Luke 2

CHAPTER II.

The decree of Augustus to enrol all the Roman empire, 1, 2.

Joseph and Mary go to their own city to be enrolled, 3-5.

Christ is born, 6, 7.

His birth is announced to the shepherds, 8-14.

They go to Bethlehem, and find Joseph, Mary, and Christ, 15-20.

Christ is circumcised, 21.

His parents go to present him in the temple, 22-24.

Simeon receives him: his song, 25-35.

Anna the prophetess, 36-38.

The holy family return to Nazareth, 39, 40.

They go to Jerusalem at the feast of the passover, and leave

Jesus behind in Jerusalem, 41-44.

They return seeking him, and find him in the midst of the

doctors, 45-47.

His mother chides him, 48.

His defence of his conduct, 49, 50.

They all return to Nazareth, 51, 52.

NOTES ON CHAP. II.

Verse 1. Caesar Augustus] This was Caius Caesar Octavianus

Augustus, who was proclaimed emperor of Rome in the 29th year

before our Lord, and died A.D. 14.

That all the world should be taxed.] πασαντηνοικουμενην, the

whole of that empire. It is agreed, on all hands, that this cannot

mean the whole world, as in the common translation; for this very

sufficient reason, that the Romans had not the dominion of the

whole earth, and therefore could have no right to raise levies or

taxes in those places to which their dominion did not extend.

οικουμενη signifies properly the inhabited part of the earth,

from οικεω, to dwell, or inhabit. Polybius makes use of the

very words in this text to point out the extent of the Roman

government, lib. vi. c. 48; and Plutarch uses the word in

exactly the same sense, Pomp. p. 635. See the passages in

Wetstein. Therefore the whole that could be meant here, can be

no more than that a general CENSUS of the inhabitants and their

effects had been made in the reign of Augustus, through all the

Roman dominions.

But as there is no general census mentioned in any historian as

having taken place at this time, the meaning of οικουμενη must be

farther restrained, and applied solely to the land of Judea. This

signification it certainly has in this same evangelist, Lu 21:26.

Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those

things which are coming on the earth, τηοικουμενη this land. The

whole discourse relates to the calamities that were coming, not

upon the whole world, nor the whole of the Roman empire, but on

the land of Judea, see Lu 21:21.

Then let them that are in Judea flee to the mountains. Out of

Judea, therefore, there would be safety; and only those who should

be with child, or giving suck, in those days, are considered as

peculiarly unhappy, because they could not flee away from that

land on which the scourge was to fall: for the wrath, or

punishment, shall be, says our Lord, εντωλαωτουτω, ON THIS VERY

PEOPLE, viz. the Jews, Lu 21:23. It appears that St. Luke used

this word in this sense in conformity to the Septuagint, who have

applied it in precisely the same way, Isa 13:11; 14:26; 24:1. And

from this we may learn, that the word οικουμενη had been long used

as a term by which the land of Judea was commonly expressed.

ηγη, which signifies the earth, or world in general, is

frequently restrained to this sense, being often used by the

evangelists and others for all the country of Judea. See Lu 4:25;

Jos 2:3.

It is probable that the reason why this enrolment, or census, is

said to have been throughout the whole Jewish nation, was to

distinguish it from that partial one, made ten years after,

mentioned Ac 5:37, which does not appear to have extended beyond

the estates of Archelaus, and which gave birth to the insurrection

excited by Judas of Galilee. See Josephus, Ant. book xx. c. 3.

Verse 2. This taxing was first made when Cyrenius, &c.] The next

difficulty in this text is found in this verse, which may be

translated, Now this first enrolment was made when Quirinus was

governor of Syria.

It is easily proved, and has been proved often, that Caius

Sulpicius Quirinus, the person mentioned in the text, was not

governor of Syria, till ten or twelve years after the birth of

our Lord.

St. Matthew says that our Lord was born in the reign of Herod,

Lu 2:1, at which time

Quintilius Varus was president of Syria, (Joseph. Ant. book

xvii. c. 5, sect. 2,) who was preceded in that office by Sentius

Saturninus. Cyrenius, or Quirinus, was not sent into Syria till

Archelaus was removed from the government of Judea; and

Archelaus had reigned there between nine and ten years after

the death of Herod; so that it is impossible that the census

mentioned by the evangelist could have been made in the presidency

of Quirinus.

Several learned men have produced solutions of this difficulty;

and, indeed, there are various ways of solving it, which may be

seen at length in Lardner, vol. i. p. 248-329. One or other of the

two following appears to me to be the true meaning of the text.

1. When Augustus published this decree, it is supposed that

Quirinus, who was a very active man, and a person in whom the

emperor confided, was sent into Syria and Judea with extraordinary

powers, to make the census here mentioned; though, at that time,

he was not governor of Syria, for Quintilius Varus was then

president; and that when he came, ten or twelve years after, into

the presidency of Syria, there was another census made, to both of

which St. Luke alludes, when he says, This was the first

assessment of Cyrenius, governor of Syria; for so Dr. Lardner

translates the words. The passage, thus translated, does not say

that this assessment was made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria,

which would not have been the truth, but that this was the first

assessment which Cyrenius, who was (i.e. afterwards) governor of

Syria, made; for after he became governor, he made a second.

Lardner defends this opinion in a very satisfactory and masterly

manner. See vol. i. p. 317. &c.

2. The second way of solving this difficulty is by translating

the words thus: This enrolment was made BEFORE Cyrenius was

governor of Syria; or, before that of Cyrenius. This sense the

word πρωτος appears to have, Joh 1:30: οτιπροτοςμουην,

for he was BEFORE me. Joh 15:18:

The world hated me BEFORE (προτον) it hated you. See also

2Sa 19:43. Instead of

πρωτη, some critics read προτης, This enrolment was made

BEFORE THAT of Cyrenius. Michaelis; and some other eminent and

learned men, have been of this opinion: but their conjecture is

not supported by any MS. yet discovered; nor, indeed, is there any

occasion for it. As the words in the evangelist are very

ambiguous, the second solution appears to me to be the best.

Verse 3. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.]

The Roman census was an institution of Servius Tullius, sixth king

of Rome. From the account which Dionysius of Halicarnassus gives

of it; we may at once see its nature.

"He ordered all the citizens of Rome to register their estates

according to their value in money, taking an oath, in a form he

prescribed, to deliver a faithful account according to the best of

their knowledge, specifying the names of their parents, their own

age, the names of their wives and children, adding also what

quarter of the city, or what town in the country, they lived in."

Ant. Rom. l. iv. c. 15. p. 212. Edit. Huds.

