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most enviable, who should become the mother of the Messiah. And it was a reasonable expectation, that she should be “ blessed among women.” But the Son himself has told us what is far more important than any adventitious privilege : “ Yea, rather blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it.” “ For whosoever shall do the will of

my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."

She, however, on whom the adventitious privilege was not to be bestowed, had also the more valuable possession of the divine favour.

26. And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27. To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David ; and the virgin's name was Mary.

28. 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.

29. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32. 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 :

33. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever : and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35. And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee : therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

36. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age : and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

37. For with God nothing shall be impossible.

38. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Thus was explained the prophecy of Isaiah, Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel :" 1 "God with us :" God in our nature; and yet justly distinguished as the Son of the Highest, because born without the intervention of an earthly father.

We readily perceive why this was so ordained. Had the Saviour, whom God designed for the redemption of the world, been born as other infants, the offspring of marriage, he might have been the chosen of God, he might have been the greatest of those born of women; he might have inherited the throne of his father David : God might have given him a name above every earthly name: he might have delegated to him the power of a conqueror, and the authority of a lawgiver. But he could not have been properly styled the Son of the Highest,the Son of God.Neither could he have made satisfaction for our sins. ture, derived from what was corrupt, would have

His na

1 Is. vii. 14, Matt. i. 22.- The prophecy of Isaiah had been immediately fulfilled in its primary application ; this was its complete accomplishment.

been itself imperfect, and could not atone for the imperfection and corruption of others. “Such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens :" ? so that those who trust in him might bave ground for confidence, that they have committed their souls to one who “is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by him,” being himself “ God over all, blessed for

“ evermore.”

Again, the eternal Word, instead of taking the substance of a human mother, like the children of Adam, might doubtless have descended from heaven, and assumed the form of man, and “ dwelt among us,” as many suppose that he will hereafter do in a personal reign of a thousand years : but in that case he would not have been man, man in our own nature, and subject to our infirmities. There would not have been before mankind the example of one exposed to our wants, suffering our trials, submitting to our pains; “ in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”3

Therefore, “ wisdom is justified of all her children,” in the supernatural dispensation which is

” here disclosed to Mary. And her conduct, which is different from that of Zacharias, exhibits true confidence in God. The Jewish people, and Mary amongst them, were expecting one who should rule over the house of Jacob for ever. The angel declares to her, that the power of the Highest shall be exercised, and that that holy thing should be born of her, not the son of her espoused Joseph but the Son of God. She could not doubt the appearanee of the angel, and why should she doubt his words? For with God nothing shall be impossible.

2 Heb. vii 26.

3 Heb. iv. 15.

Her example may teach us to receive this great truth-with God nothing shall be impossible,—and to stagger not at his promises through unbelief. Those promises are clear, that “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.” Our business is to say, in Mary's humble temper, Behold the servants of the Lord: Be it unto us according to his word.

LECTURE IV.

MARY BLESSED BY ELISABETH.—MARY'S HYMN

OF THANKSGIVING.

LUKE i. 39-55.

39. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;

40. And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

41. And it came to pass that when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb, and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost :

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42. And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

43. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

44. For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

45. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

The privation under which Zacharias was now suffering, had been brought on him expressly for this reason, because he had not believed. Probably this occurred to the mind of Elisabeth, and leads her to burst out in the exclamation, Blessed is she that believed ! It is however an universal truth, Blessed are they who believe : there shall be a performance of those things which are told them from the Lord. Many console themselves under a babit of disobedience, and fondly hope that God will not make good what he hath spoken: and others, more excusably, but not more reasonably, are perplexed by fears lest his promises should fail. But whether we believe or believe not," he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself.” Let us then beware, “ lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us should come short of it through unbelief.” Unbelief is dishonourable to God, and destructive to ourselves.

46. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour, 48. For he hath regarded the low estate of his hand

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