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and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
In these words the Baptist compares Christ, the promised Messiah, to an husbandman, the Jewish church to a barn-floor. The office of the husbandman is to thrash, fan, and winnow his corn, separating it from the chaff; preserving the one, and consuming the other. Learn hence, 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 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 is and 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 destroy not its essence and existence: and the fan with which he will purge his floor is his word, accompanied with the wind of discipline. The fan detects and discovers the chaff, and the wind dissipates and scatters it; and by the help of both, the floor is purged. His fan is in his hand, &c.
13 Then cometh Jesus from Ga
lilee to Jordan unto John, to be bap
tized of him.
Here we have our Saviour's solemn inauguration and public entrance upon his prophetic office, by baptism, or washing with water, according to the manner of the priests under the ceremonial law, Exod. xxix. 4. Where we have observable, 1. The circumstance of time; Then cometh Jesus; that is, after he had lain hid in Nazareth thirty years, he comes abroad, and enters upon his public ministry. Teaching us by his example, that when we are ripe and fit for public service, we should no less willingly leave our obscurity, than we took the benefit of it for our preparation. Observe, 2. The action itself; Christ is baptized now, as he was circumcised before; not because there was any impurity in him, either filth or foreskin, which wanted either the circumcising knife, or the baptismal water; yet purity itself condescends to be washed, Christ to be baptized; for these reasons: 1. That by this symbol he might enter himself into
the society of christians, as by circumcision he had done into the society of Jews; as a king condescends sometimes to be made a freeman of a city or corporation. 2. That he might by his own baptism sanctify the ordinance of baptism unto his church. 3. That thereby he might fulfil the righteousness of the ceremonial law, which required the washing of the priests in water, when they entered upon their office, as appears from Exod. xxix. 4. Observe, 4. The great condescension of Christ, in seeking and submitting to the baptism of John: Christ cometh to John, not John to Christ. Behold! the Lord seeking to his servant; Christ will be baptized of his messenger! our Saviour's design hereby no doubt was, to put honour upon the ministry of John. O how dare the greatest upon earth despise the ministry of man, being appointed by God, which Christ honoured in his own person, and graced with his own presence?
14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
Note here, 1. The modesty of John's refusal: John forbade him, and refused to admit him: but why? 1. In regard of Christ, because he knew he needed it not: such was his majesty and greatness, that he was above it; and such was his purity and holiness, that he could not want it; 2. In respect of himself, he knew his own uncleanness : I have need to be baptized that a sinner should baptize and wash him of thee, &c. He thought it unsuitable that was no sinner. 3. With respect to the people; lest they seeing Christ baptized, should apprehend him to be a sinner, and one that wanted the baptism of repentance as well as themselves. Observe, 2. As the modesty of John's refusal, so the reason he of thee: As if he had said, "Thou art assigns for it; I have need to be baptized purity, I am pollution; thou art spirit, I am flesh; thou art the Son of God, I am hension has this holy man of himself. the son of Adam :" such an humble appreLearn, That the more holy a person is, the more sensible he is of his unholiness; where there is most grace, there is the greatest sense of the want of grace.
