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out a decree from Cesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

In those days.' Christ. 'A decree.'

About the time of the birth of John and of A law, commanding a thing to be done. Cesar Augustus.' This was the Roman emperor. His first name was Octavianus. He was nephew to Julius Cesar, and obtained the empire after his death. He took the name Augustus -that is, august, or honourable-as a compliment to his own greatness; and from him the month August, which was before called Sextilis, received its name. That all the world.' The whole land, that is, the whole land of Palestine. That the passage refers only to the land of Palestine, and not to the whole world, or to all the Roman empire, is clear from the fact that no such taxing is mentioned as pertaining to any other country. The words 'world', and 'whole world,' are not unfrequently used in this limited sense. See Matt. iv. 8. Acts xi. 28. Should be taxed.' It means rather to enrol, or take a list of the citizens, with their employments, the amount of their property, &c. Judea was at this time tributary to Rome.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

'And this taxing was first made,' &c. This verse has given as much perplexity, perhaps, as any one in the New Testament. The difficulty has consisted in the fact that Cyrenius, or Quirinius, was not governor of Syria until twelve or fifteen years after the birth of Jesus. Dr. Campbell's criticism is the most satisfactory. He renders the passage, This first register took effect when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.' Cyrenius, a Roman senator, was employed by the emperor to enrol or register the people. It was the first time this was done. But the taxation, with a view to which the enrolment was made, was not imposed till the same Cyrenius was governor of Syria. The register then 'took effect.' Syria.' The region of country north of Palestine, and lying between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates.

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, and out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David :)

The city of David.' Bethlehem, called the city of David, because it was the place of his birth. See Matt. ii. 1. Because he was of the house." Of the family. And lineage.' In taking a Jewish census, families were kept distinct. Hence all went into the tribe to which they belonged, and to the place where their family had resided. Joseph was of the tribe of Benjamin,

and of the particular family of David. Hence he went up to the city of David.

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling-clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

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'Her first-born son.' Whether Mary had any other children or not has been a matter of controversy. The obvious meaning of the Bible is that she had; and if this be the case, the word 'first-born' is here to be taken in its common signification. Swaddling-clothes.' When a child among the Hebrews was born, it was washed in water, rubbed in salt, and then wrapped in swaddling-clothes, bands or blankets that confined the limbs closely, Ezek. xvi. 4. Laid him in a manger.' There was no room at the inn,' and they were obliged to lie in the stable. Their being there was no proof of poverty. It was a simple matter of necessity. There was no room' at the inn. It may be added that in eastern countries it is usual for travellers to pass the night in this manner. In the caravansary it is common for the whole caravan of camels, horses, and people, to lodge in the same place. Indeed the only pillow which children often have is the side of a horse, with which the whole family lie down. Yet it is worthy of our consideration that Jesus was born poor. He was not cradled in a palace. He had no rich friends. He had virtuous, pious parents, of more value to a child than great riches. Happy is that child who has a pious father and mother. It is enough for him to be as Jesus was, and God will bless him, 'No room at the inn. Many people assembled to be enrolled, and the inn was filled before Joseph and Mary arrived.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

The same country.' Round about Bethlehem. 'Abiding in the field.' Remaining out of doors, under the open sky, with their flocks. The climate was mild; and to keep their flocks from straying, they spent the night with them. It has hence been considered that our Saviour was not born in the winter. At that time it is cold, and especially in the high and mountainous regions about Bethlehem. Greswell considers that the true date of the nativity is the 5th of April. 'Keeping watch,' &c. More literally, 'tending their flocks by turns through the night watches.'

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,

and the glory of the Lord shone round about them. and they were sore afraid.

'The glory of the Lord.' That is, a splendid appearance or light. The word 'glory' is often the same as light, 1 Cor. xv. 41. Luke ix. 31. Acts xxii. 11. So the glory of the Lord' here means an exceedingly great or bright luminous appearance.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling-clothes, lying in a manger.

