Luke 1

Verse 47. Beheld where he was laid.] The courage and

affection of these holy women cannot be too much admired. The

strength of the Lord is perfected in weakness; for here a timid

man, and a few weak women, acknowledge Jesus in death, when the

strong and the mighty utterly forsook him.

HUMAN strength and human weakness are only names in religion.

The mightiest MAN, in the hour of trial, can do nothing without

the strength of God; and the weakest WOMAN can do all things, if

Christ strengthen her. These truths are sufficiently exemplified

in the case of Peter and all his brother disciples on the one

hand; and Joseph of Arimathea and the two Marys on the other.

And all this is recorded, equally to prevent both presumption and

despair. Reader, let not these examples be produced before thee

in vain.




-Usherian year of the World, 3999.

-Alexandrian year of the World, 5497.

-Antiochian year of the World, 5487.

-Constantinopolitan AEra of the World, 5503.

-Rabbinical year of the World, 3754.

-Year of the Julian Period, 4708.

-AEra of the Seleucidae, 307.

-Year before the Christian AEra, 6.

-Year of the CXCIII. Olympiad, 3.

-Year of the building of Rome, 748.

-Year of the Julian AEra, 41.

-Year of the Caesarean AEra of Antioch, 44.

-Year of the Spanish AEra, 34.

-Year of the Paschal Cycle or Dionysian Period, 529.

-Year of the Christian Lunar Cycle, or Golden Number, 15.

-Year of the Rabbinical Lunar Cycle, 12.

-Year of the Solar Cycle, 4.

-Dominical Letter, C.

-Epact, 4.

-Year of the Emperor Augustus, 25.

-Consuls, D. Laelius Balbus, and C. Antistius Vetus, from January

1 to July 1; and Imp. C. Julius Caesar Octav. Augustus XII. and

L. Cornelius Sulla, for the remainder of the year. The reason

why two sets of Consuls appear in this Chronology is this: the

Consuls were changed every year in July, therefore, taking in

the whole year, four Consuls necessarily appear: two for the

first six months, and two for the latter half of the year.


The preface, or St. Luke's private epistle to Theophilus, 1-4.

The conception and birth of John Baptist foretold by the angel

Gabriel, 5-17.

Zacharias doubts, 18.

And the angel declares he shall be dumb, till the accomplishment

of the prediction, 19-25.

Six months after the angel Gabriel appears to the virgin Mary,

and predicts the miraculous conception and birth of Christ,


Mary visits her cousin Elisabeth, 39-45.

Mary's song of exultation and praise, 46-56.

John the Baptist is born, 57-66.

The prophetic song of his father Zacharias, 67-79.

John is educated in the desert, 80.


Verse 1. Many have taken in hand] Great and remarkable

characters have always many biographers. So it appears it was with

our Lord: but as most of these accounts were inaccurate, recording

as facts things which had not happened; and through ignorance or

design mistaking others, especially in the place where St. Luke

wrote; it seemed good to the Holy Spirit to inspire this holy man

with the most correct knowledge of the whole history of our Lord's

birth, preaching, miracles, sufferings, death, resurrection, and

ascension, that the sincere, upright followers of God might have a

sure foundation, on which they might safely build their faith.

See Clarke on Lu 9:10.

Most surely believed among us] Facts confirmed by the fullest

evidence-τωνπεπληροφορημενωνπραγματων. Every thing that had been

done or said by Jesus Christ was so public, so plain, and so

accredited by thousands of witnesses, who could have had no

interest in supporting an imposture, as to carry the fullest

conviction, to the hearts of those who heard and saw him, of the

divinity of his doctrine, and the truth of his miracles.

Verse 2. Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the

beginning were eye-witnesses] Probably this alludes to the Gospels

of Matthew and Mark, which it is likely were written before St.

Luke wrote his, and on the models of which he professes to write

his own; and απαρχης, from the beginning, must mean, from the

time that Christ first began to proclaim the glad tidings of the

kingdom; and αυτοπται, eye-witnesses, must necessarily signify,

those who had been with him from the beginning, and consequently

had the best opportunities of knowing the truth of every fact.

Ministers of the word] τουλογου. Some suppose that our blessed

Lord is meant by this phrase; as ολογος, the Word or Logos,

is his essential character in Joh 1:1, &c.; but it does not

appear that any of the inspired penmen ever use the word in this

sense except John himself; for here it certainly means the

doctrine of Christ; and in this sense λογος is frequently used

both by the evangelists and apostles.

Verse 3. Having had perfect understanding] παρηκολουθηκοτι

ανωθεν, Having accurately traced up-entered into the very spirit

of the work, and examined every thing to the bottom; in

consequence of which investigation, I am completely convinced of

the truth of the whole. Though God gives his Holy Spirit to all

them who ask him, yet this gift was never designed to set aside

the use of those faculties with which he has already endued the

soul, and which are as truly his gifts as the Holy Spirit itself

is. The nature of inspiration, in the case of St. Luke, we at once

discover: he set himself, by impartial inquiry and diligent

investigation, to find the whole truth, and to relate nothing but

the truth; and the Spirit of God presided over and directed his

inquiries, so that he discovered the whole truth, and was

preserved from every particle of error.

From the very first] ανωθεν, from their origin. Some think

ανωθεν should, in this place, be translated from above; and that

it refers to the inspiration by which St. Luke wrote. I prefer our

translation, or, from the origin, which several good critics

contend for, and which meaning it has in some of the best Greek

writers. See Kypke.

Theophilus] As the literal import of this word is friend of God,

θεουφιλος, some have supposed that under this name Luke comprised

all the followers of Christ, to whom, as friends of God, he

dedicated this faithful history of the life, doctrine, death, and

resurrection of our Lord. But this interpretation appears to have

little solidity in it; for, if all the followers of Christ are

addressed, why is the singular number used? and what good end

could there be accomplished by using a feigned name? Besides,

κρατιστε, most excellent, could never be applied in this way,

for it evidently designates a particular person, and one probably

distinguished by his situation in life; though this does not

necessarily follow from the title, which was often given in the

way of friendship. Theophilus appears to have been some very

reputable Greek or Roman, who was one of St. Luke's disciples. The

first four verses seem a private epistle, sent by the evangelist

with this history, which, having been carefully preserved by

Theophilus, was afterwards found and published with this Gospel.

Verse 4. Wherein thou hast been instructed.] κατηχηθης-In which

thou hast been catechized. It appears that Theophilus had already

received the first elements of the Christian doctrine, but had not

as yet been completely grounded in them. That he might know the

certainty of the things in which he had been thus catechized, by

having all the facts and their proofs brought before him in order,

the evangelist sent him this faithful and Divinely inspired

narrative. Those who content themselves with that knowledge of the

doctrines of Christ which they receive from catechisms and

schoolmasters, however important these elementary instructions

may be, are never likely to arrive at such a knowledge of the

truth as will make them wise unto salvation, or fortify them

against the attacks of infidelity and irreligion. Every man should

labour to acquire the most correct knowledge, and indubitable

certainty, of those doctrines on which he stakes his eternal

salvation. Some suppose that St. Luke refers here to the imperfect

instruction which Theophilus had received from the defective

Gospels to which he refers in Lu 1:1.

Verse 5. In the days of Herod, the king] This was Herod,

surnamed the Great, the son of Antipater, an Idumean by birth, who

had professed himself a proselyte to the Jewish religion, but

regarded no religion, farther than it promoted his secular

interests and ambition. Thus, for the first time, the throne of

Judah was filled by a person not of Jewish extraction, who had

been forced upon the people by the Roman government. Hence it

appears plain that the prophecy of Jacob, Ge 49:10, was now

fulfilled; for the sceptre had departed from Judah: and now was

the time, according to another prophecy, to look for the governor

from Bethlehem, who should rule and feed the people of Israel:

Mic 5:1, 2. See a large account of the family of the Herods, in

Clarke's note on "Mt 2:1". This was before Christ six years.

The course of Abiah] When the sacerdotal families grew very

numerous, so that all could not officiate together at the

tabernacle, David divided them into twenty-four classes, that they

might minister by turns, 1Ch 24:1, &c., each family serving a

whole week, 2Ki 11:7; 2Ch 23:8.

Abiah was the eighth in the order in which they had been

originally established: 1Ch 24:10. These

dates and persons are particularly mentioned as a full

confirmation of the truth of the facts themselves; because any

person, at the time this Gospel was written, might have satisfied

himself by applying to the family of John the Baptist, the family

of our Lord, or the surrounding neighbours. What a full proof of

the Gospel history! It was published immediately after the time in

which these facts took place; and among the very people, thousands

of whom had been eye-witnesses of them; and among those, too,

whose essential interest it was to have discredited them if they

could; and yet, in all that age, in which only they could have

been contradicted with advantage, no man ever arose to call them

in question! What an absolute proof was this that the thing was

impossible; and that the truth of the Gospel history was

acknowledged by all who paid any attention to the evidences it


Of the daughters of Aaron] That is, she was of one of the

sacerdotal families. This shows that John was most nobly

descended: his father was a priest and his mother the daughter of

a priest; and thus, both by father and mother, he descended from

the family of Amram, of whom came Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, the

most illustrious characters in the whole Jewish history.

Verse 6. They were both righteous] Upright and holy in all their

outward conduct in civil life.

Before God] Possessing the spirit of the religion they

professed; exercising themselves constantly in the presence of

their Maker, whose eye, they knew, was upon all their conduct, and

who examined all their motives.

Walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord

blameless.] None being able to lay any evil to their charge. They

were as exemplary and conscientious in the discharge of their

religious duties as they were in the discharge of the offices of

civil life. What a sacred pair! they made their duty to God, to

their neighbour, and to themselves, walk constantly hand in hand.

See Clarke on Mt 3:15. Perhaps

εντολαι, commandments, may here mean the decalogue; and

δικαιωματα, ordinances, the ceremonial and judicial laws which

were delivered after the decalogue: as all the precepts delivered

from Ex 21:1ff to Ex 24:1ff are termed

δικαιωματα, judgments or ordinances.

Verse 7. Both were now well stricken in years.] By the order of

God, sterility and old age both met in the person of Elisabeth,

to render the birth of a son (humanly speaking) impossible. This

was an exact parallel to the case of Sarah and Abraham,

Ge 11:30; 17:17. Christ must (by the miraculous power of God)

be born of a virgin: whatever was connected with, or referred to,

his incarnation must be miraculous and impressive. Isaac was his

grand type, and therefore must be born miraculously-contrary to

the common course and rule of nature: Abraham was a hundred years

of age, Sarah was ninety, Ge 17:17, and

it had CEASED to be with Sarah AFTER THE MANNER OF WOMEN,

Ge 18:11, and therefore, from her

age and state, the birth of a child must, according to nature,

have been impossible; and it was thus; that it might be

miraculous. John the Baptist was to be the forerunner of Christ;

his birth, like that of Isaac, must be miraculous, because, like

the other, it was to be a representation of the birth of Christ;

therefore his parents were both far advanced in years, and

besides, Elisabeth was naturally barren. The birth of these three

extraordinary persons was announced nearly in the same way. God

himself foretells the birth of Isaac, Ge 17:16. The angel of the

Lord announces the birth of John the Baptist, Lu 1:13; and six

months after, the angel Gabriel, the same angel, proclaims to Mary

the birth of Christ! Man is naturally an inconsiderate and

incredulous creature: he must have extraordinary things to

arrest and fix his attention; and he requires well-attested

miracles from God, to bespeak and confirm his faith. Every person

who has properly considered the nature of man must see that the

whole of natural religion, so termed, is little else than a

disbelief of all religion.

Verse 8. Before God] In the temple, where God used to manifest

his presence, though long before this time he had forsaken it;

yet, on this important occasion, the angel of his presence had

visited it.

Verse 9. His lot was, &c.] We are informed in the Talmud, that

it was the custom of the priests to divide the different functions

of the sacerdotal office among themselves by lot: and, in this

case, the decision of the lot was, that Zacharias should at that

time burn the incense before the Lord, in the holy place.

Verse 10. The whole multitude-were praying] The incense was

itself an emblem of the prayers and praises of the people of God:

see Ps 141:2; Re 8:1. While, therefore, the

rite is performing by the priest, the people are employed in the

thing signified. Happy the people who attend to the spirit as well

as the letter of every divine institution! Incense was burnt twice

a day in the temple, in the morning and in the evening,

Ex 30:7, 8; but the evangelist does not specify the time of the

day in which this transaction took place. It was probably in the


Verse 11. There appeared-an angel of the Lord] There had been

neither prophecy nor angelic ministry vouchsafed to this people

for about 400 years. But now, as the Sun of righteousness is about

to arise upon them, the day-spring from on high visits them, that

they may be prepared for that kingdom of God which was at hand.

Every circumstance here is worthy of remark: 1. That an angel

should now appear, as such a favour had not been granted for 400

years. 2. The person to whom this angel was sent-one of the

priests. The sacerdotal office itself pointed out the Son of God

till he came: by him it was to be completed, and in him it was to

be eternally established:-Thou art a priest for ever, Ps 110:4.

3. The place in which the angel appeared-Jerusalem; out of which

the word of the Lord should go forth, Isa 2:3, and not at

Hebron, in the hill country of Judea, where Zacharias lived,

Lu 1:39, which was the ordinary residence of the priests,

Jos 21:11, where there could have been few witnesses of this

interposition of God, and the effects produced by it. 4. The place

where he was when the angel appeared to him-in the temple, which

was the place where God was to be sought; the place of his

residence, and a type of the human nature of the blessed Jesus,

Joh 2:21. 5. The

time in which this was done-the solemn hour of public prayer.

God has always promised to be present with those who call upon

him. When the people and the priest go hand in hand, and heart

with heart, to the house of God, the angel of his presence shall

surely accompany them, and God shall appear among them. 6. The

employment of Zacharias when the angel appeared-he was burning

incense, one of the most sacred and mysterious functions of the

Levitical priesthood, and which typified the intercession of

Christ: confer Heb 7:25, with Heb 9:24. 7. The

long continued and publicly known dumbness of the priest, who

doubted the word thus miraculously sent to him from the Lord: a

solemn intimation of what God would do to all those who would not

believe in the Lord Jesus. Every mouth shall be stopped.

Verse 12. Zacharias-was troubled] Or, confounded at his sudden

and unexpected appearance; and fear fell upon him, lest this

heavenly messenger were come to denounce the judgments of God

against a faithless and disobedient people, who had too long and

too well merited them.

Verse 13. Thy prayer is heard] This probably refers, 1st, to the

frequent prayers which he had offered to God for a son; and 2dly,

to those which he had offered for the deliverance and consolation

of Israel. They are all heard-thou shalt have a son, and Israel

shall be saved. If fervent faithful prayers be not immediately

answered, they should not be considered as lost; all such are

heard by the Lord, are registered in heaven, and shall be answered

in the most effectual way, and in the best time. Answers to prayer

are to be received by faith; but faith should not only accompany

prayer while offered on earth, but follow it all its way to the

throne of grace, and stay with it before the throne till dismissed

with its answer to the waiting soul.

