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but a little way in his work, whose zeal is not backed with fortitude. The apprehension of danger, or even the frown of power, will alter his sentiments; he will see things in a different point of view, and turn with every blast of fashion or interest, till he himself believes every thing, and his hearers, offended and confounded, believe nothing.

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Not so the Baptist. "What went ye out into the "wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind"." No: a column firm and immoveable, against which winds might blow, and waves beat, in vain: one who had fixed his principles, and considered well, before he entered upon action; one who began not to build, till he had first counted the costs; but who, when once he did begin, would be sure to finish.

A person unacquainted with the world, and the tempers of its children, might, perhaps, be surprised upon hearing, that a prophet like St. John, who spent his time in calling his fellow-creatures to happiness and salvation, and who coveted no man's gold, or silver, or apparel, was cast into prison. But, as the wise man observeth, "The thing which "hath been is that which shall be; and there is "nothing new under the sun°." Ahab, at the instigation of Jezebel, again thirsts after the blood of Elijah.

Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee, had put away his own wife, the daughter of Aretas, and had married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom,

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contrary to the laws of hospitality as well as religion, he had seduced, while a guest in her husband's house". The sanctity and integrity of the Baptist had begotten, even in Herod, a great veneration and reverence for his character. "Herod feared John, "knowing that he was a just man, and a holy, and "observed him; and when he heard him, he did "many things, and heard him gladly." But the matter of Herodias was a tender point, on which the tetrarch was not disposed to hear the law, because he was not disposed to do it. He was determined to persevere in what was wrong, and his monitor to persist in telling him of it without reserve. "John

"said unto him, It is

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not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife." John, who had overcome the world, could not, either by promises or threatenings, be induced to recede from his duty, through hope of temporal good or fear of temporal evil. He was therefore soon convinced, by being carried to prison, that Herod had no farther occasion for his service. And who doth not rather wish to have been imprisoned with him, than to have glittered in all the glories of the throne of Herod? Happy John, sequestered once more from a troublesome world, to converse with God, and to meditate on that blessed place, and that blessed company, to which he was now hastening!

In this situation we find the thoughts of the Baptist employed, not upon his own sufferings, but upon

P See Josephus--Antiq. Lib. xviii. Cap. 6.
9 Mark, vi. 20.

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the interests of his great Master, the fame of whose miracles had reached the prison, and sounded in his cars. "When John had heard in prison the works "of Jesus, he sent two of his disciples'-." Thus the afflictions and tribulations which a Christian must endure for a little season in the world, should serve only to quicken his desires after his Redeemer, of whose works, wrought in mercy for the children of men, he will often hear; and the contemplation of them should afford him continual delight in the time of his captivity, until the day of his enlargement shall come. With Paul and Silas, let him declare the glad tidings of salvation, and sing the praises of God in the prison-house. Let him inquire diligently, and take every opportunity of hearing more particulars concerning his Saviour, as also of placing others in the way of information. So will he copy the example of him, who, "when he heard "in prison the works of Jesus, sent two of his disciples," that they might be more fully instructed, as to his person and mission.

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For that this must have been St. John's intention in sending them, is plain from the question which they were enjoined to ask; "Art thou he that "should come, or do we look for another?" The Baptist could not propose this question for his own information, but evidently for that of his disciples, whose prejudices in favour of himself, their first master, he found it so difficult to conquer. What he had hitherto said having proved insufficient for

Matt. xi. 3, &c.

that purpose, he now, in compassion to their infirmity, condescendeth to have their scruples propounded in his own name; affording us thereby a very useful hint, that in order to instruct others, we should abase ourselves, and know how to become weak with those that are so. For it often happens, that men need information upon some important point, who either through pride or bashfulness will not ask it, or through passion and prejudice will not receive it at our hands. In this case, the good, which we cannot do directly, we must contrive, if we can, to do indirectly, by proposing those questions ourselves, which we know that others in company want to hear answered, but cannot bring themselves to ask. This method of edifying the weak, without exposing their infirmities, will produce in them that love and confidence towards us, which, for their own sakes, we wish them to have. Whereas a contrary conduct, by provoking and alienating their affections from us, may put it out of our power ever to be of service to them again.

The same charitable plan is carried on by our Lord, who, in his answer, instructs the disciples by seeming to instruct their master: "Go," saith he, " and tell John what ye have seen and heard." And this may suggest a reason, why Christians in general should converse more upon religious subjects than they are wont to do, both asking questions, like St. John, and returning answers, like Christ, for the benefit and improvement of the by-standers, who may need information, though the person to whom one immediately addresseth oneself, should not. And

many a man hath been the better, all his life after, for a seasonable word spoken in common conversation, which is often more regarded and attended to, than a formal discourse from the pulpit.

The best proofs of a divine mission, which man is capable of receiving, are miracles, evidently and incontestably such; miracles, of the reality of which the outward senses, the eyes and the ears, are competent judges; miracles wrought publicly in the face of the world, in the presence of enemies as well as friends; and that, not once or twice, but repeatedly; and these miracles expressly predicted, hundreds of years beforehand. Such were the proofs offered by Christ to the disciples of John. For "in "that same hour," while they were present, and before their eyes, "he cured many of their infirmi"ties and plagues, and of evil spirits, and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Then said "he unto them, Go your way, and tell John what

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things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the "deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the Gospel is preached. And blessed is he whosoever "shall not be offended in me." As if he had said; I bear not witness of myself; my miracles bear witness of me. Only tell John what you have heard and seen, and he will teach you how to draw the proper inference. Isaiah, as he well knoweth, did foretell, that when Messiah came, he would perform such and such mighty works. You yourselves are eye and ear witnesses of the works done by me. Lay the premises fairly together, and you cannot be to seek for the conclusion.

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