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1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
Ver. 1. Many have taken in hand ] Or, have attempted, επεχειρησαν , but not effected. Hence some have concluded, that Luke wrote first of the four evangelists. Howbeit the common opinion is (and the most ancient copies say as much) that Matthew wrote his Gospel eight years after Christ, Mark ten, Luke fifteen, and John forty-two.
2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
Ver. 2. Which from the beginning were eyewitnesses ] Therefore it may seem his Gospel was not dictated to him by Paul (who was no eyewitness), as some ancients have affirmed. But if we can believe Tacitus or Suetonius in things that happened long before they were born, because we are confident of their diligence in inquiring, how much more should we believe St Luke upon such doubted assurance? &c.
3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
Ver. 3. Having had perfect understanding ] Or, following them close at heels, and (as we say) hot-foot, παρηκολουθηκοτι .
From the very first ] Or, from above, ανωθεν , as inspired from heaven.
To write unto thee in order ] καθεξης , distinctly, and yet coherently. A singular praise in a historian, for the which Ambrose much admireth this our evangelist above all the other.
4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
Ver. 4. Wherein thou hast been instructed ] Which thou hast received by hearsay, or by word of mouth; and wherein thou hast been catechised, receiving the mysteries of the faith by the ministry of the voice, κατηχηθης . And surely when we see men caring and casting how to find out this certainty here spoken of, and not be led by conjectural, suppositions, but be fully persuaded as St Luke was, and would have his Theophilus to be, then there will be some hopes that the Lord’s party will increase.
5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
Ver. 5. In the days of Herod ] Herod a stranger, upon the death of Antigonus, last of the Maccabeans, by Augustus’ favour, was made King of Judea, and reigned 34 years. After his and his son’s death, Judea was again reduced into a Roman province, and the government thereof committed unto Pontius Pilate, then to Petronius, after him to Felix, Festus, Albinus, and Florus, whose cruelty provoked the Jews to rebellion and war, to their utter overthrow.
Of the course of Abia ] According to their weekly waitings at the altar, 1 Chronicles 24:7-13.24.18 . God would not have his ministers over wrought, though he require them to labour according to their strength, even to weariness. But how thankless is their labour that do wilfully overspend themselves!
6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
Ver. 6. In all the commandments and ordinances ] That is, in all the duties of both the moral and ceremonial law.
Blameless ] Αμεμπροι , sine querela, saith the Vulgate, "without complaint." They neither complained about others, nor were complained about by others. As it is reported of Burleigh, Lord Treasurer in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, that he never sued any man, nor did any man ever sue him, and was therefore in the number of those few that both lived and died with glory.
7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
Ver. 7. And they had no child ] Which was then held a heavy judgment, as that which rendered them suspected of impiety, since godliness had the promise of increase both within doors and without.
8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,
Ver. 8. In the order of his course ] He took but his turn, and served but his time. God never purposed to burden any of his creatures with devotion.
9 According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
Ver. 9. To burn incense ] In the incense of prayer, how many sweet spices are burned together, by the fire of faith, as humility, love, &c.
10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
Ver. 10. Praying without at the time of incense ] Song of Solomon 3:6 , the Church is said to ascend out of the wilderness of this world with pillars of smoke, elationibus fumi, that is, with affections, thoughts, desires toward heaven. And although she be black as smoke, in regard of infirmities, yet hath she a principle to carry her upwards.
11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
Ver. 11. Standing on the right side of the altar ] As Satan stood at the right hand of Joshua to molest him, Zechariah 3:1 , so stand the angels at our right hand, in the public assemblies especially, to withstand him. And to signify this, the curtains of the tabernacle were wrought full of cherubims within and without.
12 And when Zacharias saw him , he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
Ver. 12. He was troubled ] But without cause; he should have been comforted rather, for his sins were covered. How will wicked men stand before Christ?
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.
Ver. 13. For thy prayer is heard ] Both for a son, and for a Saviour.
