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Baptist. First Miracle wrought by
by evinced the divinity of his mission, or, in the blessed Jesus.
other words, proverd that he was a teacher
come from God. But the melancholy soliVHE
thus com tude of a desart, and the anxiety of hunger plied with the institution of baptism, and thirst, were but a small part of our and received a most convincing testimony Saviour's sufferingsin the wilderness: Satan, of his heavenly Father's approbation, by the that implacable foe to mankind, was permiraculous descent and effusion of the Holy Initted to buffet him with the most insinuaGhost "upon him, while praying on the ting wiles, and assail him with the most allurbanks of Jordan, in the presence of a mula ing temptations, in order to attempt the titude of spectators, entered on his public defeat of heaven's most gracious designs, and ministry, at the age of thirty years, accord keep mankind under the dreadful dominion ing to the custom of the priests among
of sin and death. Jews.
The enemies of revelation have not failed It was apprehended by the people, that, to represent this eveut in a most ludicrous as he had just begun his public office, he manner ; if any, therefore, should demand would repair to Jerusalem, the seat of why God permitted his only Son, the Savipower and grandeur, in order to display to our of the world, to be temptedby the devil, the mighty and the learned, bis miraculous whose power was deemed to be restrained, abilities and effulgent glories.
we reply as follows: One cause of the
Redeemer's being suffered to be tempted, But, averse to buman parade, the hea was that he being personally acquainted : venly-minded Jesus preferred solitude to the with the wile's of Satan, might become a
voise and hurry of mortal life: he therefore faithful and compassionate high-priest, retired into the wilderness, in order to pre know how to succoúr his people in time of pare himself, by fasting, meditation, prayer, | adversity, and pity them when they fell into and sustaining temptation, for the important temptations. work on which he was entering, the salvation of mankind.
That in order to be a shining pattern of
every virtue, and also a wise and valiant To promote this grand design, the evan General, the blessed Redeemer underwent gelist writes, that this retirement into the all the difficulties and trials attending his wilderness was in consequence of the imme. service, that we being animated by his gloridiate direction of the divine Spirit. Though ous example, might not sink under the pressolitude itself is melancholy, the blessed Jesus sure and troubles which God, for our good, added to the disınal scene, by retiring on a should be pleased to lay upon us. barren spot, surrounded by high and craggy mountains, and forming a dark and gloomy The Saviour of the world hath not only chaos.
been exposed to poverty and ridicule, but
also to the most trying temptations of Satan ; In this wild and dreary situation the great that as the Captain of our salvation bas unRedeemer, as Moses and Elijah had done dergone the same, we ought not to faint before him, fasted forty days and forty nights, when we are tempted, but like bim, be maintained an incessant communion with able to withstand the fiery darts of the his heavenly Father, digested the doctrine he devil. was about to deliver, and the obedience he came to perform : and by a total abstinence
It Joubtiess appears bighly proper, in from food for forty days and forty nights, order that our blessed Lord and Master
might both enter upon, and prosecute his and requiring what was due to none but the ministry, with more glory to himsell, and Supreme, religious homage. This biasauxantage to mankind ; that he should pre phemy, as well as insolence, incited the viously overcome the most subtle arts of that blessed Jesus to exert his divine authority, deceiver, who, under the mask of a serpent, and command him in a peremptory mariner, seduced our first parents, and involved to desist, citing his special injunction from them and their posterity in one common sacred writ, 66 Thou shalt worship the Lord. ruin.
thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
Thus repelled, he repeated the attempt, and The peculiar devices used by the serpent to trepan the Son of God, during the time baving carried our Lord through the air
placed him on the pinnacle of a temple, and, of his fasting, are not recorded in holy by a taunt of insolence, urged him to prove writ, and consequently cannot be ascer the truth of bis mission, by casting himtained.
self down from thence, citing as an
couragement to comply with his desire, a But at the expiration of the forty days, text from the Psalms, « If thou be the Son when the blessed Jesus had endured the
of God, cast thyself down), for it is written, keepest hunger, the tempter, to make proof he shall give his angels charge concerning of the divinity of bis mission, insolently de
thee, and in their hands they shall bear tbee manded, why he bore the sensations of hun
up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot ger, since, if he was the Son of God, he | against a stone.” Matt. iv. 6. But our Savis must have power to change even the stones
our soon baffled this attempt, by another of that dreary wilderness into bread ; and
apt quotation from scripture, - Thou shalt by so marvellous a transınutation he might
not tempt the Lord thy God.” Matt. iv. 7. have the satisfaction of knowing the truth
Thou shalt not provoke the Lord, either by of what was said concerning hiin at his disobeying his continand, or by an impertibaptism?
nent curiosity, to know more concerning But our blessed Saviour repelled this de
bis mind and will, than he is pleased to
reveal. vice, by citing the words of Moses, wbich implied, that God, whenever it seemed good Thus bafiled in all his art and devices, by in his sight could, by extraordinary means, the wisdom and power of the Son of God, provide for the support of the human race. he departed from him for a season, and a “ Man shall not live by bread alone, but by host of celestial spirits, dispatched from the every word of God." Luke iv. 4.
