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Hebrews xii. 24...... 169
176 Revelation ii. 10...... 177
THE CHILDREN'S PENNY HYMNAL. Superintendents of our Poorer Schools will do weil to obtain a copy of THE CHILDREN'S PENNY HYMNAL,
WHICH IS A COLLECTION OF
ONE HUNDRED CHILDREN'S HYMNS, NEW AND OLD.
HOME AND SCHOOL USE.
The Hymnal is Published in Cloth at 2d. An Edition of the Work is also Published
WITH TUNES, and is sold at 2d. paper covers; 3d. cloth. This cheap Hymn Book will be a great boon to schools with limited means.
SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION, 56, OLD BAILEY E.C.
New Work for Sunday School Teachers.
THE INTRODUCTORY CLASS TEXT-BOOK:
A COURSE OF STUDY FOR INTENDING SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHERS. By B. P. PASK.
Mr. SPURGEON writes-"Teachers who will study Mr. Pask's book are likely to be efficient: but the majority of those who need it will never condescend to look at it, much less to study it. He has made a laudable attempt with considerable success, and we trust he will see great good of it."-Sword and Trowel.
LONDON: SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION, 56, OLD BAILEY, E. C.
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THE CLOSE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST'S CAREER.
HERE was much significance in the declaration made respecting John the Baptist, that he was to come in the spirit and power of Elias; his brief career was to have as its leading features an isolation from mankind, for it was only at certain intervals that he appeared among the people, full of his prophetic message; and also, like Elijah, he spoke stern words of rebuke and warning. It would be a great error to regard him as in any sense the special introducer of the rite of baptism, though he gave that ceremonial a new significance. His grand life-work was the preparation of the minds of the people for the appearance of the "Greater Man," and we must not limit the effect of his labours to what we see ensuing from the personal work of Christ during His sojourn on earth. The triumphs of Christianity in apostolic days, and its spread throughout the civilized, and even the uncivilized regions of the known world, were in part owing to the work which God gave into the hands of John the Baptist during his few years of testimony for the truth. It is sufficiently evident that he stirred the heart of the whole Jewish nation (Matt. iii. 5; xxi. 26; Luke iii. 15; vii. 29; John v. 35), and his influence spread abroad, in varying degree, wherever Jews and proselytes were found.
None at all acquainted with the character of the Israelites, and the treatment they had bestowed on all those who had, as God's messengers, come among them through the past ages; would have looked for any other end to John's career than an early death by the hand of a private assassin, or by pretended public justice, unless his life was preserved by interpositions almost miraculous. In the condition of Judea, with its different sects and parties, and its confusion of governments, there was sufficient to rouse the spirit of any ordinary man, who was a sincere believer in God's revelation contained in the Old Testament; John, however, stood on still higher ground, as holding the office of Christ's forerunner, and though our Lord did, at times, utter words of severe rebuke, yet, as a whole, mildness VOL. V., SECOND SERIES.
THE CLOSE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST'S CAREER.
and benignity were to be the characteristics of His evangelistic work, in contrast with the sternness that was displayed in John's personal utterances, and also manifested in the austerities practised by his disciples (Luke v. 32). Of all the sects and parties, the admirers of the Herods, imbued with semi-heathen principles, were sure to be most hostile to John; and, probably impelled thereto by an express command from God, the Baptist, who had perhaps in some previous hour proclaimed in Herod's ear the general message he bore, struck home at the proud and licentious prince, by forbidding him to take as his wife one who was the lawful partner of his brother Philip. And yet, though John had dealt so faithfully with one little accustomed to be thwarted, he might have escaped with his life, had it not been for the malignity of a woman.
The length of the public ministrations of John cannot be calculated with any certainty; he began to preach doubtless some time before Christ proclaimed that "the kingdom of heaven was at hand;" and from Mark i. 14, 15 it would appear that it was not until John's imprisonment that Christ presented Himself before the people of Galilee as the Great Teacher. As the death of John was brought about merely for the gratification of the spite of Herodias, the previous imprisonment of the faithful messenger was an act done by Herod Antipas in the vain hope that her revenge would be thereby sufficiently satisfied. For an examination of Mark vi. 17-20 leads us to suppose that, though Herod was not inclined to obey John in this, he would still have left him free had no force been put upon him. Listening to John," he did many things, and heard him gladly;" and it is to be inferred that the interviews did not cease when John was incarcerated. But the tetrarch's religion had its basis in fear, not in love of the truth and heart-conviction, though he had sufficient intuition to connect the doctrines John proclaimed with the life he led; and he was unwillingly obliged to admit that one so just and upright did by his practice enforce the precepts he spoke. Herodias was insensible to both alike. Granddaughter of Herod the Great, and, by the mother's side of Jewish blood, she had imbibed the spirit of a court which, like that of imperial Rome, was stained with ferocity, falsehood, and lust. I have said she was lawful wife to Philip, and yet scarcely that, for he and Antipas were her uncles; and such unions, if not in set terms denounced by the Mosaic law, were quite without its sanctions. This princess, therefore, as Mark tells us, had a quarrel (marg. "inward grudge ") against John; and Herod's birthday celebration gave a long-desired opportunity.
The formula made use of by Herod in his rash promise to Salome, when he was charmed with her dancing, was, no doubt, an Orientalism not meant to be interpreted literally, but was expressive of a willingness to bestow some great favour. He had not, at the moment, a suspicion of what was in all probability an artful and vindictive plot on the part of Herodias; indeed, it is likely his intellect was obscured by wine. Of the two reasons given (Mark vi. 26) which determined him to comply with her request, more weight must be attached to the unwillingness he had to appear ridiculous in the eyes of the company, for few of the Herods cared much about breaking an oath. The measure of faith possessed by this prince is shown by his subsequent supposition that Jesus was John under a new guise (Matt. xiv. 1, 2); and yet, even then, in his surprise there mingles nothing of true penitence, scarcely of remorse for the atrocious deed. History tells us that he was at last deprived of his power, and banished to Lyons, in Gaul, where he died in disgrace.
J. R. S. C.
APPROACH TO PALESTINE.
T was at 'Akaba that one of our Arabs, stretching out his hands in prayer, after a few moments of silence, exclaimed, pointing over the palm trees, "There is the new moon," the new moon which gave me a thrill no new moon had ever awakened before, for if all prospered, its fulness would be that of the paschal moon at Jerusalem. At Akaba, too, we first came within the dominions of David and Solomon. And now we were already on the confines of the tribe of Judah, and then next day we crossed the difficult high pass of Safeh, thought to be that through which the Israelites were repulsed by the Amorites. Unfortunately, a thick haze hung over the mountains of Edom, so that we saw them no more again. It was on Palm Sunday that we descended on the other side, and from this time the approach to Palestine fairly began. How the name of Aaron rang with a new sound in the first and second lessons of that evening after the sight of Mount Hor!
The Approach to Palestine-nothing can be more gradual. There is no special point at which you can say the Desert is