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should rejoice, because of his work and office. God gave this praying couple far beyond their de-ire.
Verse 15.—Greit in the sight of the Lord. That is, before Jesus Christ And shall drink, etc. St. John took upon himself the vow of a Nazarite, which enjoined a life of the strictest self-denial and holiness. See Numbchap. 6.
Filled with the Holy Ghost. See v. 44. Hia whole soul was illuminated, strengthened and sanctified by Him.
Verse 16.—Many of the children of Israel, etc. See how this prediction was fulfilled, chap. 3, 12-18.
Verse 17.—And he shall go before Him. Jesus Christ followed in the footsteps of John. As the Lord's forerunner he obtained his chief renown. He resembled Elijah in spirit and power— in his manner of life and zeal. Compare 1 Kings 21 : 17-24 with Matt. 14: 4. See also Mai. 4: 5, 6 and Is. 40: 3.
To him the hearts of the fathers. Now ignorance had fallen on the whole Jewish society. They needed a divine instructor. John, by his preaching, taught all classes their duties and brought Israel in right relation to God and one another. See chap. 3:10, etc.
To make ready a people—for the Lord. How John performed his work, we are told plainly in various places.
In this lesson we have the first intimation of a coming Saviour, from our Gospel writer. It was Gabriel's whisper to Zacharias. Presently we shall hear the louder strains. It was necestary for such a forerunner to come, who should open the way for the Lord into Israel. So lapsed had this people become, that by a strong figure their very fathers—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob— are represented as having alienated their hearts from the Jews, their children, on account of their unbelief and disobedience. They no longer credited the predictions of the prophets. By John's work,the patriarchs were again made to rejoice over their descendants. We, accordingly, are reminded of the truth, that the coming of our Lord was a long-before foretold event, for which God prepared the way through patriarch, prophet, and the Baptist. Christmas rooted itself already in the Garden of Paradise. If other "coming events
cast their shadows before," we may say, in reference to our Lord's advent, that the Son of God sent His rays of light and glory in advance, like the day does the dawn. Not shadows, but golden flashes, the light of star and sun, and the canticles of holy spirits and angels —these all preluded His arrival on earth- And in the brightness and melody of all we may rejoice on every festive occasion, as well as all along the path of life, and in eternity.
Christmas-Day Two Hundred Years Ago.
FROM THE DIAEY OF ME. PEPYS.
(1G62.) "Had a pleasaut walk to Whitehall, where I intended to have received the communion with the fairies, but I came a little too late. So I walked into the house, and spent my time looking over pictures. By and by, down to the Chapel again, where Bishop Morley preached on the song of the angels, 1 Glory to God on high, and on earth, peace and good will to men.' Methought he made but a poor sermon, but long, reprehending the jollity of the court for the true joy, that shall and ought to be on these days. Particularized concerning their excess in plays and gaming. Upon which it was worth observing how far they are come from taking the reprehension of a bishop striousl v, that they all laugh in chapel when he reflected on their ill actions. He did press i s to hospitality in these public days. But one that stood by whispered in my ear,' that the Bishop do not spend one groat on the poor himself
(1665.) "To church in the morning, I there saw a wedding in the church, which I have not seen for many a day, and the young people so merry, one with another, and strange to see what delight we married people have to see these poor fools decoyed into our condition, every man and woman gazing and smiling at them."
(1668 ) "To dinner alone with my wife, who, poor wretch! sat undressed all day till ten at night, altering and lacing of a noble petticoat, while I by her, making the boy read to me the Life of Julius Ca;3ar, and Des Cartes' book of music."
How long after the angel's visit to Zicharias, £j**^ywaa Mary visited by the angel? verse 26£r"Who was the angel in both cases? What other fact
had Mary learned from Gabriel? verse So*- What
What Hymn did Mary utter in reply? verses
Of what Hymn in the Old Testament is this
nify, what other name is generally given to this
QUESTIONS, V t. ¥ < i .
Whit attribute of God does Mary magnify in the first part of her Hymn? verses 4j49. 3a What attribute does she magoify in the ttcotd'part? verses 50-53. What attribute of God does she magnify in the t/Urd patt? verses 54-55.
To whom especially was God's grace shown, according to verses 46-50? Against whom was His strong-h displayed, especially according to verses 51-53?
Toward* whom was God's faithfulness shown, according to verses 54-55?
From whom do you suppose St. Luke gathered the material for this part of the Gospel? Who could best tell him the particulars of Christ's mysterious birth, and all the extraordinary circumstances attending it? Chap. ii. 19.
Was it a high honor to be the mother of the Son of God? According to Christ's own words, does the mother of Jesus enjoy any higher favor in the order of grace than any other humble follower of our Lord? Matthew xii. 46-50.
1. Oh, for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin Bet free;
2. A heart resign'd, submissive, meek,
My great Redeemer's throne,
8. An humble, lowly, contrite heart,
4. A heart in every thought renew'd,
1. I lay my sins on Jesus,
The spotless Lamb of God;
2. I bring my guilt to Jesus,
To wash my crimson stains
3. I lav my wants on Jesus,
All fulness dwells in Him;
4. I lay my griefs on Jesus,
My burdens and my cares j
Remarks.—The two opening chapters of St. Luke's Gospel are rich in glorious Canticles. Here is a cluster of songs: 1. Gabriel's Hymn, i. 28;
2. The Hymn of Elizabeth, i. 42-44;
3. The Hymn of Mary. j. 46-55;
4. The Hymn of Zicharias. i. 68-79;
5. The Angels' Song. ii. 10-12: 6. The Hymn of the Heavenly Host. ii. 13-14; 7. Simeon's Hymn. ii. 29-32. Six months after Gabriel had visited Zacharias, the same divine messenger visited Mary at Nazareth and announced to her, that she should be the mother of Jesus, Chap. i. vs. 26-35. From the same heavenly source she likewise learned, that her cousin Elizabeth was to be the mother of the Baptist, vs. 36-38. Shortly after she had been divinely informed of all this, she journeyed from Nazareth, in order to visit her favored cousin, who resided at Hebron, about seventy miles distant, vs. 39-40. Hardly had she saluted Elizabeth, when the mother of the Baptist broke forth in a grand salutation hymn, in which she recognizes the Virgin as the m ither of her Lord, vs. 42-46. Like the angel, Elizabeth had received knowledge of the divine mystery through the Spirit of God. Then it was, that Mary uttered her hymn, commonly called the Magnificat. This canticle we are now to learn.
This famous Hymn is a counterpart to the Song of Hannah, 1 Sam. ii. 1-10 It is one of the first poetical pieces in the New Testament. Some see in it a glorification of a, God's Grace; 6, God's Power; c, and God's Faithfulness.
I. Mary magnifies God's Grace—vs. 46-49. From the Latin form of our word magnify, comes the name of the Hymn—Magnificat. It means to extol with praises- The terms Soul and Spirit embrace her whole inner being. The Holy Spirit pervaded her. Regarded means to look favorably on, especially when the subjeet is poor and lowly. All generations sJw.ll call me blessed. In all ages she is held in honor as the mother of Jesus.
II. She magnifies God's Power, vs. 50 -53. She attributes all her honor to God. The term holy here, is sometimes made to read good or kind. Then it would stand Goodness is His nameOthers make it to read Mercy is His
name. Such a rendering agrees well with what goes before, and follows. From His abuudant goodness, all the faithful generations partake evermore.
His power is indicated oftentimes by His finger, hand—arm. By His strength the proud and mighty in their own eyes, are passed over and supplanted, whilst the lowly are exalted. The hungry are those longing after spiritual strength.
III. She magnifies God's Faithfulness, vs. 54-55. God's promises to Israel had been many and great, even from Abraham's day. But a long delay seemed to reign. Israel was nigh to falling, when the Lord remembered and comes to the help against the mighty.
