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XXIII.

behalf, to protect us in most assured safety, to defend SERM. us from all evil, to subdue and destroy all the enemies of our welfare, to rescue us from the greatest slaveries and miseries, to settle us in perfect happiness; he bringeth salvation from our enemies, and Luke i. 71, from the hands of all that hate us; so that being' delivered from the hands of our enemies, we might serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our lives.

74.

Luke xi.22.

Is victory glorious and joyful? See the invincible Rev. vi. 2. warrior is issued forth into the field, conquering and John xvi. to conquer; he that shall quell, disarm, and rifle the 33. strong one, that shall rout all the forces of hell, that shall defeat sin, and slay death itself, that shall subdue the world, and subject all things to himself: the Captain of our salvation appeareth, triumphing in humility; the great blow is given; the Devil's pride and envy are abased; all the enemies are amazed, are daunted, are confounded at his presence; they cannot stand, they break, they scatter, they flee before him.

Is the publishing of peace acceptable? Behold eternal peace between heaven and earth, a general peace among men, a peace of conscience between man and himself, is now established and proclaimed: the illustrious ambassador, the noble hostage, the infallible pledge thereof is arrived; preaching peace Eph. ii. 17. to them that are far off, and to them that are

Acts x. 36.

near.

Is recovery of liberty comfortable unto slaves and captives? Behold the Redeemer is come, the great ransom is laid down sufficient to purchase the freedom of whole worlds: innocence appearing in human nature hath unlocked the prison of sin, in which we

SERM. were closely detained; hath broken the shackles of XXIII. universal guilt, which sorely pinched mankind: he Gal. iii. 22. is come, who is anointed to preach (aixuaλtois äpeGiv) dismission to the captives.

Luke iv. 18.

Is the coming of a good friend to be congratulated? Behold, the best friend to all mankind (bringing with him most wholesome advice, most needful succour, most seasonable consolation) is arrived to visit us, and dwell with us.

Is it a comfortable thing to be graced with honour? What greater honour could mankind be dignified with, than this of receiving the Son of God into his kind and kindred? What could more advance and adorn us, than this high relation?

Is mirth seasonable to the day of marriage? Behold heaven and earth this day are coupled, divinity is espoused to humanity, an eternal indissoluble knot of amity, of unity, is tied between God and man ; the great Bridegroom is come forth clad in his nuptial garment of flesh, ready to wed the church, his beloved spouse1.

Is the sun's rising (after a long, dark, and cold night) cheerful and comfortable? See, the Sun of righteousness is risen, with healing in his wings;

79.

dispensing all about his most pleasant light, and saLuke i. 78, lutary influences; The dayspring from on high hath visited us, diffusing an universal light upon the souls of men, dispelling the night of ignorance and error, shining out to those that sit in darkness and the shadow of death, and guiding our feet

In natali Domini quasi in nuptiis spiritualibus sponsæ suæ ecclesiæ Christus adjunctus est, tunc processit sponsus de thalamo suo, hoc est verbum Dei de utero virginali. Aug. de Temp. Serm. ii.

16.

in the way of peace: Arise, shine, for thy light SERM. XXIII. is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee, &c. Never did heaven with so clear and serene Isa. lx. 1. a countenance smile upon earth, as it did this day, when this super-illustrious luminary (this bright Rev. xxii. morning star, as he is called in the Apocalypse) Ang πρὸς καὶ όρο did spring up above our horizon. From this aus-s. picious day commenced the revocation of that fatal curse, by which we were exiled from paradise, condemned to death, exposed to hell; the reinstating us in a condition of hope, in a capacity of happiness; the return of life and joy into this region of corruption and disconsolateness: this is the day, which all nations desired, and earnestly longed for, (with an implicit sense;) which the good patriarchs foreseeing did rejoice; which the prophets in so magnificent strains did predict and presignify. In our Lord's nativity all mankind was in a manner born, or did revive; was restored from a manifold necessity of dying; from lying dead in the guilt, and under the power of sin; from having our bodies irrecoverably dissolved by corruption, and our souls immersed into that second death of endless misery. It is in effect therefore the world's nativity that we celebrate, annexed to that of our Lord; the beginning of the new, better, spiritual, and eternal life to men: all reason therefore we have upon this consideration heartily to rejoice; how extremely stupid and senseless are we, if the apprehension of goods so many, so excellent, hence accruing to us, doth not inspire our hearts with a grateful cheerfulness! This is the Ps. cxviii. day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad therein.

24.

Conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the
Wizgin Mary.

Τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννη

θέν.

SERMON XXIV.

THE INCARNATION OF OUR LORD.

MATT. i. 20.

For that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.

SERM. IF every circumstance of our Lord's wonderful inXXIV. carnation deserveth to be considered, as affording

matter of good instruction, and serving to excite devout affection; then surely the principal causes and ingredients thereof may demand a special regard from us; such are those which are couched in this text; the efficiency of the Holy Spirit, by which it was accomplished; the concurrence of the blessed Virgin Mary, as the subject, in whom the divine virtue did work it upon which two particulars we shall reflect, in order.

I. It was the Holy Ghost, by the singular virtue and operation of whom, without intervention of any man, or earthly father, the blessed Virgin became Luke iii. 23. impregnated and did conceive. Joseph was, ŵs évoμí55. Seto, in outward esteem, the father of our Saviour, John vi. 42. (for, Is not this, said they, the carpenter's son? Is Mark vi. 3. not this the son of Joseph?) the modesty of his

Matt. xiii.

Luke iv. 22.

holy mother being preserved from misprision under

XXIV.

John i. 31.

the shroud of wedlock, during the time that by God's SERM. order the mystery and truth of things was to be concealed from general notice, until the day of his Luke i. 80. being shewed and manifested to Israel; but God only was in truth his Father, his incarnation being performed by the miraculous efficacy of God's holy Spirit; upon which account (beside his eternal ge- Luke i. 35. neration) he was also the Son of God; or, Therefore, said the angel to his mother, that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.

The matter of fact was well known to Joseph by revelation, and to the blessed Virgin herself by her conscience also; and by them it was attested to the holy apostles; their attestation being seconded by the miracles of our Lord, together with all the potent arguments which confirm his doctrine: nor do we find, that even the adversaries of our Lord did ever offer to impeach his parents of imposture, or did anywise trouble them about this report coming from them. And it is so clearly and fully affirmed in the Gospels, that it is prodigiously strange that Apud Epihere have been lately some (called Josephites) who have questioned it, upon weak pretences of discourse; whom we cannot otherwise consider, than as intolerably audacious perverters of scripture, or subverters of its authority and use; for surely nothing there can be deemed certain, if this point is not. The fact therefore we must take for granted; and, for our further instruction about it, we shall consider three particulars; the manner of it, the reasons for it, the practical use whereto it may be applied.

scopium

1. The manner of that operation, whereby the Holy Ghost did effect the human generation of our

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