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Lives of the Saints ....... 1 Perfect Happiness not the Lot of
(Continued from page 403, Vol. XVI.)
We are told that she was the daughter of Joakim and
clarations were at length wonderfully accomplished. St. Matthew and St. Luke have both given us the genealogy of Christ from Abraham; and we find that Joseph, who was of the same lineage as Mary, was descended from Abraham, the father of the faithful, and was of the tribe of Judah, and house of David. We cannot but believe, that the Virgin, though of humble origin, was peculiarly worthy of the wonderful distinction bestowed on her; and that her superior purity, devotion, and humility, rendered her a fit object, in the eyes of the Almighty, to receive the greatest honor ever conferred on the daughters of men. The angel Gabriel, when sent by God to apprize her of her glorious destiny, said to her, “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women.” When he saw that Mary was troubled at this saying, and understood not what his salutation meant, he farther explained his heavenly mission by acquainting her that " she should bring forth a son, who should be called the Son of the Highest, who should reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of whose kingdom there should be no end.” The Virgin, still perplexed at the surprising words which were spoken to her, exclaimed, “how shall this be?" upon which the angel declared the will of God more fully, and concluded by reminding her that with “God nothing is impossible.” Satisfied, now, as to the Almighty power which directed the angel, and decreed what should happen to her, she shewed an entire faith and perfect humility in her reply, and said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word.”
It was soon after this interview with the angel that Mary, when visiting her cousin Elizabeth, who was also an object of Divine influence, expressed her joy and gratitude in that admirable hymn which is used in our Evening Service, and which is called the “Magnificat," from the word with which it begins in Latin ; in this she displays such a thankful sense of the great honor bestowed on her, and at the same time exhibits so much humility and devotion, that it appears she was highly favoured by God's grace, and had a mind plenteously stored with the gifts of His holy Spirit. May we never repeat this beau
LIVES OF THE SAINTS.
1837.] tiful hymn without remembering the event which gave rise to it, and blessing, with grateful hearts, the supreme mercy and goodness of God in sending His Son into the world to take our nature upon Him, and, through the sufferings of mortality, redeem us from a state of sin and misery. Let us employ every faculty of our souls in promoting the glory of God; and, though our feeble efforts cannot add to His greatness, yet we may be said to “Magnify the Lord,” when we publish and proclaim to the world our sense of His infinite perfection.
St. Luke, after describing the annunciation, or announcement, by the angel to the Virgin, of the approaching birth of Christ, gives us an account of that event, and then proceeds to record the ceremony of the Purification, or the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. Ever since the destruction of the first-born of the Egyptians, when the destroying angel passed over the dwellings of the Israelites, it had been the custom of the latter nation to keep up a grateful remembrance of this deliverance, by dedicating their first-born son to the service of God, or redeeming him at a fixed price. In compliance with this ordinance, and also that of returning to public worship herself, which was not permitted till forty days after the birth of a male child, -the Virgin, when that period had elapsed, presented the infant in the temple, with the customary sacrifice, and, by so doing, placed herself on a level with all the rest of her countrywomen, notwithstanding the exalted station she was appointed to fill, and gave us a pattern of humble and devout conduct, as well as regard and reverence for all the services of the Church, which, being ordained for the service of God, no one is privileged to neglect or slight. The custom of women publicly offering up their vows to God, after the danger of child-birth, was called the Purification, and some remains of this institution still exist in what we call “ the Churching of Women.” While performing these religious services, it pleased God that two public testimonies should be given, in order to convince the Jews that this infant was the promised Saviour. An aged and devout man, named Simeon, who, like many other pious Jews, had, for some time, looked for the coming of the “Holy