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many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of my nature, I cannot always stand upright; grant to me such strength and protection, as may support me in all dangers, and carry me through all temptations, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
FOR God's DIRECTION. O GOD, who seest I have no power of myself to help myself; that I am not wise enough for my own direction, nor able enough for my own defence; let me acknowledge thee in all my ways, and not lean to my own understanding. Let thy light guide me, thy providence protect me, thy grace enable me, that I may faithfully discharge all the public and private duties thou shalt think fit to call me to; that being thus armed with thy defence, I may be preserved from all dangers, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O GOD, who art the author and giver of all that I enjoy, moderate my affections to the things of this world, that I may not pursue them with an eager and insatiable desire. Let no greediness of gain tempt me to the least injustice, either by fraud or oppression, but that I may commit myself to thy providence in the use of honest and lawful endeavours, and not torment myself with anxious care about the success. Suffer not the concerns of this life to make me negligent in the concernments of much greater importance; that while I am supporting a dying body, I may remember I have an immortal soul, which infinitely deserves my chiefest care. And as for those good things thou hast been pleased to bestow upon
me, teach me to enjoy them as with temperance, so with thankfulness and charity, and readily to part with them rather than forsake thy truth, or to make shipwreck of a good conscience. That being delivered from the covetous temper of the traitor, Judas, I may escape those sins which such vile affections lead to, and that punishment which he felt, and those deserve; and this I beg for Christ his sake. Amen.
THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY.
Q. What is meant by the Annunciation of the blessed virgin, which the church this day celebrates ?
A. The declaration which the angel Gabriel made to the blessed virgin Mary, that she should be mother of our Lord Jesus Christ ;a that this her son should be great, and called the Son of the Highest ; that the Lord God should give unto him the throne of his father David; that he should reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and that of his kingdom there should be no end.
Q. What does this description made by the angel Gabriel refer to ?
A. To the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the Messias, who foretold, that the government should be upon his shoulder, and his name should be called wonderful, counsellor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the prince of peace; of the increase of his government and
peace there should be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to esta
blish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even for ever.
Q. What is the importance of the angels description of the Messias ?
A. That God should settle upon the Messias a spiritual kingdom (of which that temporal of David was but an imperfect representation) the absolute government of the church, that spiritual house of Jacob; and that this kingdom of his shall continue for ever, shall never be destroyed as the kingdom of the Jews was to be.
Q. What preceded this declaration ?
A. The salutation made to the blessed virgin by the same angel in those words, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women.
Q. What was the meaning of this salutation?
A. That the blessed virgin was most excellently disposed to receive the greatest honour that ever was done to the daughters of men; her employment being holy and pious, her body chaste, and her soul adorned with all virtues, particularly with humility, which is in the sight of God of great price; for though she was to be the mother of an universal and everlasting blessing, which all former ages had desired, and all future times should rejoice in; yet she resigns all this glory to him that
gave it her, and declares whence she received it, that no other name but his might have the glory.
Q. How did the blessed virgin receive this salutation?
A. She was troubled at the saying of the angel, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation it should be ; judging herself unworthy of so great an honour, and
being surprised with the strangeness of such an appearance in her retirement. But when the angel positively affirmed that she should conceive and bring forth the Messias, she enquires how that could be, since she knew not a man.
Q. What is implied in this answer of the blessed virgin?
A. No doubt, I think, concerning the thing, nor any diffidence in respect to the issue of it; but rather admiration in respect to the wonderful manner of effecting it. And if we have any regard to the tradition mentioned by Epiphanius, that Joseph was old when espoused to the blessed virgin, it will be probable, what many of the ancients believed, that by this answer, the virgin seems to hint at some resolution of continuing in a state of perpetual virginity; at least it implies that she desired to be satisfied in the manner, as well as in the matter of this mystery.
Q. How did the angel answer the difficulty she suggested?
A. By declaring the wonderful manner how this message should be brought about, viz. that the Holy Ghost should come upon her, and that the power of the highest should overshadow her. By furnishing her with an example of somewhat of the like nature in her cousin Elizabeth ; and by confirming her from the power of God, to which nothing is impossible.
Q. What effect had this upon the blessed virgin ?
A. She demonstrated an entire faith and perfect obedience in her reply: behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word. Neither is it to be doubted, but that upon her consent and desire the
Luke ver. 29.
• Luke i. 35.
promise began to be fulfilled, and the son of God became incarnate, and was made man, taking upon him human nature, body and soul.
Q. How did the blessed virgin express her joy and gratitude upon this occasion ?
A. In that admirable hymn called the magnificat, wherein she shews such a thankful sense of the great honour that was conferred upon her, and expresses at the same time, in so full a manner, her humility and devotion, as well as the infinite power and goodness of God, that it appears, as she was highly favoured, so she was also full of grace, and had a mind plentifully enriched with the gifts of God's holy spirit. This hymn was so respected among the primitive Christians, that they used it as a part of their devotions; and the Church of England has retained it in her divine service as proper to express the pious affections of godly and devout minds.
Q. What may we learn from this hymn we so frequently repeat ?
A. The infinite mercy and goodness of God in sending his Son into the world to redeem us from a state of sin and misery, when we were enemies to him by our evil works. That all the faculties of our souls, our reason, our will, and our affections, ought to be employed in blessing and praising his holy name; and though we cannot add to his greatness, yet we are then said to magnify the Lord, when we publish and proclaim to the world our sense of his mighty perfections. That the best method to engage God's favour, is to govern all our actions by a fear to offend him. That to obtain the blessings of heaven, we must have a great sense of our want of them. That we may advance ourselves into the
6 Luke i. 46.