“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” – Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard
I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice. (John 16:22)
Surely He will come a second time, and then, when He sees us and we see Him, there will be rejoicings indeed. Oh, for that joyous return! But this promise is being daily fulfilled in another sense. Our gracious Lord has many “agains” in His dealings with us. He gave us pardon, and He sees us again and repeats the absolving word as fresh sins cause us grief. He has revealed to us our acceptance before God, and when our faith in that blessing grows a little dim, He comes to us again and again and says, “Peace be unto you,” and our hearts are glad.
Beloved, all our past mercies are tokens of future mercies. If Jesus has been with us, He will see us again. Look upon no former favor as a dead and buried thing, to be mourned over; but regard it as a seed sown, which will grow, and push its head up from the dust, and cry, “I will see you again.” Are the times dark because Jesus is not with us as He used to be? Let us pluck up courage; for He will not be long away. His feet are as those of a roe or young hart, and they will soon bring Him to us. Wherefore let us begin to be joyous, since He saith to us even now, “I will see you again.”
Dr. Schaeffer’s epistemology is integral to his approach to apologetics and may be described simply as follows: First, one must understand that pagan thought endorses a belief in the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system. Propositional and verbal revelation is nonsense in this scheme. Christian epistemology stands in stark contrast to the non-Christian worldview. The presupposition of Christianity begins with the God who is there. God is the infinite-personal Being who has made man in His image. God made man a verbalizer in the area of propositions in his horizontal communications with other men. Thus God communicates to us on the basis of verbalizations and propositions by means of the written Word of God (He Is There And He Is Not Silent, 326-327).
Thus the Christian epistemological system brings three things together in a unified whole; the unified field of knowledge that modern man has given up on. “The infinite personal God who made the universe; and man, whom he made to live in that universe; and the Bible, which He has given us to tell us about that universe” (He Is There And He Is Not Silent, 329).
Schaeffer goes one step further by noting that the presuppositions of Christianity is in line with every man’s experience. “The fact is that if we are going to live in this world at all, we must live in it acting on a correlation of ourselves and the thing that is there, even if we have a philosophy that says there is no correlation . . . In other words, all men constantly and consistently act as though Christianity is true” (He Is There And He Is Not Silent, 330).
The reason for the shift in society leading to despair comes as a result of buying the lie of the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system. The result delivers a deathblow to any possibility of epistemology. Schaeffer adds, “Man’s attempted autonomy has robbed him of reality. He has nothing to be sure of when his imagination soars beyond the stars, if there is nothing to guarantee a distinction between reality and fantasy. But on the basis of the Christian epistemology, this confusion is ended, the alienation is healed. This is the heart of the problem of knowing, and it is not solved until our knowledge fits under the apex of the infinite-personal, Triune God who is there and who is not silent” (He Is There And He Is Not Silent, 343-344).
Therefore, there are only two alternatives in the search for the source of knowledge according to Dr. Schaeffer. Either a person attempts to find the answers to all his questions alone (autonomously) or he seeks truths from God and His revealed Word (the biblical world-view).
The former view mandates that a person begins with himself. However, as Schaeffer notes, “Starting with himself, a person cannot establish an adequate explanation for the amazing possibility that he can observe the world around him and be assured that his observations have a correspondence with reality” (Whatever Happened To The Human Race, 365). Herein lies the problem: Sinful man is forced to provide the answers to the ultimate metaphysical questions, but because they have limited experience they can know nothing with a high degree of certainty. The end result is a hellish tension which leads down the road of meaninglessness and the relativity of morals: “The truth is that everyone who rejects the biblical world-view must live in a state of tension between ideas about reality and reality itself” (Whatever Happened To The Human Race, 369).
The later view that derives truth from God’s Word is the only sure way to engage in epistemology. Dr. Schaeffer gives three testimonies found in the Scripture. First, the Bible gives us the explanation for the universe. Second, the Bible explains the mannishness of man (which is described below) and third, the Bible is open to verification by historical study. “From the Bible’s viewpoint, all truth finally rests upon the fact that the infinite-personal God exists in contrast to His not existing” (Whatever Happened To The Human Race, 393).
Blaise Pascal mused on this business and came up with what is called now, in the history of theoretical thought, Pascal’s Wager. The wager goes something like this. If a person bets his or her life that there is a God and lives in light of that bet—refrains from unrestricted evil, seeks to live sacrificially, seeks to forego some of the pleasures that are offered by the world—if that person dies and there is no God, in the final analysis, that person really hasn’t lost anything because that person has enjoyed a better life. Whereas the person who bets that there is no God and lives their life accordingly—by a wanton lack of moral restraint, indulging their own pleasures, following after their own lusts, living as a self-centered individual—and then that person dies and finds out that there really is a God, that person’s in big trouble. That person is now facing the consequences of the eternal judgment of God. So, in a sense what Pascal is saying to the agnostic or to the skeptic is that if you don’t know if God exists, if you’re not sure that He really is there and is the One who will judge you at the end of your days, in the midst of your uncertainty, the best bet that you can make—the sensible bet that you can make—is to protect your downside, minimize your risks, and maximize the upside, and the practical and intelligent thing to do would be to bet that God is there and is true. Again, if your bet is wrong and you lose, you haven’t lost anything. If you bet that He isn’t there and He is, you’ve lost everything. Now, a lot of attention has been given to this particular wager, and people have sought to poke holes in it. The first thing I want to say in defense of Pascal is, as I said earlier, The Pensées, the book that was published after his death, of his reflections, were just that. They were isolated reflections, not a fully developed systematic study of this sort of thing. And he’s thinking on his feet, as it were, and thinks about this and says, “What if I’m wrong or what if I’m right?” Some people say, “Wait a minute. Is this a sound argument for the existence of God?” Well, if you look at it as an argument for the existence of God in the theoretical sense, I think the answer can only be no, it’s not a sound argument for the existence of God. It’s more existentially oriented in that regard, even though Pascal lived before the advent of existentialism. There were many modern existentialists who looked back to Pascal as one who anticipated the thinking of a man like Kierkegaard, for example, who called human beings to be passionately engaged in the subjective aspects of human existence, walking by faith, living by faith, living on the edge of risk, trusting God in the darkness, as it were. And Pascal, being the same kind of man of passion as Kierkegaard at a later time, is thinking in these categories.
Passing through trials and adversities, it might seem to some that Almighty God our RIGHTEOUSNESS is our enemy and that He doesn’t care. Oh Beloved, this could not be further from the truth. Satan the slanderer loves it when we are deceived into thinking and believing this. But by faith in IN Almighty God and His ETERNAL RIGHTEOUS Word which is ABSOLUTE and TRUE, we can defeat this demonic strategy of the enemy of our souls. The Bible states: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4,5).
The victory is gained when a person puts his or her faith and trust in the ETERNAL RIGHTEOUS PERSON of Almighty God. As believers in Christ, we can by faith get through the adversity and calamity that comes our way, knowing that God indeed loves us and has a plan to make us winners, not losers. Listen to this promise: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:26). God has a wonderful plan for you!
In these last days may we be strong and of good courage and have faith in Almighty God. May we see – with the eyes of faith – past this physical world into the very throne room of Heaven, and be more than a Conqueror in Christ.
‘Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14).
Remember, Beloved: “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you [i.e., Christ], than he that is in the world” [i.e., Satan and his minions] (1 John 4:4).
2:14 A better rendering of the text is “peace toward men of goodwill” (see note in center column). This one-verse hymn has been titled the Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Latin for “glory to God in the highest”).
2:14Glory to God This third hymn in Luke’s birth narratives echoes the angelic song in Isa 6:3 (see Luke 1:27 and note; compare 1:46–55, 68–79).
in the highest A reference to God’s abode (compare 19:38).
on earth The angels’ reference to glory in the highest heaven is complemented by their message of peace of earth.
peace The Greek word used here, eirēnē, is similar in meaning to the Hebrew word shalom (which means “peace,” “wholeness,” or “completeness”); it carries connotations of well-being, harmony, and security. Peace is a major theme of Luke’s Gospel (e.g., 1:79; 7:50; 10:5–6; 19:38; 24:36).
At first, it seems that the idea of Messianic peace contradicts 12:51, where Jesus declares that He will bring division rather than peace. He is explaining that people will have to make a decision about Him which may cause division. Ultimately, those who choose to follow Him will receive peace. Jesus brings peace to the whole world upon his second coming (see Rev 21).
Luke likely intends a contrast between the peace offered by God through His Messiah and that offered by Rome through the emperor. The idea that peace came from Caesar Augustus was prevalent throughout the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus’ birth (see note on Mark 1:1). During his reign (27 bc–ad 14), Augustus ended the civil strife and widespread warfare that dominated the reigns of other emperors. Consequently, people erected shrines to him with inscriptions hailing him as savior of the whole world. For example, an inscription found in the city of Priene (located in modern-day Turkey) declares: “the birthday of the god Augustus was the beginning of the good news for the world that came through him.” In contrast, Luke portrays Jesus as the true Savior of the world, the authentic bearer and proclaimer of good news (the gospel). Jesus’ words divide people as they choose allegiances, but unlike Augustus, Jesus can offer true salvation.
2:14Glory to God in the highest. The angels proclaim the news about Jesus: the eternal, omnipotent Son of God has just taken “the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7), for “the fullness of time” has now come, and God has “sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Gal. 4:4–5). peace. The peace of salvation that God gives through his Son (see note on John 14:27). Jesus is the “Prince of Peace” prophesied by Isaiah (Isa. 9:6). among those with whom he is pleased. God’s gift of “peace” will come not to all humanity but to those whom God is pleased to call to himself.
2:14 the highest. I.e., heaven. peace. This is not to be taken as a universal declaration of peace toward all humanity. Rather, peace with God is a corollary of justification (see note on Ro 5:1). among men with whom He is pleased. God’s peace is a gracious gift to those who are the objects of His pleasure.
2:14Glory here refers to praise given to God. goodwill toward men: The phrase means that people are the objects of God’s goodwill. In ancient Judaism, this phrase described a limited group of people who were the objects of God’s special grace. The promise of peace (1:79) and goodwill would come to those who welcome God’s only Son.
2:14 “Glory to God in the highest” God is given glory for His person (“in the highest”), His good news (“peace among men”), the sending of His Son, and the good news of His finished work of redemption of fallen mankind). God deserves glory (see Special Topic at 2:9) and praise from creation and from His redeemed children!
There is some confusion as to the physical location of these angels. The first angel seems to have appeared on the earth next to the shepherds, but the large number of angels may have appeared in the sky. The text is ambiguous. The phrase “in the highest” refers to God, not the angels.
“on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased”
“on earth peace, good will toward men”
“on earth peace among those whom he favors”
“peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased”
“on earth peace for those he favors”
There is a manuscript variant connected to the last word in Greek. The GENITIVE form (cf. NASB, NRSV, TEV, NJB) is found in MSS MĒ*, A, B*, D and in the Greek text used by Cyril of Jerusalem, Jerome, and Augustine. This grammatical construction is unusual for Koine Greek, but is a Semitic construction found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The opening chapters of Luke have many of these Semitic constructions (cf. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 133), which may reflect Aramaic-written documents.
The familiar King James rendering gives the wrong theological impression. This is not a text on God’s love for all humanity like 2:10; John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:4; or 2 Pet. 3:9, but of God’s offer of peace to those who know Him and are involved in His kingdom. The gospel was not good news to many Jews of Jesus’ day, so it cannot refer to Israel alone. It is surely true that the mystery of God’s election and human free will is difficult to harmonize, but both are biblically true. We must not proof-text part of the NT tension, but fully embrace the tension—preach God’s sovereignty to whosoever will receive! There is a tension between v. 10 (whether Israel or humanity) and v. 14!
