"shall (t) call his name Emman"uel; which being interpreted, is, 24. ""God with us." Then Joseph,

being raised from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25. and knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son: and he called his name JESUS.

v. 23.

The Circumcision of Christ.

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY God, who madest thy blessed Son to be circum

"thee shall be called the Son of God." The prophet Jeremiah, ch. xxxi. 22. perhaps referring prophetically to the Messiah's miraculous birth, says, "The "Lord hath created a new thing on the "earth, a woman shall compass a man." According to Gen. iii. 15. it was to be the seed of the woman that was to bruise the serpent's head; and it is singular that the Jewish writers, in their comments on the Old Testament, before the birth of Christ, said expressly that his birth should be out of the usual course, without a father. Ber. Rab on Gen. xxxvii. 22. says, "The Redeemer, whom the Lord "shall raise, shall not have a father." R. Joses on Ps. lxxxv. 12. "The genera"tion of the Messiah shall be singular, "not like that of creatures generating in "the world. None shall know the name "of his father, till he come and declare "it." Chandl. Def. 337. So that the expressions, "thou art my Son, this day "have I begotten thee," and, "I will "be to him a Father, and he shall be to

me a Son," may almost be considered as more than figurative. In Gal. iv. 4. St. Paul, in speaking of our redemption, says, "God sent forth his Son, made of 66 a woman," where the words, "made "of a woman," may allude to the peculiarity of his conception.

(t) "Call his name." Not that he should generally pass by that name, but either that he should sometimes be so called, or that he should really be "Emanuel," or "God with us." So, Isaiah ix. 6. it is said prophetically of the Messiah, "his name

shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, "the mighty God, the everlasting Father,

cised, and obedient to the law for man; Grant us the true circumcision of the Spirit, that our hearts and all our members being mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts, we may in all things obey thy blessed will, through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. Rom. iv. 8. BLESSED (u) is the man to whom "the Lord will not (x) impute sin." Cometh this blessedness then upon the (y) circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also?

"the Prince of Peace;" but it was never meant that those should be his ordinary appellations. It was a com mon Hebrew mode of expression to say, that persons should be called what it was meant to express they should really be. See Matt. v. 9.

(u)" Blessed." This is a quotation from Ps. xxxii. 2.

(x)" Impute sin," that is, not bring his sins into account against him. So 2 Cor. v. 19. The gospel mercy is de scribed to be, God's reconciling the "world unto himself, not imputing their



trespasses unto them." One of St. Paul's objects here is to satisfy the Roman converts that the benefits of the gospel were not of right, but of God's mercy; not a debt due to any man's works, (for that every man had sinned, and was therefore subject to punishment, not entitled to reward), but a gift of God's free grace, which he thought proper to vouchsafe to those who had faith, that is, full con fidence in his promises. And as no works, independent of this confidence, would entitle a man to these benefits, he concludes that the observance of the Mosaic institutions, which were a law of works only, was no longer necessary.

(y)" Circumcision." It was a matter of considerable contest, during the time of the apostles, whether the Christian converts were bound to submit to circumcision, and to conform to the other Mosaic rites. The apostles had a meeting upon the point, and decided that they were not, Acts xv. 1 to 30. The spirit and zeal with which St. Paul writes upon this point, and its constant occur

for we say that faith was (z) reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 1. And he received the sign of circumcision; a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised; that he might be the father of all them that (a) believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 12. and the father of circumcision to them who are (b) not of the circumcision only, but who also walk


rence in his Epistles, affords strong internal evidence that the Epistles were written whilst this point continued matter of controversy.

(z) "Reckoned to Abraham." Several instances are mentioned in Genesis of Abraham's faith, or confidence in God's promise. When Abraham complained to God in his old age that he was childless, and that God had given him no seed, and God promised him that he should have seed, and that they should be as numerous as the stars of heaven, Abraham "believed in the Lord, and he (i. e. God)" counted it to him for "righteousness." Gen. xv. 4 to 6. This was before the birth of Ishmael or Isaac ; and Ishmael was born to him when he was 86 years old. Gen. xvi. 16. When Abraham was 99 years old, God gave him another assurance that he should have a son by Sarah his wife, who was then go years old, and long past the ordinary condition of child-bearing and as a token of a covenant between God and Abraham, God instituted the practice of circumcision: and though Abraham appears at first to have doubted, yet as a proof of his confidence in this promise he was immediately circumcised, and so were all the men of his house. Gen.xvii. It is to this latter instance, as St. Paul explains in the 18th and 19th verses of this chapter, that St. Paul here refers. Abraham's merit in preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac, was long after his circumcision. Gen. xxii.

in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had,

being yet uncircumcised. For 13. the promise, that he should be the heir (c) of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed through the (d) law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if (e) they 14. which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect.

The Gospel. Luke ii. 15. AND it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, "Let us now go

(a)" Believe," i. e. have faith, like his. v. 1. (b) "Not of the circumcision only, but," v. 12. &c. i. e. to those who, being circumcised, have faith like Abraham's. The outward sign, circumcision, alone will not do so that he was to be the father of all who, whether circumcised or not, had faith like his, and that they should all be his seed.

(c) "Heir of the world." i. e. Either v. 13. 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 bleffed," which was another of God's promises to Abraham, 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.

(d) "Through the law," i. e. from v. 13. obedience either to the Mosaic, or to any other law.

