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would come, to dwell in the midst of his people. This explication is plain, consonant to the analogy of faith and to the proper sense of the words, and also very well adapted to the scope of the Prophet's discourse. He is here recalling the virgin of Israel, a backsliding daughter, to that right and sure way which her believing fathers had trodden. Now, it is certain, that the great and capital error of backsliding Israel is this, that she does not acknowledge the Messiah, whom God has given her. He had in the preceding chapter foretold his birth, saying " Their Governor shall pro“ ceed from the midst of them.”p In this same chapter, he had related particularly one of its concomitant circumstances, namely, the slaughter of the infants of Bethlehem. He now adds another sign, the creation of a new thing in the earth, a birth from a virgin ; expostulating with Israel in these words, “ How long “ wilt thou go about” in devious paths, which lead thee away from thy God, from happiness, and from the ways of the ancient fathers,—“O thou backsliding daughter,” carried about with divers errors; listen to what I am about to say; an extraordinary thing has taken place in the earth, which has not been heard of from the beginning, which yet the fathers expected, “ A woman “shall compass a man.” Believe me, the reparation of thy loss, the refreshing of thy wearied soul, and the replenishing of thy sorrowful soul, depend on this mystery, and on the acknowledgment of it.
xv. The whole adorable Trinity concur in this work; and hence it is ascribed to each of the
persons; to the Father, "—to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
p Chap. xxx. 21. r Heb. x. 5.
9 Verse 15.
Philip. ii. 7.
It is said, “ The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, " and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee;" also, “ She was found with child of the Holy Ghost ;"u and again,-" That which is conceived in her, is of the
Holy Ghost.” It is much more natural to refer these expressions to the third person of the Godhead, than to the Son according to the Divine nature. But with regard to the manner of the Spirit's operation on the Blessed Virgin, it is far more consistent with prudence and chastity, to cover it, after the example of God himself, with a veil of sacred silence, than to determine with audacious mind, or to presume to explain it with the tongue or the pen. Let it suffice to know, that the work of the Holy Spirit was distinguished by a double miracle, 1st, The fructifying of the virgin's womb; 2dly, The sanctification of the fruit of the womb, which the virgin conceived and brought forth.
xvi. This conception, however, although attributed in a special manner to the Holy Ghost, doth not make him the Father of Christ; for there is an obvious difference betwixt forming any thing of matter derived from another quarter, and generating from one's own substance. We do not deny, that God is metaphorically called the Parent of all men, because he creates and preserves them; and that, in a similar sense, the Holy Spirit might be termed in some respect the Father of the human nature of Christ. Yet since ration does not properly terminate on a nature but on a person, since the person of Christ is not begotten by the Holy Spirit, and since the Holy Spirit is no where called the Father of Christ in sacred writ, we, too, ought scrupulously to avoid that expression.
Yet since geneXVII. This event took place according to an agreement between the Father and the Son, or, as it is expressed by Zechariah,w according to “ the counsel of peace,” which was between “ the Lord of Hosts,” the Father, and “ the man,” the Son, who was to become man, “ whose name is the BRANCH,” being raised up by God, and being the new root of a new family, or of the sons of God according to the Spirit. This Branch “shall
'Luke i. 35.
u Mat. i. 18.
Mat. i. 20.
grow up out of his place ;* that is, as Aben Ezra understands it, of himself, t by his own proper power, without sowing, without human agency; since he was to be born of a virgin. “ And he shall build the temple “ of the LORD, even he shall build the temple of the “ LORD.” Here the repetition of the same words directs our thoughts to more than one temple. He builds the temple of his natural body, “ in which dwelleth “ all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” This he built, in the first instance, when by his own will he became man, and, afterwards, when he rose again from the dead; and by means of both he became “ a Sanc
tuary” to his people. He builds also the temple of his mystical body, that is, the Church.b 3
xvill. But whilst we are considering the Causes of the incarnation, Mary must not be entirely overlooked. Three things chiefly respecting her, are worthy of notice. 1st, Her pedigree, being of the seed of Abraham, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Judah, of the house of David. 2dly, Her condition, as in a state of spotless virginity. : 3dly, Her relation to Christ, as his true mother.
,a semetipso מאליו +
" Zech. vi. 12, 13.
b 1 Cor. iii. 16. 2 Cor. vi. 16. 3 See Note III.
xix. It was necessary, according to the prophecies, that the Messiah should be the seed of Abraham ;"c_ of the posterity of Israel, who is represented as the heir of the promise made to his grandfather ;d of the tribe of Judah, to which the same inheritance was restricted ;e -and of the house of David, from whom indeed he was to spring when the posterity of Jesse were to be as a decayed trunk, * without blossom, leaf, branch, or ornament.4 All these circumstances were united in Mary. She was of the tribe of Judah, for “ it is evi“dent that our Lord sprang out of Judah ;”&_and of the house of David; for the expression “ of the house of “ David,” in the gospel of Luke,h must be referred to Mary no less than to Joseph. And in how depressed and degraded a state that family then was, appears from the circumstance, that in Joseph, to whom Mary was betrothed, it was reduced to the axe and the hatchet of the carpenter. It is accordingly affirmed in ecclesi. astical history, that Domitian derided the near relations of Christ for their poverty, and for having hands brawny with labour.
xx. It is not inconsistent with this genealogy, that Elizabeth is said to have been the cousin” of Mary, and at the same time one of the daughters of Aaron. There is nothing to hinder Mary's mother from hav
Dia truncus succisus. Is. xi. 1. · Gen. xxii. 18. comp. Gal. ii. 16. d Gen. xxviii. 14.
e Gen. xlix. 8, 10. Ps. cxxxii. 11. comp. Acts ii. 30. & Heb. vii. 14.
Luke i. 27. Luke i. 36.
į Verse 5. 4 See Note IV.
ing been of the tribe of Levi, and of the family of Aaron; and some of the ancients affirm, that she was sister to Elizabeth. It was also possible for the mother or grandmother of Elizabeth to have been of the tribe of Judah, and thus very nearly related by blood to the father of Mary, while her father or grandfather was of the tribe of Levi. But according to the rule of genealogy most commonly observed amongst the Jews, a family is reckoned, not from the mother, but from the father. The objection brought forward by some, that it was unlawful for the Israelites to take a wife, or to marry, without the limits of their own particular tribe, is assumed gratuitously. Such marriages were, at least, not universally unlawful. In the sacred records, we find no prohibition, but, on the contrary, several examples, of such connexions. Aaron, a Levite, married Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Naashon,k who was “prince of the children of Judah. If it is objected that that marriage took place before the law, behold another example after the giving of the law. Jehoiada, a priest, consequently a Levite, and a descendant of Aaron, took to wife a daughter of king Jehoram, of the tribe of Judah, of the house of David.m If you insist, that greater liberty was allowed the priests and Levites than other tribes, I shall not at present demand evidence, as I justly might of their possessing this privilege. I only remark, that the instance now produced is sufficient for removing the difficulty under our consideration; for according to your own hypothesis, it was possible for the father of Elizabeth, being a descendant of Aaron, to take to himself a wife of the