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the Bible is to be seen in the poor man's cottage, as well as in the houses of the rich; and very thankful should we be that this boast is mainly true. what if the Bible, though accessible to all, remains to many of us a closed volume? What if it lie from day to day, from week to week, upon our shelves, or shut up in a drawer, like the talent hid in a napkin? What if when read, it is not marked, not learned, not inwardly digested, but only looked into for curiosity, or what is worse, as a task, and for a show? What if it fail to influence our conduct? What if our passions are not controlled, nor our tempers softened, nor our language improved by what we hear and read in the Bible? If, in short, we are not better than those who neither know nor possess the Scriptures, then what becomes of our boasting? Surely it is altogether at an end: rather it is turned to our shame and to our condemnation. "We have Moses and the Prophets;" the Apostles and Evangelists, and yet we will not hear them. The light is come into the world, and we will not open our hearts to admit its beams. It shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not."


Let us be careful, my brethren, how we expose ourselves to such a reproach. It is not a little harm that we do against our souls by having, and yet not hearkening to, the Holy Scriptures of God. For

those Scriptures is a pearl of great price; far too rich to be neglected with impunity. They show unto us the way unto salvation; they contain the words of eternal life! O let us then lay this diligently to heart. Let us have recourse to our Bible as to a store-house full of spiritual food-food that we need equally with our daily bread. Let us learn to drink of its fulness as out of a river. Let us go to it as our guide in all cases of perplexity and distress. Let us receive with meekness and with teachable minds its holy lessons. Let us submit ourselves to its sharp rebukes. Let us glean support from its heavenly promises. Let us meditate upon it day and night. So shall we find the worth of that inestimable treasure: so shall we get understanding in the things which concern our everlasting peace. The more we make God's word our study in this the house of our pilgrimage, the more comfort and delight we shall find therein; the more entirely shall we agree with that saying of the Psalmist, "The law of thy mouth is dearer unto me than thousands of gold and silver."

Hartley Wespall,






ST. MATTHEW xi. 10.-" For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee."

SUCH is the testimony of our blessed Lord to the character and office of his forerunner. Addressing Himself to the multitudes, who a little time back had flocked to hear the preaching of John by the banks of the river Jordan, He demanded of them the motives by which they had been induced to attend his ministry. "What went ye out into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken with the wind ?” Did you expect to find a man like yourselves, light and vain; easily carried away by every blast of new doctrine? "But what went ye out for to see? a man clothed in soft raiment ?" Did look for an example of worldly ease, a man delicately clad, and self-indulgent, and inviting others to a life of


pleasure? If so, why go out into the wilderness? "Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses." "But what," asks our Lord for the third time, went ye out for to see?" And then Himself answers the question, " A prophet, yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee."

Now, in these words of our Lord, we have the truest and best account of the Baptist's mission : and as our Church, both in the gospel of to-day, and in that appointed for next Sunday, directs our thoughts to that holy person, it will not, I hope, be an unprofitable employment of our time, if I shortly collect and set before you, what is related in the gospels concerning his office and ministry, with a view to its bearing upon our time and condition.

The parents of John the Baptist were Zechariah and Elizabeth, of whom it is recorded that "they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless." By his mother he was related to Mary the Virgin-mother of our Lord. His birth was announced in a very wonderful manner. The angel Gabriel-the ministering spirit who stands in the presence of God-was sent to Zacharias, while engaged in the duties of his office, with this message

from the Almighty. "Fear not, Zacharias, for thy prayer is heard, and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Zacharias, who was an old man, could not at first receive such exceeding joyful tidings; and for this he was punished with dumbness, until the birth of a son in due time, fulfilled the promise of the angel. The circumstances of his birth, and circumcision on the eighth day, when his father's "tongue was loosed, and he spake and praised God," and prophesied in the loftiest strain of His Redeeming mercy, are, I doubt not, known to you, and are to be found at full in the latter part of the first chapter of St. Luke, which closes with this short and striking account of the early years of the Baptist. "The child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his

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