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Secr. ř. into a better, where there is neithet
c rying nor pain. But the nativity of St.
John being designed, by the remarkable incidents that accompanied it, to turn the eyes of men towards one who was far greater ; one, the latchet of whose fhoes he confessed himself not worthy to unloose; the church keeps a day facred to it, and directs us to begin our meditations by considering, as all yudéa did when it happened, what manner of child a” that should be, which was fo wonderfully born.
He whose works are all wrought in number, weight, and measure, bringeth every event to pass in it's proper season. The time approached which had been decreed in the counfels of the Most High, foretold by the Prophets, and ardently desired by holy men of old, when the Son of God should be manifested, to redeem his people from death, and to lead them in the path of life. As this redemption was not to be effected by fleshly might and power, the spiritual king of Israel chofe to make his appearance, when the house of Da
* Luke i. 66.
vid was like a root buried in the earth; Sect. I. and therefore his forerunner was born so in the days of Hérod the king *;" days, when his countrymen were under a foreign jurisdiction, and the prospect on all fides was gloomy. True indeed it is, that the sacred lamp went not out in the temple, where the good old Siméon and the devout Anna ferved God instantly with faftings and prayers, and waited, as many others did, with earneft expectation, for the consolation of Ifrael. They were not - discouraged by the gross darkness which then covered the earth, but rather concluded from thence, that the dawn of day could not be far off ; as the mercies of heaven generally come when man most wants, and, humanly speaking, has least ground to hope for them; to the end that he may with thankfulness receive the benefit, and with humility give God the glory. And this may be an useful lesson to those who shall live in the latter days of the Gentile church, which are to precede the second advent of Christ, when they will behold the religion of . Luke i. 5.
Sect. I. Christians degenerated into an empty
form, and their zeal and love frozen at the fountain; when daily multiplying heresies, like the frogs in Egypt, shall infest and contaminate all things; when infidelity shall rage and swell, and iniquity of every kind shall abound. Sights like these may, confound and stagger those who shall then be ignorant of the scriptures, and weak in faith. Bụt an acquaintance with the divine dispensations will turn them into so many arguments for the truth of revelation, and the approach of the day of God. “ When these things begin to come to “ pass; then look up, and lift up your “ heads, for your redemption draweth “ nigh" ;" then be found, with Simeon and Anna, in the temple, waiting for the consolation of Israel. :
When we read of men who have done good in their generations, and fhone as lights in the world, curiosity naturally leads us to enquire after their connections and relations, and especially after the happy persons chosen to be the instruments of conveying such blessings a Luke xxi. 28.
to the church. The scripture account Sect. I. of Zacharias and Elizabeth is concise, but comprehensive. He was “a priest. “ of the course of Abia,” she was “ of « the daughters of Aäron," and " they “ were both righteous before God, “ walking in all the commandments “ and ordinances of the Lord, blame* «« lessa. The course of Abia was the eighth in order of the twenty four courses of priests appointed to relieve each other in the service of the temple, where, during their ministration, they resided in the chambers allotted them for that purpose; that so, being sequestered from the cares and pollutions of the world, they might - wait on the “ Lord without distraction," performing the outward ceremonies of the law, and exercising their faith in the contemplation of those heavenly things shadowed out by them. This holy office Zacharias, in the worst of times, adorn
ed and beautified with a correspondent "holiness of life. The spirit of the fanctuary rested upon him, and manifested itself in the fruit of righteousness; a ... i ; a Luke i. 5,6. '
Sect. I. righteousness, which exceeded that of
the Scribes and Pharisees, approving itself in the fight of God, to whom are known the secrets of the heart, as well as in that of men, who are witnesses only of the external deportment. Thro' the strength of this spirit, he walked in the path of an uniform obedience, an invariable observer of those ordinances which were at that time the facramental means and pledges of pardon and acceptance, through faith in him, of whose advent he was a devout expectant. From such a father, and a mother worthy of him, who graced the line of
Aaron by a like inviolable sanctity of manners, was the Baptist to descend ; that the Jews might have no poffible objection against him; that he might be a proper forerunner of one who was to make all the world in love with the beauty of holiness; that it might appear wherein true nobility of birth confifteth, viz. in a descent from perfons consecrated to the service of God, and of an exemplary piety; and lastly, to assure us, that on the heads of those, who to a holy profession add a holy life,