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under some specious pretence of religion, to endeavour to CHAP. II. bring about their most irreligious and devilish purposes ! But the over-ruling providence of God quite defeated the design of Herod, by admonishing the wise men not to return to him, but to depart into their own country another way, and by admonishing Joseph to flee with the newborn King, the holy infant Jesus, into Egypt. Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men,
Of Rama, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the and Rachildren that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coast thereof, chel's being from two years old and under, according to the time which at the murhe had diligently enquired of the wise men, Matt. ii. 16. der of the in reference to the age which the new-born King must be A. D. 1. of. Nay, it is not to be omitted, that so very jealous was Herod of the ill consequences which might hereafter arise to him from the new-born King, should he not be timely took out of the way, that he would not venture to exempt from the general massacre of the young children a son of his own, that was then at nurse in those parts. : Which being told to the Emperor Augustus, it drew from him that sharp but just reply, that he had rather be Herod's swine than his son; his swine being safe, in regard the Jews were forbidden to eat swine-flesh, whereas his son was liable to be made away upon state fears and jealousies. By this massacre of the innocent babes in and about Bethlehem, there was (in a more eminent manner than before) fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation and weeping, and great mourning ; Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not, that is, were dead. Now Rama lay within the coasts, that is, the neighbourhood of Bethlehem, though it was situated in a different tribe, namely, that of Benjamin, the youngest son of Jacob, and whom only besides Joseph he had by his wife Rachel. For no sooner was Rachel delivered of this her younger son, but she died, as she was with her husband on a journey from Bethel to Bethlehem, and was come near to Bethlehem, but yet in the border of
PART I. Benjamin, Gen. xxxv. 16, 17, &c. 1 Sam. X. 2. On which
account, upon the murdering of the innocents in Rama as well as in Bethlehem, the lamentations of their mothers in general are properly and elegantly represented by the mourning of Rachel; forasmuch as from her not only the Benjamites of Rama sprang, but also because she lay buried in those parts. Mr. Maundrell tells us, that among the remarkable places shewn now-a-days in the road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, the last or nearest to Bethlehem is Rachel's tomb. On which he observes, that this may probably be the true place of her interment; but the present monument can be none of that which Jacob erected, it appearing plainly to be a modern and Turkish
structure. 7. Herod being dead, Joseph, by the admonition of an The child angel, returns with the holy Jesus and his mother into brought the land of Israel. But hearing that Archelaus reigned in back out of Judea in the stead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go carried to thither : notwithstanding being warned by God in a dream,
he turned aside into the parts of Galilee, and came and expiring. dwelt again at Nazareth, where he had formerly lived;
whence not only our blessed Saviour was, according to a current prophecy, styled a Nazarene, but his disciples likewise were at first distinguished by the name of Nazarenes.
After this the sacred history is silent of our Saviour, till At twelve in the twelfth
up with Joseph and years of age he goes up Mary to Jerusalem, to celebrate the passover, Luke ii. 42. to Jerusa- The festival being ended, and Jesus, though so very young, lem, and returns to having discoursed publicly in the Temple with the doctors
or learned men of the Jews, to the admiration of all that heard him, he returns back again to Nazareth, where he lived in all due obedience to Joseph and Mary, until he entered upon his public ministry.
Of our Saviour's Journeyings from his Baptism and En- A. D. 30.
trance upon his public Ministry to the first Passover next succeeding.
1. Of the wil
THE blessed Jesus, though as to his divine nature he was equal with God, and was no other than God, Phil. ii. 6. derness of John i. 1. yet was pleased for the redemption of mankind, Judea. not only to be made flesh, John i. 14. but also in the flesh to make himself of no reputation, taking upon him the form, or condition, of a servant, or mean man, Phil. ii. 7. and during the former part of his life working with his reputed father, who was by trade no more than a carpenter. Hereupon our Saviour is styled, by way of scorn and contempt, the carpenter's son, Matt. xiii. 55. and also the carpenter, Mark vi. 3. In this mean employ did our blessed Lord vouchsafe to exercise himself, till he began to be about thirty years of age, Luke iii. 23. when he thought fit to enter upon his public ministry, and to make known who he was, and for what end and intent he was come into the world. In order hereunto he repairs from Nazareth of Galilee, Mark i. 9. to John, the son of Zacharias and Elisabeth, and so his kinsman, who not long before had begun publicly to preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, Mark i. 4. Luke iii. 3. The place where John preached and baptized was the wilderness of Judea, Matt. iii. 1. Mark i. 4. which lay along the river Jordan, and that on each side of it; whence John is said by St. Mark to baptize as well as to preach in the same wilderness, and by St. Luke to come into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, Mark i. 4. Luke iii. 3. It is further to be here observed, that this tract was called the wilderness of Judea, not because it was absolutely uninhabited, but because it was less inhabited than other parts.
