תמונות בעמוד
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be said to bring a clean thing out of an unclean. The same Spirit assures in us a pardon of our sins, which caused in him freedom from all sin. He who was born for us upon his incarnation, is born within us, upon our regeneration.

And now, my brethren, if you have duly weighed what has been said to you, you cannot be at a loss to understand what you profess and declare to be the object of your faith, when you say, I BELIEVE IN Jesus CHRIST, WHO WAS CONCEIVED BY THE HOLY GHost. It is, in short, this truth, that you declare; that the only begotten Son of God, begotten by the Father, before all worlds, very God of very God, was conceived, and born, and so made man, taking to himself the human nature, consisting of soul and body, and conjoining it to the divine, in the unity of his person. You declare your belief that the Word was in this manner made flesh; that he was really and truly conceived in the womb of a woman, not after the manner of men, not by the common course of natural generation, but by the singular, invisible, and immediate power of the Holy Ghost; by which a Virgin was enabled to conceive a child, contrary to the usual laws of nature; and also, that what was conceived in her, was originally and completely sanctified. And thus you profess to believe in this article.

We come now, in this last place, to consider the third Person mentioned in this article of the Creed, and distinguished by the title of the VIRGIN MARY.

And surely, a person who was thought worthy to be made so choice an instrument of God's merciful and miraculous purposes towards his creatures, deserves the degree of notice that is herein paid her in this article of the Creed. We read, that, when a certain woman, on hearing one of our blessed Lord's discourses, exclaimed in a transport of admiration and love, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the

which thou hast sucked; his answer was, Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God, and KEEP IT: which words may be understood to relate to the truest and best character of his mother's virtues; who, doubtless, on account of her meekness, piety, and chastity of manners, was made choice of to be the honoured vessel, by her submitting in humble faith to what was delivered to her by the angel; and our Lord's reply testified also to those who heard him, the strongest and most valuable difference between bare outward honours or distinctions, and inward purity of heart; for it was that, and a devoted obedience to God's will, which rather caused her to be blessed. The reply, therefore, affords no encouragement to any private or exclusive reverence being paid to the person of the Virgin Mary, but rather a check or precaution against it; for it is observable; that the duties above recommended by our Saviour, seem to be preferred even to the honour of bearing him in her womb, or nourishing him at the breast.

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But the chief reason of our belief being required to this part of the article, and of mens tioning the person of whom Christ was born, is this: by this description and memorial of the blessed Virgin, we show that Christ was the true seed of Abraham and David, of whom the Prophets write; for thus speaks God to Abraham (Gen. xxvi. 4), And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Again, God's promise to David is thus expressed in 2 Sam. vii. 12, 13: And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, and I will establish his kingdom : and in Psalm lxxxix. 36, he saith, His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. And by the Prophet Jeremiah, xxiii. 5, 6, the Lord speaks still more plainly: Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise up unto David a RIGHTEOUS BRANCH; and in his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely. And to put it out of all doubt, that this was spoken of Christ, and not of Solomon, it is added, And this is the name by which he shall be called ; even

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the LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Of this man, saith the Apostle (Acts, xiii. 23), hath God, according to his promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus. To these prophecies do the words of the Evangelists St. Matthew and St. Luke exactly agree. The former opens his history with this singular title: The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham ; and the latter (i. 32), speaking of Christ, saith, 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. And St. Paul (Rom. i. 3) describes our Lord in these words, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh. Therefore, as all these testimonies show that our blessed Lord and Saviour descended from Abraham, by David, it becomes a very essential part of our faith likewise, that we should believe that the Virgin Mary descended from this stock or lineage.

There are also several good reasons why she should be distinguished by the title given her, of the Virgin Mary. By the first, we testify our belief, that, in the production of our Saviour, she had no knowledge of any man. This · was foretold by the Prophet Isaiah (vii. 14):

Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son. As to her common name of Mary, it is recorded merely to hand down to posterity, that singular person who was so well known in those

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VOL. I.

days to have been espoused to Joseph.-In regard to the title added to this name, to make the just distinction of her character, it seems by the very first promise of the Messiah, that he was to be born after a miraculous manner; to be the son of a woman, not of a man, as these words clearly testify: The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. And, as this is certainly to be understood of Christ individually, as the original conqueror of the serpent's power; so the woman is to be understood, not as having any relation to man in this respect, but as specifying that sex from which alone that son should come. And according to this first evangelical promise followed the saying of the Prophet (Jer. xxxi. 22), The Lord hath created a new thing in the earth ; a woman shall compass (or inclose) a man: which sense of the words, added to the Prophet's declaration of a new creation, may well be accounted a miraculous conception. In respect, then, both of the inother and the son, the belief of this article is absolutely necessary: in regard to her, that we might preserve a becoming esteem for one exalted to so high a dignity, which her own prediction declares; From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Elizabeth cried out with transport, Blessed art thou among women, when Christ was but newly conceived in her womb. We

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