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will alter his sentiments; he will see Sect. VII. things in a different point of view, and m o turn with every blast of fashion or in, terest, till he himself believes every thing, and his hearers, offended and confounded, believe nothing.
Not so the Baptist. « What went ye * out into the wilderness to fee? A reed « shaken with the winda.” No: a column firm and immoveable, against which, 'winds might blow, and waves beat, in vain; one who had fixed his principles, and considered well, before he entered upon action; one who began not to build, till he had first counted the costs; but who, when once he did begin, would be sure to finish. ....A PERSON unacquainted with the world, and the tempers of it's childa ren, might, perhaps, be surprized upon hearing, that a prophet, like St. John, who spent his time in calling his fellow creatures to happiness and salvation, and who coveted no man's gold, or filver, or apparel, was cast into prison. But, as the wise man observeth, “ The thing “ which hath been is that which shall
• Matt. xi. 7
Se&.VII.“ be, and there is nothing new under m « the sun a." Abab, at the instigation
of Jezebel, again thirsts after the blood of Elijah."
Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee, had put away his own wife, the daughter of Aretas, and had married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom, contrary to the laws of hospitality as well as religion, he had seduced, while a guest in her husband's house b. The fanctity and integrity of the Baptist had begotten, even in Herod, a great veneration and reverence for his character. “ Herod feared John, knowing that he “ was a just man, and an holy, and ob« served him, and when he heard him, “ he did many things, and heard him “ gladly.” But the matter of Herodias was a tender point, on which the tetrarch was not disposed to hear the law, because he was not disposed to do it. He was determined to persevere in what was wrong, and his monitor to persist in telling him of it, without reserve.
a Ecclef. i. 9.
See Josephus --- Antiq. Lib. xviii. Cap. 6. c Mark vi. 20. ..
66 John faid unto him, It is not lawful Sect.VII. 6 for thee to have thy brother's wife." m Fohn, who had overcome the world, could not, either by promises or threatnings, be induced to recede from his duty, through hope of temporal good, or fear of temporal evil. He was therefore foon convinced, by being carried to prison, that Herod had no farther occasion for his service. And who doth not rather wish to have been imprisoned with him, than to have glittered in all the glories of the throne of Herod ? Happy John, fequeftered once more from a troublesome -world, to converse with God, and to meditate on that blessed place, and that blefsed company, to which he was now hastening !
In this situation we find the thoughts of the Baptist employed not upon his own sufferings, but upon the interests of his great Master, the fame of whose miracles had reached the prison, and founded in his ears. “ When John had "s heard in prison the works of Jesus, « he sent two of his disciplesa ---" Thus the afflictions and tribulations * Matt. xi. 2, &c. .
Se&. VII. which a Christian must endure for a
little season, in the world, should serve only to quicken his desires after his Redeemer, of whose works, wrought in mercy for the children of men, he will often hear; and the contemplation of them should afford him continual delight in the time of his captivity, until the day of his enlargement shall come. With Paul and Silas let him declare the glad tidings of salvation, and sing the praises of God in the prison-house. Let him enquire diligently, and take every opportunity of hearing more particulars concerning his Saviour, as also of placing others in the way of information. So will he copy the example of him, who, “ when he heard in prison the “ works of Jesus, sent two of his dis“ciples," that they might be more fully instructed, as to his person and miffion. .
For that this must have been St. Yohn's intention in sending them, is plain from the question which they were enjoined to ask; “ Art thou he that “ should come, or do we look for an“ other ?" The Baptist could not pro
pose pose this question for his own informa- Se&.VII. tion, but evidently for that of his difciples, whose prejudices, in favour of himself, their first master, he found it fo difficult to conquer. What he had hitherto said having proved insufficient for that purpose, he now, in compassion to their infirmity, condescendeth to have their scruples propounded in his own name ; affording us thereby a very useful hint, that in order to instruct others, we should abase ourselves, and know how to become weak with those who are so. For it often happens, that men need information upon some important point, who either thro' pride or bashfulness will not ask it, or through passion and prejudice will not receive it at our hands. In this case, the good, which we cannot do directly, we must contrive, if we can, to do indirectly, by proposing those questions ourselves, which we know that others in company want to hear answered, but cannot bring themselves to ask. This method of edifying the weak, without exposing their infirmities, will produce in them that love and confidence to