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view of the undeviating steadiness of the diving counsels! He willeth and none can let it ; heaven and earto may pass away, but his word shall not pass away, but every one come to pass in his season.
Mary having been referred to her coulin Flizabeth, whore advanced state of pregnancy was to be an additional confirma. tion of her own faith in the promises of God, as foon as the an. gel departed from her, retired from Nazareth into the bill country otJuda to falute her kinswoman, and to confer with her on the several manitestations of divine favor to them. This interview produced another declaration of the interest that providence took in the event which was pressing to its accomplishment; Elizabeth is not only destined to be a moth. er in Israel, a mother of John the Baptist, but she becomes already a prophetess; she has a lign given her in her own person equivalent to the declaration of the Archangel. “And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the falutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me ? For, `lo, as soon as the voice of thy falutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed ; for there hall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord." This fills the virgin's mouth with a tong of praise dictated by faith, piety, humility and gratitude ; and thele are the rapturous Itrains which flow from her lips, " My soul doth magnity the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low eftate of his hand-maiden : for, bebold, trom henceforth all generations hall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him, from generation to generation. He hath thewed ftrength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath illed the hungry with good things ; and the rich he hath fent empty away. He hath holpen his servant lsrael, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abrahams, and to his feed for ever."
The course of nature now takes place, and he who made man, the first man Adam, perfect at once, from dust of the ground, and who is able of these stones to raise up children to
Abraham, Abrahamn, raises up first John and then Jesus in a way at once miraculous, and natural, according to the way of sovereign, irrelillible power, and according to the time of lite. Glorious in eltatılishing and supporting the laws of nature, glorious in fufpending and dispen Gng wib them, we behold the, O God, fubduing all things to the counfel of thy will, that all thould be to the praise of thy glory. At the end of three months mure, Elizabeth, as it was predicted of the angel, is delivered of a fon ; the name of John, as the heavenly messenger direftert, was imposed on him, the father's speech was fuddenly: teftored and the first use which he makes of it is to celebrate the high praises of that God, who had made him such an illustrious example of both mercy and judgment. He " wa filled: with the Holy Ghoft and prophefied, fàying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel ; tor he hasla visited and redeemed his people. And hath raised np an horn of salvation for us in the house of his fervant David'; as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been lince the world began ; that we thould be saved from our eneinies, and from ihe hand of all that hate us ; to perform the mercy promiled to our fathers, and to remember his hoy covenant, the oath which he lware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we, heing delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without tear in holiness and righteousne's before him, all the days of our life. And thou, child, thalt be called the Prophet of the Higheft : for thou thalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways : to give knowledge of salvation un. io his people, by the remission of their fins through the tender mercy of our Cod: whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of
And now the way is prepared, the voice is heard crying in the wilderness, the forerunner of the Lord has begun his? course, the Saviour comes. But other meffengers, of whom we have not yet heard, precede him. Behold yonder comet glare in the eastern sky, it performs a track untrodden before, the wise men of diftant lands are summoned to meet him at: his coming, to lay their gifts at his feet; augustus Cefar, the fole regent of half the globe, is pressed into the miniftering train, an unconscious, unintentional servant to the Prince ob the kings of the earth.
But here we must once more pause and inquire, Is this a cunningly deviled table, or a real history ? Is it a fanciful rep.
resentation, or the simple truth? If it be a fine tisTue woven by a luxuriant imagination, say so at once, unbeliever, and renounce the fiction in whole, as a rule of faith, or as a ground at hope. Say, unreservedly that the million and mellage of the angel is merely a bold eaitern metaphor : and the whole mere ordinary facts, related with somewhat more than the ulual pomp of diction, but to set forth only a man ot like pallious with ourselves, whom the credulous, prejudiced and illiterate are dispoled to receive as a superior b-ing--in a word, give up the evangelifts as plain men conveying, to plain men like themseives, fimple matters of tact, and recur at once to urmixed, undisguided deilm. But are thele things indeed fo ? Were angels sent from God to declare ihe approach of what prophets had of old prediéied ? Did the Son of the Highest vouchsafe to be born of a Woman, and thereby become partaker of flesh and blood, David's ton, yet David's Lord, then let earth prepare to receive its king. Lo, the angels of God worship him. He is the Son of God, he is our Lord, and let us woi thip him.