Ver. 14. Glory to God in the highest.—The angels’ song (A Christmas sermon):—First heard above the plains of Bethlehem it is one day to be heard over all the world. Its sweet melody is to be woven into every language which men have learnt to speak. The angels are to hear it in all dialects and tongues. It is to be the choral response of a gladdened world to the birthday joy which was once poured forth upon the shepherd hearts at Bethlehem.
I. We owe Christmas-tide to Christianity.
II. Let us remember the association of Christmas-tide with “peace on earth and good-will to men.”
III. There is joy in thinking of the partial prevalence of this Divine influence amongst the family of man.
IV. How may the Advent of Christ be made to repeat itself this Christmas-tide? Whenever peace and goodwill mightily prevail amongst men, that is a time when Christ has a fresh hold upon human hearts.
V. We may not forget that there are homes which will depend for Christmas joy upon the careful thought and kindliness of others.
VI. There are some whose hearts will be troubled with memories which will crowd around this otherwise happy period. (W. Dorling.)
A Christmas carol:—
I. How did the appearing of Christ bring glory to God? 1. In the fulfilment of prophecy. 2. In the salvation of man. 3. In exhibiting God’s love without detracting from any other attribute.
II. How peace on earth? 1. It was not peace at first certainly. Describe the state of the world, especially Palestine, when Christ came, and during succeeding years. 2. But in proportion as Christ is known and felt, there will surely be peace on earth. 3. Peace in the city, town, or village in which Christians dwell. 4. Peace in the family. 5. Peace in the heart. 6. And all this will result from the practice of the principles of that religion whose Founder was cradled in Bethlehem’s manger, for that religion (1) Subdues the passions; (2) Begulates the life; (3) Elevates the soul.
III. How good-will toward men? 1. When one makes a present to another we look upon it as an expression of good-will. The value of the present is often indicative of the measure of esteem or good-will. God has given us His greatest, choicest gift, for He bestowed His only Son. 2. God’s good-will becomes even more apparent when we contemplate our own guilt. 3. What have you to say in answer to all this? All God requires from us in recognition of His love is our heart. And if we give Him our heart, we shall surely give our service. Have you given yours to Him? (A. F. Barfield.)
The Divine method in the world:—This is the key-note, not only of the Christian message, but of Divine religion from the beginning. It is ours to follow, not to precede; to ask what has been the Divine method, not to ask what it should have been; and when once we begin to have some light on that view, then it will be ours to ask what are the signs of accomplishment.
I. What has been the Divine method? 1. We learn that there is a Divinity in this world which secures the direction of growth, but leaves the operative influences that produce it, and the working out of results to great natural laws. 2. We learn that the Divine method implies great length of time. 3. We learn that one universal and insuperable difficulty has been in teaching men how to live together peaceably.
II. What, now, is the condition and the prospect, throughout the entire world, of good-will and peace, or the art of living together? 1. The possibility of happiness among the poor, who constitute by far the largest part of the human race, has been so immensely increased as to form a broad platform on which to put our feet and form an estimate of the gains that have been made. 2. In the mind of the very labourers themselves there is springing up a spirit of organization and thrift. 3. There is coming, gradually, the admission of the great under-class of the human family to a participation in government. 4. The influence of nation upon nation must also be taken into consideration in estimating the advance of the latter-day glory. The globe has become but a single neighbourhood. 5. Look at how God has been raising up four great languages on the globe which ultimately, I think, will result in one. Look at what treasure is stored up in the French, in the German, in the English, and in the Latin. Shall I add the Greek—the language of science? The language of men, the language that contains the doctrines of independence, of liberty, of, I trust, man in man, is the English tongue. It is spoken more widely over the globe than any other. I rejoice with exceeding great joy that the English tongue is a charter of liberty to the human race.
III. If you accept the prophecies of the New Testament, interpreting them along the lines of experience, showing what is the Divine method of working upon the human race, the angels that sang peace and good-will at the Advent will not be long delayed before they will sing again. I shall hear that song, not here but yonder. And perhaps joined with it will be the outcry of this glorious achievement which seems to us to have lingered, but that has not lingered, according to the thought of God, who hath done and is doing all things well, and who is the Conqueror of conquerors, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, my Saviour and my God, your Saviour and your God. Trust Him; rejoice in Him; love Him; and reign. (H. W. Beecher.)
The angels’ text:—Such was the text of the angels on the night of our Saviour’s birth; and to that text our Saviour’s life furnished the sermon.
I. The first words of it are, “Glory to God!” and a most weighty lesson may we draw for ourselves from finding the angels put that first. A world is redeemed. Millions on millions of human beings are rescued from everlasting death. Is not this the thing uppermost in the angels’ thoughts? No, it is only the second thing. The first is, Glory to God! Why so? Because God is the giver of this salvation; nay, is Himself the Saviour, in the person of the only-begotten Son. Moreover, because in heavenly minds God always holds the first place, and they look at everything with a view to Him. Now, I would have you look to God in exactly the same manner. Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, you should do all to God’s glory. Then will you be like the angels who began their text with, Glory to God!
II. The next branch of the text is “peace on earth.” Our Saviour Himself is the Prince of Peace—1. Because His great purposes were to bring down peace to man. 2. Because He made it one of His prime objects to plant and foster peace within man. Peace was His legacy to His apostles. 3. But what kind of peace? Truly every kind which man can enjoy. (1) Peace of conscience; (2) peace of heart; (3) peace of a mind at ease about worldly matters; (4) peace and union between brethren, that we may all make up one body under Jesus Christ our Head. Now, let each of us ask himself with all seriousness, Do I feel anything of this godly peace?
III. There is a third part of the angels’ text, namely, “Good-will to men:” and a very important part it is. For it sets forth the ground of our salvation. It was no excellency or merit of ours that drew our Saviour down from heaven. It was the wretchedness of our fallen state. Herein, as St. Paul tells us, “God commendeth His love toward us,” &c. (Rom. 5:8). But though this love of God for His sinful creatures is worthy of all gratitude and praise, the good-will declared in the angels’ text means something more than mere love. The word which we translate “Good-will,” is a word very full of meaning, and signifies that mixture of goodness, and kindness, and wisdom, which tends to good and wise plans. The good-will then in the angels’ text is no other than the great and merciful purpose of our redemption. Have we any proper sense and feeling of this good-will? I have spoken to you on the angels’ text, and in so doing have spoken of man’s salvation. The end of the whole is God’s glory; the means is peace on earth; the sole motive is goodness and loving-kindness to us miserable sinners. IV. There are still three words in this text which I have not noticed. The angels did not simply say, “Glory to God;” but, “Glory to God in the highest,” that is, in heaven. Here is a wonderful, a glorious, a soul-sustaining scene opened to us. The angels in the very presence of God are moved by our sufferings and our redemption. Shall they glorify God for His goodness to us, and shall we forget to glorify Him for His goodness to ourselves? (A. W. Hare.)
Christmas Day:—There is considerable difference of opinion as to what is the best reading and the best rendering of this passage. According to Dean Alford and the Revised Version, we should understand it to mean, “Peace among men towards whom God has a good-will”—that is, in whom He is well pleased. According to the Vulgate the meaning should be, peace to men who exhibit a good-will. This is the sense adopted by Keble in his Christmas hymn. The reading of the Authorised Version is not, perhaps, the best; but, as being more familiar, and at the same time so thoroughly in harmony with the spirit of the day, I will venture to take it as a motto. 1. It must be confessed that the conduct of professing Christians has often been such as to make the angels’ song sound like an ironical sarcasm, rather than an eulogy. Church history, for example, to a passionate lover of peace and good-will, must be very melancholy reading. 2. But I hear some one say, “things are improved now-a-days.” Well, yes, I suppose they are a little. Still many of those who call themselves Christians seem to be characterized by the very opposites of peace and good-will. I remember that in the preface to the second edition of his Belfast Address, Professor Tyndall said he was not surprised at the bitter things which had been uttered against him by Christians, when he remembered how bitterly they were in the habit of recriminating one another. “ ’Tis true, ’tis pity; pity ’tis, ’tis true.” Peace and good-will—peace, or the absence of quarrelsomeness; good-will, or the actual performance of deeds of kindness, are essential characteristics of genuine discipleship. 3. Let us, to-day, apply this test of discipleship to ourselves. Of all the provisions made for our spiritual welfare, nothing, perhaps, more helpful than the periodical recurrence of days like the present. 4. But it was Christ’s aim that every day should be in this respect a Christmas Day. Is that the case with us? There was a curious institution in the Middle Ages called the ecclesiastical truce or peace of God. Feuds legally stopped for four days a week. The bell tolled on a Wednesday. All hostilities were to cease till the following Monday. And until the Monday they were suspended; but then they were always faithfully resumed. Shall it be so with us? After manifesting peace and good-will on the 25th of December, must we relapse again into practical paganism on the 26th? We cannot be always making presents, but we may be always doing good. 5. When peace and good-will are universal, human society will be, as Christ wished to make it, a heaven upon earth.
For lo! the days are hastening on
By prophet-bands foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes back the age of gold—
When peace shall over all the earth
Its blessed banner fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.
(Professor A. W. Momerie.)
The angelic hymn:—The song consists of three propositions, of which two are parallel, and the third forms a link between the other two. In the first, “Glory to God in the highest places,” the angels demand that, from the lower regions to which they have just come down, from the bosom of humanity, praise shall arise, which, ascending from heavens to heavens, shall reach at last the supreme sanctuary, the highest places, and there glorify the Divine perfections that shine forth in this birth. The second, “Peace on earth,” is the counterpart of the first. While inciting men to praise, the angels invoke on them peace from God. This peace is such as results from the reconciliation of man with God; it contains the cause of the cessation of all war here below. These two propositions are of the nature of a desire or prayer. The verb understood is ἔστω, let it be. The third, which is not connected with the preceding by any particle, proclaims the fact which is the ground of this twofold prayer. If the logical connection were expressed, it would be by the word for. This fact is the extraordinary favour shown to men by God, and which is displayed in the gift He is bestowing upon them at this very time. The sense is: “for God takes pleasure in men.” In speaking thus, the angels seem to mean, “God has not bestowed as much on us” (Heb. 2:16)” The idea of “good-will” recalls the first proposition, “Glory to God!” while the expression, towards men,” reminds us of the second, “peace on earth!” (F. Godet, D.D.) The Gloria in excelsis:—In the account of this eventful night, the words heard are alone mentioned; one might be pardoned for wishing we had also the score! We all know how an interesting strain of melody will fix itself in our memories; sometimes we can hardly keep from humming it over, repeating snatches of it we have caught, and rehearsing to others the way it went, so as to give an idea. It may be that the shepherds remembered parts of this; but if so, we have no means of ascertaining it. Only the words reach us; but they are well worth the study of the world. The startling abruptness with which this seraphic anthem fell on the ears of the shepherds that first Christmas night, adds greatly to the dramatic effect of the scene. Hardly lingering for their leader to end his communication, that choir of singers “suddenly” burst forth with loud volume of exquisite harmony, celebrating the praises of Jehovah, whom they saw in a fresh field of splendid display. There were a vast number of singers—“a host,” that is to say, an army; “an army celebrating a peace.” Surely there was enough to inspire their music; and great armies of voices sing together quite often with immense power of rich and voluminous harmony. It was an exaggeration, no doubt, but ancient history gravely records that, when the invader of Macedon was finally expelled, the victorious Greeks, who heard the news and so learned that freedom had come, and fighting was over, and home was near, raised along the lines and throughout the camp such a shout of “Soter! Soter!”—“a Saviour! A Saviour!”—that birds on the wing dropped down. It may have been so; but what was that little peninsula of Greece, as compared with this entire race redeemed from Satan unto God? What were the actual words of this angels’ song? It is well that we all recollect them—“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men!” Three stanzas in one hymn. 1. The first of them, and the foremost in thought, is “Glory to God in the highest.” This is not a prayer at all, but an ascription. It was no time to be asking that God be glorified, when the whole universe was quivering with new disclosure of a “Gloria in Excelsis,” such as blind men could see and deaf men could hear. Those angels did not pray—Glory be to God—but they exclaimed—Glory is to God in the highest! And then they rush rapidly into an enumeration of particulars. The connection of thought is close. Glory to God in the highest, because peace has come on the earth, and goodwill has already gone out toward men. These angels are making proclamation that the rebellious race is for evermore subdued. No longer was this planet to circle around among loyal worlds in space, flaunting the defiant flag of a belligerent in the kingdom of heaven. Men should be redeemed; sin should be positively checked; all the ills of a worn-out and wretched existence should be banished; poverty should be removed, sickness and death find a Master; Satan should be foiled by Immanuel in person. Hence this entire vision, which flashed on the awakened intelligence of the angels and inspired their song, was simply reversive and revolutionary. The whole earth seemed to rouse itself to a new being. Cursed for human sin, it saw its deliverance coming. The day had arrived when streams and lakes should gleam in the sunshine, when the valleys should smile and laugh and sing, when flowers should bloom and stars should flash—all to the glory of God! 2. Then “peace on earth”; God was at last in the world reconciling it unto Himself; the hearts of His creatures were coming back to Him; their allegiance was to be restored, their wills were to be subjugated, their minds were to be enlightened; thus peace over all the world would be established, God’s wrath would be averted, and the long wrestle of man with Satan would reach its end. For when men are really at peace with God, they will come to peace with each other. 3. And so, at last, “goodwill toward men.” That ends this song of the angel; that is what ought to be the beginning of each Christmas anthem and carol. God loves us; oh, how touchingly does the aged Paul in one place tell his young brother Titus about that “kindness and love of God our Saviour toward men! “God cherishes only goodwill toward any of us. Even the wicked; He takes no pleasure in their death. He would rather they would turn unto Him, and live. Oh, happy day is that in which He tells us all this unmistakably, with perfect plainness. Brethren, if God so loved us, then ought we also to love one another. “All ye are brethren.” Away with all fancied superiorities and aristocracies on the common Christmas day—the gladsome birthday of Christ! Herdsmen are on a visit to a carpenter at an inn; and they are told to go to the outhouse to find him! Beasts are standing by a manger in which lies the Child—King David the Second! But, for all this seems so democratic and small, please remember that a choir of angels have been singing outside. Who among us is too proud to listen? (C. S. Robinson, D.D.)
The angelic anthem:—In this Divine anthem we are taught that—
I. The Incarnation was a bright exhibition of the glory of God. Hitherto the holy angels had seen the glory of the Divine justice in the punishment of their sinning compeers; and something like mercy in the suspension of the sentence pronounced on man. But here they see justice and mercy blended in a wonderful manner; and they give vent to their ecstasy in shouts of praise.
II. The Incarnation was the means of bringing peace upon earth. 1. Sin had created war in every man’s own bosom. Christ alone can put an end to that war, by procuring pardon of sin, peace for the conscience, tranquillity for the passions, subordination of the appetites—reconciling reason to conscience, and conscience to the law of God. 2. Sin had created a horrible war between man and man. Strife, envy, jealousy, oppression, ambition, prevailed; Christ came to preach and exemplify universal charity. Wherever the influence of His gospel is felt, peace follows between man and man; wherever His government is established, man embraces his brother. 3. Sin had caused war between man and his Maker. Terrible contest—the potsherd striving with Him who made it. Christ reconciles God and man. He is Himself both God and man; so He can both pardon sin and bestow needed grace.
III. The Incarnation was a marvellous display of the goodwill of God to man. 1. Most astonishing condescension. 2. Unparalleled love. 3. Prodigious disinterestedness. 4. Universality. All are included in this goodwill.
IV. What ought to be our views, and feelings, and conduct. 1. They should be laudatory. We have far more occasion to praise God for the Incarnation, than the angels. 2. We should proclaim the Saviour to others. In trying to kindle a brother’s faith and devotion, our own will burn brighter and clearer. (John Stephens.) I. The choir—singers from the new Jerusalem. II. The theme—salvation. III. The listeners—dwellers in heaven and earth. (Van Doren.)
The angels’ song:—What does the angels’ song announce to men? 1. Bethlehem’s miracle. 2. Jesus’ greatness. 3. The Father’s honour. 4. The Christian’s calling. 5. Heaven’s likeness. (J. J. Van Oosterzee, D.D.)
A Christmas motto:—“With malice toward none, with charity for all.” This truly Christian motto of President Lincoln, sounds almost like an earthly echo of the heavenly anthem, and certainly proves its power and influence in the history of the world. (P. Schaff, D.D.)
The first Christmas carol:—
I. Instructive thoughts. The angels sang something which men could understand—something which will make men much better if they will understand it. The angels were singing about Jesus who was born in the manger. We must look upon their song as being built upon this foundation. They sang of Christ, and of the salvation which He came into this world to work out. 1. They said that this salvation gave glory to God in the highest—that salvation is God’s highest glory. God is glorified in every dewdrop that twinkles in the morning sun. He is magnified in every wood-flower that blossoms in the copse, although it lives to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness in the desert air. He is glorified in every bird that warbles on the spray; in every lamb that skips the mead. All created things extol Him. Is there aught beneath the sky, save man, that does not glorify God? Do not the stars exalt Him, when they write His name upon the azure of heaven in their golden letters? Do not the lightnings adore Him, when they flash His brightness in arrows of light piercing the midnight darkness? Do not thunders extol Him, when they roll like drums in the march of the God of armies? Do not all things exalt Him, from the least even to the greatest? But though creation may be a majestic organ of praise, it cannot reach the compass of the golden canticle—Incarnation! There is more in that than in creation, more melody in Jesus in the manger than there is in worlds on worlds rolling their grandeur round the throne of the Most High. See how every attribute is here magnified. Lo! what wisdom is here. God becomes man that God may be just, and the justifier of the ungodly. Lo! what power, for where is power so great as when it conceals power? Behold, what love is thus revealed to us when Jesus becomes a man! Behold what faithfulness! How many promises are this day kept; how many solemn obligations discharged? 2. When they had sung this, they sang what they had never sung before. “Glory to God in the highest,” was an old, old song; they had sung that from before the foundations of the world. But now, they sang as it were a new song before the throne of God; for they added this stanza—“on earth, peace.” They did not sing that in the Garden of Eden. There was peace there, but it seemed a thing of course, and scarce worth singing of. But now man had fallen, and since the day when cherubim with fiery swords drove out the man, there had been no peace on earth, save in the breast of some believers, who had obtained peace from the living fountain of this incarnation of Christ. Wars had raged from the ends of the world: men had slaughtered one another, heaps on heaps. There had been wars within as well as wars without. Conscience had fought with man; Satan had tormented man with thoughts of sin. There had been no peace on earth since Adam fell. But now, when the newborn King appeared, the swaddling band with which He was wrapped up was the white flag of peace. 3. And, then, they wisely ended their song with a third note. They said, “Goodwill to man.” Philosophers have said that God has a goodwill toward man; but I never knew any man who derived much comfort from their philosophical assertion. Wise men have thought from what we have seen in creation that God had much goodwill toward man, or else His works would never have been so constructed for their comfort; but I never heard of any man who could risk his soul’s peace upon such a faint hope as that. But I have not only heard of thousands, but I know them, who are quite sure that God has a goodwill towards men; and if you ask their reason, they will give a full and perfect answer. They say, He has goodwill toward man, for He gave His Son. No greater proof of kindness between the Creator and His subjects can possibly be afforded than when the Creator gives His only begotten and well beloved Son to die. Though the first note is God-like, and though the second note is peaceful, this third note melts my heart the most.
II. Emotional thoughts. Does not this song of angels stir your hearts with happiness? With confidence?
III. Prophetic utterances. The angels sang, “Glory to God,” &c. But I look around, and what see I in the wide, wide world? I do not see God honoured. I see the heathen bowing down before their idols; I see tyranny lording it over the bodies and souls of men; I see God forgotten. IV. Now, I have one more lesson for you, and I have done. That lesson is preceptive. I wish everybody that keeps Christmas this year, would keep it as the angels kept it. Now, Mr. Tradesman, you have an opponent in trade, and you have said some very hard words about him lately. If you do not make the matter up to-day, or to-morrow, or as soon as you can, yet do it on that day. That is the way to keep Christmas, peace on earth and glory to God. And oh, if thou hast anything on thy conscience, anything that prevents thy having peace of mind, keep thy Christmas in thy chamber, praying to God to give thee peace; for it is peace on earth, mind, peace in thyself, peace with thyself, peace with thy fellow men, peace with thy God. And do not think thou hast well celebrated that day till thou canst say, “O God,
‘With the world, myself, and Thee
I ere I sleep at peace will be.’ ”
And when the Lord Jesus has become your peace, remember, there is another thing, goodwill towards men. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Spreading the news of peace:—At the close of the last war with Great Britain, I was in the city of New York. It happened that, on a Saturday afternoon in February, a ship was discovered in the offing, which was supposed to be a cartel, bringing home our commissioners at Ghent from their unsuccessful mission. The sun had set gloomily before any intelligence from the vessel has reached the city. Expectation became painfully intense as the hours of darkness drew on. At length a boat reached the wharf, announcing the fact that a treaty of peace had been signed, and waiting for nothing but the action of our government to become a law. The men on whose ears these words first fell rushed in breathless haste into the city to repeat them to their friends, shouting as they ran through the streets, “Peace, peace, peace!” Every one who heard the sound repeated it. From house to house, from street to street, the news spread with electric rapidity. The whole city was in commotion. Men bearing lighted torches were flying to and fro, shouting like madmen, “Peace, peace, peace!” When the rapture had partially subsided, one idea occupied every mind. But few men slept that night. In groups they were gathered in the streets and by the fireside, beguiling the hours of midnight by reminding each other that the agony of war was over, and that a worn out and distracted country was about to enter again upon its wonted career of prosperity. Thus, every one becoming a herald, the news soon reached every man, woman, and child in the city; and in this sense the city was evangelized. All this, you see, was reasonable and proper, but when Jehovah has offered to our world a treaty of peace, when men doomed to hell may be raised to seats at the right hand of God, why is not a similar zeal displayed in proclaiming the good news? Why are men perishing all around us and no one has ever personally offered to them salvation through a crucified Redeemer? (Dr. Wayland.) The perfections of the Incarnation:—Before the Incarnation God showed some, but not all, His perfections. He showed—1. His goodness, in creating man after His own image. 2. His love, when He led Eve and the animals to Adam. 3. His pity, by clothing Adam and Eve with coats of skins. 4. His power, in creating the world out of nothing. 5. His justice, in expelling our first parents from Paradise, deluging the wicked world, wasting the cities of the plain. 6. His wisdom, confounding the tongues of the builders of Babel. 7. His providence, in saving Egypt by means of Joseph. In the Incarnation these perfections shone out with greater clearness. We note here—
I. The goodness of God. He clothed Himself with our nature, that His virtues, grace, and glory, yea, and Himself, He might communicate to us. 1. Naturally, by preserving the order of nature. 2. By the supernatural order of grace. 3. By His particular personality.
