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understandings to interpret them, and Sect.V. who gives authority as well as ability to preach that great truth revealed in them, every minister of Christ, who succeeds the Baptist in the blessed work of calling men to falvation, should mortify the lusts of the flesh, that the graces of the Spirit may live and grow in him.. : By a thorough mortification of the flesh, St. John had gained a compleat victory over the world, which had nothing in it that he wanted. And herein consisted that greatness of his character foretold by the angel; “ He shall be “ great in the fight of the Lord.” Earthly pageantry engages not the attention of the spirits above, unless it be to pity such as set their hearts upon it. They discerned something more truly great in the person of the Baptist, when he came forth from the defarts, than in that of a triumphant monarch, at the head of his victorious army, “ Behold,” faith our Lord, “they that “ wear soft clothing are in kings?
a Luke i. 15.
6 houses a,"
Seer.y. “ houses ";" look for them among the
a ttendants upon the princes of this world, and not among my fervants. They who thirst after temporal honours and advantages, must go where such things are to be had. And let them go any where, rather than come into the church, with these difpofitions. For he who would persuade others to despife the world, while the love of it appears to direct and govern all his own actions, can expect no better suceefs than it may be fuppofed St. Peter would have met with, had he invited those, who stood with him round the fire in the high priest's Thall, into the service of that master, whom they had just before heard him deny. ;:~ When thou art “ converted, ftrengthen thy brethren bz” attempt not to do it till then, left thou not only fallest into condemnation thyfelf, but layeft a stumbling block in the way of the weak, and causest the name of God and his gospel to be thus blaf. phemed through thy double-minded ness, while thy life is at variance with
a Matt. xi. 8.
Luke xxii. 32.
thy doctrine.” He who undertakes to Sect.V. reprove the world, must be one whom the world cannot reprove. All eyes will be upon him ; his actions, his words, his very gestures and looks will be observed and canvassed by his sharp sighted enemies. - It will therefore behove one, fo exposed on all fides, to abstain from the least appearance of evil, to stand at the utmost distance from temptation, and to prevent even the possibility of a suspicion. The ax must be laid to the root, and the paffion's mortified, till the man become, in the emphatical language of scripture, « dead to sina,” as a corpse is to the delights and concerns of life. “The dead' know not any thing, 66 neither have they any more a portion « in any thing that is done under the “ fun b." • STRANGE, therefore, as St. John's appearance and manner of life might at first feem, they were presently explained, when he began to preach a doctrine harsh and distasteful to flesh and blood, as the garment he wore, and the food
Secr.v. on which he subsisted.“ Repent ye;"
t hat is, Be converted, or changed, in
* Matt. iii. 2a
Luke iii. 3.
« kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Thus Sect.V. did St. John lay the foundations of the evangelical edifice in mortification and self-denial ; nor did his blessed Master afterward propose the glories of a crown to any but those who should be ready to take up their cross in the way to them.
The appearance of sanctity, put on by every impostor, is a proof of the influence, which it hath, when genuine and unaffected, over the minds of men. The preacher will always be attended, who conforms to his own doctrine, and exemplifies it in his life, be that doctrine ever so rigid. No sooner was it known, that yohn, the son of Zacharias, was come forth from the desarts, and had begun to preach, but “ there “ went out unto him Jerusalem, and all « Judea, and all the region round about “ Jordan, and were baptized of him in “ Jordan, confessing their fins a." The discourses of the Baptist were sharp and piercing as lancets. He applied them home to the human heart, swollen with pride, and full of iniquity. And indeed, . . wa Matt. iii. 5,6. .