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
These words contain our Saviour's reason,
why he submitted to John's baptism, because it became him to fulfil all righteousness; that is, to own every divine institution, particularly the righteousness of the ceremonial law, which required the washing of the priests in water, when they entered upon their office, Exod. xxix. 4. Learn hence, 1. That whatever the law required in order to perfect righteousness, that Christ fulfilled in most absolute perfection. 2. That as it became Christ to fulfil the righteousness of the ceremonial law for himself, so it is our duty and interest to fulfil the righteousness of the moral law for ourselves, as an evidence of our being righteous in God's sight, 1 John iii. 7. He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And, lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Here we have the solemn inauguration of Christ into his prophetic office, accompanied with a threefold miracle. 1. The opening of the heavens. 2. The descent of the Holy Ghost upon him like as a dove descends. 3. God the Father's voice concerning the Son. The heavens were opened, to show that heaven, which was closed and shut against us for our sins, is now opened to us, by Christ's undertaking As the first Adam shuts us out of heaven, the second Adam lets us into it; he opened heaven to us by his meritorious passion, and he keeps it open by his prevailing intercession. Next, the Holy Ghost descends like a dove upon our Saviour: here we have an evidence of the blessed Trinity; the Father speaks from heaven, the Son comes out of the water, and the Holy Ghost appears upon him. Hence we gather, That the Holy Ghost is not a quality or an operation, but a person, and a person really distinct from the Father and the Son. But why did the Holy Spirit now descend upon Christ, seeing he was now truly and really God? Answ. The divinity of Christ was quiescent in him, till he entered upon his prophetic office at thirty years old, and after. And the Holy Ghost now descends, first, For
the designation of his person, to show that Christ was the person set apart for the work and office of a mediator. Secondly, For the qualification of his person for the performance of his office. This was Christ's unction, Isa. lxi. 1. when he was anointed above his fellows, to be the king, priest, and prophet of his church. Last of all, We have the audible voice of God the Father pronouncing, 1. The nearness of Christ's relation to himself, This is my Son, not by adoption, but by eternal generation. 2. The endearedness of his person, This is my beloved Son. 3. The fruit and benefit of this near and dear relation unto us, In him I am well pleased. Note, 1. That there is no possibility for any person to please God out of Christ; both our persons and our performances find and through Christ, God is well pleased acceptance only for his sake. with all believers: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, &c. Lord! what reviving news is this to thy church, to hear that her head and husband, her surety, mediator, and intercessor, is that only Son of God in whom his soul is delighted and ever well pleased! that Son who always pleased thee, and by and through whom thou art well pleased with, and reconciled to, thy offending creatures!
2. That in
The former part of this chapter acquaints us with our blessed Saviour's combat with, and conquest over, Satan; and the first verse informs us of the time when and place where the combat was fought.
THEN was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be
tempted of the devil.
Observe, 1. The great humiliation of the Son of God, how exceedingly was he humbled by the horrid temptations wherewith he was assaulted, than which nothing could be more grievous to his holy heart. What could be more burdensome to him that was brought up from eternity with God the Father, than to be shut up in a wilderness with the devil, there to be baited by him so many days, having his ears filled, though not defiled, with horrid blasphemies spit upon the holy and reverend name of God! O deep abasement and wonderful humiliation of the Son of God! Observe, 2. The time when Christ entered the lists with Satan, implied in the word then! that is, first, immediately after his baptism; he is no sooner out of the water of baptism, but he is in the fire of temptation: secondly, im
mediately after the Spirit descended upon, and the Father had by a voice from heaven manifested his complacency and satisfaction in him: This is my beloved Son, &c. Note thence, That great manifestations of love from God are usually followed with great temptations from Satan. Observe, 3. The place where this combat was fought, and that is, in the wilderness. Learn thence, That no place can privilege us from temptation, or be a sanctuary from Satan's assaults: the solitary wilderness has a tempter in it, yea, Satan sometimes makes use of men's solitariness to farther his temptations: a cell, a nunnery, or a cloister, are as open to Satan as the open fields; and the persons that live in them have a tempter without, and an enticer within, as well as other men. Observe, 4. The efficient cause of Christ's going into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan: He was led up of the Spirit, says St Matthew: The Spirit drove him, says St. Mark: that is, the Holy Spirit of God, not Satan the unclean spirit, for the devil is seldom if ever called the spirit, but usually some brand of reproach is annexed, as the evil spirit, or the unclean spirit. Christ was led by the Spirit; that is, he was carried by a strong impulse of the Spirit of God into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Learn hence, 1. That none of the children of God ought to expect a freedom from temptation; seeing Christ himself, in the days of his flesh, was strongly solicited by Satan unto sin. 2. That all the temptations wherewith the children of God are assaulted, are ordered by a divine and special dispensation. Satan could not assault our Saviour till he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for that end; and he shall not assault any of his members, but by divine permission.
