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(1)" Known unto all men," not for ostentation, but to advance the interests of Christianity, by bringing it into good repute. It casts the highest credit upon religion, when its professors make a conscience of all their ways, and act as if they had God in all their thoughtswhen they abstain from every appearance of evil, and put in practice the virtues their religion inculcates. And we then glorify God, when in every action we consider how far it is agreeable to his will. Our Saviour, in his Sermon on the Mount, Matt. v. 16. recommends good actions with this view. "Let your light "so shine before men, that they may "see your good works, and glorify your "Father which is in heaven."
Tit. ii. 1 to 5. St. Paul directs Titus to recommend sobriety, temperance, patience, chastity, and other virtues, to this end, "that the word of God (i.e. Christ's
religion) be not blasphemed." And he inculcates certain particulars of good conduct, in 1 Tim. v. 14 and vi. 1. that occasion be not given to the adversary to speak reproachfully, and "that the name of God, and his doc"trine, be not blasphemed," that is, "evil "spoken of." St. Peter also beseeches the believers "to abstain from fleshly "lusts, which war against the soul, and "to have their conversation honest among "the Gentiles, that whereas they speak "against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation." 1 Pet. ii. 11, 12. And see 1 Pet. iii. 12. To act from ostentation, with a view to obtain praise of men, and not to advance the glory of God, is a different thing, and is condemned by our Saviour, Matt. vi. 1 to 5. and Matt. vi.
The Gospel. John i. 19. THIS is the record of (p) John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who art thou?" And he con- 20. fessed, and denied not; but confessed, "I am not the Christ." And they asked him, "What 21. "then? Art thou (q) Elias?" And he saith, I am not. "Art thou "that (r) prophet?" And he an
(m) "The Lord is at hand." That is, v. 5. the time spoken of as the coming of the Lord, the day of vengeance to the wicked and unbelievers, and of redemption and salvation to the faithful converts, is near approaching. See ante 25. on Rom. xiii. II. The Epistle to the Philippians is supposed to have been written in the year 59, about 11 years before the destruction of Jerusalem.
(n) "Careful for nothing." So t Peter, v. 6. v. 7. "Cast all your care upon him, "for he careth for you."
(o)" Passeth all understanding," i e.ei .7. ther, better than all knowledge, or greater than we can conceive, inconceivable. See post, Eph. iii. 19. the like expression. "The love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.'
(p)" John," i. e. " the Baptist." (q) "Elias." The Jews expected that v. 21, Elijah the prophet would appear again before the coming of the Messiah, in consequence of the prophecy, Mal. iv. 5. "Behold I will send you Elijah the "prophet, before the coming of the
great and dreadful day of the Lord." In Matt. xvii. 10. the disciples noticed this tradition to our Saviour, "Why then 66 say the Scribes, that Elias must first "come?" And our Saviour admits that Elias was first to come, but explains to them that John the Baptist, who, according to Luke i. 17. " was to go before the "Messiah in the spirit and power of Elias," was the person to whom Malachi refers.
"That Prophet." It is not clear v. 21. whether they referred to any particular 25. prophet, or whether the translation should not be indefinitely "a prophet." See Mark vi. 15. and viii. 28-Luke ix. 8. 19. If the former was the case, they might perhaps refer to the Prophet foretold by Moses, Deut. xviii. 15. "The Lord thy God will
22. swered, "No." Then said they unto him, "Who art thou? that
we may give an answer to them "that sent us. What sayest "thou of thyself?" He said, " I
am (s) the voice of one crying "in the wilderness, Make straight "the way of the Lord," as said 24. the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the 25. Pharisees. And they asked him,
"raise up unto thee a Prophet from the "midst of thee, of thy brethren, like "unto me; unto him shall ye hearken." And they might be uncertain whether that might not look forward to some than the Messiah. person
(s) I am the voice," &c. that is, " I 66 am the person referred to by that pro"phecy." It was the practice of eastern monarchs, when they undertook an expedition or journey, to send messengers before to prepare all things for them, and pioneers to open the passes, level the ways, and remove all impediments; and in like manner John the Baptist was to go before our Saviour, to endeavour to prepare men's minds for his reception. Malachi had explained the means by which he should attempt to "make "straight the way of the Lord," by "turning the hearts of the fathers to the "children, and the heart of the children "to their fathers." Mal. iv. 6. He was to remove the impediments of sin, pride, of obstinacy, &c.; to make men to be “ "one mind in a house," Ps.lxviii. 6.; to produce unanimity; to destroy dissensions, animosities, ill-will, &c. And accord. ingly, when he began his ministry, his preaching was, "Repent ye, for the king"dom of heaven is at hand."
