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« shall (t) call his name Emman- cised, and obedient to the law for s6 uel; which being interpreted, is,
Grant us the true circum. 24.
“ “ God with us.” Then Joseph, cision of the Spirit, that our being raised from sleep, did as hearts and all our members being the angel of the Lord had bidden mortified from all worldly and
him, and took unto him his wife: carnal lusts, we may in all things 25. and knew her not till she had obey thy blessed will, through
brought forth her first-born son: the same thy Son Jesus Christ our and he called his name JESUS. Lord. Amen.
The Epistle. Rom. iv. 8.
BLESSED(u)istheman to whom The Circumcision of Christ. “ the Lord will not(x)impute sin." The Colleet.
Cometh this blessedness then ALMIGHTY God, who madest upon the (y) circumcision only, or thy blessed Son to be circum- upon the uncircumcision also ?
“ The genera
“ thee shall be called the Son of God."
me a Son,' may almost be considered
In Gal. iv. 4. St. Paul, in speaking of our redemption, says, “ God sent forth his Son, made of
a woman," where the words, “ made “ of a woman," may allude to the peculiarity of his conception.
(c) “Call his name.” Not that he should generally pass by that name, but either that he should sometimes be so called, or that he should really be “ Emanuel,” or “ God with us.” So, Isaiah ix. 6. it is said prophetically of the Messiah, “his name u shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, " the mighty God, the everlasting Father,
“ the Prince of Peace ;' but it was never meant that those should be his ordinary appellations. It was a com mon Hebrew mode of expression to say, that persons should be called what it was meant to express they should really be. See Matt. v.
9. (u) “ Blessed." This is a quotation from Ps. xxxii. 2.
(a) “ Impute sin,” that is, not bring his sins into account against him. So 2 Cor. v, 19. The gospel mercy is de scribed to be, God's “ reconciling the “ world unto himself, not imputing their
trespasses unto them.” One of St. Paul's objects here is to satisfy the Roman converts that the benefits of the gospel were not of right, but of God's mercy; not a debt due to any man's works, (for that every man had sinned, and was therefore subject to punishment, not entitled to reward), but a gift of God's free grace, which he thought proper to vouchsafe to those who had faith, that is, full con fidence in his promises. And as no works, independent of this confidence, would entitle a man to these benefits, he concludes that the observance of the Mosaic institutions, which were a law of works only, was no longer necessary.
(y)“ Circumcision." It was a matter of considerable contest, during the time of the apostles, whether the Christian converts were bound to submit to circumcision, and to conform to the other Mosaic rites. The apostles had a meeting upon the point, and decided that they were not, Acts xv. I to
30. spirit and zeal with which St. Paul writes upon this point, and its constant occur.
for we say that faith was (z) reck- in the steps of that faith of our oned to Abraham for righteous- father Abraham, which he had, ness. How was it then reckoned?
being yet uncircumcised. when he was in circumcision, or the promise, that he should be the in uncircumcision ? Not in cir. heir (c) of the world, was not to
cumcision, but in uncircumcision. Abraham, or to his seed through 1. And he received the sign of cir- the (d) law, but through the righ
cumcision ; a seal of the righte- teousness of faith. For if (e) they 14. ousness of the faith which he had, which are of the law be heirs, yet being uncircumcised; that he faith is made void, and the promight be the father of all them mise made of none effect. that (a) believe, though they be not circumcised ; that righteousness The Gospel. Luke ii. 15.
