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heir (c) of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed through the (d) law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14. For if (e) they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect
The Gospel. Luke ii. 15.
Axd it came to pass, as the angels (g) were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, "Let us now go "even unto (h) Bethlehem, and "see this thing which is come to "pass, which the Lord hath made "known unto us." 16. And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17. And when they had seen it, they made
(c) v. IS. " Heir of the world," i. e. either "that he should have the land of "Canaan for his inheritance," which was one of God's promises to Abraham, (Gen. xiii. 14-. to 17. — xv. 17. and xvii. 7.) or "that in him should all the nations of the "world be blessed," which was another, (Gen. xxii. 18.) and according to which, in another sense, all who should be saved through Christ were his inheritance. The latter seems the right, because it was that promise only, which, according to the next paragraph, was capable of being made of no effect.
(rf) "Through the law," i. e. "from "obedience either to the Mosaic, or to "any other law."
(e) v. 14. "They which are of the law "be heirs." That is, "if the privileges "are to be confined to those who have "rendered perfect obedience to the Mo"saic or any other law, the merit which "in Abraham was given to Faith, is no "longer to be given to Faith in others; "Faith is useless, and the promise that in "Abraham all nations should be blessed, "is made of no effect."
(g) v. 15. " The angels," one of whom had been announcing to the shepherds the birth of the Messiah.
known abroad the (*") saying which was told them concerning this child. 18. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. 21. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named (/c) of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
[The tame Collect, Epistle, and Gospel, shall terve for every Day after unto the Epiphany.]
(h) " Bethlehem." See post, 58. notes (e) and (g). The circumstances which occurred to occasion our Saviour's being born at Bethlehem, shew how singularly God accomplishes his purposes. His mother did not live at or near Bethlehem, and, in the ordinary course of things, was not likely to have been there at the time of her delivery; but Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor, had given an order for inrolling the people of Judea and Galilee. 2 Hales, 705. This inrolment had been fixed upon 27 years before, but some troubles in the empire stopped it at that time; a fresh order was now issued, and it was in obedience to this order that Joseph went up at this time to Bethlehem, and Mary accompanied him.
(/) v. 17. " The saying." The Angel said unto them, "Fear not, for behold 1 "bring you good tidings of great joy, "which shall be to all people. For unto "you is born this day, in the City of Da"vid, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. "And this shall be a sign unto you, ye "shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling "clothes, lying in a manger. Luke ii. 10. to 12."
(k) v. 21. "So named." Matt. i. 21. ante, 52.
The Epiphany (I); or the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.
O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the Gentiles; mercifully grant, that we, which know thee now by faith (wi), may after this life have the fruition (n) of thy glorious Godhead, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle. Ephes. iii. 1.
For this (o) cause I Paul, the prisoner (p) of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles (q); 2. if ye have heard of the dispensation of the
grace of God, which is given me to you-ward: 3. how that by revelation he made known unto me the (r) mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4. whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ,) 5. which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6. "That "the Gentiles should be fellow"heirs, and of the same body, "and partakers of his promise "in Christ by the Gospel;" 7. whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the
(I) The object of this festival is to express our gratitude to God for manifesting the gospel to the Gentile world, and giving them the opportunity of obtaining the benefits of our Saviour's coming. Before our Saviour's time, it was among the Jews only that the worship of the only true God prevailed; they were peculiarly called hit people; and they received many peculiar communications, by the intervention of prophets and otherwise, from him. Under the gospel God has made no distinction; he has made his communication freely and equally to Gentiles as well as Jews; he offers the benefits of it to all mankind, and treats all the believers in it, of what nation soever they may be, as his church and people. In early times, the term " Epiphany" was applied to Christinas Day, as well as to this festival, Christmas being called the greater, and this the lesser Epiphany.
(m) "By Faith," i. e. "by believing "what has been revealed and written: "having no other knowledge than that "which faith or belief gives."
(n) " The Fruition, &c." i. e. "the "power mentioned, 2 Cor. iii. 18. and "1 John iii. 2. of beholding, as in a glass, "the glory of the Lord," and of " seeing «' him as he is."
(o) v. 1. "For this cause." Because under the Christian dispensation the distinction between Jew and Gentile was at an end and all believers, Jews and Gen
tiles, constituted one church, St. Paul, according to verse 14., bows his knees to the Father. The words, " for this cause," are referable to verse 14.; and the whole of this portion of scripture, "if ye have "heard, &c.'' is in a parenthesis.
(p) v. 1. "The prisoner, &c." St. Paul therefore was in custody: and this Epistle is supposed to have been written about the year 58, when St. Paul was in confinement at Rome.
