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raise in their minds an expectation of the Messr AH, and a disposition to welcome him when he should appear. When Zacharias returned to his own house, he and his wife Elisabeth passed their time in religious retirement, waiting for the completion of the divine promise. Zacharias was a man of such an exemplary character as to be styled righteous by the Evangelist; yet he of. fended God, and brought a heavy punishment upon him. self. His tongue was struck dumb, for requiring a farther proof of the truth of the divine promises, when an Angel was sent from heaven to deliver them to him. From this instance, Christians should learn to receive with faith all the promises of the Gospel, and in particular to believe what was said by the Angel to Zacharias concerning John the Baptist.
*Ass A GE's of THE PRophecies, RELATING TO THE MESS IAH,
From Jeremiah, Chap. xxiii.-Isaiah, vii. ix.
I. Be Ho LD, the days come, saith the Lo RD, that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely, and this is the name by which he shall. be called, T H E Lo RD ou R R1 GHTeousness. * II. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
III. Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; an B 5. his. his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of
Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace, there shall be no end; upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment, henceforth and for ever; the zeal of the LoRD of Hosts will perform this.'
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
When the diadem and crown were taken from the king of Judah, they were, according to the prophet Ezekiel ”, only laid aside till He should come, whose right they were, that is to say, a righteous prince of the house of David; and the expectation of such a prince was kept up by various predictions; the first extract in this section is one of them, taken from the book of Jeremiah. We here find that salvation was promised to the house of Judah by this prince; and that he was to be to them a MediArok for whose sake they should be esteemed righteous. That no impostor might obtrude himself on the world as this king and mediator, a variety of circumstances were foretold which would distinguish him from all mankind. These, as we shall have occasion to observe, were all fulfilled in our Lo RB Jesus CH R1st. The second extract foretold the birth of a child in such a miraculous manner, as would plainly point him out to the world as the promised seed of the woman, who had been hoped for from the Fall. The third extract mentions further particulars concerning this extraordinary child, and shews that he
would be distinguished from all mankind by various
* Ch, xxi. 25, 26, 27. - e titles,
titles, which could belong to one alone; and that his kingdom would be of universal extent and eternal duration. Our first business is to enquire whether HE, whom we regard as our Lord and SAv 1ou R, was born in the miraculous manner foretold by the prophet.
AN and EL sent To THE VIRGIN MARY, To Fo RET E L T H E BIRTH OF CHRIST.
From Luke, Chap. i.
AND in the sixth month after Elisabeth was assured that she should have a son, the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man, whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the LoRD is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God, and behold, thou shalt bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest ; and the Lord GoD shall give unto him the throne of his father David. w And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this thing be And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of - - - - - B. 6 - the
the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of Go D. And behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she also will bear a son in her old age, for with God nothing shall be impossible. f And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah, and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass that when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, she was filled with the Holy Ghost. And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou amongst women. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my loRD should come to me * and blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my SAviour ; for he hath regarded the low estate of his hand-maiden : for behold, from henceforth all generations shall 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 his from generation to generation. : He hath shewed strength with his arm, he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hears. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his Servant
• w r
servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever. And Mary abode with her cousin about three months, and returned to her own house.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
It was customary for the Jewish women to be befrothed or engaged to their husbands, some time before they were actually married. The Virgin Mary was under this kind of engagement to Zoseph, and had not lived with him as his wife when the heavenly messenger appeared to her. The agreement between the prediction of the angel and that of the prophets in the last section,
is too obvious to need a comment. The manner in which Mary received the Angel’s salutation shews, that she had great modesty and humility of mind, and did not think herself worthy of such applause and congratulation ; but she soon understood from the Angel’s discourse, that she was chosen to be the Mother of the Messi AH, and that his birth would be miraculously effected by the immediate power of God, in a way which had hitherto been unknown, and which would distinguish this Child from all that had ever been born. It was expressly declared to her, that he should be called the Son of the HIGH est : and to confirm her faith, the Angel assured her, that her cousin Elisabeth would also have a child, though her advanced age rendered such an event, according to the usual course of things, incredible. Mary, convinced that nothing was impossible with God, joyfully accepted the honour appointed her; and though she knew, that hav. ing a child before she was married would endanger the loss of her reputation, and even her life, she humbly re