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A SERMON

ON THE

SONG OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN.

LUKE i. 46, 47.
My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in

God
my

Saviour."

The language of humble thankfulness, which the Church borrows from the inspired Song of the Virgin Mother of our Lord, is calculated to give us exalted views of our gracious Redeemer, as well as a proper estimate of the respect due to the memory of her, who once bore the Godman in her womb. But it is to be feared that

many

who take these sacred words so frequently into their lips in the daily service, allow them to sink very little into their hearts. The deadness and worldliness of their affections form but a barren soil for the holy seed of God's word.

But as we would “take heed how we hear,” and how we pray; so let us learn to sing “with the spirit and with the understanding also :" for as “praying is the end of preaching;" so is “the sacrifice of praise” a blessed acknowledgment and preparative for the inestimable gift of God's holy word. For in such service God, angels and glorified saints delight; and there is not a ransomed spirit now in the presence of the Lord, who will not with

joy take up the words of our text,—“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” That

very great respect is due to the character of the blessed Mary, that “all generations should call her blessed,” cannot be doubted. But like many other sacred truths it has been strangely and blasphemously perverted by the Church of Rome.

We shall do well, therefore, to ascertain what is really asserted respecting the Mother of the Christ in the Scriptures, and what we may safely learn therefrom, so as to form a right view of the duty of the Church respecting her, who, though a creature like ourselves, became the temple of the Godhead, the living tabernacle in which dwelt the incarnate Deity.

Having done this, we shall proceed to a consideration of the words of our text, in their spiritual and instructive import; fervently praying, that the Holy Spirit will descend upon us in all his dove-like influence, conveying peace, grace

and truth to our souls. FIRST, we learn that the Mother of our Lord, was a woman of like nature with all the fallen daughters of Adam. “ God sent forth his Son made of a woman, made under the law,”* and this in exact fulfilment of the original promise given in Paradise, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head; and which was confirmed to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and David, “ of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever, Amen.”+ There was therefore no peculiar purity in the nature of her, from whom the Son of God derived his human substance; he partook of the nature which had sinned, but was himself without sin; because he took not to him a human person, but a human

Gal. iv. 4.

f Rom. ix. 5.

nature; not the form of any particular man, but the form and fashion of man generally.

We deny, therefore, the doctrine of the Papists, that Mary was without sin from her mother's womb: she was a mere woman; and it appears also that she was a sinful woman, for in the text she rejoices in God HER SAVIOUR.

Mary was, however, a Virgin, according to the prophecy of Isaiah, “Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son ;** and her own declaration to the angel—“How can this be, seeing I know not a man ?" His answer is most sublime: “ The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” We have here a similarly lofty idea of the operation of the Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father, as when upon the barren, void, and lightless chaos, the Spirit of God brooded as a dove, and brought from the dark and formless abyss the glorious and beautiful world which we inhabit.

Not sinless, though doubtless sanctified by divine grace, was the nature of the Mother of Jesus ; but the Lord of all worlds, “when he took upon him to deliver man, did not abhor the Virgin's womb." She was indeed endued with much humility; for she speaks, in the holy hymn before us, of “the lowliness of his handmaid ;” and rejoices, like Hannah of old, in the condescension of her Lord.

She is also gifted with faith and submission, for when assured of the possibility and truth of the declaration by the angel, she says, Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word.And she is filled with joy and gratitude when her cousin Elizabeth salutes her

“ Blessed among women,” and assures her that there Isaiah, vii. 14.

† Luke, i. 34. Also see Jer. xxxi. 12.

as

shall be a fulfilment of the rich and gracious promises which had been made to her. Thus, then, we see verified the salutation of the Angel, “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.” She had indeed obtained, not of merit, but of grace, the pre-eminent honour, desired by so many holy women in Israel, of being “the mother of her Lord,” of bearing, bringing forth and nourishing Him, who was to be her deliverer from sin, death, and hell ; of being obeyed for a time by Him who was her Creator, and who should be her eternal Sovereign. For the promise of the Angel thus ran—" And he shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” She is rightly, therefore, called “Blessed among women.” From Eve to Mary there was none illustrious like her-none on the fruit of whose womb hung such everlasting promises-none among the wives and palaces of the earth who nurtured such a King, as she whose Son was laid in the manger of Bethlehem!

And the meek deportment of the blessed Virgin appears throughout the Gospel history: she pondered all the wondrous things which she saw and heard respecting her mysterious and divine Son; she attended the Saviour (probably at that time deprived of her husband Joseph by death) during the whole course of his ministry; she was present at his cross, and received the last tender proof of his affection, by being committed to the filial care of his bosom friend-of his beloved disciple. We hear of her only once again, when it is said, “ These all continued in prayer and supplication with the women and Mary, the MOTHER OF Jesus, and his brethren."* Once, indeed,

* Acts, i. 14.

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