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6 And they were both righteous afice before God in the der of his defore God, walking in all the com- course, mandments and ordinances of the 9 According to the custom of the Lord, blameless.

priest's office, his lot was e to burn 7 And they had no child, be- incense when he went into the tem. cause that Elisabeth was barren, and ple of the Lord. they both were now well stricken in 10 And the whole multitude of years.

the people were praying withort, 8 And it came to pass, that at the time of incense. while he executed the priest's of- 11 And there appeared unto hin e Ge.7.1. 1 Ki.9.4. 2 Ki.20.3. b1 Cor.11. Ph.3.6.

c Ex.30.7,8.

d Lc.16.17.

nances.

priests ; outi Saviour, being of the tribe guished for a peculiarly pleasant smell of Judah, would not.

when burnt, and was therefore used in 6. Both righteous. Both just, or holy: ancient worship. It was burnt by the This means here more than external priest twice a day, (Ex. xxx. 7), and it conformity to the law. It is an honor- seems to have been emblematic of prayer able testimonial of their piety towards and praise, or of the grateful offerings of God. Walking in, &c. Keeping the the heart wafted toward heaven. The commandments. To walk in the way incense used in the temple was made of that God commands, is to obey. I Ordi. stacte, onycha, and galbanum, (Ex. XXX.

Rites and customs which God 34), with pure frankincense, and it was had ordained, or appointed. These not lawful for this. compound to be used words refer to all the duties of religion, elsewhere than in the house of God which were made known to them. T Into the temple. See Notes on Matt. 1 Blameless. That is, no fault or defi- xxi. 12. The part of the temple where ciency could be found in them. They incense was burnt was the holy place. were strict, exact, punctual. Yet this, 10. The whole multitude. This wa if it had been mere external observance, the regular time of evening prayer, anı might have been no proof of piety: multitudes came up to the temple to Paul, before his conversion, also kept worship. I Praying without. That is he law externally blameless. Phil. ii. in the courts around the temple; par 6. But in the case of Zachariah and ticularly in the court of the women. Elizabeth, it seems to have been real 11. An angel. An angel is a mes love to God, and sincere regard for his senger sent from God. It had now law.

been about four hundred years since 7. Well siricken in years. Old, or the time of Malachi, and since there advanced in life, so as to render the had been any divine revelation. Dur prospect of having children hopeless. ing that time the nation was looking

8. Before God. In the temple where for the Messiah; but still with nothing God dwelt by the symbols of his pre- more than the ancient prophecies to di

The temple was regarded by rect them. Now that he was about to the Jews as the house or dwelling of appear, God sent his messenger to an God; and in the first temple there was, nounce his coming, to encourage the in the most holy place, a cloud called hearts of his people, and to prepare the Shechinah, or a visible sign of the them to receive him.

TOn the right presence of God. It was thus before side, &c. The altar of incense stood God that Zachariah offered incense close by the veil which divided the

9. According to the custom of the holy place from the most holy. On the priest's office, his lot was. The Jewish north stood the table of shew-bread. writers inform us that it was customary on the south-the golden candlestick. for the priests to divide their daily task As Zacharias entered, therefore, with by lot. 'T To burn incense. Incense is his face to the west, the angel would an aromatic, or white rosin, procured i stand on the north, or near the table or from trees chiefly in Arabia. It is ob- shew-bread. It was eighteen inches tained by making incisions in the tree, square, and three feet high. The top, and the gum flows out. It was distin. I as well as the sides and horns, was

sence.

an angel of the Lord, standing on 12 And when Zacharias saw him the right side of the altar « of in- he was troubled, and fear fell upon

him. a Ex.30.1. Re.8.3,4.

6 Ju.13.22. ver.29. Da.7.14,27 Mi.4 7.

cel.se.

overlaid with pure gold, and it was morning and every evening, so that it finished around the upper surface with was literally perpetual. (Ex. xxx. 8. a crown o: border of gold. Just below Neither burnt-sacrifice, nor meat-offer. inis border four golden rings were at- ing, nor drink-offering, was permitted lached to each side of the altar, one upon this altar; nor was it ever stained near each corner. The staves or rods with blood, except once annually, when for bearing the altar passed through the priest made atonement. (Lev. xvi these rings, and were made of the same 18, 19.). wood with the altar itself, and richly The following cut will furnish a good werlaid with the same precious metal. illustration of the form and use of the Iron this altar incense was burnt every altar of incense.

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13 But the ange said unto him, sight of the Lord, and shall & drink Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer neither wine nor strong drink; and is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth he shall be filled with the Holy shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt Ghost, even from his mother's call his name a John.

womb. 14 And thou shalt have joy and 16 And many of the children of gladness; and many shall rejoice Israel shall he turn to the Lord at his birth.

their God. 15 For he shall be great in the 17 And he shall go before him 3 ver. 60,63. b ver.58. cc.7.28.

c Je.1.5.

f Jno. 1.34.

d Nu.6.3.

