THE FIRST part of: the infancie both of the Precursour and of Christ himself.
The Annunciation and Conception, first of the Precursour: 26. and six months after, of Christ
also him self. 39. The Visitation of our Ladie, where both the mothers doe Prophecie. 57. The
Natiuitie and Circumcision of the Precursour, where his father doth prophecie. 80. The Precursour
is from a child an Eremite.
1. BECAVSE many haue gone about to compile a narration of the things that haue been accomplished among vs;
2. according as they haue deliuered vnto vs, who from the beginning them selues saw and were Ministers of the Word;
3. it seemed good also vnto me Hauing diligently atteind.
Sacred Writers & holy Councels.
Hereby we see, that though the Holy Ghost ruled the penne of holy Writers that they might not erre, yet did they vse humane meanes to search out and find the truth of the things they wrote of. Euen so doe Councels, and the President of them, Gods Vicar, discusse and examine al causes by humane meanes, the assistance of the Holy Ghost concurring and directing them into al truth, according to Christes promise Io. 16,13: as in the very first Councel of the Apostles them selues at Hierusalem is manifest. Act. 15,7. & 28. Againe here we have a familiar preface of the Authour as to his friend or to euery godly Reader (signified by Theophilus) concerning the cause and purpose & manner of his writing, and yet the very same is confessed Scripture, with the whole booke folowing.
The second booke of Machabees.
Maruel not then if the Authour of the second booke of the Machabees *vse the like humane speaches both at the beginning and in the later end; neither doe thou therfore reiect the booke for no Scripture, as our Heretikes doe; or not thinke him a sacred Writer.
*2. Mac. 2. & 15. hauing, diligently attained to al things from the beginning, to write to thee in order, good * Act. 1,2. Theophilus,
4. that thou maist know the veritie of those wordes wherof thou hast been instructed.
5. ⋮ The Ghospel vpon the eue of S. Iohn Baptist. There was in the daies of Herod the King of Iewrie, a certaine Priest named Zacharie, of the * 1. Para. 24,10. course of Abia; & his wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Elizabeth.
6. And they were both iust before God, walking In al the commandements.
True iustification by obseruing the commandements.
Three things to be noted directly against the Heretikes of our time. First, that good men doe keepe al Gods commandements: which (they say) are impossible to be kept. Againe, that men be iustified not by only imputation of Christes iustice, nor by faith alone, but by walking in the commandements. Againe, that the keeping and doing of the commandements is properly our iustification. in al the commandements and Iustifications.
Corrupt translation of Heretikes.
This word is so vsual in the Scriptures (namely in the Psal. 118) to signifie the commandements of God, because the keeping of them is iustification, and the Greeke is alwayes so fully correspondent to the same, that the Heretikes in this place (otherwise pretending to esteeme much of the Greeke) blush not to say, that they auoid this word of purpose against the iustification of the Papists. And therfore one vseth Tullies word forsooth, in Latin constituta: and his scholers in their English Bibles say, *Ordinances.
*Beza in Annot. no. Test. 1556. iustifications of our Lord without blame,
7. and they had no sonne: for that Elizabeth was barren, and both were wel striken in their daies.
8. And it came to passe, when he executed the priestly function in the order of his course before God,
9. according to the custome of the Priestlie function he went forth by lot * Exo. 3,17. to offer incense, entring into the Temple of our Lord;
10. and * Leu. 16,16. al the multitude of the people was ✟ We see here that the Priest did his dutie within, the people in the meane time praying without: and that the Priests functions did profit them though they neither heard nor saw his doings. praying without at the houre of the incense.
11. And there appeared to him an Angel of our Lord, standing on the right hand of the Altar of incense.
12. And Zacharie was troubled, seeing him; and feare fel vpon him.
13. But the Angel said to him: Feare no Zacharie, for thy praier is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shal beare thee a sonne and thou shalt cal his name Iohn:
14. and thou shalt haue Ioy and exultation.
This was fulfilled, not only when he was borne, but now also through the whole Church for euer, in ioyful celebrating of his Natiuitie. ioy and exultation, and many shal reioyce in his natiuitie.
15. For he shal be great before our Lord; ✟ This abstinence foretold and prescribed by the Angel, sheweth that it is a worthie thing, and an act of religion in S. Iohn, as it was in the Nazarites. and wine and sicer he shal not drinke; and he shal be replenished with the Holy Ghost euen from his mothers womb.