Thou shalt call his name John.] For the proper exposition of

this name, See Clarke on Mr 1:4.

Verse 14. Thou shalt have joy, &c.] εσταιχαρασοι, He will be

joy and gladness to thee. A child of prayer and faith is likely to

be a source of comfort to his parents. Were proper attention paid

to this point, there would be fewer disobedient children in the

world; and the number of broken-hearted parents would be lessened.

But what can be expected from the majority of matrimonial

connections, connections begun without the fear of God, and

carried on without his love.

Many shall rejoice at his birth.] He shall be the minister of

God for good to multitudes, who shall, through his preaching, be

turned from the error of their ways, and converted to God their


Verse 15. He shall be great in the sight of the Lord] That is,

before Jesus Christ, whose forerunner he shall be; or he shall be

a truly great person, for so this form of speech may imply.

Neither wine nor strong drink] σικερα, i.e. all fermented

liquors which have the property of intoxicating, or producing

drunkenness. The original word σικερα, sikera, comes from the

Hebrew, shakar, to inebriate. "Any inebriating liquor," says

St. Jerome, (Epis. ad Nepot.)" is called sicera, whether made of

corn, apples, honey, dates, or any other fruits." One of the

four prohibited liquors among the East Indian Moslimans is called

sikkir. "Sikkir is made by steeping fresh dates in water till

they take effect in sweetening it: this liquor is abominable and

unlawful." HEDAYA, vol. iv. p. 158. Probably this is the very

liquor referred to in the text. In the Institutes of Menu it is

said, "Inebriating liquor may be considered as of three principal

sorts: that extracted from dregs of sugar, that extracted from

bruised rice, and that extracted from the flowers of the

madhuca: as one, so are all; they shall not be tasted by the

chief of the twice-born." Chap. xi. Inst. 95. Twice-born is used

by the Brahmins in the same sense as being born again is used by

Christians. It signifies a spiritual regeneration. From this word

comes our English term cyder, or sider, a beverage made of the

fermented juice of apples. See Clarke on Le 10:9.

Shall be filled with the Holy Ghost] Shall be Divinely

designated to this particular office, and qualified for it, from

his mother's womb-from the instant of his birth. One MS., two

versions, and four of the primitive fathers read εντηκοιλια,

IN the womb of has mother-intimating that even before he should be

born into the world the Holy Spirit should be communicated to him.

Did not this take place on the salutation of the Virgin Mary?-and

is not this what is intended, Lu 1:44? To be filled with the Holy

Ghost, implies having the soul influenced in all its powers, with

the illuminating, strengthening, and sanctifying energy of the


Verse 16. Many of the children of Israel shall he turn] See this

prediction fulfilled, Lu 3:10-18.

Verse 17. He shall go before him] Jesus Christ, in the spirit

and power of Elijah; he shall resemble Elijah in his retired and

austere manner of life, and in his zeal for the truth, reproving

even princes for their crimes; compare 1Ki 21:17-24, with

Mt 14:4. It was on these accounts that the Prophet Malachi,

Mal 4:6, had likened John to this prophet. See also Isa 40:3;

and Mal 4:5, 6.

To turn the hearts of the fathers] Gross ignorance had taken

place in the hearts of the Jewish people; they needed a Divine

instructer: John is announced as such; by this preaching and

manner of life, all classes among the people should be taught the

nature of their several places, and the duties respectively

incumbent upon them, See Lu 3:10, &c. In these things the

greatness of John, mentioned Lu 1:15, is pointed out, Nothing

is truly great but what is so in the sight of God. John's

greatness arose: 1st. From the plenitude of God's Spirit which

dwelt in him. 2. From his continual self-denial, and taking up his

cross. 3. From his ardent zeal to make Christ known. 4. From his

fidelity and courage in rebuking vice. 5. From the reformation

which he was the instrument of effecting among the people;

reviving among them the spirit of the patriarchs, and preparing

their hearts to receive the Lord Jesus. To turn the hearts of the

fathers to their children. By a very expressive figure of speech,

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the rest of the patriarchs, are

represented here as having their hearts alienated from the Jews,

their children, because of their unbelief and disobedience; but

that the Baptist should so far succeed in converting them to the

Lord their God, that these holy men should again look upon them

with delight, and acknowledge them for their children. Some think

that by the children, the Gentiles are meant, and by the fathers,

the Jews.

The disobedient] Or unbelieving, απειθεις, the persons who

would no longer credit the predictions of the prophets, relative

to the manifestation of the Messiah. Unbelief and disobedience are

so intimately connected, that the same word in the sacred writings

often serves for both.

Verse 18. Whereby shall I know this?] All things are possible to

God: no natural impediment can have any power when God has

declared he will accomplish his purpose. He has a right to be

believed on his own word alone; and it is impious, when we are

convinced that it is his word, to demand a sign or pledge for its


Verse 19. I am Gabriel] This angel is mentioned, Da 8:16; 9:21.

The original is exceedingly expressive: it is compounded of

geburah, and el, the might of the strong God. An

angel with such a name was exceedingly proper for the occasion; as

it pointed out that all-prevalent power by which the strong God

could accomplish every purpose, and subdue all things to himself.

That stand in the presence of God] This is in allusion to the

case of the prime minister of an eastern monarch, who alone has

access to his master at all times; and is therefore said, in the

eastern phrase, to see the presence, or to be in the presence.

From the allusion we may conceive the angel Gabriel to be in a

state of high favour and trust before God.

Verse 20. Thou shalt be dumb] σιωπων silent; this translation

is literal; the angel immediately explains it, thou shalt not be

able to speak. Dumbness ordinarily proceeds from a natural

imperfection or debility of the organs of speech; in this case

there was no natural weakness or unfitness in those organs; but,

for his rash and unbelieving speech, silence is imposed upon him

by the Lord, and he shall not be able to break it, till the power

that has silenced him gives him again the permission to speak! Let

those who are intemperate in the use of their tongues behold here

the severity and mercy of the Lord; nine months' silence for one

intemperate speech! Many, by giving way to the language of

unbelief, have lost the language of praise and thanksgiving for

months, if not years!

Verse 21. The people waited] The time spent in burning the

incense was probably about half an hour, during which there was a

profound silence, as the people stood without engaged in mental

prayer. To this there is an allusion in Re 8:1-5. Zacharias had

spent not only the time necessary for burning the incense, but

also that which the discourse between him and the angel took up.

Verse 22. They perceived that he had seen a vision] As the

sanctuary was separated from the court by a great veil, the people

could not see what passed, but they understood this from Zacharias

himself, who, ηνδιανευων, made signs, or nodded unto them to

that purpose. Signs are the only means by which a dumb man can

convey his ideas to others.

Verse 23. As soon as the days of his ministration were

accomplished] Each family of the priesthood officiated one whole

week, 2Ki 11:17.

There is something very instructive in the conduct of this

priest; had he not loved the service he was engaged in, he might

have made the loss of his speech a pretext for immediately

quitting it. But as he was not thereby disabled from fulfilling

the sacerdotal function, so he saw he was bound to continue till

his ministry was ended; or till God had given him a positive

dismission. Preachers who give up their labour in the vineyard

because of some trifling bodily disorder by which they are

afflicted, or through some inconvenience in outward circumstances,

which the follower of a cross-bearing, crucified Lord should not

mention, show that they either never had a proper concern for the

honour of their Master or for the salvation of men, or else that

they have lost the spirit of their Master, and the spirit of their

work. Again, Zacharias did not hasten to his house to tell his

wife the good news that he had received from heaven, in which she

was certainly very much interested: the angel had promised that

all his words should be fulfilled in their season, and for this

season he patiently waited in the path of duty. He had engaged in

the work of the Lord, and must pay no attention to any thing that

was likely to mar or interrupt his religious service. Preachers

who profess to be called of God to labour in the word and

doctrine, and who abandon their work for filthy lucre's sake, are

the most contemptible of mortals, and traitors to their God.

