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of his ministration were accomplished, he departed was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's to his own house.
name was Mary. 24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth con- 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, ceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Hail, thou that art* highly favoured, the “Lord is
25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me, in the days with thee: blessed art thou among women. wherein he looked on me, to take `away my reproach 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at among men.
his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of 26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was salutation this should be. sent from God, unto a city of Galilee, named Naza- 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary; reth,
for thou hast found favour with God. 27 To à virgin bespoused to a man whose name 31 And, behold, thou 'shalt conceive in thy womb, a Gen. 30. 23. 1 Sam. 1.6. Is. 51. I, 4. 6 Matt. 1. 18. or, graciously accepi. ed; or, much graced. c Dan. 9. 23. d Judg. 6. 12. ols, 7. 14. Matt. I. 21. Gospel that speaks to us articulately, and gives us a clear view corruption of that nature; but he was born of a virgin espoused, of that which in the Old Testament was seen through a glass made up to be married, and contracted, to put honour upon the darkly.
married state, that that might not be brought into contempt 4. He stayed out the days of his ministration; for his lot (which was an ordinance in innocency) by the Redeemer's being to burn incense, he could do that, though he was dumb being born of a virgin. and deaf. When we cannot perform the service of God so well 4. She lived in Nazareth, a city of Galilee, a remote corner as we would, yet, if we perform it as well as we can, God will of the country, and in no reputation for religion or learning, but accept of us in it.
which bordered upon the heathen, and therefore was called 5. He then returned to his family, and his wife conceived, Galilee of the Gentiles. Christ's having his relations resident v. 23, 24, She conceived by virtue of the promise, and, being there, intimates favour in reserve for the Gentile world. And sensible of it, she hid herself five months; she kept house, and Dr. Lighưfoot observes, that Jonah was by birth a Galilean, kept it private, and did not go abroad so much as she used to and Elijah and Elisha very much conversant in Galilee, who do, (1.) Lest she should do herself any prejudice, so as might were all famous prophets of the Gentiles. The angel was sent occasion her miscarrying, or any huri to the conception to her from Nazareth. Note, No distance or disadvantage of (2.) Lest she should contract any ceremonial pollution which place shall be a prejudice to those whom God has favours in might intrench upon the Nazariteship of her child, remember- store for. The angel Gabriel carries his message as cheerfully ing the command given to Samson's mother in a like case, and to Mary at Nazareth in Galilee as to Zacharias in the templo applying it to herself; she must not touch any unclean thing at Jerusalem. while she is with child of a Nazarite, Judg. 13. 14. And II. The address of the angel to her, v. 28. We are not told though five months are mentioned, because of what follows in what she was doing, or how employed, when the angel came the sixth month, yet we may suppose that she did in like man- unto her ; but he surprised her with this salutation, Hail, thou ner take care of herself during the whole time of her being with that art highly favoured. This was intended to raise in her, child. (3.) Some think it was in an excess of modesty that she 1. A value for herself; and though it is very rare that any need hid herself, ashamed it should be said that one of her age should to have any sparks struck into their breast with such design, be with child. Shall she have pleasure, being old, her lord being yet in some, who, like Mary, pore only on their low estate, there old also ? Gen. 18. 12. Or, it was in token of her humility, is occasion for it. 2. An expectation of great news, nol from that she might not seem to boast of the honour God had put abroad, but from above. Heaven designs, no doubt, uncommon upon her. (4.) She hid herself for devotion, that she might favours for one whom an angel makes court to with such spend her time in prayer and praise. The saints are God's respect. Hail thou, Xaips-rejoice thou ; it was the usual form hidden ones; she gives this reason for her retirement, “ For of salutation; it expresses an esteem of her, and good will to thus huth the Lord dealt with me; not only thus graciously in her and her prosperity. giving me a child, but thus honourably in giving me such a child (1.) She is dignified; "Thou art highly favoured. God, in as is to be a Nazarite;" (for so her husband might by writing his choice of thee to be the mother of the Messiah, has put an signify to her ;) "he hath taken away my reproach among men. honour upon thee peculiar to thyself, above that of Eve, who Fruitfulness was looked upon to be so great a blessing among was the mother of all living." "The vulgar Latin translates the Jews, because of the promises of the increase of their na- this gratiâ plena-full of grace, and thence gathers, that sho tion, and the rising of the Messiah among them, that it was a had more of the inherent graces of the Spirit than ever any great reproach to be barren; and those who were so, though had, whereas it is certain that this bespeaks no other than the ever so blameless, were concluded to be guilty of some great sin singular favour done her, in preferring her to conceive and bear unknown, for which they were so punished. Now Elisabeth our blessed Lord; an honour, which, since he was to be the triumphs, that not only this reproach is taken away, but great seed of the woman, some woman must have, not for personal glory is put upon her instead of it; Thus hath the Lord dealt meril, but purely for the sake of free grace, and she is pitched with me, beyond any thought or expectation of mine in the days upon; even so, Father, because it seemed good unto thee. wherein he looked on me. Note, In God's gracious dealings (2.) She has the presence of God with her; “ The Lord is with us we ought to observe his gracious regards to us. He with thee, though poor and mean, and perhaps now forecasting has looked on us with compassion and favour, and therefore has how to get a livelihood, and maintain a family in the married thus dealt with us.
stato." The angel with this word raised the faith of Gideon ; V. 26–38. We have here notice given us of all it was fit (Judg. 6. 12.) The Lord is with thee. Nothing is to be dea that we should know concerning the incarnation and conception spaired of, not the performance of any service, not the obtainof our blessed Saviour, six months after the conception of John. ing of any favour, though ever so great, if we have God with us. The same angel Gabriel, that was employed in making known This word might put her in mind of the Immanuel, God with to Zacharias God's purpose concerning his son, is employed in us, which a virgin shall conceive and bear, (Is. 7. 14;) and why this also; for in this, the same glorious work of redemption, not she? which was begun in that, is carried on. As bad angels are (3.) She has the blessing of God upon her; “Blessed art none of the redeemed, so good angels are none of the redeemers; thou among women; not only thou shalt be accounted so by, yet they are employed by the Redeemer as his messengers, men, but thou shalt be so. Thou that art so highly favoured and they go cheerfully on his errands, because they are his in this instance, mayest expect in other things to be blessed." Father's humble servants, and his children's hearty friends and She explains this herself, (v. 48,) All generations shall call me well-wishers.
blessed. Compare it with that which Deborah saith of Jael, I. We have here an account given of the mother of our another that was the glory of her sex; (Judg. 5. 24,) Blessed Lord, of whom he was to be born, whom though we are not to shall she be above women in the tent. pray to, yet we ought to praise God for.
III. The consternation she was in, upon this address, (v. 29,) 1. Her name was Mary, the same name with Miriam, the When she saw him, and the glories with which he was sursister of Moses and Aaron; the name signifies eralted, and a rounded, she was troubled at the sight of him, and much more great elevation it was to her indeed, to be thus favoured above at his saying. Had she been a proud ambitious young woman, all the daughters of the house of David.
that aimed high, and Hattered herself with the expectation of 2. She was a daughter of the royal family, lineally descended great things in the world, she would have been pleased at his from David, and she herself and all her friends knew it, for she saying, would have been puffed up with it, and (as we have went under the title and character of the house of David, though reason to think she was a young woman of very good sense) she was poor and low in the world ; and she was enabled by would have had an answer ready, signifying so much: but, God's providence, and the care of the Jews to preserve their instead of that, she is confounded at it, as not conscious to hero genealogies, to make it out, and as long as the promise of the self of any thing that either merited or promised such great Messiah was to be fulfilled, it was worth keeping; but for those things; and she cast in her mind what manner of salutation this now, who are brought low in the world, to have descended should be; Was it from heaven or of men? Was it to amuso from persons of honour, is not worth mentioning.
her, was it to insnare her, was it to banter her, or was there 3. She was a virgin, a pure unspotted one, but espoused to something substantial and weighty in it? But of all the thoughts one of the same royal stock, like her, however, of low estate; she had as to what manner of salutation it should be, I believe 80 t hat upon both accounts there was (as it is fit there should she had not the least idea of its being ever intended or used for be) an equality between them; his name was Joseph; he also a prayer, as it is, and has been, for many ages, by the corrupt, was of the house of David, Matt. 1. 20. Christ's mother was degenerate, and antichristian ages of the church, and to be ten a virgin, because he was not to be born by ordinary generation, times repeated for the Lord's prayer once ; so it is in the church but miraculously; it was necessary that he should be so, that, of Rome. But her thoughtfulness upon this occasion gives a very thotigh he must partake of the nature of man, yot not of the I useful intimation to young people of her sex,
Matt. 12, 42.
& Heb. 1. 2-8.
and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, JESUS.
The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the 32 He shall be great and shall be called the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; thereSon of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give tore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee unto him the throne hof his father David :
shall be called “the Son of God. 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall sixth month with her who was called barren. this be, seeing I know not a man?
37 For 'with God nothing shall be impossible. h 2 Sam. 7. 11, 12. Is. 9.6, 7.
i Dan. 7. 14, 27. Mic. 4.7. k Mark 1. 1. I Mal. 4. 5, 6. are made to them, to consider and cast in their minds what man- ner how it shall be wrought ; for the Holy Ghost, as the Power ner of salutations they are, whence they come, and what their of the Highest, shall overshadow her, as the cloud covered the tendency is, that they may receive them accordingly, and may tabernacle when the glory of God took possession of it, to always stand on their guard.
conceal it from those that would too curiously observe the moIV. The message itself which the angel had to deliver to her. tions of it, and pry into the mystery of it. The formation of Some time the angel gives her to pause; but, observing that every babe in the womb, and the entrance of the spirit of life that did but increase her perplexity, he went on with his errand, into it, is a mystery in nature; none knows the way of the spia r. 30. To what he had said she made no reply; he therefore rit, nor how the bones are formed in the womb of her that is with confirms it. " Fear not, Mary, I have no other design than to child, Ec. 11. 5. We were made in secret, Ps. 139. 15, 16. assure thee that thou hast found favour with God more than Much more was the formation of the child Jesus a mystery thou thinkest of, as there are many who think they are more without controversy, great was the mystery of godliness, God favoured of God than really they are.” Note, Those that have manifest in the flesh, 1 Tim. 3. 16. It is a new thing created in found favour with God, should not give way to disquicting the earth, (Jer. 31. 22,) concerning which we must not covet to distrustful fears, Doth God favour thee? Fear not, though be wise above what is written, the world frown upon thee. Is he for thee? No matter who is (3.) The child she shall conceive is a holy thing, and there. against thee,
fore must not be conceived by ordinary generation, because he 1. Though she is a virgin, she shall have the honour of must not share in the common corruption and pollution of the being a mother ; " Thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring human nature; he is spoken of emphatically, That Holy Thing, forth a son, and thou shalt have the naming of him; thou shalt such as never was, and he shall be called the Son of God, as call his name Jesus," v. 31. It was the sentence upon Eve, the Son of the Father by eternal generation, as an indication that, though she should have the honour to be the mother of all of which, he shall now be formed by the Holy Ghost in the living, yet this mortification shall be an allay to that honour, present conception. His human nature must be so produced, that her desire shall be to her husband, and he shall rule over her, as it was fit that should be, which was to be taken into union Gen. 3. 16. But Mary has the honour without the allay. with the divine nature.
