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thought on this holy day. The infinite condescension of the eternal Son of God, that He, "who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (yet) made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross;" this will be our first and chief thought on this holy day : the Incarnation of the Son of God, and all that it speaks to us of the love and mercy of God, and of our own place in God's Church and household. He came to put away our sin, to renew our fallen nature, to sanctify it by union with the Godhead in His own Person; how should we not endeavour to keep it holy, to sanctify it by inward purity, to put away whatever would defile it, to consecrate it unto Him and unto His service by a holy and devout life? Since our Lord hath taken unto Him our human nature, and hath made us parts of Himself in holy Baptism, we are no longer what we were, fallen and lost in Adam, but renewed and recreated in Christ; in place of our own natural weakness, we have within us His strength, the
power and presence of His Spirit flowing from Him, the true Vine, as the vital sap, and pouring life and fruitfulness into every branch that abideth in Him. The Incarnation of our Lord is a great mystery, indeed one may say the mystery of our faith; yet is it also a great and solemn practical truth, such as may at once lift up our hearts to God in devout thankfulness, and cause us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, yet with a good and comfortable hope, that what of ourselves we could not do, that we can do by His power and His presence within us by His Spirit.
Thus, then, on this holy day our first thought will be on the Incarnation of our Lord, as on this day announced to the Blessed Virgin.
Next our thoughts will naturally pass on to her, who was chosen by God to be the mother of the Son of God incarnate. Great as was God's mercy and favour towards her; great and awful and unspeakable as was her privilegethat she, the daughter of Adam, and thus born in sin, should be so sanctified as to become the mother of the Lord, as that in her womb by a pure and spotless generation, the Son of God should be conceived and made man ;-yet was the mind of the Blessed Virgin lowly and humble
at the last, no less than at the first. The very greatness of God's favour towards her but humWhen at the first, "the
bled her the more.
angel came in unto her, and said unto her, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee," we read, "and when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind, what manner of salutation this should be. And when, as we have read, the angel made known to her God's purpose of especial grace and favour to her, her answer was that in the text, "Behold the handmaid of the
Lord, be it
unto me according to thy word." Even when called to be the mother of our Lord in the flesh, she forgot not that she was by nature, and in herself, His handmaid; that He who humbled Himself to be made her Son, was yet her God and her Lord, her Creator. And the same spirit is shewn in her hymn of praise; the wonders which God had wrought in her do but humble her the more under a sense of His greatness and of her own lowly estate: it is not in herself, but in God her Saviour that her spirit rejoiceth. I will here read the verses in St. Luke's Gospel, which come next before her hymn of praise, and we shall thus see, how much there was in her state of privilege to move a soul less humble
than that of this blessed Virgin to high thoughts of self. "And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord." And upon this follows the hymn of the Blessed Virgin, wherein, in lowly, devout, and thankful words, she sets forth the praise of God for His grace and mercy towards her; words so lowly and devout and thankful, that the Church of God hath taken them to herself for daily use, and daily makes them her own; repeating them daily, even as she repeats daily the Psalms of holy David: and in them offering up to God her hymn of praise for the fulness of the gospel blessings.
"My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For He hath regarded the lowliness [the low estate] of His handmaiden.
For, behold, from henceforth all generations. shall call me blessed.
For He that is mighty hath magnified me [hath done to me great things;] and holy is His
And His mercy is on them that fear Him throughout all generations."
Surely herein were fulfilled the words of the prophet: "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." When the Son of God came down from heaven, and was made man, and tabernacled among us, she who was chosen by God to be His mother after the flesh, was meek and lowly, even as she was of eminent purity and holiness. Indeed meekness, lowliness, stillness, quietness, these are the graces which recur to our minds whenever we meditate upon the mother of our Lord. And thus she becomes a