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-floor; the office of an husbandman is lo thresh, fan, and winnow, his corn, separating it from the chaff, preserving the one, and consuming the other. Observe, 1. That the church is Christ's floor. 2. That this floor Christ will purge, and that thoroughly. 3. That.the word of Christ is the fan in his hand, by and with which he will thoroughly purge his floor. The church is compared to a floor, upon the account of that mixture which is in the church. In a floor there is straw as well as grain, chaff as well as corn, tares as well as wheat, cockle and darnel as well as good seed. Thus in the church there has been, there is, and ever will be, a mixture of good and bad, saints and sinners, hypocrites and sincere christians: but this floor Christ will purge; purge it, but not break it up; purge out its corruptions, but not destroy its essence and existence: and the fan in Christ's hand, with which he will purge his floor, is his holy word, accompanied with the wing of discipline. The fan detects and discovers the chaff, and the wing dissipates and scatters it; and by the help of both the floor is purged: His fan is in his hand, and he tcill thoroughly purge, frc.
18 And many other things, in his exhortation, preached he unto the people. 19 But Herod the tctrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, 20 Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.
Observe here, 1. In John the Baptist the character of a zealous and faithful minister of the gospel: he is one that deals plainly, and durst tell the greatest persons of their faults. Herod, though a king, is reproved by him for his adultery and incest. The crown and sceptre of Herod could not daunt the faithful messenger of God. There ought to meet in the ministers of Christ both courage and impartiality; courage in fearing no faces, and impartiality in sparing no sins. Observe, 2. Who it was that imprisoned and beheaded the holy Baptist: Herod a king. How sad is it when kings, who should be nursing-fathers to the church, do prove the bloody butchers of the prophets of God. Many of the severest persecutions which the ministers of God have fallen under, have been occasioned by their telling great men of their crimes. Men in power are impatient of reproof, and imagine
that their authority gives them a license to transgress. Observe, 3. The heinous aggravations of this sin in Herod: He added this to all his other sins, that he shut up John in prison. Thisevidenced him incorrigible and irreclaimable. John had preacbed before Herod, and Herod had heard John witli some delight; but he had a darling lust, which occasioned his destruction. Learn hence, That hypocrites may hear the word with some pleasure, and do many things with some delight, but they have always some beloved lust that must be spared; they will neither part with it, not bear reproof for it. Herod sticks not to cut off that head, whose tongue was so bold as to reprove him for his lusts.
21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened.
Observe, 1. The great condescension of Christ in seeking and submitting to the baptism of John. Christ, though John's Lord and Master, yet yields to be baptized of his servant and messenger. Observe, 2. The reasons why Christ would be baptized. I. That by this rite he might enter himself into the society of christians, as he had before by circumcision entered into the society of the Jews. 2. That he might by his own baptism sanctify the ordinance of baptism unto us. 3. That thereby he might fulfil the righteousness of the ceremooial law, which required the washing of the priests in water, before they entered upon their office, as appears, Exod. xxiz. 4. Observe, 3. How the duty of prayer accompanieth the ordinance of baptism: Jesus being baptized, and praying. Teaching us by his example to sanctify every ordinance and every action, with prayer. Christ, when he was baptized, he prayed; when he was tempted, he prayed; when be brake bread, he prayed; wlien he wrought miracles, he prayed; in his agony in the garden, he prayed; when he suffered on the cross, he prayed. What was the subject-matter of our Lord's prayer at this time is not expressed; but by what followed, namely, the heavens opening and the Holy Ghost descending, it is probably conjectured, that he prayed for some testimony to be given from heaven concerning himself, for it immediately follows;
22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him; and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
Observe here, The solemn investing of Christ into his office, as Mediator, is attended with a threefold miracle; namely, the opening of the heavens, the descending of the Holy Ghost, and God the Father's voice concerning the Son. The heavens -wcre opened; to show, that heaven, which was closed and shut against us for our sins, is now opened to us, by Christ's undertaking for us. Next, Ihe Holy Ghost descends like a dove upon our Saviour. Here we have a proof and evidence of the blessed Trinity; the Father speaks from heaven, the Son comes out of the water, and the Holy Ghost descends after the manner of a dove, hovering and overshadowing him. But why did the Holy Ghost now descend upon Christ? First, For the designation of his person, to show that he was the person set apart for the work and office of a mediator. Secondly, For the unction and sanctification of his person for the performance of that office. Now was lie anointed to be the king, priest, and prophet of his church. Lastly, We have here the voice of God Ihe Father, pronouncing, 1. The nearness of Christ's relation: This is my Son. 2. The endearedness of his person: This is my beloved Son. 3. The fruit and benefit of this near relation unto us: In thee I am uell pleased. Learn hence, 1. That "there is no possihility for any person to please God out of Christ j neither our persons nor our performances can find acceptance with God, but only in and through him, and for his sake. 2. That the Lord Jesus Christ is the ground and cause of all that love and good will which God the Father showeth to the sons of men. In Christ, God is well pleased with us as a reconciled Father; out of him, a consuming fire: Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am -well pleased.