2. Though she lives in poverty and obscurity, yet sho shall 3. It was a further encouragement to her faith, to be told that have the honour to be the mother of the Messiah; her Son her cousin Elisabeth, though stricken in years, was with child, shall be named Jesus—a Saviour, such a one as the world
Here is an age of wonders beginning, and therefore be needs, rather than such a one as the Jews espect.
not surprised: here is one among thy own relations truly (1.) He will be very nearly allied to the upper world. He great, though not altogether so great as this; it is usual with shall be great, truly great, incontestably greal, for he shall be God to advance in working wonders. Greater works than these called the Son of the Highest, the Son of God, who is the shall ye do. Though Elisabeth was, on the father's side, of Highest; of the same nature, as the son is of the same nature the daughters of Aaron, (v. 5,) yet on the mother's side she with the father; and very dear to him, as the son is to the father. might be of the house of David, for those two families often He shall be called, and not miscalled, the Son of the Highest, intermarried, as an earnest of the uniting of the royalty and for he is himself God over all, blessed for evermore, Rom. 9. 5. the priesthood in the Messiah. This is the sirth month with Note, Those who are the children of God, though but by adop- her that was called barren. This intimates, as Dr. Lighưfoot tion and regeneration, are truly great, and therefore are con- thinks, that all the instances in the Old Testament, of those cerned to be very good, 1 John 3. 1, 2.
having children that had been long barren, which was above (2.) He will be very highly preferred in the lower world ; for, nature, were designed to prepare the world for the belief of a though born under the most disadvantageous circunstances virgin's bearing of a son, which was against nature. And there possible, and appearing in the form of a servant, yet the Lord fore, even in the birth of Isaac, Abraham saw Christ's day, God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, v. 32. foresaw such a miracle in the birth of Christ. The angel He puts her in mind that she was of the house of David; and assures Mary of this, to encourage her faith, and concludes that therefore, since neither the Salique Law, nor the right of with that great truth, of undoubted certainty and universal use, primogeniture, took place in the entail of his throne, it was For with God nothing shall be impossible, (v. 37 ;) and is now not impossible but that she might bring forth an heir to it, and thing, then not this. Abraham therefore staggered not at the therefore might the more easily believe it, when she was told by belief of the divine promise, because he was strong in his belief an angel from heaven that she should do so, that after the sceptre of the divine power, Rom. 4. 20, 21. No word of God must be had been long departed from that ancient and honourable family, incredible to us, as long as no work of God is impossible to him. it should now at length return to it again, to remain in it, not VI. Her acquiescence in the will of God concerning her, by succession, but in the same hand to eternity. His people v.38. She owns herself, 1. A believing subject to the divine will not give him that throne, will not acknowledge his right to authority; " Behold, the handmaid of the Lord. Lord, I am at rule them; but the Lord God shall give him a right to rule them, thy service, at thy disposal, to do what thou commandest me.” and set him as his King upon the holy hill of Zion. He assures She objects not the danger of spoiling her marriage, and her, (1.) That his kingdom shall be spiritual; he shall reign blemishing her reputation, but leaves the issue with God, and over the house of Jacob, not Israel according to the flesh, for they submits entirely to his will. 2. A believing expectant of the neither came into his interests nor did they continue long a divine favour. She is not only content that it should be so, but people; it must therefore be a spiritual kingdom, the house of humbly desires that it may be so; Be it unto me according to thy Israel according to promise, that he must rule over. [2.] That word. Such a favour as this, it was not for her to slight, or be it shall be eternal: he shall reign for ever, and of his kingdom indifferent lo; and for what God has promised he will be sought there shall be no end, as there had been long since of the tem- unto; by prayer we must put our amen, or so be it, to the pro poral reign of David's house, and would shortly be of the state mise, Remember, and perform thy word unto thy servant, upon of Israel: other crowns endure not to every generation, but which thou hast caused me to hope. We musi, as Mary here, Christ's doth, Prov. 27. 24. The Gospel is the last dispensa- guide our desires by the word of God, and ground our hopes tion, we are to look for no other.
upon it. Be it unto me according to thy word; just so, and no V. The further information given her, upon her inquiry con- otherwise. cerning the birth of this Prince.
