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30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for B. V. Æ. 5.
O J. P. 4709. thou hast found favour with God.
same interpretation to this passage, and referred it to the miraculous conception of the expected Messiah.
The greater part of the events which are predicted in the Old Testament are shadowed forth by types, or partial, intended resemblances to the event prefigured. The miraculous conception also is repeatedly typified in the Old Testament. Various women, Anna the wife of Elkanah, Sarah the wife of Abraham, the wife of Manoah, and others, as well as Elisabeth the wife of Zacharias, are recorded to have brought forth children after their old age had begun. These events seem to have been designed to afford the Church of God, which expected a Messiah who should be in a peculiar sense the seed of the woman, a certain and miraculous proof, that, as nothing was impossible with God, he would in his own time give them the promised Messiah ; of whose birth, the births of the children of these women were but types.
That the doctrine of the miraculous conception of the Messiah is laid down in the New Testament, as well as the Old, the Christian reader does not require to be informed. The account is contained in the commencing chapters of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke, and is to be found in every version and manuscript of the New Testament extant. As these chapters maintain the divinity of Christ, by asserting the fact of his miraculous birth, they have been attacked with a variety of theoretical arguments by the Socinian writers, as well as by all, whether Deists or nominal Christians, who would reduce the Gospel to a good and valuable system of morality; and represent the promised Messiah as merely the blameless man, the exemplary teacher, and possibly a superior prophet (r). On the same authority which induced the first ages to receive these
against this mode of interpreting the passage. The first is that napis the epithet applied only to the female sex in general, and not to any individual ; more especially that the term is by no means applicable to a virgin. To this it is answered, that the word is applied to an individual in the following passages : Gen. i. 27. and v. 2.; Levit. iii. 1. and 6.; and ix. 28 and 32; xxvii. 4.; Num. xxxi. 15. ; and that it is not unusual to use the same word in opposition to 701, an individual of the other sex. And, in Leviticus xii. 15. the word nap) is applied to a female infant, newly born. The second argument is, that the word 723 is never used to denote a newly born male infant. The Targum of Onkelos, however, on Gen. iv. 1. uses the word in this sense, and it is also so applied in Isa. iv. 5.“ unto us a child is born," &c. &c. yaa 5x. The third argument is, that 227 never refers to conception. The word, however, signifies in general “ to enclose," "to surround;" and its use, in the present instance is sufficiently enforced and applicable. Vide Pfeiffer dubia vexata, p. 760-762, and his references. (r) I will notice but one objection which has lately been again brought forward against the doctrine of the immaculate conception, as it has frequently been urged by the Socinian writers, and is so admirably answered by a gentleman to whose valuable work I am much indebted. In his “ Calm Inquiry into the Scripture Doctrine of the Person of Christ," Mr. Belsham observes, “if the relation given of the miraculous conception were true, it is utterly unaccountable that these extraordinary events should have been wholly omitted by Mark and John, and that there should not be a single allusion to them in the New Testament, and particularly that in John's history, Jesus should be so frequently spoken of as the son of Joseph and Mary, without any comment, or the least hint that this statement was erroneous."-" This objection," says Dr. P. Smith, “ is plausible : but we
B V.Æ. 5. 31 - And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and J. P.47
09. bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. Nazareth. z Isa, vii, 14. Matt. 1'21.4 chapters as authentic and genuine, Christians in all ages have made the doc
trine of the miraculous conception an article of their faith. They have believed
ask a fair attention to the following considerations. The fact in question was of the most private and delicate nature possible, and, as to human attestation, it rested solely on the word of Mary herself, the person most deeply interested. Joseph's mind was satisfied with regard to her honour and veracity, by a divine vision, which, in whatever way it was evinced to him to be no delusion, was still a private and personal affair. But this was not the kind of facts to which the first teachers of Christianity were in the habit of appealing. The miracles on which they rested their claims were such as had multiplied witnesses to attest them, and generally enemies not less than friends. Here then, we see a reason why Jesus and his disciples did not refer to this circumstance, so peculiar, and necessarily private. The account in Matthew had probably been transmitted through the family of Joseph and Mary; and that in Luke, through the family or intimates of Zacharias and Elisabeth ; a supposition which furnishes a reason why the two narratives contain so little matter in common. It is objected also