A Roman census appears to have consisted of these two parts: 1.

The account which the people were obliged to give in of their

names, quality, employments, wives, children, servants, and

estates; and 2. The value set upon the estates by the censors,

and the proportion in which they adjudged them to contribute to

the defence and support of the state, either in men or money, or

both: and this seems to have been the design of the census or

enrolment in the text. This census was probably similar to that

made in England in the reign of William the Conqueror, which is

contained in what is termed Domesday Book, now in the Chapter

House, Westminster, and dated 1086.

Verse 5. With Mary his espoused wife] There was no necessity for

Mary to have gone to Bethlehem, as Joseph's presence could have

answered the end proposed in the census as well without Mary as

with her; but God so ordered it, that the prophecy of Micah should

be thus fulfilled, and that Jesus should be born in the city of

David; Mic 5:2.

Verse 7. Laid him in a manger] Wetstein has shown, from a

multitude of instances, that φατνη means not merely the manger,

but the whole stable, and this I think is its proper meaning in

this place. The Latins use praesepe, a manger, in the same sense.

So Virgil, AEn. vii. p. 275.

Stabant ter centum nitidi in praesepibus altis.

"Three hundred sleek horses stood in lofty stables."

Many have thought that this was a full proof of the meanness and

poverty of the holy family, that they were obliged to take up

their lodging in a stable; but such people overlook the reason

given by the inspired penman, because there was no room for them

in the inn. As multitudes were going now to be enrolled, all the

lodgings in the inn had been occupied before Joseph and Mary

arrived. An honest man who had worked diligently at his business,

under the peculiar blessing of God, as Joseph undoubtedly had,

could not have been so destitute of money as not to be able to

procure himself and wife a comfortable lodging for a night; and,

had he been so ill fitted for the journey as some unwarrantably

imagine, we may take it for granted he would not have brought his

wife with him, who was in such a state as not to be exposed to any

inconveniences of this kind without imminent danger.

There was no room for them in the inn.] In ancient times, inns

were as respectable as they were useful, being fitted up for the

reception of travellers alone:-now, they are frequently haunts for

the idle and the profligate, the drunkard and the infidel;-in

short, for any kind of guests except Jesus and his genuine

followers. To this day there is little room for such in most inns;

nor indeed have they, in general, any business in such places. As

the Hindoos travel in large companies to holy places and to

festivals, it often happens that the inns (suraies) are so crowded

that there is not room for one half of them: some lie at the door,

others in the porch. These inns, or lodging-houses, are kept by

Mohammedans, and Mussulmans obtain prepared food at them; but the

Hindoos purchase rice, &c., and cook it, paying about a halfpenny

a night for their lodging. WARD'S Customs.

Verse 8. There were-shepherds abiding in the field] There is no

intimation here that these shepherds were exposed to the open air.

They dwelt in the fields where they had their sheep penned up; but

they undoubtedly had tents or booths under which they dwelt.

Keeping watch-by night.] Or, as in the margin, keeping the

watches of the night, i.e. each one keeping a watch (which

ordinarily consisted of three hours) in his turn. The reason why

they watched them in the field appears to have been, either to

preserve the sheep from beasts of prey, such as wolves, foxes,

&c., or from freebooting banditti, with which all the land of

Judea was at that time much infested. It was a custom among the

Jews to send out their sheep to the deserts, about the passover,

and bring them home at the commencement of the first rain: during

the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day.

As the passover occurred in the spring, and the first rain began

early in the month of Marchesvan, which answers to part of our

October and November, we find that the sheep were kept out in

the open country during the whole of the summer. And as these

shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a

presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that,

consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when

no flocks were out in the fields; nor could he have been born

later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by

night. On this very ground the nativity in December should be

given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a

chronological fact, which casts considerable light upon this

disputed point. See the quotations from the Talmudists in

Lightfoot.

The time in which Christ was born has been considered a subject

of great importance among Christians. However, the matter has been

considered of no moment by Him who inspired the evangelists; as

not one hint is dropped on the subject, by which it might be

possible even to guess nearly to the time, except the

chronological fact mentioned above. A late writer makes tho

following remark: "The first Christians placed the baptism of

Christ about the beginning of the fifteenth year of Tiberius; and

thence reckoning back thirty years, they placed his birth in the

forty-third year of the Julian period, the forty-second of

Augustus, and the twenty-eighth after the victory at Actium.

This opinion obtained till A. D. 527, when Dionysius Exiguus

invented the vulgar account. Learned and pious men have trifled

egregiously on this subject, making that of importance which the

Holy Spirit, by his silence, has plainly informed them is of none.

Fabricius gives a catalogue of no less than 136 different opinions

concerning the YEAR of Christ's birth: and as to his birth DAY,

that has been placed by Christian sects and learned men in every

month in the year. The Egyptians placed it in January-Wagenseil,

in February-Bochart, in March-some, mentioned by Clemens

Alexandrinus, in April-others, in May-Epiphanius speaks of some

who placed it in June-and of others who supposed it to have been

in July-Wagenseil, who was not sure of February, fixed it probably

in August-Lightfoot, on the 15th of September-Scaliger, Casaubon,

and Calvisius, in October-others, in November-but the Latin

Church, supreme in power, and infallible in judgment, placed

it on the 25th of December, the very day on which the ancient

Romans celebrated the feast of their goddess Bruma." See more in

Robinson's Notes on Claude's Essay, vol. i. p. 275, &c. Pope

Julius I. was the person who made this alteration, and it appears

to have been done for this reason: the sun now began his return

towards the northern tropic, ending the winter, lengthening the

short days, and introducing the spring. All this was probably

deemed emblematical of the rising of the Sun of righteousness on

the darkness of this world, and causing the day-spring from on

high to visit mankind.

Verse 9. The angel of the Lord came upon them] Or, stood over

them, επεστη. It is likely that the angel appeared in the air at

some little distance above them, and that from him the rays of the

glory of the Lord shone round about them, as the rays of light are

protected from the sun.

They were sore afraid.] Terrified with the appearance of so

glorious a being, and probably fearing that he was a messenger of

justice, coming to denounce Divine judgments, or punish them

immediately, for sins with which their consciences would not fail,

on such an occasion, to reproach them.

Verse 10. Behold, I bring you good tidings] I am not come to

declare the judgments of the Lord, but his merciful

loving-kindness, the subject being a matter of great joy. He then

declares his message. Unto you-to the Jews first, and then to the

human race. Some modern MSS. with the utmost impropriety read

ημιν, us, as if angels were included in this glorious work of

redemption; but St. Paul says, he took not upon him the nature of

angels, but the seed of Abraham, i.e. the nature of Abraham and

his posterity, the human nature; therefore the good news is to

you,-and not to yourselves exclusively, for it is to all

people, to all the inhabitants of this land, and to the

inhabitants of the whole earth.

