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meat was locusts and wild honey. | lem, and all Judea, and all the 5 Then went out to him Jerusa-region round about Jordan,

provided by man, is indicated by sucking honey from the rock, and similar expressions. Deut. xxxii. 13; Ps. lxxxi. 16. Probably this kind of honey was a portion of John's sustenance. It is not said that locusts and wild honey furnished his only food. The idea is, that he was abstemious in his manner of living. Matt. xi. 18. His food, like his dress, indicated humility and simplicity. Yet we are not to consider all men bound to imitate him closely in this matter. Even Jesus himself, though meek, humble, and temperate, adopted dress and food different, in many respects, from that used by John. Perhaps, as he was commissioned to herald the approach of Him to whom all the ancient prophets had borne witness, he felt inclined to imitate their appearance and habits.

"clothed in soft raiment," Matt. xi. 8, but in the garb of poverty; and thus was he a fit herald for Him who was meek and lowly, and had not where to lay his head. Matt. viii. 20; xi. 29. ¶Leathern girdle. The outer dress of the orientals was and still is a loose, flowing robe. This is confined about the body by a girdle, sometimes of a very expensive kind. That which John used was, like his dress, of the cheapest and least ostentatious character, being merely a strip of leather. The girdle was sometimes used to serve the purpose of a purse. But its chief use was to confine the cloak or robe, that it might not be blown aside from the body by the wind, nor obstruct the free motion of the limbs. Meat. A word formerly used to denote food of all kinds, whether animal or vegetable. Gen. i. 29, 30; ix. 3, &c. ¶ Locusts. 5. Jerusalem. The place put for The locust is a voracious animal of the its inhabitants; not an unusual form grasshopper tribe; and was allowed by of expression, at present. Jerusalem, Moses to be eaten for food. Lev. xí. the chief city of Judea, and the scene 22. It is still eaten, in the east. Nie- of many most important and interestbuhr remarks, that "it is no more ing events, is situated about twentyinconceivable to Europeans, that the five miles west of Jordan, and fortyArabs should eat locusts with relish, two miles east of the Mediterranean than it is incredible to the Arabs, who Sea. The preaching of John produced have had no intercourse with Chris- a great sensation. The Jews were tians, that the latter should regard oys- groaning in bondage; and they expected ters, lobsters, &c., as delicacies. Never- the Messiah would deliver them, and theless, one is just as certain as the avenge them upon their oppressors. other. Locusts are brought to market They were confident the time had aron strings, in all the cities of Arabia, rived, at which the prophets had prefrom Babelmandel to Bassorah. On dicted his appearance; and they looked Mount Sumara, I saw an Arab who had with eager anxiety, to behold him. collected a whole sack-full of them."- Hence, when it was reported that a See Robinson's Calmet. It may be herald had appeared in the wilderadded, that locusts frequently prove ness bordering on Jordan, proclaiming very destructive to vegetation, destroy- his immediate approach, vast multiing every green thing. They were tudes rushed out of the city, and hastappointed as one of the plagues of ened thither, that they might be ready Egypt, and the extent of their ravages to receive him. Possibly, with their is described, Ex. x. 14, 15. TWild characteristic selfishness and greediness honey. Such honey as might be found of honor, some might hope to obtain in rocks and in the hollows of trees. extraordinary favor, as a reward for this Judea is represented by travellers as manifestation of zeal. ¶ All Judea. still abounding in honey. This was its Not every individual, but very many, characteristic, in ancient times. It was from the land of Judea, in which Jerudescribed, repeatedly, as a land flowing salem was situated. The word all, like with milk and honey. Ex. iii. 8; Jer. many other words in the New Testaxi. 5; Ezek. xx. 6. And that wild ment, is qualified, in its use, by the cirhoney abounded there, or honey pro- cumstances to which it is applied. It duced by bees in their wild state with- sometimes indicates, literally, every out any of the artificial conveniences | one; and sometimes, as in this instance,

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

a large number. The idea is, that there was a general gathering of the people of Judea. All the region round about Jordan. The people gathered from the east, as well as from the west, side of Jordan. A vast multitude assembled, from a wide extent of country. The Jordan is the principal river in the Holy Land. It runs in a southerly direction about one hundred and twenty-five miles, passing through the sea or lake of Tiberias, otherwise called the Lake of Gennesareth or the Sea of Galilee, and falls into the Dead Sea, from which there is no visible outlet.

