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were eye-witnesses and ministers F ken in hand to set

forth in order TORASMUCH as many have ta- of the word ;

3 It seemed good to me also, have a declaration of those things which ing had perfect understanding of all are most surely believed among us, things from the very first, to write

2 Even as they delivered them unto thee in order, most excellent unto us, which from the beginning Theophilus,

a Jno.15.27. He.2.3. 1 Pe.5.1. 2 Pe.1.16. 1 b Ro.15.16. Eph.3.7. 4.11,12. c Ac.11.4. Jno.1.1.


d Ac.1.1.

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1. Forasmuch as many. It has been or to a full and fair arrangement of the doubted who are referred to here by the principal facts, &c., in the history of word many. It seems clear that it could our Lord. A declaration. A narranot be the other evangelists. For the tive-an account of. Which are most Gospel by John was not yet written, surely believed among Among and the word many denotes clearly more Christians-among all the Christians than two. Besides, it is said that they then living. Here remark, 1st. That undertook to record what the eye-wit- Christians of that day had the best of nesses had delivered to them, so that all opportunities of knowing whether the writers did not pretend to be eye. those things were true. Many had seen witnesses themselves. It is clear, there- them, and all others had had the acfore, that other writings were meant count from those who had witnessed than the gospels which we now have; them. 2d. That infidels now cannot but what they were is a matter of con possibly be as good judges in the mat, jecture. What are now known as ter as those who lived at the time, and spurious gospels were written long after who were thus competent to determine Luke wrote his. It is probable that whether these things were true or false. Luke refers to fragments of history, or 3d. That all Christians do most surely to narratives of detached sayings, acts, believe the truth of the gospel. It is or parables of our Lord, which had their life, their hope, their all. Nor been made and circulated among the can they doubt that their Saviour lived, disciples and others. His doctrines bled, died, rose, and still lives; that he were original, bold, pure, and authori. was their atoning sacrifice; and that tative. His miracles had been extraor- he is God over all, blessed for ever. dinary, clear, and awful. His life and 2. As they delivered them. As they death had been peculiar; and it is not narrated them. As they gave an acimprobable-indeed it is highly proba, count of them. From the beginning. ble—that such broken accounts and From the commencement of these narratives of detached facts would be things; that is, from the birth of John. preserved. That this was what he Or perhaps from the beginning of the meant, appears further from ver. 3; ministry Jesus. Eye-witnesses. where Luke professes to write "in or. Who had seen themselves, and who der ;'' i. e. to give a regular, full, and were therefore proper witnesses. TMinsystematic account. The others were isters of the word. The term word, here broken, and incomplete. This was to means the Gospel. Luke never uses it, be regular and full. 1 Taken in hand. as John does, to denote the second perUndertaken, attempted. To set forth son of the Trinity. These eye-witnesin order. To compose a narrative. It ses and ministers, refer doubtless to the does not refer to the order or arrange- seventy disciples, to the apostles, and ment, but means simply to give a nar- perhaps to other preachers who had rative. The word rendered here, in gone forth to proclaim the same things. order, is different from that in the third 3. It seemed good. I thought it best, verse; which has reference to order, or I have also determined. It seemed


4 That thou mightest know the Judea, a certain priest named Zacertainty of those things wherein charias, of the course of Abia : Cand thou hast been instructed.

his wife was of the daughters of 5 THERE was, in the days Aaron, and her name was ElisaTHF Herods the king of beth.

c1 Ch.24.10. Ne.12.4,17.

a Jno.20.31.

b Matt.2.1.

