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A.D. 97.

18 No'man hath seen God at any time; the only be- Written at gotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath Ephesus. declared him.


Birth of John the Baptist.

LUKE i. 5-25. Before the 5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, Temple at Vulgar Æra, 6. a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia : Jerusalem, Year of the Julian Pe

New Testament, where it refers to our Lord; if he would put down in riod, 4708.

a tabular form the evidence of the whole five. As in this manner, on
tempting the divine personage in the wilderness,'

New Testa-
Targumists. Bible. Septuagint. ment.

Targum of Jo-581031 Kai étel- Mnd de asi. Primasias quo-
Targum of Jeru- giovaoedv kvåvó- xprorov.
ρασαν τον ράζωμεν τον ted by Whitby.

Others could
salem, quoted
by Allix, p. 152, Ps. cvi. 14. @gw. Cor. x. 9. be found, but I


merely put this assert tbat it was

Ps. cvi, in

down to illus-
" the Word”

strate my plan of
against whom

drawing up a Israel marmur

table of testied.

monies tothe DiVide Allix in

vinity of Christ. loc.

Primasius livled in the sixth

century. 6

Though the Baptist is here mentioned, and the passage is
consequently an anticipation of his testimony, the apparent
reference of v. 16 to v. 14, has induced me to follow the autho-
rity of Archbishop Newcome, in preference to that of Lightfoot,
Michaelis, Pilkington, and Doddridge. Verse 18 declares also,
as Newcome has observed, the reason for which the word was
made flesh; that it was to manifest the Father to the world.
The circumstances of the Baptist's testimony will be mentioned
below. Whiston places the whole of this preface after the
events recorded in St. Luke, i. ii. Mr. Hele (a) places John i.
1-6. after St. Luke's preface. He then places Joho i. 6-15.
after Luke iii. 2. and John i. 15-19. after the account of the

(a) Four Gospels Harmonized, Basingstoke, 1750. 8vo.
* This section gives an account of the miraculous events that
preceded the birth of the expected Messiah.

With the exception of Simon the Just (a), who, according to
Jewish tradition, had received the last rays of the setting sun
of prophecy, and completed the canon of the Old Testament,
it is generally believed by the Jewish Church that Prophecy
and Miracle had ceased since the time of Malachi. A learned
writer (b), however, has attempted at great length to shew, that
though Prophecy, properly so called, had ceased during this
interval, yet extraordinary revelations were vouchsafed to some


Before the and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Temple a:
Vulgar Æra, was Elisabeth.

Year of the
Julian Pe- few individuals : and he instances the predictions said to have
riod, 4708. been delivered by Hillel

, Schammai, and Menahem. But there is no satisfactory evidence to prove this assertion. Josephus, who repeats them, doubts their truth. Drusius supposes that the reading in Josephus is corrupt. Gorionides, Abraham ben Dion, and even Josephus, are not quoted by Vitringa with any degree of confidence in their authority: and we have no allusion in the New Testament to any instance of the effusion of the Holy Spirit after the closing of the canon of the Old Tes. tament. The inspired writers of the New Testament appeal only to the law and the Prophets, that is, to the Old Testament in its present form. And they appeal to the miracles and prophecies of the Apostles and their Master, as novelties in their own age, affording undeniable witness that God had at length visited his people.

After a long cessation therefore, then, of miracle and prophecy, the time approaches when the first proof is to be given that the Creator of the world was still mindful of the favoured house of Israel, and of the whole human race. The spirit of prophecy revives-an angel descends from Heaven: and, as if it were more immediately to connect the new dispensation with that which it was to supersede, this blessed Messenger begins by foretelling the very same event, in the same words, which had been used by Malachi in delivering the last prophecy vouched to the Jewish Church. “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord : and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to tbe chil. dren, and the hearts of the children to their fathers,” Malachi iv. 5, 6. To Zechariah it is foretold: “And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,” Luke i. 17. The first prophecy of the New Testament is given in the very same language as the last of the Old Testament: thereby offering to the Jews the strongest evidence in favour of their long expected Messiah. The birth of John, the forerunner of the promised Saviour, was announced by the testimony of an Angelic Vision--the return of the Spirit of Prophecy—and the revival of miracles, in the dumbness of his father, its definite continuance, and its predicted removal. The attention of the people must have been powerfully excited: and the beginning of the new dispensation was distinguished by the same superhuman characteristics, which had proved the divine origin of that which was now to be done away.

The numbers of each of the twenty-four courses of the priests was so great, that many thousands were in weekly and daily attendance upon the service of the temple. The most solemn of the daily services was that which had been appointed by lot, in the usual manner, to Zacharias. When he entered into the holy place to burn incense, the congregation of Israel stood without in profound silence, offering up their prayers, and waiting till the Priest returned, as was customary, to dismiss them with his blessing. The congregation consisted of the whole course of the Priests, whose weekly turn of attendance was now going on; in addition to which, were the Levites that served under these Priests --the men of the station, as the Rabbis called them, whose office it was to present the whole congregation, by putting their hands on the heads of the sacrifices—and the multitude from the city, whom devotion would now have drawn to their


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Before the 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking Temple at
Valgar Æra, in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord Jerusalem.
Year of the blameless.
Julian Pe-
riod, 4708.

temple, including of course the Presidents and Overseers of the
temple, and others of the first rank and chief note at Jerusalem.

Lightfoot supposes, from the expression, v. 10. “ the whole
multitude," (c) that a larger crowd than usual was then assem-
bled: that it might have been a sabbath; and upon the hypo-
thesis, which he has attempted to defend at length, he calculates
that the course of Abiah served in their turn at this time, in the
eighth week after the Passover, and that the lessons read in the
temple were the law of the Nazarites, Numb. vi. and the con-
ception of Samson. But this, though ingenious, must be in
some degree conjectural.