Hereupon, the angel departed from her; having completed the 1. It is a just inquiry which she makes;.“ How shall this be? errand he was sent upon, he returned, to give account of it, and y. 34. How can I now presently conceive a child,” (for so receive new instructions. Converse with angels was always a the angel meant,)“ when I know not a man; must it therefore transient thing, and soon over ; it will be constant and permabe otherwise than by ordinary generation? If so, let me know nent in the future state, It is generally supposed that just at how?” She knew that the Messiah must be born of a virgin ; this instant the virgin conceived, by the overshadowing power and if she must be his mother, she desires to know how. This of the Holy Ghost : but the scripture being decently silent conwas not the language of her distrust, or any doubt of what the cerning that, it doth not become us to be inquisitive, much less angel said, but of a desire to be further instructed,
positive. 2. It is a satisfactory answer that is given to it, v. 35. (1.) V.39–56. We have here an interview between the two happy She shall conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, whose pro mothers, Elisabeth and Mary: the angel, by intimating to per work and office it is to sanctify; and therefore to sanctify Mary the favour bestowed on her cousin Elisabeth, (v. 36,) gave the virgin for this purpose, the Holy Ghost is called the power occasion for it; and sometimes it may prove a better piece of of the Highest. Doth she ask how this shall be? This is enough service than we think, to bring good people together, to comto help her over all the difficulty there appears in it; a divine pare notes. Here is, power will undertake it, not the power of an angel employed in 1. The visit which 'Mary made to Elisabeth. Mary was the it, as in other works of wonder, but the power of the Holy younger, and younger with child; and therefore, if they must Ghost himself,
come together, it was fittest that Mary should take the journey, (2.) She must ask no questions concerning the way and man- not insisting on the preference which the greater dignity of her 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid mof the 42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Lord; be it unto me according nto thy word. And Blessed Part thou among woinen; and blessed is the the angel departed from her.
fruit of thy womb. 39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of the hill-country with haste, into 'a city of Juda: my Lord ?should come to me?
40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and 44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation saluted Elisabeth.
sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb 41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth for joy: heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in 45 And blessed is she * that believed: for there her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy shall be a performance of those things which were Ghost:
told her from the Lord. = D. 115. 16. n Pe. 119. 33. Josh.21.9–11. p Judg. 5. 24. ver. 28.
9 John 13. 13. or, which believed that there shall be. conception gave her, v. 39. She arose, and left her affairs, to the Bridegroom's voice, heard, though not by him, yet by his attend this greater matter; in those days, at that time, (as it is mother. commonly explained, Jer. 33. 15.-50. 4,) in a day or two after 2. Elisabeth was herself filled with the Holy Ghost, or a Spithe angel had visited her, taking some time first, as it is sup- rit of prophecy, by which, as well as by the particular suggesposed, for her devotion, or rather hastening away to her cousin's, tions of the Holy Ghost she was filled with, she was given to where she would have more leisure, and better help, in the understand that the Messiah was at hand, in whom prophecy family of a priest. She went, METÀ Opovon-with care, diligence, should revive, and by whom the Holy Ghost should be more and expedition; not
young people nonly go abroad and plentifully poured out than ever, according to the expectations visit their friends, to divert herself, but to inform herself: she of those who waited for the consolation of Israel. The uncomwent to a city of Judah in the hill-country; it is not named, but mon motion of the babe in her womb, was a token of the exby comparing the description of it here with Josh. 21. 10, 11, it traordinary emotion of her spirit under a divine impulse. appears to be Hebron, for that is there said to be in the hill- Note, Those whom Christ graciously visits, may know it by country of Judah, and to belong to the priests the sons of their being filled with the Holy Ghost; for if any man have not Aaron; thither Mary hastened, though it was a long journey, the Spirit of Christ, he is none
of his. some scores of miles.
III. The welcome which Elisabeth, by the Spirit of pro1. Dr. Lightfoot offers a conjecture that she was to conceive phecy, gave to Mary, the mother of our Lord ; not as to a comcur Saviour there at Hebron, and perhaps had so much inti- mon friend making a common visit, but as to one of whom the mated to her by the angel, or some other way; and therefore Messiah was to be born. she made such haste thither. He thinks it probable that Sbi- 1. She congratulates her on her honour, and though perhaps loh, of the tribe of Judah, and the seed of David, should be she knew not of it till just now, she acknowledges it with the conocived in a city of Judah and of David, as he was to be greatest assurance and satisfaction. She spake with a loud born in Bethlehem, another city which belonged to them both. voice; this does not at all intimate (as some think) that there In Hebron the promise was given of Isaac, circumcision was was a floor or a wall between them, but that she was in a instiluted. Here (saith he) Abraham had his first land, and transport or exultation of joy, and said what she cared not who Dasid his first crown: here lay interred the three couple, Abra- knew. She said, Blessed art thou among women, the same bam and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah, and, as word that the angel had said, (v. 28;) for thus this will of God, antiquity has held, Adam and Eve. He therefore thinks that concerning honouring the Son, should be done on earth as it is it suits singularly with the harmony and consent which God done in heaven. But Elisabeth adds a reason, Therefore uses in his works, that the promise should begin to take place blessed art thou, because blessed is the fruit of thy womb; thence by the conception of the Messias, even among those patriarchs it was that she derived this excelling dignity. Elisabeth was to whom it was given. I see no improbability in the conjec- the wife of a priest, and in years, yet she grudges not, that ture, but add this for the support of it, that Elisabeth said, her kinswoman, who was many years younger than she, and (r. 15,) There shall be a performance; as if it were not per- every way her inferior, should have the honour of conceiving formed yet, but was to be performed there.