observed. And when we consider that the only essential benefit of baptism consists in the thing signified, rather than in the emblem,-not the cleansing of the flesh, but the purification of the heart, we shall probably conclude that it is not material, whether little or much water be used, or whether it be applied to a portion or to the whole surface of the body. Let every one be fully persuaded in his own mind, and act accordingly. If he believe immersion necessary, let him be immersed; he doeth well, and is baptized. If he believe sprinkling sufficient, let him be sprinkled; he also doeth well, and is baptized. Let neither judge the other; for they have both walked according to their light; and if both bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, both are accepted. See note on verse 11. In regard to the baptism of infants, I think such baptism may at least be justified; and that parents should request its administration, unless they believe it sufficient that their offspring be offered to God in prayer, and his blessing invoked upon them, without the application of

6. Baptized of him in Jordan. Or, baptized by him. The Jews had long been accustomed to baptize proselytes, or converts from heathenism. Baptism with water was not a new thing with them; but was well understood to indicate admission to a purer religious faith. They manifested no surprise that the herald of the Messiah required all who professed a desire to receive him to be baptized; but they readily, and in great multitudes, sought this manner of admission to the privileges of his king-water. dom. Two questions, in relation to baptism, have been long and earnestly controverted in the Christian church; (1.) Whether or not entire immersion be necessary to the validity of the rite; and, (2.) Whether or not infants are proper subjects of baptism. A full discussion of these questions, in this place, will not be expected. I shall only observe, in regard to the first, that John very probably immersed those whom he baptized, as the language indicates that they were standing in the river, when the rite was administered. Yet, it has been truly observed, the baptism might have been performed by sprinkling or pouring, while the candidates stood in the water, for aught which appears to the contrary in the history. It is believed, however, that in the east, where bathing, in almost any season of the year, is a luxury rather than otherwise, immersion was the common form of baptism. But it does not follow that this form is obligatory on all Christians, in all regions and climates, and in all conditions of health. I believe it is not alleged that any express command was ever given, by Christ or his apostles, in regard to the form which should be

Mark x. 13-16. See also Numb. vi. 22-27. Of the arguments, which might be presented in justification of infant baptism, a single one, abridged from Lightfoot, may suffice. Christ took baptism into his hands, and into evangelical use, as he found it; this only added, that he might promote it to a worthier end, and a larger use. The whole nation knew well enough, that little children used to be baptized; there was no need of a precept for that which had ever, by common use, prevailed. On the other hand, there was need of a plain and open prohibition, that infants and little children should not be baptized, if our Saviour would not have had them baptized. For, since it was most common, in all ages foregoing, that little children should be baptized, if Christ had been minded to have that custom abolished, he would have openly forbidden it. Confessing their sins. It is not to be understood, that each individual made a particular confession of his sins, on this occasion. It would have been impracticable to do so, under such circumstances. Perhaps each one, in general terms, acknowledged his sinfulness, as he presented himself for baptism; or

7 ¶ But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come

perhaps the address of John was such, that each was understood to make such acknowledgment or confession, by the simple act of advancing to receive baptism at his hands. If general confession was not sufficient, but every man must utter all his sins in particular, John had shriving work enough for seven years, to hear the confessions of Jerusalem and all Jewry, and all the country about Jordan, of whom never a man was ever shriven before, and, therefore, every man's confession must be very long."-Fulke, Conf. Rhem. Test. However this be, it is doubtless true, that no man can receive benefit from any religious rite whatever, unless he feel his frailty and sinfulness, and his need of divine favor and assistance. And the duty of confessing sins is repeatedly enjoined in the Scriptures. James v. 16; 1 John i. 9. See also Luke xviii. 9-14. John, therefore, in proclaiming a new dispensation, and exhorting men to repent and forsake their sins, as a preparation for it, required a confession of former impurity as a condition of administering that baptism which was significant of the requisite purification.

7. Pharisees and Sadducees. These were the two principal sects into which the Jews were divided. There were a few of minor importance; but they are not named in the Scriptures; the Herodians being, probably, a political class, instead of a religious sect. Mark iii. 6.