16. And he shal * Mal. 4,6. conuert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
17. And he shal goe before him * Mat. 11,14. in the spirit and vertue of Elias, that he may conuert the harts of the Fathers vnto the children, and the incredulous to the wisedom of the iust, to prepare vnto the Lord a perfect people.
18. And Zacharie said to the Angel: Whereby shal I know this? for I am old; and my wife is wel striken in her daies.
19. And the Angel answering said to him: I am Gabriel that assist before God; and am sent to speake to thee, and to Evangalize these things to thee.
20. And behold, ✟ Zacharie punished for doubting of the Angels word. thou shalt be dumme, and shalt not be able to speake vntil the day wherein these things shal be done; for-because thou hast not beleeued my wordes, which shal be fulfilled in their time.
21. And the people was expecting Zacharie; and they marueled that he made tariance in the Temple.
22. And comming forth he could not speake to them, and they knew that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he made signes to them, and remained dumme.
23. And it came to passe, after the daies of his office were expired, He departed.
The continencie of Priests.
In the old Law (saith S. Hierom) they that offered Hostes for the People, were not only not in their houses, but were purified for the time, being separated from their wiues, and they dranke neither wine nor any strong drinke, which are wont to prouoke concupiscence. Much more the Priests of the new Law that must alwayes offer Sacrifices, must alwayes be free from matrimonie. Li. 1. c. 6. 19. adu. Iouin. and ep. 50. c. 3. See S. Ambrose in 1. Tim. 3. And therfore if there were any religion in Caluins Communion, they would at the least giue as much reuerence in this point, as they in the old Law did to their Sacrifices, and to the loaues of proposition, 1 King. 21. he departed into his house.
24. And after these daies Elizabeth his wife conceaued; and hid herself fiue months, saying:
25. For thus hath our Lord done to me in the daies wherein he had respect to take away my reproch among men.
26. ✟ The Ghospel vpon the Annunciation of our Lady, March 25. And on Imber wenesday, and for a votiue Masse of our Ladie in Aduent. And in the sixt month, the Angel Gabriel was sent of God into a citie of Galilee, called Nazareth,
27. * Mat. 1,18. to a Virgin espoused to a man whose name was Ioseph, of the house of Dauid; and the Virgins name was Marie.
28. And the Angel being entred in, said vnto her: ✟ The beginning of the AVE MARIE. See the rest v. 42. Haile Haile ful of grace.
Often saying of the Aue Marie.
Holy Church and al true Christian men doe much and often vse these wordes brought from Heauen by the Archangel, as wel to the honour of Christ and our B. Ladie, as also for that they were the wordes of the first glad tidings of Christs Incarnation & our Saluation by the same; and be the very abridgement and summe of the whole Ghospel. *In so much that the Greeke Church vsed it daily in the Masse.
*Liturg. S. Iacobi & Chrys. ful of grace, Ful of grace.
Corrupt translation of Heretikes.
Note the excellent prerogatiues of our B. Lady, and abhorre those Heretikes which make her no better then other vulgar women, and therfore to take from her fulnes of grace, they say here, Haile freely beloued, contrarie to al signification of the Greeke word, which is at the least, *endued with grace, as S. Paul vseth it Ephes. 1. by S. Chrysostoms interpretation: or rather, **ful of grace, as both Greeke and Latin Fathers have alwayes here vnderstood it, and the Latines also read it, namely S. Ambrose thus, wel is she only called ful of grace, who only obtained the grace, which no other woman deserued, to be replenished with the authour of grace. And if they did as wel know the nature of these kind of Greeke wordes, as they would seeme very skilful, they might easily obserue that they signifie fulnes, as when them selues translate the like word (Luke 16,20.) ful of sores. Beza, ***vlcerosus.
*S. Athan. de S. Deip.
S. Ephrem in orat. de laud. B. virg.
Amb. in 1 Luc. li. 2.
Hier. ep. 140 in exp. Ps. 44.
***ϗλκωμένος our Lord is with thee: Blessed art thou among women.
29. Who hauing heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought what manner of salutation this should be.
30. And the Angel said to her: Feare not Marie, for thou hast found grace with God.
31. * Isai. 7,14. Behold thou shalt conceaue in thy womb, and shalt beare a Sonne; and thou shalt cal his name Iesvs.
