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he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

20 Saying, Arise, and take the

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young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.

21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee :

23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. (C)

EXPOSITION-Chap. II. Continued.

(C) Ver. 13-25. The escape of the holy family, and Herod's massacre of the infants. -As the divine providence had, in a dream, admonished the Magi to return home another way, whereby they escaped the rage of Herod; so, by the same means, Joseph is warned no longer to remain in Bethlehem, but to fly immediately into Egypt, where many thousands of Jews resided, some of whose hearts the Lord probably opened to receive them; and as to the means of supporting them in their journey, they had been provided by the presents of the wise men so recently received.

The admonitions given to the Magi by way of dream, and to Joseph himself in three several instances, and that in all probability, by the vision of angels in their sleep, seem to indicate a temporary return of the patriarchal dispensation, when angels were the usual messengers of the divine will to men: but this, we may observe, was on the approach of that period of which it was predicted, "Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams." (Acts ii. 17.) Indeed the ministry of angels, if we can be

lieve the New Testament, was evidently continued to the close of the sacred canon. From that period we have a more sure word of prophecy, and should be extremely cautious of trusting to visionary appearances; at the same time, we have no authority to conclude that the Almighty has deprived himself of any means formerly employed, of communicating his will to men, when he shall see an occasion worthy of his interference. Angels are still ministering spirits to the church. (Heb. i. 14.)

That Herod should feel indignant, mortified, enraged, by this conduct of the eastern strangers, is not to be wondered at; and the means he took to avenge himself were in perfect consistence with his former character, in which pride and cruelty were predominating qualities. The measure of bis vengeance, however, furnishes us with a note of time, relative to our Saviour's age at this period. Herod was by no means tender of human life; and as, when the decree came to be executed, mothers would be tempted to represent their children as older than they really were, in order to save their lives; it is natural

NOTES-Chap. II. Con.

(the passage in Macrobius) because the objection taken from the silence of Josephus appeared to me of no moment. When we have but one history of the affairs of a country, and that a brief one, the omission of some particular event is no difficulty. Josephus was a firm Jew, and had therefore a particular reason for passing over the event; because he could not mention it without giving the Christian cause a very great advantage." New Test. Arr. 1. 77, N.

Ver. 18. In Rama. This name signifies a high place, or hill, and such were generally resorted to on these occasions. See Isa. xv. 2, 3; Jer. iii. 23.

Ver. 20. They are dead-that is, Herod and his son Antipater, who was equally cruel with his father.

Ver. 22. Archelaus-another son, also rivalled the cruelties of his father, massacreing 3000 Jews in the temple, near the beginning of his government.

Ver. 23. A Nazarene-cannot here mean a person under a particular vow (i. e. a Nazarite, Numb. vi. 2, &c.) in which sense it could not apply to Jesus: but an inhabitant of Nazareth, is here intended. So, among ourselves, the names of places are sometimes used reproachfully. Thus a Birmingham halfpenny, means a counterfeit; a Billingsgate, means a low fish-woman; and it is likely that Nazareth was, at this time, spoken of with the like contempt that our citizens used formerly to speak of Billingsgate, or Wapping.

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to suppose that he might extend the age prescribed to at least double the age of the infant whose life he sought: we cannot therefore consider the Holy infant at this time as more than a year old, perhaps not more than half so much, when he was visited by the eastern sages. And as it does not appear that he was certain as to the infant's age, we may rather wonder that he did not extend the murderous decree farther, than that it should extend so far.

The scene here delineated is sufficiently cruel, without exaggeration. On the passage quoted from Micah (ch. v. 2.), we have already remarked, that Bethlehem was but a small city, and with few inhabitants; it therefore, probably, did not contain more than about fifty male infants; this was, however, a scene of sufficient horror to excite the pathetic lamentation here made. Rachel lay buried near this spot. On a former occasion, when her children were about to go into captivity, she is poetically represented as rising from her tomb to wail over them; but these innocents were gone to "that country from whose bourn no traveller returns." The manner of lamentation among the eastern women was also most violent, of which we shall give the following example, quoted by the late Editor of Calmet, from M. Le Bruyn's Voyage in Syria (p. 256). That celebrated traveller says,

"When I was at Rama (near Lydda; not this Rama near Bethlehem), I saw a great company of these weeping women (namely, those who go to weep over the graves of their relations), who went out of the town. I followed them, and after having observed the place they visited, adjacent to their sepulchres, 1 seated myself on an elevated spot. They first placed themselves on the sepulchres, and wept there; after having re mained there about half an hour, some of them rose up, and formed a ring, holding

each other by the hands..... Quickly two of them quitted the others, and placed themselves in the centre of the ring, where they made so much noise, in screaming and clapping the hands, as, together with their various contortions, might have subjected them to the suspicion of madness. After that, they returned and seated themselves to weep again, till they gradually withdrew to their homes." (See Jer. xxxi. 15; John xi. 31, and Note on ver. 18 below.