Verse 11. A Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.] A Saviour,

σωτηρ, the same as Jesus from σωζειν, to make safe, to

deliver, preserve, to make alive, thus used by the Septuagint

for hecheiah, to cause to escape; used by the same for

to confide in, to hope. See the extensive acceptations of the

verb in Mintert, who adds under σωτηρ: " The word properly denotes

such a Saviour as perfectly frees us from all evil and danger, and

is the author of perpetual salvation." On the word Jesus, see

Joh 1:29.

Which is Christ. χριστος, the anointed, from χριω to

anoint, the same as Messiah, from mashach. This

name points out the Saviour of the world in his prophetic, regal,

and sacerdotal offices: as in ancient times, prophets, kings, and

priests were anointed with oil, when installed into their

respective offices. Anointing was the same with them as

consecration is with us. Oil is still used in the consecration

of kings.

It appears from Isa 61:1, that

anointing with oil, in consecrating a person to any important

office, whether civil or religious, was considered as an emblem of

the communication of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. This

ceremony was used on three occasions, viz. the installation of

prophets, priests, and kings, into their respective offices. But

why should such an anointing be deemed necessary? Because the

common sense of men taught them that all good, whether spiritual

or secular, must come from God, its origin and cause. Hence it was

taken for granted, 1. That no man could foretell events, unless

inspired by the Spirit of God. And therefore the prophet was

anointed, to signify the communication of the Spirit of wisdom and

knowledge. 2. That no person could offer an acceptable sacrifice

to God for the sins of men, or profitably minister in holy things,

unless enlightened, influenced, and directed by the Spirit of

grace and holiness. Hence the priest was anointed, to signify his

being divinely qualified for the due performance of his sacred

functions. 3. That no man could enact just and equitable laws

which should have the prosperity of the community and the welfare

of the individual continually in view, or could use the power

confided to him only for the suppression of vice and the

encouragement of virtue, but that man who was ever under the

inspiration of the Almighty. Hence kings were inaugurated by

anointing with oil. Two of these offices only exist in all

civilized nations, the sacerdotal and regal; and in some countries

the priest and king are still consecrated by anointing. In the

Hebrew language, mashach signifies to anoint; and

ha-mashiach, the anointed person. But as no man was ever

dignified by holding the three offices, so no person ever had the

title ha-mashiach, the anointed one, but Jesus the Christ. He

alone is King of kings, and Lord of lords: the king who governs

the universe, and rules in the hearts of his followers; the

prophet to instruct men in the way wherein they should go; and

the great high priest, to make atonement for their sins. Hence he

is called the Messias, a corruption of the word ha-mashiach,

THE anointed ONE, in Hebrew; which gave birth to οχριστος, ho

Christos, which has precisely the same signification in Greek. Of

him, Melchizedek, Abraham, Aaron, David, and others, were

illustrious types; but none of these had the title of THE MESSIAH,

or the ANOINTED of GOD: This does, and ever will, belong

exclusively to JESUS the CHRIST.

The Lord. κυριος, the supreme, eternal Being, the ruler of the

heavens and the earth. The Septuagint generally translate

Yehovah by κυριος. This Hebrew word, from hayah, he was,

properly points out the eternity and self-existence of the Supreme

Being; and if we may rely on the authority of Hesychius, which no

scholar will call in question, κυριος is a proper translation of

ηωηθ Yehovah, as it comes from κυρωτυγχανω, I am, I exist.

Others derive it from κυρος, authority, legislative power. It is

certain that the lordship of Christ must be considered in a mere

spiritual sense, as he never set up any secular government upon

earth, nor commanded any to be established in his name; and there

is certainly no spiritual government but that of God: and indeed

the word Lord, in the text, appears to be properly understood,

when applied to the deity of Christ. Jesus is a prophet, to reveal

the will of God, and instruct men in it. He is a priest, to offer

up sacrifice, and make atonement for the sin of the world. He is

Lord, to rule over and rule in the souls of the children of men:

in a word, he is Jesus the Saviour, to deliver from the power,

guilt, and pollution of sin; to enlarge and vivify, by the

influence of his Spirit; to preserve in the possession of the

salvation which he has communicated; to seal those who believe,

heirs of glory; and at last to receive them into the fulness of

beatitude in his eternal joy.

Verse 12. This shall be a sign (or token) unto you] You

shall find this glorious person, however strange it may appear,

wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a stable! It is by

humility that Christ comes to reign; and this is the only way

into his kingdom! Pride is the character of all the children of

Adam: humility the mark of the Son of God, and of all his

followers. Christ came in the way of humility to destroy that

pride which is the root of evil in the souls of men. And thus,

according to the old medical aphorism, "Opposites are destroyed by

their opposites."

Verse 13. Suddenly there was with the angel, &c.] this multitude

of the heavenly host had just now descended from on high, to

honour the new-born Prince of peace, to give his parents the

fullest conviction of his glory and excellence, and to teach the

shepherds, who were about to be the first proclaimers of the

Gospel, what to think and what to speak of him, who, while he

appeared as a helpless infant, was the object of worship to the

angels of God.

Verse 14. Glory to God in the highest] The design of God, in the

incarnation, was to manifest the hidden glories of his nature, and

to reconcile men to each other and to himself. The angels

therefore declare that this incarnation shall manifest and promote

the glory of God, ενυψιστοις not only in the highest heavens,

among the highest orders of beings, but in the highest and most

exalted degrees. For in this astonishing display of God's mercy,

attributes of the Divine nature which had not been and could not

be known in any other way should be now exhibited in the fulness

of their glory, that even the angels should have fresh objects to

contemplate, and new glories to exult in. These things the angels

desire to look into, 1Pe 1:12, and they desire it because they

feel they are thus interested in it. The incarnation of Jesus

Christ is an infinite and eternal benefit. Heaven and earth both

partake of the fruits of it, and through it angels and men become

one family, Eph 3:15.

Peace, good will toward men.] Men are in a state of hostility

with Heaven and with each other. The carnal mind is enmity against

God. He who sins wars against his Maker; and

"Foe to God was ne'er true friend to man."

When men become reconciled to God, through the death of his Son,

they love one another. They have peace with God; peace in their

own consciences; and peace with their neighbours: good will

dwells among them, speaks in them, and works by them. Well might

this state of salvation be represented under the notion of the

kingdom of God, a counterpart of eternal felicity.

