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Almighty God, who into the Place of the For the Traitor Judas didft chufe thy faithful Ser- Prefervavant Matthias to be of the Number of the twelve tion of the Apostles; grant that thy Church, being always from falfe preferved from falfe Apoftles, may be ordered Teachers. and guided by faithful and true Pastors, through Jefus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God, who knoweft me to be fet in the For Midft of fo many and great Dangers, that Strength by reason of the Frailty of my Nature, I can- against not always ftand upright; grant to me fuch Strength and Protection, as may fupport me in all Dangers, and carry me through all Temptations, through Jefus Chrift. Amen.
God, who feeft I have no Power of myfelf For God's to help myself; that I am not wife enough Direction. for my own Direction, nor able enough for my own Defence; let me acknowledge thee in all my Ways, and not lean to my own Understanding. Let thy Light guide me, thy Providence protect me, thy Grace enable me, that I may faithfully discharge all the publick and private Duties thou fhalt think fit to call me to; that being thus armed with thy Defence, I may be preferved from all Dangers, through Jefus Chrift our Lord. Amen.
God, who art the Author and Giver of all that I enjoy, moderate my Affections to the Things of this World, that I may not purfue them with an eager and unfatiable Desire. Let no Greedinefs of Gain tempt me to the least Injustice, either by Fraud or Oppreffion, but that I may commit myfelf to thy Providence in the Ufe of honeft and lawful Endeavours, and not torment myself with anxious Care about the Success. Suffer not the Concerns of this Life to make me negligent in the Concernments of much greater Importance; that while I am fupporting a dying Body, I may remember I have an immortal Soul, which infinitely deferves my chiefeft Care. And as for thofe good Things thou haft been pleased to bestow upon me, teach me to enjoy them as with Temperance, fo with Thankfulness and Charity, and readily to part with them rather than to forfake thy Truth, or to make Shipwreck of a good Confcience. That being delivered from the covetous Temper of the Traitor Judas, I may escape those Sins which fuch vile Affections lead to, and that Punishment which he felt, and those deserve; and this I beg for Chrift his fake. Amen.
CHA P. XIV.
The Annunciation of theBleffed Wirgin MARY, Mar. 25.
HAT is meant by the Annunciation of the blefied Virgin, which the Church this Day celebrates?
A. The Declaration which the Angel Ga- Luke 1. briel made to the bleffed Virgin Mary, that the 31. fhould be Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ; that this her Son fhould be great, and called the Son of the Higheft: that the Lord God fhould give unto him the Throne of his Father David; that he fhould reign over the House of Jacob for ever; and that of his Kingdom there should be no End.
Q. What doth this Description made by the Angel Gabriel refer to?
A. To the Prophecy of Ifaiah concerning the Chap. 9. Meffias, who foretold, That the Government fhould be upon his Shoulder, and his Name fhould be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlafting Father, the Prince of Peace; of the Increase of his Government and Peace there fhould be no End, upon the Throne of David, and upon his Kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with Judgment and with Juftice, from henceforth even for ever.
Q. What is the Importance of the Angel's Defcription of the Meffias?
A. That God fhould fettle upon the Meffias a Spiritual Kingdom (of which that Temporal of David was but an imperfect Reprefentation) M 3
the abfolute Government of the Church, that
Q. What preceded this Declaration?
A. The Salutation made to the bleffed Virgin by the fame Angel in thofe Words, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee, bleffed art thou among Women.
Q. What was the meaning of this Salutation? A. That the bleffed Virgin was most excellently difpofed to receive the greatest Honour that ever was done to the Daughters of Men her Employment being holy and pious, her Body chafte, and her Soul adorned with all Virtues, particularly with Humility, which is in the Sight of God of great Price; for though fhe was to be the Mother of an univerfal and everlafting Bleffing, which all former Ages had defired, and all future Time should rejoice in ; . yet fhe refigns all this Glory to him that gave it her, and declares whence the received it, that no other Name but his might have the Glory.
Q. How did the blessed Virgin receive this Salutation?
A. She was troubled at the Saying of the Angel, and caft in her Mind what Manner of Salutation it fhould be; judging herself unworthy of fo great an Honour, and being furprised with the Strangeness of fuch an Appearance in her Retirement. But when the Angel pofitively affirmed that she should conceive and bring forth the Meffias, the enquires how that could be, fince the knew not a Man.
Q. What is implied in this Answer of the bleifed Virgin?
A. No doubt, I think, concerning the Thing, nor any Diffidence in refpect to the Iffue of it; but rather Admiration in refpect to the wonderful Manner of effecting it. And if we have any Regard to the Tradition mentioned by Epipha-. nius, that Jofeph was old when efpoufed to the bleed Virgin, it will be probable, what many of the Antients believed, that by this Anfwer, the Virgin feems to hint at fome Refolution of continuing in a State of perpetual Virginity; at least it implies that the defired to be fatisfied in the Manner as well as in the Matter of this Mystery.
Q. How did the Angel anfwer the Difficulty fhe Suggested?
A. By declaring the wonderful Manner how his Meffage fhould be brought about, viz. That Luk.1.35. the Holy Ghoft fhould come upon her, and that the Power of the Highest should overshadow her. By furnishing her with an Example fomewhat of the like Nature in her Cousin Elizabeth; and by confirming her from the Power of God, to which nothing is impoffible.
Q. What Effect bad this upon the blessed Virgin? A. She demonstrated an entire Faith and perfect Obedience in her Reply; Behold the Hand- Ver. 38. maid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy Word. Neither is it to be doubted, but that upon her Confent and Defire the Promise began to be fulfilled, and the Son of God became incarnate, and was made Man, taking upon him human Nature, Body and Soul.
Q. How doth the bleffed Virgin express her Joy and Gratitude upon this Occafion?