14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
Ver. 14. Thou shalt have joy ] This is not every father’s happiness. Many fathers are forced through grief for their untoward children to wish to die, as Elijah did when he sat under the juniper, and as Moses did when wearied out by the people,Numbers 11:15; Numbers 11:15 .
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.
Ver. 15. Great in the sight of the Lord ] Significatur singularis quaedam praestantia, ut Genesis 10:9 . He shall be singularly qualified.
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
Ver. 16. Shall he turn to the Lord ] A high honour to have any hand in the conversion of souls. They that wise others shall shine in heaven,Daniel 12:3; Daniel 12:3 .
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.
Ver. 17. In the spirit and power of Elias ] There is a great agreement between the times of Elijah and John Baptist. Herod answereth to Ahab, Herodias to Jezebel, &c.
The disobedient to the wisdom of the just ] i.e. By his preaching he shall turn the hearts of the Gentiles to the Jews, and by his baptism tie them up, as it were, together. He made them (according to the phrase that Josephus useth of him) to convent or knit together in baptism, εν βαπτισμω συνιεναι . (Joseph. Antiq., xviii. 7.)
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.
Ver. 18. For I am an old man ] Thus reason will be encroaching upon the bounds of faith, till she be taken captive by infidelity. Drive, therefore, Hagar out of doors.
19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
Ver. 19. That stand in the presence of God ] Ut apparitor, ab apparendo, ready pressed to any service.
20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
Ver. 20. And behold thou shall be dumb ] His tongue that so lately moved through unbelief is now tied up. God will not pass by the wellmeant weaknesses of his own, without a sensible check. He was also deaf as well as dumb: hence they made signs to him, Luke 1:62 .
21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.
Ver. 21. The people waited for Zacharias ] They would not away without the blessing prescribed to the priests, Numbers 6:23-4.6.27 . In the council of Agathon it was decreed that people should not presume to go out of the temples before the ministers had blessed the congregation. (Canon 32.)
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.
Ver. 22. He could not speak unto them ] Hereupon a divine thus descants: Tacuit pater vocis, et cessit in miraculum: Vox si sileat, cedit in contradictionem. Numquid aeque obmutescit pater et filius? Iohannes et Zacharias? Numquid et praeco mutus est? Let us leave to the Papists (saith another) ministrorum muta officia, populi caeca obsequia, their ministers’ dumb offices; their people’s blind obedience.
23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
Ver. 23. As soon as the days, &c. ] Zacharias, though he ceased to speak, yet he ceased not to minister. Though he were dumb, yet he was not lame, but could do sacrifice, and did it. We may not straight take occasions of withdrawing ourselves from the public services.
24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
Ver. 24. And hid herself ] Obscurum qua id fecerit ex causa. It is hard to say why she did this, saith a learned interpreter, but likely out of modesty; and that she may make no show till she was sure, as also that the miracle might appear the greater.
25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me , to take away my reproach among men.
Ver. 25. Thus hath the Lord ] She saw that all her prayers that she had haply forgotten, were not lost, but laid up with God, who now sends in the blessing that she had despaired of. The Lord often doth things for his people that they look not for, Isaiah 65:1 , and stays so long that when he comes he finds not faith, Luke 18:8 .
To take away my reproach among men ] Barrenness was counted a dishonour, Genesis 30:23 ; "Their virgins were not praised," Psalms 78:63 , that is, married, and commended for their fruitfulness. See Trapp on " Luk 1:7 "
26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
Ver. 26. Unto a city of Galilee ] God and his angels can find out his hidden ones, Psalms 83:3 , in what corner of the country soever.
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
Ver. 27. Espoused to a man ] 1. The better to free her from suspicion of fornication. 2. That she might have one to provide for her when she was with child. 3. That the mystery of God manifested in the flesh might come to light by little and little, Sensim sine sensu.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
Ver. 28. Hail, thou that art highly favoured ] κεχαριτωμενη . A salutation and not a prayer, as Papists pervert and abuse it. And when the Ave Maria bell rings, which is at sun rising, noon, and sun setting, all men in what place soever, house, field, street, or market, do presently kneel down, and send up their united devotions to heaven by an Ave Maria. Also, where one fasteth on Friday, which they count our Lord’s day, many fast on Saturday, which they count our Lady’s day. (Sand’s Survey.)