2 And when he had fasted forty, days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
Observe here, How the divine power upheld the human nature of Christ 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, not our imitation; or, if our imitation, of the action only, not of the time. Christ teaches us by fasting and prayer to prepare ourselves for a conflict with our spiritual enemies; as he prepared himself by fasting to grapple with the tempter, so should we.
3 And when the tempter came to
him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
Observe here, 1. The occasion of the occasion was our Saviour's hunger and want temptation. 2. The temptation itself. The of bread. Learn thence, That when God suffers any of his dear children to fall into want, and to be straitened for outward things, Satan takes a mighty advantage thereupon to tempt and assault them. But what doth he tempt our Saviour to ? to the sin of distrust, of God; and next to distrust his Father's to question his Sonship, If thou be the Son providence and care, Command that these stones be made bread. As if Satan had said, "How unlikely is it that thou shouldest be highly favoured, and yet deserted. What! the Son of God, and yet ready to starve! Certainly if thou canst not supply thy necessities, thou art nothing akin to God." Learn hence, 1. That Satan's grand design is, first to tempt the children of God to doubt of their adoption; and next,to distrust God's fatherly care over them, and provision for them; and last of all, to use unwarrantable means to help themselves. Thus Satan dealt with Christ, and thus he deals with christians: for to work a miracle at Satan's direction was not a lawful mean of providing food for himself.
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Observe here, The weapons which our Saviour made use of to repel the temptation, and to vanquish the tempter; and that is, the word of God: It is written. Learn, That the scripture, or the written word of God, is the only sure weapon wherewith to vanquish Satan, and to beat back all his fiery temptations. Satan himself has not the impudence to oppose scripture. What monsters of impiety then are they, who ridicule and deride it? They not only run counter to the practice of Christ, but outdo the devil himself in impudence.
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple.
That is, Satan, by God's permission, took up his body and carried it in the air, and set it upon one of the battlements of the temple. Learn hence, 1. What a mighty power evil spirits have over our bodies, if God permits them to execute and exercise
their power upon them. 2. That it is owing to the gracious care and watchful providence of God over us, that we are not hurried away bodily by Satan. Thanks be to God, though the devil's malice be infinite, yet his power is limited and bounded; and as he cannot do all the mischief he would to the bodies and souls of men, so he shall not do all he can. Quest. But why is the holy city, and holy temple, chosen by Satan to be the scene of this temptation? Answ. I cannot tell, unless he apprehended (as he might) that the holiness of the place would aggravate the sin. No place so sacred, no duty so holy, as to protect as from Satan's assaults. This enemy pursues us even to the horns of the altar. Lord! how ought we at all times and in all place to be upon our watch and guard, especially in thy presence, because then and there Satan is most active and busy, and most desirous to draw us into sin.
6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Here we have observable, first, The sin which Satan tempts Christ unto: and next, The argument which he tempts him from: the sin tempted to, is the sin of self-murder: Cast thyself down. Whence we learn, That self-murder is a sin which Christ himself was, and the best of saints may, by Satan, be tempted to the commission of. But forasmuch as Satan tempted Christ to murder himself, but had not power to do it himself, (do thou cast thyself down,) we learn, That though Satan may tempt, yet he cannot compel; he may entice, but cannot enforce any to sin, without their own consent. Observe, 2. The argument which Satan uses, it is a scripture argument; he quotes the promise of God, He shall give his angels charge over thee. What a marvel is here, to find Satan with a Bible under his arm, and 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 thence, That it is no wonder to hear heretics and hypocrites quote scripture, when Satan himself durst recite it: he that had profanely touched the sacred body of Christ with his hand,
sticks not presumptuously to handle the holy scriptures of God with his tongue. Yet observe, How wretchedly the devil wrests, perverts, and misapplies, the scripture. When God promises his angels shall keep us, it is in viis, non in præcipitiis ; 'tis in all God's ways, not in any of our own crooked paths. Note here, That although the children of God have the promise of the guardianship of holy angels, yet then only may they expect their protection, when they are walking in the way of their duty, and using the means for their own preservation.