See Clarke on Mt 3:2.

Verse 15. Let us now go even unto Bethlehem] διελθωμεν, let us

go across the country at the nearest, that we may lose no time,

that we may speedily see this glorious reconciler of God and man.

All delays are dangerous: but he who delays to seek Jesus, when

the angels, the messengers of God, bring him glad tidings of

salvation, risks his present safety and his eternal happiness. O,

what would the damned in hell give for those moments in which the

living hear of salvation, had they the same possibility of

receiving it! Reader, be wise. Acquaint thyself now with God, and

be at peace; and thereby good will come unto thee. Amen.

Verse 17. They made known abroad the saying] These shepherds

were the first preachers of the Gospel of Christ: and what was

their text? Why, Glory to God in the highest heavens, and on earth

peace and good will among men. This is the elegant and energetic

saying which comprises the sum and substance of the Gospel of

God. This, and this only, is the message which all Christ's true

pastors or shepherds bring to men. He who, while he professes

the religion of Christ, disturbs society by his preachings or

writings, who excludes from the salvation of God all who hold

not his religious or political creed, never knew the nature of the

Gospel, and never felt its power or influence. How can religious

contentions, civil broils, or open wars, look that Gospel in the

face which publishes nothing but glory to God, and peace and good

will among men? Crusades for the recovery of a holy land so

called, (by the way, latterly, the most unholy in the map of the

world,) and wars for the support of religion, are an insult to the

Gospel, and blasphemy against God!

Verse 19. And pondered them in her heart.] συμβαλλουσα,

Weighing them in her heart. Weighing is an English translation

of our word pondering, from the Latin ponderare. Every

circumstance relative to her son's birth, Mary treasured up in her

memory; and every new circumstance she weighed, or compared with

those which had already taken place, in order to acquire the

fullest information concerning the nature and mission of her son.

Verse 20. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising] These

simple men, having satisfactory evidence of the truth of the good

tidings, and feeling a Divine influence upon their own minds,

returned to the care of their flocks, glorifying God for what he

had shown them, and for the blessedness which they felt. "Jesus

Christ, born of a woman, laid in a stable, proclaimed and

ministered to by the heavenly host, should be a subject of

frequent contemplation to the pastors of his Church. After having

compared the predictions of the prophets with the facts stated in

the evangelic history, their own souls being hereby confirmed in

these sacred truths, they will return to their flocks, glorifying

and praising God for what they had seen and heard in the Gospel

history, just as it had been told them in the writings of the

prophets; and, preaching these mysteries with the fullest

conviction of their truth, they become instruments in the hands of

God of begetting the same faith in their hearers; and thus the

glory of God and the happiness of his people are both promoted."

What subjects for contemplation!-what matter for praise!

Verse 21. When eight days were accomplished] The law had

appointed that every male should be circumcised at eight days old,

or on the eighth day after its birth, Ge 17:12; and our blessed

Lord received circumcision in token of his subjection to the law,

Ga 4:4; 5:3.

His name was called JESUS] See Clarke on Mt 1:21

and See Clarke on Joh 1:29.

Verse 22. Days of her purification] That is, thirty-three days

after what was termed the seven days of her uncleanness-forty days

in all: for that was the time appointed by the law, after the

birth of a male child. See Le 12:2, 6.

The MSS. and versions differ much in the pronoun in this place:

some reading αυτης, HER purification; others αυτου, HIS

purification; others αυτων, THEIR purification; and others αυτοιν,

the purification of THEM BOTH. Two versions and two of the fathers

omit the pronoun, αυτων, their, and αυτου, his, have the

greatest authorities in their support, and the former is received

into most of the modern editions. A needless scrupulosity was, in

my opinion, the origin of these various readings. Some would not

allow that both needed purification, and referred the matter to

Mary alone. Others thought neither could be supposed to be

legally impure, and therefore omitted the pronoun entirely,

leaving the meaning indeterminate. As there could be no moral

defilement in the case, and what was done being for the

performance of a legal ceremony, it is of little consequence which

of the readings is received into the text.

The purification of every mother and child, which the law

enjoined, is a powerful argument in proof of that original

corruption and depravity which every human being brings into the

world. The woman to be purified was placed in the east gate of the

court, called Nicanor's gate, and was there sprinkled with blood:

thus she received the atonement. See Lightfoot.

Verse 24. And to offer a sacrifice] Neither mother nor child was

considered as in the Lord's covenant, or under the Divine

protection, till these ceremonies, prescribed by the law, had been

performed.

A pair of turtle doves, &c.] One was for a burnt-offering, and

the other for a sin-offering: see Le 12:8. The rich were required

to bring a lamb, but the poor and middling classes were required

to bring either two turtle doves, or two pigeons. This is a proof

that the holy family were not in affluence. Jesus sanctified the

state of poverty, which is the general state of man, by passing

through it. Therefore the poor have the Gospel preached unto them;

and the poor are they who principally receive it.

Though neither Mary nor her son needed any of these

purifications, for she was immaculate, and He was the Holy

One, yet, had she not gone through the days of purification

according to the law, she could not have appeared in the public

worship of the Most High, and would have been considered as an

apostate from the faith of the Israel of God; and had not He been

circumcised and publicly presented in the temple, he could not

have been permitted to enter either synagogue or temple, and no

Jew would have heard him preach, or had any intercourse or

connection with him. These reasons are sufficient to account for

the purification of the holy virgin, and for the circumcision of

the most holy Jesus.

Verse 25. And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem] This man is

distinguished because of his singular piety. There can be no doubt

that there were many persons in Jerusalem named Simeon, besides

this man; but there was none of the name who merited the attention

of God so much as he in the text. Such persevering exemplary piety

was very rare, and therefore the inspired penman ushers in the

account with behold! Several learned men are of the opinion that

he was son to the famous Hillel, one of the most celebrated

doctors and philosophers which had ever appeared in the Jewish

nation since the time of Moses. Simeon is supposed also to have

been the AB or president of the grand Sanhedrin.

The same man was just] He steadily regulated all his conduct by

the law of his God: and devout-he had fully consecrated himself to

God, so that he added a pious heart to a righteous conduct. The

original word ευλαβης, signifies also a person of good report-one

well received among the people, or one cautious and circumspect

in matters of religion; from ευ, well, and λαμβανω, I take:

it properly denotes, one who takes any thing that is held out to

him, well and carefully. He so professed and practised the

religion of his fathers that he gave no cause for a friend to

mourn on his account, or an enemy to triumph.

