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PREFACE TO THE GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE.

put on the expression, "in the gospel;" which rather denotes, in preaching the gospel, than in writing the history of its author. Lardner has taken notice of allusions to some passages in this gospel to be found in some of the apostolic fathers; and there are evident quotations from it, though without naming the author, in Justin Martyr, and the epistle of the churches of Vienne and Lyons. Of Tatian's Harmony of the Gospels, composed a little after the middle of the second century, see the introduction to the gospels, p. 3. Irenæus, not long after, mentions all the evangelists by name, arranging them according to the order wherein they wrote, which is the same with that universally given them throughout the Christian world to this day; and, when speaking of Luke, he recites many particulars which are peculiar to that gospel. From that time downward the four evangelists are often mentioned; and whatever spurious narratives have from time to time appeared, they have not been able to bear a comparison with those, in respect either of antiquity, or of intrinsic excellence. Early in the third century, Ammonius also wrote a Harmony of the four Gospels. As these were at that time, and had been from their first publication, so they continue to this day, to be regarded as the great foundations of the Christian faith.

The gospel by Luke has supplied us with many interesting particulars, which had been omitted by both his predecessors, Matthew and Mark. From him we learn whatever relates to the birth of John the Baptist; the annunciation; and other important circumstances concerning the nativity of the Messiah; the occasion of Joseph's being then in Bethlehem; the vision granted to the shepherds; the early testimony of Simeon and Anna; the wonderful manifestation of our Lord's proficiency in knowledge when only twelve years old; his age at the commencement of his ministry, connected with the year of the reigning emperor. He has given us, also, an account of several memorable incidents and cures which had been overlooked by the rest; the conversion of Zaccheus the publican; the cure of the woman who had been bowed down for eighteen years, and of the dropsical man; the cleansing of the ten lepers; the repulse he met with when about to enter a Samaritan city; and the instructive rebuke he gave on that occasion to two of his disciples, for their intemperate zeal; also, the affecting interview he had, after his resurrection, with two of his disciples, in the way to Emmaus, and at that village. Luke has likewise added many edifying parables to those which had been recorded by the other evangelists. Of this number are the parable of the creditor who had two debtors; of the rich fool who hoarded up his increase, and, when he had not one day to live, vainly exulted in the prospect of many happy years; of the rich man and Lazarus; of the reclaimed profligate; of the Pharisee and the publican praying in the temple; of the judge who was prevailed on by a widow's importunity, though he feared not God, nor regarded man; of the barren fig-tree; of the compassionate Samaritan; and several others; most of which so early a writer as Irenæus has specified as peculiarly belonging to this gospel; and has thereby shown to all ages, without intending it, that it is, in every thing material, the same book which had ever been distinguished by the name of the evangelist till his day, and remains so distinguished to ours.

In regard to Luke's character as a writer it is evident, that, though the same general quality of style, an unaffected simplicity, predominates in all the evangelists, they are nevertheless distinguished from one another. Luke abounds in Hebraisms as much as any of them; yet it must be acknow.. ledged, that there are also more Grecisms in his language than in that of any of the rest. The truth is, there is greater variety in his style, which is probably to be ascribed to this circumstance,-hist having been more, and for a longer time, conversant among the Gentiles than any other evangelist. His ordinary place of abode, if not the place of his birth, appears to have been Antioch, the capital of Syria, the seat of government, where people of the first distinction of the province had their residence, and to which there was a great resort of strangers. Here the Greek language had long prevailed. Besides, Luke's occupation, as a physician, may very probably have occasioned his

PREFACE TO THE GOSPEL OF SAINT LUKE.

greater intercourse with those of higher rank. Not that the profession itself was then in great esteem in that country; for it has been justly observed, that in Rome, as well as in Syria, slaves who gave early signs of quickness of parts and manual dexterity, were often instructed in physic, who, if they proved successful, were commonly rewarded with their freedom. That Luke himself, whatever may have been his early condition in life, was, when a Christian minister, a freeman and master of his time, is evident from his attendance on the Apostle Paul, in his peregrinations for the advancement of the gospel. But the profession of medicine and surgery (for these two were then commonly united) not only proved the occasion of a more general intercourse with society, but served as a strong inducement to employ some time in reading. This may sufficiently account for any superiority this evangelist may be thought to possess above the rest in point of language.