But it may be remarked, that this, and two or three other passages quoted in this chapter, seem cited in a sense that appears to have little or no connection with their original import; though it is expressly said, that these things happened that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. On this subject we beg leave to introduce a very candid and judicious remark of Dr.J.P.Smith; "It is admitted (he observes), that the Apostles and Evangelists have sometimes cited sentences and phrases from the Old Testament, in the way of accommodation to subjects not contemplated in the original design of those passages. To deny this, would be to refuse them that liberty of observing striking coincidences, and of making useful applications, which writers of all ages have exercised; and the scriptural books were almost the only literature of the Jews. We should, however, be slow and cautious to admit this solution; and well consider the probability that, in such cases, there may be a ground of appropriation, the inobservance of which is solely owing to our ignorance of some circumstance in the original intent of the passage." (Messiah, vol. i. p. 169.)

On the principles just mentioned, we should be far from saying, that any of the passages cited in this chapter are quoted in a sense foreign to their original design. The first passage above quoted is applied to Messiah by the Jewish Sanhedrim, and

NOTES.

CHAP. III Ver. 1. In those days-that is, while Jesus resided with his parents in Nazareth.John the Baptist-or the Baptiser, as afterwards is explained. Preaching-that is, proclaiming, as a herald, or public crier. Campbell.-In the wilderness of Judea-mentioned Jud. i. 16, and in the title of Ps. Ixiii. It lay east from Jerusalem, along the Jordan and the Dead Sea. Not a region uninhabited, but woody, mountainous, and thinly inhabited. The name seems to be of much the same import with our word Highlands. Campbell. Ver. 3. The prophet Esaias-Heb. "Isaiah." Ibid. The voice of one crying, Prepare, &c. →→→

See Isa. xl. 3. Diodorus Siculus says of Semiramis, that" in her march to Ecbatane she came to the Zarcean Mountain, which, extending many furlongs, and being full of craggy precipices and deep hollows, could not be passed without making a great compass about. Being, therefore, desirous of leaving an everlasting memorial of herself, as well as of shortening the way, she ordered the precipices to be digged down, and the hollows to be filled up; and, at a great expense, she made a shorter and more expeditious road, which to this day is called the road of Semiramis." She did the same afterwards in Persia, and other countries. See Orient. Lit. No. 1146,

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voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan,

6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

7 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 flee from the wrath to come?

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selves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

10 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.

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

but

12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; he will burn up the chaff with un9 And think not to say within your- quenchable fire.

8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

EXPOSITION-Chap. II. Continued.

to this certainly no Christian can object; but the others appear to us quoted rather by way of illustration than argument. If God called Israel his son, when he brought them out of Egypt, it might be a typical allusion to his own Son being brought from the same country. If Rachel wept for her children when carried into captivity, much more might she mourn her slaughtered innocents on the occasion here named. Nor will the common expression, "that it might be fulfilled," prove it any thing more than an allusion, since the highest critical authorities admit that it must not be taken

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a mere allusion; and the rather, as I am fully convinced that the next quotation (ver. 17) must necessarily be taken in this sense." And even, as Abp. Newcome remarks, where there is a direct prophecy in the Old Testament, the event did not take place for the mere purpose of fulfilling it; but God predetermined a fit event, and foretold it by his prophets. (See Note on chap. i. 22.)

As to the last prediction cited in this chapter, it is remarkable that no single prophecy is referred to, but a popular tradition, perhaps, that it had been foretold by different prophets, that the Messiah should reside at Nazareth. So Dr. John Edwards; but others think, that the predictions of his being poor, despised, and reproached, were tantamount to saying that he should be of Nazareth. (Johni.46.) So Mr. Wesley.

NOTES-Chap. III. Con.