The Pharisees were the most popular sect. They are supposed to have received their name from a Hebrew word which signifies to set apart, or to separate, as they separated themselves from the people, and were unwilling to associate with those whom they styled sinners. They adhered with scrupulous nicety to all the forms and ceremonies of the law, and were punctilious in their washings, oblations, fastings, public prayers, and the like. But as they did all this to be seen of men, they were justly chargeable with hypocrisy. They were, moreover, as indeed might naturally be expected, proud, haughty, supercilious; and they are represented as cruel, revengeful, ambitious, greedy of honor and riches, extortioners, and oppressors. Their true character may be seen, at a

glance, by consulting Matt. xv. 1-9, chapter xxiii.; and Luke xviii. 10-12. There were some exceptions, to be sure. Acts v. 34. But that this was their general character, while our Lord dwelt on the earth, there can be no doubt. He himself drew their character, and exposed their wickedness, in glowing colors; and he was not deceived or blinded; for he knew what was in man, and needed no human testimony. John ii. 25. In regard to doctrines professed by this sect, Josephus, himself a Pharisee, gives the following account: "The Pharisees are those who are esteemed most skilful in the exact explication of their laws, and introduce the first sect. These ascribe all to fate, [or providence,] and to God, and yet allow that to act what is right, or the contrary, is principally in the power of men; although fate does coöperate in every action. They say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of good men only are removed into other bodies, but that the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment."-Jew. Wars, B. 11., ch. viii., § 14. "When they determine that all things are done by fate, they do not take away the freedom from men of acting as they think fit; since their notion is, that it hath pleased God to make a temperament, whereby what he wills is done, but so that the will of man can act virtuously or viciously. They also believe, that souls have an immortal vigor in them, and that, under the earth, there will be rewards and punishments, according as they have lived virtuously or viciously in this life; and the latter are to be detained in an everlasting prison, but that the former shall have power to revive and live again."-Antiq. B. xvIII., ch. i., § 3. "The Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the laws of Moses."Antiq. B. xIII., ch. x., § 6. They also believed in the existence of angels and disembodied spirits. Acts xxiii. 8.

The Sadducees differed much from the Pharisees, both in doctrine and practice. According to the testimony of the same historian, they rejected the traditions of the elders, and professed. "that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the

to his baptism, he said unto them, | warned you to flee from the wrath O generation of vipers, who hath to come?

written word, but are not to observe
what are derived from the tradition of
our forefathers."-Antiq. B. XIII., ch.
x., § 6. "The doctrine of the Sadducees
S
is this, that souls die with the bodies;
nor do they regard the observation of
anything besides what the law enjoins
them."-Antiq. B. xvIII., ch. i., § 4.
"The Sadducees take away fate en-
tirely, and suppose that God is not con-
cerned in our doing or not doing what
is evil; and they say that to act what
is good, or what is evil, is at men's own
choice, and that the one or the other
belongs so to every one, that they may
act as they please. They also take
away the belief of the immortal dura-
tion of the soul, and the punishments
and rewards in Hades."-Jew. W., B.
11., ch. viii., § 14. They also denied
the existence of angels. Acts xxiii. 3.
It has been said, that they rejected all
the Old Testament except the Penta-
teuch, or five books of Moses.

W., B. II., ch. viii. "The doctrine of the Essenes is this, that all things are best ascribed to God. They teach the immortality of souls, and esteem that the rewards of righteousness are to be earnestly striven for; and when they send what they have dedicated to God into the temple, they do not offer sacrifices, because they have more pure lustrations of their own; on which account they are excluded from the common court of the temple, but offer their sacrifices themselves; yet is their course of life better than that of other men; and they entirely addict themselves to husbandry."—Antiq. B. xvIII. ch. i. § 5.

In common with the nation at large, both the Pharisees and the Sadducees expected the immediate approach of the Messiah; and when they heard that John was proclaiming his advent, they rushed, with the multitude, towards Jordan, that they might be among the first to greet him. Both presented As is generally the case, it will be themselves for baptism, and both were seen that both these sects embraced addressed by John, in terms at once of some truth and some error, in their surprise and admonition. ¶ Generation doctrines. And it is a fact deserving of vipers. A figure of speech denoting notice, that the Sadducees were much extreme wickedness. The viper is a more upright and virtuous in their con- species of snake, whose bite is poisonduct than the Pharisees; for, although ous, and generally fatal. Acts xxviii. our Lord had occasion frequently and 3--6. Our Lord used the same phrase most solemnly to denounce the hypoc- twice, when rebuking the Jews for their risy and scandalous wickedness of the sinfulness. Matt. xii. 34; xxiii. 33. Pharisees, he administered no such It seems to indicate not simply wicksevere and cutting rebukes to the Sad-edness, but a malignant, venomous, ducees. He was no respecter of persons; and, doubtless, dealt with equal faithfulness, in reproving the sins of all classes. Moreover, it may be observed, that the Sadducees manifested less opposition than the Pharisees, to the doctrines inculcated by our Lord. Luke xx. 27-38, is almost a solitary instance.

