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17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations".

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SECTION X.

The Angels appear to the Shepherds".

LUKE ii. 8-20.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abid- Bethlehem. Before Val- ing in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. gar Ara, 5.

In the first fourteen the people of Israel were under prophets in the second under kings-in the third under the Asmonæan priests. The first fourteen brought their kingdom to glory, under the reign of David; the second to misery, in the captivity of Babylon; and the third to glory again, under the Messiahship of Christ. The first division begins with Abraham, who received the promise; and ends with David, who received it again with greater clearness. The second begins with the building of the temple, and ends with its destruction. The third opens with a deliverance from temporal enemies, and return from captivity, and terminates in their spiritual delivery from every enemy by Christ; to whom each successive generation pointed as the Prophet-King-and Priest of his People. See also Lightfoot, vol. i. p. 418.

25 This too might have been expected, that when the Messiah was born, some visible expression of angelic joy and sympathy would be demonstrated at the mercy of God displayed towards the human race. To the angels of heaven the system of Redemption is represented as a subject of surprise and astonishment. In the cherubic emblems the angels are drawn as bending over the ark: and, in allusion to the cause of this position, we are expressly told " which things the angels desire to look into (a)."

The address of the angel is formed with peculiar allusion to the plan of redemption. Behold I bring you, who are Jews, the favoured sons of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the chosen people of God-I bring you tidings of great joy. But this great joy shall not be confined to you-it shall be to all the nations; for the desire of all nations is come-the Christ-the Messiah is born. Although the Saviour of all mankind, he is more especially your Saviour. Unto you is born, this very day, in a city of your former king, the Saviour, which is Christ the Lord; or more properly Messiah, the Jehovah angel, of your fathers.

At every step of our progress into the magnificent world of the Christian Revelation, we meet with new proofs of one wise scheme of Almighty Providence in accomplishing the salvation of man-Lord, what is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou so regardest him. When the long promised Christ is born, the universe seems to be agitated. The

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9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and Bethlehem. riod, 4709. the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they gar Era, 5. were sore afraid.

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10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

age of miracles, of prophecy, of supernatural vision, of angelic
appearances returns. But to whom does the Almighty vouch-
safe to reveal himself: not to Augustus at Rome, not to Herod at
Jerusalem: not to the Philosopher who depended on his reason,
or the Pharisee who relied on his traditions, and forgot the spirit
of his Scriptures! At the creation of the world the sons of God
had shouted for joy, (Job xxxviii. 7.): at the reconciliation of
the world, the joyful tidings were to be given to all people, and
the sons of God again descend as the delighted and exulting
Messengers. They appear to the shepherds in the field, to the
humble, the poor, the unprejudiced, and good. The world
is buried in sleep, and unconcerned, though God himself was
present the shepherds, removed from all temporal distinc-
tions, are awake, watchful, and obedient; and receive the good
tidings of great joy, listening to the song of the heavenly host,
saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace,
good-will toward men, The glory of the Shechinah, the visible
manifestation of the presence of God, is now beheld for the
first time during many centuries (b), and the heavenly
multitude were the attendants of our blessed Lord when he left
the glory of his Father, to enter on the scene of his humili-
ation and suffering, for which his mortal body was now pre-
pared. The Logos, or the divine nature, might at this time
perhaps have united itself to the body ordained to receive it.
It might now only have left the glory in which it had taber-
nacled in heaven. That which was within the womb of the
Virgin was human only: a human body, and a human soul. It
was perfect man. That which was divine might have been only
united to the body in this state, when the perfect child was
born. Then the perfect God became united to the perfect man,
a reasonable soul, and human flesh subsisting.

Dr. Lardner, in his treatise, whether the Logos supplied the
place of a human soul in the body of Christ, confounds the
twofold nature.

(α) 1 Pet. i. 12. εις ἅ ἐπεθυμᾶσιν ἄγγελοι παρακύψαι. (6) The expression in the original δόξα κυρία περιέλαμψεν αυτες, is the same as the Hebrew, the Shechinah, or emblem or token of the presence of the divine Majesty, which appeared so often to the Patriarchs, in the earlier ages of the world. Bechai in Legem, fol. 100. 1. Apparitio Majestatis divinæ in Scriptura dicitur, GLORIA DOMINI, stilo vero sapientum Shechinah: et huc pertinent loca Exod. xxiv. 16. and Ps. lxxxv. 10. Schoetgen. Hora Hebraicæ, vol. i. p. 542, and p. 261. Jalkut Rubeni, fol.2.

Julian Pe15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away Bethlehem riod, 4709 Before the from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Vulgar Era, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known

5.

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 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.

SECTION XI.

The Circumcision ".