Ver. 4. His raiment of camel's hair. Not of the fine hair of that animal, as Camlet is; "but of the long and shaggy hair of camels, which in the East is manufactured into a coarse stuil, anciently worn by monks and anchorites." Campbell.

Ibid. Locusts-which were allowed food by the Mosaic law, and are eaten by the poorer Arabs to this day. See our Note on Levit. xi. 22. And wild honey-which is deposited by the wild bees in the woods of Judea in great abundance. See 1 Sam. xiv. 25, &c.; Prov. xxv. 16; Isa. vii. 16.

Ver. 5. All the region round about Jordan-that is, in the vicinity of Jordan, on both sides the river; the expression may be farther justified by observing the winding course of that river: but the term all, must be taken here, as in other places, for manygreat multitudes.

Ver. 7. O generation of vipers. Compare John viii. 40, 44. Ver. 9. Of these stones.-It is possible that John might, in his own mind, have some reference to the Gentiles, as many commentators suggest; but of this we know nothing certain.

Ver. 11. Whose shoes (or "sandals," rather) I am unworthy, &c. Rosenmüller quotes a Rabbinical saying, that whatever services a servant does for his master, a disciple may do for his teacher, only not to unloose the latchet of his shoes. Compare Mark i. 8. Oriental Lit. No. 1148.

Ver. 12. Whose fan-the original word is agreed to signify "a winnowing instrument," probably "a shovel," as Campbell renders it, by which the corn being thrown upward against the wind, the shaff was separated from it thereby.

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CHAP. III.

EXPOSITION.

(D) John's preaching and baptism: Christ baptized by him. The last of the Old Testament prophets (Malachi) concludes with the promise of another Prophet, under the name of Elijah, meaning, according to prophetic idiom, one endowed with "the spirit and power;" that is, with the zeal and energy of Elijah. Such an one we now bebold upon the banks of Jordan. A man of the simplest manners and appear ance; his food and dress upon a level with the poorest inhabitant of the desert; nor does he make any attempt to elevate his own character; but he is the pioneer, the herald, the forerunner of one whom it is his great delight to honour. He is a "voice," and a voice only; but he proclaims, with all the powers of his voice, One who was to come after him, but who existed and who ranked before him. His extraordinary appearance, and the energy of his language, collects around him the wondering rustics of the desert.-They spread the news in all the surrounding towns and villages, till all the population of the country is alarmed, and gathers read him. He announces the approach of Messiah's kingdom, and calls upon them to repent. At length the higher classes are siarmed. Even the Pharisees and the Sadducees come to see this phenomenon of the desert.

John no sooner sees them approaching, whom he might easily know by their dress and appearance, than he turns the artillery of his rustic eloquence full upon them. Before, however, we examine his address, it may be necessary, in a few words, to sketch their respective characters: for ebaracters, they were very different and

even opposite to each other, though we shall find them, as we proceed, constantly uniting to oppose the kingdom of our Lord. The Pharisees, it is well known, pretended great zeal for Moses and the prophets, and reverenced all the traditions of the elders; while the Sadducees, though they attended the temple worship, were no better than sceptics, denying, not only the resurrection of the body, but a future state, and consequently a future judgment altogether (Acts xxiii. 8). The one believed too much, and the others too little; but they united to reject the doctrines of the Gospel. Seeing members of both these sects come, though probably as they afterwards attended John's Master, hypocritically, and as spies only, he addresses them, as Jesus himself afterwards did (chap. xxiii. 33), as the brood of the old serpent, equally insidious and mischievous, whose object it was to deceive and to destroy. "Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? If you are indeed penitent, as you would appear to be, then bring forth fruits meet for repentance : fruits that shall prove the sincerity of your profession." He then warns them against trusting to the religion of their forefathers, as being Abraham's children, an error very prevalent among the Jews, and no less fatal; since Abraham's true children are not the offspring of his body, but the inheritors of his faith. (Rom. ix. 8.) So far was their being Jews a proof of their being God's people, that God would rather raise up children from the stones, (pointing, probably, to some fragments of rock, which lay before him), than acknowledge them to be his children. He then assures them, that the axe of God's judgments was

NOTES.