When we remember the scrupulous exactness with which the Jews attended to every part of their ceremonial ritual, and the consequent sensation excited by every thing connected with their divinely appointed worship, we shall be able to represent to ourselves, in some degree, the impression produced by this event. The people including, we may suppose, the great majority of the men of leisure, education, and eminence, either of Judea or Jerusalem, were anxiously waiting to learn the cause of Zachariah's unusual delay. The concluding and accustomed blessing bad 'not yet been pronounced. At length their officiating Priest presents himself at the door of the holy place. His before tranquil countenance now expresses the greatest agitation, and he endeavours in vain to fulfil his unfinished duties. He is unable to give the expected blessing. The congregation, from anxious curiosity and astonishment, would have remained for some time in silent suspense but when they found that Zacharias continued both deaf and speechless, they perceived, as the Evangelist relates, “ that he had seen a vision." His silence was miraculous. The circumstance would be recorded and enrolled in the archives of the temple, and preserved by the Priests of the course of Abia. As his dumbness was not a legal uncleanness, and no law of Moses prescribed the exclusion of a Priest from the temple service on that account, and as St. Luke (i. 23.) mentions, that as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished he departed to his own house; he must have continued in office during his appointed course, and would certainly take his professional station in the tomple, although incapable of performing all his ministerial functions—thereby presenting to the Jews, in the very centre of their sanctuary, an undeniable proof of the revival of miracle ; and exciting in their minds the strongest expectations of some wonderful occurrence.

As Zacharias had now become both deaf and dumb, it is highly probable that he wrote down an account of the heavenly vision, which must by this means have been well known throughout Judea. The prediction of the Angel was quite consonant to the generally received opinions of the day. Elias was first to appear, and the first revelation therefore of the approaching change in the dispensations of God must have reference to his Mossenger, rather than to the Messiah himself. It had been prophesied that the forerunner of Immanuel was to resemble Elias in his spirit and power, in the effects of his mission; in the austerity of his character; the boldness of his preaching, and in his successful reform in the Jewish Church. He was to be the “Voice of one crying in the wilderness,

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fear fell upon

Before the 7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was Temple at
Valgarðra, barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.

Year of the 8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the
Julian De priest's office before God in the order of his course,
riod, 4708.

9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot
was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the

10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying
without at the time of incense.

11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord,
standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and

13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias :
for thy prayer is heard ; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear
thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many
shall rejoice at his birth.

15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.

16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

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.

19 And the angel answering, said unto him, I am Ga.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths strait ; to turn
the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to
the wisdom of the just.”

Many things worthy of remark occur in considering the
dumbness of Zachariah. It was at once a proof of the severity
and of the mercy of God. Of severity, on account of his un
belief; of mercy, in rendering his punishment temporary; and
of causing it to be the means of making others rejoice in the
events predicted by the Angel. His condemnation and crime
were most appropriate and merciful warnings to the Jewish
nation, and seem almost to prefigure the general unbelief that
was so soon to prevail, as well as to foreshew the approaching dumb-
ness, or dissolation, of the Levitical Priesthood.Vide Witsius
de Vita Johannis Baptistæ, and the opinion of Isidorus Pelu-
siota on the dumbness of Zachariah, there. quoted : Miscell.
Sacra. 4to. vol. ii. p. 500.

(a) On Simon the Just, vide Prideaux Connection, vol. ii.p. 816, 8vo. edit.' 1729. Lightfoot, vol. i. p. 2008; and vol.ii. p. 381 ; arrangement of the Old Testament, vol. ii. p. 854, 'note. (6) Vitringa, in his Observ. Sacræ, vol. i. b. vi. p. 294, &c. (c) Māv tò #Añoos lag. Lightfoot, vol. i. p. 407.

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Before the briel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to Temple at Valgar Æra, speak unto thee; and to shew thee these glad tidings.

Jerusalem. 6 Year of the 20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to Julian Pe- speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, riod, 4708. because thou believest not my words, which shall be fula

filled in their season.

21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.

22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them : and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.

23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.

24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,

25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my 'reproach among men.


the year.

The Annunciation 8.

LUKE I. 26-38. Julian Pe

26 | And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was Nazareth. riol, 4709. Before the

sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
Vulgar Æra,
5, early in

The doctrines, both in the Old and New Testaments,would be
utterly incredible, if they were not confirmed by the most unques-
tionable and convincing evidence; and if they were not also so
interwoven together that they must all be received, or all be re-
jected. They are so involved with the history of the world, that
the latter alternative is impossible to a rational mind; and the
various absurdities and inconsistent conclusions to which men
have been uniformly betrayed, when they have endeavoured to
believe one part of the system of Revelation and to reject another,
are almost sufficient reasons of themselves to compel us to
receive the whole of what is revealed to us. The doctrine of
the miraculous conception, which contains so much that con-
tradicts experience, and seems at first sight so incredible, is
founded upon evidence the most complete and satisfactory. It
is intimately blended with the whole system of Revelation. The
fabric would not be complete without it. It is supported by the
general interpretation of the first promise, and is repeated and
corroborated by the ancient prophets of the Old, and the posi-
tive assertions of the writers of the New, Testament.

In what manner mind acts upon body, and body npon mind,
we are totally ignorant. We know only from daily experience,
that the will of the mind gives an impulse at pleasure to the
limbs and body. We know also, by observation, that the mind
of an individual, which thus controuls or directs the body, is

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