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new days of further executions : neither can death satisfy their revenge ; those ten sons of Haman shall, in their very carcasses, bear the reproach of their father, and hang aloit upon his gallows.
Finally, no man doth, no man dares frown upon a Jew; they are now become lords in the midst of their captivity : no marvel if they ordain and celebrate their joyful Purim, for a perpetual memory, to all posterities, of their happy deliverance. It were pity that the church of God should not have sunshines, as well as storms, and should not meet with interchanges of joy in their warfare, before they enter upon the unchange able joy of their endless triumph.
The Angel and Zachary.
When things are at the worst, then God begins a change : the state of the Jewish church was extremely corrupted immediately before the news of the gospel : yet, as bad as it was, not only the priesthood, but the courses of attendance, continued even from David's time, till Christ's. It is a desperately depraved condition of a church, where no good orders are left. Judea passed many troubles, many alterations, yet this orderly combination endured about eleven hundred years. A settled good will not easily be defeated, but, in the change of persons, will rernain unchanged, and, if it be forced to give way, leaves memorable footsteps behind it. If David foresaw the perpetuation of this holy ordinance, how much did he rejoice in the knowledge of it! Who would not be glad to do good, on condition that it may so long outlive him!
The successive turns of the legal ministration held on in a line never interrupted : even in a forlorn and miserable church, there may be a personal succession. How little were the Jews better for this, when they had lost the Urim and Thummim, sincerity of doctrine and manners ? This staid with them, even while they and their sons crucified Christ. What is more ordinary, than wicked sons of holy parents? It is the succession of truth and holiness that makes or institutes a church, whatever become of the persons. Never times were so barren, as not to yield some good. The greatest dearth affords some few good ears to the gleaners. Christ would not have come into the world, but he would have some fuithful to entertain him. He, that had the disposing of all times and men, would cast some holy ones into his own times. There had been no equality, that all should either overrun or follow him, and none attend hiin. Zachary and Elizabeth are just, both of Aaron's blood, and John Baptist of theirs : whence should an holy seed spring, if not of the loins of Levi? It is not in the power of parents to traduce holiness to their children: it is the blessing of God that feoffees them in the virtues of their parents, as they feoffee them in their sins. There is no certainty, but there is likelihood of an holy generation, when the parents are such. Elizabeth was just, as well as Zachary, that the forerunner of a Saviour might be holy on both sides. If the stock and the graff be not both good, there is much danger of the fruit. It is an happy match, when the husband and the wife are one, not only in themselves, but in God; not inore in flesh, than in the Spirit. Grace makes no difference of sexes ; rather the weaker carries away the more honour, because it hath had less helps. It is easy to observe, that the New Testament affordeth more store of good women than the Old: Elizabeth led the ring of this mercy, whose barrenness ended in a miraculous fruit, both of her body, and of her time.
This religious pair made no less progress in virtue than in age, and yet their virtue could not make their best age
fruitful: Elizabeth was barren.” A just soul, and a barren womb, may well agree together. Among the Jews, barrenness was not a defect only, but a reproach ; yet, while this good woman was fruitful of holy obedience, she was barren of children: as John, which was miraculously conceived by man, was a fit forerunner of him that was conceived by the Holy Ghost, so a barren matron was meet to make way for a virgin.
None, but a son of Aaron, might offer incense to God in the temple; and not every son of Aaron, and not any one at all seasons. God is a God of order, and hates confusion no less than irreligion. Albeit he hath not so straitened himself under the gospel
, as to tie bis service to persons or places ; yet his choice is now no less curious, because it is more large: he allows none but the authorised, he authoriseth. none but the worthy. The incense doth ever smell of the hand that offers it; I doubt not but that perfume was sweeter, which ascended up from the band of a just Zachary.
“The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination to God.” There were courses of ministration in the legal services, God never purposed to burden any of his creatures with devotion. How vain is the