29 And when she saw him , she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
Ver. 29. She was troubled at his saying ] Affect not the vain praises of men, saith one. The blessed Virgin was troubled when truly praised by an angel. They shall be praised by angels in heaven who have eschewed the praises of men on earth.
What manner of salutation ] Cuius esset (saith one interpreter) voluit enim probate spiritum. Qualis et quanta, saith another; Id est, quam honorifica et magnifica, ac proinde supra sortem suam posita. What an honourable salutation it was, and more than she could acknowledge.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
Ver. 30. Fear not, Mary ] We are not fit to hear till quit of carnal affections and passions. The ear which tastes words as the mouth doth meat, when killed with choler or other ill humours, can relish no comfort.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
Ver. 31. Shalt call his name Jesus ] See Trapp on " Mat 1:21 " If it were such a mercy to Israel that God raised up their sons for prophets, and their young men for Nazarites, Amos 2:11 , what was it to Mary, and in her to all mankind, that she should be mother to the arch-prophet, to that famous Nazarite?
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
Ver. 32. Son of the Highest ] Answerable to the Hebrew Elion, whence ηλιος for the sun, cuius antiquissima veneratio, saith Beza, whom the ancients deify.
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Ver. 33. And of his kingdom there shall be no end ] St Paul saith indeed that he shall at the end of the world deliver up the kingdom to God the Father; not that his kingdom shall then cease, but that form of administration only, that he now useth in the collecting and conserving of his Church.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
Ver. 34. How shall this be? ] This is a speech not of unbelief, but of wonderment, as desiring also to be better informed.
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
Ver. 35. The power of the Highest shall overshadow thee ] As once he did the confused chaos in the creation. This very expression was a great confirmation to the Virgin’s faith, and may well serve for a caution to us not to be overcurious in searching into this secret.
36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
Ver. 36. Who was called barren ] It is observed that the barren women (so called in both Testaments) had the best children, as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Elisabeth, &c., because long held off, and much humbled. Some also have observed that the New Testament affords more store of good women than the Old. (Dr Hall’s Contemplation on the New Testament.)
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Ver. 37. For with God, &c. ] We never doubt God’s will, but we do in some measure doubt his power. See them both running parallel,Job 42:2; Job 42:2 .
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Ver. 38. Behold the handmaid of the Lord ] Not Mall God’s maid, as a black mouthed Blatero hath blasphemed in print, that the Puritans rudely called her. (Stafford’s Female Glory.)
39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;
Ver. 39. Into the hill country ] Of Judea, southward of Jerusalem, into the city of Hebron, Joshua 21:9 .
40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
Ver. 40. Saluted Elisabeth ] To whom she could not rest till she had imparted the good news, and both given and received some spiritual gift for mutual confirmation and comfort, Romans 1:11-45.1.12 . Grief grows greater by concealing, joy by expression. Only the meeting of saints in heaven can parallel the meeting of these two cousins.
41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
Ver. 41. The babe leaped in her womb ] Such comfort there is in the presence of Christ (though but in the womb) as it made John to spring. What then shall it be in heaven, think we?
42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
Ver. 42. Blessed art thou among women ] So is Jael, the wife of Heber, said to be, Judges 5:24 . Who yet perhaps was hardly so good a woman as Deborah, that called her so. But it was no small confirmation to the blessed Virgin, to hear the same words from Elisabeth that she heard before from the angel.
