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my brethren ? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.
The rebuke of Jesus to the scribes, was well merited by the perverseness with which, since they could not deny his miracles, they evaded the acknowledgment of his divine commission, by ascribing to the agency of demons, works which'bore the impress of the Spirit of God; as though the powers of darkness could be employed in the destruction of their own empire,—the strong man assist in the spoiling of . his own house; as though works of beneficence and holiness could proceed from an evil source.
A beautiful instance is afforded immediately after, of our Saviour's custom in applying every circumstance to the improvement of those around him. “Whosoever claimed, “shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” Well did he express in these words, the warmth of affection, which united him to his disciples. Can we not endeavour to cherish similar feelings towards him? By the contemplation of his character, by meditation on his life, his words and actions, can we not learn to feel towards him, more than we now do, as indeed a friend and brother ? Thus has he permitted us to regard him : and who, that values what is lovely, will relinquish the affectionate title thus conferred ?
Who, as the brethren of the Lord,
May his affection claim?
A parent's honoured name?
The pure, the humble, the sincere,
Whose hopes are fixed above;
And ardent filial love;
Who to the Saviour's word of grace
With grateful warmth attend,
Their brother and their friend.
For these, in dark Gethsemane,
His bitter tears were shed;
He bowed his patient head.
Brethren of Jesus, may we share
The love that filled his breast,
Then enter to his rest.
DEATH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.
MARK Ví. 14. And king Herod heard of Jesus, (for his name was spread abroad,) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. Others said, That it is Elias. And others said That it is a prophet, even as one of the prophets. But when Herod heard thereof, he said, John, whom I beheaded, is risen from the dead.--For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison, for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife ; for he had married her. For John
had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not. For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy ; and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birth day made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee ; and when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod, and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. And the king was exceeding sorry, yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in the prison ; and brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel; and the damsel gave it to her mother. And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
A good man falls a victim to the caprice of a tyrant, directed by an artful and abandoned woman. We pity the sufferer, but do we envy his murderers ? . Could the grandeur of Herod compensate for the agony he endured, when the soul of John had ascended to its home in heaven? What peace could the depraved Herodias find, amid the storm of her own passions, in the thought that a servant of God had been murdered by her orders,—that another had been added to her dark list of crimes? The headlong passions of men make their own punishment. The malevolent may infli agony on others, but for every wound he gives, a fiercer pain sinks into his own heart. The path of happiness is that of rectitude, though it lie amid dangers, and terminate in a violent and untimely death. That the length of life should be measured, not by its years, but its deeds, is an old observation. He in truth lives to most advantage, who has enjoyed most constantly true happiness; and this is to be found in the gratification of the generous and affectionate feelings, in the approbation of conscience, and in the love of God.
The monarch gave his edict forth,
His ready slaves obeyed,
Upon the earth was laid.
Yet who could then with envy view
The tyrant in his pride,
Who by his order died?