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holy joy, while remembering the promise that the glory of that latter house should exceed the glory of the former, immeasurably as it came short of it in external and internal magnificence; and a measure of resentful displeasure might well mingle itself with his gladness, when the chilling doubt of Zacharias was opposed to his declaration. The language of his reply is exceedingly lofty : “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak to thee, and to show thee these glad tidings.” Luke i. 19. He could not but remember Daniel's simple faith and holy joy, when welcoming his more dim and distant communi. cation of things that should come to pass long after the prophet's departure. Daniel's language was not,
Whereby shall I know this ?” but, “O my lord, how long shall it be to the end of these wonders ?” The angel proceeds to inflict the gentle but necessary chastisement provoked by the old Israelite’s want of faith. “And behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not be able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.” Luke i. 20. Here he seems abruptly to have departed.
Six months after, the same zealous angel was despatched on a mission for which the heart of each one who reads these pagés, whether Jew or Gentile, ought to send up a song of thanksgiving to the Lord. It strictly belongs to this branch of our subject, since it was most peculiarly and exclusively a Jewish event, so far. He in whom all the families of the earth were to
be blessed, was emphatically the seed of Abraham; and we shall see how peculiarly this was marked in the language of Gabriel. He “ was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David : and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.' This glowing and beautiful salutation, so expressive of delight in the honour to be put upon the simple maiden of Israel, and in the stu. pendous mercy about to be shown to man, has been perverted into an atrocious piece of blasphemous idol. atry by the apostate Church of Rome, which like Satan himself, chooses the holiest things to pollute, and to make occasions of sin. Gabriel, seeing her troubled and perplexed at such an address from so glorious a personage, proceeded to encourage her; and telling her of the Son whom she was chosen to bear, he said, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest : and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David : and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever.” Luke i. 32, 33.
Now it is certainly very difficult, with any respect for scriptural example, or any regard to the inspired phraseology, to take that expression, “ the house of Ja. cob,” otherwise than as literally signifying the actual descendants of that patriarch. Believers of every pa. tion are the children of Abraham by faith : they are spiritually called Israel in some passages : and Jeru. salem which is above is the mother of us all; but "the house of Jacob” is as definite in its meaning as is “the house and lineage of David;" and we have just as much right to make a figure of the latter as of the former.
Our Lord's personal ministry also was so far exclu. sively among the Jews, that when the Syro-Phenician woman besought him to heal her daughter, he answer. ed, I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel :
: nay, he so far established the exclusiveness of the Jewish son-ship, up to that time, as to add, “ It is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it to dogs.” Moreover, if those were Gentiles who came from the East to seek the new-born King of the Jews, the revelation of his birth being made to them not by angelic messengers, but by the appearance of a star in the visible heavens, and that when they were to be warned not to return to Herod, it was by an intimation from God in a dream, confirms the fact, that so far the family of Israel after the flesh was that branch of man. kind on which the angels of God fixed their regards, and to whom they ministered, and concerning whom they anticipated most glorious things. When Joseph was minded to put away Mary, an angel satisfied him that she had in no way deserved the suspicion that he naturally harboured concerning her; and this angel addressed him, “ Joseph, thou son of David,” with an obvious allusion to the promise so fondly cherished by every believing Jew. Accordingly to this head be. longs in part the subject of the next section, and how.
ever disposed the wild graft may be to boast itself against the natural branches, we may rest assured that there is no event in man's history so intensely watched and anxiously waited for by the holy angels as that of the literal Israel, no longer abiding in unbelief, being once more grafted into their own olive tree, to blossom ard bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.
ONE part of the mystery of godliness” consists in « God manifest in the flesh being seen of angels.” 1 Tim. iii. 16. The Apostle Paul, who declares this, elsewhere speaks of himself and his brethren as being “made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
1 Cor. iv. 9. But in order to acquire some little understanding of that amazing scene which opened upon the eyes of the holy angels, when “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” we must revert again to the magnificent vision of Isaiah, who saw the Lord high and lifted up, and his train filling the tem. ple; the winged seraphim standing before him, covering their faces with their wings, and crying one to another, as though too deeply struck to address the mighty One himself, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts." We must remember the prophet's exclamation of dismay and despair, for that he, a man of unclean lips, had seen the Lord; and the process by which one of the seraphim was commissioned to re