We may also divide this hymn into the following sections:—
1. The Glorification of God for what he had done for Israel, vs. 46-50;
2. The Glorification of God for what he had done against the oppressors of His people, vs. 51-53;
3. The Glorification of God for what he had done for Israel, HU church, vs. 54-55.
It is best, however, to imbibe the one spirit which pervades the whole. D >nbtle39 the Holy Ghost moved her to sing far beyond her own comprehension.
It is worthy of remark, that when St. Luke collected the material for the Gospel which bears his name, the only surviving witness from the beginning was Mary, the mother of Jesus. Joseph and Zacharias, and Elizabeth, and Simeon, and Anna—all were dead. Mary alone could have supplied Sr. Luke with the testimony to His miraculous conception and birth, as well as drawn from her memory and bosom words and deeds that remained a secret with her alone.
We will append one practical reflection. However highly exalted this humble, pious Jewish maiden may have been by being chosen to become the mother of the Son of God, we have the Lord's own words for the fact, that every humble follower of His may occupy an equally exalted station. For proof of this, we refer the reader to Math. 12: 46-50.
Some make mountains of duties, and trifles of sins; such souls are under a deception.
Second Sunday after Epiphany. Luke i. 67-79. The Subject.—THE HYMN OF ZACHARIAS.
THE KEY-NOTE.—"blessed Be Tub Lord Qod Op Israel; For He Hath Visited And Bedeemed His People."
Luke i. 66.
67. And his father Zicharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
68. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
69. And hath raised up a horn of salvation for as, in the house of his servant David:
70. As he spake by the month of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
71. That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate a*;
72. To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
73. The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
74. That he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of tbe hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,
75. In holiuess aud righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
76. And thou, ohild, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
77. To give knowledge of salvation unto his people, by the remission of their sins,
78. Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the day-spring from on high hath vis ted us,
79. To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
How does the Key-Note read? What Hymn does St. Luke next record for us? By what other name is it known? How long did Mary remain with Elisabeth at Hebron? verse 56. Who was born shortly after her departure? verse 58. On what day was it cistoruary to name a child? What name was first suggested? On what name did the mother insist? Who was then appealed to? What was Zicharias' opinion? VV hat occurred to him then? See verses 59-06. •
Inlo how many principal parts may the Hymn of Zicharias be divided? verses 67-75, and verses 76-79. Of whose mission does the first part treat? Of whose, the second t
Verse 67. What does the word prophesied mean?
68. What does blessed signify? For what two grand benefits does Z icharias praise God? How did God visit Israel now? Wnat does the word redeem mean 7
69. What benefits was a horn the emblem of? Ps. xviii. 2; cxii. 9; cxlviii. 4; 1 Saml. ii. 10; LamL ii. 17. What does the house of David stand for?
70. Had the coming of Christ been foretold by the Prophets?
71. From what enemies was Israel to be delivered by the Messiah? From what enemies is the human race to be freed?
72-75. What does covenant mean? With
whom did Gid first establish His agreement? Geu. xvii. 19; xxii. 18. With whom afterwards? verse 55. In what principal benefits now, does the salvation io Christ consist ? verses 74-75. Can you repeat the Hymn of Zicharias?
76. Of whom does Zicharias now speak? What name should be given him? Whose forerunner should he be? What was the mission of si.c.i a herald in that day?
77. Wnat knowledge was John to give to Israel? To what end? Is such still the end of the preaching of the Gospel?
Verses 78-79. What does Day-Spring mean? Who was the Rising Sun? May not John be compared to the Morning Star aside of Christ? To what is tbe state of the world likened apart trom Christ? Is such also the state of the soul f In what state, then, is the world tince Christ has come? Into what way is this Gospel to guide us? What kind of a Prince is Christ called? Isa. ix. 6. What fact does the Hymn of Zicharias teach us in reference to the world without a Redeemer? What is deolared in it, now that Christ has come?
May we regard God as faithful to all His promises, since He fulfilled His covenant with Israel? In whose light should we ever strive to walk? Will that light show us the path of life?
