John answered, saying to them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I comes…
And what is the man who, having no expectations, is always casting back his thoughts into a retrospect? Almost universally a melancholy man. And what is the man who sees nothing but the present? A drudge in his work, and a sensualist in his pleasures. But what is the man who throws himself into that which is beyond him? At least, an energetic man, and, if he be a Christian, a happy one. Have you never observed that every one's character is determined by what he is living up to? Why is the Mahommedan an idle and self-indulgent man? Because he lives up to a corporeal, and indolent, and sensuous heaven. Why is the Brahmin a man of apathy? Because, after all his transmigrations, he has nothing to expect — according to his creed — but annihilation, absolute annihilation. Why does the believer grow holy and loving, but because he is always realizing in his mind the heaven of holiness and love to which he is going? Certainly, expectation is a duty. But God has done with this faculty of expectation, what He has done with all the natural powers and habits of the human mind — He has sanctified it, and elevated it. And this is the way God has done it — He has thrown into it first, truth, then affection, and then great delight, so He has made it hope. What is it? Expectation with desire. It is quite certain that God intended that man should be ruled by hope. "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." Observe, at once, the mind was sent off into the future for its comfort. It was the same with Abraham — he had nothing, he was to have everything. The Jews lived by their prophecies. Nor less, but rather more, it is the key of the New Testament. What the Messiah of Bethlehem was under the former dispensation, Christ made the Holy Ghost to His disciples. Wait, wait till you receive the promises. And now what is the aim, the consolation, the theme, the life of the whole Church, but the coming back of her dear Lord? But what I wish you to notice in this long line of expectation is, that the next thing in the succession is always greater and better than that which preceded it. David's reign was one appointed in the prospective; but David's reign was only the shadow of the higher empire of Christ. Zion's power and beauty were predicted; but chiefly as the type of the Church of the gospel. The gospel itself was infinitely greater than all its foreshowing; Jesus was a greater prophet than Moses. And we have Christ's own warrant to say that the Holy Ghost was a larger gift to the Church than even His own personal presence — more pervasive, more effective. And then higher and higher still, in ranges where the mind loses itself in floods of glory, the swelling tide rolls on and never stops. If you could read it so, brethren, whenever anything happy comes to you — an answered prayer, a gift of God — you may always hear it — saying, "I am only a pledge of something else; there is something better than I am behind." "One mightier than I cometh." Why it should have pleased God to place everything in such a scale of ever-ascending grandeur and goodness, we can only faintly glimpse. But, assuredly, it is always exalting Him in His unapproachable height, while it is always humbling us in our sense of ignorance and preparation.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
WEB: John answered them all, "I indeed baptize you with water, but he comes who is mightier than I, the latchet of whose sandals I am not worthy to loosen. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire,