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St. Luke's private


He accompanied St. Paul when he first went into Macedonia, Acts xvi. 8-40. xx. xxvii. and xxviii. Whether he went with him constantly afterward is not certain; but it is evident he accompanied him from Greece through Macedonia and Asia to Jerusalem, where he is supposed to have collected many particulars of the evangelic history: from Jerusalem he went with Paul to Rome, where he staid with him the two years of his imprisonment in that city. This alone makes out the space of five years and upwards. It is probable that he left St. Paul when he was set at liberty, and that he then went into Greece, where he finished and published this Gospel, and the book of the Acts, which he dedicated to The. ophilus, an honourable Christian friend of his in that country. It is supposed that he died in peace about the eightieth, or eighty-fourth year of his age. Some suppose he published this Gospel fifteen, others twenty-two years after the ascension of Christ.

See much on this subject in Lardner, Works, vol. vi. p. 104, &c. and in Michaelis's Introduction to the New Testament. Some learned men think that Lake has borrowed consider ably from St. Matthew: collate chap. iii. 7, 8, 9, 16, 17. with Matt. ii. 7-12 also chap. v. 20-38, with Matt. ix. 2-17. also chap. vi. 1-5 with Matt. xii. 1-5. Luke vii. 22-28. with Matt. 4-11. also chap. xii. 22-31. with Matt. vi. 25-33. It is allowed that there is considerable diversity in the order of time, between St. Matthew and St. Luke, which is accounted for thus: Matthew deduces the facts related in his history in chronological order. Luke, on the contrary, appears to have paid little attention to this order, because he proposed to make classification of events, referring each to its proper class, without paying any attention to chronological arrangement. Some critics divide this history into five distinct classes or sections, in the following manner.

CLASS I Comprehends all the details relative to the birth of Christ; with the preceding, concomitant, and immediately succeeding circumstances, from chap. i. and ii. 1-40.

epistle to Theophilus. CLASS II. Contains a description of our Lord's infancy and bringing up; his visit to the temple when twelve years of age; and his going down to Nazareth, and continuing under the government of his parents. Chap. ii. 41--52.

CLASS III. Contains the account of the preaching of John Baptist, and his success; the baptism of Christ and his ge nealogy. Chap. iii.

CLASS IV. Comprehends the account of all our Lord's transactions in Galilee, for the whole three years of his ministry, from chap. iv. to chap. ix. 1-50. This seems evident: for as soon as Luke had given the account of our Lord's temptation in the desert, chap. iv. 1-13. he represents him as immediately returning in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, ver. 14.; mentions Nazareth, ver. 16.; Capernaum, ver. 31. ; and the lake of Galilee, chap. v. ver. 1.; and thus to chap. ix. 50. goes on to describe the preaching, miracles, &c. of our Lord in Galilee. CLASS V. and last, commences at chap. ix. ver. 51. where the evangelist gives an account of our Lord's last journey to Jerusalem: therefore this class contains not only all the transactions of our Lord from that time to his crucifixion, but also the account of his resurrection, his commission to his apostles, and his ascension to heaven. Chap. ix. 51. to chap. xxiv. 53. inclusive.

A plan similar to this has been followed by Suetonius, in his life of Augustus; he does not produce his facts in chronological order, but classifies them, as he himself professes, cap. 12. giving an accent of all his wars, honours, legislative acts, discipline, domestic life, &c. &c. MATTHEW, therefore, is to be consulted for the correct arrangement of facts in chronological order: LUKE, for a classification of facts and events, without any attention to the order of time in which they oc curred. Many eminent historians have conducted their narra. tives in the same way. See Rosenmuller. It must not, however, be forgotten, that this evangelist gives us some very valuable chronological data in several parts of the three first chapters. These shall be noticed in their proper places.


(For Chronological Æras, see at the end of the Acts.]


The preface, or St. Luke's private epistle to Theophilus, 1-4. The conception and birth of John Baptist foretold by the engel Gabriel, 5, 17. Zacharias doubts, 18. And the angel declares he shall be dumb, till the accomplishment of the prediction, 19-25, Six months after, the angel Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary, and predicts the miraculous concep tion and birth of Christ, 26-38. Mary visits her cousin Elisabeth, 39-45. Mary's song of exultation and praise, 46— 56 John the Baptist is born, 57-66. The prophetic song of his father Zacharias, 67–79. John is educated in the deaert, 80. (A. M. ĉir. 4051. A. D. cir. 47. cir. Olymp. CCVI.] FORASMUCH as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the word;

Ar1 3 1 Thess. 1. 5. 1 Fet. 2. 12-b Heb. 23. 1 Peter 5. 1. 2 Peter 1. 16

NOTES-Verse 1. Many have taken in hand] Great and markable characters have always many biographers. So it appears it was with our Lord: but as most of these accounts were inaccurate, recording as facts, things which had not hap. pened; and through ignorance or design, mistaking others, ecially in the place where St. Luke wrote; it seemed good to te Holy Spirit to inspire this holy man with the most correct knowledge of the whole history of our Lord's birth, preachmiracles, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension, that the sincere upright followers of God, might have a sure findation, on which they might safely build their faith. See the note on chap. ix. 10.

34 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.

e Mark 1.1. John 15.27.-d Acts 15. 19, 25, 28. 1 Cor.7.40.-e Acts 11. 4.-f Acts 1. 1. John 20. 31.

the doctrine of Christ; and in this sense, λoyos is frequently used both by the evangelists and apostles.

3. Having had perfect understanding] ПapņoλOVONKOTI avwley, having accurately traced up-entered into the very spirit of the work, and examined every thing to the bottom; in consequence of which investigation, I am completely con vinced of the truth of the whole. Though God gives his Holy Spirit to all them who ask him, yet this gift was never designed to set aside the use of those faculties with which he has already endued the soul, and which are as truly his gifts, as the Holy Spirit itself is. The nature of inspiration in the case of St. Luke, we at once discover: he set himself by impartial Most surely believed among us] Facts confirmed by the inquiry, and diligent investigation, to find the whole truth, fullest evidence-TwY TERAпpodopμevov payparov. Every and to relate nothing but the truth; and the Spirit of God thing that had been done or said by Jesus Christ, was so pub-sided over, and directed his inquiries, so that he discovered the 5,80 plain, and so accredited by thousands of witnesses, whole truth, and was preserved from every particle of error. who could have had no interest in supporting an imposture, From the very first] Avw0cv, from their origin. Some as to carry the fullest conviction to the hearts of those who think avlev should, in this place, be translated from above: ward and saw him, of the divinity of his doctrine, and the and that it refers to the inspiration by which St. Luke wrote. truth of his miracles. I prefer our translation, or, from the origin, which several good critics contend for, and which meaning it has in some of the best Greek writers. See Kypke.


2 Eren as they delivered them unto us, which from the beFinning were eye witnesses] Probably this alludes to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, which it is likely were written before St. Luke wrote his; and on the models of which he professes to write his own: and an' apyns, from the begin. ing, must mean from the time that Christ first began to proclaim the glad tidings of the kingdom; and avrorrat, eye-wites, must necessarily signify, those who had been with him from the beginning, and consequently had the best opportu-ers of Christ are addressed, why is the singular number nities of knowing the truth of every fact.

Theophilus] As the literal import of this word is friend of God, Ocov dos, some have supposed that under this name Luke comprised all the followers of Christ, to whom, as friends of God, he dedicated this faithful history of the life, doctrine, death, and resurrection of our Lord. But this interpretation appears to have little solidity in it; for if all the followused? and what good end could there be accomplished by using a feigned name? Besides, xparist, most excellent, could never be applied in this way, for it evidently designates a particular person, and one probably distinguished by his situation in life; though this does not necessarily follow from the title, which was often given in the way of friendship.

Ministers of the word) Tov Aoyov. Some suppose that our blessed Lord is meant by this phrase: o Aoyos, the Word, or Leges, is his essential character in John i. 1, &c. but it does not appear that any of the inspired penmen ever use the word in this sense except John himself; for here it certainly means

Account of Zacharias the priest,

ST. LUKE. 5 HERE was, in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abiah; and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren; and they both were now well stricken in years.

a Matt 2.1 A. M. 3999. B. C. 6. An Clymp. CXCIII. 3.-b1 Chron. 24 10, 19. Neh 12 1, 17.-c Gen. 7. 1. & 17.1. 1 Kings 9. 4. 2 Kings 20. 3. Job 1.1. Acts 23. 1. & 24. 16. Phil. 3. 6.

Theophilus appears to have been some very reputable Greek or Roman, who was one of St. Luke's disciples. The first four verses seem a private epistle, sent by the evangelist with this history, which having been carefully preserved by Theophilus, was afterward found and published with this Gospel.

4. Wherein thou has been instructed] Karexnons-in which thou hast been catechised. It appears that Theophilus had already received the first elements of the Christian doctrine, but had not as yet been completely grounded in them. That he might know the certainty of the things in which he had been thus catechised, by having all the facts and their proofs brought before him in order, the evangelist sent him this faithful and divinely inspired narrative. Those who content themselves with that knowledge of the doctrines of Christ, which they receive from catechisms and schoolmasters, how ever important these elementary instructions may be, are never likely to arrive at such a knowledge of the truth, as will make them wise unto salvation, or fortify them against the attacks of infidelity and irreligion. Every man should labour to acquire the most correct knowledge, and indubitable certainty of those doctrines, on which he stakes his eternal salvation. Some suppose that St. Luke refers here to the imperfect instruction which Theophilus had received from the defective Gospels to which he refers in verse 1.

5. In the days of Herod the king] This was Herod, surnamed the Great, the son of Antipater, an Idumean by birth, who had professed himself a proselyte to the Jewish religion, but regarded no religion further than it promoted his secular interests and ambition. Thus, for the first time the throne of Judah was filled by a person not of Jewish extraction, who had been forced upon the people by the Roman government. Hence it appears plain, that the prophecy of Jacob, Gen. xlix. 10. was now fulfilled; for the sceptre had departed from Judah and now was the time, according to another prophecy, to look for the governor from Bethlehem, who should rule and feed the people of Israel: Mic. v. 1, 2. See a large account of the family of the Herods in the note on Matthew ii. 1.

and his wife Elisabeth,

8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's of tice before God, in the order of his course,

9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.