And blessed is the fruit, &c. ] Or, because blessed is the fruit of thy womb, therefore blessed art thou, &c. Yet more blessed (as Austin saith) in receiving the faith than in conceiving the flesh of Christ. She conceived Christ when she yielded her assent to the angel, and said, Be it as thou hast said, let it even be so. We also conceive Christ in our hearts when we assent to the promises of pardon, of salvation by Christ: hoping perfectly for the grace that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1:13 . It is with us all, as it was with that captive woman, Deuteronomy 21:1-5.21.14 . If she consented to marry, she saved her life by it.
43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
Ver. 43. That the mother of my Lord, &c. ] That the Lord himself should come among us, as he did in the flesh, and doth still by his Spirit. Oh, what a mercy!
44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
Ver. 44. Leaped in my womb ] More like a suckling at the breast (as the word signifieth) than an embryo in the womb ( βρεφος , puer recens natus the boy newly formed, 1Pe 2:2 ). The Spirit then worketh, even in unborn babes that are elect, some kind of saving knowledge of Christ, answerable to faith in those that are grown up. The babe’s motion here was not natural, but spiritual (saith one). Therefore John was sanctified in the womb, and did really rejoice at the presence of Christ in the Virgin. Now sanctification presupposeth justification, and that, faith. Yea, this joy was a true effect of faith in the Messiah; therefore infants are capable of faith: thus he. Seminal faith we cannot deny them.
45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
Ver. 45. Blessed is she, &c. ] Mary believed, so did not Zacharias, though a man, a priest, aged, learned, eminent, and the message to him of more appearing possibility. This, Elisabeth here seems to have an eye to.
Believed that there shall be, &c. ] The same may be said of every believer. It is true also in cases ordinary. A persuasion that God will help and keep us, will indeed help and keep us, Mark 9:23 .
46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
Ver. 46. And Mary said ] See the benefit of good society, and how one Christian kindleth another. "As iron sharpeneth iron, so doth the face of a man his friend," Proverbs 27:17 .
Doth magnify the Lord ] Μεγαλυνει . Makes room for him, enlargeth her thoughts of him, throws wide open the everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may come in, in state.
47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Ver. 47. My spirit rejoiceth ] Tripudiat, danceth a galliard (which seemeth to come from the Greek word here used, ηγαλλιασε επι τω θεω , super Deo ), danceth Levaltoes in God, or for God my Saviour, as the matter and ground of my joy.
48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Ver. 48. The low estate ] Vilitatem, the vile and abject condition. Contra Mariae merita, quae praedicant Papicolae. Here is no mention of merit. See Beza Annot. in loc.
All generations shall call me blessed ] How much more should we with one mind and one mouth bless God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! This is an honour that he much standeth upon,Romans 15:6; Romans 15:6 .
49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
Ver. 49. He that is mighty ] האל The mighty strong God, οο δυνατος ..
Hath done great things for me ] No small things can fall from so great a hand. He gives like himself.
And holy is his name ] God that is holy, is to be sanctified in holiness, Isaiah 5:16 , when men see their children especially (as here) the work of God’s hands, Isaiah 29:23 .
50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
Ver. 50. From generation to generation ] Personal goodness is profitable to posterity.
51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
Ver. 51. He hath showed strength, &c. ] It appears by the whole frame of this holy song, that the blessed Virgin was well versed in the Scripture, which she here makes so much use of in sundry passages. She was eruditionis pietatis et modestiae delicium, as one speaketh of the Lady Jane Grey. She had by much reading made her bosom Bibliothecam Christi, Christ’s library, as a Father saith; and may seem to have been exercised in the good word of God from her infancy, as 2 Timothy 3:15 , and as that sweet young gentlewoman, Mrs Elizabeth Wheatenhall, daughter of Mr Anthony Wheatenhall, of Tenterden, in Kent, deceased, who not yet being ten years old when she died, yea, before she was nine years old (not much above eight), could say all the New Testament by heart, and being asked where any words were, she would presently name book, chapter, and verse. One Mr Stoughton, a minister, writeth this upon his own knowledge and examination of her.