32. He shal be great, and shal be called the Sonne of the most High, and our Lord God shal giue him the seat of Dauid his Father:
33. * Dan. 7,14,27. and he shal reigne in the house of Iacob for euer, and of his Kingdom there shal be no end.
34. And Marie said to the Angel: ✟ She doubted not of the thing as Zacharie, but enquired, of the meanes. How shal this be done, because I know not man.
Our B. Lady vowed virginitie.
These words declare (saith S. Augustine) that she had now vowed virginitie to God. For otherwise neither would she say, How shal this be done? nor haue added, because I know not man. Yea if she had said only the first words, How shal this be done; it is euident that she would not haue asked such a question, how a woman should beare a sonne promised her, if she had maried meaning to haue carnal copulation c. 4 de Virg. As if he should say, If she might haue knowen a man and so haue had a child, she would neuer have asked, How shal this be done; but because that ordinarie way was excluded by her vow of virginitie, therfore she asketh, How? And in asking, How? she plainly declareth that she might not haue a child by knowing man, because of her vow. See S. Grego. Nyssene de sancta Christi Natiuitate. I know not man?
35. And the Angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shal come vpon thee, and the power of the most High shal ouershadow thee. And therfore also that which of thee shal be borne Holy, shal be called the Sonne of God.
36. And behold Elizabeth thy cosin.
Christ came of both Tribes, Iuda and Leui.
By this that Elizabeth and our Lady were cosins, the one of the Tribe of Leui, the other of Iuda, is gathered that Christ came of both Tribes, Iuda and Leui, of the Kings and the Priests himself both a King & a Priest, and the Anointed (to wit) by grace spiritually, as they were with oile materially and corporally. August. li. 2 de Consens. Euang. c. 1. Elizabeth thy cosin, she also hath conceaued a Sonne in her old age; and this month, is the sixt to her that is called barren;
37. because there shal not be impossible with God any word.
38. And Marie said, ✟ At this very moment when the B. Virgin gaue consent, she conceaued him perfect God and perfect man. Behold the handmaid of our Lord, be it done to me according to thy word. And the Angel departed from her.
39. ✟ The Ghospel vpon the Visitation of our Lady, Iul. 2. And vpon the Imber friday in Aduent. And Marie rising vp in those daies, went vnto the hil countrie with speed into a citie of Iuda.
40. And she entred into the house of Zacharie, and saluted Elizabeth.
41. And it came to passe; as Elizabeth heard the salutation of Marie, the ✟ Iohn the Baptist being yet in his mothers womb, reioyced and acknowledged the presence of Christ and his mother. infant did leap in her womb. And Elizabeth was replenished with the Holy Ghost:
42. and she cried out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou.
The Blessed Virgin Marie.
At the very hearing of our Ladies voice, the infant and She were replenished with the Holy Ghost, and she sang praises not only to Christ, but for his sake to our B. Lady, calling her Blessed and her fruit Blessed, as the Church doeth also by her words and example in the AVE MARIE. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
43. And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord.
Elizabeth being an exceeding iust and Blessed woman, yet the worthines of Gods mother doth so far excel her and al other women, as the great light the litle starres. Hiero. Præf. in Sophon. mother of my Lord doth come to me?
44. For behold as the voice of thy salutation founded in mine eares, the infant in my womb did leap for ioy.
45. And Blessed is she that beleeued because those things shal be accomplished that were spoken to her by our Lord.
46. And Marie said: ⋮ Magnificat at Euensong. MY SOVLE doth magnifie our Lord:
47. And my spirit hath reioyced in God my Saviour.
48. Because he hath regarded the humilitie of his handmaid; for behold from hence forth ✟ Haue the Protestants had alwayes Generations to fulfil this prophecie? or doe they cal her Blessed, that derogate what they can from her graces, blessings and al her honour? al Generations Shal cal me Blessed.
Her honour in al the world.