to be called for that there should be a it is rather to be considered as denoting full, authentic, and accurate account of rank or office. It occurs only in three these matters. Having had perfect other places in the New Testament, and understanding, &c. The literal trans- is there given to men in office to Felix lation of the original would be having and Festus. Acts xxiii. 26; xxiv. 3; xxvi. exactly traced every thing from the 25. These titles express no quality of first.' Or having, by diligent and the men, but belong to the office; and careful investigation, followed up every we may hence learn that it is not imthing to the source, to obtain an accu- proper for Christians, in giving honor rate account of the matter.' This much to whom honor is due, to address men better expresses the idea. Luke did in office by their customary titlesmeven not profess to have seen these things; if their moral character_be altogether and this expression is to show how he unworthy of it. Who Theophilus was acquired his information. It was by is unknown. It is probable that he tracing up every account till he became was some distinguished Roman, or satisfied of its iruths. Here observe, Greek, who had been converted; who 1st. That in religion God does not set was a friend of Luke; and who had aside our natural faculties. He calls us requested an account of these things. to look at evidence, to examine ac- It is possible that this preface might counts, to make up our own minds. have been sent to him as a private leiter Nor will any man be convinced of the with the Gospel, and Theophilus chose truth of religion who does not make to have them published together. investigation, and set himself seriously 4. The certainty. Have full evidence, to the task. 2d. We see the nature of or proof of. 1 Been instructed. By the Luke's inspiration. It was consistent preachers of the gospel. The original with his using his natural faculties; his word is the one from which is derived own powers of mind, in investigating our word catechism —been catechised. the truth. God, by his Holy Spirit, But it does not here denote the manner presided over his faculties; directed in which the instruction was imparted, them; and kept him from error. In as it does with us; but simply the fact order. This word does not indicate that he had been taught those things. that the exact order of time would be 5. In the days of Herod. See Matt. observed; for that is not the way in i. 1. Of the course of Abia. When which he writes. But it means 'dis- the priests became so numerous that tinctly, particularly, in opposition to they could not at once minister at the the confused and broken accounts to altar, David divided them into twentywhich he had referred before. Most four classes or courses, each one of excellent Theophilus. The word The- which officiated for a week. 1 Chron. ophilus means a friend of God, or a xxiv. The class, or course, of Abia, pious man; and it has been supposed was the eighth in order. 1 Chron. xxiv. by some that Luke did not refer to any 10. Compare 2 Chron. viii. 14. The particular individual, but to any man word course means the same as class, that loved God. But there is no rea or order. The Greek word Abia is the son for this opinion. For significant same as the Hebrew word Abijah. His names were very common, and there wife was of the daughters of Aaron. is no good reason to doubt that this was A descendant of Aaron, the first high some individual known to Luke. The priest of the Jews; so that John the application of the title most excellent,' Baptist was descended, on the father's further proves it. It would not be given and the mother's side, from priests. to an unknown man. The title, most Our Saviour was not on either side. excellent, has by some been supposed John would have been legally entitled to be given to express his character, but to a place, and employment among the

6 And they were both righteous a fice before God in the order of his before God, walking in all the com- fcourse, mandments and ordinances of the 9 According to the custom of the Lord, blameless.

priest's office, his lot was o to burn 7 And they had no child, be- incense when he went into the temcause 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 without, 8 And it came to pass, that at the time of incense. while he executed the priest's of 11 And there appeared unto him a Ge.7.1. 1 Ki.9.4. 2 Ki.20.3.

c Ex.30.7,8. d Le. 16.17.


b1 Cor.11.

2. Ph.3.6.


priests; our 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, morning and even conformity to the law. It is an honor- ing. Ex. xxx. 7. able testimonial of their piety towards 8. This was the time of the evening God. T Walking in, &c. Keeping the incense. The incense used in the temcommandments. To walk in the way ple was made of stacte, onysha, and that God commands, is to obey, T Ordi- galbanum, (Ex. xxx. 34), with pure

Rites and customs which God frankincense, and it was not lawful for had ordained, or appointed. These this compound to be used elsewhere words refer to all the duties of religion, than in the house of God. 1 Into the which were made known to them. temple. See Notes on Matt. xxi. 12. | Blameless. That is, no fault or defi- The part of the temple where incense ciency could be found in them. They was burnt was the holy place. were strict, exact, punctual. Yet this, 10. The whole multitude. This was if it had been mere external observance, the regular time of evening prayer, and might have been no proof of piety. multitudes came up to the temple to Paul, before his conversion, also kept worship. 1 Praying without. That is, the 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 stricken in years. Old, or the time of Malachi, and since there advanced in life, so as to render the had been any divine revelation. Durprospect 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 anGod; 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. I on 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. 'I To burn incense. Incense is his face to the west, the angel would an aromatic, or white rosin, procured stand on the north, or near the table of 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


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

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

b Ju.13.22. ver.29. Da.7.14,27 Mi.4.7.


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 or border of gold. Just below Neither burnt-sacrifice, nor meat-offerthis border four golden rings were at- ing, nor drink-offering, was permitted tached 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 overlaid with the same precious metal. illustration of the form and use of the Upon this altar incense was burnt every | altar of incense.

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