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« that hath ears to hear, let him heara.” Secr.IV. By these expressions it was evidently Christ's intention to put his hearers upon the search after something more than the words, in the bare letter of them, might seem to contain. He directed them to go deeper into things, to study with attention the mission of the Baptist, his office and character; to compare together perfons, times, and events; and so to discover, in what sense John was Elias, and why Malachi had given him that appellation. But if they did this, and were once brought, in the person of John, to acknowledge Elias who was to precede the Messiah, they must necessarily, in the person of Jesus, acknowledge the Messiah whom Elias was to precede. And therefore, as they were obstinately resolved not to own the Master, Christ knew they would not recognize the servant, or receive this saying concerning him. Thus when the chief priests and elders interrogated our Lord in the temple, “ By what au“ thority dost thou these things, or “ who gave thee this authority? I will

* Matt. xi. 14.

H 2 « also,"

Sect.IV.“ also,” said he, “ ask you one question,

« The baptism of John, was it from
“ heaven, or of men ?” They perceived
the dilemma, and having considered
consequences, made the only safe an-
swer, “ We cannot tell a ;” an answer
which did honour to their prudence and
their caution, but certainly at the ex-
pence either of their wisdom, or their
honesty. As fitting in the chair of
Mofes, they ought to have known whence
the baptism of John was; and if they
did know, they ought not to have been
shy of declaring it.

That St. John was the Elias predicted by Malachi, we have also the teftimony of the angel !, at the annuntiation of his birth, who cites the very words of the prophet; “ He shall go “ before him in the spirit and power of “ Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children&c. And if this be the case, it follows by necessary inference, that by “ the great and dreadful “ day of the Lord,” before the coming of which Elijah is promised, Malachi

a Matt. xxi. 23. b Luke i. 7.

intends,

intends, primarily and immediately, the Secr.lv. day, not of the world's, but of Yeru- m Falem's destruction. For want of adverting to this, an opinion hath prevailed among Christian interpreters, that the whole prophecy relateth principally to the day of judgment, and to the appearance of an Elias, who shall then precede Christ. Whether there will be such an Elias at that time, and so the second advent will symbolize with the first in the circumstance of being previously proclaimed by a harbinger, like St. John, sent for that purpose, is a speculation with which we shall not at present concern ourselves, resting satisfied with the application of the prophecy, upon infallible grounds, to the person of the Baptist, the undoubted forerunner of our Lord, when he came to visit us in great humility. · God punisheth not finners, till he hath first invited them to repentance. He giveth fair warning before he striketh ; and a day of grace, in which mercy may be fought, and pardon found, always goeth before a day of vengeance and extermination. Elias was sent “be

o fore

Şect.IV.“ fore the coming of the great and

“ dreadful day of the Lord;” John called his countrymen to turn from their sins, and believe in their Messiah, e'er yet the desolations of Jerusalem exhibited to the wondering nations a specimen of that almighty power and inflexible justice, which shall one day lay the world itself in ruins.

The third chapter of Malachi containeth a most evident and clear prediction of Messiah's advent, with that of his precursor St. John.“ Behold, I “ will send my messenger, and he shall “ prepare the way before me; and the “ Lord whom ye seek fhall suddenly “ come to his temple, even the messen“ ger of the covenant whom ye delight « in: behold he shall come, faith the “ Lord of hosts.” The prophet goes on to foretell the effects of Christ's advent in the selection of a peculiar people, and the purification of a new priesthood, to offer new and acceptable offerings. “ But who may abide the day “ of his coming, and who shall stand, .“ when he appeareth ? For he is like a “ refiner's fire, and like fuller's foap.

And

• And he shall fit as a refiner and puri- Sect.IV. « fier of filver ; and he shall purify them “ fons of Levi, and purge them as gold “ and silver, that they may offer unto « the Lord an offering in righteousness. “ Then shall the offering of Judah and • Jerufalem be pleasant unto the Lord, “ as in the days of old, and as in for

mer years ;" pleasant as in the days when their fathers offered in faith, and the desire of Meffiah's appearance was the ruling passion of their fouls. The rest of the chapter is employed in reproving the rebellion, facrilege, and infidelity of the Jews; and the fourth chapter opens with a description of the day fatal to Jerusalem --- “ Behold the “ day cometh that shall burn as an oven, “ and all the proud, yea and all that do " wickedly shall be stubble, and the day « that cometh shall burn them up, faith “ the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave " them neither root nor branch.” For the consolation of the faithful, God by his prophet again foretelleth Messiah's advent, with the increase, victory, and triumph of the church --- “ But unto “ you that fear my name, shall the sun

OF

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