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which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David),
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife.
And so it was, that while they were there she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling* clothes; and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And therewerein the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.
And 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 bom this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this tiling which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they thatheard it, wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them In her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
Augustus Casar having brought all kingdoms int* subjection to the Roman Empire, was regarded as sovereign of the world; and being desirous of knowing the number and wealth of the subjects of his vast dominions, he commanded the governor of every province to take an exact account of the name and estate of each individual, that a tax might be laid in proportion to their circumstances. The provinces which had Roman governors were taxed by the Roman state; but Judea having a king of its own, who governed according to the Jewish law, and had the power of life or death, was called a dependent kingdom: the king alone paid a tribute to the Romans, as a token of subjection to them; but his subjects were taxed by himself. Augustus, intending to reduce his country in a short time to the same condition as the rest, commanded that the governor of Syria should enrol, or make a register-book, of the names and possessions of all its inhabitants; but as the enrolment of such multitudes of people as the Roman empire contained took up a considerable time, the taxation did not take place in Judea till some years afterwards.
Joseph and Mary his wife, though at this time of mean estimation, being both lineally descended from king David, were obliged, by the emperor's authority, to be enrolled in that town to which their family belonged: longed; and thus were brought to Bethlehem, where the prophet Micah * had so long before predicted Christ should be born.
The town of Bethlehem was so full of people, who attended to have their names enrolled, that Joseph and Mary were obliged to lodge in a stable; and in thi» mean place was ushered into the world that glorioui and excellent person, whom from the beginning God had appointed to be the heir of all things; but as the kingdom of the Messiah was not to be of this world, it was needless for him to appear with the ensigns of an earthly prince: yet The Father would not leave him without witnesses. We see our Saviour, in this wonderful account which the Evangelist has given of him, surrounded with a brighter lustre than a court or a crown could have afforded: angelic legions are employed to proclaim this new-born King, who were sent, not to the great men of Judea, but to humble pious shepherds, diligently employed in the duties of their' calling. Who would not have gladly shared in their poverty and fatigue, te have heard with them these tidings of great joy +?
But not to these poor shepherds was this joy confined; the glad tidings of salvation were designed^/or all people. The Saviour who was born, was the Saviour Of The World; and all who believe that the infant Jesus was He, must experience the same joy; and surely they can do no less than praise and glorify God, for sending his holy angels to proclaim peace on earth, and good-will towards sinful men, and to make known the birth of the Redeemer,
We may observe an evident agreement between the
* See Sect. viii. t Doddridge's Family Expositor.
Predictions Predictions concerning the new Covenant, &c. and the Tidings and Hymn of the Angels.
The former part of Isaiah's Prediction *, Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, which had hitherto been incomprehensible, was cleared up by the birth of Jesus, who might justly be called Wonderful; and we «hall see the remainder, concerning the other epithets applied to him, sufficiently explained to convince us, that the prediction certainly related to him.
There are in the New Testament genealogies of Christ's descent, as the Son of Mary, and the reputed Son of Joseph; by which we find that Jesus was lineally descended from David; that He was of the tribe of Judah; that He proceeded from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that He was of the posterity of Shem, the «on of Noah; of the race of Seth, the son of Adam; that he was born of a Virgin, and in Bethlehem ofju. dea. Thus far, the prophecies were fulfilled in His birth, as the Son of a Woman: but he was also the Son of Gouf.
THE ORIGIN OF THE WORD WHO WAS M/M)K MAN.
From John, Chap. i.
Ik the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Gon, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
• Sect. iv.
t The first of the Genealogies alluded to is in the first Chapter •f St. Matthew's Gospel; the other, in the third of St. Luke's.
And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But as many received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us; and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of his Father, full of grace and truth.
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
The prophets in the Old Testament frequently speak of the Word Of The Lord; and we have before observed, that He could be no other than the Lor D God, the great Jehovah very God of very God, by whom the will of the eternal, infinite, and invisible Deity was made known to his intelligent creatures; and through whom he receives their homage and adoration.
The Evangelist St. John (of whose Gospel this section is a part) confirms the opinion suggested by the Scriptures of the Old Testament, for he asserts that the Word was truly and essentially God, the Creator of all things; that in him was a real principle of eternal life, and that he was the author of spiritual Light or Divine Revelation to mankind.
It is evident, from the prophetic writings, that the Word was in the world, even after the glorious manifestation of the Deity was withdrawn; but for a long series of years, His light shineth in darkness, and the
Vol. v. C darkness