God so loved the world that he sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that he might redeem us from the curse of the law. The wings of Jehovah cover the mercyseat, his cloud rests upon the tabernacle. Let the priests and the people adore without, while incense is burned within. Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, shall be born. He shall emerge from the bosom of the virgin, even the Sun of righteousness, to illuminate a benighted world.
Behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age. The plans of heaven were written in the volume of the book: God had but to open and extend the scrowl. Mary arose in those days, and went to the hill country with haste, being unable to contain her joys. When Elizabeth heard her salutation, the babe leaped in her womb for joy. The like word occurs in the targums, when speaking of the mountains shaking, and the hills leaping. Let the mother of the two Gracchuses boast no more of her jewels.
See on Malachi Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.
The salutation of Mary kindled the spark of inspiration to a flame. The divine impetus was so strong, that like the ancient prophets, she burst at once into the effusion of discourse and song. Whence is this grace that I should be the first woman to hear the Saviour preached; that the mother of my Lord should come to me. Blessed art thou among women, supremely blessed above the daughters of Eve. Blessed be the fruit of thy womb, the fountain from which all those benedictions flow.
Let Zion weep no more. The Lord who has thus begun, will complete his work. There shall surely be a performance of all the excellent things which the prophets have spoken of Christ, of the conversion of the gentiles, and of all the glory of his kingdom. Observe, Elizabeth puts Mary among women; why then should the papists for filthy lucre place her high above all gods? She gives identity and locality to Mary: the mother of my Lord is come to me. Then while under her roof she was not in Nazareth.
Why then should the papists give omnipresence to Mary, and in all the worship of their communion cause prayers to be addressed to her. Mater Dei, ora pro nobis. Mother of God, pray for us. Nay, no minister must preach without reciting, on dividing the subject, his Ave Maria.
Oh protestant, if you regard the labours and tears of the reformers and confessors, if you revere the blood of martyrs, and like Paul would rend your raiment at the sight of idolatry, see that you shun the altars of Baal, and all the scarlet array of the mother of harlots. Mary said, my soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
It embraces all the cheering themes which once inspired the ancient seers. Therefore her song awoke up to glory; her soul and spirit, all her powers of mind and heart were developed in the exuberance of praise. He hath showed strength with his arm. This indicates his conquering power, like the arm of heroes which obtains the victory. He is great above all gods; he hath exalted the lowly, and cast down the mighty from their thrones.
So Hannah sung, when she embraced a Samuel in her arms. But the words of Mary have all the expanse of prophecy. The Lord chose the things that were not to bring to nought things that are. He made poor apostles the ministers of his kingdom, to establish the glory of the cross on the ruins of idolatry. He has spread the gospel feast for the poor gentiles, pursuant to his promises to Abraham, while the gainsaying jews are sent empty away, to beg their bread in distant lands.
A horn of salvation, against which no foe, no power can stand. His horn can defend the flock. Job To perform the mercy promised — the oath which he sware to Abraham. Zacharias makes here a proper distinction between the promise of the Messiah to Abraham, Genesis , and the oath which he sware after Abraham had obtained an enlargement of the promise by the oblation of Isaac. That we, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies. God had promised to deliver Israel out of Egypt, Exodus ; and he will in like manner deliver his people from sin and Satan, as Paul explains it in Romans ; that being made free from sin, we might serve God in holiness and righteousness all our days.
And thou, child, my infant son, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go before the Lord to prepare his way. What an apostrophe of a father to a son, born to eclipse the glory of his sire. A son, to prepare the way of the Messiah. To give knowledge and assurance of salvation by the remission of sins, agreeing with the words in Mark , that John preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. By assurance that the ransom is paid, by a removal of the wrath which the law excites in the conscience, by a sentiment of the love of God shed abroad in the heart, by all the joys of remission, and the fruits of faith which follow.
What other gospel but this could relieve the labouring conscience of its load, and produce renovation of heart and life. He was in the deserts. The Greek does not import that John was an eremite, that is, a hermit or anchoret. His father kept him much at his country retreat, leading him no doubt, as a Nazarite and priest by birth, to attend the festivals in Jerusalem as the law required. Luke introduces his gospel with credentials of indisputable purity.
He wrote under sacred patronage, in the face of many contemporaries, and even rival historians. He wrote with confidence, having had perfect knowledge of facts and expressions from the first, as well as illumination from above; and he wrote with the most laudable purpose of instructing and confirming Theophilus, and all who should read, in the faith of Christ. Christianity is therefore founded on argument. How should so many men, writing in different times and places, so exactly agree in all the essentials of their history, if they did not write from a clear head and an honest heart.
