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them, "who are," he adds, "of the circumcision," i. e. Jews by birth. In verse 14, he says that Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas also saluted them; from which it is inferred that they were not of the circumcision, but were by birth Gentiles.

Most writers suppose that Luke, the writer of this Gospel, was intended in the above place in Colossians. If so his profession was that of a physician. And it has been remarked that his descriptions of diseases are more accurate, and circumstantial, and have more of technical correctness than those of the other evangelists.

Luke does not profess to have been an eye-witness of what he recorded. See ch. 1, 2, 3. It is clear, therefore, that he was not one of the seventy disciples, nor one of the two who went to Emmaus, as has been sometimes supposed. Nor was he an apostle. By the fathers he is uniformly called the companion of the apostles, and especially of Paul.

If he was not one of the apostles, and if he was not one of those expressly commissioned by our Lord, to whom the promise of the infallible teaching of the Holy Ghost was given, the question arises by what authority his Gospel and the Acts have a place in the sacred canon, or what evidence is there that he was divinely inspired?

In regard to this question, the following considerations may give satisfaction. 1st. They were received by all the churches on the same footing as the first three Gospels. There is not a dissenting voice in regard to their authenticity and authority. The value of this argument is this -that if they had been spurious, or without authority, the fathers were the proper persons to know it. 2d. They were published during the lives of the apostles, Peter, Paul, and John, and were received during their lives, as books of sacred authority. If these books were not inspired, and had no authority, they could easily have destroyed their credit, and we have reason to think it would have been done. 3d. It is the united testimony of the fathers, that this Gospel was submitted to Paul, and received his express approbation. It was regarded as the substance of his preaching. And if it received his approbation, it comes to us on the authority of his name. Indeed, if this is the case, it rests on the same authority as the epistles of Paul himself. 4th. It bears the same marks of inspiration as the other books. It is simple, pure, yet sublime; nothing unworthy of God; and elevated far above the writings of any uninspired man. 5th. If he was not inspired-if, as we suppose, he was a Gentile by birth-and if, as is most clear, he was not an eye-witness of what he records; it is inconceivable that he did not contradict the other evangelists. That he did not borrow from them is clear. Nor is it possible to conceive that he could write a book, varying in the order of its arrangement so much, and adding so many new facts, and repeating so many recorded also by the others, without often having contradicted what was written by them. Let any man compare this Gospel with the spurious gospels of the following centuries, and he will be struck with the force of this remark. 6th. If it be objected, that not being an apostle, he did not come within the promise made to the apostles of inspiration; we reply, that this was also the case with Paul; yet no small part of the New Testament is composed of his writings. The evidence of their inspiration is to be judged, not only by that promise, but by the early reception of the churches; the testimony of the fathers as to the judgment of inspired men when living; and by the internal character of the works. Luke has all these, equally with the other evangelists.

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1. Forasmuch as many. It has been doubted who are referred to here by the word many. It seems clear that it could not be the other evangelists. For the Gospel by John was not yet written, and the word many denotes clearly more than two. Besides, it is said that they undertook to record what the eye-witnesses had delivered to them. So that the writers did not pretend to be eye-witnesses themselves. It is clear, therefore, that other writings were meant than the evangelists, which we now have; but what they were is a matter of conjecture. What are now known as spurious gospels, were written long after Luke wrote his. It is probable that Luke refers to fragments of history, or to narratives of detached sayings, or acts, or parables of our Lord, which had been made and circulated among the disciples, and others. His doctrines were original, bold, pure, and authoritative. His miracles had been extraordinary, clear, and awful. His life and death had been peculiar; and it is not improbable-indeed it is highly probable that such broken accounts, and narratives of detached facts would be preserved. That this was what he meant, appears further from v. 3; where Luke professes to write in order;" i. e. to give a regular, full, and systematic account. The others were broken, and incomplete. This was to be regular and full. T Taken in hand. Undertaken, attempted. To set forth in order. To compose a narrative. It does not refer to the order or arrangement, but means simply to give a narrative. The word rendered here, in order, is different from that in the third verse; which has reference to order, or to a full and fair arrangement of the principal facts, &c., in the history of our Lord. TA declaration. A narrative--an account of.

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¶ Which are most surely believed among us. Among Christians-among all the Christians then living. Here remark, 1st. That Christians of that day had the best of all opportunities of knowing whether those things were true. Many had seen them, and all others had had the account from those who had witnessed them. 2d. That infidels now cannot possibly be as good judges in the matter as those who lived at the time, and were competent to determine whether these things were true or false. 3d. That all Christians do most surely believe the truth of the gospel. It is their life, their hope, their all. Nor can they doubt that their Saviour lived, bled, died, rose, still lives; that he was their atoning sacrifice; and that he is God over all, blessed forever.

and

2. As they delivered them. As they narrated them. As they gave an account of them. ¶ From the beginning. From the commencement of these things. That is from the birth of John. Or perhaps from the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. TEye-witnesses. Who had seen them themselves, and who were therefore proper witnesses. T Ministers of the word. The term word, here means the Gospel. Luke never uses it, as John does, to denote the second person of the Trinity. These eye-witnesses and ministers, refer doubtless to the seventy disciples, to the apostles, and perhaps to other preachers who had gone forth to proclaim the same things.

