Abbildungen der Seite

the third display of the same power on the body of Mary. The Holy Spirit descends, and by a similar omnipotence fashions out of the body of Mary the body of Jesus. Adam was made out of the dust, therefore he is called human; Eve is made out of a rib, therefore she is called woman; and Jesus is made out of the flesh of Mary, therefore is be called EMANUEL, God with us, the Son OF GOD, and the Son Of Man. Therefore, said the angel, shall be be called the Son of God. He never had this name before, unless prospectively. He was called by other names, and amongst which was THE WORD. THE WORD became incarnate. Reuben, relate what ensued after this visit of Gabriel to the Virgin Mary.

Reuben. She burst forth into a rapturous eulogy on the mysterious and benignant promises of the Lord, especially his faithfulness in keeping his engagement with his people. Her words are, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoicos in God my Saviour; because he has not disdained the low condition of his handmaid; for, henceforth all posterity will pronounce me happy. For the Almighty, whose name is venerable, has done wonders for me. His mercy on them who fear him, extends to generations of generations. He displays the strength of his arm, and dispels the vain imaginations of the proud. He pulls down potentates from their thrones, and exalts the lowly. The needy he loads with benefits; but the rich he spoils of every thing. He supports Israel his servant, (as he promised to our fathers,) ever inclined to mercy towards Abraham and his race.'

Eliza. I do not understand how the names

[ocr errors]

Gabriel and Michael denote offices. Gabriel imports God is my excellency, and Michael One who has all.

Olympas. The office of Gabriel was, then, to represent the excellency and glory of God in the affairs of his providence. Hence he was employed to reveal to Daniel the scheme of Providence in reference to the glory of God in the great work of man's redemption. So it comes to pass that he is always employed in affairs connected with provi denee and redemption ; and with the former only in reference to the latter. Michael denotes God's: President -one who has all entrusted to him as a steward or president of affairs, He was the president angel of the Abrahamie race. There is not, said Gabriel, any that counsels with me in these affairs, but Michael your prince.

Gabriel calls him the chief or the head of the princes.. He is also called the Archangel. Concerning the person called Michael we have something more to say at another time. But to the history : -What are the circumstances of the birth of the son of Zacharias ?

William. On the eighth day he was circumcised and named. His relations would have him called after his father, but his mother would have him called John.

Thomas. There must have been something in, this name, as it seems there was some controversy about it. I should like to understand what. mystery was in it.

Olympas. It simply means the favour, or the favour of God. This is not the first time the name is found : it is the first of the New Testament occurrences of the word. Observe how

ancient the custom of giving names at circumcision.

Thomas. Is this the reason why names are given at baptism?

Olympas. It is the reason. Hence the personal name of an individual is commonly called his Christian name. Thus, you may remember in the Catholic and Episcopalian Catechism, after the question, What is your name?" comes, " Who gave you that name?” This question is usually answered, “My godfather at my baptism." Baptism, then, like circumcision, was the time of naming persons. The personal name was solemnly imposed when the names of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were employed in the ritual of baptism. The cause of this I presume to be was the fact that the person with whom the covenant of circumcision was made had his name changed from Abram to Abraham; and as a new name was given to him at the time of circumcision, the Jews, and after them the Greek Christians, the Romanists, and some Protestants, reserved the imposition of a name on the child till the day of circumcision. Hence both John and Jesus received their names on the eighth day, at their circumcision. Why, Susan, did Zacharias ask for a writing table to write the name of his son ?

Susan. Because he was dumb, not being able to speak since the angel Gabriel reproved him for his doubting his word.

Olympas. Was he also deaf as well as dumb, William ?

William. We are not told that he was deaf.
Reuben. But we may infer it.
Olympas. From what circumstances ?
Reuben. Because they made signs to him to

know what he would have him called. Now if he could have heard them, why not have asked him ?

Olympas. This is, indeed, a strong presumptive evidence that he was deaf as well as dumb. It is an example of a fact that occasionally happensviz., that inferential reasonings are sometimes as conclusive as express declarations. What remarks have you to make on the opening speech of Zacharias, Thomas ?

Thomas. You call it the opening speech, because the first speech after a dumbness of nine months, and the commencement of a new era in the life of this distinguished priest. His thoughts and musings on this great event in his life, and its connexions with another child six months younger than his son John, seem, like waters dammed up, to burst forth in a mighty torrent. His ecstacy is beautifully expressed in the text-"Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people ; and (as anciently he promised by his holy Prophets) has raised a Prince for our deliverance in the house of David his servant; for our deliverance from our enemies, and from the hands of all who hate us; in kindness to our fathers, and remembrance of his holy appointment; the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, to grant to us, that, being rescued out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve him boldly, in piety and uprightness, all the days of our life. And you, child, shall be called a Prophet of the Most High; for you shall go before the Lord, to prepare his way, by giving the knowledge of salvation to his people, in the remission of their siis, through the tender compassion of our God, who has caused a day-spring from on high to visit

us, to enlighten those who abide in darkness and in the shades of death, to direct our feet in the way of peace.” The Holy Spirit speaks through Zacharias as through any of the Prophets. Hence the conclusion of his speech is prophetic of John and of Jesus. Is there not some peculiar views of salvation expressed in the speech of Zacharias, William ?

William. Salvation by the remission of sins." is the peculiar salvation to be preached by John and Jesus.—not from the Roman yoke--not from their political enemies. I am, indeed, at a loss to know whether the phrase the day spring from on highrefers to John or to Jesus.

Olympas. John I understand to be a day-spring, not the day-spring from on high: so reads the original, as you see in the new version. Jesus is not “a day-spring,” but the “Sun of Righteousness" himself.

John was

a burning and a shining light" to the Gentiles and to Israel. He did, indeed, enlighten the world and prepare a people for the Lord. The salvation which he preached was from sin from the guilt, power, and punishment of sin. Therefore his preaching had to do with confessing sin, repenting of sin, and the remission of sin-of which, in its proper place. But now we must attend to the time and circumstances of the birth of our Lord. Read, 'William, the first fourteen verses of the next chapter, and then state to us the public fact that dates his nativity,

Williant. The decree of Cesar Augustus for the taxing, or, as you have taught us, the enrolment of the land of Judea, it seems occasioned our Lord's birth at Bethlehem. But for the decree,

« ZurückWeiter »