(1) "One among you," that is, Jesus Christ.
(u)" Whose shoe's latchet," i.e. who is so transcendently great, that I am unworthy to do even the meanest offices for him. Would an impostor, or one who sought his own glory, thus disparage himself, motive and aggrandize another? Can any be ascribed to John's conduct, but that which the Scripture ascribes, "to pre"pare the way for Christ's kingdom?" According to John iii. 28. he appeals to his disciples if he had not told them he was not the Christ, and adds, v. 30. he
and said unto him, "Why bap"tizest thou then, if thou be 66 not that Christ, nor Elias, "neither that prophet?" John 26. answered them, saying, "I bap"tize with water: but there "standeth (t) one among you, " whom know not; He it is, 27. ye who, coming after me, is pre"ferred before me, (u) whose "shoe's latchet I am not worthy
must increase, but I must decrease. See Bp. Porteus's Lecture on the Character, &c. of John the Baptist. Matt. iii.
The gospel account of the Baptist corresponds with what is said of him by the Jewish historian Josephus, born A.D. 37 for we learn from him that he was a very good man, that he baptized, that his doctrine was that they should re nounce their sins, and purify their souls, and that divers flocked and followed him to hear his doctrine, and that he had the greatest influence over them. After mentioning a signal defeat of Herod's army, he says, (Antiquities, b. 18. c. 7. s. 2.), "Divers Jews were of the opinion, that "Herod's army was overthrown by the "just vengeance of God, who punished "him most justly, because of the execution "which he caused to be done on John, "sirnamed Baptist: for he had put this "man to death, who was endued with all "virtue, and who exhorted the Jews to "addict themselves thereto, and to prac"tice justice towards men, and piety "towards God; exhorting them to be "baptized, and telling them, that bap "tism should at that time be acceptable "unto God, if they should renounce not "only their sins, but if to purity of their "bodies they should add the cleanness of "their souls, repurified by justice And "whereas it came to pass, that divers "flocked and followed him to hear his "doctrine, Herod feared, lest his sub"jects, allured by his doctrine and per "suasions, should be drawn to revolt: "for it seemed that they would subscribe "in all things to his advice: he there"fore thought it better to prevent a "mischief by putting him to death, than "to expect some sudden commotion, "which he might afterwards repent. "Upon this suspicion, Herod caused "him to be bound," &c.
1 Pet. ii. 5. "Ye also as lively stones "are built up a spiritual house, an holy "priesthood to offer up spiritual sacri"fices, acceptable to God by Jesus "Christ." So in the Apostles Creed, and in other parts of the Liturgy, the whole body of Christians throughout all the world, is called "The Holy Catholic "Church." In 1 Cor. iii. 16. he fays to the converts, to prevent their dishonouring their bodies," Know ye not "that ye are the Temple of God;" and 2 Cor. vi. 16. " ye are the Temple of "the living God."
(2) "Corner Stone." Our Saviour is often considered as the corner stone of the Christian Temple. According to Isaiah xxviii. 16. " Thus saith the Lord God, "Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation
Now therefore ye are no more
strangers and foreigners, but fel-
The Gospel. John xx. 24. THOMAS, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them (a) when Jesus came. The 24. other disciples therefore said unto
"a Stone, a tried Stone, a precious Cor-
set at naught of you Builders, which "is become the Head of the Corner." Acts iv. 11, 12.
(a)" When Jesus came," i. e. at one v. 24. of his appearances after his Resurrection. The disciples were assembled on the day of his Resurrection, the first day of the week, and Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said unto them, "Peace be "unto you;" shewed them his hands and his side, breathed on them the Holy Ghost, and gave them power to remit or retain sins. Post, John xx. 19 to 23.