Several excellent MSS. read ευσεβης, pious or godly, from ευ,

well, and σεβομαι, I worship; one who worships God well,

i.e. in spirit and in truth.

Waiting for the consolation of Israel] That is, the Messiah, who

was known among the pious Jews by this character: he was to be the

consolation of Israel, because he was to be its redemption. This

consolation of Israel was so universally expected that the Jews

swore by it: So let me see the Consolation, if such a thing be not

so, or so. See the forms in Lightfoot.

The Holy Ghost was upon him] He was a man divinely inspired,

overshadowed, and protected by the power and influence of the Most

High.

Verse 26. It was revealed unto him] He was divinely informed,

κεχρηματιστισμενον-he had an express communication from God

concerning the subject. The secret of the Lord is with them that

fear him. The soul of a righteous and devout man is a proper

habitation for the Holy Spirit.

He should not see death] They that seek shall find: it is

impossible that a man who is earnestly seeking the salvation of

God, should be permitted to die without finding it.

The Lord's Christ.] Rather, the Lord's anointed. That prophet,

priest, and king, who was typified by so many anointed persons

under the old covenant; and who was appointed to come in the

fulness of time, to accomplish all that was written in the law, in

the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning him.

See Clarke on Lu 2:11.

Verse 27. He came by the Spirit into the temple] Probably he had

in view the prophecy of Malachi, Mal 3:1,

The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple. In

this messenger of the covenant, the soul of Simeon delighted.

Now the prophecy was just going to be fulfilled; and the Holy

Spirit, who dwelt in the soul of this righteous man, directed him

to go and see its accomplishment. Those who come, under the

influence of God's Spirit, to places of public worship, will

undoubtedly meet with him who is the comfort and salvation of

Israel.

After the custom of the law] To present him to the Lord, and

then redeem him by paying five shekels, Nu 18:15, 16, and to

offer those sacrifices appointed by the law. See Lu 2:24.

Verse 28. Then took he him up in his arms] What must the holy

soul of this man have felt in this moment! O inestimable

privilege! And yet ours need not be inferior: If a man love me,

says Christ, he will keep my word; and I and the Father will come

in unto him, and make our abode with him. And indeed even Christ

in the arms could not avail a man, if he were not formed in his

heart.

Verse 29. Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace]

Now thou dismissest, απολυεις, loosest him from life; having

lived long enough to have the grand end of life accomplished.

According to thy word] It was promised to him, that he should

not die till he had seen the Lord's anointed, Lu 2:26; and now,

having seen him, he expects to be immediately dismissed in peace

into the eternal world; having a full assurance and enjoyment of

the salvation of God. Though Simeon means his death, yet the thing

itself is not mentioned; for death has not only lost its sting,

but its name also, to those who have, even by faith, seen the

Lord's anointed.

Verse 30. Thy salvation] That Saviour which it became the

goodness of God to bestow upon man, and which the necessities of

the human race required. Christ is called our salvation, as he is

called our life, our peace, our hope; i.e. he is the author

of all these, to them who believe.

Verse 31. Which thou hast prepared] οητοιμασας, which thou hast

MADE READY before the face, in the presence, of all people. Here

salvation is represented under the notion of a feast, which God

himself has provided for the whole world; and to partake of which

he has invited all the nations of the earth. There seems a direct

allusion here to Isa 25:6, &c. "In this mountain shall the Lord

of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things," &c.

Salvation is properly the food of the soul, by which it is

nourished unto eternal life; he that receiveth not this, must

perish for ever.

Verse 32. A light to lighten the Gentiles] φωςειςαποκαλοψιν

εθνων-A light of the Gentiles, for revelation. By Moses and the

prophets, a light of revelation was given to the Jews, in the

blessedness of which the Gentiles did not partake. By Christ and

his apostles, a luminous revelation is about to be given unto the

Gentiles, from the blessedness of which the Jews in general, by

their obstinacy and unbelief, shall be long excluded. But to all

true Israelites it shall be a glory, an evident fulfilment of all

the predictions of the prophets, relative to the salvation of a

lost world; and the first offers of it shall be made to the Jewish

people, who may see in it the truth of their own Scriptures

indisputably evinced.

Verse 33. Joseph and his mother marvelled] For they did not as

yet fully know the counsels of God, relative to the salvation

which Christ was to procure; nor the way in which the purchase was

to be made: but to this Simeon refers in the following verses.

Verse 34. This child is set for the fall] This seems an allusion

to Isa 8:14, 15:

Jehovah, God of hosts, shall be-for a stone of stumbling and

rock of offence to both houses of Israel; and many among them

shall stumble and fall, &c. As Christ did not come as a temporal

deliverer, in which character alone the Jews expected him, the

consequence should be, they would reject him, and so fall by the

Romans. See Ro 11:11, 12, and Mt 24:1ff. But in the fulness of

time there shall be a rising again of many in Israel.

See Ro 11:26.

And for a sign] A mark or butt to shoot at-a metaphor taken

from archers. Or perhaps Simeon refers to Isa 11:10-12.

There shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ENSIGN

of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek:-intimating that the

Jews would reject it, while the Gentiles should flock to it as

their ensign of honour, under which they were to enjoy a glorious

rest.

That the thoughts (or reasonings) of many hearts may be

revealed.] I have transposed this clause to the place to which I

believe it belongs. The meaning appears to me to be this: The

rejection of the Messiah by the Jewish rulers will sufficiently

prove that they sought the honour which comes from the world, and

not that honour which comes from God: because they rejected Jesus,

merely for the reason that he did not bring them a temporal

deliverance. So the very Pharisees, who were loud in their

professions of sanctity and devotedness to God, rejected Jesus,

and got him crucified, because his kingdom was not of this world.

Thus the reasonings of many hearts were revealed.

Verse 35. Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also]

Probably meaning, Thou also, as well as thy son, shall die a

martyr for the truth. But as this is a metaphor used by the most

respectable Greek writers to express the most pungent sorrow, it

may here refer to the anguish Mary must have felt when standing

beside the cross of her tortured son: Joh 19:25.

Verse 36. Anna, a prophetess] It does not appear that this

person was a prophetess in the strict sense of the word, i.e. one

who could foretell future events; but rather a holy woman; who,

from her extensive knowledge and deep experience in Divine things,

was capable of instructing others; according to the use of the

word προφητευω, 1Co 14:3:

He that prophesieth, speaketh unto men to edification, and to

exhortation, and to comfort. So we find this holy widow

proclaiming Jesus to all who looked for redemption in Jerusalem,

Lu 2:38.

