and light which runs through the whole / again restored, at least to some part of Old Testament; without the conduct the human race, and this image again thereof, we can understand nothing stamped upon them; which image aright therein : and the neglect hereof when fully completed and for ever conis that which makes many as blind in firmed, will certainly constitute a great reading the books of it as are the Jews, part of that happiness which we now the same veil being upon their minds. hope for and aspire after. Then, we -Owen.

trust, we shall attain to a more full That we being delivered out of the conformity and resemblance to our hand of our enemies might serve him beloved head. The Father of mercies without fear, &c. We are delivered has made choice of us that we may be from the cruel servitude of sin and the holy; the Son of God, blessed for ever, prince of darkness, not to licentious- has once for all shed his blood upon ness and libertinism, but to true liberty. earth, in order to purify us, and he "If the Son shall make you free, ye daily pours out his spirit from heaven shall be free indeed;" John viii. 36. upon us for the same purpose. Delivered from the power of our ene

LEIGHTON. mies,-to what end ? to serve him Whereby the dayspring from on high without fear, that terror which we hath visited us, to give light, &c.—That should be subject to if we were not light which frees the soul, and rescues delivered ; and to serve him all the it from the very kingdom of darkness, days of our lives. And that all, if must be somewhat beyond that which many hundred times longer than it is, nature can attain to. All the light of yet were too little for him. It is not philosophy, natural and moral, is not such a servitude as that of Egypt from sufficient ; yea, the very knowledge of which we are delivered; that ended to the law, severed from Christ, serves each one with his life; but the misery not so to enlighten and renew the soul from which we are redeemed begins as to free it from darkness or ignorance. but in the fulness of it when life ends St. Paul, writing to Jews who knew and endures for ever.-LEIGHTON. the law and were instructed in it before

In holiness and righteousness before their conversion, calls those times him.—Nor is the true and genuine wherein Christ was unknown to them, beauty of the soul anything distinct the “ times of their ignorance. from its purity and sanctity. This is Though the stars shine ever so bright, the true image of its great Creator ; and the moon with them in its full, that golden crown which unhappily yet they do not altogether make it day; dropped off the head of man when he still it is night till the sun appear. fell, so that, with the greatest justice Therefore the Hebrew doctors, upon we may lament and say, "Woe unto that word of Solomon's, “Vanity of us that we have sinned.” And it is vanities, all is vanity,” say,“Vain even the general design and intention of the law until Messiah come.” Of him true religion, in all its mysteries and Zacharias says, “The dayspring from all its precepts, that this crown may be on high hath visited us, to give light

to them that sit in darkness and in the is our greatest beauty,—and that inexshadow of death, and to guide our feet pressible satisfaction which attends the into the way of peace.”—LEIGHTON. exercise of charity, humility, and meek

The great teacher of the true know- ness! When your minds are stored ledge of his law, and of himself, and and adorned with these graces, they of ourselves, is God. Men may speak will enjoy the most pleasant tranquilto the ear, but “his chair is in heaven lity, even amidst the noise and tumults that teacheth hearts." Matchless of this present life.—LEIGHTON. teacher ! that teacheth more in one hour than men can do in a whole age !

HYMN. that can cure the invincible unteacha

Behold the woman's promis'd seed! bleness of the dullest hearts, "gives Behold the great Messiah come! understanding to the simple and opens

Behold the prophets all agreed the eyes of the blind.” So then, would

To give him the superior room! we be made wise, wise for eternity,

Abra'm the saint rejoic'd of old learned in real living divinity, let us When visions of the Lord he saw; sit down at his feet, and make this our Moses, the man of God, foretold continued request, « What I see not,

This great fulfiller of the Law. teach thou me.”LEIGHTON.

The types bore witness to his name, To guide our feet into the way of Obtain'd their chief design, and ceas'd; Almost all mankind are con

The incense, and the bleeding lamb, peace.