II. The love of God. Seen in the close union between God and man (Rom. 8:32). 1. He became incarnate to suffer and die for man. 2. And that for man, His enemy.
III. The pity of God. In person coming to relieve our miseries, making Himself capable of sorrow and suffering (Heb. 4:15).
IV. The power of God. Uniting the highest nature with the lowly nature of man; the human and the Divine, without any confusion of substance, in unity of person.
V. The justice of God. Not rescuing man from sin and death by might or by power, but paying a full and sufficient satisfaction for all men’s sins: making an infinite satisfaction for infinite sin.
VI. The wisdom of God. In planning the redemption of man. Neither man nor God, singly, could redeem man; it needed a God-man to do this.
VII. The providence of God. Which saw how to help and enrich man, when he was poor and naked, and destitute of all things. (M. Faber.)
A dying saint:—This doxology of the angels has sometimes filled the thoughts of dying saints. The final words of the Rev. Edward Perronet, author of the hymn, “All hail the power of Jesus’ name,” were, “Glory to God in the height of His Divinity! Glory to God in the depth of His humanity! Glory to God in His all-sufficiency! and into His hand I commend my spirit.” The last words, too, of Rev. Doctor Backus, first President of Hamilton College, were, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men.”
Universal peace:—Happy the day when every war-horse shall be houghed, when every spear shall become a pruning-hook, and every sword shall be made to till the soil which once it stained with blood! This will be the last triumph of Christ. Before death itself shall be dead, death’s great jackal, war, must die also; and then there shall be peace on earth, and the angel shall say, “I have gone up and down through the earth, and the earth sitteth still, and is at rest: I heard no tumult of war nor noise of battle.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)
The song of the angels:—
I. The scene. It was a fine Eastern night, not cold like one of our Decembers, with frosts or nipping gales freezing through blood and marrow. “The shepherds were abiding in the fields,” i.e., making their bivouac in them. The evangelist’s style seems to quiver with the sudden surprise which came upon the shepherds. “And lo, an angel of the Lord came upon them, and glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they feared with sore fear. And that angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, as being that which shall be to all the people of God.” His message declares four things. The wondrous Child to be born is a Saviour, who comes in pity for a fallen race; Christ, who, as the Anointed One, has so long been expected; the Lord, who is Divine as well as human; in David’s city, to fulfil literally the oracle of Micah, and the anticipations which might have been awakened by the Psalm that speaks of a great Priest-king in connection with Bethlehem, and God’s remembrance of David’s life of affliction. “And this shall be a sign unto you;” a sign, in its quiet but amazing contrast to all exhibitions of this world’s royalty. “Ye shall find a babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” Among the angels of heaven there was silence until the point when that angel visitant to the shepherds had touched the lowest point in the abyss of the humiliation. The armies of earth raise a shout or song. The armies of heaven (the “heavenly soldiers,” as it is grandly rendered in the old English version) have theirs—but it is a song of peace. Much of that choral ode was, probably, unheard by mortal ears—lost in the heights above. One fragment alone of the song is preserved. It is a triplet. 1. “Glory to God in the highest.” The angels speak from the point of view of this earth. We may understand either “Let it be,” or “It is.” If the former, they pray that from the bosom of humanity glory may rise to God in the highest heaven. If we understand the latter, they affirm that it does, at that moment, actually ascend. There is a little poem, possibly more beautiful in idea than in execution, which tells of a child dying in a workhouse. As her simple hymn, “Glory to Thee, my God, this night,” ascends from the pallet-bed, it floats up and up, until the last faint ripple touches the foot of the throne of God. Then, wakened by the faint, sweet impulse, a new strain of adoration is taken up by angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven—a grander and a fuller “glory.” Something in this way, in this passage, the angels seem to view the best adorations of this earth. 2. “On earth peace.” The peace spoken of in Scripture as effected by the Incarnation, is fourfold—between God and man; between man and angels; between man and man; between man and his own conscience. It is, of course, too darkly true, that as regards one form of this peace—that between man and man—history seems a long cynical satire on the angels’ words. The earth is soaking with blood at this moment, and families are in mourning for the slain in battle. Still, among Christian nations, and in the case of Christian soldiers, there are soft relentings, sweet gleams of human—or rather superhuman—love. Society, too, is full of prejudice and bitterness. In our homes there are tempers which drop vitriolic irritants into every little wound. It was a wholesome memory of the angels’ song which led men to examine their souls at Christmas, and to seek for reconciliation with any between whose souls and theirs stood the veil of quarrel or ill-will. But there is something beyond this. It means enmity done away, harmony restored, not only with one’s fellow-man, but with oneself. The unholy man has no true feeling of friendship, no friendly relations with himself. Worst of all, man may be in a state of estrangement from God, from Christ, from His Church, from hope—hostile in his mind, which lies immersed, and has its very existence in those evil works of his. 3. (For, understood) “Among men is good-will.” It is well known from Keble’s beautiful lines, and his note upon Pergolesi’s setting of the Vulgate version, that some manuscripts read, “among men of goodwill.” This interpretation, though it may please the fancy at first, will scarcely be accepted by the maturer judgment. (1) It is not very concurrent with St. Luke’s universal aim, and constant setting forth of the bold broad sympathy of the purpose of the Incarnation. God’s love, at that moment, would not be viewed by the angels as restricted to the comparatively righteous. It was a work whose result was to be offered to all our fallen race through Him who is the son of Adam. Men of goodwill, according to the Scripture use of the word, might be too high an attribute even for the elect people of God. The third line appears to give the cause and foundation of the two which precede it. The “Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes” is He who not only brings, but is personally the Truth, the Peace, the Righteousness, the Salvation, the Redemption. Just as He is the personal Peace, so is He the personal incarnate Good-will. There is glory to God in the highest. And there is peace upon earth, for God’s goodwill is amongst men. It is the equivalent of Emmanuel—God with us.
II. We may now observe where the angels’ hymn stands in the reformed liturgy. In the Roman missal it is found at the beginning of the office; with us it is taken up immediately after we communicate, just before the parting blessing. In that magnificent burst of praise, the “Angelic Hymn,” or “Gloria in Excelsis,” is the basis of all that follows. “Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.” “We praise Thee” for Thy greatness. “We bless Thee” for Thy goodness, thus made known to us by the voice of angels. “We worship Thee” in our hearts, with beseeming outward reverence. “We glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty”—glorifying and giving thanks with the confession of the mouth. Then we address the sacrificed Son, the Lamb, who is also our God. “O Lord, the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.” It is thus indicated that He is the subject of the angelic song, that to Him there is glory in the highest, with the Father and the Holy Ghost. “Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father.” We worship with angels—in angels’ words. We worship them not. Therefore into the texture of our eucharistic “Gloria in Excelsis” is woven a golden thread from another New Testament song—the poem of victory upon the sea of glass. A psalmist had exclaimed, “They shall praise Thy name, great and terrible; holy is it. Exalt ye Jehovah our God, and worship at the mountain of His holiness; for holy is the Lord our God.” The writer of the Apocalypse hears it applied to Jesus. And His believing Church incorporates this into her golden commentary of praise upon the “Gloria in Excelsis.” “Thou only art holy, O Christ.” Only He is holy of Himself: of His holiness we have all received. To an ignorant and superstitious woman, now many years ago, a kindly visitor read the Gospels, with little but the most simple commentary, and without a single word of controversy. A day or two before her death, the poor woman mentioned a dream which she had, valuable only because it appeared to be the reflection of her waking thoughts. She seemed to be in a vast and magnificent church, thronged with thousands upon thousands. High in the distance rose a glorious altar, with a living form towering above it—the Lamb as it had been slain; below, down to the rails which separated the altar from the body of the church, were orders of angels, stoled and vested priests, the Virgin-mother. Moved by some impulse, one after another came to the chancel-gate, and was either received inside with a burst of joy that filled the distance, or sorrowfully sent away. At last the dying woman presented herself in her turn. Sternly, yet not without a tone of regret, a priest put her back, and said, “You cannot pass.” Sweetly, with tender sorrow, an angel whispered, “Alas! I cannot help you.” With trembling voice, the mother of Jesus told her that “her prayers could not open those gates, nor open a way to the eternal presence of her Son.” Then, with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, the woman was turning away, to wander she knew not where, when suddenly the form above the altar—not white, and wan, and stirless, like the crucifix, but living and glorious—stood by the guarded gate. And He opened it, and bade her come in and fear not. “For,” said He, “those who come unto Me I will not cast out.” And a glorious music arose in the distance. In the same spirit, in this hymn, we pass by saints and angels, and raise our chant, “Thou only art holy.” None holy, and therefore none tender as Christ. In thanksgiving for angels’ food we borrow angels’ words. The song of angels is our communion song. May it not also be made our communicant’s manual? For instance, let us take that single line, “on earth peace.” That man who did something to insult or injure me—that, perhaps, very wretched woman, with her bitter tongue and cutting jeer—have I forgiven her for Christ’s sake? This evil peevish temper, which embitters the fountains of family life, have I set about sweetening it? Am I trying to improve it? This dark hopelessness of God’s forgiveness, this despair of the power of God’s Spirit to help and sanctify, this unbelief in grace, as if an apostle’s pen had never written, “How much more shall the blood of Christ purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” this unbelief in the power of the Cross, this faithlessness which turns the bread of the sacrament into a stone in our bands, and makes us too deaf to hear “for thee!” again and again—is this passing away? Am I ready to take Him at His own word? If not, I cannot really join in the “Gloria in Excelsis.” I have nothing to say to one line, at least, of the blessed triplet—“On earth peace”—and therefore the whole harmony is untuned for me. The first “Gloria in Excelsis” died away over Bethlehem. What then? “It came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, then the men, even the shepherds, said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem.” The men, the “shepherds” (so the Evangelist seems to say), represent the whole race of men. Even so, the Church keeps unending Christmas, keeps a new Christmas with every communion. The shepherds did their simple work of announcement. “They made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child;” while Mary, with her deeper and more reflective nature, “kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Then “the shepherds returned, glorifying God” for His greatness, and “praising Him” for His goodness, laying the foundation for their glorification and praise “upon all the things which they bad heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” The glory and music of angels did not tempt them from their work, but made them do it more gladly upon their return. There was more of heaven about it. So will it ever be with those who seek Him faithfully, and join truly in the “Gloria in Excelsis.” (Bishop Wm. Alexander.) 1. Glory to God in the highest. This glory arises from three sources—the matter of the gospel, the manner of its dissemination, and the effects it has produced upon the hearts and habits of men. 2. Glory to God arises from the manner and success of the dissemination of the Word of God, as well as from its matter and contents. 3. Glory is given to God from the effects which this gospel produces among men. In the experience of many it already begins a new heaven and a new earth. II. “On earth peace.” Let us first ascertain the nature of this peace, and secondly, the way in which the Word of God promotes it, in order that we may be able to seek peace also, and pursue the right way of hastening on its reign. There is the peace of ignorance, but this is the peace of delusion. There is peace from compromise, but this is the peace of hell. True peace between man and God, or between man and man, can flourish on true principle, and on nothing else. Let us briefly glance at a few features of this goodwill; next, at the way in which God exerts it, and lastly, infer the manner in which we also should show goodwill toward our fellowmen. It is a distinctive goodwill. Why did God pass by the angels that fell, and throw the arms of love around the children of men? It was also an undeserved goodwill. Before the Saviour came we lifted up no cry for the interposition of the mercy of God. Such is God’s goodwill, and such His way of showing it. God will show His goodwill to the sinner, just by showing him his sin and his peril. If you saw a brother asleep, amid the darkness of night, enjoying the most delightful dreams, and at the same hour the house on fire around him, would you show him more goodwill by leaving him undisturbed, or by rousing him rudely from his sleep, and pointing his eye to the danger of his situation? This is God’s way of manifesting His goodwill to men. (J. Gumming, D.D.)
