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Verse 10

Luke 1:10. The whole multitude of the people, &c. The manner in which the evangelist expresses himself here, shows that a more than ordinary concourse of the people was in the temple on this occasion, from which we may infer that it was a sabbath, or some high festival time; for often on ordinary week-days, few of the people were present at the morning and evening sacrifices, and therefore “four and twenty men were employed to attend this service, as representatives of the people of Israel, to lay their hands on the head of the sacrifice, to pray, and to receive the blessing. These were called, from their office, stationary men.” Macknight. This circumstance of there being a multitude present, would give great publicity to the facts here recorded, and cause them to become the subject of much inquiry and conversation, both in Jerusalem and through all the country. In consequence of which, doubtless, an expectation would be excited in the minds of many, that God was about to visit his people in some extraordinary way; which would tend greatly to prepare them for the reception of the gospel, when it should be offered to them. The people were praying without at the time of incense This the pious Jews constantly did, and that not only in the temple, but everywhere else; choosing to present their supplications to God at the hours of sacrifice and incense, while the ministers of religion interceded for the nation. Hence these hours were called the hours of prayer, Acts 3:1. And this was the foundation of that elegant figure, by which prayer is, in Scripture, so often compared to incense. And perhaps one reason of ordaining incense might be, to intimate the acceptableness of those pious prayers which accompanied it, as well as to remind the worshippers of that sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour, which was in due time to be offered to God for them, and of that incense which was and is continually offered with the prayers of the saints, upon the golden altar that is before the throne, Revelation 8:3-4. Observe, reader, 1st, All the prayers which we offer to God here, in his courts, are acceptable and successful only by virtue of Christ’s intercession in the temple of God above. 2d, We cannot expect to have an interest in his intercession, if we do not unite our own supplications to his, and sincerely and fervently pray for ourselves. Nor, 3d, is it sufficient for us to be present where God is worshipped, if our hearts do not join in the worship, and go along with the minister in all the parts of it. If he burn the incense ever so well; if he pray in ever so pertinent, judicious, and lively a manner, if we be not at the same time engaged in prayer in concurrence with him, what will it avail us?

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