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i be pleases, for the accomof his own purposes. But why to these two women, the two Maries, is the discovery of Christ's resurrection first made t Possibly it was a reward for their magnanimity and masculine courage. These women cleaved to Christ when the apostles fled from him, and forsook him; they assisted at his cross, they attended at his funeral, they watched his sepulchre. These women had more courage than the apostles, therefore God makes the women apostles to the apostles; he sends them to tell the apostles of the resurrection, and they must have the news at the second hand. O what a tacit rebuke was thereby given to the apostles! a secret check, that they should be thus outdone by poor women. These holy women went before the apostles in the last services that were done for Christ, and therefore the apostles here come after tliem in their rewards and comforts. Observe, 5. The evidence which the angel offers to the women, to evince and prove the verity and certainty of our Saviour's resurrection; namely, by an appeal to their senses, Come, see the place where the Lord lay. The senses, when rightly disposed, are the proper judges of all sensible objects; Christ himself did appeal to his disciples' senses concerning the truth of his own resurrection; Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: and indeed, if we must not believe our senses, we shall want the best external evidence for the proof of the truth of the christian religion; namely, the miracles wrought by Christ and his apostles; for what assurance can we have of the reality of these miracles, but from our senses; therefore says our Saviour, If ye believe not me, yet believe the works that I do; that is, the miracles which 1 have wrought before your eyes. Now as my senses tell me that Christ's miracles were true, so they assure me that the doctrine of transubstantiation is false. From the whole note, That the Lord Jesus Christ, by the omnipotent power of his Godhead, revived and rose again from the dead, to the terror and consternation of his enemies, and the unspeakable joy and consolation of believers.
8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, and did run to bring his disciples word. 0 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail.
And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
Observe here, 1. What haste and speed these holy women make to carry the news of Christ's resurrection to the apostles: such as find and feel their hearts grieved for the absence and want of Christ, will be very ready to comfort such as are in the same condition. O how glad arc these holy women to carry the good news of their Lord's resurrection to the heart-broken disciples. Observe, 2. How these holy women hastened, in obedience to the angel's command, to tell the disciples to meet with Christ in the way. Such as obey the directions of God's ministers, seeking Christ in his own way and means, shall find him to their comfort sooner than they expected. These holy women find Christ before they looked for him: As they went to tell his disciples, Jesus met them. O happy women! whilst they were weeping for a dead Christ, they find a living Jesus. Observe, 3. The affectionate and loving title which Christ puts upon his disciples: Tell my brethren. He might have said, "Go tell those apostate apostles, that cowardly left me in my danger, that durst not own me in the high priest's hall, that durst not come within the shadow of my cross, nor within the sight of my sepulchre." Not a word of this, by way of upbraiding them for their late shameful cowardice; but all words of kindness: Go tell my brethren. Where note, That Christ calls his disciples brethren after his resurrection and exaltation, as he had done before in his state of humiliation, to show the continuance of his former affection to them, and that the change of his condition had wrought no change in his affection towards his despised members: but those that were his brethren before, in the time of his abasement, are so still after his exaltation and advancement. Observe lastly, The place where Christ chooses to meet with and speak to his disciples, not in Jerusalem, but in Galilee. / go before them into Galilee, there shall they see me. Jerusalem was now a forsaken place, a people abandoned to destruction: Christ would not show himself openly to them, but Galilee was a place where Christ's ministry was more acceptable. Such places wherein Christ is most welcome to preach, shall be most honoured with hi» presence. In Galilee shall they see me.