To conclude: though we have no reason to consider Luke as, upon the whole, more observant of the order of time than the other evangelists, he has been at more pains than any of them to ascertain the dates of some of the most memorable events, on which, in a great measure, depend the dates of all the rest. In some places, however, without regard to order, he gives a number of detached precepts and instructive lessons, one after another, which probably have not been spoken on the same occasion, but are introduced as they occurred to the writer's memory, that nothing of moment might be forgotten. In regard to the latter part of the life, and to the death of this evangelist, antiquity has not furnished us with any accounts which can be relied on. See Macknight and Campbell. 334

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THE GOSPEL

ACCORDING TO

SAINT LUKE.

CHAPTER I.

In this chapter we have, (1,) Luke's preface to his gospel, which he dedicates to his friend Theophilus, 1-4. (2,) A short account of Zacharias and Elisabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, 5–7. (3,) The appearance of the 'Angel Gabriel to Zacharias, giving him notice of the birth of a son, and predicting the important office he should sustain, 8–17. (4,) The chastisement inflicted on Zacharias for his unbelief, 18–23. (5,) Elisabeth's conception, and acknowledgments of the Lord's goodness to her, 24, 25. (6,) Gabriel's annunciation of the birth of Christ to the Virgin Mary, and her ready belief thereof, 26–38. (7,) The joyful meeting of Elisabeth and Mary, and their praises and prophecies, 39–56. (8,) The birth, circumcision, and naming of John the Baptist, 57-66. (9,) Zacharias's song of praise and predictions on that occasion, 67–79. (10,) A short account of John the Baptist's private life, 80.

A. M. 4051. FORASMUCH as many have || order a declaration of those things which A.M.4051. taken in hand to set forth in are most surely believed among us,

A. D. 47.

NOTES ON CHAPTER I.

A. D. 47.

falsehood, may, after the genuine gospels were geVerses 1, 2. Forasmuch as many have taken in nerally known and read, be easily accounted for. hand-Who they were to whom the apostle here At midnight, the glimmering of the taper is not alludes, who had, from vague reports, (for so his without its use, but it can make no conceivable addiwords seem to imply,) rashly published narratives tion to the light of the meridian sun. It deserves, not entirely to be depended on, it is impossible for however, to be remarked by the way, that whatever us now to discover. It is true, the word eжexεipnoav, may be thought to be insinuated here by the evanhave undertaken, used here by Luke, does not ne- gelist, concerning the imperfect information of forcessarily imply any censure on the writers of such mer historians, there is no hint given of their bad accounts, but the scope of the place seems to imply designs. It is justly observed here by Dr. Campit, if not on all, at least on some of them: for if all, bell, that the very circumstance of the number of or even most of them, had furnished true narratives, such narratives, at so early a period, is itself an evithe number was an argument rather against a new dence that there was something in the first publicaattempt than for it. Grotius justly observes, that || tion of the Christian doctrine, which, notwithstandthe spurious gospels, mentioned by ancient writers, ing the many unfavourable circumstances whereare forgeries manifestly of a later date than the time with it was attended, excited the curiosity and awaof Luke. That there were, however, some such per- kened the attention of persons of all ranks and deformances at the time when Luke began to write, nominations; insomuch that every narrative, which the words of this evangelist are a sufficient evidence: pretended to furnish men with any additional infor, to consider this book merely on the footing of a formation concerning so extraordinary a personage human composition, what writer of common sense as Jesus, seems to have been read with avidity. To would introduce himself to the public by observing set forth in order a declaration—Greek, avarašgodaι the numerous attempts that had been made by for- dinynow, to compose a narrative; of those things mer writers, some of whom at least had not been at which are most surely believed among us—As the due pains to be properly informed, if he himself great foundation of our common faith. The exwere actually the first, or even the second, or the pression, πраɣμатшν, refers not only to the things third, who had written on the subject; and if one of believed, but also to the things performed by Christ the two who preceded him had better opportunities and his apostles; this first history of Luke being deof knowing than he, and the other fully as good? signed to record what Jesus himself said or did, But the total disappearance of those spurious wri- || Acts i. 1; and his second, to relate the acts of the tings, probably no better than hasty collections of apostles: and the participle, εñλnpopopnμevwv, transflying rumours, containing a mixture of truth and lated, most surely believed, is rather to be understood

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Luke's preface and dedication

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2 a Even as they delivered them || perfect understanding of all things A. M. 4051. unto us, which from the beginning from the very first, to write unto thee were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the word; in order, most excellent Theophilus,

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3 It seemed good to me also, having had

a Hebrews ii. 3; 1 Peter v. 1; 2 Peter i. 16; 1 John i. 1. b Mark i. 1; John xv. 27.