Chronicles 21. 19 2 Chronicles 8. 14. & 31.2-e Exodus 20.7, 8. 1 Sam 23. 1 Chronicles 25. 13. 2 Chronicles 29. 11.-f Leviticus 16, 17. Revelations &. 3, 4.g Exodus 0.1

7. Both were now well stricken in years] By the order of God, sterility and old age both met in the person of Elisabeth, to render the birth of a son (humanly speaking) impossi ble. This was an exact parallel to the case of Sarah and Abraham. Gen. xi. 30. xvii. 17. Christ must (by the miracu lous power of God) be born of a virgin; whatever was connected with, or referred to his incarnation, must be miracu lous and impressive. Isaac was his grand type, and therefore must be born miraculously-contrary to the common course and rule of nature. Abraham was a hundred years of age. Sarah was ninety, Gen. xvii. 17. and it had CEASED to be with Sarah AFTER THE MANNER OF WOMEN, Gen. xviii. 11. and therefore, from her age and state, the birth of a child must, according to nature, have been impossible; and it was thus, that it might be miraculous. John the Baptist was to be the forerunner of Christ; his birth, like that of Isaac, must be miraculous, because, like the other, it was to be a representation of the birth of Christ; therefore his parents were both far advanced in years, and besides, Elisabeth was naturally barren. The birth of these three extraordinary persons was announced nearly in the same way. God himself foretels the birth of Isaac, Gen. xvii. 16. The angel of the Lord announces the birth of John the Baptist, Luke i. 13. and six months after, the angel Gabriel, the same angel, proclaims to Mary the birth of Christ! Man is naturally an inconsiderate and incredulous creature: he must have extraordinary things to arrest and fix his attention; and he requires well attested miracles from God, to bespeak and confirm his faith. Ever person who has properly considered the nature of man, must see that the whole of natural religion, so terined, is little else than a disbelief of all religion.

8. Before God] In the temple, where God used to manifest his presence, though long before this time, he had forsaken it; yet on this important occasion, the angel of his presence had visited it.

9. His lot was, &c.] We are informed in the Talmud, that it was the custom of the priests to divide the different functions of the sacerdotal office, among themselves, by lot: and in this case the decision of the lot was, that Zacharias should at that time burn the incense before the Lord in the holy place. 10. The whole multitude-were praying] The incense was itself an emblem of the prayers and praises of the people of God; see Psal. cxli. 2. Rev. viii. 1. While there. fore the rite is performing by the Priest, the people are employed in the thing signified. Happy the people who at tend to the spirit as well as the letter of every divine institution! Incense was burnt twice a day in the temple, in the morning and in the evening, Exod. xxx. 7, 8. but the evangelist does not specify the time of the day in which this transac tion took place. It was probably in the morning.

The course of Abiah] When the sacerdotal families grew very numerous, so that all could not officiate together at the tabernacle, David divided them into twenty-four classes, that they might minister by turns, 1 Chron. xxiv. 1, &c. each family serving a whole week, 2 Kings xi. 7. 2 Chron. xxiii. 8. Abiah was the eighth in the order in which they had been originally established: 1 Chron. xxiv. 10. These dates and persons are particularly mentioned as a full confirmation of the truth of the facts themselves; because any person at the time this Gospel was written, might have satisfled himself by applying to the family of John the Baptist, the family of our Lord, or the surrounding neighbours. What a full proof of the Gospel history! It was published immediately after the time in which these facts took place; and among the very people, thousands of whom had been eye-witnesses of them; and among those too, whose essential interest it was to have dis-high visits them, that they may be prepared for that kingdom credited them if they could; and yet, in all that age, in which only they could have been contradicted with advantage, no man ever arose to call them in question! What an absolute proof was this that the thing was impossible; and that the truth of the Gospel history was acknowledged by all who paid any attention to the evidences it produced!

Of the daughters of Aaron] That is, she was of one of the sacerdotal families. This shows that John was most nobly descended; his father was a priest, and his mother the daughter of a priest: and thus both by father and mother, he descended from the family of Amram, of whom came Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, the most illustrious characters in the whole Jewish history.

6. They were both righteous] Upright and holy in all their outward conduct in civil life.

Before God] Possessing the spirit of the religion they professed; exercising themselves constantly in the presence of their Maker, whose eye they knew was upon all their conduct, and who examined all their motives.

Walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.] None being able to lay any evil to their charge. They were as exemplary and conscientious in the discharge of their religious duties, as they were in the discharge of the offices of civil life. What a sacred pair! they made their duty to God, to their neighbour, and to themselves, walk constantly hand in hand. See the note on Matt. iii. 15. Perhaps Evroλai, commandments, may here mean the decalogue; and dixaiwμara, ordinances, the ceremonial and judicial laws which were delivered after the decalogue: as all the precepts delivered from Exod. xxi. to xxiv. are termed dixawpara, judgments or ordinances,