Angels’ acclamations:—There never was such an apparition of angels as at this time; and there was great cause; for—1. There was never such a ground for it, whether we regard the matter itself, the incarnation of Christ. 2. Or whether we regard the benefit that comes to us thereby. Christ by this means brings God and man together since the fall. I shall especially stand upon those words; but somewhat is to be touched concerning the apparition of these angels. 1. The circumstances of their apparition. They appear to poor seepherds. God respects no callings. He will confound the pride of men, that set so much by that that God so little respects, and to comfort men in all conditions. 2. Again, the angels appeared to them in the midst of their business and callings; and indeed God’s people, as Moses and others, have had the sweetest intercourse with God in their affairs; and ofttimes it is the fittest way to hinder Satan’s temptations, and to take him off, to be employed in business, rather than to struggle with temptations. 3. And then they appeared to them in the night. God discovers Himself in the night of affliction. Our sweetest and strongest comforts are in our greatest miseries. God’s children find light in darkness; nay, God brings light out of darkness itself. We see the circumstances then of this apparition. He calls these angels “a heavenly host” in divers respects, especially in these: (1) An host for number. Here are a number set down. A multitude is distinct from an host; but in that they are an […] they are a multitude; as in Dan 7:10, “Ten thousand times ten thousand […] attend upon God.” And so, Rev. 5:11, there are a world of angels about […] Church. In Heb 12:22, we are come to have communion with an “innumer […] company of angels.” Worldly, sottish men that live here below, they think […] is no other state of things than they see. There is another manner of state […] frame of things, if they had spiritual eyes to see the glory of God, and of […] our Saviour, and their attendants there—an host, a multitude of heavenly […] (2) An host likewise implies order; or else it is a rout, not an host or my. “God is the God of order, not of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33). If you would […] disorder, go to hell. (3) Again, here is consent; an host all joining together praising God: “Glory to God on high.” Christ commends union and consent ( […]. 18:20). Agreement in good is a notable resemblance of that glorious […]ndition we shall enjoy in heaven. (4) An host of angels, it shows likewise their […] ployment. But here is our comfort; we have a multitude, au host of angels, […] ose office is to defend the Church, and to offend the enemies of the Church, as […] see in Scripture. (5) Again, an host implies strength. We have a strong […] and guard. Angels severally are strong creatures. We see one of them stroyed all the first-born in Egypt; one of them destroyed the host of Sennaerib […] the Assyrian in one night, “And suddenly there was,” &c. “Suddenly,” an unperceivable time, yet in time; for there is no motion in a moment, no […] moves from place to place in a moment. God is everywhere. “Suddenly,” it not only shows us—1. Somewhat exemplary from the quick despatch of the angels in their business we pray to God in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;” that is, willingly, “suddenly,” cheerfully:—2. But also it serves for comfort. If we be in any sudden danger, God can despatch an angel, “a multitude” of angels, to encamp about us “suddenly.” What is the use and end of this glorious apparition? In regard of the poor shepherds, to confirm their faith, and in them ours; for if one or two witnesses confirm a thing, what shall a multitude do? If one or two men confirm a truth, much more an host of heavenly angels. Therefore it is base infidelity to call this in question, that is confirmed by a multitude of angels. And to comfort them likewise in this apparition. We see by the way that for one Christian to confirm and comfort one another, it is the work of an angel, an angelical work; for one man to discourage another, it is the work of a devil. Thus much for the apparition. 2. Now the celebration is “a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.” The word signifies “singing” as well as praise. It implies praise expressed in that manner; and indeed “praising God,” it is the best expression of the affection of joy. The angels were joyful at the birth of Christ their Lord. Joy is no way better expressed than in “praising God;” and it is pity that such a sweet affection as joy should run in any other stream, if it were possible, than the “praising of God.” God hath planted this affection of joy in the creature, and it is fit he should reap the fruit of his own garden. It is pity a clear stream should run into a puddle, it should rather run into a garden; and so sweet and excellent an affection as joy, it is pity it should be employed otherwise than “in praising God” and doing good to men. They express their joy in a suitable expression—“in praising God.” The sweetest affection in man should have the sweetest employment. See here the pure nature of angels. They praise God for us. We have more good by the incarnation of Christ than they have; yet notwithstanding, such is their humility, that they come down with great delight from heaven, and praise and glorify God for the birth of Christ, who is not their, but our Redeemer. Some strength they have. There is no creature but hath some good by the incarnation of Christ; to the angels themselves, yet, however, they have some strength from Christ, in the increase of the number of the Church; yet He is not the Redeemer of angels. And yet see, their nature is so pure and so clear from envy and pride, that they even glorify God for the goodness showed to us—meaner creatures than themselves; and they envy not us, though we be advanced, by the incarnation of Christ, to a higher place than they. Let us labour therefore for dispositions angelical, that is, such as may delight in the good of others, and the good of other meaner than ourselves. And learn this also from them: shall they glorify God for our good especially, and shall we be dull and cold in praising God on our own behalf? There is some difference in the readings. Some copies have it, “On earth peace to men of goodwill,” to men of God’s goodwill; and so they would have it two branches, not three. If the word be rightly understood, it is no great matter. 1. First, the angels begin with the main and chief end of all. It is God’s end; it was the angels’ end, and it should be ours too, “Glory to God on high.” 2. Then they wish the chief good of all, that whereby we are fitted for the main end, “peace.” God cannot be glorified on earth unless there be peace wrought. 3. Then, thirdly, here is the ground of all happiness from whence this peace comes: from God’s goodwill; from his good pleasure or free grace “to men of God’s goodwill.” To begin with the first: “Glory to God in the highest.” The angels, those blessed and holy spirits, they begin with that which is the end of all. It is God’s end in all things, His own glory. He hath none above Himself whose glory to aim at. And they wish “Glory to God in the highest heavens.” Indeed, He is more glorified there than anywhere in the world. It is the place where His Majesty most appears; and the truth is, we cannot perfectly glorify God till we be in heaven. There is pure glory given to God in heaven. There is no corruption there in those perfect souls. There is perfect glory given to God in heaven. Here upon earth God is not glorified at all by many. In the mean time, let me add this by the way, that in some sort we may glorify God more on earth than in heaven. Here upon earth we glorify God in the midst of enemies; He hath no enemies in heaven; they are all of one spirit. In this respect, let us be encouraged to glorify God, what we can here: for if we begin to glorify God here, it is a sign we are of the number that He intends to glorify with Him for ever. The verb is not set down here; whether it should be, Glory is given to God; or whether, by way of wishing, “Let glory be given to God;” or by way of prediction or prophecy for the time to come, “Glory shall be to God,” from hence to the end of the world. The verb being wanting, all have a truth. “Glory to God on high.” Glory is excellency, greatness, and goodness, with the eminency of it, so as it may be discovered. There is a fundamental glory in things that are not discovered at all times. God is always glorious, but, alas! few have eyes to see it. In the former part of the chapter “light” is called the “glory of the Lord” (ver. 9). Light is a glorious creature. Nothing expresseth glory so much as light. It is a sweet creature, but it is a glorious creature. It carries its evidence in itself; it discovers all other things and itself too. So excellency and eminency will discover itself to those that have eyes to see it; and being manifested, and withal taken notice of, is glory. In that the angels begin with the glory of God, I might speak of this doctrine, that the glory of God, the setting forth of the excellencies and eminencies of the Lord, should be the end of our lives, the chief thing we should aim at. The angels here begin with it, and we begin with it in the Lord’s Prayer, “hallowed be Thy name.” It should be our main employment (Rom. 11:36). “Well then, the incarnation of Christ, together with the benefits to us by it, that is, redemption, adoption, &c., it is that wherein God will show His glory most of all. That is the doctrinal truth. The glory and excellency of God doth most shine in His love and mercy in Christ. Every excellency of God hath its proper place or theatre where it is seen, as His power in the creation, his wisdom in His providence and ruling of the world, His justice in hell, His Majesty in heaven; but His mercy and kindness, His bowels of tender mercy, do most appear in His Church among His people. God shows the excellency of His goodness and mercy in the incarnation of Christ, and the benefits we have by it. Many attributes and excellencies of God shine in Christ, as—His truth: “All the promises of God are yea and amen in Christ” (2 Cor. 1:20). And then His wisdom, that he could reconcile justice and mercy, by joining two natures together. Likewise here is justice, justice fully satisfied in Christ. And of His holiness, that He would be no otherwise satisfied for sin. Therefore “glory to God in the highest heavens,” especially for His free grace and mercy in Christ. Now that you may understand this sweet point, which is very comfortable, and indeed the grand comfort to a Christian, do but compare the glory of God, that is, the excellency and eminency of God’s mercy, and goodness, and greatness of this work of redemption by Christ, with other things. 1. God is glorious in the work of creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God,” and the earth manifests the glory of God. 2. Nay, the glory of God’s love and mercy shined not to us so, when we were in Adam; not in Adam, for there God did good to a good man: He created him good, and showed goodness to him. That was not so much wonder. But for God to show mercy to an enemy, to a creature that was in opposition to Him, that was in a state of rebellion against Him, it is a greater wonder and more glory. That which I shall next stand upon, shall be to show (1) how we may know whether […] glorify God for Christ or no; (2) and then the hindrances that keep us from glorifying God for this excellent good; (3) and the means how we may come to […] God. 1. For the first, of glorifying God in general, I will not speak much. It would be large; and the point of glorifying God is most sweetly considered, as invested in such a benefit as this, when we think of it, not as an idea only, but think of it in Christ, for whom we have cause to glorify God, and for all the good we have by Him. (1) First, then, we hold tune with the blessed angels […] giving glory to God, when we exalt God in our souls above all creatures and […] in the world; when we lift Him up in His own place, and let Him be in our […] as He is in Himself, in the most holy. God is glorious, especially in His […] and goodness. Let Him be so in our hearts, in these sweet attributes, above […] our unworthiness and sin. For God hath not glory from us till we give Him […] the highest place in our love and joy and delight, and all those affections that are […] upon good, when they are set upon Him as the chief good; then we give Him […] due place in our souls, we ascribe to Him that divinity, and excellency, and […] minency that is due to Him. (2) Then again, we give glory to God for Christ, when we take all the favours we have from God in Christ, when we see Christ in […] “All things are ours because we are Christ’s” (1 Cor. 3:23). (3) Then […] gain, we give glory to God when we stir up others. All the angels consent. There […] no discord in this harmony of the angels. (4) Again, we glorify God in Christ, […] we see such glory and mercy of Christ, as it doth transform us and change […] and from an inward change we have alway a blessed disposition to glorify God, […] I showed out of 2 Cor. 3:18. Therefore if we find that the knowlege of God […] Christ hath changed our dispositions, it is a sign then we give glory to God […] deed. For to glorify God is an action that cannot proceed but from a disposition […] nature that is altered and changed. The instrument must be set in tune before […] can yield this excellent music, to glorify God us the angels do; that is, all the […] of the soul must be set in order with grace by the Spirit of God. (5) Again, […] glorify God when we take to heart