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anointing him with the Holy Ghost and with "power," as the legal ministers were anointed with oil. And that no doubt might remain, the appearance was farther explained by "a voice from hea"ven," saying, "This is my beloved son, in whom "I am well pleased." Such are the blessings which, in effect, do always attend the divine sacraments, when duly administered, with prayer. For then the heavens are opened, and the Spirit is given, to conform us to the image of a meek and holy Saviour, and, through him, to make us acceptable in the sight of God.


Considerations on the Testimony borne by St. John, at different Times, to the Messiahship of Jesus.

WHEN a servant of God, through the power of divine grace, hath made some proficiency in holiness, and seeth the world and the flesh under his feet, it is not uncommon for his third enemy, the devil, to set upon him, and prevail over him, by puffing him up with a conceit of his own excellency, and so rendering his very attainments an occasion of his falling. The hurt which a man receives, in such a case, is proportionable to the height from which he falls; as

Acts, x. 38.


hell was first prepared for the tempter himself, because he fell from heaven.

It is not, therefore, the least conspicuous part of St. John's character, that a sanctity so extraordinary was not in him accompanied with any degree of pride, a worm which often cankers the fairest fruitsthat grow in the garden of God. He heard bis own praise echoed from every quarter, and "all men," struck with admiration at what was about to happen, "mused in their hearts concerning him, whether he "was the Christ." Nay, the Sanhedrim, that they might be resolved in so important a point, sent a formal deputation of "priests and Levites from Jerusalem, to inquire of him; Who art thou." As the Baptist was, at that time, in high repute among his countrymen, and as secular designs are sometimes covered with spiritual pretences, it is not impossible, but that they might hope to flatter him into an acknowledgeinent of his being "some great one, and to frame of him a Messiah adapted to their purposes. But John was neither ambitious of an honour which did not belong to him, nor ashamed of a Master, who was about to appear in the form of a servant. He took no glory to himself, but remitted it all where he knew it to be due. "He confessed, " and denied not, but confessed, I am not the Christ. "And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias ?" that is, Elijah the Tishbite, whom they expected from heaven! "And he saith, I am not." "Art "thou O оs, the prophet," meaning probably


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"Jeremias, or one of the prophets," whom as it appears by Matt. xvi. 14. the Jews looked for to arise from the dead. "And he answered, No."

To all these inquiries, made by the priests and Levites deputed from the Sanhedrim, St. John returned answers which were true, but concise as possible, that they might take no advantage of his words, being aware that they grew envious of his fame, jealous for their own authority, and fearful. of a Messiah, who would not answer their hopes, by gratifying their avarice and ambition. "Then said

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they to him, Who art thou, that we may give an "answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of

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thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in "the wilderness, Make straight the way of the "Lord, as said the prophet Esaias." This was informing them plainly enough, that the prophecies were soon to be accomplished by the manifestation of Messiah; and that repentance, according to his doctrine, and baptism, was the only preparation fit and necessary to be made for the reception of their King.

"They who were sent were of the Pharisees," and consequently could not relish tidings which put an end to all their schemes of temporal dominion and earthly grandeur, inculcating, instead of them, the duties of mortification and self-denial. This

was not their system; and many, in every age since, have been of the same opinion, not caring to receive Christ, unless he came to them with the world in his hand. Finding, therefore, that John had no vanity to be worked upon, they had recourse to other

measures, and began to dispute his commission to baptize; "They asked him, and said unto him,


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Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?"

St. John's reply shows his own humility, and, at the same time, bears testimony to the dignity of Jesus. "I indeed baptize you with water;" my baptism, like my preaching, is preparatory only, leading to another baptism of the Spirit, which shall cleanse the souls of penitents from every thing that defileth, through faith in Messiah and his heavenly doctrine. And this Messiah is not afar off, as you may imagine him to be; "there standeth one among

you, whom ye know not;" he appears like other men, lowly, unattended, undistinguished; he doth not, as yet, think proper to manifest his power and glory; but hereafter you will find him to be far other than he scems. As to myself, of whom some are pleased to entertain a high opinion, I am nothing: "This is "he, who, coming after me, is preferred before me," as much as the greatest master is preferred before the meanest of his servants, who is deemed unworthy to perform the least office about his person; "the "latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to un"loose." This testimony did St. John give to the Saviour of the world, in the audience of the priests, and Levites, and the people, "at Bethabara beyond "Jordan, where he was baptizing." Intent upon humbling himself, that his great Lord and Master might be exalted, he declared himself a messenger only, sent to prepare his way; and every thing in him, and about him, spoke the same language.

"The next day," an opportunity offered itself of pointing out the person of Jesus to the people; "John seeth Jesus coming unto him," probably to acknowledge him as his friend, relation, and precursor; "and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, "which taketh away the sin of the world:" Behold that blessed person prefigured in the law, and foretold by the prophets; one that is all meekness and innocence, patience and resignation, without offence in his mouth, without guile or malice in his heart, without spot or blemish in soul or body; the Lamb, which Abraham told his son Isaac, that God would in time provide; the Lamb, by the sprinkling of whose blood, true Israelites are preserved from the destroyer; the sacrifice, on which are laid the iniquities of us all; the Saviour, who, by expiating, taketh away the sin of the world, and conferreth righteousness on them that will believe in him, and accept it from him, being conformed to his example of meekness and lowliness. This, O all ye that behold him, "this is he of whom I said, After me "cometh a man which is preferred before me, for "he was," he existed, "ages before me," even from the beginning; he is fairer than the children of men, full of grace and truth; of divine glory, and celestial beauty.

To guard against any suspicion of collusion" between two persons, who, as relations, might be

See the impossibility of any such collusion fully demonstrated by the reverend Mr. Bell, in his exact and elaborate Inquiry into the Divine Missions of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.

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