He hath scattered the proud ] He by his strong arm hath so splitted them, that they shiver into pieces, διεσκορπισε ; or hath made them as darts, which, being among the enemies, are lost; or hath hurled them hither and thither, as the wind doth the dust of the mountains.
52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
Ver. 52. He hath put down the mighty ] As he did Bajazet, the proud Turk, and set up Tamerlane, a Scythian shepherd; who said that he was sent from heaven to punish Bajazet’s rashness, and to teach him that the proud are hated of God, whose promise is to pluck down the mighty, and raise up the lowly.
53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
Ver. 53. He hath filled the hungry ] See Trapp on " Mat 5:6 "
54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
Ver. 54. He hath holpen his servant ] He hath put under his hand, and raised him prostrate, taken him up at his feet, αντελαβετο . This he will not do for an evil doer: he taketh not the ungodly by the hand, Job 8:20 .
55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
Ver. 55. As he spake to our fathers ] Who lived upon reversions, and died upon the promises, accounting them good freehold. God keeps promise with nights and days,Jeremiah 33:20; Jeremiah 33:20 ; Jeremiah 33:25 . How much more will he with Abraham, and his seed for ever!
56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
Ver. 56. And returned to her own house ] An honest heart is found where its calling is. Such a one, when he is abroad, is like a fish in the air; whereinto if it leap for recreation or necessity, yet it soon returns to its own element.
57 Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.
Ver. 57. And she brought forth a son ] The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve, Psalms 29:9 , though of all other brute creatures they bring forth with greatest trouble, bowing themselves bruising their young, and casting out their sorrows, Job 39:4 ; Job 39:6 . How much more will he help his dear handmaids!
58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.
Ver. 58. The Lord had showed great mercy ] And the greater, because in her old age. Births, with those that are much older, are with greater danger; so is the new birth in old sinners.
59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.
Ver. 59. To circumcise the child ] Infants are no innocents, they are conceived in sin, and the first sheet or blanket wherewith they are covered is woven of sin, shame, blood, and filth, Ezekiel 16:4 ; Ezekiel 16:6 . They were circumcised, to signify that we had better be flayed, and have our skin quite stript off, than to have it as a skin bottle hanging in the smoke of filthy desires, and blown full of unclean motions with the breath of Satan.
60 And his mother answered and said, Not so ; but he shall be called John.
Ver. 60. He shall be called John ] Bucer here observeth that he that was high priest when Solomon built the temple was called John, and that there was herein a sweet suitableness. Pulchre vero convenit, saith he, ut quo nomine sacerdos Salomonis typici, hoc et veri vocaretur; that the type and truth might accord in the very name.
61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.
Ver. 61. There is none of thy kindred ] There is an inbred desire in us all of immortality; we would eternize our names, and do therefore call our children, cities, lands, &c., after them, Psalms 49:11 . But they do best that get assurance that their names are written in heaven. They that depart from God shall be written in the earth, Jeremiah 17:13 , as Cain’s son, Lord Enoch of Enoch, Genesis 4:17 , and those men of renown, Genesis 6:4 , were.
62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.
Ver. 62. And they made signs to his father ] Who, therefore, seems to have been deaf (as well as dumb) because he had not hearkened to the angel’s speech, but gainsaid it.
63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.
Ver. 63. And he asked for a writing table ] Tabellam, sc. ceratam, in qua olim stil scribebatur, saith Sa. He had an excellent faculty of whom Martial reporteth,
" Currant verba licet, manus est velocior illis;
Et vix lingua suum, dextra peregit opus. "
64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed , and he spake, and praised God.
Ver. 64. And he spake and praised God ] And had he had as many tongues as he had hairs upon his head, he could never have sufficiently praised God for his son, but especially for his Saviour. See 1 Timothy 1:15-54.1.17 . Zacharias believeth and therefore speaks, Psalms 116:10 . The tongue of the dumb sings, Isaiah 35:6 .
65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.