in her virginity, and being the mother of the Messiah, whereas 2. It is generally supposed that she went thither for the con- the honour put upon her was much less ; she rejoices in it, and firming of her faith by the sign which the angel had given her, is well pleased, as her son was afterward, that she who cometh her cousin's being with child, and to rejoice with her sister after her, is preferred before her, John 1. 27. Note, While we favourite. And besides, she went thither, perhaps, that she cannot but own that we are more favoured of God than we demight be more retired from company, or else might have more serve, let us by no means envy, that others are more highly agreeable company than she could have in Nazareth. We favoured than we are. may suppose that she did not acquaint any of her neighbours at 2. She acknowledges her condescension, in making her this Nazareth with the message she had received from heaven, yet visit; (v. 43,) Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord konged to talk over a thing she had a thousand times thought should come to me? Observe, (1.) She calls the virgin Mary ove, and knew no person in the world with whom she could the mother of her Lord, (as David, in spirit, called the Mesfredly converse concerning it but her cousin Elisabeth, and siah Lord, his Lord,) for she knew he was to be Lord of all. therefore she hastened to her. Note, It is very beneficial and (2.) She not only bids her welcome to her house, though percomfortable for those that have a good work of grace begun in haps she came but in mean circumstances, but reckons this their souls, and Christ in the forming there, to consult those visit a great favour, which she thought herself unworthy of; who are in the same case, that they may communicate expe- Whence is this to me? It is in reality, and not in compliment, riences one to another; and they will find that, as in water face that she saith, This was a greater favour than I could have answers to face, so doth the heart of man to man, of Christian expected." Note, Those that are filled with the Holy Ghost, to Christian.
have low thoughts of their own merits, and high thoughts of II. The meeting between Mary and Elisabeth. Mary en God's favours. Her son the Baptist spake to the same purtered into the house of Zacharias; but he, being dumb and deaf, port with this, when he said Comest thou to me? Matt. 3. 14. kept his chamber, it is probable, and saw no company; and 3. She acquaints her with the concurrence of the babe in therefore she słuted Elisabeth, (v. 40;) told her that she was her womb, in this welcome to her; (v. 44,) “Thou certainly come to make her a visit, to know her state, and rejoice with bringest some extraordinary tidings, some extraordinary blessher in her joy.
ing with thee, for as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded Now, ai their first coming together, for the confirmation of in my ears, not only my heart leaped for joy, though I knew not the faith of both of them, there was something very extraor- immediately why or wherefore, but the babe in my womb, who dinary. Mary knew that Elisabeth was with child, but it does was not capable of knowing it, did so too." He leaped as it not appear that Elisabeth had been told any thing of her cousin were for joy that the Messiah, whose harbinger he was to be, Mary's being designed for the mother of the Messiah; and would himself come so soon after him. This would servé therefore what knowledge she appears to have had of it, must very much to strengthen the faith of the virgin, that there were have come by a revelation, which would be a great encourage- such assurances as these given to others; and it would be in ment to Mary.
part the accomplishment of what had been so often foretold, 1. The babe leaped in her womb. It is very probable that that there should be universal joy before the Lord, when he sbe had been several weeks quick, (for she was six months cometh, Ps. 98. 8, 9, pone,) and that she had often felt the child stir; but this was a 4. She commends her faith, and encourages it; (y. 45,) more than ordinary motion of the child, and which alarmed her Blessed is she that believed. Believing souls are blessed souls, to expect something very extraordinary, čoklornoe. It is the and will be found so at last ; this blessedness cometh through same word that is used by the LXX (Gen. 25. 22) for the faith, even the blessedness of being related to Christ, and have suggäng of Jacob and Esau in Rebecca's womb, and the ing him formed in the soud. They are blessed, who believe the mountains skipping, Ps. 114. 4. The babe leaped as it were to word of God, for that word will not fail them; there shall, withgive a signal to his mother that he was now at hand, whose out doubt, be a performance of those things which are told her forerunner he was to be, about six months in ministry, as he from the Lord. Note, The inviolable certainty of the prowas in being; or, it was the effect of some strong impression mise is the undoubted felicity of those that build upon it, and mate upon the mother. Now began to be fulfilled what the expect their all from it. The faithfulness of God is the blessangel said to his father, (v. 15,) that he should be filled with the edness of the faith of the saints. Those that have experienced Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb; and perhaps he the performance of God's promises themselves, should encouhimself had some reference to this, when he said, (John 3.29,) rage others to hope that he will be as good as his word to them The friend of the Bridegroom rejoiceth greatly, because of also; I will tell you what God has done for my soul.
(Ps. 136. 23.
P. 98. 1. ls. 51. 9. 32. 10. 63. 5.
12. c. 11. 27. Gen. 17. 1.
46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the 50 And yhis mercy is on them that fear him, from Lord,
generation to generation. 47 'And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my 51 He hath showed strength with his arm; he Saviour.
hath scattered the “proud in the imagination of 48 For he hath regarded the low 'estate of his their hearts. handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all gene- 52 He hath put down the mighty from their rations shall call me "blessed.
seats, and exalted them of low degree. 49 For he that is mighty "hath done to me great 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things, things ;' and holy sis his name.
and the rich he hath sent empty away. 1 Sam. 2. 1. Ps. 34. 2, 3. Ps. 35. 9. Hab. 3. 18.
y Gen. 17. 7. Ex. 20. 6. Ps. 103. 17. P.. 71. 21. 126. 2, 3. Epb. 3. 20.
a 1 Sam. 2. 9. Dan. 4. 37. b Job 5. 11. e. 18. 14. cl Sam. 2. 5. IV. Mary's song of praise upon this occasion. Elisabeth's has done to me gréal things. A great thing indeed, that a rir. prophecy was an echo to the virgin Mary's salutation, and this gin should conceive. A great thing indeed, that Messiah, who song is yet a stronger echo to that prophecy, and shows her to had been so long ago promised to the church, and so long exbe no less filled with the Holy Ghost than Elisabeth was. We pected by the church, should now at length be horn. It is tho may suppose the blessed virgin to come in, very much fatigued power of the Highest that appears in this. She adds, and holy with her journey ; yet she forgets that, and is inspired with is his name ; for so Hannah saith in her song, There is none holy new life, and vigour, and joy, upon the confirmation she here as the Lord, which she explains in the next words, for there is meets with of her faith; and since, by this sudden inspiration none beside thee, 1 Sam. 2. 2. God is a Being by himself, and and transport, she finds that this was designed to be her errand he manifests himself to be so, especially in the work of our hither, weary as she is, like Abraham's servant, she would redemption. He that is mighty, even he whose name is holy, neither cal nor drink till she had told her errand.