anything that may hinder, or stop, or eclipse God’s truth, and obscure it; when it works zeal in us in our places as far as we […] an; when it affects us deeply to see the cause of religion hindered any way. If there be any desire of glorifying God, there will be zeal. (6) Again, if we apprehend this glorious mystery of Christ in the gospel aright, it will work in us a glorious joy; for joy is a disposition especially that fits us to glorify God. 2. This being so excellent a duty, to which we are stirred by the angels, “Glory to God on high,” &c., what are the main hindrances of it that we give not God more glory? (1) The main hindrances are a double veil of ignorance and unbelief, that we do not see the glorious light of God shining in Jesus Christ; or else if we do not know it, we do not believe it; and thereupon, instead of that blessed disposition that should be in the soul, there comes an admiration of carnal excellencies, a delighting in base things. (2) So likewise unbelief, when we hear and see and know the notion of mercy and of Christ, and can dispute of these things, like men that talk of that they never tasted of. 3. Now, the way to attain to this glorious duty, to glorify God. (1) First, therefore, if we would glorify God, we must redeem some time to think of these thing; […] and bestow the strength of our thoughts this way. The soul being the most excellent thing in the world, it is fit it should be set on the excellentest duty. (2) Now, to help this, in the next place, beg of God the “Spirit of revelation” to discover to us these things in their own proper light, “for they are spiritually discerned.” (3) And let us labour daily more and more to see the vanity of all things in the world. “Peace on earth.” The same holy affection in the angels that moved them to wish God to have his due of glory from the creature, it moves them to wish pc ace to men likewise; to show this, by the way, that there can be no true zeal of God’s glory but with love to mankind. They were not so ravished with the glory of God as to forget poor man on earth. Oh no! They have sweet, pure affections to man, a poorer creature than themselves. Therefore let them that are injurious and violent in their dispositions, and insolent in their carriage, never talk of glorifying God, when they despise and wrong men. There are some that overthrow all peace in the earth for their own glory, but he that seeks God’s glory will procure peace what he can; for they go both together, as we see here “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth.” Now, their end of wishing peace upon earth, it is that men might thereby glorify God, that God being reconciled, and peace being stablished in men’s consciences, they might glorify God. Hence observe this likewise, that we cannot glorify God till we have some knowledge of our peace with him in Christ. The reason is, peace comes from righteousness. Christ is first the “King of righteousness,” and then “King of peace;” righteousness causeth peace. Now, unless the soul be assured of righteousness in Christ, it cat have no peace. For can we heartily wish for the manifestation of the glory of him that we think is our enemy, and him that we have no interest in his greatnesss and goodness? The heart of man will never do it, therefore God must first speak peace to the soul—the angels knew that well enough—and then we are fit to glorify God “Peace on earth.” What is peace? It is the best thing that man can attain unto, to have peace with his Maker and Creator. Peace, in general, is a harmony and an agreement of different things. 1. First, there is a scattering and a division from God, the fountain of good, with whom we had communion in our first creation, and His delight was in His creature. 2. Then there is a separation between the good angels and us; for they being good subjects, take part with their prince, and therefore join against rebels, as we are. 3. Then there is a division and scattering between man and man. 4. And then there is a division and separation between a man and the creature, which is ready to be in arms against any man that is in the state of nature, to take God’s quarrel, as we see in the plagues of Egypt and other examples. 5. And they have no peace with themselves. Then if we be at peace with God, all other peace will follow; for good subjects will be at peace with rebels, when they are brought in subjection to their king, and all join in one obedience. Therefore the angels are brought to God again by Christ. And so for men, there is a spirit of union between them. The same Spirit that knits us to God by faith, knits us one to another by love. And we have peace with the creature, for when God, who is the Lord of hosts, is made peaceful to us, He makes all other things peaceable. All peace with God, with angels, and with creatures is stablished in Christ. And why in Christ? Christ is every way fitted for it, for He is the Mediator between God and man; therefore by office He is fit to make peace between God and man. He is Emmanuel, Himself God and man in one nature; therefore His office is to bring God and man together. 1. It is fit it should be so in regard of God, who being a “consuming fire,” will no peace with the creature without a mediator. It stands not with His majesty, neither can there ever be peace with us otherwise. 2. It was also fit, in respect of us, it should be so. Alas! “who can dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Isa. 33:14). Who can have communion with God, who is a “consuming fire?” No. We cannot endure the sight of an angel. 3. If we look to Christ Himself, He being God’s Son, and the Son of His love, for Him to make us sons, and sons of God’s love. Is it not most agreeable, that He that is the image of God, should again renew the image of God that we lost? “Peace upon earth.” Why doth He say, “peace on earth”? Because peace was here wrought upon earth by Christ in the days of His flesh, when he offered Himself “a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour to His Father.” Because here in earth we must be partakers of it. We ofttimes defer to make our peace with God from time to time, and think there will be peace made in another world. Oh, beloved, our peace must be made on earth. But to come to some trials, whether we have this peace made or no; whether we can say in spirit and truth, there is a peace established between God and us. 1. For a ground of this, that may lead us to further trial, know that Christ hath reconciled God and us together, not only by obtaining peace, by way of satisfaction, but by way of application also. He gives a spirit of application to improve that peace, to improve “Christ, the Prince of peace,” as their own. To come to some more familiar evidences, whether we be at peace with God, and whether we have the comfort of this peace, established by Christ, or no. 2. Those that are reconciled one to another have common friends and common enemies. 3. Another evidence of “peace” made in Christ between God and us, is a boldness of spirit and acquaintance with God (Job 22:21). 4. A Christian that hath made his” peace” with God, will never allow himself in any sin against conscience. 5. Again, where there is a true peace established, there is a high esteem of the word of peace, the gospel of reconciliation, as St. Paul calls it (2 Cor. 5:18). 6. Lastly, those that have found peace are peaceable. In the next place, to give a few directions to maintain this peace actually and continually every day. 1. To walk with God, and to keep our daily peace with God, it requires a great deal of watchfulness over our thoughts,—for He is a Spirit, over our words and actions. Watchfulness is the preserver of peace. 2. And because it is a difficult thing to maintain terms of peace with God, in regard of our indisposition, we fall into breaches with God daily, therefore we should often renew our covenants and purposes every day. 3. Again, if we would maintain this peace, let us be always doing somewhat that is good and pleasing to God. In the same chapter (Philip. 4:8), “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure,” &c., “think of these things. Now, to stir us up more and more to search the grounds of our peace, I beseech you, let us consider the fearful estate of a man that hath not made his peace with God. “Goodwill towards men.” Divers copies have it otherwise, “On earth peace to men of goodwill.” Some have it, “Goodwill towards men.” The sense is not much different. Peace on earth, “To men of God’s goodwill, of God’s good pleasure.” That God hath a pleasure to save, or “goodwill towards men,” of God’s good pleasure; “Peace on earth,” to men of God’s goodwill and pleasure; or God’s good pleasure towards men. 1. God shews now good pleasure towards men. The love that God bears towards man hath divers terms, from divers relations. Now this free goodwill and grace, it is towards men, towards mankind. He saith not, towards angels. And learn this for imitation, to love mankind. God loved mankind; and surely there is none that is born of God, but he loves the nature of man, wheresoever he finds it. 2. This ἐυδοκια, “goodwill of God,” to restore lapsed man by the sending of His Son, is the ground of all good to man, and hath no ground but itself. I come to the last point, because I would end this text at this time. 3. This free love and grace of God is only in Christ. (R. Sibbes.)
The angels’ song:—But what did the heavenly choir mean? They could not mean that, at that moment, there was “Peace on the earth”? Was it a prayer? “May there be glory to God in the highest, and may there be peace on earth, and may there be goodwill toward men!” Or was it prophecy? Did they foresee that the time would come that this would be the blessed condition of our world?—a time not yet arrived. The angel who led the band, had spoken of joy, only joy, “great joy,” prophetic joy, “which should be to all people,” a joy prophetic still. But the rushing “multitude of the angel host” carried the note higher, and gave no limit of time; and they did not say joy, but peace—“Peace on earth.” Is it that, even to an angel’s mind, peace is above joy? Or, was it that they thought and knew that this was what our world most wanted? They had been accustomed to look upon the peace of heaven, where everything has found its resting-place, and everything is calm: where there is not a sound which is not like the flow of waters: where a discordant note is never heard: where all hearts are in one sweet concord: where all is dove-like gentleness! No wonder, then, that they drew their anthems from the scenes they lived in. We have to do now only with peace. And the stress lies in the words, “On earth.” No marvel if there should be peace in heaven. No angel would care to proclaim a thing so certain. A “peace” that has sadly left us, since that day when sin came in! Observe the course of the facts of our world’s history. Adam and Eve who, till that moment, were as one, now wrangled, which is the guiltiest? The first death upon this earth is fratricide; and the murdering brother, in his callous heart, cares nothing! The whole world is at enmity with God; and, save a few elect of every kind, every creature perishes in one vast engulphing flood! The earliest building upon record ends in a confusion, and is stamped a Babel! Even Abraham and Lot have to part; and Isaac quarrels with Ishmael; and Jacob with Esau; and Joseph has no peace with his brethren. “Peace on earth!” where is it? Where does she hide herself? Is she in the valleys? is she among the mountains? Is she in the high places of kings? Is she in the cottage? Is she in the Church? Is she, as she ought to be, in any one single man that walks this earth? But what is “peace”? The after creation—the rest of the soul—the concord of hearts—the reflection of heaven—the image of God. We must examine it more closely. It is human peace the angels sang: “Peace on earth.” What is the peace of a man? First, there must be peace with God. God has said it universally, “There shall be no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” But peace makes peace. Peace with God in the soul, makes peace in the soul, and peace in the soul makes peace with the world. (J. Vaughan, M.A.)
The influence of Christianity on the temporal condition of mankind:—
I. On national character.
II. On social intercourse. 1. Christianity imparts to social intercourse a principle of equity. 2. A character of mildness to the intercourse of social life. 3. A principle of benevolence.
III. On the domestic scene.
IV. On the individual. 1. It secures his property. 2. It promotes his health. 3. It guards his reputation. (T. Raffles, D.D.)
National peace:—And indeed national feuds are the more odious and unchristian, by how much Christ hath called all people to the sprinkling of the same water, and to alike participation of His body and blood at the same table. And it was well apprehended of one, that God hath given unto men more excellent gifts in the skill of navigation since His son is born, than ever they had before; that He might show the way how all the kingdoms of the earth should be sociable together: for Christ hath breathed His peace upon all the kingdoms of the world. (Bishop Hacket.)
Christ adverse to some kinds of peace:—Yet very true that none is a greater adversary than our Saviour to some sorts of peace. The peace of Christ breaks the confederacy which sinners have in evil; it defies the devil and the vain pomp of the world; it draws the sword against blasphemy and idolatry; it will not let a man be at quiet within himself when he is full of vicious concupiscence. To make a covenant with hell, as the prophet speaks, or to have any fellowship with the works of darkness. (Ibid.)
Peace and sanctity not incompatible:—The very name of peace is sweet and lovely: it is the calm of the world, the smile of nature, the harmony of things, a gentle and melodious air struck from well-tuned affairs; a blessing, so excellent and amiable, that in this world there is but one preferable before it, and that is, holiness. And, certainly, great glory doth dwell in that land, where these two sister-blessings, righteousness and peace, do meet and kiss each other, as the Psalmist speaks (Psa. 85:9, 10). I know, that there are hot and turbulent spirits enough abroad, who are apt to suspect whatsoever is spoken on the behalf of peace, to be to the disadvantage of holiness: and, perhaps, some men’s zeal may be such a touchy and froward thing, that, though an angel from heaven, yea an innumerable multitude of them, proclaim it; yet they cannot believe there may be glory to God in the highest, whilst there is peace on earth. Indeed, if peace and sanctity were incompatible, or if any unhappy circumstances should compel us to redeem the one at the price of the other; we ought rather to follow righteousness through thorns and briars, than peace in its smoothest way strewed with roses. But there is no such inconsistency between them: for, certainly, that God, who hath commanded us to follow both peace and holiness (Heb. 12:14), supposeth that they themselves may well go together. We may well suspect that zeal to be but an unclean bird of prey, that delights to quarry upon the dove; and those erratic lights, which make the vulgar gaze and the wise fear, to be but glaring comets, whose bloody aspects and eccentric irregular motions threaten nothing but wars, ruin, and desolations. Righteousness doth not oblige us, so soon as anything is passed contrary to our present judgments and persuasions, nay suppose it be contrary to the truth also, straight to furbish our weapons, to sound an alarm, and to kill others in defence of that cause for which we ourselves rather ought to die. This is not to part with peace for righteousness; but to sacrifice both peace and righteousness, to injustice and violence. The cause of God, of piety and religion, may frequently engage us to forego our own peace, as sufferers and martyrs; but never to disturb the public peace of our country, as fighters and warriors. (E. Hopkins, D.D.)
14. Glory to God in the highest. The angels begin with thanksgiving, or with the praises of God; for Scripture, too, everywhere reminds us, that we were redeemed from death for this purpose, that we might testify with the tongue, as well as by the actions of the life, our gratitude to God. Let us remember, then, the final cause, why God reconciled us to himself through his Only Begotten Son. It was that he might glorify his name, by revealing the riches of his grace, and of his boundless mercy. And even now, to whatever extent any one is excited by his knowledge of grace to celebrate the glory of God, such is the extent of proficiency in the faith of Christ. Whenever our salvation is mentioned, we should understand that a signal has been given, to excite us to thanksgiving and to the praises of God.
On earth peace. The most general reading is, that the words, among men good-will, should stand as a third clause. So far as relates to the leading idea of the passage, it is of little moment which way you read it; but the other appears to be preferable. The two clauses, Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, do unquestionably agree with each other; but if you do not place men and God in marked opposition, the contrast will not fully appear. Perhaps commentators have mistaken the meaning of the preposition ἐν, for it was an obscure meaning of the words to say, that there is peace in men; but as that word is redundant in many passages of Scripture, it need not detain us here. However, if any one prefer to throw it to the last clause, the meaning will be the same, as I shall presently show.
We must now see what the angels mean by the word peace. They certainly do not speak of an outward peace cultivated by men with each other; but they say, that the earth is at peace, when men have been reconciled to God, and enjoy an inward tranquillity in their own minds. We know that we are born “children of wrath,” (Ephes. 2:3,) and are by nature enemies to God; and must be distressed by fearful apprehensions, so long as we feel that God is angry with us. A short and clear definition of peace may be obtained from two opposite things,—the wrath of God and the dread of death. It has thus a twofold reference; one to God, and another to men. We obtain peace with God, when he begins to be gracious to us, by taking away our guilt, and “not imputing to us our trespasses,” (2 Cor. 5:19;) and when we, relying on his fatherly love, address him with full confidence, and boldly praise him for the salvation which he has promised to us. Now though, in another passage, the life of man on earth is declared to be a continual warfare, (Job 7:1,) and the state of the fact shows that nothing is more full of trouble than our condition, so long as we remain in the world, yet the angels expressly say that there is peace on earth. This is intended to inform us that, so long as we trust to the grace of Christ, no troubles that can arise will prevent us from enjoying composure and serenity of mind. Let us then remember, that faith is seated amidst the storms of temptations, amidst various dangers, amidst violent attacks, amidst contests and fears, that our faith may not fail or be shaken by any kind of opposition.
Among men good-will. The Vulgate has good-will in the genitive case: to men of good-will. How that reading crept in, I know not: but it ought certainly to be rejected, both because it is not genuine,3 and because it entirely corrupts the meaning. Others read good-will in the nominative case, and still mistake its meaning. They refer good-will to men, as if it were an exhortation to embrace the grace of God. I acknowledge that the peace which the Lord offers to us takes effect only when we receive it. But as εὐδοκία is constantly used in Scripture in the sense of the Hebrew word רצון, the old translator rendered it beneplacitum, or, good-will. This passage is not correctly understood as referring to the acceptance of grace. The angels rather speak of it as the source of peace, and thus inform us that peace is a free gift, and flows from the pure mercy of God. If it is thought better to read good-will to men, or towards men, it will not be inadmissible, so far as regards the meaning: for in this way it will show the cause of peace to be, that God has been pleased to bestow his undeserved favour on men, with whom he formerly was at deadly variance. If you read, the peace of good-will as meaning voluntary peace, neither will I object to that interpretation. But the simpler way is to look upon εὐδοκία as added, in order to inform us of the source from which our peace is derived.
Ver. 14.—On earth peace. At that juncture, strange to say, the Roman empire was at peace with all the world, and, as was ever the case in these brief rare moments of profound peace, the gates of the temple of Janus at Rome were closed, there being, as they supposed, no need for the presence of the god to guide and lead their conquering armies. Not a few have supposed that the angel choir in these words hymned this earthly peace. So Milton in his ‘Ode to the Nativity’—
“No war or battle’s sound
Was heard the world around;
The idle spear and shield were high uphung:
The hooked chariot stood
Unstained with hostile blood,
The trumpet spake not to the armèd throng;
And kings sat still with awful eye
As if they surely knew their souvran Lord was by.”
But the angels sang of something more real and enduring than this temporary lull. The gates of Janus were only too quickly thrown open again. Some seventy years later, within sight of the spot where the shepherds beheld the multitude of the heavenly host, the awful conflagration which accompanied the sack of the holy city and temple could have been plainly seen, and the shrieks and cries of the countless victims of the closing scenes of one of the most terrible wars which disfigure the red pages of history could almost have been heard. Good will toward men. A bare majority of the old authorities read here, “On earth peace among men of good will;” in other words, among men who are the objects of God’s good will and kindness. But the Greek text, from which our Authorized Version was made, has the support of so many of the older manuscripts and ancient versions, that it is among scholars an open question whether or not the text followed in the Authorized Version should not in this place be adhered to.
2:14on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. The last phrase in Greek is literally “people of good will” (the traditional “good will to men” derives from a probably later reading of the Greek text). This might mean those who are well disposed, but it is better attested as a Jewish phrase describing those who enjoy God’s favor. So this is not about peace for those whose “good will” deserves it, but about the unmerited grace of God, which brings salvation to those who enjoy his “good will.”
2:14 / Glory to God in the highest: Although an exact equivalent of this phrase does not occur in the ot, there are parallels in the Apocrypha: 1 Esdras 9:8 (“give glory to the Lord”); Bar. 2:18 (“will ascribe to thee glory … O Lord”).
peace: The Messiah was to bring peace; Isa. 52:7; 57:19; Leaney, p. 96.
The translation, to men on whom his favor rests, is to be preferred to the well-known translation found in the kjv, which is based on a faulty reading in some late manuscripts: “good will toward men.” There are parallels to this expression in the Dead Sea Scrolls (see Fitzmyer, pp. 411–12).
14 The doxology “glory to God in the highest” is the climax of the story. Its two parts relate to heaven and earth respectively. In Luke’s account of the triumphal entry, the crowds say, “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (19:38). In Ephesians 3:21, Paul ascribes glory to God, not now in the heavens but “in the church and in Christ Jesus.” Verse 14b is best translated as in the NIV: “and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” For reasons discussed in the Notes, “good will toward men” (KJV) is inaccurate. Luke emphasizes the work of Christ on earth. (See also Jesus’ own declaration that “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” [Lk 5:24].)
The “peace” here is that which the Messiah brings (cf. 1:79). Those whom Jesus healed or forgave on the basis of their faith could “go in peace” (7:50; 8:48). This peace surpasses the Pax Romana that Augustus had promised (cf. Allen Brent, “Luke-Acts and the Imperial Cult in Asia Minor,” JTS 48 : 411–38).
Those on whom God’s “favor” (eudokia, GK 2306) rests are the “little children” to whom God graciously reveals truth according to his “good pleasure” (10:21; the only other use of eudokia in the Gospels, except for the parallel in Mt 11:26).
 Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Lk 2:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Lk 2:14). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. – 1 Peter 2:21
Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:21-25
Have you seen a little child trying to follow a parent at the beach, wanting to place his feet in each of the footprints? Sometimes it can be quite a stretch! That is a picture of what Peter says is the calling of sojourners: to trace the steps of Jesus Himself. Talk about big shoes to fill!
Jesus is, of course, more than our example, He is our Saviour! Praise the Lord! But in accomplishing our salvation, He has also left us an example. And, because of His suffering, it is an example we can actually follow. By His death and resurrection, Jesus enables us to die to sin and to live for righteousness. He enables us to stretch and to commit ourselves to the service of God. So, even when others may make fun of us for living the Christian life, like Jesus, when we are reviled, we will not revile in return.
We were weak and straying sheep, but by God’s grace we have returned to Jesus. If anyone knew how huge a blessing it was to be returning to Jesus, surely it was Peter (Luke 22:32). We too may live in the bold confidence that this loving Saviour has become the tender shepherd of our souls. Nothing will snatch us from His hands. He goes before us and with us as He leads the way. It makes you want to be like Him in the way you face challenges. It makes you want to stretch and take big steps for Jesus.
Suggestions for prayer
Thank Jesus for what He did for you on the cross. Thank Him for being with you and leading you in paths of righteousness. Ask Him to help you take big steps forward as you seek to follow in His steps.
Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.
“Amid disquieting dreams in the night, when deep sleep falls on people, fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake. A spirit glided past my face, and the hair on my body stood on end.” Job 4:13-15
I’d stopped listening to the news. As a friend said about the local network’s way of covering the day’s events, “if it bleeds, it leads.” Hearing all of the bad news night after night made me want to lock my doors and never step outside again.
Amidst the sound bites and cyberspace blasts of all that is wrong with the world, it is easy to have a cowering attitude. But that is not the way Christ calls us to be. We are not to be ostriches burying our heads in the sand, nor cloister with other Christians safely in our pews. We need to see the problems of the world through the eyes of bold faith and then ask, “How can I help?”
Faith vanishes fear. Faith empowers us because we know God is in control and He will, as it states in Romans, work things out for the good for those who believe (8:28). Our relationship with God determines our view of the world. The author of the letter to the Hebrews stated, “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” (13:5-6). We mustn’t let the troubles of the world paralyze His healing power and peace in our lives.
Holy Father God, dispel the power of fear’s grip, which can immobilize us from being Your hands and feet. Instead, instill in us a steadfast faith. Teach us to discern how we can help to bring truth and love to a hurting world. Remind us daily that You are in control so we need not fear or be anxious about what is happening around us. We pray this through Your Son, Jesus, who told us to fear not but to seek Your righteousness. Amen
Oh! when we meet in heaven, we shall see how little we knew about it on earth.
Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Endure Tribulation with Jesus Christ Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 1:29; 3:8; Colossians 1:24; 1 Peter 4:1
If you be in tribulation and sorrow of heart, remember that you are with Jesus Christ, nailed to the cross; and if in prayer you receive the consolations of the Holy Spirit, then are you raised again from the dead: like Christ, you celebrate the Pasch with him in newness of life, rejoicing in heart.