11. There appeared-an angel of the Lord] There had been neither prophecy nor angelic ministry vouchsafed to this people for about 400 years. But now, as the Sun of righteousness is about to rise upon them, the day-spring from on of God which was at hand. Every circumstance here is worthy of remark: 1. That an angel should now appear, as such a favour had not been granted for 400 years. 2. The person to whom this angel was sent one of the priests. The sacerdotal office itself pointed out the Son of God till he came: by him it was to be completed, and in him it was to be eternally established:-Thou art a priest for ever, Psal. cx. 4. 3. The place in which the angel appeared-Jerusalem; out of which the word of the Lord should go forth, Isaiah ii. 3. and not at Hebron, in the hill country of Judea, where Zacharias lived, ver. 39. which was the ordinary residence of the priest, Josh. xxi. 11. where there could have been few witnesses of this interposition of God, and the effects produced by it. 4. The place where he was when the angel appeared to him-in the temple; which was the place where God was to be sought; the place of his residence, and a type of the human nature of the blessed Jesus, John ii. 21. 5. The time in which this was done-the solemn hour of public prayer. God has always promised to be present with those who call upon him. When the people and the priest go hand in hand, and heart with heart, to the house of God, the angel of his presence shall surely accompany them, and God shall appear among them. 6. The employment of Zacharias when the angel appeared-he was burning incense, one of the most sacred and inysterious functions of the Levitical priesthood, and which typified the intercession of Christ; confer Heb. vii. 25. with chap. ix. 24. 7. The long continued and publicly known dumbness of the priest, who doubted the word thus miraculously sent to him from the Iord: a solemn intimation of what God would do to all those who would not believe in the Lord Jesus. Every mouth shall be stopped.

The birth and character of

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12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and 4 shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.

16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

17 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 i to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

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12 Zacharias-tas troubled] Or, confounded at his sudden and unexpected appearance, and fear fell upon him, lest this heavenly messenger were come to denounce the judgments of God against a faithless and disobedient people, who had too long and too well merited them.

13. Tay prayer is heard] This probably refers, 1st. To the frequent prayers which he had offered to God for a son; and, 2y. To those which he had offered for the deliverance and consolation of Israel. They are all heard-thou shalt have a son, and Israel shall be saved. If fervent, faithful prayers be not immediately answered, they should not be considered as lost; all such are heard by the Lord, are registered in hea ven, and shall be answered in the most effectual way, and in the best time. Answers to prayer are to be received by faith; but faith should not only accompany prayer while offered on earth, but follow it all its way to the throne of grace, and stay with it before the throne till dismissed with its answer to the waiting soul.

Thou shall call his name John.] For the proper exposition this name, see on Mark i. 4.

4 Thou shalt have joy, &c.] Esai xapa ooɩ, He will be joy and gladness to thee. A child of prayer and faith is likely to be a source of comfort to his parents. Were proper attention paid to this point, there would be fewer disobedient children la the world; and the number of broken-hearted parents would be lessened. But what can be expected from the majority of matrimonial connexious begun without the feur of God, and carried on without his love.

Many shall rejoice at his birth. He shall be the minister of God for good to multitudes, who shall, through his preaching, be turned from the error of their ways, and converted to God

their Saviour.

John the Baptist are foretold.

18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings.

20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak,
until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou
believest not my words which shall be fulfilled in their season.
21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that
he tarried so long in the temple.

22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them:
and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple:
for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as " the days of his mi-
nistration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.

g Mal, 4. 5. Matt. 11. 14. Mark 9. 12-h Feclus. 48. 10.-i Or, by-k Gen. 17. 17.- Dan. 8. 16. & 9 21, 22, 23. Matt. 18 10. Heb. 1. 14.- Ezek. 3. 26. & 24. 27.— n See 2 Kings 11. 5. 1 Chron. 9. 25.

divine instructer: John is announced as such: by his preach ing, and manner of life, all classes among the people should be taught the nature of their several places, and the duties respectively incumbent upon them. See chap. iii. 10, &c. In these things the greatness of John, inentioned verse 15. is pointed out. Nothing is truly great but what is so in the sight of God: John's greatness arose, 1st. From the plenitude of God's Spirit which dwelt in him. 2. From his continual selfdenial, and taking up his cross. 3. From his ardent zeal to make Christ known. 4. From his fidelity and courage in re. buking vice. 5. From the reformation which he was the instrument of effecting among the people; reviving among them the spirit of the patriarchs, and preparing their hearts to receive the Lord Jesus. To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children. By a very expressive figure of speech, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the rest of the patriarchs, are represented here as having their hearts alienated from the Jews, their children, because of their unbelief and disobedience; but that the Baptist should so far succeed in converting them to the Lord their God, that these holy men should again look upon them with delight, and acknowledge them for their chil dren. Some think that by the children the Gentiles are meant, and by the fathers, the Jews.

The disobedient] Or unbelieving, antides, the persons who would no longer credit the predictions of the prophets, relative to the manifestation of the Messiah. Unbelief and diso bedience are so intimately connected, that the same word in the Sacred Writings often serves for both.

18. Whereby shall I know this?] All things are possible to God: no natural impediment can have any power when God has declared he will accomplish his purpose. He has a right to be believed on his own word alone; and it is impious, when we are convinced that it is his word, to demand a sign or pledge for its fulfilment.

19. I am Gabriel] This angel is mentioned, Dan. viii. 16. ix. 21. The original 2 is exceedingly expressive: it is com. pounded of 2 geburah, and el, the might of the strong God. An angel with such a name was exceedingly proper for the occasion; as it pointed out that all-prevalent power by which the strong God could accomplish every purpose, and subdue all things to himself.

That stand in the presence of God] This is in allusion to the case of the prime minister of an castern monarch, who alone has access to his master at all times; and is therefore said, in the eastern phrase, to see the presence, or to be in the presence. From the allusion we may conceive the angel Gabriel to be in a state of high favour and trust before God.