has done to me great things. Glorious things may be expected 1. Here are the expressions of joy and praise, and God alone from him that is both mighty and holy, who can do every thing, the Object of the praise and Centre of the joy. Some com- and will do every thing well and for the best. pare this song with that which her name-sake Miriam, the (2.) Upon the account of others. The virgin Mary, as tho sister of Moses, sung, upon the triumphant departure of Israel mother of the Messiah, is become a kind of public person, out of Egypt, and their triumphant passage through the Red wears a public character, and is therefore immediately endned sea; others think it better compared with the song of Hannah, with another spirit, a more public spirit than before she had, upon the birth of Samuel, which, like this, passes from a fa-and therefore looks abroad, looks about her, looks before her, and mily mercy to a public and general one. This begins like takes notice of God's various dealings with the children of thai, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, 1 Sam. 2, 1. Observe how men, (v. 50, &c.) as Hannah, (1 Sam. 2. 3;) in this she has Mary here speaks of God.
especially an eye to the coming of the Redeemer, and God's (1) With great reverence of him, as the Lord; " My soul manifesting himself therein. doth magnify the Lord; I never saw him so great as now I find [1.] It is a certain truth, that God has mercy in store, mercy him so good." Note, Those, and those only, are advanced in in reserve, for all that harr a reverence for his Majesty, and a mercy, who are thereby brought to think the more highly and due regard to his sovereignty and authority. But never did honourally of God; whereas there are those whose prosperity this app or so, as in sending his Son into the world to save us; and preferrent make them say, What is the Almighty, that (v. 50,) His mercy is on them that fear him; it has always we should serve him? The more honour God has any way put been so; he has ever looked upon them with an eye of peculiar upon us, the more honour we must study to give to him and favour, who have looked up to him with an eye of filial fear. then only are we accepted in magnifying the Lord, when our But he hath manifested this mercy, so as never before, in sendsouls magnify him, and all thut is within us. Praising work ing his Son to bring in an everlasting righteousness, and work must be soul work.
out an everlasting salvation, for them that fear him; and this (2.) With great complacency in him as her Sarimur; My from generation to generation, for there are Gospel privileges spirit rejoiceth in God my Saviour. This seems to have refer transmitted by entail, and intended for perpetuity. Those that ence to the Messiah, whom she was to be the mother of. She fear God, as their Creator and Judge, are encouraged to hope calls him God het Saviour, for the angel had told her that he for mercy in him, through their Mediator and Advocate; and should be the Son of the Highest, and that his name should be in him mercy is setiled upon all that fear God, pardoning mercy, Jesus, a Saviour ; this she fastened upon, with application to healing mercy, accepting mercy, crowning mercy, from geneherself; He is God my Saviour. Even the mother of our Lord ration to generation, while the world stands. In Christ ho had need of an interest in him as her Saviour, and would have keepeth mercy for thousands. been undone without it: and she glories more in that happiness [2.] It has been a cemmon observation, that God in his prowhich she had in common with all believers than in being his vidence puis contempt upon the haughty, and honour upon the mother, which was an honour peculiar to herself; and this humble; and this he has done remarkably in the whole economy agrees with the preference Christ gave to obedient believers of the work of man's redemption. As God had, with his above his mother and brethren ; see Matt. 12. 50. Luke 11. mercy to her, showed himself mighty also, (v. 48, 49,) so he 27, 28. Note, Those that have Christ for their God and Sa- had, with his mercy on them that fear him, showed strength likeviour, have a great deal of reason to rejoice, lo rejoice in spirit, wise with his arm. First, In the course of his providence, it is that is, rejoicing as Christ did, (Luke 10. 21,) with spiritual his usual method to cross the expectations of men, and proceed joy.
