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world is opened to our view by His declarations. The glories of heaven and the miseries of hell are unfolded to us by His words. Let us not think that calling Him, Lord, Lord, will be of any avail, unless we also do the things which He has said.74 To have borne the name of Christians will do us no good at the judgmentseat of Christ, unless we really believe in Him, and love Him, and serve Him, with our whole hearts. Let us then seek to be Christians in reality, to be anointed with the Spirit of Christ.75 Let it be our earnest prayer that the Holy Spirit may be our Teacher, that under His blessed instruction we may know ourselves, and be humbled by a sense of our own sinfulness; and that we may also know the Lord Jesus Christ as the Saviour of our souls, and may rejoice in His great salvation. Thus may we be led to walk humbly with our God, as our reconciled Father in Christ Jesus, and to live to His glory, and show forth His praise in all our conduct.
If our faith and hope be in the Lord Jesus Christ, in His incarnation, sufferings, and death, we need not dread His second coming, we need not fear death and judgment. But in the prospect of what is most appalling to the children of this world, we may look up and lift up our heads with joy, anticipating joy unspeakable and full of
glory, when the time of the redemption of our body shall come, when we shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption and introduced into the glorious liberty of the children of God,76 and so shall ever be with the Lord in His eternal and glorious kingdom, in the life everlasting. That this unspeakable blessedness may be our portion, through grace, may God of His infinite mercy grant, for Christ's sake : To whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost, Three Persons and One God, be all honour, glory, and praise ascribed for evermore. Amen.
76 Rom. viii. 21.
77 1 Thess. iv. 17.
THE THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT.
THE CHARACTER OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST.
Matthew xi. 10.
FOR THIS IS HE OF WHOM IT IS WRITTEN,
BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER BEFORE THY FACE, WHICH SHALL PREPARE THY WAY BEFORE THEE.
On the two preceding Sundays our attention has been directed to the subject of the second advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are now called to meditate upon the events which accompanied the announcement of His first coming, to the celebration of which we are more immediately looking forward. In the Gospel for this day, the circumstances which marked out the Lord Jesus to be the true Messiah, whose coming had been so long foretold, and which could not be counterfeited, are specified by our Saviour Himself. The wonderful miracles which He wrought, proclaimed Him to be the Son of God with power.78 After referring to these, He proceeds to give an account of the character which distinguished His forerunner; and concludes with declaring that John the Baptist was the person of whom the Lord God had spoken by the mouth of His prophet Malachi; that he should be sent to prepare the way of the Lord; and that he was Elias, or the prophet Elijah,79 which was for to come. It is remarkable that soon after the commencement of the public ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, John the Baptist was thrown into prison by King Herod, and, when he had been kept there some time, was put to death.
As soon as our Saviour appeared in His public character, John bore the most honourable testimony to Him. He called upon the people to behold Him as the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. He bare record tha! He was the Son of God.80 He said of Him, He must increase, but I must decrease. And he closed his testimony with the remarkable declaration, He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life ; but the wrath of God abideth on him.81 All this
78 Rom. i. 4. 79 Mal. iv. 5. 80 John i. 29, 34. 81 John iii. 30,36.
proves that John the Baptist was fully aware of the true character of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet the Gospel for this day begins with relating, that, when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto Him, Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another? It is very evident that John the Baptist did not want to be informed on these subjects, on account of any unbelief in his own mind, which required further proof that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. His previous testimony is sufficient to disprove this. Some persons have therefore thought that it must have been for the sake of confirming the faith of His disciples, or of leading them more fully to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that he sent them to make this inquiry. But his own testimony had been so decisive, that there does not appear to be any reason to imagine that this could have been his object. It is, I conceive, more reasonable to suppose that he took this method of reminding the Saviour that His faithful herald and forerunner was in prison; and was prevented from exercising his ministry, and continuing to be an instrument of turning the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,82 or of calling sinners to repentance. The work of God was therefore, as far as he was concerned, stopped in its progress. The success
82 Luke i. 17.