Verse 24. Hid herself five months] That she might have the

fullest proof of the accomplishment of God's promise before she

appeared in public, or spoke of her mercies. When a Hindoo female

is pregnant of her first child, she avoids the presence of those

with whom she was before familiar, as a point of delicacy.

Verse 25. To take away my reproach] As fruitfulness was a part

of the promise of God to his people, Ge 17:6, and

children, on this account, being considered as a particular

blessing from heaven, Ex 23:20; Le 26:9: Ps 127:3; so

barrenness was considered among the Jews as a reproach, and a

token of the disapprobation of the Lord. 1Sa 1:6. But see

Lu 1:36.

Verse 26. A city of Galilee] As Joseph and Mary were both of the

family of David, the patrimonial estate of which lay in Bethlehem,

it seems as if the family residence should have been in that city,

and not in Nazareth; for we find that, even after the return from

the captivity, the several families went to reside in those cities

to which they originally belonged. See Ne 11:3. But it is

probable that the holy family removed to Galilee for fear of

exciting the jealousy of Herod, who had usurped that throne to

which they had an indisputable right. See on Lu 2:39. Thus, by

keeping out of the way, they avoided the effects of his jealousy.

Verse 27. To a virgin espoused, &c.] See Clarke on Mt 1:18, 23.

The reflections of pious father Quesnel on this subject are worthy of

serious regard. At length the moment is come which is to give a

son to a virgin, a saviour to the world, a pattern to

mankind, a sacrifice to sinners, a temple to the Divinity,

and a new principle to the new world. This angel is sent from God,

not to the palaces of the great, but to a poor maid, the wife of a

carpenter. The Son of God comes to humble the proud, and to honour

poverty, weakness, and contempt. He chooses an obscure place for

the mystery which is most glorious to his humanity, its union with

the Divinity, and for that which is most degrading (his sufferings

and death) he will choose the greatest city! How far are men from

such a conduct as this!

Verse 28. And the angel came in unto her] Some think that all

this business was transacted in a vision; and that there was no

personal appearance of the angel. When Divine visions were

given, they are announced as such, in the sacred writings; nor can

we with safety attribute any thing to a vision, where a Divine

communication is made, unless it be specified as such in the text.

Hail] Analogous to, Peace be to thee-May thou enjoy all possible


Highly favoured] As being chosen in preference to all the women

upon earth, to be the mother of the Messiah. Not the mother of

God, for that is blasphemy.

The Lord is with thee] Thou art about to receive the most

convincing proofs of God's peculiar favour towards thee.

Blessed art thou among women.] That is, thou art favoured beyond

all others.

Verse 29. She was troubled at his saying] The glorious

appearance of the heavenly messenger filled her with amazement;

and she was puzzled to find out the purport of his speech.

Verse 31. Thou-shalt call his name JESUS.] See on Mt 1:20, 21,

and here, on Lu 2:21, and Joh 1:29.

Verse 32. He shall be great] Behold the greatness of the man

Christ Jesus: 1st. Because that human nature that should be born

of the virgin was to be united with the Divine nature. 2dly. In

consequence of this, that human nature should be called in a

peculiar sense the SON of the most high God; because God would

produce it in her womb without the intervention of man. 3. He

shall be the everlasting Head and Sovereign of his Church. 4thly.

His government and kingdom shall be eternal. Revolutions may

destroy the kingdoms of the earth, but the powers and gates of

hell and death shall never be able to destroy or injure the

kingdom of Christ. His is the only dominion that shall never have

an end. The angel seems here to refer to Isa 9:7; 16:5;

Jer 23:5; Da 2:44; 7:14. All which prophecies speak of the

glory, extent, and perpetuity of the evangelical kingdom. The

kingdom of grace and the kingdom of glory form the endless

government of Christ.

Verse 33. The house of Jacob] All who belong to the twelve

tribes, the whole Israelitish people.

Verse 34. Seeing I know not a man] Or, husband. As she was only

contracted to Joseph, and not as yet married, she knew that this

conception could not have yet taken place; and she modestly

inquires by what means the promise of the angel is to be fulfilled

in order to regulate her conduct accordingly.

Verse 35. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee] This conception

shall take place suddenly, and the Holy Spirit himself shall be

the grand operator. The power, δυναμις, the miracle-working power,

of the Most High shall overshadow thee, to accomplish this

purpose, and to protect thee from danger. As there is a plain

allusion to the Spirit of God brooding over the face of the

waters, to render them prolific, Ge 1:2, I am the more firmly

established in the opinion advanced on Mt 1:20, that the

rudiments of the human nature of Christ was a real creation in the

womb of the virgin, by the energy of the Spirit of God.

Therefore also that holy thing (or person)-shall be called the

Son of God.] We may plainly perceive here, that the angel does not

give the appellation of Son of God to the Divine nature of Christ;

but to that holy person or thing, τοαγιον, which was to be born

of the virgin, by the energy of the Holy Spirit. The Divine nature

could not be born of the virgin; the human nature was born of her.

The Divine nature had no beginning; it was God manifested in the

flesh, 1Ti 3:16; it was that Word which being in the beginning

(from eternity) with God, Joh 1:2, was afterwards

made flesh, (became manifest in human nature,) and tabernacled

among us, Joh 1:14. Of this Divine nature the angel does not

particularly speak here, but of the tabernacle or shrine which God

was now preparing for it, viz. the holy thing that was to be born

of the virgin. Two natures must ever be distinguished in Christ:

the human nature, in reference to which he is the Son of God and

inferior to him, Mr 13:32; Joh 5:19; 14:28, and the

Divine nature which was from eternity, and equal to God,

Joh 1:1; 10:30; Ro 9:5; Col 1:16-18. It is true, that to

Jesus the Christ, as he appeared among men, every characteristic

of the Divine nature is sometimes attributed, without appearing to

make any distinction between the Divine and human natures; but is

there any part of the Scriptures in which it is plainly said that

the Divine nature of Jesus was the Son of God? Here, I trust, I

may be permitted to say, with all due respect for those who differ

from me, that the doctrine of the eternal Sonship of Christ is, in

my opinion, anti-scriptural, and highly dangerous. This doctrine I

reject for the following reasons:-

1st. I have not been able to find any express declaration in the

Scriptures concerning it.

2dly. If Christ be the Son of God as to his Divine nature, then

he cannot be eternal; for son implies a father; and father

implies, in reference to son, precedency in time, if not in nature

too. Father and son imply the idea of generation; and

generation implies a time in which it was effected, and time

also antecedent to such generation.

3dly. If Christ be the Son of God, as to his Divine nature, then

the Father is of necessity prior, consequently superior to him.

4thly. Again, if this Divine nature were begotten of the Father,

then it must be in time; i.e. there was a period in which it did

not exist, and a period when it began to exist. This destroys the

eternity of our blessed Lord, and robs him at once of his


5thly. To say that he was begotten from all eternity, is, in my

opinion, absurd; and the phrase eternal Son is a positive

self-contradiction. ETERNITY is that which has had no beginning,

nor stands in any reference to TIME. SON supposes time,

generation, and father; and time also antecedent to such

generation. Therefore the conjunction of these two terms, Son and

eternity is absolutely impossible, as they imply essentially

different and opposite ideas.

