Page images
PDF
EPUB

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

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.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

VAH.

accordant with scripture language, to sense, as it is here used emphatically and consider this glory a streaming forth from distinctly, can the term Lord, KupLOS, be the divine shechinah, the light in which used, than as it corresponds with Jehothe special presence of the God has ever An exact parallel is presented in been enshrined; in which it appears to

Hosea i. 7: I will have mercy on dwell in the heaven of heavens; and by the house of Judah, and will save them which God was so often manifested on by the Lord (Jehovah) their God.” Such earth.

a salvation indeed as the gospel erery And they were sore afraid.-Literally, where describes,—which is the deliverance they feared a great fear. See note on of the souls of men from guilt and vice Matt. ii. 10.

of every kind, their restoration to the Verse 10. Behold, I bring you, &c.— favour of God, and to his moral image, Every thing in the angel's message is the rescue of their bodies from the power emphatic. The address, Behold! There of death, and their recovery to immorhad been a wonderful celestial manifesta. tal life, and the glorification and eternal tion, awakening the astonishment of the beatification of their whole person in the shepherds; yet they are still called to be- very presence of God, -necessarily implies hold, to pay attention to something beyond the divinity of the Redeemer. He who this glorious scene, and to which it was Thus saves, must be “the God of salvaonly subservient. The message of the tion," and the object of absolute trust, on angel is called a happy annunciation, an account both of his unlimited power, and evangelizing, or proclaiming of good his boundless goodness. news, a great joy, χαραν μεγαλην, χαρα Verse 13. And suddenly there was with being put for the subject of joy; and the angel, &-c.-An appropriate accompathis great subject of rejoicing was to be niinent to such a message : not one angel, to all people. Thus the message is an- but a multitude of the heavenly host Dov nounced generally, and its import is not become visible, and break the silence of diminished when it becomes particular. night by a song of celestial praise. The For unto you, for your benefit, is born this subject of this song is, in fact, a characdayso that you have no longer to wait teristic description of that new dispensafor the Christ, who is already born-in the tion which the Messiah was to introduce: city of David, as being the son of David, it illustrates the glory of God, establishes a Saviour, who is, not an inferior judge, peace upon earth, opens the benevolence prophet, or king, such as your history of God to men; and for all these things has recorded, but Christ the Messiah, the heavenly host praise God. Their himself the Lord, the supreme and Al- own knowledge of God was enlarged and mighty Lord of all. For in no lower heightened; the plans of the divine go

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

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.

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.

18 And all they that heard it, wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

vernment, in connexion with redemp- as to the former, the sense is sufficiently tion, which had engaged their attention distinct to warrant a distinct recognition and interest, opened before them in new of each. Peace on earth expresses, no and richer scenes, throwing equal light doubt, that first great result of the gospel, upon the past and the future; their in the reconciliation of man to God, which terest in a race of intelligent and immor- was to be effected by Christ, and the tal beings, like themselves, was gratified effecting of which, in a manner that by the grand ministry of peace and recon- should consist with the glory of God, ciliation, which was now about to be and manifest it in the loftier views it commenced by the divine Teacher him- should give of all his perfections, constiself; and the manifestation of the source tutes the grand peculiarity of the gospel, of divine good will to men, without ex- and could not be overlooked in this deception, -the Gentile nations as well as SCRIPtive song of the angels. But good the Jews,-opened prospects of the reco- will to men is the effect of this reconci. very and advancement of the world, on liation. All the kind purposes and benewhich benevolent and holy natures, like volent intentions of God towards the theirs, could not dwell without supreme world take their rise from “ the reconcidelight, nor without referring the whole liation for sin ” made by the Messiah ; in transports of praise to their great Au- and when individual man is actually rethor.