This history asli its us in correcting the falle scale of human greatness. Here we bel:old the princes and the potentates of this world finking to their proper level ; Herod, Augustus Celar, and persons of their character and station are thrown into the back ground of the piece, while Zacharias, Elizabeth and MaTy are brought forward with honour, and to fill a higher def. tination than that of kings. Respect, by all means, the powers that are, as the ordinance of God, but respect with higher, with fupreme veneration, Him who ordained ilıcın, to carry on the purposes of bis wildom and his love.
Learn, Chriftian, to make a juit estimate of thy own importance in the scale of being. Thou art a creature of God, formed after his image, a partoker of immortality, destined to glory and honor. An origin lo dignified confers true nobilwy; faculties fo fuperior, prospects fo extended, denote a being of high estimation in the light of God, and who ought to he of high estima:ion in his own eyes.
Defile not that fair jemple, discredit not that illustrious descent, dishonour not a father's name But weil does it become a creature so dependent, fo trail, lo fallen, fo loft, to be clothed with humility. O man, thou tandelt in need of every thing; what poffefTeft thor that shou didit not firit receive ? Thou hast bern forgiven all; by the grace of God thou art wiat thou art. The religion o! Jesus Christ alone effettually teaches a man to defend without degradation, and to rif: with ut pride ; reduces him
to the level of his natural guilt and misery, and exalts him to the glorious liberty, and the heavenly inheritance of the fons of God.
We have here a preternatural, a miraculous conception. It reminds us of our common origin, of our common feebleness, of our mutual connexion and dependence. God " hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth." Every man therefore is a brother, and bound to entertain the affections, and to perform the part of a near kinsman to every man. This consideration I press upon you in the words and the spirit of the Apostle of the Gentiles : " For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himselt more highly than he ought to think ; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For, as we are many members in one body, and all members have not the same office : fo we being many are one body in Chrift, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts, differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith ; Or ministry, let us wait on our miniftering; or he that teachęth, on teaching ; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation : he that giv. eth, let him do it with fimplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence ; he that sheweth mercy with cheerfulness. Let love be without diflimulation. Abhor that which is evil, cleave to That which is good. Be kindly affe&ioned one to another with brotherly love ; in honour preferring one another !"“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the fame mind one towards another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate"-" If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good,"
The subject of the next Lecture will be the hiftory of the nativity of our blessed Lord, and of the more remarkable circumstances which accompanied that all-important event. May what has been fpoken become “ profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteous. nefs." Amen.
LUKE, I1.1--14: And it came to pass in thole days, that there went out a deesse from Cesar Auguflus, that all the world should be taxd.hind this taxing was first made uhen Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his orn city. And Jofeph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, ( because he was of the house and lineage of David,) to be taxed with Mary his cipouled wife, being great with child. And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And The brought forth her first-born Jon, and urapped himn in Swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger ; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord skone round about them; and they were fore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not : For behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this
Mall be a hgn unto you: ye shall find the babe wrap. ped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heaveniy hoft, praising God, and saying, glory to God in the highest, and on
farth peace, good will toward men. FRO FROM the first instant of time until now, every instant has
been displaying some new wonder, unfolding some new defign of the Eternal mind. God gives the word. Light arises, the earth emerges out of ocean, the firmament is expanded. sun, moon, and stars appear, nature teems with lite, man starts up out of the duft, rears his erećt form to heaven, shines in his Maker's likeness; the Creator contemplates the progresive glories of his power, and pronounces every thing good. The Lord gives the word, and ocean again covers the earth, Chaos and ancient night resume their empire, the breath of every liv.