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4 fThat thou mightest know the certainty

cActs xv. 19, 25, 28; 1 Cor. vii. 40.- d Acts xi. 4.———————e Acts i. 1. f John xx. 31.

as referring to the fulness of that evidence with stand thus: Seeing many have written from the inwhich the things were attended, than to the confi- || formation of the eye-witnesses and ministers, I, who dence with which they were credited. It not only from the very first have had perfect knowledge of signifies that the doctrines were taught and the all things, both by conversing with the eye-witnessthings done, but that they were taught and done es, and by being present myself at many of the with such circumstances, as laid a foundation for transactions of Jesus, have thought it incumbent on tλnpopopia τns tiotews, a full assurance of faith, as me to write his history, for the more certain inforto the truth of the doctrines, and the reality of the ||mation of mankind." To write unto thee in order facts. Even as they delivered them, which from the || —Greek, kadɛžns ooɩ ypapai, to write an orderly acbeginning Of Christ's ministry; were eye-witness- || count to thee. So Dr. Doddridge; who observes, es and ministers of the word-Because the persons, according to whose information the writers referred to by Luke composed their histories, are said to have been eye-witnesses as well as ministers of the word, (T8 λoy8,) several writers have supposed that, by the vord, Luke meant Christ himself, one of whose titles is, the Word, John i. 1, and, the Word of God, Rey. xix. || particularly injurious to the character of Matthew. 13. Others, however, by the word, understand the transactions of our Lord's public life; his sermons, miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension, because these things were the great subjects of the preaching of the apostles, who were eye and ear witnesses of them. And to Christians these were matters of such moment, that the knowledge, consideration, || and remembrance of them, were the great business and comfort of their lives. It is no wonder, therefore, that those who were able should set down in writing such particulars of them as they had learned, whether from the conversations or sermons of the apostles and eye-witnesses. But histories thus drawn up, though they might contain many things highly worthy of the notice of Christians, must needs have been defective both in their matter and manner. Wherefore, Luke, having attained a thorough || knowledge of our Lord's history from the very beginning, thought fit to give a more full, regular, and connected account of it than had hitherto appeared, as he signifies in the next verse.

It is chiefly on the authority of this clause that Le Clerc, and many other modern harmonizers (of the gospels) have thought, as Beza also did, that all the other gospels are to be reduced to the order of Luke wherever they differ from it: a conclusion which I || apprehend to be an occasion of many errors, and

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The foundation of it is very precarious; since it is evident this evangelist might, with great propriety, be said to have given an orderly account of the his||tory of Christ, as the leading facts [such as his conception, birth, childhood, baptism, preaching, miracles, passion, resurrection, ascension] are placed in their due series, though some particulars are transposed." Most excellent Theophilus-As the word Theophilus signifies lover of God, some have thought it is not a proper name here, but a general title, applicable to every true Christian. But, as Dr. Campbell justly observes, if the evangelist meant to address his discourse to all pious Christians, and had no one individually in view, he would certainly have put his intention beyond all doubt, by using the plural number, and saying, крarı50i Vɛopiñoi, most excellent lovers of God. Besides, to have addressed all true Christians under the appearance of bespeaking the attention of an individual, does not seem agreeable to the simplicity of style used in the gospel; and must have appeared to the writer himself as Verses 3, 4. It seemed good to me also-That is, what could not fail to be misunderstood by most I have judged it to be my duty; Luke, doubtless, readers, proper names of such a form as Theophilus, was moved by the Holy Ghost to write his history, and even this very name, being common in Greek as he was also to write in the manner he has done; and Latin authors. The word is, therefore, unbut in both he was moved as a reasonable creature, doubtedly the proper name of a person: and the and not as a machine: having had perfect under- || title, кpariçɛ, most excellent, is given him, not to destanding of all things—Greek, πарηкoλÝÝNKоTI AVÍDEν || Taoi akpibws, having accurately traced all things from their first rise: "Luke might have this thorough knowledge by intimate conversation with the apostles, and particularly with Paul, whose companion he was for a long time; or perhaps he was pre- || sent himself at a number of transactions which he has recorded. The assurance with which he speaks of his own knowledge of these things, leads us to think that he was an eye-witness of some of them. On this supposition, his reasoning in this preface will be more conclusive than on any other, and will

scribe his character, although doubtless he was a truly pious and excellent Christian, but on account of his office or rank in civil society, the same title being commonly given to persons in high stations of life; and particularly to the Roman governors. Accordingly Paul uses it in addressing Felix and Festus. This Theophilus, as the ancients inform us, was a person of eminent quality at Alexandria. In Acts i. 1, Luke does not give him this title. He was then probably a private man. The evangelist, by inscribing his two books to him, bestowed on him a fame which will last while Christianity subsists.