conciled through him to God, then the The critical attempts which have been good will, the benevolence of God, is openmade to bring this doxology into two mem- ed towards him in its fulness, in time and bers instead of three, or at least to prove in eternity. Man, once under wrath, that it can have but two parts in sense, stands to God only in a relation of though three in form, bas arisenchieflyfrom friendship, and shall be its object for taking peace on earth and good will toward

ever. There is here, therefore, no tautomen, to express nearly the same meaning, logy, but an enunciation of distinct truths, and so to imply a tautology not to be each of the highest importance, and all looked for in such a composition; though redounding to the glory of God in the some stress is also laid upon the absence highest heavens. of kou before the last clause. The latter Verse 15. The shepherds said reason has no weight when the abrupt to another, Let us now go even unto Bethforms of expression, which strong emo

lehem, 8c.-Literally, “ the men, the tion usually adopts, is considered ; and shepherds," a Hebrew pleonasm.

one

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

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.

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.

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;

[blocks in formation]

Verse 19. Kept all these things, and was a token of his descent from Abra. pondered, 8c. — The shepherds related ham ; and through it he could claim all his what they had seen and heard, with the privileges as a Jew, which without it he confirmatory sign, their finding the child could not have done. He could not, for in the place pointed out by the angel; instance, have entered the temple. and all who heard wondered. But Mary Verse 22. Days of her purification.-A kept and pondered these things: she had woman after bearing a male child could a key to their import and meaning which not go into the sanctuary until the forothers had not ; and she preserved every tieth day. The first-born son was preevent in memory, and revolved it, or sented in the temple, and this in Mary's weighed its import, in her mind, by mark- case was done at the same time. The ing its connexion with the great event first-born belonged to God, and were prewhich had taken place, and the intima- sented to the priest as his representative tions which the angel had given of the at the eastern gate. Here Mary appeared, character and work of the great Delivers and for the first time “the Lord came to er; and thus she saw the divine plans his temple,” though in the form of a opening before her, though not without helpless infant. The sacrifice offered on mysterious, and probably for a time, to her, these occasions was a lamb of the first inexplicable occurrences, which threw her year for a burnt offering, and a young back upon those deep musings which pigeon or a turtle dove for a sin offering; appear to have characterized her, and no but among the poorer sort of people doubt often painfully tried her faith. a pair of turtle-doves or two young These exercises, of which she perhaps pigeons sufficed. This is so expressly had a larger share than any mortal, were put in the law, Lev. xii. 6—8, upon

the but now commencing.

ground of the woman not being able Verse 21. Eight days were accomplish- to bring a lamb," that the fact is coned, &c.—This is according to the Jewish clusive, as to the humble circumstances mode of speaking of time, and signifies of Mary and Joseph. It indicates too when the eighth day was come. Our Lord, that the presentation in the temple being made“ under the law,” was circum- took place before the visit of the Vazi

, cised; for, as a descendant of Abraham ac- and the enriching of the holy family cording to the flesh, he was as a man bound with the presents brought by them, and to observe all the religious institutions which Providence designed to be their which had been enjoined. Circumcision supply for their journey into Egypt.

23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord ;)

24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was

upon him.

26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,

d Exod. xiii. 2; Num. xviii, 15.

e Lev. xii. 2, 6.

Verses 25, 26. Simeon.-Some have among the Jews had better views of the thought him “Simeon the just,” president nature and office of the Messiah, in conof the sanhedrim, and father of Gamaliel, sequence of their spirituality of mind, so but upon insufficient evidence, or rather they waited in another manner, not with upon unsatisfactory conjecture. Whatever the impatient longing of a people expecthe was, the moral greatness of his charac- ing to be led on to victory and conquest, ter is strongly marked. He was just, in but with earnest desires to be partakers of regard to his conduct and observance of that personal and spiritual redemption the law; devout, eumaßns, one who had which the Messiah was to accomplish for great reverence for God, expressed, no his people. Of this class was Simeon ; doubt, in acts of habitual prayer and but the Holy Ghost also was upon him, not praise. His devotion was not, therefore, in an ordinary way, as upon all good men, that of the formal Pharisees, but was the but in the spirit of prophecy. For this spirit result of reverential affections to the di. had been restored, after having ceased vine majesty, a sentiment composed of from the time of Malachi, about the birth Awe and love, blended with and con- of our Lord, and in evident connexion trolling each other. Still further, he with that event. It fell upon Zacharias, waited for the consolation of Israel, that is, Elizabeth, Mary; and had rested for some the Messiah; for with the Jews this was time upon Simeon, to whom it had been one of his titles. ‘May I never see the revealed, that he should not see death, unconsolation," is one form of an oath til he had seen the Lord's Christ. The

But when it is said that Lord's Christ,” or Jehovah's Messiah, is Simeon waited for the consolation, as of a phrase found in the Targum. Thus, on other pious persons of the same time, that Isaiah iv. 2, “In that time Jehovah's they waited for redemption, another name Messiah shall be for joy and glory.” of the Messiah, the meaning must be em- Verse 27. By the Spirit, 8c.-Under phatic. They waited in some peculiar the impulse and incitement of the Holy sense; for the whole nation of the Jews Ghost, at the time of Christ's presentawaited for Messiah's advent, and prayed tion, and the payment of the redemption for it. We may therefore conclude, that money for him as the first-horn, which is as these eminently spiritual persons called doing for him according to the custom

among them.

28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and

said,

29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word :

30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,

31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

of the law. The end was, that Simeon, who and death, of which all the instances was an inhabitant of Jerusalem, and pro- of the salvation of the Jews from tembably known there as a man endued with poral calamities were but the feeble the prophetic Spirit,-a circumstanceitself types. which would excite attention, especially Verses 31, 32. Prepared before the face. as he seems to have publicly declared – This preparation, ordination, or arrangethat, though an aged man, he should not ment, expresses the perfection of the didie before he had seen the Christ,-might vine plan; complete in all its parts and give a testimony to him under the in- provisions, and ready, upon the fulness fluence of inspiration, expressing itself in of every time and season arriving, to disthat prophetic and elevated song which play itself, and come into efficient operahe then poured forth.

tion. Before the face of all people, denotes Verse 29. Depart in peace, &c.—The the publicity which was now to be given expression is exceedingly beautiful and to this prepared, arranged system of salaffecting. Atoa velv is to loose, to let go, vation; and the event issued, according after a previous detention, from country, to the prophecy,—the life, death, resurrechome, or any other desirable and longed tion, and ascension of our Saviour; his for place. The aged saint had been de- worship and honour, his church and peotained from that heavenly rest for which ple, his gospel and its ministry, the facts, he had sighed, but for the joyful purpose doctrines, hopes, sanctions, and instituof beholding with his eyes what so many tions of his religion, are all before the “kings and righteous men had desired to world; not confined to the Jews, but see, and were not able,”-the Christ in spread publicly before the face of all the flesh. No sooner then does he see mankind, that they may be known, and the child than, in a rapture of joy, he reverenced, and embraced. Hence it is takes him in his arms, blesses God, and added, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and welcomes so gracious a token of dismissal the glory of thy people Israel. Christ, be. to the kingdom of his father. He had fore called the Salvation, is now called a nothing greater to see on earth ; the salva. Light, with reference to Isaiah xlix. 6, “I tion of God was manifested; and he now will give thee for a Light to the Gentiles, hastens to heaven, to watch the scene, that thou mayest be my salvation to the and enjoy the glorious benefits of this end of the earth.” Some take the words stupendous incarnation of the Son of of the evangelist to be transposed for God. Salvation is one of the names of pws eOvwv els atokalvfiv, a light of the GenMessiah, Gen. xlix. 18 ; Isaiah xlix. 6; tiles for revelation, which does not affect and he is so called as the Author of that the sense : a light is the emblem of an deliverance of man from guilt, sin, instructer; and the effect of teaching is to

« PreviousContinue »