THOMAS À KEMPIS*
Ritzema, E., & Brant, R. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Medieval church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Lebanon is dying a slow death Lebanon is currently in the grip of the worst economic crisis in its history. There are daily shortages of fuel and electricity, a chronic lack of medical supplies, and an absence of essential medicines in hospitals. Some 77% of Lebanese households are unable to purchase sufficient food. The Lebanese pound has lost 90% of its value over the last two years.
Hamas: Israel ‘playing with fire’ with Tisha Be’av events in Jerusalem Hamas warned that Israel is “playing with fire” on Friday by allowing Jews to visit the Temple Mount and march around the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem on Tisha Be’av, which marks the day when the two Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed. The terrorist movement also spoke out against demolitions and planned evictions of Palestinians in the Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.
Protests reported in Iran’s Ahwaz region Online activists who are connected to Ahwaz human rights groups have reported protests in southwest Iran in the Ahwaz region. Reports at Akhbar Alaan and other outlets have also said there are demonstrations. Videos posted online showed protests, primarily at night, and it was difficult to confirm what else was occurring.
Inside The Re-Education Program One Lawyer Is Teaching To Capitol Rioters Several participants of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol have been taking part in one attorney’s re-education program, which involves reading books or watching movies about topics like slavery and the Holocaust… Heather Shaner, one of the many D.C. attorneys assigned to represent Capitol riot defendants who can’t afford their own, spoke…about the remedial social studies program she is offering to clients.
Chinese authorities say unvaccinated parents can’t send children to school Students will not be allowed back in school in September unless their entire family is fully vaccinated, some local governments in China have said. Several cities also said people needed to be vaccinated to enter public venues such as hospitals and supermarkets. China joins other including France and Greece, which have made jabs mandatory in some sectors.
Europe floods: Rescuers race to find survivors as hundreds remain missing Rescue crews have been racing to find survivors of floods that have wreaked havoc across western Europe, killing more than 150 people. Hundreds are still missing after record rainfall triggered severe floods in Germany and Belgium. Heavy rains also hit Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – where PM Mark Rutte has declared a national disaster in one southern province.
Belgium takes back mothers and children from Syria jihadist camps Ten children and six mothers held in a prison camp for jihadists in Syria have been flown home to Belgium. It is the biggest repatriation of suspected Islamic State (IS) members since the group’s fall in 2019. Hundreds of Europeans who travelled to Syria to join IS, including women and children, are trapped in Kurdish-run camps in northern Syria.
IDF requests funding for a potential strike on Iran, reports say The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is reported to have requested major budget increases to the tune of billions to make ready for a potential strike on Iran’s nuclear program. Military officials tabled the request during preliminary discussions on the passing of the state budget, which Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government seeks to push through in the coming months, public broadcaster Kan reported on Thursday.
Syria, Iraq sign agreement to regulate water resources between the two countries Iraq and Syria signed an agreement on Saturday to regulate water resources between the two countries, state news agency INA reported. Iraq’s Minister of Water Resources, Mahdi Rashid Al-Hamdani, and his Syrian counterpart, Tammam Raad, signed a joint agreement to exchange data related to the imports of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers “periodically and in emergency situations.”
‘Like a war zone’: Stunned Germans count cost of floods Aware that a storm was brewing, Cornelia Schloesser quickly installed a water pump in the cellar of her bakery. But “within minutes, a wave was in the house” and she lost the business her family had held for a century in Schuld, a village in flood-hit western Germany that now looks like a battlefield.
Today on the Prophecy News Podcast, we exposed the truth behind the COVID-19 vaccine and virus, lifting the lid on a plot decades in the making by the New World Order to exert their control on this lost and dying world we live in. It was a wild ride, but also a sobering one when you think about what they have planned next with Vaccine Reeducation Centers, forced jabs, and all the rest of that end times junk that’s literally right around the corner. Before that thought could depress me, I thought about Jesus, and the guaranteed victory we have in Him. That’s when I got me to shouting.
Shocking New Evidence Shows That Moderna Already Had A COVID-19 Vaccine Before Outbreak In Wuhan Lab Happened The way the story goes, COVID-19 took the world by surprise and only by exerting a global, super-human effort to create a vaccine from a zero baseline at ‘warp speed’ are we able to get ahead of the deadliest viral outbreak in human history. That is the official narrative we are compelled to believe, but as Paul Harvey famously said, now here’s the ‘rest of the story’. And the rest of that story is that the Bill Gates funded Moderna already had a COVID-19 vaccine before COVID-19.
Moderna starts human trials of an mRNA-based flu shot Moderna gave its mRNA-based seasonal flu vaccine to the first set of volunteers in a clinical trial, the pharmaceutical company announced today. The start of the trial marks the next stage of the company’s work on this type of vaccine technology after the overwhelming success of its COVID-19 vaccine, which was built using the same strategy.
Top doctor in Tennessee fired after calling for teen vaccinations WITHOUT parental consent The top vaccination official in the state of Tennessee was terminated after she published a memo in support of vaccinating teenagers without parental consent. Dr. Michelle Fiscus, formerly the medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases at the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), said she received a letter of termination and a letter of resignation. The pediatrician chose to be terminated and added that no reason was given from her ouster.
Is The FBI Trying To Create A New Generation Of “Hitler Youth”? Who are these “Hitler Youth” of whom I write? If you snoozed through this history class in high school, during World War II, Adolf Hitler wanted to begin indoctrinating children into Nazi ideology at an early age. So, two groups were created: Hitler Youth for boys and for girls, The League of German Girls.
Rare case of monkeypox found in TexasPosted: 16 Jul 2021 05:07 PM PDTA case of monkeypox has been confirmed in a Texas resident who had flown to Atlanta from Nigeria on July 8, with a final destination of Dallas Love Field Airport on July 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. It is the first case of the virus seen in the United States in nearly two decades.The patient is hospitalized in isolation in Dallas and is in stable condition, health officials with the Dallas County Health and Human Services said “This case is not a reason for alarm and we do not expect any threat to the general public,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a press release.Continue reading Rare case of monkeypox found in Texas at End Time Headlines.
Nearly 190,000 people tried to illegally enter the United States from its southern border with Mexico in June – the highest number in more than 20 years, and as much as ten times the total recorded during some months under Trump.
According to data from US Customs and Border Protection, June saw 188,829 illegal immigrants attempt to cross the border. The highest number of attempts in 21 years, June’s statistics were also over 8,000 people more than May, nearly 10,000 more than April, and over 80,000 more than February.
The statistics show that the number of illegal border crossing attempts shot up considerably following the inauguration of President Joe Biden. 101,095 attempts were made in February compared to 78,442 in January, when Biden took over the White House from President Donald Trump – who was notoriously tough in his policies on illegal immigration.
The number of illegal border crossings is now as much as ten times higher than during Trump’s presidency, where the number of attempted crossings was as low as 17,106 in April 2020.
Also on rt.com
Biden has taken a different tone to Trump in his border policies, opting to halt construction of a southern border wall and backing a bill – that was passed by the House in March – which gives illegal immigrants in the country a pathway to citizenship. One of Biden’s first acts in office was to terminate Trump’s ‘National Emergency Concerning the Southern Border of the United States’.
However, the increase in attempted border crossings under the Biden administration has seemingly forced the president to change his position on immigration.
“I can say quite clearly: don’t come over,” Biden told illegal immigrants after being hit with a huge increase of 72,000 border crossings in March. The call did not appear to have any considerable impact on the number, which has continued to rise month on month.
Election officials better start lawyering up, and quickly.
The Arizona State Senate held a public hearing on the ongoing Maricopa County audit this past Thursday. The long-awaited session exposed numerous jaw-dropping examples of fraudulent votes and illegal actions by officials in the 2020 election.
The shocking discoveries, which included 74,000 mail-in ballots with no record of them ever being mailed out and 25,000 ballots that were missing serial numbers, set social media ablaze. ‘Cyber Ninjas’ and ‘Maricopa County’ began to trend on Twitter. Americans were rightly outraged that more damning evidence was coming out on the stolen Biden victory.
Twitter, and their Pravda-media cohorts, moved quickly to try and get control of the narrative by adding a ‘fact-check’ to the trending topics. Their bogus claim says there is “no evidence of widespread fraud” in Arizona’s 2020 election results.
The pathetic attempt at fake news deception just falls flat, Americans aren’t buying it anymore.
Just because Twitter says it, doesn’t make it true! 🤣🤣🤣
The socialist left is terrified, and rightfully so.
There is more incriminating evidence of their crimes in the 2020 election that will be coming out of Arizona over the next few weeks. Other states are also beginning to conduct audits as the calls to decertify the results, recall the electors, and hold a new election, grow.
As the debate about critical race theory continues to engulf the political discourse in the United States, grassroots organizations and activists are relying on a variety of methods to combat the ideology’s influence on American education and counter what they characterize as a “destructive message.”
The two political parties are switching class constituents. Some 65% of the Americans making more than $500,000 a year are Democrats and 74% of those who earn less than $100,000 a year are Republicans.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says deputies will not enforce the health department’s modified order reinstating a mask mandate for indoor public settings that takes effect at 11:59 pm on Saturday, regardless of vaccination status.
On Friday afternoon, Villanueva released a statement indicating that the Sheriff’s Department would remain focused on other public safety matters.
“Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines,” said Villanueva. “The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) has authority to enforce the order, but the underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance.”
“We encourage the DPH to work collaboratively with the Board of Supervisors and law enforcement to establish mandates that are both achievable and supported by science.”
On Thursday, county health officer Dr. Muntu Davis announced the modification during a virtual briefing, citing an increase in COVID-19 transmission. He told reporters that reinstating the mandate was necessary because too many people in L.A. County have not received a vaccine to protect against coronavirus infection.
“There may be some people who are unvaccinated and don’t want to make that known that they’re unvaccinated,” Davis said, adding, “and that just puts others at risk.”
The vaccines are believed to be essentially as effective against the Delta variant as other variants. And so those who got their shots don’t need a mask to protect themselves.
But officials suspect that unvaccinated people have also stopped wearing masks in indoor public settings and businesses, even though they’re still required to do so.
So vaccinated people are being asked to make a sacrifice to help slow coronavirus spread among the unvaccinated.
Davis said the order would remain “in place until we begin to see improvements,” and other more restrictive measures could be implemented if cases continue to rise.
The only Republican on the powerful, five-member L.A. County Board of Supervisors also spoke out against the modified order.
“While I am concerned by the rising COVID cases, I do not believe that the proposed mask mandate will help our efforts to stress the efficacy of the vaccines and compel unvaccinated residents to get vaccinated,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “LA County should align with the State on all health officer orders. By deviating, we create confusion and disagreement at the local level, which hinders public trust and takes away from our primary messaging which should be to encourage individuals to get vaccinated with urgency given the spread of the Delta variant.”
Recent data from the L.A. Times shows 52.3% of county residents are fully vaccinated. The Times pointed out that L.A. County averaged 173 new coronavirus cases a day when California fully reopened on June 15. On Friday, officials recorded 1,902 infections, the eighth consecutive day the health department had reported more than 1,000. Over the past month, hospitalizations have increased from 216 to 452.
More than 10 million people reside in L.A. County. Since the pandemic began, county officials have identified 1,264,450 positive cases and 24,568 deaths.
The number of deaths linked to vaccines this year has absolutely skyrocketed. According to the CDC’s own data.
The VAERS database contains information on unverified reports of adverse events (illnesses, health problems and/or symptoms) following immunization with US-licensed vaccines. The CDC government website links to VAERS platform.
Two weeks ago VAERS reported 6,985 deaths due to the COVID vaccines. Last week that number jumped to 9,048.