PART I. As to the river Jordan, it is the most celebrated and
largest river in the Holy Land, and the famous Jewish 2. Of the river historian Josephus gives us this account of it: “ The head
“ of this river has been thought to be Panion, but in truth “it passes either under ground, and the source of it is “ Phiala, an hundred and twenty furlongs from Cæsarea, “ (viz. Philippi,) a little on the right-hand, and not much “ out of the way to Trachonitis. It is called Phiala (that “ is, the vial) from the round figure of it; and its water “stands always at a stay, the bason being brim full, with“ out either shrinking or overflowing. The first discovery “ of this secret was from Philip, the tetrarch of Tra
chonitis, by casting straws into Phiala, that came out
again at Panion, which till that time was taken for the “ head of Jordan. This river, thus, as to appearance, “ taking its original from the cave of Panion, afterwards
crosses the bogs and fens of the lake Semechonitis : " and, after a course of an hundred and twenty furlongs “ further, passes under the city of Julias, (or Bethsaida,) “ and so over the lake of Genezareth; and then running
a long way through a wilderness or desert, it empties it“ self at last into the lake Asphaltites, or the Dead sea.' Such is the description of the river Jordan, given us by Josephus himself in his third book of the Wars of the Jews, chap. xviiic. From which account it appears, that the vulgar opinion of this river's arising from two fountains, or rivulets, one named Jor, the other Dan, is but ill grounded, if not wholly fictitious. It may not be improper to observe here further, that the cave Panion lying at the foot of mount Libanus, and the lake Asphaltites reaching to the very extremity of the south of Judea ; it follows, that the river Jordan extends its course quite from the northern to the southern boundary of the Holy Land. And it is also observable from the forementioned account, that there lay in the times of the New Testament a great deal of wilderness or desert along the river Jordan; which
· L'Estrange's English edition.
therefore was without all doubt the wilderness wherein CHAP. III. John the Baptist came preaching and baptizing. As to the largeness of the river Jordan, Mr. Maundrell d has observed, that it may be said to have two banks, whereof the first or outermost is that to which the river does, or at least did anciently, overflow at some seasons of the year, viz. at the time of harvest, Josh. iii. 15. oras it is expressed, 1 Chron. xii, 15. in the first month, that is, in March. But at present (whether it be because the river hath by its rapidity of current worn its channel deeper than it was formerly, or whether because its waters are directed some other way) it seems to have forgot its ancient greatness: for we, saith the forementioned author, could discern no sign or probability of such overflowing, when we were there, which was the thirtieth of March, being the proper time for these inundations. Nay, so far was the river from overflowing, that it ran at least two yards below the brink of its channel. After having descended the outermost bank, you go about a furlong upon the level strand, before you come to the immediate bank of the river. This second bank is so beset with bushes and trees, such as tamarisk, willows, oleanders, &c. that you can see no water, till you have made your way through them. In this thicket anciently (and the same is reported of it at this day) several sorts of wild beasts were wont'to harbour themselves: whose being washed out of their covert by the overflowings of the river, gave occasion to that allusion of the prophet Jeremiah, ch. xlix. 19. and 1. 44. He shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan. The water of the river, when Mr. Maundrell saw it, was very turbid, and too rapid to be swam against. And for its breadth, he tells us, it might be about twenty yards over, and in depth it far exceeded his height.
Now while John was baptizing, Jesus came and was Our Sa. also baptized of him in Jordan. And Mr. Maundrell in-viour forms us, that within about a furlong of the river, at that Jordan to
be baptized place where he and his company visited it, there was an old by St. John.
d Journey from Aleppo, &c. p. 80, 81, &c.