regions of bliss, came and ministered re
freshment to him, after his victory over the Satan, being defeated in this effort, car great enemy and deceiver of mankind. ried him to the top of a very high mountain, and thinking to gain upon bis ambition,
Hence, notwithstanding the ridicule of shewed him a bright view of all the king
the infidel, Christians may derive great endoms of the world, with their alluring glo
couragement to fight manfully against the ries, promising him universal, empire over
flesh, the world, and the devil, under the tbe whole, if he would bow dow) and
banner of the great Captain of their salva. yield to him the honour of the benefac
tion, who is ever ready to supply them with tiou.
spiritual armour, to sustain the combut'with
that inveterate and subde foes whose deBut observe bis accursed pride and arro
vioes he has experienced, being in every gance in promising that which is the gift of
respect tempted like thein, God alone, universal empire over the earth ; During the time of our Saviour's retire
ment in the wilderness, his faithful harbin is actually upon earth, and among ye, though ger the Baptist, being assured, from the mi ye know him not, because he hath not maraculous descent of the Holy Spirit, and nifested himself upto the world. The other concurring testimovies, that Jesus was Messiah is so far exalted beyond me in the promised and long-expected Messia', power and dignity, that I am not worthy to continued publishing bis mission to the mul do bim the meanest offices. titude ; so that the rulers in Jerusalem received information of the surprising events The day after the departure of the priests that happened in Bethabara, beyond Jordan, and levites from Bethabara, our blessed Lord before they saw the blessed Jeus, in con left the wilderness, and repaired thither himfirmation of whose mission and doctrine they self, wbile John was yet baptizing and were effected.
preaching the doctrine of repentance. Prompted by curiosity, they dispatched a The Baptist, as his grand business was to deputation of priests and levites to the Bap direct all persons to the Messiah, for life tist, to demand of bim, who this wondrous and salvation, in and through him, emperson was? whether he was the Messiali, braced this seasonable opportunity of pointor Elias ; or that Prophet who was to rise ing him out to the multitude.
- Behold from the dead and precede the Messiah, the the Lamb of God, wbieb taketh a way the powerful Prince so earnestly expected by the sins of the world." Lest the attending whole nation of Israel.
crowd should surmise, that it had been pre
viously concerted between Jesus and John, The Baptist frankly replied, that he was that the former should assume, and the latter not the Messiab' whom they expected, nor give him the appellation of Messiah, he pubElias, who, as they rainly thought, would licly and solemnly declared, that he was personally appear amongst then, nor any equally with them ignowant of the pretenother prophet risen from the dead : but at sions of Jesus to that high character, till he the same time hinted to them, that though saw the miraculous descent of the Holy he was not Elias himself, yet he was that Ghost, and heard bim pronounced, in the person spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, and most awful manner, the Son of God. of whom he thus prophesied, “ The voice of “ And John bare record, saying, I saw the him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare Spirit descending from heaven, like a dove, ye the way of the Lord ; make straight and it abode upon him. And I knew him in the desart a highway for our God.” Isa. not : but he that sent me to baptize with xl. 3.
water, the same said unto me, Upon whom
thou shalt see the Spirit descending and reThe priests and levites, not sufficiently maining on him, the same is he which bap , gratified with this reply of the Baptist, de tizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, manded of him, why he assunied the power and bare record, that this is the Son of God.” of baptizing the people, if he was neither John i. 32, 33, 34. the Messiah, nor Elias, nor any of the ancient prophets risen from the dead? To this The Baptist having made this public dedemand Jubo answered, I indeed baptize, claration, the Messiah left Bet babara, but to shew the necessity of repentance, but my returned the day following; and John, hap. baptism is only that of water, and wholly pening to stand with two of his followers on ineffectual in itself to the remission of sins : the bank of the river Jordan, pointed to him but that washing, foretold by Zacharias, is as he passed, and in a pious rapture, reof most sovereign effect; it is not my pro peated what John had addressed to the mulsince, but solely that of the Messiab, who titude the preceding day, “Behold the
Lamb of God.” It is hence imagined, that Philip meeting with Nathaniel, an inhathese two disciples, or followers of the Bap- bitant of Cana, a town in Galilee, informed tist, were absent at the time of the Holy him of the actual coming of the long-expecGhost, and for that reason this method was ted Messiah, that great Deliverer of Israel, taken of pointing out to them the venerable spoken of by Moses, and the ancient properson of the promised Redeemer of the phets; “ Jesus of Nazareth the Son of world.