quite otherwise than they promise themselves. Proud men 2. Here are just causes assigned for this joy and praise. expect to carry all before them, to have their way and their
(1.) Upon her own account, v. 48, 49. (1.) Her spirit re- will; but he scatters them in the imagination of their hearts, joiceth in the Lord, because of the kind things he had done for breaks their measures, blasts their projects, nay, and brings her; his condescension and compassion to her; He has re-them low, and brings them down, by those very counsels with garded the low estate of his handmaiden; he has looked upon which they thought to advance and establish themselves. The her with pily, for so the word is commonly used. “He has mighty think to secure themselves by might in their seats, but chosen me to this honour, notwithstanding my great meanness, he puts them down, and overturns iheir seats; while, on the poverty, and obscurity.” Nay, the expression seems to inti-, other hand, those of low degree, who despaired of ever admate, not only (to allude to that of Gideon, Judg. 6. 15) that vancing themselves, and thought of no other than of being crer her family was poor in Judah, but that she was the least in low, are wonderfully eralted. This observation concerning hoher father's house, as if she were under some particular con- nour,
holds likewise concerning riches; many who were so poor, tempt and disgrace among her relations, was unjustly neglected, that they had not bread for themselves and their families, by and the outcast of the family, and God put this honour upon some surprising turn of Providence in favour of them, come to her, to balance abundantly that contempt. I the rather suggest be filled with good things; while, on the other hand, those who this, for we find something toward such honour as this put upon were rich, and thought no other than that to-morrow should be as others, on the like consideration. Because God saw that this day, ihat their mountain stood strong, and should never be Leah was hated, he opened her womb, Gen. 29. 31. Because moved, are strangely impoverished, and sent aruy empty. Now Hannah was provoked, and made to fret, and insulted over, by this is the same observation that Hannah had made, and enPeninnah, therefore God gave her a son, 1 Sam. 1. 19. Whom larged upon, in her song, with application to the case of herself men wrongfully depress and despise, God sometimes, in com- and her adversary, (1 Sam. 2. 4-7,) which very much illuspassion to them, especially if they have borne it patiently, trates this here. And compare also Ps. 107. 33–41, Ps. 113. doth prefer and advance; see Judg. 11.7. So in Mary's case. 7–9, and Ec. 9. 11. God takes a pleasure in disappointing And if God regard her low estate, ho not only thereby gives a their expectations, who promise themselves great things in tho specimen of his favour to the whole race of mankind, whom world, and in outdoing the expectations of those who promise he remembers in their low estate, as the psalmist speaks, (Ps. themselves but a little; as a righteous God, it is his glory to 136. 23,) but secures a lasting honour to her; (for such the abase those who eralt themselves, and strike terror on the sehonour is that God bestows, honour that fades not away :) cure; and as a good God, it is his glory to exalt those who “From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed, shall think humble themselves, and to speak comfort to those who fear me a happy woman, and highly advanced.” All that embrace before him. Secondly, This doth especially appear in the Christ and his Gospel, will say, blessed was the womb that bore methods of Gospel grace. him, and the paps which he suckeil, Luke 11. 27. Elisabeth had 1. In the spiritual honours it dispenses. When the proud once and again called her blessed : “But that is not all," saith | Pharisees were rejected, and Publicans and sinners went into she, "all generations of Gentiles as well as Jews shall call me the kingdom of heaven before them; when the Jews, who fol.
.” (2.) Her soul magnifies the Lord, because of the wmder- lowed after the law of righteousness, did not attain it, and the ful things he has done for her; (v. 49,) He that is mighty, Gentiles, who never thought of it,'attained to righteousness,
54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in dremem- 59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day brance of his mercy:
they came to circumcise the child; and they called 55 As he spake éto our fathers, to Abraham, and him Zacharias after the name of his father. to his seed for ever.
60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; 56 And Mary abode with her about three months, but he shall be called John. and returned to her own house.
61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy 57 Now Elisabeth's full time came, that she should kindred that is called by this name. be delivered ; and she brought forth a son.
62 And they made signs to his father how he 58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard would have him called. how the Lord had showed great mercy upon her; 63 And he asked for a writing-table and wrote, and they frejoiced with her.
saying, His name is & John. And they marvelled all.
& Ps. 98, 3.
e Gen. 17. 19. Ps. 132. 11.
s ver. 14.
& ver. 13.
(Rom, 9. 30, 31 ;) when God chose not the wise men after the V. 57-66. In these verses, we have, flesh, not the mighty, or the noble, to preach the Gospel, and I. The birth of John Baptist, v. 57. Though he was conplant Christianity in the world, but the foolish and weak things ceived in the womb by miracle, he continued in the womb acof the world, and things that were despised, (1 Cor. 1. 26, 27,) cording to the ordinary course of nature, (so did our Saviour ;) then he scattered the proud, and put doun the mighty, but exalted Elisabeth's full time came, that she should be delivered, and then them of low degree. When the tyranny of the chief priests she brought forth a son. Promised mercies are to be expected and elders was brought down, who had long lorded it over God's when the full time for them is come, and not before. heritage, and hoped always to do so; and Christ's disciples, a II. The great joy that was among all the relations of the company of poor despised fishermen, by the power they were family, upon this extraordinary occasion; (v. 58,) Her neighclothed with, were made to sit on thrones, judging the twelve bours and her cousins heard of it ; for it would be in every body's tribes of Israel; when the power of the four monarchies was mouth, as next to miraculous. Dr. Lightfoot observes, that broken, and the kingdom of the Messiah, that Stone cut out of Hebron was inhabited by priests of the family of Aaron, and the mountain without hands, is made to fill the earth; then are that those were the cousins here spoken of; but the fields and the proud scattered, and those of low degree exalted.
villages about, by the children of Judah, and that those were 2. In the spiritual riches it dispenses, v. 53. (1.) Those tho neighbours." Now these here discovered, 1. A pious who see their need of Christ, and are importunately desirous regard to God; they acknowledged that the Lord had magnified of righteousness and life in him, he fills with good things, with his mercy to her; so the word is. It was a mercy to have her the best things; he gives liberally to them, and they are abun- reproach taken away, a mercy to have her family built up, dantly satisfied with the blessings he gives. Those who are and the more, being a family of priests, devoted to God, and weary and heavy-laden, shall find rest with Christ, and those employed for him. Many things concurred to make the mercy who thirst, are called to come to him, and drink; for they only great-that she had been long barren, was now old, but espea know how to value his gifts; to the hungry soul every bitter thing cially that the child should be great in the sight of the Lord. is sweet, manna is angel's food; and to the thirsty fair water is 2. A friendly regard to Elisabeth ; when she rejoiced, they honey out of the rock. (2.) Those who are rich, who are not rejoiced with her. We ought to take pleasure in the prosperity hungry, who, like Laodicea, think they have need of nothing, of our neighbours and friends, and to be thankful to God for are full of themselves and their own righteousness, and think their comforts as for our own. they have a sufficiency in themselves, those he sends away from III. The dispute that was among them, concerning the his door, they are not welcome to him, he sends them empty naming him ; (v. 59,) On the eighth day, as God had appointed, away, they come full of self, and are sent away empty of Christ. they came together to circumcise the child ; it was here, in HeHe sends them to the gods whom they serveil, to their own righ- bron, that circumcision was first instituted; and Isaac, who, teousness and strength which they trusted to.
