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Confiderations on the nativity of St. John,

and the circumstances that attended it.

T

HE lights of the intellectual, Sect. I. like those of the natural system,

are not all of equal magnitude and lustre. In the church, as in the firmament, “ one ftar differeth from

A

Tano

Sect. I. “ another star in glory." Each contri

buteth it's share towards dissipating the darkness with which we are surrounded; but some, by their superior splendor, immediately attract and dazzle the

еус of the beholder. Conspicuous, above others, is the character of St. John the Baptist, that bright precursor of the sun, and harbinger of the morning, who arose to give notice of Meffiah's approach, and to prepare the world for his reception : burning, and shining, he ran his course, proclaiming to the inhabitants of the earth, “ Repent, for the kingdom “ of heaven is at hand;" in other words, “ The night is far spent, the day is at 66 hand; cast off therefore the works “ of darkness, and put on the armour “ of light a. Awake, thou that sleep«c est, and arise from the dead, and “ Christ shall give thee light b.”

PRAISE is ever valuable in proportion to the judgment and integrity of him who bestoweth it, and the panegyric is truly honourable, when the

panegyrist is one who will not flatter, and

1 Rom. xiii, 12.

Ephef. v. 14.

b

who

who cannot be deceived. How then shall Sect. I. we raise our thoughts to conceive adequately of a person, whose encomium was spoken by the Son of God, and concerning whom that Son of God declared, “Among them that are born of

women there hath not arisen a greater “than John the Baptista.” After this declaration made by the master, the disciples cannot well be hyperbolical in their praises of St. John, as the great pattern of repentance; the relation of Christ; the friend of the bridegroom ; the herald of the king immortal; the glory of saints, and the joy of the world.

It is observable, that the Baptist's nativity is the only one that of Christ excepted) which the church has thought proper to celebrate. The days appointed for the commemoration of other saints are generally those on which they respectively ceased from their labours, and entered into their everlasting rest; the day of a good man's death being indeed the day of his birth, and this world no .more than the womb in which he is formed and matured for his admission

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Sect. I. into a better, where there is neither

crying nor pain. But the nativity of St.
John being designed, by the remarkable
incidents that accompanied it, to turn
the eyes of men towards one who was far
greater ; one, the latchet of whose fhoes
he confessed himfelf not worthy to un-
loose ; the church keeps a day facred to
it, and directs us to begin our medita-
tions by considering, as all Yudéa did
when it happened, “ what manner of
child a" that should be, which was fo
wonderfully born.

He whofe works are all wrought in
number, weight, and measure, bring
eth every event to pass in it's proper
season. The time approached which had
been decreed in the counfels of the
Most High, foretold by the Prophets,
and ardently desired by holy men of
old, when the Son of God should be
manifested, to redeem his people from
death, and to lead them in the path of
life. As this redemption was not to be
effected by fleshly might and power, the
fpiritual king of Ifrael chose to make
his appearance, when the house of Da-

1 Luke i. 66.

vid was like a root buried in the earth Sect. I. and therefore his forerunner was born so in the days of Herod the king *; days, when his countrymen were under a foreign jurisdiction, and the prospect on all fides was gloomy. True indeed it is, that the sacred lamp went not out in the temple, where the good old Simeon and the devout Anna ferved God instantly with faftings and prayers, and waited, as many others did, with earneft expectation, for the consolation of Ifrael. They were not discouraged by the gross darkness which then covered the earth, but rather concluded from thence, that the dawn of day could not be far off ; as the mercies of heaven generally come when man most wants, and, humanly speaking, has least ground to hope for them to the end that he máy

with thankfulness receive the benefit, and with humility give God the glory. And this may be an useful lesson to those who shall live in the latter days of the Gentile church, which are to precede the second advent of Christ, when they will behold the religion of

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