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iaikness comprehended it not; for mankind in general, through the depravity of their minds, and their neglect of Divine revelation, did not discover the great Jehovah, through the cloud of error under which he was veiled from their eyes; but his faithful servants, who followed the light, or took Divine revelation as a guide, still heard their Loud speaking by the mouths of His prophets; and beheld Him in his mighty acts, protecting His people, and accomplishing, by his omnipotence, all the purposes of infinite wisdom and goodness. These were led to hope, that He, at his appointed time, would bless the world with His visible presence; but in what manner he would visit His people they could not tell. At length, as the Evangelist informs us, The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among -us. The seed of the woman, the son of the virgin, the Son also of God, "He whose goings forth had been from old, from everlasting," was born in Bethlehem of Judea*!
From the promise made to Adam and Eve, thus illustrated by the history of the birth of Jrsus, we may understand, that the Lo it D God had resolved to sanctify or set apart for Himself one of the human race, that he might through Him restore man's title to happiness, which Adam had forfeited by disobedience; and it will evidently appear, from the history of Jesus Christ, that the Godhead dwelt in Him, which rendered Him infinitely superior to the most exalted ranks of created beings; for, as the body of man is dignified and raised above the brute creation, by the union of the soul, so (though in a superlative degree) was the soul of Jesus dignified by the union of the Word.
Thus did the Lord 'god lay aside the glory which * See Sect. iii.
He used to display to the world, and humble Himself, so as to manifest his presence under the human form, in the person of Jesus; who by his means became the visible image of the invisible Deity.
The manner of this wonderful union is beyond the reach of our understanding to conceive; but the history of our Saviour will prove that He was really Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting, and at the same time really and truly the Word, the everlasting Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.
THE CIRCUMCISION OF JESUS.— THE PROPHECIES OF ANNA AND SIMEON.
From Luke, Chap. ii.
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus; as the angel who appeared to Mary before his birth'' had said.
And when the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
And to offer a sacrifice according U; that which is *aid in the law of the Loud, a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons.
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeeu; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, c 2 that that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for hira after the custom of the law,
Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation:
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people: A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
And Simeon blessed them; and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against:
(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
And there was one Anna, a prophetess, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser; she was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity:
And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years: which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and .prayers night and day.
And she coming in at that instant, gave thanks likewise unto the Loud, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
And when they had performed all things according
to (o the iaw of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
As Jesus Christ was born of a Jewish mother, and before the Mosaic law was abolished, God ordained that lie should be circumcised, as the rest of Abraham's descendants were, that he might fulfil the Law, and that the Jews should have no pretence for rejecting him.
It was ordained of the Lord by Moses, that every mother should present her first-born son at the temple, in acknowledgment of the Lord's mercy to the Israelites in saving their first-born, when those of the Egyptians were destroyed; but the tribe of Levi was set apart for divine service in their stead, and parents were allowed to redeem their children by the payment of a small sum, amounting to about twelve shillings and sixpence of our money, and offering such a sacrifice as their circumstances could afford. The Virgin Mary being very poor; could not conveniently purchase a lamb for the purpose, but presented two turtle-doves or young pigeons.
Simeon was one of those pious Israelites who believed the prophecies, and earnestly wished for, and expected the redemption of Israel. In reward of his piety, God vouchsafed to make a particular revelation to him, which comforted his mind with an assurance that he should himself behold the Messiah; and by divine inspiration enabled him to bear testimony, that Jesus was the Chkist, and to foretel that he would not only be the glory of Israel, but a light to the Gentiles. The words, Loud, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, signified that Simeon was willing to die, now he C 3 had had seen the Christ.—His willingness to part v ith life shews that his hopes of redemption extended beyond the grave. Simeon likewise predicted the resistance that would afterwards be made to the propagation of the Gospel, and the sorrow which the Virgin Mary would endure for the suffering of Christ. Anna being styled by the Evangelist a Prophetess, was, as we may suppose, enabled by divine inspiration to bear testimony that the infant Jesus was the Messiah.
The account of these two venerable persons places their characters in the most amiable view. They beheld Mary presenting her babe in the temple, and paying that humble offering which the Lord had appointed for the poorest rank of people. There was nothing in the outward appearance of Jesus to distinguish hhn from common infants, yet they willingly acknowledged him as the Messiah, and rejoiced with rapturous delight that they had lived to behold him.
Every person who will make the Scriptures his study, may now, even in his youth, without the extraordinary inspiration of God, obtain as perfect assurances as Simeon and Anna had, that Jesus Christ was born to be the Saviour of the world. Let us .therefore bless the Lord as they did; and if we hear reproach and indignity cast upon our blessed Redeemer, let us not be ashamed of him; for we shall find the hopes of immortality and the means of grace, which God, through Christ, has graciously afforded us, the greatest comforts we can possibly enjoy: for it is the hope of salvation alone that can enable us to depart in peace, ami reconcile us to the thoughts of death.