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Observe here, Though the devil had wrested and abused scripture, yet still Christ alleges scripture. The abuse of the holy scriptures by heretics and seducers is no argument against the use of them. We must not throw away our Bibles because the devil quotes scripture: but as Christ here compares scripture with scripture, so should we, in order to find out the true sense and meaning of it; for scripture is most clearly expounded by scripture. the best interpreter of itself; scripture is This Satan knew full well, and therefore dares not make any further reply.
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou willt fall down and worship me.
The next sin, which Satan tempts our Saviour to, is the sin of idolatry, even to worship the devil himself. O thou impudent and foul spirit! To desire thy Creator to adore thee, an apostate creature; Surely there can be no sin so black and foul, so gross and monstrous, but that the christian may be tempted to it, when Christ himself was tempted to worship the tempter. St. Matthew reads the words, If thou wilt fall down and worship me: St. Luke, If thou wilt worship before me. Whence we may gather, says Dr Lightfoot, That if to worship before the devil be to worship the devil, then to worship before an image is to worship the image. Obs. 2. The bait which Satan makes use of to allure our Saviour to the sin of idolatry; and that was, in representing to his eye and view all the glories of the world in the most inviting
manner, and that in a moment of time; to the intent it might affect him the more, and prevail the sooner. Learn thence, That the pomp and greatness, the glory and grandeur, of this world, is made use of by Satan, as a dangerous snare to draw men to a compliance with him, in his temptations unto sin. When Satan sets thee upon a pinnacle, look to thyself.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Observe here, 1. With what zeal and indignation of spirit our blessed Saviour repels and beats back this temptation of Satan: Get thee hence. Note thence, That the greater the sins are which the devil tempts us to, the greater our zeal and indignation ought to be in opposing and resisting the temptation to them. temptation must be withstood with great A great resolution. Obs. 2. The weapon with which he repels and beats back the fiery dart of Satan's temptation, and that is, with the shield of scripture: It is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God. Learn thence, That GOD is the sole object of religious worship: it is so peculiarly the Creator's due, that to give it to any creature is gross idolatry, and repugnant to the scriptures. No creature is to pay divine adoration to any but his Creator; hence it appears that Christ is not a creature, divine worship being given to him.
11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
Observe here, 1. The issue of this combat; Satan is conquered, and quits the field! Then the devil leaveth him. teaching us, That nothing like a vigorous resistance of temptation causes the tempter to flee from us; Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Obs. 2. Our Lord's triumph over his enemy: Behold, angels came and ministered unto him; food to his hungry body, and comfort to his tempted soul. They came no sooner, lest it should be thought he needed their assistance; they came now, because he was now pleased to make use of their assistance. Learn hence, That those who in the hour of temptation do hold out in resisting Satan, shall find the power and faithfulness of God will not be wanting to them, to send in succour and relief in the end.
that John was cast into prison, he 12 Now when Jesus had heard departed into Galilee: 13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the seacoast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
of John's imprisonment, provides for his Observe here, 1. Our Saviour, hearing own safety, by departing into Galilee. may we. Observe, 2. The place in Galilee As our holy Lord avoided persecution, so he comes to, Capernaum. Christ har three cities which he called his own ; Nazareth, where he was bred; Bethlehem, where he was born; and Capernaum, where he dwelt: this was a sea-coast town Observe, 3. The special providence of God in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthali. for by that means the prophecy, Isa. ix. 1. in this change of our Saviour's habitation; dark part of the country, the Messiah, the was fulfilled, which declares, that in that true light, should shine forth. hence, I. That a people destitute of the saving knowledge of the gospel are in great darkness, how great soever the light of their outward comforts may be. This people had natural light enough, and civil wealth and riches, peace and plenty; but light enough; they had an abundance of they wanted the light of Christ and his gospel, and therefore are said to sit in darkness. 2. That wherever the gospel is preached amongst a people, it is a light them; quickening and enlivening, respringing up and shining forth among viving and cheering, the souls of those who entertain it, how great soever their outward darkness and distress may be. The people that sat in darkness saw great and shadow of death, light is sprung light, and to them that sat in the region up, &c.
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.