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not drinking wine nor strong drink, but be sadly devoted to the holy service of God : and shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his birth.
I. 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.
It is a strange and unlikely message, that thou deliverest unto me: what sign dost thou give me, whereby I may be assured of it? for sure, in course of nature this cannot be: I am an old man, and my wife is stricken in years ; we are therefore both unapt to beget or to bear a son.
I. 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.
Since thou desirest a sign; behold, thou shalt feel and find this manifest sign in thyself; that very tongue, that desireth it, shall be tied up : thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak from this hour, till the birth of that son of thine, because thou believest not my words.
I. 22. For he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
He made signs unto them of his own speechlessness, and of that heavenly vision which he had seen ; so as all the people, with much wonder, apprehended this extraordinary work of God in Zacharias.
I. 24, 25. And hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
Out of a holy bashfulness at this strange work of God, and at the wonderment of her neighbours ; she kept close for five months, saying, Thus marvellously hath the Lord dealt with me beyond all hopes, in this conception of mine, whereby he hath taken away from me the reproach of barrenness.
I. 34. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
Then said Mary to the angel, as partly wondering at the speech, and partly enquiring into the manner of the performance of so strange a work, Thou hast told me a great and marvellous thing, that I shall now instantly conceive the Messiah, the Son of the Living God; but tell me how this shall be effected : how shall Î, that am a weak vessel of flesh, conceive him that is the Son of God? or how shall I, who am a virgin, being only espoused to a husband, not yet therefore capable of the knowledge of a man; how shall I, in this condition, become the mother of such a Son ?
I. 35. And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall orershadow thee : therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
Be not thou curious to enquire into the manner, how this work shall be effected; for the Spirit of God, the Infinite and Essential Power of the Highest, shall no less secretly than wonderfully work this blessed conception in thee; of thy substance, by him sanctified, framing that Sacred Body, which the Son of God shall assume to himself.
I. 36. And this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
And this is the sixth month of the conception of her, that was ever formerly reputed barren.
I. 37. For with God nothing shall be impossible.
For with God, howsoever things may seem to weak and ignorant mortals, nothing is impossible: the conception of aged Elisabeth, the conception of a pure virgin without the touch of man, are easily feasible to his Omnipotence.
I. 38. Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Behold, Lord, I have been taught from thy prophets, that a virgin shall conceive, and be the mother of Him that is Immanuel, God with us. If I, howsoever unworthy, be designed by thee to this wonderful honour, I do bless thy Name for this great mercy, and do gladly yield myself over to thy holy will and pleasure. Let this gracious work of thine be accordingly wrought in me.
I. 39. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda.
And Mary arose, in those days; and, partly for the further confirmation of her faith by the sight of that which was affirmed by the angel concerning her cousin Elisabeth, and partly for mutual congratulation of these great works of God, went up from Nazareth to the hill country of Juda, to visit Elisabeth.
I. 41, 42. The babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost : And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
The babe, by the extraordinary and powerful motion of the Spirit of God, leaped in the womb of his mother: as in a miraculous presention of the Deity of that Saviour, whose forerunner he should be into the world: and Elisabeth was suddenly inspired with a prophetical power; and, by the instinct and virtue thereof, said, &c.
I. 46, 47. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Sariour.
All the powers of my will and affections agree together, in magnifying the goodness of the Lord towards me; And the faculty of my understanding, in the apprehension of this great mercy of God, stirs up all the rest to praise and glorify him.
I. 51. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath approved his Almighty power in this supernatural work, which he hath wrought in me: he hath, according to his gracious wont, chosen so poor and humble a creature as myself, to exalt to this marvellous honour; whereas, those, that are high in their own conceits, he hath confounded and disregarded. So also verse 52.
I. 61. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.
Thou knowest it is the usual manner, to call the children by the names of some of the ancestors or near kindred of the family; why wilt thou alter the custom? what reason hast thou, since none of thy kinsfolk is so called, to appoint this name to be given to thy son ?
I. 63. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.
And he made signs to them again, that they should bring him a writing table; and therein he wrote, His name is John.
