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womb. *And whence is this 43 The Holy Ghost, speaking by to me, that the mother of my Elizabeth, pronounces of Mary, that Lord should come to me? she should be the mother of “the
Lord”—the Saviour's divinity never For, lo, as soon as the voice
e clouded. of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 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 48 Accordingly, to this day is she he hath regarded the low es- called “the blessed Virgin Mary." tate of his handmaiden : 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 him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm ; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down 62 Tmie humility, even when raised the mighty from their seats, to honour, never forgets the low and exalted them of low de- degree out of which it has been exgree. 53 He hath filled the alted. hungry with good things; 53 Those who hunger and thirst and the rich he hath sent after righteousness-verily they shall empty away. He hath be fed. holpen his 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 about three months, and returned to her own house. Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered ; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her ; and 59 As at this early age children they rejoiced with her. " And were admitted by circumcision into it came to pass, that on the God's Church of old, so infants are eighth day they came to cir- now admitted into his Church by cumcise the child ; and they baptism. called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them : and all these
sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judæa. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised 69 A horn is an emblem of strength up an horn of salvation for Jesus is “ the strength of our salus in the house of his servant vation." David : 70 as he spake by the 70 To Him give all the prophets mouth of his holy prophets," which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us ; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest ; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, 78 Jesus was that day-spring-en* through the tender mercy lightening them who sat in the darkof our God; whereby the ness and misery of ignorance and day-spring from on high hath sin. visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. * And the child grew, and 80 As a future preacher of repentwaxed strong in spirit, and ance, he prepared himself for his was in the deserts till the arduous duties, by a severity of deday of his shewing unto votion, which might render him at
last victorious over the world.
CHRISTMAS-DAY, morning, to ver. 15. And it came to pass in All the Roman world, or empire. those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem ; (because
he was of the house and lineage of David :) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not : for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. il For unto you is born this 11 To reconcile the Jews to receive day in the city of David a as their Messiah one so lowly born Saviour, which is Christ the as the Son of man, Heaven itself Lord. And this shall be a proclaimed Him also the Son of God. sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Ver. 15. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them
19 This is an affecting and natural by the shepherds. But
but picture of maternal solicitude *. Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told 21 Hence infants are brought to unto them. 21 And when baptism-baptism being to us now, eight days were accomplished what circumcision was to the Jews for the circumcising of the of old.
* Many a mother, as she watches her nursling, thus ponders on the future ; and rejoices that as the Saviour himself once lay helpless, and dependent on a mother's care, so his sympathy is engaged to watch and bless the nursing mother and her infant now—whether in health or in sickness, in trouble or in joy. “In all their affliction he is afflicted ; and the angel of his presence saveth them.” (Is. lxü. 9.)
child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was con- 22 There is no more touching serceived in the womb. 22 And vice than that appointed for “ the when the days of her purifi- churching of women.” How heartily cation according to the law does the mother, as one saved from of Moses were accomplished the fear of death, pour forth her
d, thanks and her vous ! Art thou a they brought him to Jerusa- mother? neglect not those vows ; lem, to present him to the but "receive the cup of salvation, Lord ; (as it is written in the and call upon the name of the law of the Lord, Every male Lord. that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord *;) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; 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, 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 him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, 29 If you and I, when called to go now lettest thou thy servant hence, would “ depart in peace" — depart in peace, according to our hopes also must be fixed upon thy word: for mine eyes have the “ light of Israel." 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 34 As many as believe, rise to life spoken of him. 34 And Si- by Christ. The infidel, rejecting the meon blessed them, and said salvation offered, falls yet deeper. unto Mary his mother, Be- (John xv. 22.) hold, 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 35 Sorely was this fulfilled, when through thy own soul also, the spectacle of her son dying on that the thoughts of many the cross, like a sword pierced her hearts may be revealed. And heart. there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived
* This was enjoined to commemorate the miraculous preservation of the first born in Egypt.
with an husband seven years 37 To old age especially, no longer from her virginity ; " and she called by duty to engage in the tur. was a widow of about four moil of active life, the calm and holy score and four years, which service of God must be as a foretaste departed not from the tem- of the rest of heaven. ple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord *, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom : and the grace of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they
46 There was no irregularity in this
questioning ; which was a customary found him in the temple, sit
proceeding in the Jewish Church. ting in the midst of the doc It was the youthful age of the questors, both hearing them, and tioner, and the marvellous wisdom in asking them questions. And one so young, which astonished the all that heard him were asto- ! nished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed : and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us ? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me ? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto 51 Filial obedience is the first duty them. 5 And he went down of the young. How noble an exam. with them, and came to Na- ple of a pious fulfilment of that duty
have we in the youthful Jesus ! zareth, and was subject unto
Who can wonder that his obedience them : but his mother kept was blessed, and that such a son
* Thus acceptable to the Lord, though in itself unworthy, is a uniform observance of ordinances, and that habitual piety, which in all of us is a duty, especially, in parents. A good example is a good bringing up.