The enemies of Christ's Divinity have, in all ages, availed

themselves of this incautious method of treating this subject, and

on this ground, have ever had the advantage of the defenders of

the Godhead of Christ. This doctrine of the eternal Sonship

destroys the deity of Christ; now, if his deity be taken away, the

whole Gospel scheme of redemption is ruined. On this ground, the

atonement of Christ cannot have been of infinite merit, and

consequently could not purchase pardon for the offences of

mankind, nor give any right to, or possession of, an eternal

glory. The very use of this phrase is both absurd and dangerous;

therefore let all those who value Jesus and their salvation abide

by the Scriptures. This doctrine of the eternal Sonship, as it has

been lately explained in many a pamphlet, and many a paper in

magazines, I must and do consider as an awful heresy, and mere

sheer Arianism; which, in many cases, has terminated in

Socinianism, and that in Deism. From such heterodoxies, and

their abetters, may God save his Church! Amen!

Verse 36. Thy cousin Elisabeth] Thy kinswoman, συγγενης. As

Elisabeth was of the tribe of Levi, Lu 1:5, and Mary of the tribe

of Judah, they could not be relatives but by the mother's side.

She hath also conceived] And this is wrought by the same power

and energy through which thou shalt conceive. Thus God has given

thee a proof and pledge, in what he has done for Elisabeth, of

what he will do for thyself; therefore, have faith in God.

Who was called barren.] It is probable that Elisabeth got this

appellative by way of reproach; or to distinguish her from some

other Elisabeth also well known, who had been blessed with

children. Perhaps this is the reproach which Elisabeth speaks of,

Lu 1:25, her common name

among men, among the people who knew her, being Elisabeth the


Verse 37. For with God nothing shall be impossible.] Words of

the very same import with those spoken by the Lord to Sarah, when

he foretold the birth of Isaac, Ge 18:14,

Is any thing too hard for the Lord? As there can be no doubt

that Mary perceived this allusion to the promise and birth of

Isaac, so she must have had her faith considerably strengthened by

reflecting on the intervention of God in that case.

Verse 38. Behold the handmaid of the Lord] I fully credit what

thou sayest, and am perfectly ready to obey thy commands, and to

accomplish all the purposes of thy grace concerning me. It appears

that at the instant of this act of faith, and purposed obedience,

the conception of the immaculate humanity of Jesus took place; and

it was DONE unto her according to his word. See Lu 1:35.

Verse 39. In those days] As soon as she could conveniently fit

herself out for the journey.

Hill country] Hebron, the city of the priests, Jos 21:11,

which was situated in the tribe of Judah, about forty miles south

of Jerusalem, and upwards of seventy from Nazareth.

With haste] This probably refers to nothing else than the

earnestness of her mind to visit her relative Elisabeth, and to

see what the Lord had wrought for her.

Verse 41. Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.] This seems

to have been the accomplishment of the promise made by the angel,

Lu 1:15,

He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's

womb. The mother is filled with the Holy Spirit, and the child in

her womb becomes sensible of the Divine influence.

Verse 42. Blessed art thou among women] Repeating the words of

the angel, Lu 1:28, of which she had probably been informed by

the holy virgin, in the present interview.

Verse 43. The mother of my Lord] The prophetic spirit, which

appears to have overshadowed Elisabeth, gave her a clear

understanding in the mystery of the birth of the promised Messiah.

Verse 45. Blessed is she that believed; for there shall be, &c.]

Or, Blessed is she who hath believed that there shall be, &c. This

I believe to be the proper arrangement of the passage, and is thus

noticed in the marginal reading. Faith is here represented as the

foundation of true happiness, because it receives the fulfilment

of God's promises. Whatever God has promised, he intends to

perform. We should believe whatever he has spoken-his own

authority is a sufficient reason why we should believe. Let us

only be convinced that God has given the promise, and then

implicit faith becomes an indispensable duty: in this case not to

believe implicitly would be absurd and unreasonable-God will

perform his promise, for HE cannot lie.

Verse 46. And Mary said] Two copies of the Itala, and some books

mentioned by Origen, give this song to Elisabeth. It is a

counterpart of the song of Hannah, as related in 1Sa 2:1-10.

This is allowed by many to be the first piece of poetry in the

New Testament; but the address of the angel to Zacharias,

Lu 1:13-17, is delivered in the same way; so is that to the

virgin, Lu 1:30-33, and so also is Elisabeth's answer to Mary,

Lu 1:42-45. All these portions are easily reducible to the

hemistich form in which the Hebrew poetry of the Old Testament

is found in many MSS., and in which Dr. Kennicott has arranged the

Psalms, and other poetical parts of the Sacred Writings. See his

Hebrew Bible.

My soul doth magnify the Lord] The verb μεγαλυνειν, Kypke has

proved, signifies to celebrate with words, to extol with praises.

This is the only way in which God can be magnified, or made great;

for, strictly speaking, nothing can be added to God, for he is

infinite and eternal; therefore the way to magnify him is to show

forth and celebrate those acts in which he has manifested his


Verse 47. My spirit hath rejoiced] Exulted. These words are

uncommonly emphatical-they show that Mary's whole soul was filled

with the Divine influence, and wrapped up in God.

Verse 48. He hath regarded] Looked favourably, &c., επεβλεψεν.

In the most tender and compassionate manner he has visited me in

my humiliation, drawing the reasons of his conduct, not from any

excellence in me, but from his own eternal kindness and love.

All generations shall call me blessed.] This was the character

by which alone she wished to be known; viz. The blessed or happy

virgin. What dishonour do those do to this holy woman, who give

her names and characters which her pure soul would abhor; and

which properly belong to GOD her Saviour! By her votaries she is

addressed as Queen of Heaven, Mother of God, &c., titles both

absurd and blasphemous.

Verse 49. He that is mighty hath done to me great things] Or,

miracles, μεγαλεια. As God fills her with his goodness, she

empties herself to him in praises; and, sinking into her own

nothingness, she ever confesses that God alone is all in all.

Holy is his name] Probably the word which Mary used was

chesed, which though we sometimes translate holy, see

Ps 86:2; 145:17, yet the proper meaning is

abundant goodness, exuberant kindness; and this well agrees with

the following clause.

Verse 50. His mercy is on them that fear him] His exuberant

kindness manifests itself in acts of mercy to all those who fear

or reverence his name; and this is continued from generation to

generation, because he is abundant in goodness, and because he

delighteth in mercy. This is a noble, becoming, and just character

of the God of the Christians; a being who delights in the

salvation and happiness of all his creatures, because his name is

mercy, and his nature love.

Verse 51. He hath showed strength] Or, He hath gained the

victory, εποιησεκρατος. The word κρατος is used for victory,

by Homer, Hesiod, Sophocles, Euripides, and others.

With his arm] Grotius has well observed, that God's efficacy is

represented by his finger, his great power by his hand, and his

omnipotence by his arm. The plague of lice was the finger of

God, Ex 7:18. The plagues in general were wrought by his

hand, Ex 3:20, And the destruction of Pharaoh's host in the Red

Sea, which was effected by the omnipotence of God, is called the

act of his arm, Ex 15:16.

He hath scattered] διεσκορπισεν, hath scattered abroad; as a

whirlwind scatters dust and chaff.

The proud] Or haughty, υπερηφανους; from υπερ above,

and φαινω I show-the haughty men, who wish to be noticed in

preference to all others, and feel sovereign contempt for all

but themselves. These God scatters abroad-instead of being in his

sight, as in their own, the most excellent of the earth, he treats

them as straw, stubble, chaff, and dust.