I. 69. And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David. See Psalm cxxxii. 17.
I. 78, 79. Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Through the bowels of the tender compassion of our God towards mankind, out of which he hath sent his Son, as the morning sun rising from the east, to visit his people, by his gracious presence with them; To give true light of knowledge and comfort, to those, who are naturally overwhelmed with the darkness of ignorance and averseness from God, and thereby in danger of everlasting death; and to set us in the true way of rest and eternal happiness.
I. 80. And was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.
And lived obscurely in the desert, until it pleased God to call him forth for the discharge of that his public function, in teaching and baptizing his people.
II. 1. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cesar Augustus, that ali the world should be taxed.
And it came to pass, when John was born, that there went out a public edict from Augustus Cesar, the Roman Emperor, that all the nations, which were under the Roman dition and jurisdiction, should assemble in those cities, whereto their tribes and families appertained ; and there be enrolled, as well for the number of their persons, as for the rate of their tribute and taxation which they were to pay unto the Roman State. So verse 3.
II. 2. And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.
And this universal taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria, to which Judea pertained as a province; which being of a levy of money to be paid to Rome, was more proper for him to meddle with, than for Herod the tributary king of Judea.
II. 7. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room in the inn.
And she brought forth her only Son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because the meanness of her husband Joseph and the concourse of people was so great, that no place could be obtained for their lodging in the inn.
II. 9. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.
And, as the place of Christ's birth was poor and homely, so were the persons to whom it was first manifested; being but poor shepherds: yet there was not more meanness in them to whom this wonder was first revealed, than there was glory in the revealer; for, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and with a glorious brightness shone round about them.
II. 13, 14. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Neither did God content himself with the testimony of one angel alone; but, together with that one heavenly messenger, there was a whole host of blessed spirits, praising God, and saying, Now, upon the birth of the Saviour of the World, let all praise and glory be given to God in the highest heaven: let there be a happy peace and reconciliation of man to God: let there be a merciful acceptation, and respect of God to man: yea, Lord, glorious is the praise of thy mercy; firm and comfortable is the peace of thy redeemed; unspeakably gracious is thy good will towards men.
II. 22, 23. 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; As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord.
And, when the fortieth day was come, which in the law was appointed for the purification of the woman after her childbirth, Joseph and Mary, besides the errand of that due ceremony, brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord in his Temple: Which they did out of a careful respect to the law of the Lord; requiring that every firstborn male should be consecrated to God, in memory of his preservation of the firstborn of Israel in Egypt, when the eldest of every Egyptian family was stricken by the hand of God.
II. 25. Waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
Waiting long for the coming of the Messiah, which should be for the comfort and salvation of Israel ; and he was, by the Holy Ghost, endued with the gift of prophecy.
II. 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.
And it was revealed to him, by the same Spirit of God, that, though he were very aged and looked long for his dissolution, yet that he should not die, till he had, with those his bodily eyes, seen the Messiah, the Lord of Life and Glory.
II. 27. And he came by the Spirit into the temple : and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, fc.
And, by the direction and conduct of the same Holy Spirit, he came into the temple at the very time, when the parents of Jesus brought him thither &c.
II. 29. Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.
O Lord, how long have I longed for this day! my life had been tedious unto me, if it had not been for the hope of this sight; and now, that mine eyes are blessed with the sight of my Saviour, now thou givest me a sweet and joyful passage out of this transitory life: thou hast made good thy promise to me, and now make good thy salvation.
II. 34, 35. Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against ; ( Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Think not that nothing shall follow upon the birth of this Divine Child, but welfare, and glory, and advancement to all men; and especially to Israel: but know, that, as he shall work the happiness of many, so he shall be the occasion of the fall of many also; yea, as
shall save those that are the true sons of Israel, so his justice shall reject and condemn the wicked and unbelievers. Neither look, that he shall be applauded of all; yea, rather, he shall be as a common mark, whereat the arrows of contumely and reproach shall be generally shot, through the world; and his name and religion shall be sure to receive opposition and contradiction, every where : and thereby men shall be tried : and occasion shall be given them, to shew, either the truth or falsehood of their hearts, towards his name and profession. And thou, 0 Blessed Virgin, howsoever thou shalt find just cause of unspeakable