The tribe of Asher] This was one of the ten tribes of the

kingdom of Israel, several families of which had returned from

their idolatry unto God, in the time that Hezekiah proclaimed the

passover in Jerusalem, which is mentioned 2Ch 30:1-11. Though her

family might have been a distinguished one in Jerusalem, yet we

find that it was her very exemplary piety that entitled her to be

thus honourably mentioned in the sacred history. It is an

honourable thing indeed to have one's name written in the sacred

records; but to be written in the book of life is of infinitely

greater moment.

Seven years] She was a pure virgin when married, was favoured

with her husband but seven years, and was now in all, taking in

the time of her virginity, marriage, and widowhood, eighty-four

years of age. At such an age, it might be supposed she was

reasonably exempted from performing the severer duties of

religion; but her spirit of piety continued still to burn with a

steady and undiminished fame.

Verse 37. Departed not from the temple] Attended constantly at

the hours of prayer, which were nine in the morning and three in

the afternoon. See Ac 2:15; 3:1. It does not appear that women

had any other functions to perform in that holy place.

With fastings] She accompanied her devotion with frequent

fastings, probably not oftener than twice in the week; for this

was the custom of the most rigid Pharisees: see Lu 18:12.

Verse 38. Coming in that instant] αυτητηωρα, at that very

time-while Simeon held the blessed Redeemer in his arms, and was

singing his departing and triumphal song.

Gave thanks likewise] She, as well as Simeon, returned God

public thanks, for having sent this Saviour to Israel.

Spake of him] Of the nature and design of his mission; and the

glory that should take place in the land.

To all them that looked for redemption] As Daniel's seventy

weeks were known to be now completed, the more pious Jews were in

constant expectation of the promised Messiah. They were expecting

redemption, λυτρωσις; such a redemption as was to be brought about

by an atonement, or expiatory victim, or ransom price.

See Clarke on Lu 1:68.

In Jerusalem.] It is probable she went about from house to

house, testifying the grace of God. In the margin of our

common version, Israel is put instead of Jerusalem, which the

translators thought was nearly as eligible as the word they

received into the text. This marginal reading is supported by

several MSS., all the Arabic and Persic versions, the Vulgate,

and most copies of the Itala. Were this reading to be received, it

would make a very essential alteration in the meaning of the text,

as it would intimate that this excellent woman travelled over the

land of Israel, proclaiming the advent of Christ. At all events,

it appears that this widow was one of the first publishers of the

Gospel of Christ, and it is likely that she travelled with it from

house to house through the city of Jerusalem, where she knew they

dwelt who were expecting the salvation of God.

Verse 39. They returned into Galilee] But not immediately: for

the coming of the wise men, and the retreat of Joseph with his

family into Egypt, happened between this period of time, and his

going to Nazareth in Galilee.-Bp. PEARCE. But it is very likely,

that as soon as the presentation in the temple, and the ceremonies

relative to it, had been accomplished, that the holy family did

return to Galilee, as St. Luke here states, and that they

continued there till Herod's bloody purpose was discovered to them

by the Lord; which probably took some time to bring it to its

murderous crisis, after the departure of the magi. After which,

they fled into Egypt, where they continued till the death of

Herod; and it is probable that it is of a second return to

Nazareth that St. Matthew speaks, Lu 2:23.

Verse 40. The child grew] As to his body-being in perfect

health.

Waxed strong in spirit] His rational soul became strong and

vigorous.

Filled with wisdom] The divinity continuing to communicate

itself more and more, in proportion to the increase of the

rational principle. The reader should never forget that Jesus

was perfect man, as well as God.

And the grace of God was upon him.] The word χαρις, not only

means grace in the common acceptation of the word, (some blessing

granted by God's mercy to those who are sinners, or have no

merit,) but it means also favour or approbation: and this

sense I think most proper for it here, when applied to the human

nature of our blessed Lord; and thus our translators render the

same word, Lu 2:52. Even Christ himself, who knew no sin,

grew in the favour of God; and, as to his human nature,

increased in the graces of the Holy Spirit. From this we learn

that, if a man were as pure and as perfect as the man Jesus Christ

himself was, yet he might nevertheless increase in the image, and

consequently in the favour, of God. God loves every thing and

person, in proportion to the nearness of the approaches made to

his own perfections.

Verse 41. His parents went-every year] This was their constant

custom, because positively enjoined by the law, Ex 23:17. But it

does not appear that infants were obliged to be present; and yet

all the men-children are positively ordered to make their

appearance at Jerusalem thrice in the year, Ex 34:23. And our

Lord, being now twelve years old, Lu 2:42, accompanies his

parents to the feast. Probably this was the very age at which the

male children were obliged to appear before the Lord at the three

public festivals-the feast of unleavened bread, of weeks, and of

tabernacles. According to the Jewish canons, it was the age at

which they were obliged to begin to learn a trade.

Verse 43. Had fulfilled the days] Eight days in the whole: one

was the passover, and the other seven, the days of unleavened

bread. See Clarke on Mt 26:2.

Verse 44. Supposing him to have been in the company] Some have

supposed that the men and women marched in separate companies on

these occasions, which is very likely; and that sometimes the

children kept company with the men, sometimes with the women.

This might have led to what otherwise seems to have been

inexcusable carelessness in Joseph and Mary. Joseph, not seeing

Jesus in the men's company, might suppose he was with his mother

in the women's company; and Mary, not seeing him with her, might

imagine he was with Joseph.

Went a day's journey] Knowing what a treasure they possessed,

how could they be so long without looking on it? Where were the

bowels and tender solicitude of the mother? Let them answer this

question who can.

And they sought him] ανεζητουν, They earnestly sought him.

They are now both duly affected with a sense of their great loss

and great negligence.

Kinsfolk and acquaintance.] Those of the same family and

neighbourhood went up to Jerusalem together on such occasions.

I have frequently been reminded, says Mr. Ward, when reading

this history, of the crowds going to some place in Bengal, to an

idol feast. Men, women, and children, in large companies, may be

seen travelling together, with their bedding, &c., on their heads.

They cook and prepare their victuals in some shady place near a

town, where they can purchase the necessaries they want, and,

after remaining two or three days at the festival, return in

companies as they went.

Verse 45. Seeking him.] ζητουντεςαυτον-or rather, seeking him

diligently, ανζητουντες. This is the reading of BCDL, six others,

Vulgate, and nine copies of the Itala. If they sought earnestly

when they first found him missing, there is little doubt that

their solicitude and diligence must be greatly increased during

his three days' absence, therefore the word which I have adopted,

on the above authority, is more likely to be the true reading than

the ζητουντες of the common text, which simply signifies seeking;

whereas the other strongly marks their solicitude and diligence.