Ver. 65. And fear came on all ] This was either the fear of admiration at the many strange accidents about the birth of the Baptist; or the fear of punishment, seeing so good a man as Zacharias so long to have suffered for his unbelief. (Ludoff. de Vita Christi. )
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.
Ver. 66. And the hand of the Lord ] That is, his grace and blessing. He had the honour to be Legis et gratiae fibula, as Chrysologus hath it; the buckle and boundary of the law and gospel.
67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
Ver. 67. Was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied ] This was a plentiful amends for the late loss of his speech. See here the goodness of God to all his. Quibus non solum ablata restituit, sed insperata concedit (saith Ambrose). Ille dudum mutus prophetat. God is better to his than their hopes.
68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
Ver. 68. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel ] This is Hymnus Evangelicissimus, say both Bucer and Pellican. A most evangelical canticle.
Redeemed his people ] From the wrath of God over them; the guilt and power of sin within them; from Satan and the punishment of sin without them.
69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
Ver. 69. An horn of salvation ] A cornucopia, or a mighty Saviour, qui instar bovis cornupetae inimicos populi Dei prosternat atque deieciat (Piscater), that can bestir him much better than that he-goat, Alexander the Great, who had a notable horn between his eyes, wherewith he cast down the ram to the ground, and stamped upon him, &c., Daniel 8:7 . Macedones tunc temporis Aegeades, id est caprini dicti sunt. Occasionem vide. (Justin. lib. 7.) The Macedons were at that time called Goat-sprung.
70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
Ver. 70. By the mouth ] There were many prophets, yet they had all but one mouth, so sweet is their harmony.
71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
Ver. 71. That we should be saved ] Gr. Salvation from our enemies. This properly importeth the privative part of man’s happiness, but includes the positive too.
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
Ver. 72. To perform the mercy ] God’s love moves him to promise, his truth binds him to perform. See both these, 2 Samuel 7:18 ; 2 Samuel 7:21 "For thy word’s sake, and according to thine own heart (that is, ex mero motu ), hast thou done all these things."
73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
Ver. 73. The oath which he sware ] ορκος quasi ερκος , a hedge, which a man may not break; much less will God.
74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
Ver. 74. Might serve him ] Servati sumus ut serviamus. Christ hath therefore broke the devil’s yoke from off our necks, that we may take upon us this sweet yoke, and not carry ourselves as sons of Belial. Serve we must still, but after another manner, as the Israelites did, when brought out of the Egyptian bondage; yet thou shalt keep this service, saith Moses, Exodus 12:25 .
In holiness and righteousness ] These two make up one perfect pair of compasses, which can take the true latitude of a Christian heart.
75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
Ver. 75. Before him ] The sense of God’s presence makes men conscientiously obedient to both tables of the law. Cave spectat Cato, was a watchword among the Romans. Noli peccare, Deus videt, Angeli astant, &c. Take heed what thou doest, God beholds thee, angels observe thee, &c.
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;
Ver. 76. And thou, child ] scil. qui nunc tantillus es, in virum magnum evades: Though little, thou shalt prove great.
Thou shalt go before the face of the Lord ] Any relation to whom ennobleth, and advanceth all worth.
77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
Ver. 77. To give knowledge ] Not by infusion, Daniel 1:17 , but by instruction. See the dignity and duty of ministers.
78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
Ver. 78. Whereby the day spring ] Or as Beza rendereth it, the branch ( ανατολη ) from on high, not from beneath, as other plants or branches. So the anchor of hope entereth not into the deep, but into that within the veil, Hebrews 6:19 .
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.
Ver. 79. That sit in darkness ] This imports, 1. continuance; 2. content.
To guide our feet ] The superstitious pagans thought that their goddess Vibilia kept them in their right way when they travelled: but we have a better guide to God. Arnob. advers. Gent. lib, 4.
80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.
Ver. 80. And the child grew ] Though his meat was but coarse, and not so nourishing. The blessing of God is the staff of bread: bread would no more nourish without it, than a piece of earth.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 1". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany