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vice, and extorted the admiration and the respect of their bitterest persecutors".
Though Herod was incensed against John, though “he feared” him, and trembled on his throne at the voice of his rebuke,ấyet, when his head was demanded by Salome, “the king was exceeding sorry.” – The horror of the sacrifice, and the purity of the victim, rushed at once on his mind, and forced from him the confession of his own cruelty, and the sincerity of John :-he knew that he was “a just man.”—A similar consciousness of his guilt, and a similar acknowledgment
of the honesty of Jesus, may be remarked in the • conduct of Judas. Conscious that he had “betrayed the innocent blood",” he cast down the price of his iniquity, and sought refuge from the terrors of self-reproach in a violent and immediate death.
Surely, had Judas observed the least appearance of deception, the least expression of impurity,—the least blemish of imperfection in the actions or in the discourse of him, who assumed the character of Messiah,—he would have clung to its remembrance, as to an entire consolation, and regarded his betrayal in no other light, than as an act of justice to his country, and of obedience to those laws of God, which ordained that the prophet, which should presume to speak a word in his name, which he had not commanded, should die.
1“ Satis firmum testimonium est ad probandam veritatem quod ab ipsis perhibetur inimicis.” Lactant. Inst. lib. iv. c. 12. ? Mark vi. 26.
3 Mark vi. 20. ' 4 Matt. xxvii. 5.
- Deut. xviii. 20.
By the same mode of reasoning, had Herod remarked the smallest indication of duplicity in the conduct or in the preaching of the Baptist ;-had he heard of one vicious propensity, or of one false assertion,-he would have derived satisfaction from having found the dictates of duty in unison with the impulse of passion, and having combined revenge on a troublesome monitor with the punishment of a detected impostor. But we find that remorse and alarm pursued him incessantly, and that he feared John even after death. Yopoders γαρ η μοχθηρία και τοσούτον, ως και τους νεκρούς dedoukéval®.
We maintain, that this is a strong internal proof of the unimpeachable integrity of John. A slight review of his character is sufficient to convince the most suspicious and the most obstinate caviller, that he was incapable of disguise and deceit.-His severe abstinence and peculiar austerity contradict all supposition of imposture.-His youth was spent “ in the deserts?;-he was a Nazarite, drinking “ neither wine nor strong dririk ?,” but “his meat was locusts9 and wild honey," and he wore a
Luke i. 80. 8 Luke i. 15. 9 It appears not, that John affected the rigorous abstinence of hermits, but only that he lived in a simple and frugal way, content with what nature supplied in his retreat. The word “ akpídes ” has been variously explained; but our translation is the plainest and the best “ 'Axpis, eidos (wüpiove noble dè dkpídas ó apóòpouos kai pénı äryptov.”—Suidas—Some eastern people are called “expidopáryo.” (Eustath. in Odyss. 6.)—Wild honey was found in great quantities in Judæa.-His clothing is mentioned by Rauwolf as that which is in common use in those deserts.
“raiment of camel's hair," with “a leathern girdle about his loins'.” All this shews a mind without propensity to depraved indulgence, and without tendency to dissimulation and fraud : “ for the holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit?.”—Compare with him the great impostor Mahomet,-seek him in the recesses of tyranny and lust, or follow him in the path of blood and desolation ;—see him violating his own licentious rules,-claiming the unbounded privilege of the wildest gratification of voluptuousness and sensuality,—and endeavouring to enjoy on earth that carnal paradise, which he represented in the richest colours as the reward of heaven.—Then turn to the retired life of John : go with the throngs to behold the preacher of reformation : but“ what went ye out into the wilderness to see?-A man clothed in soft raiment?”— No.—John was plain and humble, unadorned and unambitious, conforming his habits of life to his rigid principles, and illustrating his severe doctrines by his holy example.—The whole tenour of his conduct was so marked by every virtue, and so free from all suspicion, that, according to Josephus, it was common to regard the political misfortunes of Herod as a punishment of heaven for his
Chardin assures us the modern Dervishes wear camel's hair, as they do also great leathern girdles, and sometimes feed on locusts. See also Plin. lib. xi. cap. 29. Strabo lib. xvi. Hieron. in Jovin. lib. ii. c. 6. On this subject may be consulted, Buthner. Inquisitio in Historiam Johannis.-Cellarius. Dissertationes Academicæ. VII.-Is. Casaubon. De Locis Sacris. Exercitationes.-J. C. Wolfius. Curae Philologicæ, &c. : Matt. iii. 4.
2 Wisd. i.
death. -But, if any supposition should arise, that artifice and baseness sheltered themselves under the cover of piety and self-denial, let us reflect on the sincerity of his manner*. -He collected vast: crowds around him, but it was not by the smoothness of flattering falsehoods: he gratified neither their prejudices, nor their passions, but poured forth his indignant rebuke with boldness and zeal against the chiefs and rulers of the land. He studied not, like Mahomet in his addresses to the Arabs, to encourage them by appealing to their illustrious ancestor Abraham, - but strongly recalled them from their blind delusions on this particular point. We find constant traces of his humility. He shone as a "burning light” to all, but threw the shadow of lowliness round himself. When the. admiration of his superior excellence was every where spread, and its praise resounded from every quarter ;-—when all men “mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ or noto;"—when the Sanhedrim sent a deputation of priests and Levites to enquire into his claims ;he 'repeated, that, far from being the Messiah, or Elias, or one of the ancient Prophets,- he was nothing but “the voice of one crying in the wilder
4 « It is absurd to imagine that any man could be prevailed on to lead the austere life of John till thirty years of age, that he might impose upon the world by giving a title to another man, which would lessen his own character and consequence,” G'. Sharpe On Prophecy..
6 Luke iii, 15.
ness?!”—What, therefore, could induce him, if he were a deceiver, so constantly and so positively to refuse those offers of greatness and honours, which the multitude presented ?—What, we ask, were the motives which influenced his singular conduct ? It was not the desire of wealth, for he lived in the garb of poverty and mortification ;—nor was it the love of fame, for he remitted all glory to that unattended and unobserved person, “the latchet of whose shoes” he professed himself “ not worthy to unloose ?;"—nor was it the pride of authority, for he required not of his followers to put on “his raiment of camel's hair," but exhorted them—“to bring forth fruits meet for repentance.”—He might have foreseen, that his bold rebukes and warnings would have led to vengeance and death.-He knew the fate of former prophets,—how Jerusalem stoned them that were sent to her,—nor could he hope for milder treatment from a gloomy despot, who dreaded the appearance of that new King, whose approach he proclaimed ;-yet he comes, and with