Verse 46. Sitting in the midst of the doctors] The rabbins, who

were explaining the law and the ceremonies of the Jewish religion

to their disciples.

Asking them questions.] Not as a scholar asks his teacher, to be

informed; but as a teacher, who proposes questions to his

scholars in order to take an occasion to instruct them.

In the time of Josephus, the Jewish teachers were either very

ignorant or very humble: for he tells us that, "when he was

about fourteen years of age, the chief priests, and the principal

men of the city, were constantly coming to him to be more

accurately instructed in matters relative to the law." See his

Life, sect. ii. If this were true, it is no wonder to find them

now listening, with the deepest attention, to such teaching as

they never before heard.

Verse 47. Answers:] The word αποκρισις here seems not to mean

answers only, but what Jesus said by way of question to the

doctors, Lu 2:46. So in Re 7:13, one of the elders is said to

have answered, saying-when he only asked a question. Bp. PEARCE.

Verse 48. Why hast thou thus dealt with us?] It certainly was

not his fault, but theirs. Men are very apt to lay on others the

blame of their own misconduct.

Verse 49. How is it that ye sought me?] Is not this intended as

a gentle reproof? Why had ye me to seek? Ye should not have left

my company, when ye knew I am constantly employed in performing

the will of the Most High.

My Father's business?] εντοιςτουπατροςμου, My Father's

concerns. Some think that these words should be translated, In my

Father's house; which was a reason that they should have sought

him in the temple only. As if he had said, Where should a child be

found, but in his father's house? This translation is defended by

Grotius, Pearce, and others; and is the reading of the Syriac,

later Persic, and Armenian versions. Our Lord took this

opportunity to instruct Joseph and Mary concerning his Divine

nature and mission. My Father's concerns. This saying, one would

think, could not have been easily misunderstood. It shows at once

that he came down from heaven. Joseph had no concerns in the

temple; and yet we find they did not fully comprehend it. How slow

of heart is man to credit any thing that comes from God!

Verse 51. Was subject unto them] Behaved towards them with all

dutiful submission. Probably his working with his hands at his

reputed father's business, is here also implied:

See Clarke on Lu 2:41.

No child among the Jews was ever brought up in idleness. Is not

this the carpenter? was a saying of those Jews who appear to have

had a proper knowledge of his employment while in Joseph's house.

See Clarke on Mt 13:55.

Verse 52. Jesus increased in wisdom] See Clarke on Lu 2:40.

THE following remarks, taken chiefly from Mr. Claude, on the

foregoing subject, are well worth the reader's attention.

I. The birth of Christ is announced to the shepherds.

1. God causes his grace to descend not only on the great and

powerful of the world, but also upon the most simple and

inconsiderable; just as the heavens diffuse their influence not

only on great trees, but also on the smallest herbs.

2. God seems to take more delight in bestowing his favours on

the most abject than in distributing them among persons of

elevated rank. Here is an example: for while he sent the wise men

of the east to Herod, he sent an angel of heaven to the shepherds,

and conducted them to the cradle of the Saviour of the world.

3. ln this meeting of the angels and shepherds, you see a

perpetual characteristic of the economy of Jesus Christ; wherein

the highest and most sublime things are joined with the meanest

and lowest. In his person, the eternal WORD is united to a

creature, the Divine nature to the human, infinity to infirmity,

in a word, the Lord of glory to mean flesh and blood. On his

cross, though he appears naked, crowned with thorns, and exposed

to sorrows, yet at the same time he shakes the earth, and eclipses

the sun. Here, in like manner, are angels familiar with shepherds;

angels, to mark his majesty-shepherds, his humility.

4. This mission of angels relates to the end for which the Son

of God came into the world; for he came to establish a communion

between God and men, and to make peace between men and angels: to

this must be referred what St. Paul says, Col 1:20,

It pleased the Father, by him, to reconcile all things to

himself.

5. However simple and plain the employments of men may be, it is

always very pleasing to God when they discharge them with a good

conscience. While these shepherds were busy in their calling, God

sent his angels to them.

6. God does, in regard to men, what these shepherds did in

regard to their sheep. He is the great Shepherd of mankind,

continually watching over them by his providence.

II. The glory of the Lord shone round the shepherds.

1. When angels borrow human forms, in order to appear to men,

they have always some ensigns of grandeur and majesty, to show

that they are not men, but angels.

2. The appearance of this light to the shepherds in the night,

may very well be taken for a mystical symbol. Night represents the

corrupt state of mankind when Jesus came into the world; a state

of ignorance and error. Light fitly represents the salutary

grace of Christ, which dissipates obscurity, and gives us the true

knowledge of God.

III. The shepherds were filled with great fear.

1. This was the effect of their great surprise. When grand

objects suddenly present themselves to us, they must needs fill us

with astonishment and fear, for the mind, on these occasions, is

not at liberty to exert its force; on the contrary, its strength

is dissipated, and during this dissipation it is impossible not to

fear.

2. This fear may also arise from emotions of conscience. Man is

by nature a sinner, and consequently an object of the justice of

God. While God does not manifest himself to him, he remains

insensible of his sin; but, when God discovers himself to him, he

awakes to feeling, and draws nigh to God as a trembling criminal

approaches his judge. See this exemplified in the case of Adam,

and in that of the Israelites when God appeared on the mountain:

hence that proverbial saying, We shall die, for we have seen God.

3. The shepherds had just reason to fear when they saw before

them an angel of heaven, surrounded with the ensigns of majesty,

for angels had been formerly the ministers of God's vengeance. On

this occasion, the sad examples of Divine vengeance, recorded in

Scripture, and performed by the ministry of angels, might, in a

moment, rise to view, and incline them to think that this angel

had received a like order to destroy them.

IV. Observe the angel's discourse to the shepherds.

1. The angels say to them, Fear not. This preface was necessary

to gain their attention, which fear, no doubt, had dissipated. The

disposition which the angel wishes to awaken in them comports with

the news which he intended to announce; for what has fear to do

with the birth of the Saviour of the world?

2. The angel describes, 1st, The person of whom he speaks, a

Saviour, Christ, the Lord; see before on Lu 2:11. See, 2dly,

What he speaks of him; he is born unto you. 3dly, He marks the

time; this day. 4thly, He describes the place; in the city of

David. 5thly, He specifies the nature of this important news; a

great joy which shall be unto all people. See Claude's Essay, by

Robinson, vol. i. p. 266, &c.

