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The Epiftle. Gal. 4. 1.

OW I fay, that the heir as long as he is a child, differ

Now

eth nothing from a fervant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors, until the time appointed of the father. Even fo we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world; But when the fulness of the time was come, God fent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, § that we might receive the adoption of fons. And because ye are fons, God hath fent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a fervant, but a fon; and if a fon, then an heir of God through Christ.

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The Gospel. St. Matth. 1. 18.

HE birth of Jefus Chrift was on this wife: When as his mother Mary was efpoufed to Jofeph, (before they came together) fhe was found with Child of the Holy Ghoft. ‡ Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her, is of the holy Ghoft. And the fhall bring forth a Son, and thou fhalt call his name Jefus; for he shall save his people from their fins. (Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, faying, Behold, a Virgin fhall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son,

§ That we might receive the Adoption, &c. Adoption is an act of favour, whereby the Mafter of an Estate takes Persons of another Family, and receives them as his own Children. Thus God by a marvellous act of kindness was pleafed to admit us Gentiles, who were Slaves to Sin, into the blessed freedom and fellowfhip of his Children, through the precious Death and Merits of his Son Jefus Chrift: who thereby purchafed for us a title to the glories of a bleffed Immortality; if

we forfeit not that title by our own difobedience.

Then Jofeph her Husband being a juft Man, Sc Jofeph might be faid to be a juft Man in this respect, not only as he was a religious obferver of the Law which commanded a divorcement in the cafe of Adultery; but likewife in his propofing to put Mary away privately, left if that fhould be true which the alledged, he should be a means, of bringing punishment upon an innocent Perfon.

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and they shall call his Name Emmanuel, which being interpreted, is, God with us.) Then Jofeph being raised from fleep, did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born Son; § and he called his Name JESUS.

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The circumcifion of Chrift.

The Collect.

Lmighty God, who madeft thy bleffed Son to be circumcised,

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and obedient to the law for man; Grant us the true circumcifion of the Spirit, that our hearts and all our members being mortified from all worldly and carnal lufts, we may in all things obey thy bleffed will, through the fame thy Son. Jefus Chrift our Lord. Amen.

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The Epiftle. Rom. 4. 8.

Leffed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute fin. Cometh this bleffedness then upon the circumcifion only, or upon the uncircumcifion alfo? For we say, that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcifion, or in uncircumcifion? not in circumcifion, but in uncircumcifion. And he received the fign of circumcifion, a feal of the righteoufnefs of the faith, which he had yet being uncircumcifed; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcifed; that righteousness

Paraphrafe on the Collect for the Circumcifion.

Most mighty God, who, for our fakes, didft caufe, thy Son to undergo the painful rite of Circumcifion; grant us to be fo fpiritually Circumcifed, that our in

And be called his Name Fefits, c. Jefus is the fame with Jofhuah in the Old Teftament, and fignifies a Saviour. And as that Jewish Leader conducted the Ifraelites into the earthly Canaan, fo, by the help and direction of the Captain of our Salvation, we are led through the Wilderness of this World to the Heavenly Canaan, the Regions of Blifs and Immortality.

A Circumcifion was an outward diftinguishing Badge of Judaifm, fo is Baptifm an outward vifible fign of our Christian profeffion. But as St. Paul affures us

ordinate defires and affections being fully fubdued, we may give up ourselves to thy fervice in all holy Obedience, through the fame Jefus Chrift.

that he only is properly to be called a Jew, who is one inwardly, and that the true Circumcifion is that of the Heart, in the Spirit and not in the Letter: fo Baptifm will then alone be effectual to Salvation when it is followed by a Death unto Sin, and a new Birth unto Righteoufnefs, for as the fame Apoftle obferves we are buried with Chrift by Baptifm into Death, that like as Chrift was raised up from the Dead by the glory of the Father, even fo we also should walk in newness of Life, Rom.

vi. 4.

might be imputed unto themalso. * And the father of circumcifion to them who are not of the circumcifion only, but also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcifed. For the promise that he fhould be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his feed, through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect.

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The Gospel. S. Luke 2. 15.

ND it came to pafs, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the fhepherds faid one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and fee this thing which is come to pafs, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, † and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had feen it, they made known abroad the faying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the fhepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the fhepherds returned, glorifying and praifing God for all the things that they had heard and feen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcifing of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. The fame Collect, Epiftle, and Gospel fhall ferve for every day after, unto the Epiphany.

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And the Father of Circumcifion, &c. As it was through Jefus Chrift. Faith, and not Circumcifion, that rendered Abraham But Mary kept all theje Things, &c. Who can fufacceptable to God; fo it is by Faith, without Circum-ficiently admire the modefty and humility of the blessed cifion, that we Gentiles are admitted to partake in the Bledngs of a Redeemer.

↑ And the Babe lying in a Manger. Behold of how little eftimation in God's fight is all human pomp and fplendor! fince his only Son, the King of Glory, was made to take up, at his Birth, with fuch lowly accommodations Let us hence learn that true greatness is only to be eftimated by real goodness and that Hu mility and Holinefs, in the loweit condition of Life, will effectually recommend us to the favour of God,

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Virgin on this occafion, inftead of being highly puffed up with the extraordinary dignity conferred upon her; instead of boafting to the Shepherds of the greatnefs of her Family and defcent She on the contrary heard their News with lowly a tention and meditated upon it with filent admiration.