In the imagination of their hearts.] While they are forming

their insolent, proud, and oppressive projects-laying their plans,

and imagining that accomplishment and success are waiting at their

right hand, the whirlwind of God's displeasure blows, and they and

their machinations are dissipated together.

Verse 52. He hath put down the mighty from their seats] Or, He

hath taken down potentates from their thrones. This probably

alludes to the removal of Saul from the throne of Israel, and the

establishment of the kingdom in the person and family of David.

And as Mary spoke prophetically, this saying may also allude to

the destruction of the kingdom of Satan and his allies, and the

final prevalence of the kingdom of Christ.

Verse 53. Filled the hungry-the rich he hath sent empty away.]

God is here represented under the notion of a person of unbounded

benevolence, who is daily feeding multitudes at his gates. The

poor and the rich are equally dependent upon him; to the one he

gives his affluence for a season, and to the other his daily

bread. The poor man comes through a sense of his want to get his

daily support, and God feeds him; the rich man comes through the

lust of gain, to get more added to his abundance, and, God sends

him empty away-not only gives him nothing more, but often deprives

him of that which he has, because he has not improved it to the

honour of the giver. There is an allusion here, as in several

other parts of this song, to the case of Hannah and Peninah, as

related 1Sa 1:2, &c.; 1Sa 2:1-10.

Verse 54. He hath holpen [supported, αντελαβετο] his servant

Israel] Israel is here represented as falling, and the Lord comes

speedily in and props him up. The house of David was now ready to

fall and rise no more; Jesus, being born of the very last branch

of the regal line, revived the family, and restored the dominion.

In remembrance of his mercy] By mercy, the covenant which God

made with Abraham, Ge 15:18, is intended; which covenant

proceeded from God's eternal mercy, as in it salvation was

promised to all the nations of the earth. See Ge 17:19, and

Ge 22:18, and this promise was, in one form or other, given to all

the fathers, Lu 1:55.

This song properly consists of three parts.

1. In the first part Mary praises God for what he had done for

herself, Lu 1:46-50.

2. In the second, she praises him for what he had done, and

would do, against the oppressors of his people, Lu 1:51-53.

3. In the third, she praises him for what he had done, and would

do, for his Church, Lu 1:53-56.

Verse 56. And Mary abode with her about three months] According

to some, the departure of Mary from Hebron must have been but a

few days before the birth of John; as nine months had now elapsed

since Elisabeth's conception; see Lu 1:36. Hence it immediately


Verse 57. Now Elisabeth's full time came, &c.] But, according to

others, we are to understand the three months of Mary's visit as

preceding the birth of John, which would complete the time of

Elisabeth's pregnancy, according to Lu 1:36, and the only

difficulty is to ascertain whether Mary went immediately to Hebron

after her salutation, or whether she tarried nearly three months

before she took the journey.

Verse 58. And her neighbours and her cousins-rejoiced with her.]

Because sterility was a reproach; and they now rejoiced with their

relative, from whom that reproach was now rolled away. To rejoice

with those whom God has favoured, and to congratulate them on the

advantages which he has granted to them, is a duty which humanity,

charity, and religion call upon us to fulfil.

1. It is a duty of humanity, which should be punctually

performed. We are all members of each other, and should rejoice in

the welfare of the whole. He who rejoices in his neighbour's

prosperity increases his neighbour's happiness, and gets an

addition to his own.

2. It is a duty which charity or brotherly love requires us to

perform with sincerity. In the polite world, there is no duty

better fulfilled in word than this is; but sincerity is utterly

banished, and the giver and receiver are both convinced that

compliments and good wishes mean-nothing. He who does not

endeavour to take a sincere part in his neighbour's prosperity

will soon feel ample punishment in the spirit of jealousy and


3. It is a duty of religion, which should be fulfilled with

piety. These neighbours and relatives saw that God had magnified

his mercy towards Elisabeth, and they acknowledged his hand in the

work. God is the dispenser of all good-he distributes his favours

in mercy, judgment, and justice. Let us honour him in his gifts;

and honour those, for his sake, who are objects of his favour. The

society of believers are but one body; the talents, &c., of every

individual are profitable to the whole community; at least none

ate deprived of a share in the general welfare, but those who,

through jealousy or envy, refuse to rejoice with him towards whom

God hath magnified his mercy.

Verse 59. On the eighth day they came to circumcise]

See an account of this institution in Clarke's notes on Ge 17:10-14.

Had circumcision been essential to an infant's salvation, God would

not have ordered it to be delayed to the eighth day, because, in

all countries, multitudes die before they arrive at that age.

Baptism, which is generally allowed to have been substituted for

circumcision, is no more necessary to the salvation of an infant

than circumcision was. Both are signs of the

covenant-circumcision, of the putting away the impurity of the

flesh; and baptism, of the washing of regeneration, and renewing

of the Holy Ghost, producing the answer of a good conscience

towards God. Confer 1Pe 3:21, with Tit 3:5. This should never

be neglected: it is a sign and token of the spiritual grace.

They called him Zacharias] Among the Jews, the child was named

when it was circumcised, and ordinarily the name of the father was

given to the first-born son.

Verse 60. Not so; but he shall be called John.] This is the name

which the angel desired should be given him, Lu 1:13, and of

which Zacharias by writing had informed his wife. There is

something very remarkable in the names of this family. Zachariah,

the memory or memorial of Jehovah; yeho, at

the end of the word, being contracted for Yehovah, as in many

other names. Elisabeth, the Sabbath or rest of my strong

God: names probably given them by their parents, to point out some

remarkable circumstance in their conception or birth. And John,

which should always be written Jehochanan or Yehochanan,

the grace or mercy of Jehovah: so named, because he was to go

before and proclaim the God of all grace, and the mercy granted

through him to a lost world. See Joh 1:29; see also Lu 3:16, and

Mr 1:4.

Verse 61. None of thy kindred] As the Jewish tribes and families

were kept sacredly distinct, it appears the very names of the

ancestors were continued among their descendants, partly through

reverence for them, and partly to avoid confusion in the

genealogical tables, which, for the sake of distinguishing the

inheritances, were carefully preserved in each of the families. It

seems to be on this account that the neighbours and relatives

objected to a name which had not before existed in any branch of

the family.

Verse 62. They made signs to his father] Who, it appears from

this, was deaf as well as dumb; otherwise they might have asked

him, and obtained his answer in this way.

Verse 63. A writing table] πινακιδιον, a tablet, a diminutive

of πιναξ, a table. "The boys in Barbary are taught to write upon a

smooth thin board, slightly daubed over with whiting, which may be

rubbed off or renewed at pleasure. Such probably (for the Jewish

children use the same) was the little board, or writing table, as

we render it Lu 1:63, that was called for by Zacharias." Shaw's

Travels, p. 194. My old MS. considers the word as meaning the

instrument of writing, rather than the tablet on which he wrote:

and he aringe a poyntel, wroot seyinge, Joon is his name.

A thin board, made out of the pine tree, smeared over with wax,

was used among the ancients; and to this the Anglo-Saxon version

seems to refer, as it translates πινακιδιον, [Anglo-Saxon], a wax

board or cloth.

An intelligent friend has suggested a different mode of reading

the 62nd and 63rd verses: Lu 1:62.

And they asked his father how he would have him called?

Lu 1:63.

And he made signs for a writing table and wrote, His name is John:

"For," says my friend, "the 64th verse Lu 1:64 proves his

mouth was not opened, neither his tongue loosed, till after the

child was named; therefore he could not ask for the table; and it

is more reasonable that he, being dumb, should make signs, than

that those should who had the use of their tongues." But,

howsoever ingenious this may be, neither the words of the Greek

text, nor their construction, will bear this version.

