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mencs, may obtain thy gracious Promises, and
Effedts of which thou wert pleased to manifest to thy
Repen blessed Apostle : And I praise thy holy Name for that powerful Allistance 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 ; chat 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 let my Heart upon them, but be ready to relieve thy poor and diftreffed Members both in their Souls and Bodies. Let no Danger or Difficulty deter me from a zealous Prosecution of my Duty ; let no Prospect or Labour or Pains Nacken 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 Jesus Christ my only Lord and Saviour. Amen.
C H A P.
CH A P. XII.
Uirgin, February 2.
HAT Festival dotb the Church celeW
brate this Day? A. The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, commonly called The Purification of the blessed Virgin Mary.
Q. What was the Law of Purification ? Levit. 12. Ā. All the Women were obliged to separate
themselves from the publick 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 Turtle Dove for a Sin-offering ; if poor, two Turtles, or two young Pidgeons, which the Priest offered before the Lord, and made an Atonement for them.
Q. What doth this Purification import?
A. 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 Wrath; and to fhew the Contagion thereof, not only the Child was circumcised, but the Mother also was cleansed by a Sacrifice for Sin.
Q. What did the Law require concerning the Presentation of the First-born ?
A. That every Mole that openeth the Womb 2, 15.
should be holy to the Lord; that is, consecrated and fet 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 Ægyptians, he commanded that the First-born of the Hebrews should be de- Num. 18. dicated to him, or redeemed at the Price of five 16. Sbekels. As therefore the Firstlings 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 substituted Num. 8. in their Stead by God Almighty's particular Di. 16,17,18. rection. 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.
Q. What doth the redeeming of the First-born fignify to us?
Å. The Redemption of God's People, called the Church of the First born, which are written Heb. 12. in Heaven, and not redeemed with corruptible 23. Things, as Silver and Gold, but with the precious Blood of Chrift.
Q. Since there was no Impurity in the Birth of our Saviour, and that the Blessed Virgin controeted 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 publick
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 Reverence to publick Sanctions. Besides, there was thus an Occasion given for the
first publick Declaration of our Saviour by good Luke 2. old Simeon, and Anna the Prophetess.
Q. What may we learn from the Consequence of this Instance ?
A. That the Injunctions of publick Authoty, 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 otherways necessary than as they are enjoined.
Q. What Offerings did the blessed Virgin
make? Luke. 2. A. The Offerings of the Poor, a Pair of Tur
tles or two young Pigeons. Such mean and low Circumstances didour blessed Savicur chufe, when he came into the World upon the Work of our
Redemption ; such was his great Bounty and 2 Cor. 8. Kindness, that though he was rich, yet for our 9.
Sakes he became poor, that we through his Poverty might be rich.
Q. How was our blesed Saviour known to Simeon and Anna ?
A. Simeon being a just and devout Man, waiting for the Confolation of Israel, which was the Expectation of the promised Meffias, God was pleased to reveal to him, that he hould 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 Luke 2. constantly attending the Service of the Temple, 37, 38. remarkable for Mortification and Devotion,came in at the same Inftant. They both gave Thanks unto the Lord, and spake of him to all that looked for Redemption in Jerusalem ; Simeon in Ver. 29: that admirable Hymn, which our Church hath adopted into her Offices, and with which the daily nourishes the Devocion of her Children.
Q. Wbat may we learn from this Hymn we lo frequently repeat?
A. That though we cannot see our Saviour with our bodily Eyes, as Simeon did, yet he being daily in the holy Scriptures presented to the Eyes of our Faith, we ought to thank God for that wonderful Salvation he hath prepared both for yew 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 ifour, and support us when all earthly Comforts forsake us, but the Remembrance of a well-spent 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 Ordinances of our Religion; not to neglect thofe 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 Favour towards us.