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ty and splendor, we should adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all holy conversation; and, as we are a wise and understanding people, by adding to faith and knowledge, godliness and virtue, we should prove ourselves a holy and righteous nation, and shew forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light, that we might be, as the Israelites of old, a kingdom of priests to proclaim tire glad tidings of salvation to the ends of the earth.
For which great pur, pose providence seems to have intended that extensive communication we have with almost every part of the habitable globe, by which a great door of faith in Christ seems, through the divine interposition, to be opened ; and, if we, by our intercourse with them, approve our holy religion in the uniform practise of all godliness and honesty, truth and sincerity, virtue and charity, niillions of souls, which now wander in the mazes of ignorance and error, may be brought back into the flock of God and to the knowledge of his Son Jesus Christ.
It is foretold, by St Paul, that, before the final conversion of the Jews, the fullness of the Gentiles shall come in; and, how far that prediction of Isaiah, relative to this period, may be now fulfilling, is known only unto God. But, there is a great similarity, between the signs of the times, expressed in these words; “ So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the West, and his glory from the rising of the sun ;, when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” And, if we would hope for the continuauce of the favour and protection of heaven, which hath so remarkably distinguished us with all spiritual blessings as well as temporal, we must take heed that the light which is in us be not darkness ; for, how great will that darkness be, should our candlestick be removed, as were those of the seven churches of Asia.
We have lately seen, in a neighbouring nation, a most extraordinary and melancholy transition from superstition to avowed atheism ; and our great care and fear should be, that we do not run from immorality to infidelity, for then our last state would be worse than the first'; but, being the children of light, let us walk honestly as in the day, not in ri
oting oting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. This inight be one means to prepare
for the fulness of the Gentiles and to remove the blindness which, in part, hath happened to Israel, that so all men may be saved and be fitted for the appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, when the sun shall be no more our light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto us ; but the Lord shall be unto us an everlasting light and our God our glory:
HYMN of ZACHARIAS
LUKE, i. 68. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed
The preface to this divine hymn, blessed be the Lord God, is never used but upon the most important occasions,* and the hynin itself is a kind of prophetic summary of all the things which were written in the
• Blessed,' says Noah, 'be the Lord God of Shem. Why the God of Shem, and not the God of Japhet? whose pious office to his father was equally deserving of a blessing: if any preference was due to either, it was to Japhet, his first-born. The blessing therefore peculiar to Shem was, that Noah foresaw that the covenant that should restore man to himself and to his maker, Gen. iii. 15, should be conveyed through the posterity of Shem.” Bishop Sherlock; see, also, Leland. “ Postquam gentes pleræque ad falsorum deorum cultus erant delapsæ, cæpit nomen illud ad unum Israelis populum restringi. Ps. xli. 13, lxxii. 18, cvi. 48.” Grotius. Grotius does not assign the more especial reason for this peculiar title; but it is certain, that, as the covenant of the promise made to Abraham was repeated to Isaac and Jacob, and it was decreed, and therefore revealed to the latter, that the sceptre should not depart from Judah until Shiloh came, i, e. the Messiah, who it is evident, as the apostle says, sprang out of Judah, the Jewish polity was preserved by a series of miracles from one end of it to the other, till that seed of Abraham caine, in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed; who himself foretold the destruction of the Jewish nation, which was accomplished in a very few years after they had crucified the Lord of Life and Glory, the true King of Israel.
law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Christ; and, whether we consider the great moment of the subject, which is the redemption of the whole world from eternal misery, or the truly sublime manner in which it is treated, it may be very justly affirmed to be a composition at least equal, if not superior, to any that ever has or ever will appear in the world; and, to excite our most ardent attention and diligent application to the weighty matter it contains, the sacred penman informs us, that the prophet Zacharias, who was miraculously struck dumb for his incredulity to the message of the angel Gabriel, was now as miraculously restored to his speech; and, being filled with the Holy, spake, as the spirit gave him utterance, this song of triumph: “ Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hatla visited and redeemed his people."
Now this expression, of being filled with the Holy Ghost, implies the highest degree of the prophetic spirit.* It is impossible, therefore, to; employ our time and thoughts more properly, or more profitably, than in a due consideration of, and a pious meditation upon, the several parts of this spiritual song, which consists of two remarkable prophecies concerning the two most eminent persons who have ever existed, the blessed Jesus and John the Baptist. And it is very, observable that, though, according to the true course of things and the dictates, of nature, Zacharias might have been expected to begin his hymn of praise with thanksgiving for the unspeakable and unexpected gift of a son in his old age, being transported with the spirit of prophecy to bear testimony unto Jesus, though not yet born, he expresses himself in words which suppose rather the actual completion than the prediction of this event : “ Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited I and,
"Novo dono et gradu gratiæ, ut prophetam ageret." Luc. Brugensis.
“ Zacharias hoc loco futura pronunciat, tum de filio suo tum de Christo.” Luc. Brugensis. Visitavit. “Non ad puniendum, sicut Lev. xxvi. 16, &c. ut verba sequentia docent, sed ad benefaciendum, ut Gen. xxi. I,'&c. idque non, ut olim, per prophetam, angelum, &c. sed per seipsum, ut promiserat Ezec. xxxiv. 12. Confer Luc. vii. 16, and xix. 44.” : Brugensis, &c.
redeemed* his people.” Exactly similar to which is the procedure of the evangelical prophet, Isaiah, on the very same occasion; where, perhaps, intending to speak of the deliverances to be wrought during the infancy of his son, Maher, shalal, hash baz, being wrapt into future time, he declares rather than foretels the birth of the Messiah, in the most lofty and exalted strains: “Unto us a Son is born, untó us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and he shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom to order it, and to establish it, with judgement and with justice, from henceforth even for ever.†” To the latter part of which prediction the following words of Zacharias exactly correspond; “ And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his' servant, David.” And it is most probable that this circumstance of the Messiah's being, according to this and several other prophecies, to descend from the family of David, gave rise to that fatal opinion of the Jews, that Christ's kingdom was to consist in temporal power and grandeur. Which expectation of a temporal deliverer made them so ready in their answer to that demand of Herod, Matt. ii. 4, where Christ should be born: for they immediately replied, in Bethlehem of Judæa; “ for thus it is written by the prophet: And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah; for out of thee shall come a governor
* Redemit. “Non vi, ut olim ex Ægypto; nec cum bonâ hostium gratia, ut e Babylone; sed justo pretio persoluto, non Satanæ, sed Deo patri; ut liberaremur a captivitate peccati et Satanæ.” Brugensis.
† For ever. “ Omnia sub cælo regna mutabilia sunt, &c. nec ullum unquam erat cujus amplificatio et pax erat infinita: unde constat principatum hunc non esse mundanum, sed cælestem.” Musculus, &c.
“Omnis potentia cornu Hebræis dicitur, Deut. xxxiii. 17, &c. præcipuè verò potentia regalis, Dan. vii. 24, &c. Atque ideo vocem 17p, 1 Sam. ii. 10, et alibi veteres paraphrastæ vertunt niabp aut anabo. Ita et h. I. designatur regnum Christi.” Grotius, &c.