LUKE ii. 21.

21 And when eight days were accomplished for the Temple of circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, Jerusalemwhich was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

SECTION XII.

The Purification-Presentation of Christ in the Temple,
where he is acknowledged by Simeon and Anna.

LUKE ii. 22-39.

22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

* The Messiah being now born into the world as a man, be came subject to the law of Moses, that he might fulfil all righteousness: and thereby be able, as the perfect sacrifice, to redeem those who had violated that law. At the usual time, therefore, and with the ceremonies appointed for the Jews, he received the name which designated him as man in all respects like unto us, sin only excepted. The name Christ, or the anointed, was given him from above. He was now called Jesus, the Saviour, who in the likeness of sinful flesh was born to obey, and to atone. By the circumcision also he was taken, as a man, into covenant with his Father, whose glory he had se lately left.

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28 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male Temple of that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) Jerusalem. 24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons".

25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ 28.

27 Whiston, contrary to the united opinions of Lightfoot, Doddridge, Newcome, Lardner, Michaelis, Pilkington, and others, has placed the offering of the Magi before the purification. If he had assigned sufficient reasons for this difference, it had been entitled to more attention: but it is certain if the reputed parents of Christ had had the power, they would have had with it the most anxious wish, to conform with the utmost scrupulousness to the law on this occasion; had the Magi, therefore, presented their gifts before the purification, they would doubtless have offered a lamb, instead of the sacrifice of the poorest of the people, a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons.

28 The prophecy of Simeon, who is supposed by Lightfoot to have been the father of the celebrated teacher Gamaliel, completes the evidence in favour of the Messiahship of Christ, derived from the return of the spirit of prophecy. It is not certain whether Anna spake by the spirit of prophecy; or only expressed her conviction of the truth, from hearing and studying the evidences already afforded to the reflecting and pious, in proof of the claims of our Lord. The glory of the second temple now appeared in it for the first time. The miraculous power of his Holy Father attended his entrance there; and though an infant, he was openly acknowledged by the inspired effusions of the most eminent among the Jews for learning, piety, and obedience to the law. The most satisfactory and irresistible evidence was given, on all occasions, to those who really waited, in joyful expectation, for that Saviour who should give redemption to Israel, and deliver them, according to their own ideas, from the power of the Romans. For among the Jews the human and divine character, and actions, of the expected Saviour were much blended (a). Every testimony which had satisfied and confirmed their fathers in the faith, had been now vouchsafed to them: the spirit of prophecythe vision of angels-the return of miracles and of dreamsIf greater evidence than this had been afforded-if the more public and stupendous miracles afterwards wrought by our blessed Saviour, had taken place at this time, the silent and tranquil obedience of our Lord, (the most difficult of any perhaps) would have been interrupted before the time, by the homage, the wonder, the persecuting hatred and jealousy of the Jewish people. The time was not yet fully come, when his divinity and power were to be publicly manifested. Before he preached to others, he became perfect himself. The root was planted in the dry ground of retired and obscure life, and

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riod, 4709.

Before the Vulgar Æra,

5.

27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and Temple of when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him Jerusalem. after the custom of the law,

28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,

29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:

30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,

31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel*; and for a sign which shall be spoken against.

35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four

from this unkindly soil it became the tree of life, yielding its
fruits for "the healing of the nations."

(a) I apprehend (says Archdeacon Blomfield,) that the true state of
the case may be this The Jews knew from their Scriptures that the
promised Messiah was to be of the race of David; they knew also that
he was the Son of God, the same Being who had guarded them in the
wilderness, and who had descended in the Shechinah. That these two
qualifications should be at one and the same time united in the same
person, was perhaps a doctrine of which they found it difficult to give
a satisfactory account. They probably expected that the Messiah
would not manifest his divine character, till he should have fulfilled all
the particulars predicted of him, as the Son of David, and his kingdom
should be fully established. This notion will perhaps solve some diffi-
culties, which present themselves after considering the treatises of Allix
and Wilson. Blomfield. Traditional Knowledge of Jewish Tradition,
&c. p. 35, note.

* One consolation the house of Israel may derive from the testimony of the prophet Simeon. The Child of whom he spake was set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel. It is not necessary to confine the meaning of the words to the primary reception or rejection of our Saviour by the Jews of that age. Christ is set both for the fall and rising again of the whole house of Israel. The time may not perhaps be far distant when the veil shall be taken from their eyes, and in acknowledging a spiritual Messiah, they will no longer either expect, or desire a mere temporal deliverer. Then will they restore the temple on Mount Sion, and all the nations of the world will again resort to Jerusalem, the joy of the whole earth. Glorious things shall be spoken of thee thou city of God.

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