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joined to be abserved by the people of Sect. VIII.
God. But, for a young lady to appear, m
as a dancer, before Herod and his “ lords,
45 high captains, and chief estates of
^ Galilee,” probably, when they were
well warmed with wine, became only
the daughter of an Herodias, educated
by her own mother....

HEROD, quite overcome and thrown
off his guard by Salome's performance,
makes her a foolish promise ; and, as if
that was not enough, confirms it with
a' rash oath ; " Whatsoever thou shalt
$ ask of me, I will give it thee, to
“ the half of my kingdom.” A very
handsome recompence, one would think;
for a dance! But it will appear pre-
sently, that the king had not offered
enough. Half his kingdom would not
do. Something was required more va-
luable than the whole of it, had it ex-
tended from Yudea, quite round the
globe. Nothing would satisfy, but his
honour, his conscience, his soul; the
price which sin never fails to alk! The
glorious golden opportunity of revenge
was not to be loft. Herodias is consulted
a

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Sect. VIII. by her daughter, and lo, thé foft, ten

d er, delicate Salome reenters, all athirst for blood --- “Give me in a charger “ the head of John the Baptist';" of a prophet ; of a person whom thou knowest to be innocent, holy, upright. Make me this sacrifice, and I am content. With such eagerness and fagacity does “ the adultèress hunt i for “ the precious life !” D ari sil 1!'

BAD as Herod, was, the petition of Salome at first shocked him. “ The king “ was sorry.". He thought of Yohn's character, the atrociousness of the murder, and the opinion which the world would entertain of the murderer. But the tide, which had ebbed, soon flowed again, and obliterated, in a moment, what had been written on the sand, during it's recess. The love of Herodias, the address of Salome, the festivity of the season, and the presence of the lords " and high captains,” who had been witnesses of the promise, and might possibly approve the proposal; all these circumstances on the side of the temptation prevailed. And perhaps, Herod, upon recollection, might think that the

supposed

fuppofed obligation of his bath would Sèxt.VIII. afford him a better excuse than he should me ever be master of again, for complying with the importunity of Herodias, and taking off a monitor troublesome to them both. 6. For his oath's fake, and for “their fakes which fat with him, he « would not reject her.” Thus, if any extraordinary wickedness is to be transacted, religion must be made a cover for it. As if wrong became right, when acted in the name of God; and it were more acceptable in his fight, to massacre a prophet, than to repent of a rash oath made to a foolish girl, at a drunken entertainment. ; ,..'

The Baptist's fate being thus determined, “ immediately the king sent « an executioner, and commanded his “ head to be brought : and he went " and beheaded him in the prison.” This deed of darkness must have been done in the season proper for it, the middle of the night, and St. John was probably awakened, to receive his fentence, out of that fleep, which truth and innocence can secure to their poffeffor, in any situation. The generality

SZEŁ.VIII. of mankind have reason enough to deum precate a fudden death, left it should

surprize them in one of their many unguarded hours. But to St. John no: hour could be such. He had finished the work which God had given him to do. . He had kept the faith, and preferved a confcience yoid of offence. He had done his duty, and waited daily and hourly, we may be sure, for his departure. He was now, therefore, called off from his station with honour, to quit the well fought field for the palace of the Great King; to refresh himself, after the dust, and toil, and heat of the day, by bathing in the fountain of life and immortality; to exchange his blood-stained armour for a robe of glory, and to have his temporary labours rewarded with eternal rest; to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Facob, in the kingdom of God; and, as the Friend of the Bridegroom, to enter into the joy of his Lord. From the darkness and confinement of a prison he passed to the liberty and light of heaven ; and while malice was gratified with a sight of his head, and his body was carried by a few friends

in

in filence to the grave, his immortal Sect. VIII. spirit repaired to a court, where no Herod desires to have his brother's wife; where no Herodias thirsts after the blood of a prophet; where he who hath laboured, with sincerity and diligence, in the work of reformation, is sure to be well received; where holiness, zeal, and constancy “ are crowned and re“ ceive palms from the Son of God, “ whom they confessed in the world a."

So finks the day-star in the ocean bed,
And yet anon uprears his drooping bead,
And tricks his beams, and with new spangled ore
Flames in the forehead of the morning Sky
He bears the unexpresive nuptial song
In the blest kingdoms meek of joy and love.
There entertain him all the saints above,
In solemn troops, and sweet societies,
That fing, and singing in their glory move,
And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes.

MILTON
2 Esdr. ii. 45–47.

THE END. .

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