might be imputed unto them also: And it came to pass, as the 12. and the father of circumcision to angels were gone away from them
them who are (6) not of the cir. into heaven, the shepherds said cumcision only, but who also walk one to another, “Let us now go
rence in his Epistles, affords strong internal evidence that the Epistles were written whilst this point continued mat
ter of controversy: 9. (z) “Reckoned to Abraham.” Several
instances are mentioned in Genesis of Abraham's faith, or confidence in God's promise. When Abraham complained to God in his old age that he was childless, and that God had given him no seed, and God promised him that he should have seed, and that they should be as numerous as the stars of heaven, Abraham "believed in the Lord, and he (i. e. God) “ counted it to him for " righteousness." Gen. xv. 4 to 6. This was before the birth of Ishmael or Isaac; and Ishmael was born to him when he was 86 years old. Gen. xvi. 16. When Abraham was 99 years old, God gave him another assurance that he should have a son by Sarah his wife, who was then go years old, and long past the ordinary condition of child-bearing and as a token of a covenant between God and Abraham, God instituted the practice of circumcision : and though Abraham appears at first to have doubted, yet as a proof of his confidence in this
promise he was immediately circumcised, and so were all the men of his house. Gen.xvii. It is to this latter instance, as St. Paul explains in the 18th and 19th verses of this chapter, that St. Paul here refers. Abraham's merit in preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac, was long after his circumcision. Gen. xxii.
(a) “ Believe," i.e. have faith, like his. v. 31.
(6)“Not of the circumcision only, but,” v. 12. &c. i. e. to those who, being circumcised, have faith like Abraham's. The outward sign, circumcision, alone will not do : so that he was to be the father of all who, whether circumcised or not, had faith like his, and that they should all be his seed.
(c) “ Heir of the world." i.e. Either u. 13. that he should have " the Land of Canaan 6 for his inheritance," which was one of God's promises to Abraham (Gen. xii. 14. to 17:-xv. 17. and xvii. 7.) or that « in him should all the nations of the or world be blessed," which was another of God's promises to Abraham, Gen. xxii. 18.; and according to which, in another sense, all who should be saved through Christ were his inheritance. The latter seems the right, because it was that promise only, which, according to the next paragraph, was capable of being made of no effect.
(d) “ Through the law," l. e. from 0.13. obedience either to the Mosaic, or to any other law.
(e) “ They which are of the law be heirs." 0. 14. That is, if the privileges are to be confined to those who have rendered perfect obedience to the Mosaic or any other law, the merit which in Abraham was given to Faith is no longer to be given to Faith in others, Faith is useless, and the promise that in Abraham all nations should be blessed is made of no effect.
even unto (f)Bethlehem, and the angel before he was con“ see this thing which is come to ceived in the womb. pass, which the Lord hath made
[The same Collea, Epistle, and Gospel, 16. “ known unto us. And they
shall serve for every Day after unto the
Epiphany.) came with haste, and found Mary
and Joseph, and the babe lying 17. in a manger. And when they had
seen it, they made known abroad
THE EPIPHANY(b); or the Manifestation 18. them concerning this child. And
of Christ to the Gentiles. all they that heard it wondered at
The Collect. those things which were told
O God, who by the leading of 19. them by the shepherds. But
a star didst manifest thy onlyMary kept all these things, and 20. pondered them in her heart. And
begotten Son to the Gentiles; the shepherds returned, glorifying
Mercifully grant, that we, which
know thee now by faith, may and praising God for all the
after this life have the fruition of things that they had heard and
thy glorious Godhead, through seen, as it was told unto them.
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 21. And when eight days were ac
complished for the circumcising
The Epistle. Ephes, iii. 1.
(5) " Bethlehem.” See post 52. notes (x) and (y). The circumstances which occurred to occasion our Saviour's being born at Bethlehem shew how singularly God accomplishes his purposes: his mother did not live at Bethlehem, or near it, and in the ordinary course of things was not likely to have been there at the time of her delivery ; but Cæsar Augustus, the Roman Emperor, had given an order for inrolling all his subjects. This inrolment had been fixed upon 27 years before, but some troubles in the empire stopped it at that time ; a fresh order was now issued, and it was in obedience to this order that Joseph went up at this time to Bethlehem, and Mary accompanied him.
(8) “ The saying.” “The Angel said " unto them, Fear not, for behold I “ bring you good tidings of great joy, " which shall be to all people. For unto
you is born this day, in the City of " David, a Saviour, which is Christ “ the Lord. And this shall be a sign
shall find the babe wrap“ped in swaddling clothes, lying in a
a manger,” Luke ü. 10 to 12.