And when right Days, &c. Jefus fubmitted to the rite of Circumcifion, that he might fulfil the Law, and fhew his approbation of it, till the bringing in of a better difpenfation.

The Epiphany, or the Manifeftation of Chrift to the Gentiles. The Collect.

God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only begotten Son to the Gentiles; Mercifully grant, that we, which know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead, through Jefus Chrift our Lord. Amen. The Epiftle. Ephef. 3. 1.

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OR this caufe, I Paul, the prifoner of Jefus Chrift for you Gentiles; if ye have heard of the difpenfation of the grace of God, which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby when ye read ye may underfstand my knowledge in the mystery of Chrift) which in other ages was not made known unto the fons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy Apoftles and Prophets by the Spirit. by the Spirit. That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the fame body, and partakers of his promise in Chrift, by the Gofpel: whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am lefs than the least of all faints, is this grace given, that I fhould preach among the Gentiles the unfearchable riches of Chrift; and to make all men fee what is the fellow fhip of the mystery, which

Paraphrafe on the Collect for the Epiphany.

O God, who by the direction of a Star, didit difcover thy Son Jefus Chrift to the Eaftern Philofophers, who were the first Fruits of the Gentiles; grant that we vho know thee now, tho imperfectly, through the glafs

The Epiphany is a Festival in which we have pa ticular reafon to Rejoice, For to ufe St. Paul's exprelfion, let us remember that we being in Time paft Gentiles in the Flesh, were then without Chrift, being Aliens from the Commonwealth of Ifr-el, and strangers from the Covenants of Promije having no Hope, and without God in the World: but now in Chrift Jefus, we who fometimes were far off, are made nigh by the Blood of Chrift. The Wife men were conducted to Chrift by the leading of a Star, how much rather should we come unto him who are under the guidance of the marvellous Light of his Gof. pel! and how greatly does it become us to let our Light

of thy Revelation, may after this Life enjoy the perfect Happiness of thy immediate prefence when we fhall fee thee as thou art and know thee as we are known, though Jefus Chrift.

jo fbine before Men, that they fecing our good Works may glorify our Father which is in Heaven.

That the Gentiles fhould be Fellow-Heirs, Sc. Obferve here that it is not faid that the Gentiles fhould be admitted merely to the fame privileges which the Jews allowed to their Profelytes: but that through their belief of the Gofpel they fhould be equally Heirs with them of the fame heavenly Inheritance, Members with them of the fame Body, of which Chrift is the Head, and partakers in all the benefits of Christian Revelation; without fubmitting to the ceremonies of the Law of Mfes. Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.

from the beginning of the World hath been. hid in God, who created all things by Jefus Chrift: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Chrift Jefus our Lord. + In whom we have boldnefs and accefs with confidence by the faith of him.

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The Gospel.
Gofpel. S. Matth. 2. 1.

HEN Jefus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came § wifemen from the east to Jerufalem, faying, where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have feen his ftar in the eaft, and are come to worfhip him. * When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerufalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priefts and fcribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Chrift fhould be born. And they faid unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule my people Ifrael. Then Herod, when he had privily called

In whom we have boldness, &c. How can we fufficiently exprefs our Thankfulness to God that he has been pleafed not only to deliver us from the darkness of Heathen Ignorance; but has permitted us to approach the Throne of Grace with humble confidence that our Prayers fhall be accepted through the Merits and interceffion of our Redeemer.

§ Wijemen. These Philofophers, in their own Country Language, were called Magi, and probably came from Arabia, which lies Eaft from Judea. And as the Arabians were the Defcendents of Abraham by Ifh mael they might have a traditional Knowledge of the promifed Melliah, preferved among them, as is evident from the Words of the Arabian Prophet Balaam, There Shall come a Star out of Jacob, &c. And as Aftronomy was a Science probably much cultivated amongst the Arabians, as well as the Chaldeans, fo their Philofophers were likely much fooner to difcover, and judge of the defign, of that new remarkable Star which God

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fent to conduct them to the birth-place of the Meffiah. And his being thus pleafed to make this Revelation to thefe, Gentile Sages feemed to gnify his intention of calling all Nations to the knowledge of the Gofper. A Mercy for which we also who were once without Light, can never be fufficiently thankful. L

When Herod the King heard, c. That Herod fhould be troubled on this occafion is not fo much to be wondered at, as he had no legal Title to the Crown of Judea, and had acted with great Tyranny in his Govern ment; and might therefore be apt to fear a Revolt of the Jews in favour of this long expected Meffiah. But the Jews, no doubt, felt very different fenfations upon this News; tho' they were probably much agitated with the joyful hopes of deliverance from the dominion of the Romans, and of the happiness they expected to enjoy under the Reign of the Melliah, for little did they imagine that his Kingdom was not of this World..

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