(g) " For you Gentiles." According to Acts xxi. 28. the charge upon which the Jews apprehended St. Paul, and upon which he was afterwards sent to Rome, was this, " that he taught everywhere "against the people," (i. e. the Jews), " the "law," (i. e. the Mosaic rites), and " the "Temple, and that he had brought Greeks "also into the Temple." St. Paul's preaching that the Jews were no longer God's peculiar people, that the Mosaic rites were no longer essential, that the Temple in Jerusalem was not the only proper place for worship, and that the Gentiles were to be privileged as well as Jews, might well give rise to the charge, and would warrant St. Paul in saying, that he was " a prisoner "Jbr you Gentiles."
(r) v. 3. "The mystery." He explains afterwards, in v. 6. what was this mystery; and he often speaks of it as a mystery which had been hid from former ages. See Eph. i. 9. and infra note on v. 9.
grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8. Unto me, who am less than the (s) least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among (/) the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9. and to make all men see what is the fellowship (u) of the mystery, which, from the beginning of the world hath been (x) hid in God, who created all things (#) by Jesus Christ: 10. to the intent that now unto the (s) principalities
and powers in heavenly places might be known, by the Church, the manifold wisdom of God, ll. according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our (a) Lord: in whom we have boldness and (b) access with confidence by the faith of him.
The Gospel. Matt. ii. 1.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod (c) the king, behold, there
(*) v. 8. "The least." So St. Paul says of himself, 1 Cor. xv. 9, 10. "1 am the least "of the apostles, that am not meet to be "called an apostle, because I persecuted "the Church of God."
(0 "Among the Gentiles." St. Paul considered himself as called to preach the gospel more especially to the Gentiles; that that was the more immediate object of his being called. In Acts xxii. 18—21. where St. Paul is giving an account of his conversion and what afterwards happened to him, he says he was in a trance, and was ordered to depart from Jerusalem, for that God would send him far thence " unto "the Gentiles." In Rom. xi. 13. he says, "I speak to the Gentiles, inasmuch as I "am the apostle of the Gentiles." And in Gal. i. 15. he speaks of being called by God's grace, that he might preach the Son of God " among the heathen"
(u) v. 9. " Fellowship," in admitting Gentiles as well as Jews; in treating both alike.
(*) " Hid in God." So Rom. xvi. 25. he says of it, "which was kept secret "since the world began." In 1 Cor. ii. 7. he calls it " the hidden wisdom which "God ordained before the world unto "our glory;" and Col. i. 26. "the mys"tery which hath been hid from ages, and "from generations."
(y) "By Jesus Christ." So John i. 3. «nte, 44.—Heb.i. 2. ante, 42.—1 Cor. viii. (v—-and 1 Col. xvi. 17. However, these words are wanting in the most ancient copies: and may be therefore an addition. 1 Waterl. 56.
(i) o. 10. " Principalities and powers "in heavenly places," i. e. (perhaps) "the
"angels in heaven," from whom he might mean this mystery was hitherto concealed; as St. Peter seems also to insinuate, when he says, (1 Pet. i. 12.) " which things the "angels desire to look into." Our Saviour also intimates, that though the angels of heaven are allowed to know many things which are concealed from man, yet there are things which are kept secret from them also. Thus Matt. xxiv. 36. Mark xiii. 32. "But of that day and hour knoweth no "man, no, not the angels of heaven, but "my Father only."
(a) v. 11. " Our Lord:" 7i Kvplu jj^ay.
(b) v. 12. "Access," i. e. (probably) "unto God; the power of approaching "him by Jesus Christ as a Mediator." Thus, (according to 1 John ii. 1.) " we have "an Advocate with the Father, Jesus "Christ the righteous;" and (according to Heb. ix. 24.) he "appears in the pre"sence of God for us."
(c) ti. 1. "Herod the king." Herod was the first Foreigner who was set over the kingdom of Judea. Until his time they were governed by some of their own people, under the character of Judges, Kings, &c, and the priesthood was continued in its appointed line: they were now become tributary to Rome; Rome nominated their kings, and their kings made the priests out of the lowest of the people. The Prophecy therefore (Gen. xlix. 10.) "The "sceptre shall not depart from Judah, "nor a law-giver from between his feet, "until Shiloh come," might well strengthen the expectation of the coming of the Messiah : the sceptre was now departed, &c. Euseb. Eccl. Hist. b. 1. c. 6.
came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2. saying, "Where "is he that is born King of the "Jews? for we have seen his star "in the east, and are come to "worship him." 3. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was (d) troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5. And they said unto him, "In "(e) Bethlehem of Judea: for thus "it is written by the (g) prophet, "6. And thou Bethlehem, in the "land of Juda, art not the least "among the princes of Juda: for "out of thee shall come a Go"vernor, that shall rule my people
"Israel." 7. Then Herod, when he had (k) privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8. And he sent them to Bethlehem; and said, "Go, and search "diligently for the young child; "and when ye have found him, "bring me word again, that I may "come and worship him also."