11 Now, when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done, 12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, 13 Saying, Say yc, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. 15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
Observe here, 1. How the priests and ciders endeavour by a notorious lie to hinder the belief of our Lord's resurrection; they suborn and bribe the soldiers to say that his corpse was stolen out of the grave; lies have been an old refuge which the enemies of Christ have all along bad recourse unto: lying is an ancient device of Satan. But, Observe, 2. What an improbable and unlikely lie this was, which they put in the soldiers' mouths to vouch; Say, His disciples came and stole him away while wc slept. Frivolous excuse! carrying with it a most self-evident contradiction. If the soldiers were asleep, how could they discover the disciples stealing away the body? If awake, why did they not prevent their stealing it? Besides, how improbable was it that Christ's few and fearful disciples should attempt to open the sepulchre guarded by soldiers! And as unlikely was it that the soldiers should be all asleep together, and so fast asleep too, that the great stone at the mouth of the sepulchre should be rolled away, and not one of the soldiers awakened with the noise. Infatuation is the certain consequence of desertion of God. Yet observe farther, That this incredible falsehood finds a fast and firm rooting in the belief of the Jews to this day. Note thence, That it is a righteous thing with God to deliver up those to strong delusions, even to the believing of notorious lies, who will not yield their assent to divine truths upon the clearest evidence, and most convincing
demonstration. How strange is it, that such a falsehood as this should find belief among the Jews to this day! But where truth is obstinately rejected, a lie, though never so improbable, is received.
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
Tin. meeting of our Saviour and his apostles upon a mountain in Galilee, was an appointed and general meeting. The mountain is supposed to be that near Capernaum, where lie made that famous sermon, called, The sermon on the mount: and the meeting is supposed to be appointed as a general rendezvous, for confirming the faith of all his disciples in she certainty of his resurrection. Possibly our Lord appointed this place in Galilee, so far from Jerusalem, that his disciples might without danger come thither to see their Saviour alive again, after his crucifixion. This is judged to be that famous appearance of which St. Paul speaks, 1 Cor. xv. 6. When he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once. And those who saw him worshipped him, who before had doubted. Learn hence, That when faith is once satisfied, and sees Christ to be God, it engages the soul to worship him. Divine worship is due to Christ upon the account of his divine nature. No creature can be the object of divine worship, therefore they that worship Christ by praying to him, and yet deny him to be God, are certainly idolaters. If Christ had had an angelic nature, that had not made him capable of divine worship: for adoration is founded only in Divinity, and what is but human or angelical is not adorable.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Observe here, 1. A power asserted. 2. An authority delegated. 3. A command enjoined. 4. A promise subjoined. Observe. 1. A power and authority asserted by our Saviour, as belonging to himself: All power is given unto me both in heaven and in earth. (1.) In heaven, which comprehends a power of sending the HolyGhost; a power over the angels and all the hosts of heaven, and a power to dispose of heaven to all that shall believe in him. (2.) In earth, which comprehends a power to gather a church out of all nations, and authority to rule, govern, and defend the same against all its enemies. Learn hence, That all power and authority concerning the church of God, was given unto Christ and conferred upon him, upon the account of his meritorious death and triumphant resurrection. All power is given unto me; that is, as Mediator: but this power was inherent in him as God from all eternity. Observe, 2. This power delegated by Christ to his apostles: Go ye, therefore, and teach and baptise all nations; instructing them to observe all things whatsoever I command you. Here is a threefold power delegated by Christ to his apostles: (l.)Tocongregateand gather a church, a christian church, out of all the heathen nations throughout the world. Before he had confined them only to Israel; now they must travel from country to country, and proselyte the heathen nations, which before had been taught of the devil, and were led away by his oracles and delusions. Go, at.d disciple all nations, without any distinction of country, sex, or age, whatsoever, and make the gospel-church as large as you can. Thence note, That the apostles and first planters of the gospel had a commission from Christ to go amongst the pagan Gentiles, without limitation; and were not to take up their settled residence in any one nation, but to travel from country to country, instructing them in the saving mysteries of the gospel. The second branch of their power was to baptize in the name of the Holy Trinity: Baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Where observe, That all adult and grown persons are to be first taught and instructed before they be baptized. But it follows not from hence, that the children of such parents may not be baptized before they are taught: for the apostles were to baptize all nations, of w hich children are the chief, if not the chicfest part. Besides, those that were proselyted to the Jewish religion, though before they