15. He shall be great in the sight of the Lord] That is, before Jesus Christ, whose forerunner he shall be, or he shall be a truly great person, for so this form of speech may imply. Neither wine nor strong drink] Zikepa, 1. e. all fermented liquors which have the property of intoxicating, or producing drunkenness. The original word eikepa, sikera, comes from the Hebrew shakar, to inebriate. "Any inebriating Equor," says St. Jerom, (Epis. ad Nepot.) "is called sicera, Whether made of corn, apples, honey, dates, or any other fruits," One of the four prohibited liquors ninong the East. Indian Moslimans, is called sikkir. "Sikkir is made by steeping fresh dates in water till they take effect in sweetening it: this liquor is abominable and unlawful." HEDAYA, Fol iv. p 158. Probably this is the very liquor referred to in the text. In the Institutes of Menu it is said, "inebriating liqnor may be considered as of three principal sorts: that extracted from the dregs of sugar, that extracted from bruised rice, and that extracted from the flowers of the madhuca: as one, so are all: they shall not be tasted by the chief of the twice-born," chap. xi. Inst. 95. Twice-horn is used by the Brahmins in the same sense as being born again is used by Christians. It signifies a spiritual regeneration. From this word comes our English term cider, or sider, a beverage made of the fermented juice of apples. See the note on Lev. x. 9. Shall be filled with the Holy Ghost] Shall be divinely de. signated to this particular office, and qualified for it from his mother's womb, from the instant of his birth. One MS. two Versions, and four of the primitive Fathers read cv 7n kia, In the tomb of his mother-intimating that even before he should be born into the world, the Holy Spirit should be 21. The people waited] The time spent in burning the incommunicated to him. Did not this take place on the saluta- cense was probably about half an hour, during which there tion of the Virgin Mary; and is not this what is intended ver. was a profound silence, as the people stood without engaged 44? To be filled with the Holy Ghost, implies having the soul in mental prayer. To this there is an allusion in Rev. viii. influenced in all its powers, with the illuminating, strength-1-5. Zacharias had spent, not only the time necessary for ening, and sanctifying energy of the Spirit.

16. Many of the children of Israel shall he turn] See this prediction fulfilled, chap. iii. ver. 10-18.

17. He shall go before him] Jesus Christ, in the spirit and power of Elijah; he shall resemble Elijah in his retired and austere manner of life, and in his zeal for the truth, reproving even princes for their crimes; compare 1 Kings xxi. 17-24. with Matt. xiv. 4. It was on these accounts that the prophet Malachi, chap. iv. 6. had likened John to this prophet. See also Isa. xl. 3. and Mal. iv. 5, 6.

To turn the hearts of the fathers] Gross ignorance had taken place in the hearts of the Jewish people, they needed a

20. Thou shalt be dumb] Etwawr, silent; this translation is literal; the angel immediately explains it, thou shalt not be able to speak. Dumbness ordinarily proceeds from a natural imperfection or debility of the organs of speech; in this case there was no natural weakness or unfitness in those organs ; but for his rash and unbelieving speech, silence is imposef upon him by the Lord, and he shall not be able to break it till the power that has silenced him gives him again the perm sion to speak! Let those who are intemperate in the use their tongues, behold here the severity and mercy of Lord; nine months' silence for one intemperate speech! Many, by giving way to the language of unbelief, have lost the language of praise and thanksgiving for months, if not years!

burning the incense, but also that which the discourse be tween him and the angel took up.

22. They perceived that he had seen a vision] As the sanctuary was separated from the court by a great vail, the people could not see what passed; but they understood this from Zacharias himself, who, nv diarɛvwv, made signs, or nodded unto them to that purpose. Signs are the only means by which a dumb man can convey his ideas to others.

23. As soon as the days of his ministration were accomplish ed] Each family of the priesthood officiated one whole week. 2 Kings xi. 17. There is something very instructive in the conduct of this

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24 And after those days, his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,

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25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he
looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from
God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27 To a virgin bespoused to a man whose name was Joseph,
of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that
art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou
among women.


29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

a Gen. 30.23 Isa 4.1. & 54.1.4.-b Matt. 1. 18. Ch. 2.4, 5.-c Dan. 9.23. & 10.19.d Or, graciously accepted, or, much graced. See Ver 30-e Judz 6 12-f Ver. 12.g Isa. 7.14. Matt. 1.21A. M. 4000. B.C.5. An. Olymp. CXCIII 3.

priest; had he not loved the service he was engaged in, he might have made the loss of his speech a pretext for imme. diately quitting it. But as he was not thereby disabled from fulfilling the sacerdotal function, so he saw he was bound to continue till his ministry was ended; or till God had given him a positive dismission. Preachers who give up their la bour in the vineyard because of some trifling bodily disorder by which they are afflicted, or through some inconvenience in outward circumstances, which the follower of a crossbearing, crucifted Lord should not mention, show that they either never had a proper concern for the honour of their Master or for the salvation of men; or else that they have lost the spirit of their Master, and the spirit of their work. Again, Zacharias did not hasten to his house to tell his wife the good news that he had received from heaven, in which she was certainly very much interested: the angel had promised that all his words should be fulfilled in their season, and for this season he patiently waited in the path of duty. He had engaged in the work of the Lord, and must pay no attention to any thing that was likely to mar or interrupt his religious service. Preachers who profess to be called of God to labour in the word and doctrine, and who abandon their work for filthy lucre's sake, are the most contemptible of mortals, and traitors to their God.