Verse 64. The latter clause of the preceding verse should be

joined with the beginning of this, as follows: And they marvelled

all, for his mouth was opened, &c. Every person must see the

propriety of putting this clause, And they marvelled all, to the

beginning of the 64th verse, instead of leaving it at the end of

the 63rd, as in the common version. The people did not wonder

because Zacharias said, He shall be called John; but because he

himself was that instant restored to the use of his speech.

And he spake, and praised God.] In his nine months' silence, he

had learned the proper use of his tongue; and God, whose power was

discredited by it, is now magnified. Happy they who, in religious

matters, only break silence in order to speak of the

loving-kindness of the Lord!

Verse 65. And fear came] Seeing what they might have thought a

paralytic affection so suddenly and effectually healed. φοβος-This

word certainly means in several places, religious fear or

reverence; and in this sense it is used Ac 9:31;

Ro 3:18; 13:7; 1Pe 1:17; 2:18; 3:2. The meaning of it here

is plainly this: The inhabitants of Hebron and its environs, who

were well acquainted with the circumstances of Zacharias and

Elisabeth, perceived that God had in a remarkable manner visited

them; and this begot in their minds a more than ordinary reverence

for the Supreme Being. Thus the salvation of one often becomes an

instrument of good to the souls of many. The inhabitants of this

hill country seem to have been an open, honest-hearted, generous

people; who were easily led to acknowledge the interposition of

God, and to rejoice in the comfort and welfare of each other. The

people of the country are more remarkable for these qualities than

those in towns and cities. The latter, through that evil

communication which corrupts good manners, are generally

profligate, selfish, regardless of God, and inattentive to the

operation of his hands.

Verse 66. What manner of child shall this be!] As there have

been so many extraordinary things in his conception and birth,

surely God has designed him for some extraordinary purpose. These

things they laid up in their heart, patiently waiting to see what

God would work.

The hand of the Lord was with him.] God defended and prospered

him in all things, and the prophetic spirit began to rest upon


Verse 67. Zacharias-prophesied] The word prophesy is to be taken

here in its proper acceptation, for the predicting or foretelling

future events. Zacharias speaks, not only of what God had already

done, but also of what he was about to do, in order to save a

lost world.

Verse 68. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for, &c.] Zacharias

praises God for two grand benefits which he had granted to his

people. 1. He has visited them. 2. He has ransomed them. 1. He

speaks by the spirit of prophecy, which calls things that are not,

as though they were; because they are absolutely determined by the

Most High, and shall be all fulfilled in their season. God visits

his people in the incarnation of Jesus Christ; therefore this

Christ is called by him, κυριοςοθεος, Jehovah the God of Israel.

Here the highest and most glorious character of the Supreme Being

is given to Christ. 2. This God redeems his people: it is for this

end that he visits them. His soul is about to be made a sacrifice

for sin: he becomes flesh, that he may suffer and die for the sin

of the world. God, by taking upon him the nature of man, has

redeemed that nature from eternal ruin.

He hath-redeemed] εποιησελυτρωσιν, he hath made a ransom-laid

down the ransom price. λυτροω signifies particularly to ransom a

captive from the enemy, by paying a price. The following

remarkable passage from Josephus, Ant. b. xiv. c. 14, sect. 1,

fully illustrates this meaning of the original. "Herod, not

knowing what had happened to his brother, hastened λυτρωσασθαι, to

ransom him from the enemy, and was willing to pay λυτρονυπερ

αυτου, a ransom for him, to the amount of three hundred talents."

Sinners are fallen into the hands of their enemies, and are

captives to sin and death. Jesus ransoms them by his own blood,

and restores them to life, liberty, and happiness. this truth the

whole Bible teaches: this truth God has shown in certain measures,

even to those nations who have not been favoured with the light of

his written word: for Christ is that true light, which enlightens

every man that cometh into the world.

How astonishing is the following invocation of the Supreme

Being, (translated from the original Sanscreet by Dr. C. WILKINS,)

still existing on a stone, in a cave near she ancient city of Gya,

in the East Indies!

"The Deity, who is the Lord, the possessor of all, appeared in

this ocean of natural beings, at the beginning of the Kalee Yoog

(the age of contention and baseness.) He who is omnipresent and

everlastingly to be contemplated, the Supreme Being, the Eternal

One, the Divinity worthy to be adored-APPEARED here with a PORTION

of his DIVINE NATURE. Reverence be unto thee in the form of

(a) Bood-dha! Reverence be unto the Lord of the earth! Reverence

be unto thee, an INCARNATION of the Deity, and the Eternal One!

Reverence be unto thee, O God, in the form of the God of mercy;

the dispeller of pain and trouble, the Lord of all things, the

Deity who overcometh the sins of the Kalee Yoog; the guardian of

the universe, the emblem of mercy toward those who serve thee-

(b) O'M! the possessor of all things in VITAL FORM! Thou art

(c) Brahma, Veeshnoo, and Mahesa! Thou art Lord of the universe!

Thou art under the form of all things, movable and immovable, the

possessor of the whole! and thus I adore thee. Reverence be unto

the BESTOWER OF SALVATION, and the Ruler of the faculties!

Reverence be unto thee, the DESTROYER of the EVIL SPIRIT! O

Damordara, (d) show me favour! I adore thee, who art celebrated by

a thousand names, and under various forms, in the shape of

Bood-dha, the God of MERCY! Be propitious, O Most High

God!"-ASIATIC RESEARCHES, vol. i. pp. 284, 285.

(a) Bood-dha. The name of the Deity, as author of happiness.

(b) O'M. A mystic emblem of the Deity, forbidden to be

pronounced but in silence. It is a syllable formed of the

Sanscreet letters a, o o, which in composition coalesce, and

make o, and the nasal consonant m. The first letter stands for the

Creator, the second for the Preserver and the third for the

Destroyer. It is the same among the Hindoos as Yehovah

is among the Hebrews.

(c) Brahma, the Deity in his creative quality. Veeshnoo, he

who filleth all space, the Deity in his preserving quality.

Mahesa, the Deity in his destroying quality. This is properly

the Hindoo Trinity: for these three names belong to the same

Being. See the notes to the Bhagvat Geeta.

(d) Damordara, or Darmadeve, the Indian God of Virtue.

Verse 69. And hath raised up a horn of salvation] That is, a

mighty and glorious Saviour: a quotation from Ps 18:2.

Horns are the well known emblems of strength, glory, and power,

both in the sacred and profane writers, because the strength and

beauty of horned animals consist in their horns. Horns have also

been considered as emblems of light; therefore the heathen god

Apollo is represented with horns, to point out the power, glory,

and excellence of the solar light. The Chaldee paraphrast

sometimes translates keren, horn, by malcuth, or

malcutha, 1Sa 2:10; Jer 48:25, which signify a

kingdom: but it is likely that the allusion is here made to the

horns of the altar; and as the altar was a place of refuge and

safety, and those who laid hold on its horns were considered to be

under the protection of the Lord, so, according to the expression

of Zacharias, Jesus Christ is a new altar, to which whosoever

flees shall find refuge.

