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Verses 13-14

Luke 2:13-14 . And suddenly there was with the angel, &c. The welcome news was no sooner published, than a multitude of heavenly beings were heard celebrating, in songs and hymns divine, the praises of God, on account of his unspeakable mercy and love to men; and saying, Glory to God in the highest, &c. The shouts of a multitude are generally broken into short sentences, and are commonly elliptic; which is the cause of some ambiguity in these words, which may be understood in different senses. Some read them thus: Glory to God in the highest, that is, in heaven, and on earth peace, yea, favour, toward men. Others understand them as signifying, That the good-will, or favour, which was now shown to men, is the Glory of God in the highest, and is the peace and happiness of those who dwell on earth. This is doubtless an important sense, and what the original will very well bear, but it changes the doxology into a kind of proverb, and destroys much of its beauty. As Dr. Campbell observes; “The most common interpretation of the passage is the most probable.” The words are doubtless to be considered as expressions of rejoicing exclamation, strongly representing the piety and benevolence of these heavenly spirits, and their affectionate good wishes for the prosperity of the Messiah’s kingdom; as if they had said, “Glory be to God in the highest heavens, and let all the angelic legions resound his praises in the most exalted strains, for, with the Redeemer’s birth, peace and all happiness come down to dwell on earth; yea, the overflowings of divine benevolence and favour are now exercised toward sinful men, who through this Saviour become the objects of his complacential delight.” The words, considered in a doctrinal point of view, teach us, what it is of great importance to know, 1st, That the birth of Christ is an event which, above all others, brings glory to God, giving such a display of several of his perfections as had never been made before, particularly of his holiness and justice, in requiring such a sacrifice as was hereby to be prepared for the expiation of human guilt, and his mercy, in providing and accepting it; his wisdom, in devising such a plan for the redemption of lost man, and his power, in executing it. 2d, It brings peace on earth, that is, peace to man, peace with God, through the atonement and mediation of Christ; peace of conscience, as the consequence of knowing that we have peace with God, and peace one with another. 3d, It displays the good-will, the benevolence, the love of God to man, as no other of his works or dispensations ever did, or could do. See 1 John 4:7, &c.; John 3:16.

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