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12When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him.

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12. Zacharias was troubled Though God does not appear to his servants for the purpose of terrifying them, yet it is advantageous and even necessary for them to be struck with awe, (Psalm 33:8,) that, amidst their agitation, they may learn to give to God the glory due unto his name, (Psalm 29:2.) Nor does Luke relate only that Zacharias was terrified, but adds that fear fell upon him; intimating that he was so alarmed as to give way to terror. The presence of God fills men with alarm, which not only leads them to reverence, but humbles the pride of the flesh, naturally so insolent that they never submit themselves to God until they have been overcome by violence. Hence, too, we infer that it is only when God is absent, — or, in other words, when they withdraw from his presence, — that they indulge in pride and self-flattery; for if they had God as a Judge before their eyes, they would at once and unavoidably fall prostrate. And if at the sight of an angel, who is but a spark of the Divine light, this happened to Zacharias, on whom the commendation of righteousness is bestowed, what shall become of us miserable creatures, if the majesty of God shall overwhelm us with its brightness? We are taught by the example of the holy fathers that those only are impressed with a lively sense of the Divine presence who shake and tremble at beholding him, and that those are stupid and insensible who hear his voice without alarm.




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