(b) The object of this festival is to expressour gratitude to God for manifesting the gospel to the Gentile world, and giving them the opportunity of obtaining all the benefits of our Saviour's coming. Before our Saviour's time, it was among the Jews only that the worship of the only true God prevailed ; they were pecu, liarly called his people, and they received many peculiar communications, by the intervention of prophets, and otherwise, from him. Under the gospel God has made no distinction; he has made his communication freely and equally to Gentiles as well as Jews; he offers the bene. fits of it to all mankind, and treats all the believers in it, of what nation soever they may be, as his church and people. In early times, the term “ Epiphany" was applied to Christmas Day, as well as to this festival, Christmas being called the greater, and this the lesser Epiphany,
(i) “For this cause." St. Paul had been a. stating at large, in the preceding chapter, that under the Christian dispensation the distinction between Jew and Gentile ceased, that both were equally admissible to its privileges, and that all believers, both Jews and Gentiles, constituted one.
“ unto you, ye
soner (k) of Jesus Christ for
“ his promise in Christ by the 2. Gentiles (1); if yehave heard of the “ Gospel ;" whereof I was made 7.
dispensation of the grace of God, a minister, according to the gift
which is given me to you-ward : of the grace of God given unto 3. how that by revelation he made me by the effectual working of his
known unto me the (m) mystery; power. Unto me, whoamless than 8. 4. (as I wrote afore in few words, the (n) least of all saints, is this
whereby, when ye read, ye may grace given, that I should preach
understand my knowledge in the among (c) the Gentiles the un5. mystery of Christ,) which in searchable riches of Christ; and to
other ages was not made known make all men see, what is the fel- 9. unto the sons of men, as it is lowship (p) of the mystery, which now revealed unto his holy from the beginning of the world
apostles and prophets by the Spi- hath been (7) hid in God, who 6. rit; “ That the Gentiles should created all things (r) by Jesus “ be fellow-heirs, and of the Christ: to the intent that now unto 10.
same body, and partakers of the (s) principalities and powers in
church. This is the cause to which St. Paul here alludes, and for this cause, according to verse 14. he bows his knees to the Father. The Words, “ for this
cause," are referable to verse 14. ; and the whole of this portion of scripture, if “ ye have heard,” &c. is in a parenthesis.
(k) “ The prisoner," &c. This imports that St. Paul was in custody at the time this Epistle was written : and it is supposed to have been written about the year 58, when St. Paul was in confine.
ment at Rome. 0.). (1) “ For you Gentiles." According to
Ads xxi. 28. the charge upon which the Jews apprehended St. Paul, and upon which he was afterwards sent to Rome, was this, “ that he taught every where “ against the people,'' (i.e. the Jews), “ the law," (i.e. the Mosaic rites), and “ the Temple, and that he had brought “ Greeks also into the Temple.” St. Paul's preaching that the Jews were no longer God's peculiar people, that the Mosaic rites were no longer essential, that the Temple in Jerusalem was not the only proper place for worship, and that the Gentiles were to be privileged as well as Jews, might well give rise to the charge, and would warrant St. Paul in saying, that he was “ a prisoner for you « Gentiles."
(m) “The mystery." He explains after. wards what was this mystery, viz. "that " the Gentiles should be fellow heirs," &c. He often speaks of this as a mystery, which had been hid from former ages. See Eph.i.g. and infra note on v.g.
(n) “ The least."
So St. Paul says v. 8. of himself, i Cor. xv. 9, 10. “ I am " the least of the apostles, that am not “ meet to be called an apostle, because “ I persecuted the Church of God.”
(6)“ Among the Gentiles." St. Paul v. 8. considered himself as called to preach the gospel more especially to the Gentiles; that that was the more immediate object of his being called. In Acts xxii. 18, 21. where St. Paul is giving an account of his conversion, and what afterwards happened to him, he says he was in a trance, and was ordered to depart from Jerusalem, for that God would send him far thence “ unto the Gentiles.” In Rom. xi. 13. he says, “ I speak to the Gentiles, inas“ much as I am the apostle of the Gen“ tiles.” And in Gal. i. 15. he speaks of being called by God's grace, that he might preach the Son of God
among “ the heathen."
