Abbildungen der Seite

John wondered, why the Messias, the Lamb of God, pure and without spot, who needed not the abstersions of repentance, or the washings of baptism, should demand it, and of him, a sinuer, and his servant. And in the Hebrew Gospel of St. Matthew, which the Nazarenes used at Bercea (as St. Hierom reports ), these words are added : “ The mother of the Lord and his brethren said unto him, John Baptist baptized to the remissions of sins, let us go and be baptized of him. He said to them, what have I sinned, that I should go and be baptized of him ?” And this part of the story is also told by Justin Martyrd. But Jesus wanted not a proposition to consign by his baptism proportionable enough to the analogy of its institution; for as others professed their return towards innocence, so he avowed his perseverance in it; and though he was never called in Scripture a sinner, yet he was made sin for us, that is, he did undergo the shame and the punishment; and therefore it was proper enough for him to perform the sacrament of sinners.

2. But the holy Jesus, who came (as himself, in answer to the Baptist's question, professed) “ to fulfil all righteousness,” would receive that rite, which his Father had instituted in order to the manifestation of his Son. For although the Baptist had a glimpse of him by the first irradiations of the Spirit, yet John professed, that he therefore came baptizing with water, that " Jesus might be manifested to Israel *;" and it was also a sign given to the Baptist himself, that" on whomsoever he saw the Spirit descending and remaining," he is the person,

“ that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.” And God chose to actuate the sign at the waters of Jordan, in great and religious assemblies, convened there at John's baptism; and therefore Jesus came to be baptized, and, by this baptism became known to John, who, as before he gave to him an indiscriminate testimony, so now he pointed out the person in his sermons and discourses, and, by calling him the Lamb of God', prophesied of his passion, and preached him to be the world's Redeemer, and the sacrifice for mankind. He was now manifest to Israel; he confirmed the baptism of John; he sanctified the water to become sacramental and ministerial in the remission of sins; he by a real event declared, that to them, who should rightly be baptized, the kingdom of heaven should certainly be opened; he inserted himself, by that ceremony, into the society and participation of the holy people, of which communion himself was Head and Prince; and he did, in a symbol, purify human nature, whose stains and guilt he had undertaken.

¿ Quæst. ad Orthod. 37.

d Dial. 3. advers. Pelag. • 'Εβαπτίσθη δε και ένήστευσεν ('Ιησούς,) ουκ αυτός απορυπώσεως η νηστείας χρείαν έχων ή καθάρσεως, και τη φύσει καθαρός και άγιος, αλλ' ίνα και Ιωάννη αλήθειαν προσpagtugʻon, sai upov únorça pepeòr nugáoxntab. — Clem. Constit. Apost. lib. vii. c. 23.

! Symbolum supplicii crucis. -- Just, Mart,

3. As soon as John had performed his ministry, and Jesus was baptized, he prayed, and the heavens were opened, and the air clarified by a new and glorious lightb; " and the Holy Ghost, in the manner of a dove, alighted upon” his sacred head, and God the Father gave a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This was the inauguration and proclamation of the Messias, when he began to be the great Prophet of the new covenant. And this was the greatest meeting that ever was upon earth, where the whole cabinet of the mysterious Trinity was opened and shown, as much as the capacities of our present imperfections will permit; the second person in the veil of humanity, the third in the shape, or with the motion of a dove h; but the first kept his primitive state; and as to the Israelites he gave notice by way of caution, “ Ye saw no shape, but ye heard a voice ;” so now also God the Father gave testimony to his holy Son, and appeared only in a voice, without any visible representment.

4. When the rite and the solemnity was over, ascended up out of the waters, and left so much virtue behind him, that, as Gregorius Turonensis reports', that creek of the river, where his holy body had been baptized, was endued with a healing quality, and a power of curing lepers, that bathed themselves in those waters, in the faith and with invocation of the holy name of Jesus. But the manifestation of this power was not till afterwards, for as yet Jesus did no miracles.

« Christ

8 Και ευθύς περιέλαμψε τον τόπον φώς μέγα, Evang. Ebion.

szoch mipistegàv, Matt. iii. 16, Mark, i. 10. 'Ex swatır» tider, Luke, iii. 22. i De Gloria Martyr. cap. xvii.

5. As soon as ever the Saviour of the world was baptized, had opened the heavens, which yet never had been opened to man, and was declared the Son of God, “ Jesus was, by the Spirit, driven into the wilderness," not by an unnatural violence, but by the efficacies of inspiration, and a supernatural inclination and activity of resolution ; for it was the Holy Spirit that bare him thither; he was led by the good Spirit to be tempted by the evil : whither also he was pleased to retire, to make demonstration, that even in an active life, such as he was designed to and intended, some recesses and temporary demissions of the world are most expedient, for such persons especially, whose office is prophetical, and for institution of others, that, by such vacancies in prayer and contemplation, they may be better enabled to teach others, when they have in such retirements conversed with God.

