Glory to God in the highest
Which with the following words, are not to be considered as a wish, that so it might be, but as an affirmation, that so it was; for the glory of God is great in the salvation, peace, and reconciliation of his people by Jesus Christ, even the glory of all his perfections; of his wisdom and prudence in forming such a scheme; of his love, grace, and, mercy, the glory of which is his main view, and is hereby answered; and of his holiness, which is hereby honoured; and of his justice, which is fully satisfied; and of his power in the accomplishment of it; and of his truth and faithfulness in fulfilling his covenant and oath, and all the promises and prophecies relating to it. Great glory from hence arises to God; who is in the highest heavens, and is given him by angels and saints that dwell there, and that in the highest strains; and by saints on earth too in, their measure, and as they are able: the ground and foundation of which is what follows:
and on earth peace:
by which is meant, not external peace, though, at this time there was peace on earth all the world over; nor internal peace, as distinguished from that eternal peace which the saints enjoy in heaven; nor even peace made by Christ; for this, as yet, was not done on earth, but was to be made by the blood of his cross: rather Christ himself is here intended, who is called "the man, the peace" ( Micah 5:5 ) and "our peace", ( Ephesians 2:14 ) and was now on earth, being just born, in order to make peace with God, and reconciliation for the sins of the people: and he is so called, because he is the author of peace between Jew and Gentile, which were at enmity with each other; by abrogating the ceremonial law, the cause of that enmity; by sending the Gospel to them, and converting some of each; and by granting the like privileges to them both; see ( Ephesians 2:14-20 ) and because he is the author of peace between God and elect sinners, who, through the fall, are at enmity against, God, and enemies in their minds by wicked works unto him; nor can they make their peace with God; they know not the way of it; nor are they disposed to it; nor can they approach to God to treat with him about terms of peace; nor can they do those things that will make their peace with God, as satisfying his justice, and fulfilling his law: Christ only is their peace maker; he only is fit for it, being God and man in one person, and so a daysman that can lay his hands on both, and has a concern in each, in things pertaining to God, and to make reconciliation for the sins of the people: he only is able to do it, and he has done it by the blood of his cross; and a very excellent peace it is he has made: it is made upon the most honourable terms, to the satisfaction of justice, and the magnifying of the law of God; and is therefore a lasting one, and attended with many blessings, such as freedom of access to God, and a right to all the privileges of his house; and the news of it are glad tidings of good things: and those angels that first brought the tidings of it, may be truly called, as some of the angels are by the Jews F20, (Mwlv ykalm) "angels of peace". Moreover, Christ may be said to be "peace", because he is the donor of all true solid peace and real prosperity, both external, which his people have in the world, and with each other; and internal, which they have in their own breasts, through believing in him, and attending on his ordinances; and eternal, which they shall have for ever with him in the world to come. And now Christ being the peace on earth, is owing to
good will towards men;
that is, to the free favour, good will, and pleasure of God towards chosen men in Christ Jesus: that Christ was on earth as the peacemaker, or giver, was owing to God's good will; not to angels, for good angels needed him not as such; and the angels that sinned were not spared, nor was a Saviour provided for them; but to men, and not to all men; for though all men share in the providential goodness of God, yet not in his special good will, free grace, and favour: but to elect men, to whom a child was born, and a Son given, even the Prince of Peace: it was from God's good will to these persons, whom he loved with an everlasting love in Christ, laid up goodness for them in him, blessed them with all spiritual blessings in him, and made a covenant with him for them; that he provided and appointed his son to be the Saviour and peace maker; that he sent him into this world to be the propitiation for sin; and that he spared him not, but delivered him up into the hands of men, justice, and death, in order to make peace for them. The Vulgate Latin version, and some copies, as the Alexandrian, and Beza's most ancient one, read, "peace on earth to men of good will"; and which must be understood, not of men that have a good will of themselves, for there are no such men: no man has a will to that which is good, till God works in him both to will, and to do of his, good pleasure; wherefore peace, reconciliation, and salvation, are not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy: but of such who are the objects of God's good will, and pleasure, whom he loves, because he will love, and has mercy and compassion on them, and is gracious to them, because he will be so; and therefore chooses, redeems, and regenerates them of his own will, and because it seems good in his sight. The Syriac and Persic versions read, "good hope to men"; as there is a foundation laid in Christ the peace, of a good hope of reconciliation, righteousness, pardon, life, and salvation for sinful men. The Arabic version renders it, "cheerfulness in men"; as there is a great deal of reason for it, on account of the birth of the Saviour and peace maker, the salvation that comes by him to men, and the glory brought thereby to God.
F20 Zohar in Exod. fol. 8. 1. & 98. 4.