25. him, "We have (b) seen the Lord." | But he said unto them, " Except "I shall see in his hands the "print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the "nails, and thrust my hand into "his side, I will not believe." 26. And after (c) eight days again his
(b)" Seen the Lord." St.John, who was one of the apostles, must have known whether they had really seen the Lord. According to Luke xxiv. 33. the eleven were present at this time. The certain assurance that our Saviour had risen from the dead, and that they had received the gift of tongues, and the other privileges of the Holy Ghost, affords an easy solu tion to what otherwise appears unaccountable, the difference in their conduct just before this period and after it. When he was apprehended, all the disciples forsook him and fled. Matt. xxvi. 56. Whilst he was before the High Priest, Peter thrice denied that he knew him: and at the time of this appearance of Christ, the doors of the place where they were assembled were shut for fear of the Jews. Indeed, the crucifixion of him on whom all their hopes were placed, was calculated to depress their spirits. And yet in a very short time we find a meeting of about one hundred and twenty, with Peter amongst them, to choose an apostle in the room of Judas, "to be a witness with them of Christ's Resurrection." Acts i. 15. On the day of Pentecost, seven weeks after the Resurrection, when they had received the power of speaking languages they had never learnt, we find Peter publicly stating, in Jerusalem, that Jesus Christ had by wicked hands been crucified and slain, but that God had raised him up, Acts ii. 23, 24. We find him repeating the same thing after his healing the lame man, Acts iii. 13 to 15. He repeats it again when he is brought before the Chief Priest, the Rulers, Elders, and Scribes, on this account, Acts iv. 10; and when they commanded him and John not to speak at all, nor teach at all in the name of Jesus, they boldly answered that they should. "Peter and John answered "and said unto them, "whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken "unto you more than unto God, judge
disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Then came (d) Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace "be unto you." "Then saith he 27
to Thomas, "Reach hither thy "finger, and behold my hands; "and reach hither thy hand, and
ye; for we cannot but speak the things "which we have seen and heard." A&ts iv. 19, 20. Indeed, from this time all the apostles, without exception, devoted their lives to the propagation of Christ's religion, and underwent the greatest hardships, and in many instances death itself, in attestation of the truth of his Resurrection. They could have been actuated by no temporal views; their conduct could have proceeded from nothing but conviction; and their conviction was founded on facts in which they could not have been deceived; what they had themselves seen, that is, our Saviour's appearance to them after his Crucifixion ; and what they had experienced in themselves, namely, the power of speaking languages they had never learned, and of working miracles. Their conduct, therefore, affords us a strong "reason for the "hope that is in us." And Dr. Paley has treated it in a masterly way, as affording of itself, independently of other grounds, the most satisfactory evidence of the truth of the Christian religion. See also post, note on John xvi. 20.
(c) "After eight days," that is, accord- v. ing to the Jewish manner of expressing themselves, the 8th day, the first day of the succeeding week. Rehoboam ordered the people to come "after three days," when he meant them to come the third day. 2 Chron. x. 5. 12. The Jews imputed to our Saviour that he said, that "after three days he should rise again ;" and yet they understood him to mean that he should rise the third day; for after mentioning to Pilate what our Saviour had said, they desired "that the sepulchre "might be made sure until the third day.” Matt. xxvii. 63, 64.
(d)" Then came Jesus." The other disciples were present at this appearance also ; so that John, who records it, could not have been mistaken as to this fact.
"thrust it into my side and be "not faithless, but believing." . And Thomas answered and said unto him, "My Lord and my "God." Jesus saith unto him, "Thomas, because thou hast "seen me, thou hast believed: "blessed are they that have not
seen, and yet have believed." 30. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in 31. this book. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST,
called CHRISTMAS Day.
ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure Virgin; Grant that we, being regenerate, and made thy children
(e) The object of this Epistle is to shew the great superiority of Christ and the Christian dispensation; and it accordingly begins with an account of Christ's pre-eminence.
".." Heir." So Coloss. i. 15. St. Paul
calls our Saviour "the first-born of every creature," ," that is, "as much above all "created beings as the first-born is con"sidered above his brethren." As God also says, in the prophetic part of Ps. lxxxix. 28. "I will make him, my first-born "higher than the kings of the earth." (g)"By whom," &c. So in Coloss. i. 16, St. Paul says, "By him were all things "created that are in heaven, and that are "in earth, visible and invisible, whether "they be thrones, or dominions, or "principalities, or powers: all things
were created by him, and for him." So Eph. iii. 9. he says, "God created "all things by Jesus Christ." And see John i. 3. the Gospel for this day.
The Epistle. Heb. i. 1. (e)
GOD, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time prophets, hath in these last days 2. past unto the fathers by the spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed (ƒ) heir of all things, (g) by whom also he made the worlds; who being the bright- 3. ness of his glory, and the express (b) image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much 4. better than the angels, as he hath by (i) inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For 5. unto which of the angels said he at
(b)"Image." So Coloss. i. 15. our Saviour is called "the image of the invisible "God." In Wisd. vii. 26. wisdom is called "the brightness of the everlasting "light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his goodness." "The image of his per"son," is probably nothing more than a figurative mode of intimating that he was exactly like him in all perfections. In Gen. i. 27. God is said to have "created