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66. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.
Thus the minds of the neighbourhood were awaked, and led to expect some event beyond the ordinary course of things. And when, in due time, this infant should grow up, and become a preacher of righteousness, and men should inquire, “ From whence hath this man these things ?” an answer might be returned which should confirm his authority, and show that this was a holy child, acknowledged of God from his mother's womb, and that the hand of the Lord was with him from the beginning.
67. And his father Zacharias 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 an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David :
70. As he spake by the mouth 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 us :
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 the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
75. In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
Zacharias saw in the Spirit that the fulness of time was now arrived which David had foreseen and foretold : (Dan. ix. 25 :) that the “seven weeks, and the threescore and two weeks,” had passed, and that “ Messiah the prince” was at hand. Many prophets and righteous men had desired to see this, and had not seen it: many prophets and righteous men had longed for the time when God should visit and redeem his people; but in vain : but now God had, at length, remembered his mercy, and raised up a horn of salvation, a delivering power, in the house and family of David : as he had spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets, which had been since the world began. Few, and far between, in the earlier times, are those prophecies : yet still they form a connected chain, from Adam to Abraham, from Moses to David, from Isaiah to Malachi. Zacharias understood this ; and recognizes, in the event which was preparing, the performance of the covenant which God made with Abraham : namely, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. Yet these were not the terms of the promise. The promise was (Gen. xii. 3.) “In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” And now, in the birth of Jesus, was this promise to be performed. Here, once more.
, then, is an acknowledgment of the blessing which the families of the earth stood most in need of; that they, being delivered out of the hand of their enemies, might serve God without fear. And Jesus would confer this blessing. “ For this was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil :" that he might deliver out of the hand of this enemy all who commit them
selves to him; and “ give them power”? to serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of their life. Such was his encouragement to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for thee :” and such the tenor of his promise to Peter, “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you (winnow you) as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” And such is continually the comfort of the gospel : it brings men to God by a sure and certain way; it restores them to his favour, that being cleansed from their sins, they may serve him with a quiet mind: having firm ground to rest upon, and a clear light to walk by: and saying to every one, who is not already walking in that light, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”3
Zacharias proceeds to speak more distinctly of his own child, as the harbinger of this salvation.
76. And thou, child, 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 visited 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.
80. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the desert till the day of his shewing unto Israel.
Zacharias, being filled with the Holy Ghost, al
2 - To as
nany as receive him, to them gives he power to become the sons of God.”—John i. 12.
3 Eph. v. 14.
ready saw that his infant child, when come to age, should go through Judea crying in the wilderness,
Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Already he foresaw that he should claim nothing to bimself, except as the prophet of the highest to prepare
ways. “ He was not the light, but was sent to bear witness of that light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." 4
That light is here called the dayspring from on high : the dawn of the sun from heaven. And the phrase suggests to us, what Christ is to the world, and what he should be to ourselves. He visited the world, which had been long overspread with darkness, as the sun, after many months of absence, revisits the northern regions, and enlightens them
The people which sat in darkness, saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light had sprung up.” And the purpose of his visit was not only to the world in general, but to every individual : to guide our feet into the way of peace : to give to those who are his people, those “who receive him and believe in his name,” knowledge of salvation by the remission of their sins : and to lead them into those ways, which are the ways of pleasantness, to guide their feet in those paths, which are the paths of peace.
Let this phrase, then, remind you, where alone you have received, or can receive, light to conduct you through this dark world; even from Him, who came for this express purpose, that as many as believe in him might not abide in darkness. Turn 4 John i. 8.
5 Matt. iv. 16 ; from Is. ix. 2.
to him as to the dayspring from on high, the Sun of righteousness. As the sun in the heavens affords light to the bodily eye, so does Christ afford light to the soul. As one that walks in the sun's light is in no danger; so the soul is safe, which follows Christ as a guide. But the sun is needful not only to enlighten, but to cherish and support. Christ also must nourish by his Spirit those whom he guides by his counsel. Never cease to look up to him, that he may heal your remaining infirmities, and sustain your drooping powers: that the sun which shone upon your spiritual birth may strengthen your spiritual life, and daily shed abroad upon your soul an increasing light of knowledge, and comfort, and holiness.
JESUS BORN AT BETHLEHEM.-HIS NATIVITY ANNOUNCED TO SHEPHERDS BY ANGELS. THE ANGELS' HYMN.
LUKE ii. 1-14.
1. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.1
2. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
Atroypapeolai, enrolled. The Roman emperor decreed that a census should be taken of all his subjects.