3. It seemed good. I thought it best, or I have also determined. It seemed to be called for that there should be a full, authentic, and accurate account of these matters. Having had perfect understanding, &c. The literal translation of the original would be "having exactly traced every thing from the first "

Or

4 That thou mightest know" the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.

5

THERE was, in the days of
Herod the king

a Jno. 20.31. b Mat.2.1. c1Ch.24.10. Ne. 12.4,17.

C

a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

6 And they were both righteous d

d Ge.7.1. 1Ki.9.4. 2Ki.20.3.

or is due, to address men in office by their customary titles; even if their moral character be altogether unworthy of it. Who Theophilus was is unknown. It is probable that he was some distinguished Roman, or Greek, who had been converted; who was a friend of Luke; and who had requested an account of these things. It is possible that this preface might have been sent to him as a private letter with the Gospel, and thus Theophilus chose to have them published together.

4. The certainty. Have full evidence, or proof of. ¶ Been instructed. By the preachers of the gospel. The original word is the one from which is derived our word catechism-been catechised. But it does not here denote the manner in which the instruction was imparted, as it does with us; but simply the fact that he had been taught those things.

5. In the days of Herod. See Mat. 1. Of the course of Abia. When the priests became so numerous that they could not all at once minister at the altar, David divided them into twenty-four classes or courses, each one of which officiated for a week. 1 Chron. xxiv. The

having, by diligent and careful investigation, followed up every thing to the source, to obtain an accurate account of the matter. This much better expresses the idea. Luke did not profess to have seen these things; and this expression is to show how he acquired his information. It was by tracing up every account till he became satisfied of its truth. Here observe, 1st. That in religion God does not set aside our natural faculties. He calls us to look at evidence, to examine accounts, to make up our own minds. Nor will any man be convinced of the truth of religion who does not make investigation, and set himself seriously to the task. 2d. We see the nature of Luke's inspiration. It was consistent with his using his natural faculties; his own powers of mind, in investigating the truth. God, by his Holy Spirit, presided over his faculties; directed them; and kept him from error. In order. This word does not indi-ii. cate that the exact order of time would be observed; for that is not the way in which he writes.. But it means distinctly, particularly, in opposition to the confused and broken accounts to which he had referred before. ¶ Most excellent Theophilus. The word Theophilus means a friend of God, or a pious man, and it has been supposed by some that Luke did not refer to any particular individual, but to any man that loved God. But there is no reason for this opinion. For significant names were very common, and there is no good reason to doubt that this was some individual known to Luke. The application of the title "most excellent," further proves it. It would not be given to an unknown man. The title, most excellent, has by some been supposed to be given to express his character, but it is rather to be considered as denoting rank or office. It occurs only in three other places in the New Testament, and is there given to inen in office-to Felix and Festus. Acts xxiii. 26; xxiv. 3; xxvi. 25. These titles express no quality of the men, but belong to the office; and we may hence learn that it is not improper for Christians, in giving honor to whom hon

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class, or course, of Abia, was the eighth in order. 1 Chron. xxiv. 10. Compare 2 Chron. viii. 14. The word course means the same as class, or order. The Greek word Abia is the same as the Hebrew word Abijah. ¶ His wife was of the daughters of Aaron. A descendant of Aaron, the first high priest of the Jews. So that John the baptist was descended, on the father's and the mother's side, from priests. Our Saviour was not on either side. John would have been legally entitled to a place, and employment among the priests; our Saviour, being of the tribe of Judah, would not.

6. Both righteous. Both just, or holy. This means here more than external conformity to the law. It is an honorable testimonial of their piety towards God. ¶ Walking in, &c. Keeping the commandments. To walk in the way that God commands, is to obey. ¶ OrdinanRites and customs which God had ordained, or appointed. These words

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house of God.
Mat. xxi. 12.
where incense
place.

refer to all the duties of religion, whichcense, and it
were made known to them. T Blame-pound to be
less. That is, no fault or deficiency could
be found in them. They were strict, ex-
act, punctual. Yet this, if it had been
mere external observance, might have
been no proof of piety. Paul, before his
conversion, also kept the law externally
blameless. Phil. iii. 6. But in the case
of Zachariah and Elisabeth, it seems to
have been real love to God, and sincere
regard for his law.

7. Well stricken in years. Old, or advanced in life, so as to render the prospect of having children hopeless.

8. Before God. In the temple where God dwelt, by the symbols of his presence. The temple was regarded by the Jews as the house or dwelling of God; and in the first temple there was, in the most holy place a cloud called the Shechinah, or visible sign of the presence of God. It was thus before God, that Zachariah offered incense.