this doctrine is not alluded to in the other books of the New Testament. The same reason will account for the absence of reference to this miracle in the epistolary writings of the New Testament, if that absence be admitted to the fullest extent: for there is, at least, one passage which appears to carry an implication of the fact. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in explaining the symbolical representations by which it pleased the Holy Spirit, under the former dispensation, to prefigure the blessings of Christianity, seems to put the interior sanctuary, or “holy of holies," as the sign of the heavenly state ; and the outer tabernacle as that of “the flesh," or human nature of the Messiah. As the Aaronical high-priest, on the great anniversary of expiation, was first to officiate in the tabernacle, offering the sacrifices and sprinkling the blood of symbolical pardon and purification, and then was to advance, through that tabernacle, into the most holy place, the representation of the divine presence ; so Christ, our “Great High Priest," and “ Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle,"_" entered into the sanctuary-through the greater and more perfect tabernacle,- his own blood." Now, of this tabernacle it is declared that “the Lord pitched it, and not man;" that it was “not made with hands, that is, not of this creation." The expression in Scripture, "not made with hands," denotes that which is effected by the immediate power of God, without the intervention of any inferior agency. It, therefore, in the case before us, intimates that the fleshly tabernacle of our Lord's humanity was formed, not in the ordinary way of nature, but by the immediate exercise of Omnipotence." Smith's Scripture Testimony to the Messiah, vol. ii. p. 17-19. Many modern interpreters, it is true, understand “the tabernacle" in these passages as signifying the heavenly state. Yet these writers make “the sanctuary" also to signify the same object ; thus confounding two very distinct images. The propriety of the figures, the argument of the connexion, and the frequent use of oxñvos and okńywua to denote the human body, (2 Cor. v. 1-4. 2 Pet. i. 13, 14. and this use of at least orñvog is common in Greek writers : see Wetstein on 2 Cor. v. 1. and Schleusneri Lex.) satisfy me of the justness of the interpretation of Calvin, Grotius, James Cappel, Dr. Owen, &c. It is no objection that in Heb. x. 20. “ the veil" is the symbol of the Messiah's human nature: for the veil, as one of the boundaries of the tabernacle, in a natural sense belonged to it; and the passage relates to our Lord's death, so that the veil is very fitly introduced, marking the transition out of life into another state. The text was partially quoted above, for the sake of presenting alone the clauses on which the argument rests. It is proper here to insert it at length. The reader will observe the apposition of “the tabernacle" and “the blood.” “ But Christ having presented himself, a High-Priest of the blessings to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the B.V. £. 5.
J. P. 4709.
Nazareth, in Him " who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Nazar Mary." See the whole of the admirable third article of Pearson on the Creed.
ON THE SALUTATION OF MARY. The learned Joseph Mede remarks on the salutation of the angel, “ Hail thou that art highly favoured," zaspe keyapıtwuévn-that it must be rendered, not, as Dr. Hammond and the Vulgate represent it, “ Hail thou that art full of grace," but in the same sense in which the house of Levi was highly favoured above the rest of the tribes of Israel. The word vip (holy), does not always mean “ holy in life,” but “holy to the Lord," which implies a relative holiness, and as the word 7*on, which sometimes is considered a synonym of vip, is used in the same twofold sense, he concludes the salutation of the angel ought so to be understood in this place. The sermon in which Mede expresses this opinion, is upon Deut. xxxii. 8.-" Let thy Urim and thy Thummim be with thy holy one." The Hebrew is 77'DN, which Junius expounds, “ with thy favoured one;" not åvopi doiy or, as the Septuagint, but rexapırwuevas 08. “ The word,” says Lightfoot, (vol. i. p. 411, fol. edit.) " is used by the Greek scholiast to express Toon Dy, perd kexapıtwuéve xapırwonon, Ps. xvii. 25. in the sense of rápis, mercy or favour, as Ephes. i. 6. txapitwOEY nuās.” The salutation of the angel means, therefore, “hail thou that art the especially elected and favoured of the Most High, to attain to that honour which the Jewish virgins, and the Jewish mothers, have so long desired-hou
with hands (that is, not of this creation,) and not through the blood of goats
Mic. iv, 7.