23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as be was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Hcli,
At thirty years of age, the priests under the law entered upon their public office; accordingly Christ stays the full time prescribed by the law, before he undertakes his public ministry, and he gives the
reason for it, Matt. iii. 15. That he might fulfil all righteousness; that is, the righteousness of the ceremonial law, which required persons to be of that age, before they entered upon that office; and also enjoined them to be baptized or washed in water, when they undertook their office. See Eiod. xxix. 4. Learn hence, That whatever the law required in order toperfeet righteousness, that Christ fulfilled in most absolute perfection, both in his own person, and also in the name of all believers. Observe farther, The title given to Joseph here: he is called the supposed father of Christ. Joseph was not his natural father, though so supposed by the Jews; but he was his legal father, being married to the Virgin when oar Saviour was born; and he was his nursing father, that took care of him, and provided for him, though Christ sometimes showed both his parents, that, if he pleased, he could live without any dependence upon their care. See Luke ii. 49.
24 Which was the son of Mat that, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Mclchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph, 25 Which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge, 26 Which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda, 27 Which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri, 28 Which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was Me son of Er, 29 Which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliczer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Mattliat, which was the son of Levi, 30 Which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son ot Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim, 31 Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David, 32 Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson, 33 Which was the son of Aininadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Pharez, which was the son of Juda, 34 Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor, 35 Which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala, 36 Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sero, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech, 37 Whicli was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was Me son of Jarcd, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan, 38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.
We find the genealogy of our blessed Saviour recorded by two evangelists, St. Matthew and St. Luke. His pedigree is set forth by St. Matthew from his father Joseph, by St. Luke from his mother Mary; the design of both is to prove him lineally descended from Abraham and David, and consequently the true and promised Messias. St. Matthew, intending his history primarily for the Jews, proves him to be the son of Abraham and David, for their comfort. St. Luke, designing the information and comfort of the Gentilts, derives our Lord's pedigree from Adam, the common parent of mankind; to assure the Gentiles of their possihility of an interest in Christ, they being sons of Adam. Neither of these evangelists are strict and
accurate in enumerating every individual person ; which should teach us not to be over-curious in scanning the parts of this genealogy, much less captiously to object against it, because of some seeming contradictions to it. For if the evangelists were not nice and critical in composing this genealogy, why should we be so in examining of it? Let us rather attend to the design of the Holy Ghost in writing of it, which was twofold. 1. For the honour of our Saviour as man, showing who were his noble and royal progenitors according to the flesh. 2. For the confirmation of our faith, touching the reality of our Saviour's incarnation. The scripture making mention of all his progenitors from the first man Adam, to his reputed father Joseph, we cannot reasonably doubt either of the truth of his human nature, or of the certainty of his being the promised Messias. Hence we may I earn, That the wisdom of God has taken all necessary care, and used all needful means, for satisfying the minds of all unprejudiced persons, touching the reality of Christ's human nature, and the certainty of his being the promised Messias; for both these ends is our Saviour's genealogy, descent, and pedigree, recorded in holy scripture.
CHAP. IV. ^ND Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.
At the twenty-second verse of the foregoing chapter, we find the Holy Ghost descending in a bodily shape like a dove upon our Saviour; in this verse we find the extraordinary effects and fruits of the Holy Ghost's descent upon our Saviour: he was filled with all the "gifts and graces of the blessed Spirit, to fit and furnish him for that ministerial service which he was now entering upon. But observable it is, that before our Saviour undertook the ministerial office, he is led by the Spirit into the wilderness, and there furiously assaulted with Satan's temptations. Temptation, meditation, and prayer, says Luther, make a minister: great temptations from Satan do fit us for greater services for God. And whereas it is said, that Christ was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to he tempted of the devil: by the Spirit, we must understand the Holy Spirit of God; for the devil, I think, is never called the spirit, but has always a brand of reproach annexed, as the evil spirit, the unclean spirit, and the like. By his being led by the Spirit, (St Mark says, he was drove by the Spirit,) we may either understand a potent and efficacious persuasion, without any violent motion: or else, as the learned Dr. Lightfoot thinks, Christ was bodily caught up by the Holy Spirit into the air, and carried from Jordan, where he was baptized, into the wilderness, where he was tempted. God had put great honour upon Christ at his baptism, declaring him to be his wellbeloved Son, in whom he was well pleased; aud the next news we hear, is the devil assaulting him with his temptations. Learn thence, That the more any are beloved of God, and dignified with more eminent testimonies of his favour, so much the more is the devil enraged, and maliciously bent against them.
2 Being forty dnys tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
Observe here, How the divine power upheld Christ's human nature without food. What Moses did at the giving of the law, Christ doth at the beginning of the gospel, namely, fast forty days and forty nights. Christ hereby intended our admiration rather than our imitation; or if our imitation, of the action only, not of the time. From this example of Christ we learn, That it is our duty, by fasting and prayer, to prepare ourselves for a conflict with our spiritual enemies. As Christ prepared himself, by fasting, to grapple with the tempter, so should we.