24. Hid herself five months] That she might have the full est proof of the accomplishment of God's promise, before she appeared in public, or spoke of her mercies.

25. To take away my reproach] As fruitfulness was a part of the promise of God to his people, Gen. xvii. 6. and children, on this account, being considered as a particular blessing from heaven, Exod. xxiii. 26. Lev. xxvi. 9. Psal. cxxvii. 3. so barrenness was considered among the Jews as a reproach, and a token of the disapprobation of the Lord. 1 Sam. i. 6. But see ver. 36.

to the Virgin Mary.

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour with God.

31 And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and hshalt call his name JESUS.

32 He shall be great, i and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

331 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever: and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

35 And the angel answered and said unto her, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall

h Ch.2.21.-i Mark 5.7.-k 2 Sam 7.11, 12. Isa. 9.6, 7. &16.5. Jer 23.5. Pa 12.11. Rev. 3. 7-1 Dan. 2.44. & 7. 14, 27. Obad. 21. Mic. 4.7. John 12.34. Heb. 1.8.m Matt. 1.20.

born of the Virgin, was to be united with the divine nature. 2dly. In consequence of this, that human nature should be called in a peculiar sense, the Son of the most high God; because God would produce it in her womb, without the intervention of man. 3. He shall be the everlasting Head and Sovereign of his church. 4. His government and kingdom shall be eternal. Revolutions may destroy the kingdoms of the earth, but the powers and gates of hell and death shall never be able to destroy or injure the kingdom of Christ. His is the only dominion that shall never have an end. The angel seems here to refer to Isa. ix. 7. xvi. 5. Jer. xxiii. 5. Dan. ii. 44. vii. 14. All which prophecies speak of the glory, extent, and perpetuity of the evangelical kingdom. The kingdom of grace, and the kingdom of glory, form the endless government of Christ.

33. The house of Jacob] All who belong to the twelve tribes, the whole Israelitish people.

34. Seeing I know not a man] Or, husband. As she was only contracted to Joseph, and not as yet married, she knew that this conception could not have yet taken place; and she modestly inquires by what means the promise of the angel is to be fulfilled, in order to regulate her conduct accordingly.

35. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee] This conception shall take place suddenly, and the Holy Spirit himself shall be the grand operator. The power, devauts, the miracle working power, of the Most High shall overshadow thee, to accomplish this purpose, and to protect thee from danger. As there is a plain allusion to the Spirit of God brooding over the face of the waters, to render them prolific, Gen. i. 2. I am the more firmly established in the opinion advanced on Matt. i. 20. that the rudiments of the human nature of Christ was a real creation in the womb of the Virgin, by the energy of the Spirit of God.

26. A city of Galilee] As Joseph and Mary were both of the family of David, the patrimonial estate of which lay in Bethlehem, it seems as if the family residence should have been in that city, and not in Nazareth; for we find that even after the return from the captivity, the several families went to reside in those cities, to which they originally belonged. See Neh. xi. 3. but it is probable that the holy family removed to Galilee, for fear of exciting the jealousy of Herod, who had usurped that throne to which they had an indisputable right. See on chap. ii. 39. thus by keeping out of the way, they avoid-i. 14. Of this divine nature the angel does not particularly ed the effects of his jealousy.

Therefore also that holy thing (or person) shall be called the Son of God.] We may plainly perceive here, that the angel does not give the appellation of Son of God to the divine nature of Christ; but to that holy person or thing, To aytor, which was to be born of the Virgin, by the energy of the Holy Spirit. The divine nature could not be born of the Virgin'; the human nature was born of her. The divine nature had no beginning; it was God manifested in the flesh, 1 Tim. iii. 16. it was that Word which being in the beginning (from eternity) with God, John i. 2. was afterward made flesh, (became manifest in human nature) and tabernacled among us, Johu speak here, but of the tabernacle or shrine, which God was 27. To a virgin espoused, &c.] See on Matt. i. 18. and 23. now preparing for it, viz. the holy thing, that was to be born The reflections of pious father Quesnel on this subject are of the Virgin. Two natures must ever be distinguished in worthy of serious regard. At length the moment is come Christ: the human nature, in reference to which he is the which is to give a son to a virgin, a saviour to the world, a Son of God, and inferior to him, Mark xiii. 32. John v. 19. pattern to mankind, a sacrifice to sinners, a temple to the xiv. 28. and the divine nature, which was from eternity, and divinity, and a new principle to the new world. This angel is equal to God, John i. 1. x. 30. Rom. ix. 5. Col. i. 16-18. It is sent from God, not to the palaces of the great, but to a poor true, that to Jesus the Christ, as he appeared among men, maid, the wife of a carpenter. The Son of God comes to every characteristic of the divine nature is sometimes attri humble the proud, and to honour poverty, weakness, and con-buted, without appearing to make any distinction between tempt. He chooses an obscure place for the mystery which is the divine and human natures; but is there any part of the most glorious to his humanity, its union with the Divinity, Scriptures in which it is plainly said that the divine nature and for that which is most degrading (his sufferings and of Jesus was the Son of God? Here I trust I may be permit death) he will choose the greatest city! How far are men from ted to say, with all due respect for those who differ from me, such a conduct as this. that the doctrine of the eternal Sonship of Christ is, in my opinion, anti-scriptural, and highly dangerous; this doctrine I reject for the following reasons:

28. And the angel came in unto her] Some think that all this business was transacted in a vision; and that there was no personal appearance of the angel. When divine visions were given, they are announced as such, in the sacred writings; nor can we with safety attribute any thing to a vision, where a divine communication is made; unless it be specified as such in the text.