What must occur ii wo continue to walk in darkness?
Father of mercies, let our songs With Thee acceptance find;
Thy loving-kindness we confess, To us and all mankind.
Thanks for creation are Thy due, For life preserved by Thee;
And all the blessings life affords So great and yet so free.
'.3. Thanks for redemption, above all,
4. Oh, let a sense of this Thy grace
Introductory Words.—St. Luke next proceeds to record for ug another inspired hymn, which has become well known in the Christian Church — The Benedictus. The Virgin Mary remained three months with her honored cousin, the mother of John, in the hill country —Hebron, and then returned to her home in Nazareth, v. 56. Soon after her departure, John was born. The friends and neighbors congratulated the aged couple on the birth of their son, v. 58. On the eighth day, when his name was to be conferred, according to the habit of the Jews, all suggested hia father's, but Elizabeth protested, to the great wonder of all, and insisted , that his name should be John, Vs. 5960. Afterwards the father was consulted, vs. 61-63, who endorsed the mother's declaration. Then Zacharias' tongue was looted. Compare vs. 18-22 with v. 64. The whole transaction created great wonder, vs. 66-66.
Comments.—The Hymn of Zacharias falls properly into two parts:
I. It foretells the mission of Jesus, vs. 67-75.
II. It proclaims the mission of John, vs. 76-9.
Verse 67. Prophesied means both to tell what is already done, and what will yet be brought to pass.
Verse 68. Blessed be, etc., may be read, let the Lord God be praised. He rejoices in God for two grand bent fits: (1) Because He had visited Israel, through the Angel, who foretold the coming of Jesus and His forerunners; and (2) because He redeemed, or saved, His people thereby. All this Zacharias sees already accomplished, in the light of the Holy Ghost.
Verse 69. Horn of Salvation signifies a mighty and plenteous redemption. Horns were regarded as emblems of strength and riches, Ps. 18: 2; 112: 9; 148: 4; 1 Sam. 2 : 10; Lament, 2: 17. In the house of His servant David declares that Jesus is of the family of King David.
Verse 70. The Holy Prophets ever foretold the coming of Jesus. From the Garden of Paradise, through the ages, this was again and again taught.
Verse 71. That we should be saved —enemies—hand that hate us. Zacha
rias doubtless thought first of a political redemption; but of a still larger deliverance, too—from sin—death—Satan.
Verses 72-75. Holy Covenant—mercy. By these terms the promises of God are meant, which 'God made to Abraham. Gen. 17 : 19 ; 22: 18. The same assurances were repeated to all the fathers, v. 55.
The great salvation, through Jesus Christ, consists (1) of a deliverance from enemies—from all that hate us; (2) of a freedom from all error, so that men may serve or worship God, in holiness, that is, in the spirit, and righteousness, or, in a life conforming to His commandments.
This great salvation is to last for ever —all tlie days of our life.
Verses 76-79. And thou child- Zicharias now turns to his own child, and ] proclaims the dignity, employment, preaching, and success, which would crown his life.
His dignity—called a Prophet of the Most High; 2. His employment—Thou ■ sh'ilt go before the face of the Lord; 3. His preaching—Give knowledge of salvation by teaching repentance and faith, in order to the forgiveness of sin. 4. His success in the piwer of the Dayspring from on high; Jesus Christ, who is likened to the sun in the heavens. The world without Christ is likened to the night of death; with Christ the day of life has dawned, as it were. Perhaps we may call John the day-spring or morning star, that foretells the coming sun. Christianity establishes the soul in the way of peace: (a) with itself; (6) with its neighbors; (c) with God. Christ is called the Prince of Peace.
This hymn of Zacharias teaches:
1. The lost condition of the world.
2. The redemption of the world through Jesus Christ
Practical Application. 1. God is faithful and will perform all His promises to the race and the individual. His covenant, stands forever sure. 2. Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, shines on the ways and commandments of God, and shows us the true path of life. 3. The Christian walks in this way and finds it ever a way of pleasantness and a path of peace. 4. How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?