Ver. 16. And Jesus, when (Dodd. "after") he was priced, went up straightway. - Hammond says, "Jesus, as soon as he was baptized, went out of the water before John, and fell down on his knees in prayer toba Father, and while he was praying, the heavens

ed visibly, and the Holy Spirit descended." La sell applies the term straightway, or "immedi" not to Jesus coming out of the water, but to Spirit's descending" immediately after." Dododge renders it, "And after Jesus was bap

tized, as soon as he ascended out of the water, the heavens were opened," &c. Campbell's translation is to the same effect.-Descending like a dovethat is, in a slow, hovering motion; but St. Luke adds, " in a bodily shape, like a dove," that is, prohably, in a white, lucid flame, parted like the wings of a dove. So when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles, it was in a parted flame, like "cloven tongues." Acts ii, 3.

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laid to the root of the trees," and that every fruitless tree should shortly be cut down.

The Prophet now states the object of his baptism, which, as a symbol of repentance and a new life, was to initiate them into the new dispensation, the kingdom of his Lord and Master. His was an external rite only, by submission to which, they were prepared, as penitents, to receive the spiritual baptism of the Holy Spirit and celestial fire, by which they must be either purified or destroyed. Such is the Gospel ordeal it is either "a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death." (2 Cor. ii. 16.) Or, to express it by another metaphor, it is like the winnowing of the husbandman, who thus separates his wheat from the chaff; and while he stores the former in his garner, consigns the latter to the flames.

:

At length Jesus himself comes to be baptized; and here it is worthy of remark, that, though John and Jesus were so nearly related, they were brought up, after the days of infancy, at a distance from each other, the one with his parents in the town of Nazareth, the other in a solitary and secluded life among the woods, where he continued till he entered upon his public life, and even afterwards. (Luke i. 80.) The Evangelical Historians, any more than others, do not relate every incident occurring in the lives that they record, or each gospel might be a folio volume. But it is probable, that when Jesus approached, John received a prophetic intimation that this was He whom he was to serve, and of whom he spake in this humble language; "whose shoes I am not worthy to bear,'

and on whom the Spirit should visibly descend. (John i. 32.)

John at first demurred on the propriety of baptizing one so superior to himself; but on being assured it was a matter of duty he immediately complied, and walking down into the water, baptized Jesus. We are not particularly informed of the manner

in which the ordinance was administered; and as the best scholars and the best christians are divided upon the point, we shall not here obtrude our opinion; but advert rather to the baptism of Jesus, as a testimony to his divine character and mission. Bp. Horne remarks, "Jesus Christ, as condescending to stand charged with our sins, and for that end being made under the law, was to fulfil the righteousness of the law, as it consisted in an obedience to ceremonial rites, as well as moral precepts. In the character and capacity of our substitute, He who knew no sin, but was to take away the sins of all other men, presented himself in the crowd of sinners, as one of them, and solicited 'the baptism of repentance;' not that water might sanc tify him, but that he might sanctify water, to the mystical washing away of sin." (Bp. Horne's Life of John the Baptist, vi.)

But this is not all. This was the appointed time for God the Father to bear witness of his Son before both men and angels. Jesus prays, and the heavens are opened; for prayer is the true key to open heaven. In prospect of his arduous un dertaking, the Son of God calls upon his Father for every needful support and aid; and the petition is answered by a voice from heaven, not addressed immediately to him, but to John and the multitude around him; "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And in the same moment, the Holy Spirit descends in the manner, and perhaps in the form of a celestial dove; rests for a moment on him, and consecrates him to his office as Messiah. Thus was John miraculously confirmed in the identity of the Messiah's person, and ever after declared; "This is he of whom I said, He that cometh after me was preferred before me: Behold the Lamb of God!"

"O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us!"

NOTES.

CHAP. IV. Ver. 1. Led up of the Spirit-Campbell, "conducted by the Spirit."-Into the wilderness-that is, of Judea, near Jordan. See Mr. Maundrell's account in the Exposition.--To be tempted of the Devil-in the Greek, Diabolos, which means a calumniator, and answers to Satan in the Old Testament, which means an adversary. He is described as the chief of the fallen angels; the prince of the power of the air, under whom those demons

are arranged, which, we shall see presently, are active in introducing every evil among mankind.

The Editor would here remark, that he has attentively and repeatedly perused Mr. Farmer's ingenious hypothesis, of the whole of this being a visionary transaction, like some of the prophetic ecstacies of Ezekiel and Zechariah; but as he cannot admit his interpretation, he has not thought it necessary to notice it in the Exposition. Some of his objections

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