were circumcised themselves they were instructed in the law of God; yet when they are circumcised themselves, their children were not denied circumcision at eight days old. In like manner we have no reason to deny the children of baptized parents, who are in covenant themselves, the sign and seal of the covenant, which is baptism. God having assured his people that he will be the God of them and of their seed. If this privilege be denied, the children of christian parents are in a worse condition than the children of the Jews, and consequently infants are in a worse condition since Christ's coming, than they were before, and the privileges of those that live under the gospel are (trailer and narrower than those that lived under the law. Observe farther, In whose name persons are to be baptized : In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Where we have a profession of our belief in the Holy Trinity, a dedication of the person to the worship and service of the Holy Trinity, and a stipulation or covenant-promise that we will continue faithful in the service of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to our lives' end. The third branch of the power which Christ delegated to his apostles, was by their ministry to press upon all their converts an universal observance of, and obedience to, all his commands; Teaching them to observe all things -whatsocver 1 command you. Where note, 1. That preaching is the ordinary and instituted means to convert nations unto God. 2. That preaching must not only go before baptism, but follow after it. Obedience must be pressed upon, and practised by, all those that enter into covenant with God; otherwise they lie under a great condemnation. 3. That preaching of the gospel is a chief part of the minister's work, and no apostle t hought himself above that duty. 4. As the apostles did not, so the ministers of Christ ought not to teach any thing but what Christ commands them. .r>. As they are to.teach what Christ commands them, so they are to teach all things whaisoever Christ commands them: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I command you. Lastly, observe the promise enjoined: Lo, I am with you always to the end of the world. That is, I am and will be with you and your successors, lawfully called by my power and authority, by the blessing and assistance of my Holy Spirit. 1 will be with you to uphold my own ordinance, to protect, and encourage, and reward you, and all your
successors, in the faithful discharge of your trust; and this not for a day, a year, or an age, but to the end and consummation of all ages. Learn thence, That the ministry of the word, and administration of the sacraments, are a standing and perpetual ordinance, to continue in the christian church throughout all ages. Learn, 2. That all the faithful ministers of Christ, in what part of the world soever God shall cast their lot, and in what time soever they shall happen to live, may comfortably expect Christ's gracious presence with their persons, and
his blessing upon their endeavours, la, I am with you, I am always with you, and to the end of the world fwill be with you. Thanks be to Christ for the gracious promise of his spiritual and perpetual presence with his ministers to the end of the world. May this promise cause us to gird up the loins of our minds, increase our diligence, zeal, and fervour, accounting no labour too great, no service too much, no sufferings too severe, so that we may but finish our course with joy, and fulfil the ministry we a in! Amen. Amen.
Saint MARK, the writer of this compendious history of our blessed Saviour's life and death, was the dis" eiple and companton of St. Peter; and some affirm, that he wrote his Gospel from St. Peter's month x it being dictated bv St. Peter, and indited by the Holy Ghost. But since we are assured that the Spirit of God indited the book, we need not trouble ourselves to find out whose hand it was that held
r¥MlE beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; The word Gospel signifies a message of glad tidings, and intimates to us, that the gospel of the doctrine contains the most gladsome tidings, the most joyful message, that ever was sent from God to mankind: happy tidings concerning our reconciliation with God, and salvation by Jesus Christ. O how highly should we prize, how stedfastly believe, how cordially embrace, these good tidings of great joy! Observe, 2. This gospel is called the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because Christ, as God, is the Author of this gospel, and also the principal subject and matter of it . Indeed St. John the Baptist was the first publisher and preacher of the gospeldoctrine, but Christ himself was the first and principal Author, and likewise the chief Subject-matter of it; for whatever is taught in the gospel relates either to the person and offices of Christ, or to the benefits received by him, or the means of enjoying those benefits from him. Observe, 3. How St. Mark styles Christ the Son of God, as St. Matthew had styled him before, the Son of David; the one sets forth the verity of his human nature, the other the reality of his di
vine nature; signifying to us, that the true and promised Messias was both God and Man in two distinct natures, and one Person for ever. He is true and real God, as well as the Father and the Holy Ghost; not a mere Man, but God as well as Man.