The ark, the altar, and the priest. stantly, catching at something more than they possess, and torment them Predictions in abundance meet selves in vain; nor is our rest to be

To join their blessings on his head,

Jesus! we worship at thy feet found among the enjoyments of the

And nations own the promis'd seed. world, where all things are covered

WATTS. with a deluge of vanity, as with a flood of fluctuating restless waters, and the soul flying about, looking in vain for a place on which it may set its foot, most unhappily loses its time, its

♡ CLVI. labour, and itself at last, like “ the birds in the days of the flood, which

CHAP. II. 1--7. having long sought for land, till their strength was quite exhausted, fell down at last, and perished in the wa- The nativity of Christ.

Augustus tareth all the Roman Empire. ters.” O! how greatly preferable are the delightful fields of the Gospel, And it came to pass in those wherein pleasure and profit are agree days, that there went out a deably mixed together, whence you may learn the way to everlasting peace, cree from Cæsar Augustus, that that poverty of spirit, which is the only all the world should be taxed. true riches,—that purity of heart, which 2 (" And this taxing was first

made when Cyrenius was gover- until about twelve years after our nor of Syria.)

Saviour's birth. Some critics would 3 And all went to be taxed, render ver. 2, “ This enrolment was

made before Cyrenius was governor every one into his own city.

of Syria; or before that of Cy4 And Joseph also went up renius,” which is a good translation, from Galilee, out of the city of and consistent with the truth of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the history. Others read it thus : "This city of David, which is called was the first enrolment of Cyrenius, Bethlehem ; ( because he was governor of Syria ;” supposing that of the house and lineage of Cyrenius, who was afterwards goverDavid :)

nor of Syria, was employed on the

occasion here stated, and that he 5 To be taxed with Mary conducted a second census while he - his espoused wife, being great was in office. This was the first enwith child.

rolment which Cyrenius who was 6 And so it was, that, while (afterwards ) governor of Syria, they were there, the days were made; implying that, after he beaccomplished that she should be came governor, he made a second.delivered.

In either way the sense is good, and

the seeming difficulty disappears. 7 And she brought forth

It has also been suggested, that by her firstborn son, and wrapped the alteration of an accent (which him in swaddling clothes, and may be easily allowed), we may laid him in a manger ; because properly translate the passage thus, there was no room for them in “The enrolment itself was not made the inn.

until Cyrenius was governor of 10r, inrolled.- Acts v. 37:- Sam. xri. 1,4. John Syria.” It is remarkable that St.

Luke pointedly refers in the first Reader. The "taxing ” here men- verse to the issuing of the decree ; tioned was a Roman census, or en- and if we translate the second verse rolment of the names, property, and in the way now described, we are condition of persons forming the reminded that the decree, although whole or part of the empire. This made at the time of Christ's birth, census does not appear to have been was then only partially executed, general, or to have extended to all and was not carried into effect until parts of the Roman dominions, but Cyrenius was in office. The decree to have been confined to the Jewish was published, and some preparanation. * The whole world,' accord- tions were made for compliance with ing to a common phraseology, de- it; Joseph and Mary, and others, notes the whole land of Judæa. repaired to their respective cities;

Cyrenius (Caius Sulpicius Quiri- but from some cause or other the nus) was not governor of Syria | proceedings were not then complet

vii. 42.-c Mat. i. 16. ch. i. 27.- Mat. i. 18. ch. 1.27 e Mat. i. 25.

ed, and it remained for Cyrenius to has his goodness towards us was infinite, make up the census.—Editor. so the demonstrations thereof, to his

glory and our benefit, should be READER.--And she brought forth answerably such; which perhaps could her first-born son.

