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greater weight to John's assertions, and naturally excited the curiosity of the people assembled to hear him. The next day they went in a crowd to the place where the preacher baptized, when, profiting skilfully by the circumstance, and perceiving Jesiis approaching, he exclaimed, “ Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, after me cometh a man which is preferred before me.”
It is proper to observe, that the author of the gos. pel ascribed to John, perceiving that it was important to remove the suspicion of collusion between Jesus and his forerunner, makes the Baptist declare twice that he knew him not, before baptizing him; but that it had been revealed to him by the Deity, that the person, on whom he should see the Holy Ghost descending during his baptism, was the Son of God. From thence we see that according to this evangelist, John did not know Jesus, who was however his kinsman, according to St. Luke.
John was much esteemed by the people, whom a kind of austere and extraordinary life has always the power of seducing. They did not suspect that a missionary, so detached from the things of this world, could ever deceive them. They believed on his word, that the Holy Ghost, under the form of a dove,* had
• The Holy Ghost was, according to the new manifestation of it, a bodily Being, which could appear in one or many distinct bodies, at one and the samc time. At Pentecost it came like the rushing of a mighty wind, and appeared on the head of each speaker like a fiery cloven tongue. There is not a word of the Holy Ghost in all the Old Testament. There is mention made of the Holy Spirit as a nature, or quality; but not of the Holy Ghost as a bodily thing.-- P. Aneta
descended on Jesus, and that he was the Christ or Messiah promised by the propheis.
On another occasion we will also find John Baptist affecting not to know his cousin Jesus Christ : he deputed to him some of his disciples to learn who he was.? Jesus replied, that they had only to relate to John the miracles he had operated, and by that sign their master would recognise him. We shall have occasion afterwards to speak of this embassy.*
Jesus had associated with him a confident, then called Simon, and afterwards Cephas or Peter, who had been the disciple of John. Scarcely had Simon taken his arrangements with the Messiah, when he drew over his brother Andrew to the new sect. These two brothers were fishermen. We readily presume, that Christ would not choose his followers among the grandees of the country.
The progress of John Baptist, and the attachment of the people to bin, alarmed the priests; they complained loudly, and John was arrested by order of the tetrarch Herod, who, according to St. Matthew, made him be beheaded through complaisance to Herodias his sister-in-law. Yet we do not find the historians of this prince reproaching him with the punishment of the forerunner. After John's death, his disciples attached themselves to Christ, whose coming John had announced, and who, in his turn, bad rendered in behalf of John the most public testimonies in presence of the people: for Jesus had openly declared, that John was “greater than a prophet, and greater than an angel, and that he was not born of woman who was greater than him.”. Nevertheless, the Messiah, dreading to be involved in the affair of his forerunner, left his two disciples at Jerusalem, and withdrew into the desert, where he staid forty days. It has been remarked, that during the imprisonment of John, Christ did not think of delivering him ; he performed no miracle in his behalf; after his death, he spoke but little of him, and forbore pronouncing his eulogy. He had no more need of him, and perhaps he wished by this conduct, to give a lesson to those who serve the views of the ambitious only in a secondary capacity, and teach them that they ought not to reckon too much on gratitude.
* See Chap. XI. of this work.
It would have been a bad exordium to assign fear as the motive of the Messiah's retreat. The gospel informs us that he was carried up by the Spirit, which transported him to the desert. It was necessary that Christ should surpass bis forerunner. The latter had led a very austere life, his only nourishment being wild honey and locusts; but the gospel affirms, that Jesus eat nothing at all during his retreat, and that on the last day, having felt himself hungry, angels came and ministered to him. : Moreover, to evince the importance of his mission, the prejudice which it was to occasion to the empire of the devil, and the infinite advantages which were to result from it to his followers, Jesus on his return pretended that Satan had tempted him; made the most flattering offers on purpose to engage him to desist from his enterprise ; and proffered him the monarchy of the universe, if he would renounce his project of redeeming the human race. The refusal he gave to these propositions, evinced a supernatural desire to labour for the salvation of the world. Such as heard these details must have been filled with astonishment, penetrated with gratitude, and burning with zeal for the preacher; of consequence, the number of his adherents increased.
St. John the Evangelist, or the person who has written under his name, whose object appears particularly to have been to establish the divinity of Jesus, has not mentioned his carrying away, abode in the desert, and temptation. These transactions must have been reckoned by him prejudicial to the doctrine he wanted to introduce. St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke, relate the carrying away, and temptations which ensued, in a different manner, but calculated to shew the power of Satan over the Messiah. In fact, he transported him, no doubt in spite of himself, to the pinnacle of the temple, and by an astonishing miracle made Jesus contemplate, from the summit of a mountain, all the kingdoms of the universe, without even excepting those whose inhabitants were antipodes of Judea. It must be confessed, that, according to the gospels, the devil works marvels, which yield in nothing to those of Christ.
The flight and absence of Jesus made him lose for some time, his two first disciples Peter and Andrew. The necessity of providing for their own subsistence, constrained them to resume their former trade of fishers. As their master durst not then sojourn at Jerusalem, he retired towards the banks of the sea of Galilee, where he recovered them. “Follow me (said he to them); Leave your nets; of catchers of fish I will make you fishers of men. He probably made them understand, that the reflections he had made during bis re. tirement, furnished him with certain means of subsisting without toil, by the credulity of the vulgar. The two brother's forth with followed him.
* This doctrine was zealously acted upon during all the Nazarene era. The Roman Catholics fished!, in many parts of the globe, with the net of sword, fire, and water; they op
Whether Jesus had been expelled from Nazareth by his fellow citizens, or whether he had quitted it of his own accord, he departed and fixed his residence for the time at Capernaum, a maritime city, situated on the confines of the tribes of Zabulon and Naphtali. His mother, a widow, or separated from her husband, followed him: she could be useful to Jesus, and the little troop of adherents who lived with him.
It was at this time, that our hero, seconded by his disciples, betook himself to preaching: Ilis sermon, like that of John, consisted in saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. We ought perhaps at this period to fix the era of the mission of Christ. John, we have seen, commenced preaching in the fifteenth year of Tiberius; it was in the same year, that his interview with Jesus took place, when he was baptized by John. It was also towards the end of this year that John disappeared : after which Jesus was in the desert, from whence he returned to reside with his mother in the city of Capernaum. There he sojourned pressed in all their dominions (to their everlasting shame), the Jews, as well as other persuasions of mankind. Our modern reformed Nazarenes continue to recognise the same doctrine, but with good prospects and humanity, and not without a beneficial view towards mankind. They formed themselves into a Fisher Society, in order to support fishers or proselytes, and to assist, in some measure, the poor and unintelligent fishes which fall in their net. Indeed such a command or doctrine is not to be found in any part of the Bible, nor in the Talmudical Treatises of the Hebrews.--Tide The Constancy of Israel,