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7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren; and they both were now well stricken in years.

iGen. vii. 1; xvii. 1; 1 Kings ix. 4; 2 Kings xx. 3; Job i. 1; Acts xxiii. 1; xxiv. 16; Phil. iii. 6.

That thou mightest know-More fully and circum- the course itself, was called εonuɛpia, a name which stantially; the certainty-The exact and certain truth; originally belonged to the Athenian magistrates, who of those things in which thou hast been instructed-being fifty men chosen by lot out of each tribe, and Namely, formerly, by those who had been made the each man governing the city a single day, the days instruments of initiating him into the Christian faith. which any tribe governed, as well as its fifty governThe word karnxnons, here used, doth with great ac- ors succeeding one another, were called ɛpnμɛpiai. curacy express the instructions given to those who|| Now there being a considerable resemblance between were training up for admission to the Christian this division and succession of the Athenian magisChurch, whose name of catechumens was, as it is ||trates, and that of the Jewish priests, the Greek inwell known, derived from hence, and applied with- terpreters of the Old Testament applied the same out any particular regard to the age of the persons name to the courses of the priests, though somewhat concerned. Compare Acts xviii. 25. We are not improperly, as their ministry lasted not for a day to suppose that Luke had the edification of Theophi- || but a week. The course of Abia, (that is, that of lus merely in view, in writing his history; he also || which Abia, or Abijah, was the head in David's time,) doubtless meant it for the instruction of persons || was the eighth. See the notes on 1 Chron. xxiv. 3–10. of all nations and ages into whose hands it should fall.

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Verse 6. They were righteous before God—They were sincerely and really righteous; they were so Verse 5. There was in the days of Herod, the in God's sight, whose judgment, we are sure, is acking of Judea-This is he who is commonly known cording to truth; they approved themselves to him by the name of Herod the Great, a cruel, ambitious who searcheth the heart; and he was graciously man, who, without any title, obtained the crown of pleased to accept them. It is a happy thing when Judea from the Roman senate, to whom he was re- those that are joined to each other in marriage are commended by Mark Antony. Under his govern- both joined to the Lord! And it is especially rement the Jews were very uneasy, because he was a quisite that the priests, the Lord's ministers, should, foreigner. Nevertheless, the Roman generals in with their yoke-fellows, be righteous before God, those parts having given him possession of the that they may be examples to the flock, and give throne, by his own prudence and address he main- them cause of joy. Walking in all the moral comtained himself in it for the space of forty years. || mandments and ceremonial ordinances of the Lord His reign, though celebrated on many accounts, was blameless-Thus they manifested their righteousremarkable for nothing so much as that, toward the ness: it shone forth in the whole course of their conclusion of it, the Messiah and his forerunner were conversation; in every branch of piety and virtue. born. Besides Herod the king, there are two others || How admirable is the character given of this pious of this name mentioned in Scripture, namely, Herod pair! May our behaviour be thus unblameable, and surnamed Antipas, his son, who was inferior to his our obedience thus sincere and universal! The two father both in dignity and dominion, being only a words, evrohaıç kai dikaiwμaoi, here used, are generally tetrarch, and having no dominions but Galilee and interpreted, the former of the moral, the latter of the Perea: it was this Herod that beheaded the Baptist, ceremonial precepts of the divine law. It is certain, and with his men of war mocked our Lord. The however, that they are often taken in a much more other was Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod extensive sense; and that undoubted examples may the king by Aristobulus, and brother to Herodias, be produced, to prove that both terms are used proPhilip's wife. He killed James the apostle with the miscuously in both senses. sword, and imprisoned Peter to please the Jews; Verse 7. And they had no child—The providence and was himself eaten up of worms for his affecting of God so ordering it, that the birth of John the divine honours. Agrippa, before whom Paul pleaded Baptist might be the more remarkable, and might his cause, was the son of this Herod, for which excite the greater attention; because that Elisabeth reason he is commonly called Agrippa. Of the was barren-Even when in the flower of her age. course of Abia—The priests were become so nume- || And they both were now well stricken in years— rous in David's time, that they could not all minister || Here, then, was a double obstacle in the way of their at the tabernacle at once. He therefore divided having children, both the natural barrenness of Elithem into twenty-four courses, or companies, who || sabeth, and the old age of them both; and, consewere to serve in rotation, each company by itself for || quently, a double proof of the supernatural agency a week. The time of their ministration, as well as of God in the birth of John, evidently showing him VOL. I. ( 22 ) 337

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