There was another sect, the Essenes, not named in the Scriptures, yet worthy of notice. They are described as virtuous in their conduct, and particular in their observance of religious ceremonies. They held all their property in common. They abstained from marriage, but received and educated the children of others; and thus, like the Shakers of the present time, whom they resembled in several respects, perpetuated their society.-Josephus. Jew.

destructive, disposition of heart. The language is applied to both the classes addressed; and, doubtless, both were sufficiently wicked to deserve it. Yet, as we must believe that some of each class were more sinful than others, though addressed in a mass in the same terms, so we may also believe that the one class, in the aggregate, was more thoroughly steeped in wickedness than the other.

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Who hath warned you. An exclamation of surprise, that anything had aroused them from their sinful lethargy, and induced them to seek the baptism of repentance. ¶ Wrath to come. "Impending vengeance."Campbell. This translator adds a note, justifying his version. "Mellōn (Miλwv) often means not only future, but near. There is just such a difference between estai (total) and mellei eses

8 Bring forth therefore fruits | our father: for I say unto you, meet for repentance: that God is able of these stones 9 And think not to say within to raise up children unto Abrayourselves, We have Abraham to

ham.

heart. It was useless to attempt to deceive him. If they would have their profession of repentance avail aught, it must be accompanied by a hearty renunciation of their sins, and the practice of virtue. Fruits is often used for works; Matt. vii. 16, 20; and meet was formerly used for fit, or proper.

9. We have Abraham to our father. Abraham is our father. The Jews seem to have imagined, that they were the peculiar favorites of God, and that he would grant them deliverance from all danger, because they descended from Abraham according to the flesh. John viii. 33. Our Lord taught them that this was not enough; but those only who imitated his virtues, were entitled to be considered the children of Abra

thai, (uéllel 0809a,) in Greek, as there is between it will be and it is about to be, in English. This holds particularly in threats and warnings." The meaning of the phrase is concisely and truly given by Bishop Pearce: "The punishment to come in the destruction of the Jewish state." This destruction, which was accomplished about forty years after the commencement of our Saviour's ministry, was very often referred to by him and by his apostles. It was designed as the punishment of sin. The Jews had long been treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath; and the rejection and crucifixion of Christ, the persecution of his disciples, and obstinate resistance against his spirit and gospel, were only necessary, that the cup of their wicked-ham, in such a sense as to be regarded ness should be filled, and vengeance administered to the uttermost. Matt. xxiii. 32-36; Luke xxi. 22; 1 Thess. ii. 16. "The wrath to come was the impending destruction soon to fall on the Jewish nation, unless they repented and reformed, and which did descend forty years after, overthrowing the temple, destroying millions of men, and annihilating the national existence of the Jews. Those who embraced Christianity escaped these judgments of heaven, because they believed in the prophecies foretelling their approach, and fled from the country."-Livermore. Lightfoot, Hammond, and others, give the same interpretation, substantially. See Selections, &c., sect. ii.

a chosen people. John viii. 39. The apostle alludes to the same distinction. Rom. ix. 6-8. The Baptist taught them that they might not expect to escape the calamity predicted, on account of their descent from Abraham. This would avail them nothing, unless they proved themselves to be worthy of such an ancestor, and of the covenant blessings, by practising righteousness, even as he did. ¶ Of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. Some suppose John intended that God, who at first formed man of the earth, could, by the exercise of the same power, animate the stones which lay in the bottom of Jordan. Others, with more seeming propriety, understand him to refer to 8. Fruits meet for repentance. the Roman soldiers, or other Gentiles, Works consistent with repentance, or fit who were standing near, and to mean for repentance. Let your works exhibit that God could convert them, and others the effects of repentance, or reformation. like them, into obedient and faithful Let your conduct be such as to prove children. This interpretation will not that your repentance is sincere. The seem harsh, when it is recollected that Baptist plainly alludes to the hypocrisy the Gentiles were despised by the Jews, of their character. He would have them and regarded as little better than stocks understand that no trifling was to be and stones. The idea manifestly is, that indulged. A terrible calamity was God was not confined to the literal approaching, which might be escaped, descendants of Abraham for a chosen if they would truly and heartily forsake people; but that he was able to provide their sins, and hear and obey the others to whom he might commit his instructions of the approaching Mes-oracles, and from whom he might expect siah; but which would otherwise over- filial reverence and obedience. whelm and crush them. He, who was apostle alludes to the same fact, and to execute this vengeance, could see the illustrates the manner in which it was

The

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