« PoprzedniaDalej »
A. In that admirable Hymn called the Magnificat, wherein fhe fhews fuch a thankful Senfe of the great Honour that was conferred upon her, and expreffes at the fame Time, in fo full a Manner, her Humility and Devotion, as well as the infinite Power and Goodnefs of God, that it appears, as fhe was highly favoured, fo she was also full of Grace, and had a Mind plentifully enriched with the Gifts of God's Holy Spirit. This Hymn was fo refpected among the Primitive Chriftians, that they used it as a Part of their Devotions; and the Church of England has retained it in her divine Service, as proper to express the pious Affections of godly and devout Minds.
Q. What may we learn from this Hymn we fo fréquently repeat?
A. The infinite Mercy and Goodness of God, in fending his Son into the World to redeem us from a State of Sin and Mifery when we were Enemies to him by our evil Works. That all the Faculties of our Souls, our Reafon, our Will, and our Affections ought be employed in bleffing and praifing his holy Name; and though we cannot add to his Greatnefs, yet we are then faid to magnify the Lord, when we publish and proclaim to the World our Senfe of his mighty Perfections. That the beft Method to engage God's Favour, is to govern all our Actions by a Fear to offend him. That to obtain the Bleffings of Heaven, we must have a great Senfe of our Want of them. That we may advance ourselves into the Rank of thofe that had the great Honour of being related to our Saviour; by conceiving Chrift in our Hearts by Faith and Obedience; for by doing the Will of God, we are esteemed
by him as his Brethren, Sifters, and Mother:
A. It hath farther a particular Respect to the Incarnation of our bleffed Saviour; who being the Eternal Word of the Father, was at this Time made Flesh. And thus the Festival is by Athanafius reckoned as one of the chiefeft that relate to our Lord; whether we confider the Order and Method of those Things that the Evangelifts declare concerning our Saviour, or the profound Mystery we this Day celebrate.
Q. What are we to believe concerning the Incarnation ?
A. That the Son, who is the Word of the Artic. 2. Father, begotten from everlafting of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one Subftance with the Father, took Man's Nature in the Womb of the bleffed Virgin, of her Substance fo that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to fay, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man; who truly fuffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a Sacrifice not only for the original Guilt, but alfo for the actual Sins of Men.
Q. What do you mean by the Godhead and Manhood being joined together in one Person, whereof is one Chrift?
A. The true Defign of the Church, in ufing the Word Perfon, was to exprefs a Vital Subftantial Union; as that thence did refult a true proper Communication of Names, Characters, and Properties, from the two Natures to the Perfon, made up of them. For tho' the Eternal Word
Word was a Perfon before the Incarnation, yet he is not confidered under the fame formal Notion after it. Before he fubfifted only in the Divine Nature, afterwards in the Human as well as the Divine; yet without any Change or Alteration, but under both Refpects continues. but one and the fame Perfon.
Q. But are there not many Difficulties and Abfurdities that flow from attributing the Actions, Paffions, and Properties of two fuch diftin&t Natures, as the Human and Divine, to the same Subject, viz. our blessed Saviour?
A. Though they are abfolutely inconfiftent in themselves, and cannot be affirmed of the fame Nature, yet they may and must be averred of the fame Perfon, who is made up of both. And this will plainly appear, if we confider it in Perfons compounded of two distinct Parts, as Men, made of Body and Soul. Eating, drinking, and walking are performed chiefly by the Ministry of the Body; knowing, confidering, willing, and chufing proceed from the Soul; yet it is the Perfon made up of both, who is faid to eat and drink, to understand and chuse. Thus Colour, Features, and Symmetry, from whence arifes Beauty, cannot be in the Soul, which is immaterial; Learning and Virtue, Wisdom and Righteousness cannot inhere in the Body, because, being Matter, it is not a Subject capable of them; for which Reafon it would be abfurd to fay, the Soul is white or black, beautiful or deformed; or, on the other hand, to say the Body is wife or foolish, learned or ignorant, juft or unjuft: Yet of the Man, who is made up of both thefe Parts, all thefe may be truly and properly affirmed. This being remembered, it will help
us to folve the feeming Difficulties and Abfurdities of attributing the Actions, Paffions, and Properties of two fuch diftin&t Natures, as the Human and Divine, to the fame Subject, viz. our bleffed Saviour.
Q. Why is the blessed Virgin Mary filed the Mother of God?
A. Because the fecond Perfon in the bleed Trinity, the Son of God, by virtue of an eternal Generation, vouchsafed to descend from Heaven, and to ftoop fo low as to enter into the Womb of the Virgin; where being united to our Nature, which was formed and conceived there, he submitted to a fecond Generation according to the Flefh. So that this Son of God was truly the Son of the Virgin, and confequently the that brought forth the Man, was really the Mother of God, and by her Coufin Eliza- Luke 1. beth fhe is ftiled the Mother of ber Lord; which 43Word Lord was accounted equivalent to the Word God.
Q. But can the Divine Nature be born, and Juffer, and die, and be buried, and rife from the Grave?
A. No, it cannot; and fo wild a Thought hath always been difclaimed by all orthodox Christians, with the utmost Abhorrence and Deteftation. But this they have faid, that he was God, that he was made of a Woman, who was feen and handled; who was arraigned, condemn-.. ed, and crucified, and afterwards laid in the Grave; not indeed in his Divine, but Human Nature, but it was one and the fame Perfon which fubfifted in both Natures.
Q. What Inftances are there in Scripture that justify the Manner of thefe Expreffions.
A. John Baptift fays, that he who cometh after me, was before me; which could not be true if affirmed of the fame Nature, but yet was verified of the fame Perfon. St. Peter affirms, that the Son of Man was the Chrift the Son of the Mat. 16. living God. Chrift avers himself, that he was the Son of God, truly and properly, as his Words were understood by his Friends and Enemies. The Apostles ftill preached the fame Doctrine, Acts 20. that the Church was purchased with the Blood of God: That the Man whom the Jews crucified, was the Lord of Glory: The fame Lord who was nailed to a Cross, was afterwards laid in the Grave, and rofe from thence; and this Lord was God.
John 1. 27, 30.
Q. It being fufficient, as to the Mystery of the Incarnation, that when our Saviour was conceived and born bis Mother was a Virgin; what is reasonable to believe concerning her continuing in the fame State of Virginity?
A. The peculiar Eminency, and unparallelled Privilege of that Mother; the fpecial Honour and Reverence due unto that Son, and ever paid by her; the Regard of that Holy Ghost that came upon her; the fingular Goodness and Piety of Jofeph to whom the was efpoufed; have perfuaded the Church of God in all Ages to believe, that fhe ftill continued in the fame Virginity, and therefore is to be acknowledged The EverVirgin Mary.
Q. How ought we to reverence the blessed Virgin Mary?
A. By entertaining a great Opinion of her Virtue and Piety, who had the great Honour of being the Mother of the Meffiah. It being reasonable to believe, that a Perfon chofe for that