Some imagine that this form of speech is taken from the custom

of ancient warriors, who had a horn of steel on the top of their

helmets, which ordinarily lay flat, till the person came

victorious from battle, and then it was erected, as emblematical

of the victory gained. Such a horn as this is represented on the

helmet of the Abyssinian kings and warriors: see the plates in

Bruce's Travels. To this custom of wearing or lifting up the

horn, the following scriptures are thought to allude: 1Sa 2:10;

Ps 112:9; 148:4; La 2:17. In ancient

gems and coins, this form of the horn on helmets is easily

discernible, sometimes flat, sometimes erected. A horn, filled

with various fruits, was also the emblem of abundance among the

ancients: hence their cornu copia, or horn of plenty. From all

this we may learn that the Lord Jesus gives a luminous, powerfuly

prevalent, glorious, and abundant SALVATION or REFUGE to mankind.

In the house of his servant David] Or, in the family: so the

word οικος, house, is often used in the Sacred Writings. In

Lu 1:32, the angel states that Mary was of the

family of David; and Zacharias, who, from the nature of his

office, must have been well acquainted with the public

genealogical tables, attests the same thing. This is a matter of

considerable importance; because it shows forth the truth of all

the prophetic declarations, which uniformly state that the Messiah

should come from the family and sit on the throne of DAVID.

Verse 71. That we should be saved (literally, a salvation) from

our enemies] As Zacharias spoke by the inspiration of the Holy

Spirit, the salvation which he mentions here must necessarily be

understood in a spiritual sense. Satan, death, and sin are the

enemies from whom Jesus came to deliver us. Sin is the most

dangerous of all, and is properly the only enemy we have to fear.

Satan is without us, and can have no power over us, but what he

gets through sin. Death is only in our flesh, and shall be

finally destroyed (as it affects us) on the morning of the

resurrection. Jesus redeems from sin; this is the grand, the

glorious, the important victory. Let us get sin cast out, and then

we need, fear neither death, nor the devil.

Verse 72. His holy covenant] See Clarke on Lu 1:54.

Verse 74. - 75. Being delivered, &c.] The salvation brought by

Jesus Christ, consists in the following things:-

1. We are to be delivered out of the hand of our enemies, and

from all that hate us; so that sin shall neither have dominion

over us, nor existence in us.

2. We are to worship God, λατρευειν, to render him that

service and adoration which the letter and spirit of his

religion require.

3. Ye are to live in holiness, a strict inward conformity to the

mind of Christ-and righteousness, a full outward conformity to the

precepts of the Gospel.

4. This is to be done before God, under the continual influence

and support of his grace, and with a constant evidence of his

presence and approbation.

5. This state is a state of true happiness-it is without fear.

Sin is all cast out, holiness is brought in; God's power upholds,

and his approbation cheers and comforts, the believing heart. Thus

misery is precluded, and happiness established.

6. This blessedness is to continue as long as we exist-all the

days of our life, in all ages, in all situations, and in all

circumstances. What a pity to have lived so long without God in

the world, when so much happiness and glory are to be enjoyed in

union with him!

τηςζωης, in the last clause, is omitted by many MSS., versions,

and fathers. Griesbach has left it out of the text: however, it is

but of small importance whether we read all our days, or, all the

days of our life.

Verse 76. And thou, child, &c.] Zacharias proclaims the dignity,

employment, doctrine, and success of his son; and the ruin and

recovery of the Jews and the Gentiles.

1. His dignity. Thou shalt be called (constituted) a prophet of

the Most High. Prophet has two acceptations:-1st. A person who

foretells future events; and; 2dly. A teacher of men in the

things of God, 1Co 14:3. John was a prophet in

both senses: he proclaimed the mercy which should be

communicated; announced the baptism of the Holy Spirit; and taught

men how to leave their sins, and how to find the salvation of God.

See Lu 3:5-14. His very name,

Jehochanan, the grace or mercy of Jehovah, (see Lu 1:60,)

was a constant prediction of the salvation of God. Our Lord terms

him the greatest prophet which had ever appeared in the world. He

had the honour of being the last and clearest prophet of the old

covenant, and the first of the new.

2. His employment. Thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to

prepare his ways. He should be the immediate forerunner of Jesus

Christ, none being capable of succeeding him in his ministry but

Christ himself. He was to prepare his ways, to be the honoured

instrument, in the hands of God, of disposing the hearts of

multitudes of the Israelites to believe in and follow the Lord


3. Zacharias points out the doctrine or teaching of John. It

should be γνωσιςσωτηριας, the science of salvation. Men are

ignorant, and they must be instructed. Human sciences may be

profitable in earthly matters, but cannot profit the soul. The

science that teaches God must come from God. No science is of

any avail to the soul that does not bring salvation with it: this

is the excellence of heavenly science, and an excellence that is

peculiar to itself. No science but that which comes from God can

ever save a soul from the power, the guilt, and the pollution of


4. Zacharias predicts the success of his son's ministry. Under

his preaching, the people should be directed to that tender mercy

of God, through which they might obtain the remission of their

sins, Lu 1:77, 78. Those who are sent by God, and preach

his truth, and his only, shall always be successful in their

work; for it is for this very purpose that God has sent them; and

it would be a marvellous thing, indeed, should they labour in

vain. But there never was such a case, since God made man, in

which a preacher was Divinely commissioned to preach Jesus and his

salvation, and yet had no fruit of his labour.

5. Zacharias points out the wretched state in which the

inhabitants of Judea and the Gentile world were then found. 1.

Their feet had wandered out of the way of peace, (Lu 1:79,) of

temporal and spiritual prosperity. 2. They had got into a state of

darkness-they were blind concerning the things of God, and the

things which belonged to their salvation. 3. They had become

contented inhabitants of this land of intellectual darkness-they

had sat down in it, and were not concerned to get out of it. 4.

They were about to perish in it-death had his dominion there; and

his swift approaches to them were now manifested to the prophet by

seeing his shadow cast upon them. Ignorance of God and salvation

is the shadow of death; and the substance, eternal ruin, is

essentially connected with the projected shadow. See these phrases

explained at large on Mt 4:16.

6. Zacharias proclaims the recovery of a lost world. As the

removal of this darkness, and redemption from this death, were now

at hand, John is represented as being a day-spring from on high, a

morning star, that foretold the speedy approach of the day, and

the rising of the Sun of righteousness. That these words should be

applied to John, and not to Christ, I am fully satisfied; and

cannot give my reasons better for the arrangement I have made in

the preceding notes, than in the words of an eminent critic, who,

I find, has adopted nearly the same plan with myself. The passage,

as I read it, is as follows: Through the tender mercy of our God,

by which he hath visited us: a day-spring from on high, to give

light to them that sit in the darkness and in the shadow of death,

&c. "Let the reader judge, whether my arrangement of this passage,

which much better suits the original, be not far more elegant, and

in all respects superior to the old translation. Thou, child! wilt

be a teacher-THOU WILT BE a day-spring from the sky. And with what

beauty and propriety is John, the forerunner of our Lord, styled

the dawn of day, that ushers in the rising of the Sun of

righteousness! And the concluding words-to guide our feet into the

way of peace-is a comprehensive clause, after the manner of Hebrew

poetry, belonging equally to the former sentence, beginning at-And

thou, child!-and the latter, beginning at-A day-spring from the

sky: for the people spoken of in the former are the Jews; and in

the latter, the Gentiles."-WAKEFIELD.

Verse 80. The child grew] Increased in stature and bodily

vigour. And waxed strong in spirit-had his understanding Divinely

illuminated and confirmed in the truths of God. And was in the

deserts-the city of Hebron, the circumjacent hill country, and in

or near Nazareth. Till the time of his showing, or

manifestation-till he was thirty years of age, before which

time the law did not permit a man to enter into the public

ministry, Nu 4:3. See also Lu 3:23.

So much has already been said, by way of practical improvement

of the different subjects in this important chapter, as to

preclude the necessity of any addition here.

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