This Prophecie is fulfilled, when the Church keepeth her Festiual dayes, & when the Faithful in al Generations say the Aue Marie, and other holy Anthems of our Lady. And therfore the Caluinistes are not among those Generations which cal our Lady Blessed. shal cal me Blessed
49. Because he that is mightie hath done great things to me: and holy is his name.
50. And his mercie from Generation vnto Generations, to them that feare him.
51. He hath shewed might in his arme: he hath dispersed the proud in the conceit of their hart.
52. He hath deposed the mightie from their seat, & hath exalted the humble.
53. The hungrie he hath filled with good things: and the rich he hath sent emptie.
54. He hath receaued Israel his child, being mindful of his mercie,
55. As he spake to our Fathers, to Abraham and his seed for euer.
56. And Marie taried with her about three months: and she returned into her house.
57. ⋮ The Ghospel vpon the Natiuitie of S. Iohn Baptist Iun. 24. called Midsommer day. And Elizabeths ful time was come to be deliuered; and she bare a Sonne.
58. And her neighbours and kinsfolke heard that our Lord did magnifie his mercie with her, and they did congratulate her.
59. And it came to passe; on the eight day they came to circumcise the child, and they called him by his fathers name Zacharie.
60. And his mother answering, said: Not so, but he shal be called Iohn.
61. And they said to her, That there is none in thy kinred that is called by this name.
62. And they made signes to his father, what he would haue him called.
63. And demanding a writing table, he wrote, saying: * Luke 1,13. Iohn Iohn is his name.
Mysterie and signification in names.
We see that names are of signification and importance, God him self changing or giuing names in both Testaments; as, Abraham, Israel, Peter, and the principal of al others, IESVS; and here IOHN, which signifieth, Gods grace or mercie, or, God wil haue mercie. For he was the Precursor and Prophet of the mercie and grace that ensued by CHRIST IESVS. Note also that as then in Circumcision, so now in Baptisme (which answereth therevnto) names are giuen.
What names to be giuen in Baptisme.
And as we see here & in al the old Testament, great respect was had of names: so we must beware of strange, profane, & secular names (now a dayes too common) & rather according to the *Catechisme of the holy Councel of Trent, take names of Saints and holy men, that may put vs in mind of their vertues.
*c. de Bap. in fine. is his name. And they al marueled.
64. And forthwith his mouth was opened, and his tongue, and he spake blessing God.
65. And feare came vpon al their neighbours; and al these things were bruited ouer al the hil-countrie of Iewrie:
66. and al that had heard, laid them vp in their hart, saying: What an one, trow ye, shal this child be? For the hand of our Lord was with him.
67. And Zacharie his father was replenished with the Holy Ghost; and he prophecied, saying:
68. ⋮ Benedictus at Laudes. Blessed be ovr Lord God of Israel: because he hath visited and wrought the redemption of his people:
69. And hath erected the horne of saluation to vs, in the house of Dauid his seruant.
70. As he spake by the mouth of his holy Prophets, that are from the beginning:
71. Saluation from our enemies, and from the hand of al that hate vs:
72. To worke mercie with our Fathers; and to remember his holy Testament,
73. * Gen. 22,6. The oth which he sware to Abraham our father,
74. that he would giue to vs. That without feare being deliuered from the hand of our enemies, we may serue him,
75. In holiness and Iustice before him.
True iustice, not imputatiue.
Here also we see that we may haue true iustice, not only in the sight of men, or by the imputation of God, but indeed before him and in his sight and that the comming of Christ was to giue men such iustice. iustice before him, al our daies.
76. And thou child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest: for * Mal. 3,1. thou shalt goe before the face of our Lord to prepare his waies.
77. To giue knowledge of saluation to his people, vnto the remission of their sinnes,
78. Through the bowels of the mercie of our God, in which the * Zac. 3,9. 6,12.
Mal. 4,2. Orient, The Orient.
The Heretikes controle both Greeke and Latin text.
Maruel not if Heretikes controle the old authentical translation, as though it differed from the Greeke; wheras here they make much a doe to controle not only al the Greeke Interpreters of the old Testament, but also S. Luke him self, for the word ἀνατολὴ, as differing from the Hebrew.
Beza from on high, hath visited vs.
79. To illuminate them that sit in darknes, and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace.
80. And the child grew, and was strengthned in spirit, and was ✟ Marke that he was a voluntarie Eremite, and chose to be solitarie from a child, til he was to preach to the people, in so much that antiquitie counted him the first Eremite. Hiero. in vit. Pauli. in the deserts vntil the day of his manifestation to Israel.