() « Fellowship,” i.e. in admitting v. 9. Gentiles as well as Jews; in treating both alike.
(9) “ Hid in God.” So Rom. xvi. 25. v. 9. he
says of it, “ which was kept secret “ since the world began.” In 1 Cor. ii. 7. he calls it “the hidden wisdom “ which God ordained before the world “ unto our glory ;” and Col. i. 26.“ the
mystery which hath been hid from ages, “ and from generations.”.
(s) “ By Jesus Christ." So John i. 3. v. 9. ante 38. and Heb. i. 2, ante 37.
(s)“ Principalities and powers in v. 10. “ heavenly places,' i. e. (perhaps) “the “ angels in heaven," from whom (per.
heavenly places might be known, When Herod the king had heard
by the Church, the manifold wis- these things, he was (u) troubled, 11. domof God, according to the eter
and all Jerusalem with him. And nal
purpose which he purposed in when he had gathered all the chief 12. Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom priests and scribes of the people
we have boldness and (t) access together, he demanded of them with confidence by the faith of where Christ should be born. And him.
they said unto him, “ In (x) Beth
“ lehem of Judea : for thus it is The Gospel. Matt. ii. 1.
written by the(y) prophet,“And When Jesus was born in Beth- " thou Bethlehem, in the land of lehem of Judea, in the days of “ Juda, art not the least among Herod the king, behold, there “ the princes of Juda : for out
came wise men from the east to Je- r of thee shall come a Governor, 2. rusalem, saying, "Where is he that “ that shall rule my people Is
« is born King of the Jews ? for 6 rael.” Then Herod, when he ģ
haps) he may mean this mystery was
“ But of that day and hour
“ beaven, but my Father only.” V. 12. () “Access," i.e. probably unto God; the power of approaching
him by Jesus Christ as a Mediator. Thus, accord. ing to i John ii. 1. have an Advo. “cate with the Father, Jesus Christ “ the righteous." And according to Heb. ix. 24. he“ appears in the presence
“ of God for us." v. 3.
(u)“ Troubled.” Herod probably ex. pected that he was to be a temporal king.
(x)“ Bethlehem,” David also, who was a type of our Saviour, was probably born there. It was there his father' Jesse lived. 1 Sam. xvi. 1. 4. &c. xvii. 12. Luke ii. 11. it is called “ the City of
there is, “but thou Bethlehem Ephratah,
in the land of Zabulon. The Jews were di. vided into thousands, and over each thousand was a prince or ruler. See Ex. xviii. 25. Sam. X. 19. ; so that among “ the
princes," as in St. Matthew, or “the " thousands," as in Micah, is in sense the same. Instead of “a governor,"as here, or “ ruler,” as in Micah, the proper transla. tion, according to the Septuagint, would be," a Leader, who shall be the Shepherd to" my people Israel; and then it corresponds with the chara&er foretold of the Messiah, Isaiah xl. 11. “ he shall feed his flock as
a shepherd;" and with Ezek. xxiv. 23. “ I will set up one Shepherd over them, " and he shall feed them, even my ser. “vant David," i. e. the Messiah, who is also called David. Jer. XXX. 9. Ezek. xxxiv. 24.-xxxvii. 24, 25. and Hos. iii. 5. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Hosea, did not live till long after David's death, and could not therefore allude to him. See note on Ps. lxxxix, 21. The speaking of the Messiah as "a Shepherd," might imply the peaceable nature of his kingdom. The expression, that “ his goings forth “had been from of old," &c. implies that his coming had been determined upon from the earliest times : andit was immediately after Adam's fall that the promise was made, that “ the seed of the woman “ should bruise the serpent's head.” Gen. iii. 15. See post 62. note (d).
(z) “Privily." Perhaps that the Jews might not know of it. If they supposed this child to be the infant Messiah, and were aware that Herod was inquiring