"This shall be a sign.' This is the evidence by which you shall know the child,--you will find him wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

'Glory to God.' Praise be to God. That is, the praise of the redemption of man is due to God. The plan of redemption will bring glory to God. This it does by evincing his love to men, and his regard to the honour of his law, and the stability of his government. No where, so far as we can see, could his glory be more strikingly exhibited than in giving his only-begotten Son to die for men. 'In the highest.' Among the highest, that is, among the angels of God, indicating that they felt a deep interest in this work, and were called on to praise God for the redemption of man. In the highest heavens, indicating that the praise should not be confined to the earth, but should spread throughout the universe. O that not only angels but men would join universally in this song of praise! On earth peace.' That is, the gospel shall bring peace. The Saviour was predicted as the Prince of peace, Isa. ix. 6. The world is at war with God; sinners are at enmity against their Maker, and against each other. There is no peace to the wicked. But Jesus came to make peace. And this he did, 1. By reconciling the world to God by his atonement. 2. By bringing the sinner to a state of peace with his Maker, inducing him to lay down the weapons of rebellion, to submit his soul to God, and thus giving him the peace which passeth all understanding. 3. By diffusing in the heart universal good will to men-disposing men to lay aside their differences, to love each other, and seek each other's welfare. If the gospel of Jesus

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should universally prevail, there would be an end of war. days of the millenium there will be universal peace; all the causes of war will have ceased; men will love each other and do justly; and nations be brought under the influence of the gospel. Good will toward men.' The gift of the Saviour is an expression of good will or love to men, and therefore God is to be praised. The work of redemption is uniformly represented as the fruit of the love of God, John iii. 16. Eph. v. 2. 1 John iv. 10. Rev. i. 5. No words can express the greatness of that love. It can only be measured by the misery, helplessness, and danger of man; by the extent of his sufferings here and in the world of woe, if he had not been saved by the condescension, sufferings, and death of Jesus; and by the eternal honour and happiness to which he will raise his people. Surely, if God so loved us first, we ought also to love him, 1 John iv. 19.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

'Unto Bethlehem.' The city of David, where the angel had told them they would find the Saviour. These shepherds appear to have been pious men. They were waiting for the coming of the Messiah. On the first intimation that he had actually appeared, they went with haste to find him. So all men should, without delay, seek the Saviour. We may always find him. We need not travel to Bethlehem. We have only to look unto him, to believe on him, and we shall find him ever near to us, and for ever our Saviour and friend.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

'When they had seen it.' When they had satisfied themselves of the truth of the coming of the Messiah, and had ascertained that they could not have been mistaken in the appearance of the angels. Having seen the child themselves, they had now evidence that would satisfy others. And, accordingly, they became the first preachers of the gospel, and went and proclaimed that the Messiah had come. One of the first duties of those who are newly converted to God, and a duty in which they delight, is to proclaim to others what they have seen and felt. It should be done in a proper way, and at the proper time; but nothing can or should prevent a new convert from telling his feelings and views to others, to his friends, his parents, his brothers, and old companions.

And it may be remarked, that often more good may be done then, than during any other period of the life.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

'Mary kept all these tnings. All that happened, and all that was said respecting her child. She remembered what the angel had said to her, what had happened to Elisabeth and to the shepherds, all the extraordinary circumstances which had attended the birth of her son. A mother forgets none of those things which occur respecting her beloved children. Every thing is treasured up in her mind; and often, often, she thinks of them, and anxiously seeks what they may indicate respecting their future character and welfare. Pondered. Weighed. She kept them; she revolved them; she weighed them in her mind, giving to each circumstance its just importance, and anxiously seeking what it might indicate respecting her child. 'In her heart.' In her mind. She thought of these things often and anxiously.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

"The shepherds returned.' To their flocks. 'Glorifying,' &c. Giving honour to God, and celebrating his praises.

21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

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Eight days. This was the regular time for performing the rite of circumcision, Gen. xvii. 12. 'Called Jesus.' See note, Matt. i. 21.

22 And when the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

'Days of her purification. Among the Hebrews a mother was required to remain at home for about forty days after the birth of a male child, and eighty for a female; during that time she was reckoned impure, that is, she was not permitted to go to the temple, or to engage in religious services with the congregation, Lev. xii. 3, 4. To Jerusalem.' The place where the temple was, and the ordinances of religion were celebrated. "To present him to the Lord. Every first-born male child, among the Jews, was regarded as holy to the Lord, Ex. xiii. 2. Afterwards God chose

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