B.V. Æ. 5. Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne J. P.4709. of his father David :
- 33 a And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; a Dan. vii. 14. and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age : and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
39 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
LUKE i. 39–57.
shalt be the mother of the Messiah.” For an account of the peculiar manner in which the Jewish women desired offspring, in the hope that they might be the mother of the promised Messiah, vide Allix's Reflections on the Books of Moses. Mede's Works, fol. edit. London, 1677, p. 181. Lightfoot, vol. i. fol. edit. p. 411. See also Kuinoel and Rosenmüller in loc.
10 There is very little doubt that Hebron was the city here spoken of. In Joshua xxi. 13. we read that Hebron, with her suburbs, was given to the children of Aaron the priest, and in ver. 11 of the same chapter, and in chap. xi. 21. it is described as a city in the hill country of Judah. After the return from the captivity of Babylon, the priests were anxious to take up their abode in their appointed heritage. Hebron is celebrated for many events. Here Abraham received the promise of the miraculous birth of Christ. Here circumcision was probably first instituted, (many being of opinion that it was known before the time of Abraham); here Abraham had his first land, and David his first crown. John was born at Hebron, and here he first appointed and administered the ordinance of baptism (a).
The Talmudists (6) inform us of a very singular custom in the temple service, which had a reference to Hebron. Before the morning sacrifice was offered, the President of the Temple was used to say every morning, “Go and see, whether it be time to kill the sacrifice.” If it was time, the answer was, “It is light."
(a) See Witsius de Vitâ Johan. Bapt. Misc. Sacra, vol. i. p. 495. (6) Lightfoot's Chorographical Century, Works, folio, vol, ii. p. 46.
40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted B. V. Æ. 5. Elisabeth.
J. P. 4709. 41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the Hebron, salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb 11; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost :
42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
43. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
Those in the court replied, " Is the light come so far, that thine eyes may see
How far this tradition may be received I do not venture to decide; it is certain that Hebron was always regarded with particular attention by the people of Israel, and, if this tradition be correct, it must have been typical of some predicted and expected event. What place, then, in the land of Israel could have been so appropriate for the true light first to dawn before the perfect sacrifice could be offered, as the city of Hebron ? Here John the Baptist was born; and here the rays of truth first shone, when, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, the appointed Saviour was hailed for the first time near this place, as the Lamb of God, the true Sacrifice, who should take away the sins of the world.
Can these remarkable and wonderful events be regarded only as coincidences ? To me they appear to point out the beautiful connexion and harmony in minute points of the two dispensations, and to prove that nothing has come to pass, but what was ordained of old.
If the account of Josephus (Bell, Jud. lib. 5. c. 7.) may be depended upon, Hebron was not only celebrated for the great events which had there taken place, but was renowned for its antiquity, and considered of more ancient date than Memphis in Egypt. Jerome and Eusebius likewise mention that there still remained at Mamre, near Hebron, the oak under which Abraham entertained his angelic visitors; and that the surrounding Gentiles held it in great veneration.
11 The native Jew who reads in St. Luke's Gospel this expression, would be reminded of a tradition of their fathers, that when the Israelites came to the red sea, the children in the womb leaped for joy.
:23"inavni ,on Jax 'yna 7731 72x795587 “ imo etiam embryones, qui in utero matris erant, viderunt id, et Deum S. B. celebrarunt." Possibly it was in allusion to this tradition that the phrase is here used. Elisabeth may be supposed to express the greatness of her joy at the sight of her cousin, which so agitated her as to produce this effect. Elisabeth compared her happiness, in beholding the mother of the expected Messiah, to that of her countrymen when they saw before them, for the first time, the earnest of their long wished for deliverance from Egypt. Fol. 25. col. 99. apud Zobar Exod. fol. 32. col. 91. apud Schoetgen. Hor. Heb. vol. i. p. 257.