9. According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was. The Jewish writers inform us that it was customary for the priests to divide their daily task by

lot.

¶ To burn incense. Incense is an aromatic, or white rosin, procured from trees chiefly in Arabia. It is obtained by making incisions in the tree, and the gum flows out. It was distinguished for a peculiarly pleasant smell when burnt, and was therefore used in ancient worship. It was burnt by the priest twice a day, morning and evening. Ex.xxx. 7 -8. This was the time of the evening incense. The incense used in the temple was made of stacte, onycha, and galbapum, (Ex. xxx. 34), with pure frankin

was not lawful for this comused elsewhere than in the ¶ Into the temple. See The part of the temple was burnt was the holy

10. The whole multitude. This was the regular time of evening prayer, and multitudes came up to the temple to worship. ¶ Praying without. That is, in the courts around the temple; particularly in the court of the women.

11. An angel. An angel is a messenger sent from God. It had now been about four hundred years since the time of Malachi, and since there had been any divine revelation. During that time the nation was looking for the Messiah; but still with nothing more than the ancient prophecies to direct them. Now that he was about to appear, God sent his messenger to announce his coming, to encourage the hearts of his people, and to prepare them to receive him. ¶ On the right side, &c. The altar of incense stood close by the veil which divided the holy place from the most holy. On the north stood the table of shew-bread. On the south the golden candlestick. Zacharias entered, therefore, with his face to the west, the angel would stand on the north, or near the table of shewbread.

As

12. He was troubled. This was an

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having, by diligent and careful investigation, followed up every thing to the source, to obtain an accurate account of the matter. This much better expresses the idea. Luke did not profess to have seen these things; and this expression is to show how he acquired his information. It was by tracing up every account till he became satisfied of its truth. Here observe, 1st. That in religion God does not set aside our natural faculties. He calls us to look at evidence, to examine accounts, to make up our own minds. Nor will any man be convinced of the truth of religion who does not make investigation, and set himself seriously to the task. 2d. We see the nature of Luke's inspiration. It was consistent with his using his natural faculties; his own powers of mind, in investigating the truth. God, by his Holy Spirit, presided over his faculties; directed them; and kept him from error. In order. This word does not indicate that the exact order of time would be observed; for that is not the way in which he writes. But it means distinctly, particularly, in opposition to the confused and broken accounts to which he had referred before. ¶ Most excellent Theophilus. The word Theophilus means a friend of God, or a pious man, and it has been supposed by some that Luke did not refer to any particular individual, but to any man that loved God. But there is no reason for this opinion. For significant names were very common, and there is no good reason to doubt that this was some individual known to Luke. The application of the title "most excellent," further proves it. It would not be given to an unknown man. The title, most excellent, has by some been supposed to be given to express his character, but it is rather to be considered as denoting rank or office. It occurs only in three other places in the New Testament, and is there given to inen in office-to Felix and Festus. Acts xxiii. 26; xxiv. 3; xxvì. 25. These titles express no quality of the men, but belong to the office; and we may hence learn that it is not improper for Christians, in giving honor to whom hon

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or is due, to address men in office by their customary titles; even if their moral character be altogether unworthy of it. Who Theophilus was is unknown. It is probable that he was some distinguished Roman, or Greek, who had been converted; who was a friend of Luke; and who had requested an account of these things. It is possible that this preface might have been sent to him as a private letter with the Gospel, and thus Theophilus chose to have them published together.

4. The certainty. Have full evidence, or proof of. ¶ Been instructed. By the preachers of the gospel. The original word is the one from which is derived our word catechism-been catechised. But it does not here denote the manner in which the instruction was imparted, as it does with us; but simply the fact that he had been taught those things.

The

5. In the days of Herod. See Mat. ii. 1. ¶ Of the course of Abia. When the priests became so numerous that they could not all at once minister at the altar, David divided them into twenty-four classes or courses, each one of which officiated for a week. 1 Chron. xxiv. The class, or course, of Abia, was the eighth in order. 1 Chron. xxiv. 10. Compare 2 Chron. viii. 14. The word course means the same as class, or order. Greek word Abia is the same as the Hebrew word Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron. A descendant of Aaron, the first high priest of the Jews. So that John the baptist was descended, on the father's and the mother's side, from priests. Our Saviour was not on either side. John would have been legally entitled to a place, and employment among the priests; our Saviour, being of the tribe of Judah, would not.

6. Both righteous. Both just, or holy. This means here more than external conformity to the law. It is an honorable testimonial of their piety towards God. ¶ Walking in, &c. Keeping the commandments. To walk in the way that God commands, is to obey. ¶ OrdinanRites and customs which God had ordained, or appointed. These words

ces.

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