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cannot, therefore, but bear a reverential regard to the mother of our Lord, so as we give her not that worship which is due only unto the LORD HIMSELF.
Let us preserve the maxim of the primitive Church; let her be honoured and esteemed; let him be worshipped and ADORED. In regard to HIM, the belief of this article is absolutely necessary, (1.) that we might be assured, he was made or begotten of a woman, and so fulfilled the prophecies; for he took not on him the nature of angels (Heb. ii. 16), and therefore saved none of them ; for they, for want of a Redeemer, are reserved unto the judgment of the great day : but man, once fallen, has been redeemed ; and for that end Christ took upon him the seed of Abraham ; for, as we are partakers of flesh and blood, we could expect no redemption but by him, who took part of the same. And, as there is but one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, we cannot be assured that he was the Christ, or is our Jesus (i. e. our Saviour), except we believe that he was a man. (2.) Again, it is necessary we should believe our Saviour conceived and born of such a
a most pure and unspotted virgin, because he was in all things to be made like us, sin only excepted. Our passover is slain, and behold the Lamb that taketh away the sins of the world. But the lamb of the
passover was to be without blemish; which was a type or figure of Christ's purity. From all that has been said (my brethren), every Christian must now understand what he is bound to profess, when he repeats his faith of JESUS CHRIST BEING
THE VIRGIN Mary. He intends to assent to this certain truth, that there was a holy woman, known by the name of Mary, espoused to Joseph of Nazareth, who, before and after her espousals, was a pure and inmaculate virgin; and who, in that pure state, did, by the immediate power of the Holy Spirit, conceive the only begotten Son of God, and, after the natural time of women, brought him forth her first-born Son, as was foretold should come to pass in the fulness of God's appointed time.
What, therefore, can we collect by way of application from the whole of this wonderful narrative? Why, this surely, that, without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness, as particularly relating to Christ manifest in the flesh. And though the Apostle may be supposed to allude here, more immediately, to the union of the two natures in the person of Christ; yet, in respect to the power of the Holy Spirit in regenerating all good Christians, it is equally true, that greut is the mystery of godliness. And whosoever is so happy as to experience the blessed effect of divine grace, no matter as to
the manner of the infuence; for, as our Saviour speaks, the wind bloweth where it listeth, and we hear the sound thereof, but know not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth (the effect that we see of it, is sufficient proof of its existence) ; so is it with the working of the Spirit. If we produce its fruits (on the principle of faith in Christ's merits having obtained the gift for us), the Spirit then witnesseth with our spirit, that we are the children of God; for from hence we draw the certain and comforting conclusion, that as man's first degree of uprightness was the free gift of God alone, so it is impossible we can ever recover a true state of holiness but by the gift of God, through Jesus Christ, by God working in us, to purify us, as he did in the person of our Lord. By our blessed Saviour's joining in his own person, perfection with humanity, we receive the greatest encouragement to strive after proportionate holiness, according to the degree of our power ; and that power, as it comes from God, we may be sure to receive in due measure for our salvation and future glory, if we do not quench the Spirit that produces it. Christ was in all points tempted like as we are, to leave us an example, that we should follow his steps ; for he hath obtained of the same Spirit for us, by his sufferings. Gratitude and humility should then unite to magnify that holy naine that hath wrought such great things for us.
When we duly reflect on the deep mystery of Christ's incarnation ; on the prodigious mercy of our redemption, and DELIVERANCE from sin and death; on the blessed hope of a glorious RESURRECTION, and endless HAPPINESS in heaven; who can forbear exclaiming, O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For of him, and to him, and through him, are all things. To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen,
THE CREED. FOURTH ARTICLE.
On the Belief that “ Christ suffered under
Pontius Pilate was crucified, dead, and buried, and that he descended into hell."
JOHN, XIX. 16. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to
HEBREWS, II. 10. For, it became Him, for whom are all things,
and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the chief Captain of their salvation perfect, through suf
This is that part of our Creed or Belief, my brethren, that should make us hang our heads with shame and sorrow; that should for a while possess us with the humblest mourning ; that should stir up inward grief in the souls of the very best of Christians, and cause us to wonder at this great thing that the Lord our God hath done for us! Very necessary, indeed,