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John the Baptist, Or the Penitence of the Innocent.

John the Baptist, Or the Penitence of the Innocent.

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Published by glennpease
BY Alexander Penrose Forbes



S. Matt. xi. U.

"Verily, I say unto you, Among them that are born

OF WOMEN, there HATH NOT ARISEN A GREATER THAN

John the Baptist.'
BY Alexander Penrose Forbes



S. Matt. xi. U.

"Verily, I say unto you, Among them that are born

OF WOMEN, there HATH NOT ARISEN A GREATER THAN

John the Baptist.'

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Published by: glennpease on Sep 05, 2013
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06/28/2014

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JOH THE BAPTIST, OR THE PEITECE OF THE IOCET.BY Alexander Penrose ForbesS. Matt. xi. U."Verily, I say unto you, Among them that are bornOF WOME, there HATH OT ARISE A GREATER THAJohn the Baptist.'We have here the testimony of the IncarnateTruth to the greatness of S. John the Baptist^and every other portion of the Holy Scripturesconfirms this infallible, estimate of him by theJudge of all men. He is an exception to thegreat law of humanity, which has appointed thatthe sons of Adam shall be born in sin and thechildren of wrath, for the Angel before his con-ception announced that he should " be filled withthe Holy Ghost even from his mother's womb.*'We may not speculate too deeply on the mys-teries of God, but it is a sweet and pious thought78 8. John the Baptist,to believe that that sanctification was impartedby the yet unborn Saviour on the occasion of thevisit paid by the Blessed Vii^in to Elizabeth." And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heardthe salutation of Mary^ the babe leaped in herwomb. And Elizabeth was filled with the HoltGhost/'
 
But this was not the only privilege announcedconcerning him by the Angel Gabriel, who de*clared his future glories to his devout and blam^'less father. ot only was his father " to haV^ joy and gladness/' not only were many to rejoic?^in his birth, but he was to be " great in the sigb'^of the Lord/' a prophecy literally accomplished it^the words of my text. As in the counsels o^^Omnipotence the sweet and holy ame of Jssutwas revealed to man to certify to him thatshould save His people from their sins, so the sameloving care manifesting itself in what we shouldcall a little matter, to show the minuteness of God's interest in us, was exhibited in the choiceof a divinely appointed name for Christ's pre-cursor. John signifies the gift, the grace, ormercy of God ; and doubtless that appellation im-plied the further intimation of the holy angel, — " Many of the children of Israel shall he turn tothe Lord their God, and he shall go before Himin the spirit and power of Elias to turn the heartsof the fathers to the children, and the disobedienttrr the Penitence of the Innocent. 79to the wisdom of the just^ to make ready a peopleprepared for the Lord/' That he might preservethe graces necessary for this undertakings hiswhole life was to be marked with an austerityequal to the most favoured sons of God under theOld Law. His life was to be the life of the de-voted azarite. He was to drink neither winenor strong drink^ his food was locusts and wildlioney^ his raiment the coarsest sackcloth of camel's hair^ he was to abandon the comfortsf)f his father's home for the solitude of the de-^rt^ a life summed up by our Blessed Saviourin the words^ '^John came neither eating nor
 
drinking."ot only in his mission of fearless rebuke,but also in the strictness of his daily life do weobserve his similarity to him in whose spirit andpower he came. It was afber his Lent of fortydays and forty nights in Horeb that the mightyprophet beheld all that mortal man might endureof the glory of the Lord ; and it was in the soli-tude of the river Jordan, after a youth of strictretirement and severity, that the Baptist beheldthat same Glory hidden in mortal Flesh, when hiseyes fell on the gentle and holy Lineaments of Him Whom he declared to be '^ the Lamb of GodThat taketh away the sins of the world." As Elijahby his life was able to reprove the guilty Ahab,and to warn the people for the first time adopting80 iS. John the Baptist,a state-endowed idolatry^ — 8o S. John was able torebuke the weak and licentious Herod^ and to an-nounce to that people the measure of whose in-iquities was now nearly filled^ '^ that the axe waslaid to the root of the tree."ow the austere life of the Baptist demandsour careful consideration. The life of penitencewhich he led in the desert could not have refer-ence to a course of past wilful sin^ for his eailysupernatural sanctification^ his careful educatioi^under the priestly roof by parents who " walked U*all the ordinances of God blameless/^ — his earl^seclusion in the desert^ the stern tone he adoptedwith regard to the vices of others, the univers*^admiration of him by the people who all countedhim as a prophet, and above all, the high commend*^ation of his character as a " burning and a shining — 

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