like John Baptist, was born by promise, was one of the first [3.] It was always expected that the Messiah should be, in that was submitted to it, at least, the chief eyed in the institua special manner, the Strength and Glory of his people Israel, tion of it. They that rejoiced in the birth of the child, came and so he is in a peculiar manner; (v. 54,) He hath holpen his together to the circumcising of him. Note, The greatest comservant Israel, åvrsßero. He hath taken them by the hand, fort we can take in our children, is, in giving them up to God, and helped them up that were fallen, and could not help them- and recognizing their covenant relation to him. The baptism selves. Those that were sunk under the burdens of a broken of our children should be more our joy than their birth. covenant of innocency, are helped up by the blessings of a re- Now it was the custom, when they circumcised their children, newed covenant of grace. The sending of the Messiah, on to name them, because when Abram was circumcised, God gave whom help was laid for poor sinners, was the greatest kindness him a new name, and called him Abraham; and it is not unfit that could be done, the greatest help that could be provided for that they should be left nameless till they are by name given up his people Israel, and that which magnifies it is,
to God. Now, First, That it is in remembrance of his mercy; the merciful- 1. Some proposed that he should be called by his father's ness of his nature, the mercy he has in store for his servant Is-name, Zacharias: we have not any instance in scripture, that rael. While this blessing was deferred, his people, who waited the child should bear the father's name; but perhaps it was of for it, were often ready to ask, Has God forgotten to be gracious? | late come into use among the Jews, as it is with us, and they But now he made it appear that he had not forgotten, but re intended hereby to do honour to the father, who was not likely membered his mercy. He remembered his former mercy, and to have another child. repeated that to them in spiritual blessings which he had done 2. The mother opposed it, and would have him called John ; formerly to them in temporal favours. He remembered the days having learned, either by inspiration of the Holy Ghost, (as is of old; Where is he that brought them out of the sea; out of most probable,) or by information in writing from her husband, Égypt? Is. 63. 11. He will do the like again; which that was that God appointed this to be his name ; (v. 60,) He shall be a type of.
called Johanan-Gracious; because he shall introduce the Secondly, That it is in performance of his promise ; it is a Gospel of Christ, wherein God's grace shines more bright mercy not only designed, but declared, (v. 55;) it was what he than ever. spake to our fathers, that the Seed of the woman should break 3. The relations objected against that; (v. 61,) “There is the head of the serpent; that God should dwell in the tents of none of thy kindred, none of the relations of thy family, that is Shem; and particularly to Abraham, that in his Seed all the fa- called by that name ; and therefore if he may not have his father's milies of the earth shall be blessed, with the best of blessings, name, yet let him have the name of some of his kindred, who with the blessings that are for ever, and to the seed that shall be will take it as a piece of respect to have such a child of wonders for ever; that is, his spiritual seed, for his camal seed were cut as this named from them." Note, As those that have friends, off a little after this. Note, What God hath spoken he will must show themselves friendly, so those that have relations, perform; what he hath spoken to the fathers, will be performed must be obliging to them in all the usual regards that are paid to their seed; to their seed's seed, in blessings that shall last to kindred. for ever.
4. They appealed to the father, and would try if they could Lastly, Mary's return to Nazareth, (v. 56,) after she had possibly get to know his mind, for it was his office to name the continued with Elisabeth about three months, so long as to be child, v. 62. They made signs to him, by which it appears fully satisfied concerning herself, that she was with child, and that he was deaf as well as dumb; nay, it should seem, mindto be confirmed therein by her cousin Elisabeth. Some think, less of any thing, else one would think they should at first have though her return is here mentioned, before Elisabeth's being desired him to write down his child's name, if he had ever yet delivered, because the evangelist would finish this passage communicated any thing by writing since he was struck. Howconcerning Mary, before he proceeded with the story of Elisa- ever, they would carry the matter as far as they could, and beth, yet that Mary stayed till her cousin was (as we say) down give him to understand what the dispute was, which he only and up again; that she might attend on her, and be with her in could determine ; whereupon, he made signs to them to give him her lying-in, and have her own faith confirmed by the full ac- a table-book, such as they then used; and with the pencil ho complishment of the promise of God concerning Elisabeth. wrote these words, His name is John, v. 63. Not, "It shall But most bind themselves to the order of the story as it lies, be so," or, “I would have it so," but, “ It is so."' The matand think she returned again when Elisabeth was near her ter is determined already; the angel had given him that name. time; because she still affected retirement, and therefore would Observe, When Zacharias could not speak, he wrote. When not be there, when the birth of this child of promise would draw ministers have their mouths
stopped, that they cannot preach, a great deal of company to the house. Those in whose hearts yet they may be doing good as long as they have not their Christ is formed, take more delight than they used to do, in hands tied, that they cannot write. Many of the martyrs in sitting alone and keeping silence.
prison wrote letters to their friends, which were of great use ; VOL, III.-40
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