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ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. * It has been already mentioned, that this Herod was Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great. Philip was 'not he who was Tetrarch of Iturea, but a younger brother, named Herod Philip. Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, another son of Herod the Great ; she was niece to her husband, Herod seduced her from his brother, who was a private person, and tempted her to partake with him the pleasures of a court, promising to marry her, and put away his present wife, the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia.
Herodias was convinced of the great regard which Herod entertained for John the Baptist, and that it was in vain to attempt persuading him to put him to death in his hours of calm reason and reflection; but 'she im patiently watched for an opportunity of being revenged on one whom she regarded as hér worst enemy. At length a public festival was kept for the celebration of the king's birthday, when she introduced Salome, the daughter whom she had while she lived with Philip, a young lady remarkable for her beauty; and in order to gain the favour of Herod, desired her to dance before the company. The circumstances of this shocking story chill one with horror! Who could suppose any mother would be wicked enough to command her daughter to make such a barbarous request, as to have a good, an innocent man slaughtered, to gratify her revenge? Who would think any daughter could so totally overcome the tenderness natural to her sex and youth as to comply. with it? As for Herod, he surely must have: Leen in a state of intoxication ; yet it appears that he had not lost the power of reflection, for he was exceeding sorry: yet, for his gath's sake, and lest his guests should despise him for the breach of it, he resolved to keep it. Bishop Newcome's Dissertation; also Josephus's Antiquities.
We may conclude that all the company bore secret enmity to John, on account of his preaching up repentance and amendment of life, for not one became his advocate; and he died a martyr, after having lived a life of exemplary holiness.
From this transaction we learn, that malice and revenge, if they once take possession of the mind, know no bounds, and naturally incline the heart to acts of cruelty: every one therefore should endeavour to stifle the first emotions of them. It likewise instructs us, that it is dangerous to indulge in sensual pleasures, since virtue and humanity generally fall a sacrifice to them. We are also taught that rash oaths and inconsiderate promises should be carefully avoided, since they usually produce both sin and sorrow.
Let those who despise the cruelty and ingratitude of Herodias, be thankful when they are admonished for their good; and let those who are shocked at the horrid command which she gave to her daughter, rejoice that they have better parents; but should it be the unhappy lot of any who read her history to have bad parents let them steadily resolve not to comply with any sinful commands, but to perform their duty, to Gop in the first place. Nothing can sink a woman in the eyes of the world more than cruelty, because it is the very, reverse of that tenderness which is the characteristic of her sex, and which is absolutely necessary to enable her to perform the offices of the wife, the mother, and, the friend
After the eulogium which our SAVIOUR passed upon John the Baptist, it is needless to say any thing farther on his character. Why it pleased God to suffer him thus to fall by the hands of his enemies, we are not told, but may be certain it was for wise and good pur.
poses. John had done the work which the LORD'appointed him to do; and it was the will of the Almighty to take him to a better world. There is, I think, no doubt but that his mind was thoroughly prepared for death;
and if so, an execution was much less pain than a disease would have been: besides, it was more honourable tu die by martyrdom than by a natural death, and a glorious reward is annexed to martyrdom. Before John was imprisoned, there were great 'dissensions between his disciples and those of Jesus; and had he continued at liberty, it is likely these would have produced greater divisions; or had he retired from the world, his doc. trinės might have been forgotten : but, without doubt, John continued, when in prison, to bear private testi. mony to JESUS, for he was not a reed shaken with the wind of persecution. It was supposed that John was in the prison a year and a half; during which time our LORD wrought so many miracles, that his fame spread far and near, and John's disciples were at length con. vinced that he was the Messiah, and after the death of their Master resorted to him.
On hearing that John was beheaded, our SAVIOUR retired into the desert, knowing, as we may suppose, that Herodias would seek his life ; which it was not proper to expose to her rage, as his ministry was not yet completed.
JESUS EATS WITH SIMON, THE PHARISEE. THE
PARABLE OF THE TWO DEBTORS.
From Luke, Chap. vii. And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat.
And behold a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that JESUS sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster-box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him; for she is a sinner.
And Jesus answering, said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master,
There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed him five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly far gave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most?
Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
Mine head with oil thou didst not anoint; but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. }
Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are
many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that:sat at meat with him, began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also ?
And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. It is probable that the Pharisee invited our LORD with a view to ensnare him in his discourse ; and Jesus, knowing what was proper to be done on all occasions, resolved to accept the invitation.
It was not the custom to sit upright at dinner, but to lie in a reclining posture, so that the feet went slanting from the table, and each person's head came to the breast of him who sat next him. It was usual for servants to wash the feet of the guests with water, and anoint their heads with odoriferous ointment, or at least with oil.
The woman who followed our Lord to the Pharisee's house, is supposed to have been a Gentile; and it is ima. gined that she had before been converted by our Sa. VIOUR's preaching, and pardoned by him. · Piously af. fected with his benevolence, she was desirous of giving some public testimony of her thankfulness. Thus did she honour our LORD, while the Pharisee, notwithstand. ing his pretended knowledge of the Scriptures, could not discover that he was even a Prophet; but Jesus, to prove that he was more than a Prophet, replied to his secret thoughts, and justified the woman's action, and his own permission of it.
Our LORD's professing to forgive sins, gave great offence to the Pharisees; but instead of entering into an argument concerning his power to forgive sins, which he