Imatges de pÓgina

Prince and Saviour; and it is not with impunity, that the impenitent rebel can reject his yoke, and trample on his blood. What must they expect, who have poured contempt on such a Sovereign, and on such a Redeemer?

Let it be earnestly and frequently recollected, that this Gospel is the touchstone by which we are one day to be tried; the balance in which an impartial judge will weigh us: and must, on the whole, prove Our everlasting triumph, or our everlasting torment. The Almighty did not introduce it with such solemn notice, such high expectation, such pompous miracles, such awful sanctions, that men might reject, or dishonour it at pleasure; but it will certainly be found, to the greatest and meanest of those that hear it, a saviour of life unto life, or a saviour of death unto death.

Let it therefore be your immediate care to enquire, which of these it is likely to prove to your souls? Remember, it is so far from being a vain thing, that it is really your very life.

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And for you who have hitherto believed and obeyed the Gospel, let it be your care to defend and adorn it; be blameless and harmless, the children of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, shining among them as lights in the world: perhaps your example may not only serve to entertain their eyes, but to guide their feet into the way of peace, and engage them also to join with you in glorifying your Father which is in heaven above all, be careful to hold fast the form of sound words, and to adorn the doctrine of your blessed Saviour in all things.

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Our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ,



Presage of the Birth of Christ. Prediction of the Birth of John the Baptist. Salutation of the Blessed Virgin by the Angel. Visitation of the Virgin Mary to Elizabeth. Birth of the Baptist.

O event that ever did, or perhaps

ever will, happen, can more remarkably display the wisdom and power of the GREAT JEHOVAH, than the glorious manner in which he brought life and immortality to light by the gospel of his only Son, manifested in the flesh.

History, as it refers merely to human events, is a pleasing and instructing subject; but that which relates to our immortal interest certainly claims our most serious regard.

The mind of man cannot be more delightfully employed, than in the contemplation of the wisdom and goodness of the Omnipotent Creator of the universe, who, by the least suspected means, and weakest instruments, confirmed and established that glorious Gospel, on which depend all the christian's hope of eternal salvation.

No. 1.

Notwithstanding the strength and number of his enemies, the Church of Christ grew, from the most inconsiderable beginnings, to an immense fabric or building in the Lord; nor shall the united efforts of earth and hell be able to prevail against it. As it was planted, so it was reared by an Almighty Hand, which like the careful husbandman, pruned and cultivated each tender sprig, till it arrived at full perfection, or to use the words of our Lord, "The least of all seeds grew up and waxed a great tree, and spread out its branches, and filled the earth."

Thus prevailed eternal Truth; nor could the inveterate Jews, or superstitious Heathens, resist its progress, though Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and people of Israel, "gathered themselves together against the Lord, and against his anointed; for the doc


trine of God confounded the wisdom of the former, and overcame the folly of the latter.

If we survey the works of a stupendous Creator, we shall find that a few arrived at perfection at once. This observation is amply confirmed by the various productions in the natural, and changes in the moral world. The supreme Being, who conducts all his operations according to his infinite wisdom, appears to have retained the same maxim in the regulating of his kindest design to the sons of men. The divine mind and will were not revealed to mankind, at first, in their clearest evidence and fullest splendor. The dawn, in a spiritual, as well as in a natural sense, preceded the meridian glory; the former revelation was but a type or earnest of the latter, and in comparison with it intricate and mysterious.

The all-gracious God, as it seemed best to his unerring wisdom, was pleased, by degrees, to open and unfold his glorious councils; and man, by degrees, attained to the knowledge of the great plan of salvation, and the means used by its great Author to promote and establish it.

Some time before the incarnation of the blessed Jesus, an opinion prevailed among the pious part of the Jews, that the GREAT JEHOVAH would condescend to favour them with a clearer revelation of his mind and will, by the mission of some eminent person qualified from above, to instruct them in the same. This opinion was founded on the predictions of the ancient prophets, who had described, with the utmost beauty and clearness, the person, character, and glory of the Messiah, appointed by God, in his own time, to declare his eternal council to mankind.

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phecies, the devout persons among the Jews imagined the time appointed by God at hand, and that the promised Messiah would shortly make his appearance, and, therefore, are said to have waited night and day for the. consolation of Israel." These people, at that time grievously oppressed by the Roman power, and consequently anxious of regaining their liberty, as well as revenging themselves on their tyrannical oppressors, waited for the accomplishment of the prophecies, with the most solicitous desire. But this opinion of the approach of a general deliverer extended much farther than the country of the Jews; for, through their connections with so many countries, their disputes with the learned men amongst the Heathens, and the translation of the Old Testament into a language now almost general, their religion greatly prevailed in the east, and consequently their opinion that a prince would appear in the kingdom of Judea, who would dispel the mists of ignorance, deliver the Jews from the Roman yoke, and spread his dominiou from one end of the world to the other.

While the eastern world was fraught with these sanguine hopes, the very angel who had appeared to Daniel the prophet, with a certain information, as. to the period of the Messiah's coming, as well as his transactions in this lower world, was sent to Zacharias, a pious priest, while he was executing his office before God, in the order of his course (which was to (which was to burn incense burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord) to foretel, that a child should spring from him and his wife Elizabeth, though they were stricken in years, years, who should be endowed with extraordinary gifts from heaven, and, honoured with being the forerunner of the Saviour of the world.

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