Joseph.” Nathaniel was assured, from the
predictions concerning the Messiah, that Animated with an arduous desire of hear he was to be descended from the line of ing, as well as seeing this extraordinary per- David, and born in the city of Bethlehem, son, they left Joh, and followed Jesus, and therefore discovered an amazement at who, conscious of their design, turned his being called Jesus of Nazareth ; “ Can about, and with the utmost affability, gave any good thing come out of Nazareth ? them an invitation to the place of his resi Can that most contemptible of places, dence. The evangelist John informs. us, Nazareth, be supposed to bave given birth that one of these disciples was Andrew, the to the mighty Saviour, the Prince of Peace, brother of Simon Peter; and it is conjec- | especially as it was expressly foretold by the tured, from his silence, that himself was the prophet, that he was to be born in Bethleother ; for it is remarkable, that in his writ hem, the city of David ?” ings he studiously concealed bis own name, Be that as it will, it is abundantly evident,
Notwithstanding theimprobability of such
an event, Nathaniel listened to Philip, and that the testimony of the Baptist, added to
determined on an examination of the person the tokens he had from the blessed Jesus, in the course of his converse with him, amply Accordingly, under his direction, he re
whom he said was the promised Messiah. satisfied andrew that he was indeed the
promised Messiah, the Saviour and Redeemer
paired to the blessed Jesus, who, knowing
his character, saluted him on his approach, of lost and miserable sinners,
with this honourable appellation : “An
Israelite, indeed, in whom there is no Andrew soon after found his brother guile.” Peter, and brought him to our blessed Lord, who immediately called him by his name, Nathaniel, amazed at our Lord's pertitelling bim, that he should afterwards be ment address, as he had never before seen called Cepbas, (which signifies a rock) from him, asked by what means he obtained such his firm resolution of mind, and also because precise knowledge of him ? Our Lord rehe should contribute towards the foundation plied, he had seen bim under the tig-tree. of the Christian church.
Probably Nathaniel had been praying under
the fig-tree, and been overheard by our Some time after Jesus casually met with Lord, who, from the substance of his prayer, Philip, an inhabitant of the town of Beth thus concluded his character; for when the saida, and said to him, “ follow me.” Philip blessed Jesus informed him that he gave him immediately obeyed the divine command, that character on account of what bad having heard of the character and mission of passed under the fig-tree, Nathaniel perour blessed Saviour. It is supposed that ceived that he knew not only what passed this disciple was present at the miraculous at a distance, but had access to the inmost descent of the Holy Spirit on our Lord at his thoughts of the heart, a property not allotbaptism, which being admitted, his ready ted to mortals; and therefore exclaimed compliance with his call is no matter of with rapture, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of admiration.
God, thou art the King of Israel!"
Our Saviour then told him, he should words, "Womans, what hare I to do with hereafter bare much stronger testimonials of thee? Mine hour is not yet come:" that the divinity of lis mission, when he sliouki is the time or period oi my public ministry be eye-witness to what the old patriarel is pot yet arrived, nor is it time for me to Jacob had before seen in a vision, the angels display my supernatural powers. of heaven, "descending and ascending,” to attend the person, and execute the com Notwithstanding this mild reproof, his mands of the " Son of Man;" an appella- mother stiil entertained an opinion that he tion our dear Lord assumed not only as co! would interest bimself in behalf of her and sidering his livua uity, but in order to fulfil the company, and therefore ordered the sermost peremptorily that remarkable predic vants punctually to obey his conrmands. tion of the prophet Daniel concerning hinr : " I saw in the night, visions, and behold, Our blessed Lord being assured that one like the Son of Man came with the
working a miracle would greatly tend to clouds of heaven, and came to the ancient confirm the faith of his young disciples, exof days, and they brought him near before erted his divine power, by ordering the serhim. And there was given him dominion, vauts to fill six water pots, containing each and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, about twenty gallons, with water; which nations and languages should serve hiny. was no sooner done, than the whole was Ibis dominion is an everlasting dominion, converted into excellent wine. which shall not pass away, and his kingdom, that which shall not be destroyed.” He then ordered them to draw, and bear Dan. vii. 13, 14,
to the governor of the seast, who being ignio
rant of the miracle that had been wrought, The great Redeemer having attested the and astonished at the preference of this wine divinity of his mission by many incontestable to that which had been served up at the beevidences, and made five disciples, depar- ginning of the feast, addressed himself to ted for Galilee, where, soon after his arrival, the bridegroom, in the hearing of the whole he was invited, with his mother and disci
company, telling him, that, contrary to the ples, to a marriage-feast at Cana, a place usual custom, he had reserved the best wine near Nazareth.
to the last, at the same time commending
so judicious a practice, as a plain proof of At these nuptials there happened to be a his approbation of his friends present at the searcity of wine, and his mother, who inter entertainment. The bridegroom was equally ested herself in the conduct of the feast, surprised at the address of the governor of and was therefore desirous that every thing the feast, and the occasion of it, which was should be done with decorum, applied to effected by the supernatural power of our her Son, hoping he would be able to blessed Lord. remedy the defect.
This miracle, which was the first wrought She had, doubtless, been eye-witness to by Jesus, confirmed the faith of his followhis power of working miracles, and was ers, and spread his renown thoughout the therefore desirous that he would give proof adjacent country. The votaries of infidelity of his ability in the presence of her friends, have not failed to arraign the truth of this who were assembled at the marriage.
event as well as to vent their sarcastic hus
móur upon it. 'Their mirth and ridicule Addressing herself, therefore, to her Son, seem: chietly founded on a supposition, that she said to him, “ They have no winie." most of the company were intoxicated, and Our Lord gently reproved her, in these consequently more liable to delusion; but