Hail] Analogous to Peace be to thee-May thou enjoy all possible blessings!

Highly favoured] As being chosen in preference to all the women upon earth, to be the mother of the Messiah.

The Lord is with thee] Thou art about to receive the most convincing proofs of God's peculiar favour towards thee. Blessed art thou among icomen.] That is, thou art favoured beyond all others.

29. She was troubled at his saying] The glorious appear. ance of the heavenly messenger, filled her with amazement; and she was puzzled to find out the purport of his speech. 31. Thou shalt call his name JESUS.] See on Matt. 1. 20, 21. and here on chap. ii. 21.

1st. I have not been able to find any express declaration in the Scriptures concerning it.

2dly. If Christ be the Son of God as to his divine nature, then he cannot be eternal: for son implies a father; and father implies, in reference to son, precedency in time, if not in nature too.-Father and son, imply the idea of generation; and generation implies a time in which it was effected, and time also antecedent to such generation.

3dly. If Christ be the Son of God, as to his divine nature, then the Father is of necessity prior, consequently superior to him. 4thly. Again, if this divine nature were begotten of the Father, then it must be in time; i. e. there was a period in which it did not exist, and a period when it began to exist. This destroys the eternity of our blessed Lord, and robs him at once of his Godhead.

5thly. To say that he was begotten from all eternity, is in my opinion absurd; and the phrase eternal Son, is a positive self-contradiction. ETERNITY is that which has had no begin32. He shall be great] Behold the greatness of the Manning, nor stands in any reference to TIME. Son supposes Christ Jesus: 1st. Because that human nature that should be ❘ time, generation, and father; and time also antecedent to

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overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.

36 And behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

39 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it anto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from


39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste," into a city of Juda;

40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salu. tation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

42 And she spake out with a lond voice, and said, d Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

cousin Elisabeth.

46 And Mary said, f My soul doth magnify the Lord,
47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his hand-maiden:
for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me

49 For he that is mighty i hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

50 And his mercy is on them that fear him, from genera. tion to generation.

51 He hath showed strength with his arm; " he hath scatter. ed the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

53 P He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

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55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and return

44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded ined to her own house. mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be deli.

45 And blessed is she that believed; for there shall be a per-vered; and she brought forth a son. formance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

* Mai 14.33 & 563, 64 Mark 11. John 1 34. & 29.31. Acts 8.37 Rom 1.4Gen 13. 14. Jer 32 17. Zech 56. Matt. 19.3. Mark 10 27. Ch 137 Rom 4 21.© Josh 21.9, 10, 11-d Ver. Judg 5 24.—• Or,which believed that there.-(1 Sam. 21 22 23.9. Hab. 3. 15-g1 Saus 1.11. Ps. 198 6.

such generation. Therefore the conjunction of these two terms Son and eternity is absolutely impossible, as they imply essentially different and opposite ideas.

The enemies of Christ's divinity have, in all ages, availed themselves of this incautious method of treating this subject, and on this ground, have ever had the advantage of the defenders of the godhead of Christ. This doctrine of the eternal Sonship destroys the deity of Christ; now, if his deity be taken away, the whole Gospel scheme of redemption is ruined. On this ground, the atoneinent of Christ cannot have been of infinite merit, and consequently could not purchase pardon for the offences of mankind, nor give any right to, or posses. sion of, an eternal glory. The very use of this phrase is both absurd and dangerous; therefore let all those who value Jesus and their salvation abide by the Scriptures.

36. Thy cousin Elisabeth) Thy kinswoman, oryyevns. As Elisabeth was of the tribe of Leri, ver. 5 and Mary of the tribe of Judah, they could not be relatives but by the mother's side. She hath also conceived] And this is wrought by the same power and energy through which thou shalt conceive. Thus God has given thee a proof and pledge in what he has done for Elisabeth, of what he will do for thyself; therefore, have faith in God.

Who was called barren] It is probable that Elisabeth got this appellative by way of reproach; or to distinguish her from some other Elisabeth, also well known, who had been blest with children. Perhaps this is the reprouch which Elisabeth speaks of, verse 25. her common name among men, among the people who knew her, being Elisabeth the barren. 37. For with God nothing shall be impossible.] Words of the very same import with those spoken by the Lord to Sarah, when he foretold the birth of Isaac, Gen. xviii. 14. Is any thing too hard for the Lord? As there can be no doubt that Mary perceived this allusion to the promise and birth of Isaac, Bushe must have bad her faith considerably strengthened by reflecting on the intervention of God in that case.