3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
Observe here, 1. The occasion of the temptation. And, 2. The temptation itself. The occasion of the temptation was our Saviour's hunger and want of bread. Learn thence, That when God sufTurs any of his children to fall into want, and to be straitened for outward things, Satan takes a mighty advantage thereupon to tempt and assault them. Observe, 3. What it is he tempts our Saviour to; it is the sin of distrust, to call in question his sonship; If thou he the Son «/" God
and then to distrust God's providence and care; Command that these stones be made bread. It is the grand policy of Satan, first to tempt the children of God to doubt of their adoption; next to distrust God's fatherly care and provision, and last of all to use unwarrantable means to help themselves. Thus Satan dealt with Christ, and thus lie deals with christians; for to work a miracle at Satan's direction, was not a lawful mean of providing food for himself.
4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shrill not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
Note first, That though the devil abused scripture, yet Christ uses it. Good things are never the worse for being abused by Satan and his instruments. Note, 2dly, The weapon which our Saviour made use of to vanquish Satan; it was the word of God : It is -written, says Christ. Learn thence, That the scripture, or the written word of God, is the only sure weapon wherewith to vanquish Satan, and beat back all his fiery temptations. The scripture is God's armoury, out of which all our weapons of war must be taken, for managing our conflict with sin and Satan.
5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. 7 If thou, therefore, wilt worship me, all shall be thine. 8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Observe, 1. The next sin which Satan tempts our Saviour to, is the sin of idolatry, even to worship the devil himself. Oh thou impudent and foul spirit, to desire thy Creator to worship thee, an apostate creature! Doubtless there is no sin so black and foul, so horrid and monstrous, but the christian may be tempted to it, when Christ himself was tempted to worship the tempter, even the devil himself. St. Matthew reads it, If thou wilt worship me ; St. i.uk", If thou wilt worship before me. From whence we may gather, That if to worship before the devil, be to worship the devil, then to worship before an image, is to worship the image. Dr. Lightfoot. Observe, 2. The bait which Satan makes use of to allure our Saviour to the sin of idolatry, representing to his eye and view all the glories of the world in a most inviting manner, and that in a moment of time, that so he might affect him the more, and prevail the sooner. Learn thence, That the pomp and grandeur of the world is made use of by Satan as a dangerous snare to draw men into a compliance with him, in his temptations unto sin: He shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. Observe, 3. What an impudent liar and proud boaster the devil is; he was a liar from the beginning: Alt this will I give thee, for it is delivered unto me. An impudent untruth, for the dominion over the things of the world was never given to the angels, neither has the devil any power over the creatures, but by permission from God. The devil is a most impudent liar; he told the first lie, and by long practice has become a perfect master in the art of lying. Observe also, The devil's boasting as well as lying: All this will I give thee; when he had not one foot of ground to dispose of. Great boasters are for the most part great liars, and such boasters and liars are like the devil. Observe, 4. How our Saviour declares the true and only object of religious worship; namely, God himself: Thou shall worship the Lord thy God, and him only shall thou serve. Religious worship is to be given to none of the creatures, neither to angels nor men, how excellent soever, but lo God alone. We read but of two creatures that ever desired in scripture to be worshipped with divine worship; namely, the devil and Autichrist: but the command is peremptory, Thou shall worship the Lord, and him only.
9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: 10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee; 11 And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at liny time thou
dash thy foot agaiust a stone. 12 And Jesus answering, said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
Observe here, 1. The power which Satan, by God's permission, had over the body of our blessed Saviour: he took him up, and carried his body through the air, from the wilderness to Jerusalem, and there set him upon one of the pinnacles of the temple. Learn hence, 1. That Satan, by God's permission, may have power over the bodies of men, yea, over the bodies of the best of men. 2. That this exercise of Satan's power over the bodies of men, is no argument that such persons do not belong to God. Our Saviour himself, who was dear to God, is yet left for a time in Satan's hands. But though Satan had a power to set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, yet he had no power to cast him down: though Satan's malice be infinite, his power is limited and bounded; he cannot do all the mischief he would, and he shall not do all he can. Observe, 2. The sin which Satan tempts Christ to; the sin of self-murder: Cast thyself down. Learn, That self-murder is a sin which Christ himself was, and the best of his children may be, solicited and tempted to; yet though Satan solicited Christ to the sic, he could not compel him to comply with the temptation. Thence note, That how much earnestness and importunity soever Satan uses in pressing his temptation, be can only persuade, he cannot compel; he may entice, but cannot enforce. Observe, 3. The argument which Satan uses to persuade Christ to the sin of self-murder: it is a scripture argument, he quotes a promise: He shall give his angels charge over thee. What a wonder is here, to see the devil with a Bible under his arm, and with a text of scripture in his mouth! Christ had alleged scripture before to Satan; here Satan retorts scripture back again to Christ. It is written, says Christ; It is written, says Satan. Learn, That Satan knows how lo abuse the most excellent and comfortable scriptures to the most horrid and pernicious ends and purposes; he that had profanely touched the sacred body of Christ wilh his hand, sticks not presumptuously to handle the holy scriptures with his tongue. Observe, 4. The text of scripture which Satan makes use of: Psat. xci. 11,