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our blessedness to be informed, that " it " came to pass in those days, that Jesus

came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan; and

straightway coming up out of the water, " he saw the heavens opened, and the

Spirit, like a dove, descending upon 6 him. And there came a voice from “ Heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved “ Son, in whom I am well pleased !"

DISCOURSE IV.

ON THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE MINISTRY

OF JESUS.

*

Mark, i. 11.

And there came a voice from Heaven,

saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in of whom I am well pleased.

I have already examined the nature of that preparation, which had been made by the preaching of John, for the introduction of the Gospel. Its chief object was, to clear

away all false conceptions of religion ; and to shew that, unless the heart were alive to the impressions of moral duty, it could not be awakened to the higher sentiments of religious faith. Yet it pointed to the incompleteness of morality, when unaided by loftier views; and affirmed that a divine Teacher was at hand, who should instruct men, not only in the letter, but in the spirit of obedience, and inspire them with those hopes and consolations, which could never be derived from the wisdom of the present world.

* Preached on the last Sunday in Advent.

In the text, and in the verses immediately preceding, this heavenly Instructor comes, for the first time, into view. We see him come, in all the humility of his character, “to be baptized of John in Jor“ dan.” But his real dignity is immediately made known by the heavens opening, and the Spirit descending upon him, and the voice from Heaven, saying, “Thou “ art my beloved Son, in whom I am “ well pleased.” These are expressions of a very high import, and they lead us naturally to form conceptions of this messenger from Heaven, of a kind quite distinct from those with which we regard any of the other inspired teachers who are introduced to us in Holy Scripture. There are many expressions of a similar nature throughout the New Testament, from which we may perceive, that the writers of these sacred books entertained notions of the great author of Christianity, as of a Being, superior in one aspect of his nature, not only to man, but to every created intelligence. “ Unto “ which of the angels,” says the apostle to the Hebrews, “ said he at

“ said he at any time, “ Thou art my Son, this day have I be

gotten thee?"-And again, “ I will be 66 to him a Father, and he shall be to me “ a Son.”

I need not tell you that attempts have been made, in the present age, to weaken

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the force of such expressions, and that these attempts have frequently proceeded from a sincere love of truth, I am not at all disposed to call in question. What advantage, however, is to be derived from them, I must confess, I am quite at a loss to discover. I can see no advantage in removing from religion those fine chains, which connect the truths immediately apparent to us, with an higher order of things above our present comprehension ; or, in 'endeavouring to reduce all the possibilities of existence within the limited range of the understanding of man. There are those who entertain a vehement dislike to what are called mysteries in religion ; and if by mysteries be meant a collection of contradictory circumstances, classed together apparently with no other view than that of perplexing the human mind, (a form, perhaps, which they too often

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