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Augustus Cæsar, after a reign of near forty years. He was succeeded by Tiberius, a son whom his wife Livia had when she was married to a former husband, but a prince of a very different disposition from his predecessor. Tiberius, in the second year of his accession, appointed to the government of Justice, Valerius Grattus, who was the fourth governor since the banishment of Archelaus. Grattus having continued eleven years, was recalled, and Pontius Pilate, a man of a fierce, cruel, and covetous temper, was appointed in his stead.
THE PREACHING OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.
From Luke, Chap. iii.
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea, and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene.
Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.
As it is written in the Prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make his paths straight.
The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe.
He was not that light, but was sent to bear withess of that light. That was the true light, which lighteth évery man that cometh into the world. de
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.
And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the - remission of sins, saying, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wil. derness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all filesh shall see the salvation of God.
Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to fee froin the wrath to come ?
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father : for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
And now also the ax 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.
And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.
Then came also. Publicans to be baptized, and said
unto him, Master, What shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.
And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages.
And as the people were in 'expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the CHRIST or not just seed 25
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptized you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly parge his floor, and will gather his wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchi able.
And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people. Cobra bos 29. ↑
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ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. "The wonderful circumstances of John's birth, and the predictions of the Angel and Zacharias concerning him, have already been related; and we also know, that the ancient Prophets foretold, that a messenger should be sent to prepare the world for the reception of the MESSIAH. These predictions were all completely fulfilled in John the Baptist, who, at God's appointed time, shewed himself as a Prophety foretelling the approach of the SA VIOUR, and also as a witness that JESUS was the very person Sur, poka The Evangelist is very particular in respect to the exact time of John's appearance, so that the falsehood
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might have been easily detected, if there had never been such a person ; and, a Jewish historian attests, that John lived in Judea in the reign of Herod- Antipas*.
In his outward appearance, John greatly resembled the prophet Elijah, and the same piety and zeal ani. mated his heart: there was nothing of excessive rigour, but only of great simplicity in his manner.
The place where he preached was not an uninhabited desert, for it had six cities in it; but it was a part of the country not so well cultivated and peopled as the rest of Judea. The food which he ate was the natural produce of the country. Locusts are a kind of large grasshoppers, and, when sprinkled with salt and fried, are said to taste much like river cray-fish. Wild honey is that which is found in trees and the clifts of rocks.
Fobni was by birth a priest, and as such had authority to preach; and, besides his exemplary piety, he bore evident marks of prophetic inspiration. All these causes concurred to awaken the attention of the people to his doctrine, and without doubt they were curious to know why he did not, like the other priests, deliver his doc. trine in the Synagogues or the Temple; but this he could not do, because the rulers of the Sanhedrim, or great council, would have prevented him, as he spake in opposition to their opinions. Now Christianity is established, field-preaching is unnecessary, because there are places for public worship provided, where Christians may assemble without obstruction or interruption. -- The Jewish church, to which John was sent to ano nounce the coming of the Messiah, was at that time, as has been before observed, in a barren and desert cos. dition; unfit, without reformation, for the reception of her King. It was in this deșert country, desert in respect 1
to spiritual things, that John was sent to prepare the way of the Lord, by preaching repentance.
It appears from the history, that the person of Jesus was unknown to John, which might very possibly be the case, because they had from their infancy lived in distant places ; but John received, by divine revelation, a commission to point Christ out to the Jews, as soon as he should be made known to himself; and in the mean while; he was to remove the "wrong notions they entertained respecting the Kingdom of the MESSIAH. The people, from the prophecy of Daniel, were in full expectation, that the kingdom of the God of heaven, under Messiah the Prince, would shortly appear; and their subjection to the Roman power made them impa. tient for its approach." They were, therefore, extremely attentive to fobny when he preached, that the kingdom of heaven was at hand; but could not reconcile his doctrines with the idea they had formed of this kingdom, which they supposed would be like that of David and Solomon, and exalt their church and nation to the greatest height of power, splendor and solemnity. Fohn preached the baptism of Repentance, teaching them, that the works or ceremonial observances of the law, in which they made righteousness to consist, would not procure them salvation ; but that they must seek for acceptance from God upon other terms *, must repent of all the irregularities of their lives, and be baptized in token of their sincere desire to be washed and cleansed from them; assuring the people, that if they attended to this in. stitution in a truly penitent manner, they might con. sider it as a pledge or token of their being freely for. given of God; and as a sign to distinguish that rem.
* Doddridge's Family Expositor.