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suredly, that He ever liveth to make intercession for him at the right hand of God. Romans viii. 34. Hebrews vii. 25.

The Lord Jesus had much more to say concerning John. These are his words :

MATTHEW xi. 12-15. “ And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

With the ministry of John the Baptist the old prophets ended and the New Testament began; the gospel, the good news of pardon and peace, was first opened, and men were led to the Saviour by his preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins," (Mark i. 4.) and by his pointing out to them Jesus “the Lamb of God which taketh

the sin of the world :” (John i. 29.) But while the men of the world neglected John's warning voice, many of those who might rather have been expected violently to seize men's goods than to care for the things belonging to religion, were so moved by his preaching, that they, with great earnestness, pressed into the kingdom of heaven, coming from all parts to be taught by the Messiah. Thus the kingdom of heaven might be said to suffer violence, and the violent to take it by force. “All the prophets and the law prophesied until John," and the very last of the prophets, in the closing words of the Old Testament, foretold John's coming as the prophet Elias, or Elijah. The Lord Jesus solemnly adds, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear ;” and solemn indeed must this warning have been to the Jews, who all knew, if they chose to remember, the awful words of that prophecy spoken by Malachi. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord : and He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (Mal. iv. 5, 6.) Elias or Elijah was come! The great and dreadful day of the Lord was surely at hand, and unless the families of the earth were united in the Messiah's kingdom they would be smitten with a curse. Awful words were these, the last words of their Bible, the Old Testament, but not more awful than true; for dreadful indeed was the day that fell on Jerusalem. Awful the curse that smote the nation, and from that curse none escaped but those who had received Jesus as their Lord and their Redeemer. We have seen these things. We have seen come true all that the prophets have spoken, not only concerning John the Baptist, but all concerning the Messiah and his kingdom. We know how fearful was the doom that fell upon Jerusalem,* and we have in every land living witnesses of the punishment that still pursues the nation that knew not its day of grace, but rejected their long-looked-for Messiah. The voice of every Jew still unwillingly tells us to beware how we allow to pass unheeded the time of pardon and of peace.

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- He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

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Prayer. Almighty God, who didst send thy servant John the Baptist to prepare the way of thy Son, our Saviour, by preaching repentance; give us grace so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching.'t Grant that our minds may be so awakened to watch and to understand the fulfilment of the prophecies, that we may see in all the events of the world the guidance of thy hand; and as the signs of the second coming of our Lord are given, O let us not be slow to learn, but let us, taught of thee, prepare to meet bim. O holy Spirit of God, descend into our hearts, and turn away from us, and from our native land, the doom of those who might have known the truth, but closed their eyes and ears against it :-For Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

* About forty years after this time, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans with a fearful destruction, and those Jews who remained alive, were afterwards sold into slavery, and dispersed through all lands.

+ Collect.

XXI.

LUKE vii. 29, 30." And all the people that heard Jesus,

. “ (thus speak concerning John the Baptist) and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.

The common people, and even the publicans, who were many of them bad characters, “justified God,” that is, confessed His justice in that punishment of sin which John had taught them to expect. (Matt. iii. 10–12. Luke iii. 7—9.) They felt their need of repentance, of pardon, and of a change of heart and life; therefore they had been ready to listen to John's preaching, and they now willingly agreed in all the Lord Jesus had just spoken of John. But the pharisees and lawyers, in the pride of their hearts, despised the warnings they had received. They believed themselves righteous, and they had refused to be baptized of John, therefore they were displeased with all our Lord had said of him, because if John were right, then they were wrong; and thus they put from them the way by which they might have been saved. It is just in this way that men are apt to pass over those parts of the word of God which they think would interfere too much with their good opinion of themselves, and with the lives they choose to live. Oh let us take care that it is not so with ourselves ! “ The counsel of God” is, that we may see how terrible a thing sin is, how entirely it will, in the end, shut us out from happiness for ever, and seeing and feeling its evil, that we may gladly turn to the Saviour provided for us. Let us anxiously and carefully watch over ourselves, that we may be not of those who, through pride of heart, make this counsel of our God to us of none effect.

Our blessed Lord was full of earnest desire to rouse up a sense of their danger in those who turned away from him. They had refused to listen to John the Baptist ; they now refused to listen to him, the Messiah, who had been pointed out to them by John, and, that they might see the folly into which their pretendedwisd om brought them, He said unto

them :

LUKE vii. 31-34. " Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation ? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the market-place, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine ; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners."

There could be nothing more likely to bring these pretended wise men to a sense of their folly than this comparison. The Lord Jesus shewed them, as in a picture, what they were like. They were like quarrelsome children who were met together in the market-place to play, but who could not agree what was to be their game. If some of them proposed the merry music of a wedding, the others would not dance. If some of them thought to make a pretended funeral, mourning and lamenting in imitation of the hired mourners at a burial, the others would not join with them. In short, no game, whether grave or gay, could please them; and why? What was it that hindered them? It was their hour of play, -it was the place where they often amused themselves ; what then was wrong with these children that they let the time they might have to enjoy themselves, slip by, and lost it all in useless disputes ? It was they themselves that were perverse and quarrelsome. It was their temper that was wrong, and the men who stood by could easily see this ; but they did not see that they were themselves like these perverse children. They would not heed the preaching of John the Baptist, who had called to them from among the rocks in the wilderness, clad in camel's hair, and practising a life of hardship and self-denial; and they would not hear the preaching of Jesus, who kindly came among them, seeking out in their families, in their places of public meeting, and even at their feasts, all who would listen to His lessons of love, to his offers of mercy; healing the sick, casting out devils, and showing the repentant sinner the way into the kingdom of God. To neither would they listen. John, they said, was “possessed by a devil,” who no doubt drove him into the wilderness, and made him melancholy mad. Jesus, they said, was a winebibber, (fond of feasting,) and a friend of publicans and sinners !” Awful blasphemy! and yet too truly the language of discontented and perverse hearts, putting the blame of sin upon those things that God has sent upon us, instead of upon our own wilful and rebellious spirits. The Pharisees were allowing their day of grace to pass from

let us see that we are not doing the same. I live in a town, or I live among so many people, that I cannot attend to the things of religion ;' another says, 'I am so alone, I never see or talk with religious people, it would be such a help to me if I had religious friends, and for want of this I cannot go on in the ways of holiness.' Some complain that they have so many other duties, that their whole time and thoughts are taken up by them; others complain, that they really have few or no duties at all, and that this makes it very difficult for

them;

One says

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