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IV. For the ADORE, O Lord, that miraculous Grace which Effects of
of thou wert pleased to manifest to thy blessed Repent.
Apostle: And I praise thy holy Name for that powerful Assistance thou hast promised to all those that follow the Example of his Piety. Send forth thy Light into my Heart, and make me sensible of all my wicked Ways. Stir me up carefully to attend to what thou requirest of me, and make me ready to perform it. Let the Practice of thy holy Laws bear Witness to the inward Change of my Mind; that no Advantage of Nature or Grace may make me proud and haughty; that no Plenty and Abundance may make me sensual and carnal; that when Riches increase, I may not set my Heart upon them, but be ready to relieve thy poor distressed Members both in their Souls and Bodies. Let no Danger or Difficulty deter me from a zealous Prosecution of my Duty; let no Prospect of Labour or Pains slacken my Industry, but make me stedfast and immoveable, always abounding in the Work of the Lord. Shew Mercy, O God, to all those that are misled by Error, or seduced by Vice; that, by thy heavenly Light, their Blindness may be removed, and their Weakness cured, through Jesys Christ, my only Lord and Saviour, Amen.
VIRGIŅ.- FEBRUARY 2.
Q. What was the Law of Purification ?
A. All the Women were obliged to separate Levit. xii. themselves from the public Congregation forty Days after the Birth of a male Child, and eighty Days after the Birth of a Female. And when the Days of their purifying were fulfilled, if they were rich, they brought a Lamb of the first Year for a Burnt-Offering, and a young Pigeon or a TurtleDove for a Sin-Offering; if poor, two Turtles, or two young Pigeons, which the Priest offered before the Lord, and made an Atonement for them. 1;. W Q. What doth this Purification import ? WA VA. That since Adam's Fall we are conceived in Sin, that our Birth is impure, and that we derive from our Parents an hereditary Stain; whereby we are naturally unclean, and Children of Wruth; and to shew the Contagion thereof, not only the Child was circumcised, but the Mother also was cleansed by a Sacrifice for Sin.. 1. Q. What did the Law require concerning the Presentation of the First-born in DI A. That every Male that openeth the Womb should Exod. xxi. be holy to the Lord; that is, consecrated and set 2, 15. apart for his immediate Service. For when God exempted the First-born of the Hebrews from that Destruction he brought upon the First-born of the. Egyptians, he commanded that the First-born of the Hebrews should be dedicated to him, or redeemed Numb. at the Price of five Shekels. As therefore the First- Xvii lings of clean Beasts were separated for the Use of the Altar, so the First-born of Men were for the Use of the Tabernacle, till the Levites were substi- Numb. viii. tuted in their stead by God Almighty's particular 16, 17, 18. Direction. After which remained still the Footsteps of the old Law, that Mothers were obliged to present their First-born in the Temple, and to pay a Ransom to the Priest. The Price of the Redemption was the same both to Rich and Poor; as were the Charges of their Burials; admonishing us of that Equality Nature hath established between all Men in coming into the World, and going out
subra. Being til all Righut to fulhe public Opition,
Q. What doth the redeeming of the First-born signify to us?
A. The Redemption of God's People, called the
Church of the First-born, which are written in HeaHeb. xii. ven, and not redeeined with corruptible Things,
as Silver and Gold, but with the precious Blood of Christ.
Q. Since there was no Impurity in the Birth of our Saviour, and that the Blessed Virgin contracted no Pollution by bringing him forth: why did they submit to these Laws?
A. Being born under the Law, it became our Saviour to fulfil all Righteousness, who came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil it: And the blessed Virgin being exposed to the public Opinion and common Reputation of an ordinary Condition, thought it reasonable to comply with all the Obligations of such circumstances; and hereby she expressed great Humility, Obedience, and Reve
rence to public Sanctions. Besides, there was thus Luke ii. an Occasion given for the first public Declaration 95, 26.
of our Saviour by good old Simeon, and Anna the Prophetess.
