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shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be? 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, shall be called the Son of God. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
"Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." The reply of Mary expresses her undoubting faith. That she should place full reliance upon such a divine communication, appears to us by no means extraordinary. But there are subjects on which we, like her, are instructed from above; and on these how often do we doubt! How often do we overlook the seal of heavenly truth with which God has sanctioned his revelations! We are, we say, fully convinced that Jesus was the messenger of God; but do we always receive his commands with implicit faith? He has unveiled to us the world to come: we hear his denunciations to the impenitent, his invitations to all; but while we listen, is there not a feeling of doubt within us; a reluctance to take his promises for the ground of our hopes? He has declared that our heavenly Father governs the universe he made, and that without him not a sparrow falleth to the ground. Do we believe this? If so, we must be happy; for in such faith we shall find a peace which nothing else can yield us. But by how few among us is this holy faith possessed without a cloud of doubt! When we are convinced that our Saviour spoke by authority from on high, doubt and fear should no longer have place, but all his declarations meet the same ready and humble faith which would be yielded to the words of a visibly present angel.
THE MESSENGERS OF GOD.
Thy messengers, Eternal God,
The thunders roll, the lightnings fly,
But other messengers are thine,
Or waft our prayers above.
And in thy word a voice we hear
O may that faith which Mary knew
BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.
LUKE 1. 57.
Now Elizabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neigh
bors and her cousins heard how the Lord had showed
great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they 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 Judea. And all 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 up a horn of salvation for us, in the house of his servant David; (as he spake by the 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 our days. 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, through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the day-spring from on high hath 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 waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts, till the day of his showing unto Israel.
What holy gratitude does Zacharias express, in his thanksgiving at the close of this chapter. The light from heaven which had long been veiled, was now about to burst forth again; and the venerable man knew, that the child of his old age was to be the favoured medium of the divine communications. What joy must have swelled the father's heart, as he thought of the future holiness and eminence of the infant before him. Can we not imagine him, with the fire of inspiration, and the smile of paternal love, together lighting up his venerable features, as he pronounces the words, "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?" There is not a higher earthly enjoyment than a good parent derives from the virtue of his child. What an incitement does this afford to a grateful son, to render his growing virtues a crown of joy to the grey hairs of those who gave him life!
But the joy of Zacharias was not for himself alone. "The day-spring from on high" had dawned. Its rays preceded a more glorious light, "the Sun of Righteousness," and Christians now, rejoicing in its full radiance, may well praise the Father of lights, from whom cometh every good, and every perfect gift.
"THE DAY-SPRING FROM ON HIGH."
Toiling through the livelong night,
Thus, when fraud and rapine threw
Broke the dawn of Judah's star.
Tears of joy and gratitude
Hailed the Baptist's natal morn,
Born to go before the face
Of Judea's Saviour king;
To the mourning land to bring.
Thus began the song of praise
For the day-spring's earliest ray.
BIRTH OF JESUS.
LUKE II. 1.
AND it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made, when