For it is allowed that their slight variations, or apparent contradictions, are a striking confirmation of the truth of the gospel. Concerning the birth of John we may remark, that the scripture characters were divinely raised up, and called of God. They had no hand whatever in their call and elevation. Let worldly courtiers canvass and become votaries for honour; the honour that cometh from God is all of grace, conferred by the giver, and always in due time. When Jacob was surrounded with great difficulty and distress, the Lord raised up Joseph to nourish his people.
When the nation was sorely oppressed, behold, Moses was drawn from the water. In like manner, the Judges, David, Esther, and others, were successively elevated by the special hand of God. Thus also John, the Lord, and his apostles, succeeded in the scheme of providence, and unfolded the mystery hid in ages past.
The angels of God take a most lively interest in the redemption of man. Genesis ; Genesis They attended in the visions of Isaiah, and of Daniel; and now Gabriel, as first of the train, comes to confirm these promises to Zacharias in the temple of God. Rejoice, ye heavens, and be glad, oh earth, the truth and faithfulness of God endure to all generations. Awake, oh sluggish world, to trace the steps of grace, for all heaven is alert.
Come and learn the certainty of the things in which you have been instructed; for it is the highest happiness of angels to unfold the mysteries of providence in redeeming love. Where are there mysteries to be found so sublime, so pure, so abasing to the pride of reason, and so exalting to the humble soul. Men greatly honoured must be greatly tried. This law seems to have no exceptions. Zacharias was struck both deaf and dumb. Divine joy participates so much of the consolations of heaven that we must drink it but sparingly in this life.
The salutation of the virgin is highly interesting. The person deputed — his approach and address, are all becoming and proper. There is no meanness of circumstance, nothing as in pagan fable revolting to delicacy. All is simplicity in the expression, all is sublime in the mission, being a disclosure, conformable to prophecy, of the grand plan of redeeming love.
The virgin was troubled and embarrassed at the applause of so divine a stranger; but he detailed his mission, that she should be the mother of the Messiah, painting at the same time the future glory of her son. The angel directed her to a companion in her sacred joy. He said that her cousin Elizabeth, then a hundred miles distant, and hitherto reputed barren, was six months advanced in pregnancy with a son, designated to be the harbinger of the Lord.
In such extraordinary cases faith requires extraordinary support and pledges from God. So Jeroboam saw his altar rent. God struck the base altar before he struck the baser people. So when Isaiah went to give Ahaz a consoling sign of this virgin, he took his son in his arms to announce the speedy death of both the hostile kings: chap.
How divine was the interview between these two women. Their converse comprised all of heaven that mortals can taste on earth, and forgetful of prayer, their whole souls were lost in the transports of praise. In the song of the virgin we see the dark curtains which had veiled protracted promises, dropped all at once.
She saw the person and glory of her son, and all the joyful ages of his people calling her blessed. Above all, she magnified the riches of redeeming grace in passing by the haughty and the proud, and in looking upon her a virgin of low estate. Such is the mercy of the Lord to them that fear him. Mary did not leave this happy family till she saw the birth of John; had assured signs of pregnancy; and heard Zacharias, dumb as he was, open his mouth in all the sublime effusions of prophetic song.
As a little rivulet loses itself in a vast torrent, so this venerable priest lost the private joy of his illustrious infant, in the glories of Messiah his Lord, then sheltered under his sacred roof. And he viewed not his kingdom with carnal eyes, as the scribes and pharisees, but as a horn of salvation raised up for the saints, in conformity to the promises made to Abraham.
He viewed it as promoting righteousness and holiness in the church, and as the opening of celestial day on a dark and beclouded world. Thus the divine wisdom took its counsel for the salvation of fallen man. Thus He who condescended to make us in his own image, stooped again to repair our ruin by uniting his divine to our human nature, sanctifying it in its assumption, and making it a model of our future glory.
Thus, in this humble cottage were concealed the high characters which attracted the notice of all heaven, while the world knew them not. Satan, tremble, for thy bruiser is incarnate.
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Idolatry, avaunt, for thy light is come. And thou earth, be glad, for the promised Prince is come to bless the nations and distant tribes with righteousness, and peace, and joy. Copyright Statement These files are public domain. Text Courtesy of BibleSupport. Used by Permission. Bibliography Information Sutcliffe, Joseph.
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