Concerning Simeon, three things deserve to be especially noted:

1. His faith. 2. His song. And 3. His prophecy.

I. His faith.

1. He expected the promised Redeemer, in virtue of the promises

which God had made; and, to show that his faith was of the

operation of God's Spirit, he lived a life of righteousness and

devotedness to God. Many profess to expect the salvation which

God has promised only to those who believe, while living in

conformity to the world, under the influence of its spirit, and in

the general breach of the righteous law of God.

2. The faith of Simeon led him only to wish for life that he

might see him who was promised, and, be properly prepared for an

inheritance among the sanctified. They who make not this use of

life are much to be lamented. It would have been better for them

had they never been born.

3. The faith of Simeon was crowned with success. Jesus came; he

saw, he felt, he adored him! and, with a heart filled with the

love of God, he breathed out his holy soul, and probably the last

dregs of his life, in praise to the fountain of all good.

II. Simeon's song. By it he shows forth:-

1. The joy of his own heart. Lord, now thou dismissest thy

servant; as if he had said: "Yes, O my God, I am going to quit

this earth! I feel that thou callest me; and I quit it without

regret. Thou hast fulfilled all my desires, and completed my

wishes, and I desire to be detained no longer from the full

enjoyment of thyself." O, how sweet is death, after such an

enjoyment and discovery of eternal life!

2. Simeon shows forth the glory of Christ. He is the Sun of

righteousness, rising on a dark and ruined world with light and

salvation. He is the light that shall manifest the infinite

kindness of God to the Gentile people; proving that God is good to

all, and that his tender mercies are over all his works.

He is the glory of Israel. It is by him that the Gentiles have

been led to acknowledge the Jews as the peculiar people of God;

their books as the word of God, and their teaching as the

revelation of God. What an honour for this people, had they

known how to profit by it!

3. He astonished Joseph and Mary with his sublime account of the

Redeemer of the world. They hear him glorified, and their hearts

exult in it. From this Divine song they learn that this miraculous

son of theirs is the sum and substance of all the promises made

unto the fathers, and of all the predictions of the prophets.

III. Simeon's prophecy.

1. He addresses Christ, and foretells that he should be for the

ruin and recovery of many in Israel. How astonishing is the folly

and perverseness of man, to turn that into poison which God has

made the choicest medicine; and thus to kill themselves with the

cure which he has appointed for them in the infinity of his

love! Those who speak against Jesus, his ways, his doctrine, his

cross, his sacrifice, are likely to stumble, and fall, and rise no

more for ever! May the God of mercy save the reader from this

condemnation!

2. He addresses Mary, and foretells the agonies she must go

through. What must this holy woman have endured when she saw her

son crowned with thorns, scourged, buffeted, spit upon-when she

saw his hands and his feet nailed to the cross, and his side

pierced with a spear! What a sword through her own soul must each

of these have been! But this is not all. These sufferings of Jesus

are predicted thirty years before they were to take place! What a

martyrdom was this! While he is nourished in her bosom, she cannot

help considering him as a lamb who is growing up to be sacrificed.

The older he grows, the nearer the bloody scene approaches! Thus

her sufferings must increase with his years, and only end with

his life!

3. He foretells the effects which should be produced by the

persecutions raised against Christ and his followers. This sword

of persecution shall lay open the hearts of many, and discover

their secret motives and designs. When the doctrine of the cross

is preached, and persecution raised because of it, then the

precious are easily distinguished from the vile. Those whose

hearts are not established by grace, now right with God, will turn

aside from the way of righteousness, and deny the Lord that bought

them. On the other hand, those whose faith stands not in the

wisdom of man, but in the power of God, will continue faithful

unto death, glorify God in the fire, and thus show forth the

excellency of his salvation, and the sincerity of the profession

which they had before made. Thus the thoughts of many hearts are

still revealed.

The design of our blessed Lord in staying behind in the temple

seems to have been twofold. 1st. To prepare the Jews to

acknowledge in him a Divine and supernatural wisdom: and 2dly. To

impress the minds of Joseph and Mary with a proper idea of his

independence and Divinity. Their conduct in this business may be

a lasting lesson and profitable warning to all the disciples of

Christ.

1st. It is possible (by not carefully watching the heart, and by

not keeping sacredly and constantly in view the spirituality of

every duty) to lose the presence and power of Christ, even in

religious ordinances. Joseph and Mary were at the feast of the

passover when they lost Jesus!

2dly. Many who have sustained loss in their souls are kept from

making speedy application to God for help and salvation, through

the foolish supposition that their state is not so bad as it

really is; and, in the things of salvation, many content

themselves with the persuasion that the religious people with whom

they associate are the peculiar favourites of Heaven, and that

they are in a state of complete safety while connected with them.

They, supposing him to be in the company, went a day's journey.

3dly. Deep sorrow and self-reproach must be the consequence of

the discovery of so great a loss as that of the presence and power

of Christ. Joseph and Mary sought him sorrowing.

4thly. When people are convinced, by the light of the Lord, that

their souls are not in a safe state, and that unless they find the

Redeemer of the world they must perish, they are naturally led to

inquire among their kinsfolk and acquaintance for him who saves

sinners. But this often proves fruitless; they know not Jesus

themselves, and they cannot tell others where to find him.

They sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance, and found

him not.

5thly. When people perceive that they have proceeded in a

certain course of life for a considerable time, without that

salvation which God promises in his word, they should first stop

and inquire into their state, and when they find that they have

been posting into eternity, not only without a preparation for

glory, but with an immense load of guilt upon their souls, they

should turn back, and, as their time may be but short, they should

seek diligently.

They turned back to Jerusalem, earnestly seeking him.

6thly. The likeliest place to find Jesus and his salvation is

the temple. The place where his pure unadulterated Gospel is

preached, the sanctuary where the power and glory of God are seen

in the conviction, conversion, and salvation of sinners. They

found him in the temple, among the doctors.

7thly. Trials, persecutions, and afflictions are all nothing,

when the presence and power of Christ are felt; but when a

testimony of his approbation lives no longer in the heart, every

thing is grievous and insupportable. The fatigue of the journey to

Bethlehem, the flight from the cruelty of Herod, and the

unavoidable trials in Egypt, were cheerfully supported by Joseph

and Mary, because in all they had Jesus with them; but now they

are in distress and misery because he is behind in Jerusalem.

Reader, if thou have lost Jesus, take no rest to body or soul till

thou have found him! Without him, all is confusion and ruin: with

him, all is joy and peace.

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