As for the reason not otherwise be, than by such a conwhy the Son of God did assume our desension : as a Prince could not make nature; the chiefest and clearest reason any other so great attestations of favour thereof was, God's design thereby to ex- to his vassal, as by descending from ercise and demostrate his immense bis throne, laying aside his majesty, goodness, mercy and pity toward us; putting himself into a like condition, “So God loved the world, that he gave conversing freely with him, subjecting his only begotten Son.” “In this the himself to the same laws and duties, love of God was manifested, that God enduring the like hardships and inconsent his only begotten Son into the veniences with him. world, that we might live by him." It was expedient that our Redeemer “ Through the tender mercy of our should be God, that he might be able God the dayspring from on high did by his power to save us; to remove visit us.” It was his benignity and those huge obstacles that crossed our philanthropy, which induced him to salvation, to subdue those potent engage his Son upon such a debasement enemies which opposed it; to command and emptying of himself, that we and conquer nature, to vanquish the might thereby be raised to a capacity powers of hell, to abolish death in our of salvation,

behalf. If we farther desire to contemplate It was requisite that he should be the wisdom of God in this admirable the co-essential natural Son of God, proceeding; and to know, why God that by the nearness of his relation to among other means and methods, alike God, by the supereminent dignity of (for all we can know) possible to him, his person, by the immense value of did choose in this way to transact our his merit he might conciliate God's redemption; it may be answered, that favour to us, fully appease his wrath it becometh us rather to adore the incensed against us, and satisfy bis depth of God's wisdom herein, than to justice abused by our offences. sound it, or to hope by searching to It was convenient, that his doctrine reach the bottom of it: yet some con should carry with it the highest cergruities of this method to the reason tainty and strongest efficacy; that bis and exigency of things are in the example should challange the greatest Scripture intimated to us, and in some regard and strictest imitation ; that manner are discernible by us, sufficient his laws should have supreme authority, to recommend the divine wisdom and with greatest advantage oblige us ; therein to our admiration; reasons fit therefore it was that he should be may be assigned why our Redeemer God, and have the character of divinity should be God and man. It well stamped upon what he said and became God to stoop down thus, that performed.

The redemption and salvation of man He should be both God and man; did import an honour too august for Son to God, and brother to us; the any creature to be dignified with; same in nature with God, in kind with it was a work too difficult and mighty us. Such reason and wisdom is disfor any but God to achieve; it was not cernible in this dispensation. proper that any creature should be Now for the practical use of this principal in managing an affair of such doctrine ; for it is not a doctrine height and importance; needful and merely speculative, and barren of fruit expedient therefore it was, that our or practical use. It should, first, have Saviour should be God.

a powerful influence on our minds, It was also requisite, upon many causing us, with high degrees of love accounts, that he should be man: that and gratitude, to adore the infinite by perfectly obeying God's commands goodness of that God, who hath been and submitting patiently to God's will pleased to stoop so low, that he might as man, he might procure God's favour advance us from the lowest depth of toward man ; that as man had deeply meanness and wretchedness, to the wronged and offended God, so man highest pitch of honour and happiness, also should highly content and please that we are capable of. What words him; in St. Paul's language, that “as can express, what thought can appre

one man's disobedience many were hend a favour so inconceivable, and made sinners, so by the obedience of ineffable? Well might St. Paul call one man many should be made it,

made it, "Love transcending all knowledge," righteous.” Decent it was that as man well may heaven admire, and earth be did approve, so man also should con- astonished, and Hell tremble, at the demn sin in the flesh, that as man by disclosure of such a mystery, at the wilful self-pleasing did incur misery, accomplishing such a miracle of grace 80 by voluntary suffering he should and mercy; that the sovereign majesty recover happiness. “It did become of Heaven, the eternal Lord of glory, him (as the Apostle saith), for whom the World's great maker, the only are all things, and by whom are all Son of God, and heir of all things, things, in bringing many sons unto should become a poor, small, weak, and glory, to make the captain of their frail man; should dwell in a tabersalvation perfect through suffering.” nacle of flesh, should converse with

It was also fit, that he who was silly, wretched and frail mortals here, designed to intercede for our welfare, should be exposed to want, disgrace to propitiate for our faults, to succour and pain : O depth of goodness, and and relieve our distresses, should be mercy unsearchable! If this will not, tender of our good, and sensible of our what consideration can raise us, what needs; that he therefore should by benefit can affect us? nature and experience be nearly allied digious ingratitude will it be, to be unto both parties; that consequently regardless, or insensible, of kindness if possible (and what is to God, the so wonderful ? author of this economy impossible ?) Another great use of this point


What pro

« ElőzőTovább »