John The Baptist -- By: Anonymous
BSac 34:133 (Jan 1877) p. 173
John The Baptist1
The work referred to in the note at the bottom of the page is one of much value. It is evidently the result of careful study and thorough research. Its style, however, is faulty in certain very important respects. The matter which it contains might easily, we think, have been presented in a form much more compact, and the author’s drift and meaning been made much clearer. The subject of the book is one of unusual interest— one on which not a great deal has been written, at least in our language, and in regard to which, if we mistake not, the ideas commonly entertained are somewhat vague, not to say incorrect. We shall dwell for a brief space on a few of the topics treated of in this book; begging the reader to bear in mind that we present not our own views, but such as we understand to be those of Dr. Reynolds.
John is exhibited to us in the New Testament as a priest, a Nazarite, a prophet, and more than a prophet. John was a priest; he belonged to that particular line of the descendants of Levi to which by divine ordination priestly functions were restricted. We do not hear, indeed, of John’s ever taking any part in the temple service; yet the conjecture is not an altogether unlikely one, that the mere fact of his belonging to the priestly class gave him a peculiarly strong hold on the minds of the people; that his words of warning and denunciation were, on this account, listened to with the more reverent spirit; that in this way they were the utterance of one who spake with authority. The office of religious instructor had been committed by divine appointment to the priests. It had not been altogether unusual, in previous periods of Jewish history, for prophets to be chosen from among the priests. This we know to have been the case with Jeremiah and Ezekiel. These men spake with the more effective energy, because they felt that they had a prescriptive right to speak, and a corresponding claim to be heard. There was something in the very nature of their office to cause them to speak with the most emphatic energy, whenever the interests of religion and morality were at stake. We might reasonably presume that, conversant as they were obliged to be with moral and religious themes, their minds would be impressed beyond others with the untold importance of these themes, and that their language, while
BSac 34:133 (Jan 1877) p. 174
adverting to these themes, would have an energy which could not easily be resisted. Sometimes even a selfish motive might be mingled with these more elevated considerations. They might feel that as morality and religion decayed, so would the honor in which the priestly class was held be lessened: and on this account they might be prompted to speak on topics of ...
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