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dead, puts new vigour into all her powers and faculties, and animates her to duty, by the powerful motives it suggesteth: it is this which is a counterbalance to the temptations of sense, by the promises made to our faith; which supports the infirmity of nature by the glorious objects proposed to our hope; and which triumphs over the opposition of the world, by the love of God shed abroad in our hearts: it procures us the only solid happiness there is in this world, and opens a way to the felicities of the next: it holds him out to us, who is our "shield" on earth, and will be our "exceeding great reward" in heaven; who "guides us with his counsel, and will, "after that, receive us to glory-Whom have we in heaven, O Lord, but thee; and there is none upon "earth we can desire in comparison with thee!"

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11.-Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us,

12. To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

St. John was the morning-star, that preceded the Sun of righteousness at his rising; an event, the glory of which is due to "the tender mercy of our

God;" since towards the production of it man could do no more than he can do towards causing the natural sun to rise upon the earth. The blessed

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effects of the day-spring which then dawned from on high, and gradually increased more and more unto the perfect day, were-the dispersion of ignorance, which is the darkness of the intellectual world; the awakening of men from sin, which is the sleep of the soul; and the conversion and direction of their hearts and inclinations into "the way of peace," that is, of reconciliation to God by the blood of Christ, to themselves by the answer of a conscience cleansed from sin, and to one another by mutual love. Happy is the people that is in such a case; yea, "happy is the people, whose God is the Lord. They "are the children of the light and of the day. Their "sun shall no more go down, neither shall their "moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be unto "them an everlasting light, and the days of their "mourning shall be ended."

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SECTION III.

Considerations on St. John's Education in the Deserts.

ALL the information we have concerning St. John, from the time of his birth to that of his public appearance, is contained in the few following words"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, "and was in the deserts till the day of his showing "unto Israelf." There, apart from the world, and

f Luke, i.80.

under the tuition of Heaven, he was catechized in the principles of divine wisdom, initiated into the mystery of a holy life, and perfected in the discipline of selfdenial;

The moss his bed, the cave his humble cell,
His food the fruits, his drink the crystal well:
Remote from man, with God he pass'd the days,
Pray'r all his bus'ness, all his pleasure praise.

PARNELL.

This dispensation in the case of the Baptist, like many others relative to the prophets, was extraordinary and miraculous; consequently, not to be literally copied by any one, but in similar circumstances, and under a supernatural direction. Nor has the monastic scheme the sanction of so great an example; as St. John was under the obligation of no vow, but having finished his preparation in solitude, came forth to act his part upon the theatre of the world. And it is well known, that, even in those ages when mankind stood astonished at the austerities practised by recluses and eremites, the episcopal or sacerdotal character was reckoned as much superior to the other, as charity is better than contemplation. "In solitude," saith a great master of this subject, "a man may go to heaven by the way of prayer and "devotion; but in society he carries others with "him by the way of mercy and charity. In solitude "there are fewer temptations, but then there is like"wise the exercise of fewer virtues. Solitude is a

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good school, and the world the best theatre. The "institution is best there, the practice here.

The

"wilderness hath the advantage of discipline, but "society furnisheth the opportunities of perfection." To confirm this judicious state of the case, it may be observed, that the only perfect life which hath ever been led on earth, was a mixture of the solitary and social. Our Lord himself passed thirty years in the privacy of Nazareth, and then appeared in public to exercise his ministry; but still not without frequent intervals of retirement. "It was in solitude "that he kept his vigils; the desert places heard "him pray; in the wilderness he vanquished Satan; upon a mountain apart he was transfigured". But in public he preached the Gospel, and converted souls; in public he healed the sick, and cast out devils; in public he suffered, and, while he redeemed the world, set it a pattern of humility, patience, and charity.

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h "

From the circumstance of St. John's education in the deserts we may, therefore, venture to draw a conclusion which will be of general use with regard to all ministers of the Gospel, namely, that the solitary way of life is necessary to qualify them for the offices of the social; or, that he who would serve God acceptably in public, must first prepare himself for that purpose in private. The reason is, because no man is properly qualified to teach wisdom and holiness, who doth not himself possess them. And a little reflection will convince us, how needful retirement is for the acquisition of both.

8 Bishop Taylor's Life of Christ, sect. viii.

h Ibid.

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The toils undergone by all who have ever made any great proficiency in wisdom, plainly prove close application and deep attention to be requisite for its attainment. And they who imagine themselves to have discovered a shorter way, conducting them to it without study, will find, sooner or later, that they have mistaken their road. Hardly do we guess "aright at things that are upon earth, and with la"bour do we find the things that are before us1:" shall we then expect a knowledge of those which are of a high and spiritual nature, without any labour at all? The prophets themselves" inquired and "searched diligently what things the spirit of Christ, "which was in them, did signify ." The royal Preacher, endued from above with "largeness of "heart as the sand upon the sea shore," yet took pains, and those no slight ones, in the invention and disposition of his discourses. For," in order to "teach the people knowledge, he gave good heed, "and sought out and set in order many proverbs; yea, the preacher sought to find out acceptable words, words of uprightness and truth'." And if Solomon were not exempted from study and meditation, no other man can have any title to hope for such a privilege.

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But who shall be able to fix his attention, amidst the hurry and dissipation of life? Who can meditate on wisdom, with the noise of folly sounding incessantly in his ears? That blessed person who could suffer no distraction of thought from the objects

i Wisdom, ix. 16.

k 1 Pet. i. 10. - 1 Eccles. xii. 10.

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