2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
St. Mark begins his gospel with an account of St. John the Baptist's preaching and ministry, and declares, 1. That the prophets of old, particularly Isaiah and Malachi, did long before foretell the Baptist's message and ministry; that he should go before Christ as his harhinger to prepare the way for him: Behold, I send my messenger to prepare thy way. Where note, 1. The dignity and authority of the ministers of Christ: they are his messengers sent by him to deliver his mind and will unto his people. This ministerial mission is twofold, extraordinary and ordinary; the former when God immediately by himself calls men to the holy function ; the latter, when he uses the ministry of men in order thereunto. Observe, 2. The work and office of the ministers of Christ declared, and that is, to prepare people to receive Jesus Christ, offered and tendered to them in the gospel. Behold, I send my messenger, to prepare thy -way before thee. Learn thence, That the great design and end of the ministry of the word, is, to prepare and fit men for entertaining the holy religion of Christ in their hearts, and to oblige them to walk according to the rules and directions of it m their lives.
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Here note, 1. The title given to John the Baptist: he is called a Voice, in respect of his ministerial office, which was to speak forth, to promulge and publish, the doctrine of salvation. 2. The quantity or kind of this voice, a crying voice, the voice of one crying. This implies, 1. His earnestness and vehemency, his zeal and fervency, in preaching. When we lift up our voice, and cry aloud, we speak with earnestness and fervour. When our own hearts are warmly affected with what we preach, we may hope to affect the hearts of our hearers. Why has God commissioned men rather than angels, to be the preachers and dispensers of his word, but because we can speak to and treat with sinners more feelingly and more affectionately than the angels can} 2. This crying of the holy Baptist in his preaching, implies his liberty and boldness, as well as his vehemency and earnestness, in delivering of his message. The lifting up of the voice in speaking, argues boldness and courage in the speaker; as, on the contrary, the depressing of the voice showeth timorousness. Learn hence, That the ministers of the word are to use both zeal and earnestness, and also courage and boldness of spirit, in delivering the word and message of God, not forbearing to reprove sin, not concealing any part of God's truth, for fear of men's displeasure. Observe, 3. The sum and substance of what he cried, Prepare ye the way of the lard, make his paths straight; that is, "Make ready yourselves, prepare your own hearts, to entertain the doctrine and glad tidings of the gospel." It is a metaphorical speech, taken from the custom of loyal and dutiful subjects, who, when their prince is coming to lodge in their city, prepare and make ready the way for his coming, by removing every thing that may obstruct
or hinder his progress. Learn hence, That man's heart by nature is very unfit to embrace and entertain the Lord Jesus Christ. We have naturally no fitness, no disposition, no inclination, to believe in him, or to submit unto him. 2. If ever we desire to entertain Christ in our hearts, we must first prepare and make fit our hearts for the receiving and embracing of him. For though the preparation of the heart be from the Lord, yet he requires the exercise of our faculties, and the use of our endeavours. He prepares our hearts, by enabling us to the preparation of our own hearts. This is done by getting a sight of the evil of sin, a sense of our misery without Christ, an hungering and thirsting desire after him, a true faith in him. Christ will lodge in no heart that is not thus made ready to receive him.
4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
A twofold account is here given of St . John's execution of his ministry and office: First, his baptizing; secondly, his preaching. John did baptize; that is, admit persons into the church, by washing them with water: John baptized into the name of Christ, who was to come; the apostles baptized into the name of Christ, already come. The second part of his office was preaching. Where note, That preaching of the word, and administration of the sacraments, are to go together, and belong only to the ministers of the word, lawfully called. John did baptize and preach; but where and what did he preach? The place where, was the -wilderness; a place not much frequented, though not altogether uninhahited; a solitary, mean, and obscure place. Thither God had called him, and there he contents himself. Learn hence, That the ministers of God must be content to execute their ministry where God calls them, be the place never so mean and obscure, and the people never so rude and barbarous: John was a preacher of great note and fame; Jerusalem the chief city might seem more fit for him; but God had called him to preach in the wilderness, and he would not leave it. We must not leave our place because it is mean and obscure, nor desert our people, thinking them too base to instruct; but where God has called us we must there ahide, till he that called us thither remove us thence. Observe farther, As the place where the Baptist