9. When they had heard the king, they departed: and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, («') went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10. When they (£) saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down,
(d) v. 3. "Troubled." Herod probably expected that he was to be a temporal king.
(e) v. 5. "Bethlehem." David also, who was a type of our Saviour, was probably born there. It was there his father Jesse lived. 1 Sam. xvi. 1, 4. &c. xvii. 12. In Luke ii. 11. it is called " the City of "David."
(g) v.5. " Prophet." Micah v. 2. The passage there is, "but thou Bethlehem "Ephratah, though thou be little among "the thousands of Judah, yet out of "thee shall he come forth unto me that "is to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings "forth have been from of old, from ever"lasting.'' There was another Bethlehem in the land of Zabulon. The Jews were divided into thousands, and over each thousand was a prince or ruler. See Ex. xviii. 25. 1 Sam. x. 19.; so that among "the princes," as in St. Matthew, or " the "thousands," as in Micah, is in-sense the same. Instead of " a governor," as here, or " ruler," as in Micah, the proper translation, according to the Septuagint, would be, "a Leader, voho shall be the "Shepherd to" my people Israel; and then it corresponds with the character foretold of the Messiah, Isaiah xl. 11. "he shall feed his flock as a shepherd;"'
and with Ezek. xxiv. 23. "I will set "up one Shepherd over them, and he "shall feed them, even my servant David,'' i.e. the Messiah, who is also called David. Jer. xxx. 9. Ezek. xxxiv. 24. — xxxvii. 24, 25. and Hos. iii. 5. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Hosea, did not live till long after David's death, and could not therefore allude to him. See note on Ps. lxxxix.21. The speaking of the Messiah as " a Shepherd," might imply the peaceable nature of his kingdom. The expression, that " his goings forth "had been from of old, &c." implies that his coming had been determined upon from the earliest times: and it was immediately after Adam's fall that the promise was made, that " the seed of the woman "should bruise the serpent's head." Gen. iii. 15. See post, 69. note (c).
(h) v.7. "Privily." Perhaps that the Jews might not know of it. If they supposed this child to be the infant Messiah, and were aware that Herod was inquiring after him, with a view to destroy him, they would naturally endeavour to counteract his measures.
(i) v. 9. " Went before them." See 2 iEneid, 693. to 697.; where a star performs a similar office.
(k) v. 10. " Saw the star," i. e. " stand"ing over him.''
same, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle. Rom. xii. 1. (m)
I Beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present («) your bodies a living (o) sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your (jp) reasonable service. 2. And. be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the (y) renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. 3. For I say, (through (r) the grace given unto me), to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly (s) than he ought to think; but to think soberly,
(/) v. 11. "Gifts." In Ps. Ixxii. (which is considered as looking prophetically to the Messiah,) are these passages: "The "kings of Tarsus, and of the isles, shall "give presents: the kings of Arabia and "Saba shall bring gifts.' He shall live, "and unto him shall be given of the gold "of Arabia."
(m) St. Paul had been shewing that the Gentiles might receive all the benefits of Christ's coming, without submitting to any of the Jewish ceremonies; that the Jews would also be admitted to them, if they embraced the belief of Christianity, and practised the duties it enjoins: but that without such practice there could be no salvation in Christ either to Jew or Gentile: and he therefore presses them, as they are no longer required to make the sacrifices the Mosaic iaw required, to make the only sacrifice Christianity demands, a sacrifice of those propensities which are against the purity and disposition of mind which the Gospel enjoins. We are to remember, too, that God requires this sacrifice of us.
(») v. 1. " Your bodies," "in opposition "to those of animals."
(o) " Living sacrifice," not a sacrifice which was to be slain; but by suppressing their evil desires and propensities, to make a sacrifice of their own bodies, without subjecting them to death: not as before,
by killing the body of an animal, and bringing that into a state of purity, but by killing their lusts and sinful inclinations, to bring their own bodies into a state of purity, and yet keep them alive.
(n) " Reasonable," " more reasonable "than to seek for pardon by killing bulls, "&c."
(q) v- 2. " Renewing of your mind," i. e. "bringing your mind into a new state; "forming it anew;" making it, in the language of one of the Collects, " regene"rate. So, Eph. iv. 23, 24., St. Paul exhorts them to " be renewed in the spirit "of your mind, and to put on the new "man, which after God" (that is, in imitation of God's perfections) "is created "in righteousness, and true holiness." So Col. iii. 9, 10. he speaks of those converts as having " put off the old man with his "deeds, and having put on the new man, "which is renewed in knowledge, after "the image of him that created them," i. e. "God." In John iii. 3. our Saviour says, " except a man be born again," (which has a similar meaning), " he cannot "see the kingdom of God.
(r) v. 3. " Through the grace," i. e. "not of myself alone, but upon the sugges"tion of the Spirit."
(s) " More highly." What St. Paul is particularly condemning is, their overvaluing themselves upon peculiar gifts of