58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord h Mal 3 12. Ch 11 27-i Ps 71.19 & 126 2, 3-k Ps 111.9.-1 Gen. 17.7. Exod. 20. 6. Ps 103 17, 18-m Pa 95.1. & 118. 15. Isa 40 10, & 51 9 & 10-n Pa 33 10. Pet. 55-01 Sam. 26, &c. Job 5. 11. Ps 113.6-p 1 Sam 2.5. Ps. 34 10.-q Ps. 96.3. Jer. 31.3,20-r Gen 17. 19. Ps. 132.11. Rom. 11.28. Gal.3.16.

ceives the fulfilment of God's promises. Whatever God has promised, he intends to perform. We should believe whatever he has spoken-his own authority is a sufficient reason why we should believe. Let us only be convinced that God has given the promise, and then implicit faith becomes an indis pensable duty-in this case, not to believe implicitly would be absurd and unreasonable-God will perform his promise, for

HE cannot lie.

46. And Mary said] Two copies of the Itala, and some books mentioned by Origen, give this song to Elisabeth. It is a counterpart of the song of Hannah, as related in 1 Sam. ii. 1—10. This is allowed by many to be the first piece of poetry in the New Testament: but the address of the angel to Zacharias, ver. 13-17. is delivered in the same way: so is that to the Virgin, ver. 30-33. and so also is Elisabeth's answer to Mary, ver. 42-45. All these portions are easily reducible to the hemistich form in which the Hebrew poetry of the Old Testa. ment is found in inany MSS., and in which Dr. Kennicott has arranged the Psalms, and other poetical parts of the Sacred Writings. See his Hebrew Bible.

My soul doth magnify the Lord] The verb pɛyaλvveiv, Kypke has proved, signifies to celebrate with words, to extol with praises. This is the only way in which God can be mag. nified, or made great: for strictly speaking, nothing can be added to God, for he is infinite and eternal; therefore the way to magnify him, is to show forth and celebrate those acts in which he has manifested his greatness.

47. My spirit hath rejoiced] Erulted. These words are uncommonly emphatical-they show that Mary's whole son was filled with the divine influence, and wrapt up in God.

48. He hath regarded] Looked favourably, &c. eneẞλev. In the most tender and compassionate manner he has visited me in my humiliation, drawing the reasons of his conduct, not from any excellence in me, but from his own eternal kindness and love.

All generations shall call me blessed] This was the ha3. Behold the handmaid of the Lord) I fully credit what racter by which alone she wished to be known; viz. The then sayest, and am perfectly ready to obey thy com:nands, blessed or happy virgin. What dishonour do those do to this and to accomplish all the purposes of thy grace concerning holy woman, who give her names and characters which her me. It appears, that at the instant of this act of faith and purpure soul would abhor; and which properly belong to GOD posed obedience, the conception of the immaculate humanity her Saviour! By her votaries she is addressed as Queen of of Jesus took place; and it was DONG unto her according to heaven, Mother of God, &c. titles both absurd and blasphemous. his word. See ver. 35. 49. He that is mighty hath done to me great things] Or, miracles, psy adria. As God fills her with his goodness, she empties herself to him in praises; and sinking into her own nothingness, she ever confesses, that God alone is all in all.

39. In those days] As soon as she could conveniently fit herself out for the journey.

Hill country) Hebron, the city of the priests, Josh. xxi. 11. which was situated in the tribe of Judah, about forty miles south of Jerusalem, and upwards of seventy from Nazareth. With haste] This probably refers to nothing else than the earnestness of her mind to visit her relative Elisabeth, and to see what the Lord had wrought for her.

41. Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost] This seems to have been the accomplishment of the promise made by the angel, ver. 15. He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. The mother is filled with the Holy Spirit, and the child in her womb becomes sensible of the di

viae influence.

42 Blessed art thon among women] Repeating the words of the angel, ver. 28. of which she had probably been inform ed by the Holy Virgin, in the present interview.

43. The mother of my Lord] The prophetic spirit which appears to have overshadowed Elisabeth, gave her a clear understanding in the mystery of the birth of the promised Messiah.

45. Blessed is she that believeth; for there shall be, &c.] Or, Biessed is she who hath believed that there shall be, &c. This I believe to be the proper arrangement of the passage, and is thus noticed in the marginal reading. Faith is here represented as the foundation of true happiness, because it re

Holy is his name] Probably the word which Mary used was on chesed, wich though we sometimes translate holy, see Psal. lxxxvi. 2. cxlv. 17, yet the proper meaning is abun dant goodness, exuberant kindness, and this well agrees with the following clause.

50. His mercy is on them that fear him] His exuberant kindness manifests itself in acts of mercy to all those who fear or reverence his name; and this is continued from genera tion to generation, because he is abundant in goodness, and because he delighteth in mercy. This is a noble, becoming. and just character of the God of the Christians: a being who delights in the salvation and happiness of all his creatures, because his name is mercy, and his nature, lore.

51. He hath showed strength] Or, He hath gained the vic tory, enоinos Kparos. The word sparos is used for victory, by Homer, Hesoid, Sophocles, Euripides, and others.

With his arm] Grotius has well observed that God's efficacy is represented by his finger, his great power by his hand, and his omnipotence by his arm. The plague of lice was the finger of God, Exod. vii. 18. The plagues in general were wrought by his hand, Exod. iii. 20. And the destruction of Pharoah's host in the Red Sea, which was effected by the om nipotence of God, is called the act of his arm, Exod. xv. 16.

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