12. He was troubled. This was an them at once, as if sensible of their anusual appearance. He was alone, in pernicious influence. Nor are they used the presence of God. The appearance in eastern nations at all. Europe and was sudden, unexpected, and therefore America have been the places where fearsul.

this poison has been most extensively 13. Thy prayer is heard. That is, used; and there it has beggared and thy prayer for offspring. This, among ruined millions, and is yearly sweeping the Jews, was an object of intense de thousands unprepared into a wretched sire. No prospect was more gloomy eternity. The strong drink arnong the to them than that of dying childless, so Jews was probably nothing more than that their name should perish. Special fermented liquors, or a drink obtained pains, therefore, had been taken in the from fermented dates, figs, and the law, to keep up the names of families juice of the palm, or the lees of wine, by requiring a man to marry his bro. mingled with sugar, and having the pro ther's wife. Deut. xxv. 5.

perty of producing intoxication. Many 14. At his birth. This does not refer of the Jewish writers say, that by the Bo much to the time of his birth, as to word here wassia'ed strong drink was the subsequent rejoicing. Such shall meant noth:ng more than old wine, be his charactes, that he shall be an which probably nad the power of

pro. honor to the family, and many shall re. ducing intoxication. See Notes on Isa. joice that he lived. Or, in other words, v. 11. I Shall be filled with the Holy he shall be a blessing to mankind. Ghost, &c. Shall be divinely desig.

15. Shall be great. Shall be eminent, nated or appointed to this office, and or distinguished as a preacher. I In the qualified for it by all-needful communi. sight of the Lonil. Greek: before the cations of the Holy Spirit. To be filled Lord.' That is, shall be really or truly with the Holy Spirit, is to be illumi. great. God shall regard him as such. nated, sanctiñed, and guided by his I Shall drink neither wine. Wine was influence. In this place it refers : Ist. "the juice of the grape. The kind of To the divine intention that he should wine commonly used in Judea was a be set apart to this work, as God delight wine, often not stronger than ci- signed that Paul should be an apostle der in this country. It was the com- from his mother's womp. Gal. i. 15. non drink of all classes of the people. 2. It refers to an actual fitting for the See Notes on John ii. 11. The use of work from the birth, by the influence wine was forbidden only to the Na. of the Holy Spirit, as was the case with zaritc Num. vi. 3. It was because Jeremiah (Jer. i. 5), and with David, John austained this character, that he Ps. xxii. 9, 10. abstained from the use of wine. TStrong 16. Children of Israel. Jews. De. drink. It is not easy to ascertain pre scendants of Israel, or Jacob. 1 Shall cisely what is meant by this word, but he turn. By repentance. He shall call we ar; certain that it does not mean them from their sins, and persuado Elroig drink in our sense of the term. them to forsake them, and to seek the Distilled spirits were not then known. Lord their God. The art of distilling was discovered by 17. Shali ge before him. Before the an Arabian chemist in the ninth or Messioh, or the Lord Jesus The con tenth century; but distilled liquors are nexion here lcads us to suppose that Antised by Arabians. They banished !'he ward him reförs to the ined their

in the spirit and power of Elias, to 18 And Zacharias said unto the turn the hearts of the fathers to the angel, Whereby shall I know this? children, and the disobedient 'to for I am an old man, and my wife the wisdom a of the just; to make well stricken in years. ready a people prepared for the 19 And the angel answering, Lord.

said unto him, I am Gabriel, « that or, by. Ps.111.10 a Matt.11.14. Mar.9.12. Matt.19.26. Ro.4.21 bi Pe.2.9.

c Ge. 17.17. d Da.8.16. ver.26.

God' in the previous verse. If s, 14, 15. And so when God the Son thun it will follow that the Messiah was was about to appear as the Redeemer, the Lord God of Israel :-a character he required that men should prepare abundantly given him in other parts of themselves for his coming. So in view the New Testament. 1 In the spirit of the future judgment—the second aried power of Elias, See Note, Matt. coming of the Son of man-he requires xi. !. {To turn the hearts of the fa. that men should repent, believe, and thers to the children. I. the time of be pure. 1 Pet. iv. 7. 2 Pet. ïï. 11, 12. John the Jews were divided into a 18. Whereby shall I know this? The number of different sects. See Notes thing was improbable, and he desired on Matt. ii. 7. They were oposed vio- evidence that this would take place. lently to each other, and pursued their The testimony of an angel, and in such opposition with great animosity. It 2 place, should have been proof enough, was impossible but that this opposition bút men are slow to believe the testishould find its way into families, and mony of heavenly messengers. As a divide parents and children from each consequence of not believing, he was other. John came that he might allay struck' dumb. these animosities, and produce better 19. I am Gabriel. The word Ga feeling. By directing them all to one briel is made up of two Hebrew words Master, the Messiah, he would divert and signifies man of God. This ange the attention from the causes of their is mentioned as having been deputed to difference, and bring them to union. inform Daniel that his prayers were He would restore peace to their fami-heard. Dan. viii. 16; ix. 21. 1 That lies, and reconcile those parents and stand in the presence of God. To stand children who had chosen different sects, in the presence of one,

is

a phrase deand suffered their attachment to sect to noting honor or favor. To be admitted interrupt the harmony of their house to the presence of a king, or to be with holds. The effect of true religion on a him, was a token of favor. So to stand family will always be to produce har before God, signifies merely that he mony. It attaches all the family to one was honored or favored by God. He great Master, and by attachment to was permitted to come near him, and him, all minor causes of difference are to see much of his glory. Compare 1 forgotten. And the disobedient to the Kings x. 8; xii. 6: xvii

. 1; Prov. xxi. 29. wisdom of the just. The disobedient 1 And am sent, &c. The angels are here are the unbelieving, and hence the ministering spirits sent forth to those impious, the wicked. These he would who shall be heirs of salvation. Heb. turn to the wisdom of the just, or to i. 7, 14. They delight to do the will of such wisdom as the just or pious mani- God, and one way of doing that will, is fested ; that is, to true wisdom. To by aiding his children here; by sucmake ready a people, &c. To prepare coring the afflicted; and by defending them, by announcing that the Messiah those who are in danger. There is no was about to appear, and by cal.ing more absurdity or impropriety in supthem to repentance, that they might posing that angels may aid them, than be prepared for his coming. God has there is in supposing that good men may alwaye required men to be pure in a aid one another. And there can be no special manner, when he was about to doubt that it affords high pleasure to appear among them. Thus the Israel. the angels of God to be permitted to aid ites were required to purify themselves those who are treading the dangerous for three days when he was about to and trying path which leads to eternity. come down on Mount Sinai. Ex. xix. | Holiness is the same as benevolence

stand in the presence of God; and could not speak untu them. and am sent “ to speak unto thee, and they perceived that he had seen a to shew thee these glad tidings. vision in the temple; for he beck

20 And, behold, thou shalt be oned unto them and remained dumb, and not able to speak, until speechless. the day that these things shall be 23 And it came to pass, that, as performed, because thou believest soon as the days of his ministrati in not my words, which shall be ful- were accomplished, he departed to Silled in their season.

his own house. 21 And the people waited for 24 And after those days his wife Zacharias, and marvelled that he Elisabeth conceived, and hid hertarried so long in the temple.

self five months, saying, 22 And when he came out, he 25 Thus hath the Lord dealt

a He.1.14. 6 Eze.3.26.

a son.

and holy beings seek and love opportu. way of “ perceiving?' it but by such a nities to do good to their fellow crea: sign. On the word vision, see Notes tures. In the eye of holy beings, all on Isa. i. 1. 1 For he beckoned unto God's creatures are parts of one great them. That is, by beckoning unto them, family; and whenever they can do them or by a sign, he informed tЕem of what good, they rejoice in the opportunity, at he had seen. any sacrifice. These glad tidings. 23. As soon as the days of his minis. This good news respecting the birth of tration, &c. As soon as he had ful

filled the duties of the week. It rnight 20. Because thou believest not, &c. have been supposed that the extraordi. This was both a sign and a judgment : nary occurrence in the temple, together a sign that he had come from God, and with his own calamity, would have in. that the thing would be fulfilled, and a duced him at once to leave this place, judgment for not giving credit to what and return home. But his duty was in lie had said. There is no sin in the the temple. His piety prompted him sight of God more aggravated than un. to remain there in the service of God. belief. When GOD speaks, man should He was not unfitted for burning incense believe. Nor can he that will not be by his dumbness, and it was not pro. lieve escape punishment. God speaks per for him to leave his post. It is the only trulh, and we should believe him. duty of ministers of religion to remain God speaks only what is for our good, at their work until they are entirely un. and it is right that we should suffer if fitted for it, and unable to serve God in we do not credit what he says. their profession. Then they must re

21. The people waited. That is, tire. But until that time, he that for beyond the usual time. I Marvelled. trifling causes forsakes his post, is guil Wondered. The priest, it is said, was ty of unfaithfulness to his Master. not accustomed to remain in the tem. 24. Hid herself. Did not go forth ple more than half an hour commonly. into public, and concealed her condition. Having remained on this occasion a This might have been done that she longer time, the people became appre, might spend her time more entirely in hensive of his safety, and wondered giving praise to God for his mercies; what had happened to him.

and that she might have the fullest 22. Had seen a vision. The word proof of the accomplishment of the pro. vision means sight, appearance or spec- mise, before she appeared in public, or fre, and is commonly applied to spirits, spoke of the mercies of God. or to beings of another world. When 25. Thus. In this merciful manner. he came out of the temple, it is proba. To take away my reproach. Among ble that they suspected that something the Jews, a family of children was of this nature hd detained him there, counted a signal blessing; an evidence and that on inquiry of him he signified of the favor of God. Ps. cxiii. 9; by a nod that this was the case. He cxxviii. 3. Isa. iv. 1; xliv. 3, 4. Lev. was unable to speak, and they had no xxvi. 9. To be barren, therefore, or to

VOL. II. - 2

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