Q. What may we learn from the Consequence of this Instance?
A. That the Injunctions of public Authority, whilst lawful, ought to be obeyed; though all the Ends of their first Institution should not be alike served by them: Obedience to Authority being a necessary Duty, even when the Rites it requireth are no otherwise necessary than as they are enjoined.
Q. What Offerings did the blessed Virgin make. Luke ii.
A. The Offerings of the Poor, a Pair of Turtles, or two young Pigeons. Such mean and low Cir. cumstances did our blessed Saviour chuse, when he came into the World upon the Work of our Redemp.
tion; such was his great Bounty and Kindness, > Cor. that though he was rich, yet for our Sakes he became
poor, that we, through his Poverty, might be rich.
Q. How was our blessed Saviour known to Simeon and Anna?
A. Simeon being a just and devout Man, waiting Luke ii. for the Consolation of Israel, which was the Ex-25, 26. pectation of the promised Messias, God was pleased to reveal to him, that he should not see Death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ; and, at this very Time, when Christ was presented in the Temple, he was, by the Guidance and Dictate of God's Spirit, brought thither. And the Prophetess Anna, Lnke ii. constantly attending the Service of the Temple, re-137, 38. markable for Mortification and Devotion, came in at the same Instant. They both gave Thanks unto the Lord, and spake of him to all that looked for Redemption in Jerusalem; Simeon in that admirable Hymn, which our Church hath adopted into Ver her Offices, and with which she daily nourishes the Devotion of her Children.
Q. What may we learn from the Hymn we so frequently repeat ?
A. That though we cannot see our Saviour with our bodily Eyes, as Simeon did, yet be being daily in the Holy Seriptures presented to the Eyes of our Faith, we ought to thank God for that wonderful Salvation he hath prepared both for Jew and Gentile. That we must never think of dying in Peace, till we have embraced our Saviour with our Understandings and Affections; till we heartily believe what he revealed; and sincerely practice what he taught. That Nothing will stand us in Stead in a dying Hour, and support us when all earthly Comforts forsake us, but the Remeinbrance of a wellspent Life, and the Performance of those Conditions upon which Salvation is promised.
Q. What doth this great Honour, bestowed upon Simeon and Anna, teach us?
A. Constantly and devoutly to attend the Ordi. nances of our Religion; not to neglect those Means God hath established for the building us up in his, holy Faith, For if we fervently persevere, God
will abundantly communicate his Grace and Fa. your towards us.
Q. What may we learn from the Observation of this Festival?
A. To dedicate the Vigour of our Youth, and the Flower of our Days, to the Practice of Religion; because, as it is the properest and most necessary Season to receive the Impressions of Piety and Virtue, so it is then most acceptable to God, the Perfection of whose Nature requires that we should offer up to him the Prime of our Age, and the Excellency of our Strength. To purify ourselves both in Body and Soul; and to practise that Obedience which our Saviour and the blessed Virgin taught by their Example. To return to God whatever we receive from him, and to make an entire Sacrifice to his Majesty of what is most dear and precious to us. Not to despise, but respect the Poor, who, in their outward Circumstances, bear so great a Resemblance to the blessed Jesus, and his holy Family. To bless God that he hath manifested to us the Consolation of Israel, to give Light to us that sat in Darkness, and in the Shadow of Death, and to guide our Feet into the Way of Peace. Above all, to clothe ourselves with Humility, to be meek and lowly in Heart, that we may find Rest for our Souls.
Q. Is Humility particularly a Christian Virtue?
A. The Heathen Philosophers were so little acquainted with this Virtue, that they had no Name for it; what they expressed by the Word we now use, was Meanness and Baseness of Mind, which provoked their contempt and Anger rather than Applause: And the Jews so valued themselves upon their Privileges, that they were too apt to contemn the Rest of Mankind. Our Saviour first taught it in its greatest Perfection; and indeed his whole Life was but so many repeated Instances of Humility and wonderful Condescension for our Sakes. He began his divine Sermon upon the Mount with this Precept, he lays it as the Foundation of our spiritual
To bless God blessed Jesus. Dear, so great i