6. In the desert, which was four miles from the place of his baptism, and about twenty miles from Jerusalem, as the common computations are, he did abide “ forty days and forty nights," where he was perpetually disturbed and assaulted with evil spirits, in the midst of wild beasts, in a continual fast, without eating bread or drinking water;" and the angels ministered to him,” being messengers of comfort and sustentation, sent from his Father, for the support and service of his humanity, and employed in resisting and discountenancing the assaults and temporal hostilities of the spirits of darkness.

7. Whether the devils appeared in any horrid and affrighting shapes, is not certain ; but it is more likely, to a person of so great sanctity and high designation, they would appear more angelical and immaterial, in representments intellectual, in words and ideas, temptations and enticements, because Jesus was not a person of those low weaknesses to be affrighted or troubled with an ugly phantasm, which can do nothing but abuse the weak and imperfect conceptions of persons nothing extraordinary. And this was the way, which Satan, or the prince of the devils, took, whose temptations were reserved for the last assault, and the great day of trial ; for at the expiration of his forty days, Jesus being hungry, the tempter invited him only to eat bread of his own providing, which might refresh his humanity, and prove his Divinity, hoping that his hunger, and the desire of convincing the

devil, might tempt him to eat before the time appointed. “ But Jesus answered, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word, that proceeds out of the mouth of God:” meaning, that in every word of God, whether the commandment be general or special, a promise is either expressed or implied of the supply of all provisions necessary for him, that is doing the work of God; and that was the present case of Jesus, who was then doing his Father's work, and promoting our interest, and therefore was sure to be provided for : and therefore so are we.

8. The devil, having failed in this assault, tries him again, requiring but a demonstration of his being the Son of God. He“ sets him upon the battlement of the temple k," and invites him to throw himself down, upon a pretence that God would send his angels to keep his Son, and quotes Scripture for it. But Jesus understood it well; and though he was secured of God's protection, yet he would not tempt God, nor solicit his providence to a dereliction, by tempting him to an unnecessary conservation. This assault was silly and weak. But at last he unites all his power of stratagem, and places the holy Jesus upon an exceeding high mountain, and, by an angelical power, draws into one centre species and ideas from all the kingdoins and glories of the world', and makes an admirable map of beauties, and represents it to the eyes of Jesus, saying, that all that was put into his power to give, and he “would give it him, if he would fall down and worship him.” But then the holy Lamb was angry as a provoked lion, and commanded him away, when his temptations were violent, and his demands impudent and blasphemous. “ Then the devil leaveth him, and the angels came and ministered unto him,” bringing such things as his necessities required, after he had, by a forty days' fast, done penance for our sins, and consigned to his church the doctrine and discipline of fasting in order to a contemplative life, and the resisting and overcoming all the temptations and allurements of the devil, and all our ghostly enemies.

* Πτερύγιον, ακρωτήριον, το επάνω των ναών ανατιθέμενον ζώδιον.

Φαινόμενα εν τώ αέρι φαντάσματα άστατα όντα και αβέβαια. .



Considerations upon the Baptizing, Fasting, and Templation

of the IIoly Jesus by the Devil. 1. When the day did break, and the Baptist was busy in his offices, the Sun of Righteousness soon entered upon our hemisphere ; and after he had lived a life of darkness and silence for thirty years together, yet now that he came to do the greatest work in the world, and to minister in the most honourable embassy, he would do nothing of singularity, but fulfil all righteousness, and satisfy all commands, and join in the common rites and sacraments, which all people, innocent or penitent, did undergo, either as deleteries of sin or instruments of grace. For so he would needs be baptized by his servant; and though he was of purity sufficient to do it, and did actually, by his baptism, purify the purifier, and sanctify that and all other streams to a holy ministry and effect, yet he went in, bowing his head like a sinner, unclothing himself like an imperfect person, and craving to be washed, as if he had been crusted with an impure leprosy; thereby teaching us to submit ourselves to all those rites which he would institute; and although some of them be, like the baptism of John, joined with confession of sins, and publication of our infirmities, yet it were better for us to lay by our loads, and wash our ulcers, than by concealing them, out of vainer desires of impertinent reputation, cover our disease till we are heart-sick and die. But when so holy a person does all the pious ministries of the more imperfect, it is a demonstration to us, that a life common and ordinary, without affectation or singularity, is the most prudent and safe. Every great change, every violence of fortune, all eminences and unevennesses whatsoever, whether of person, or accident, or circumstance, puts us to a new trouble, requires a distinct care, creates new dangers, objects more temptations, marks us out the objects of envy, makes our standing more insecure, and our fall more contemptible and ridiculous. But an even life, spent with as much rigour of duty to God as ought to be, yet in the same manner of devotions, in the susception of ordinary offices, in bearing

« ZurückWeiter »