[ocr errors]

(e)" They which are of the law be heirs." . 14. That is, if the privileges are to be confined to those who have rendered perfect obedience to the Mosaic 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.


"even unto (f) Bethlehem, and "see this thing which is come to

pass, which the Lord hath made 16. "known unto us." And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying 17. in a manger. And when they had

seen it, they made known abroad the (g) saying which was told 18. them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told 19. them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and 20. pondered them in her heart. 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 of

v. 15.


(f) "Bethlehem." See post 52. notes (x) and (y). 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 Bethlehem, or near it, and in the ordinary course of things was not likely to have been there at the time of her delivery; but Cæsar Augustus, the Roman Emperor, had given an order for inrolling all his subjects. 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.

(g) "The saying." "The Angel said "unto them, Fear not, for behold I "bring you good tidings of great joy, "which shall be to all people. For unto

you is born this day, in the City of "David, a Saviour, which is Christ "the Lord. And this shall be a sign "unto you, ye shall find the babe wrap"ped in swaddling clothes, lying in a 66 a manger." Luke ü. 10 to 12.

the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

[The same Collect, Epistle, and Gospel, shall serve for every Day after unto the Epiphany.]

THE EPIPHANY (b); or the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.

The Collect.

O GOD, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only. begotten Son to the Gentiles; know thee now by faith, may Mercifully grant, that we, which

after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. Ephes. iii. 1. For this (i) cause I Paul, the pri

(b) 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 all 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 pecu liarly called his 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 bene. fits 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 Christmas Day, as well as to this festival, Christmas being called the greater, and this the lesser Epiphany,

(i) "For this cause." St. Paul had been stating at large, in the preceding chapter, that under the Christian dispensation the distinction between Jew and Gentile ceased, that both were equally admissible to its privileges, and that all believers, both Jews and Gentiles, constituted one.

[ocr errors]

soner (k) of Jesus Christ for you 2. Gentiles(); 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 (m) mystery; 4. (as I wrote afore in few words,

whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the 5. mystery of Christ,) 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 Spi6. rit; "That the Gentiles should

U. I.

9. 3.



"be fellow-heirs, and of the "same body, and partakers of

church. This is the cause to which St. Paul here alludes, and for this cause, according to verse 14. he 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. (k)"The prisoner," &c. This imports that St. Paul was in custody at the time this Epistle was written and it is supposed to have been written about the year 58, when St. Paul was in confine. ment at Rome.

()" 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 every where "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 for you "Gentiles."

(m) "The mystery." He explains afterwards what was this mystery, viz. "that "the Gentiles should be fellow heirs," &c. He often speaks of this as a mystery, which had been hid from former ages. See Eph.i. 9. and infra note on v.9.

"his promise in Christ by the "Gospel ;" whereof I was made 7. a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than 8. the (n) least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among (0) the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see, what is the fel- 9. lowship (p) of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been (q) hid in God, who created all things (r) by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto 10. the (s) principalities and powers in

"I am

(n) "The least." So St. Paul says v. 8. of himself, 1 Cor. xv. 9, 10. "the least of the apostles, that am not "meet to be called an apostle, because "I persecuted the Church of God."

(o)" Among the Gentiles." St. Paul v. 8. 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, inas"much as I am the apostle of the Gen"tiles." 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."

(p)" Fellowship," i. e. in admitting v. 9. Gentiles as well as Jews; in treating both alike.

(q)" Hid in God." So Rom. xvi. 25. v. 9. 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 "mystery which hath been hid from ages, "and from generations."

(r)" By Jesus Christ." So John i. 3. v. 9. ante 38. and Heb. i. 2. ante 37.

(s)" Principalities and powers in v. 10. "heavenly places," i. e. (perhaps) "the "angels in heaven," from whom (per

heavenly places might be known, by the Church, the manifold wis11. domof God, according to the eter

nal purpose which he purposed in 12. Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and (1) 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 the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Je2. rusalem, saying, "Where is he that

9. 12.

v. 3.

v. 5.


" is born King of the Jews? for 66 we have seen his star in the east, ❝and are come to worship him.”

haps) he may mean this mystery was hitherto concealed; as St. Peter seems also to insinuate, when he says, 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."



() "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 Advo"cate with the Father, Jesus Christ "the righteous." And according to Heb. ix. 24. he" appears in the presence "of God for us."

(u)" Troubled." Herod probably expected that he was to be a temporal king. (x)"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."

(y) "Prophet." Micah v.2. The passage there is, "but thou Bethlehem Ephratah, "though thou be little among the thou"sands 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 everlast66 ing." There was another Bethlehem

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was (u) troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, " In (x) Beth"lehem of Judea for thus it is

written by the (y) prophet, "And "thou Bethlehem, in the land of "Juda, art not the least among "the princes of Juda: for out "of thee shall come a Governor, "that shall rule my people Is"rael." Then Herod, when he had (z) privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what


[ocr errors]

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 transla tion, according to the Septuagint, would be, "a Leader, who shall be the Shepherd to" my people Israel; and then it corresponds with the character foretold of the Messiah, Isaiah xl. II. " he shall feed his flock as

[ocr errors]

a shepherd;" and with Ezek. xxiv. 23. "I will set up one Shepherd over them, " and he shall feed them, even my ser


vant 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: andit 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 62. note (d).

(2) "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

[merged small][ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »