels, separated from pression. In the verse immediately the useless mass, are laid up in the before this, and in the verse imme. granary; the chaff and the stubdiately after it, the word fire occurs, ble are committed to the flames. as meaning extreme misery. The A similar award will be made by word in this verse, then, most natu- the Messiah. Discriminating berally has the same signification. In tween the characters of men, and other places, fire is used as an em- administering with perfect rectitude blem of punishment. See Matt. 25: the affairs of the divine kingdom, 41. Jude 7. Rev. 20 : 14, 15. 21:8. he will welcome some to bliss, and Mal. 4:1. To be immersed in fire, consign others to remediless woe. then, is to be overwhelmed with See Matt. 25 : 31–46. Fun; winmisery. The verse thus presents an nowing fan, or shovel, by which affecting contrast. John declares, the grain, mingled with chaff, was that he himself had a comparatively exposed to the wind, so that the inferior work to perform; namely, to chaff was blown away. | Thoroughly call the people to repentance, and to I purge his floor; thoroughly clear off