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begat Salathiel, and Salathiel begat Zorobabel. And Zerobabel begat Abiud, and Abiud begat Eliakim, and Eliakim begat Azor. And Azor begat Sadoc, and Sadoc begat Achim, and Achim begat Eliud. And Eliud begat Eleazar, and Eleazar begat Matthan, and Matthan begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David, are fourteen generations ; and from David, until the carrying away into Babylon, are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon, unto Christ, are fourteen generations.
LUKE III. 23-38.
(The Genealogy relating to Mary.)
Jesus being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge, which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was the son of Er, which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliezer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim, which was the son Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha,
which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David, which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson, which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Pharez, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor, which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala, which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech, which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.
When we survey any such series of generations, it is obvious to reflect how like the leaves of a tree, one passeth away and another cometh; yet the earth still abideth, and with it the goodness of the Lord, which runs on, from generation to generation, the common hope of parents and children.
Of those who formerly lived upon earth, and perhaps made the most conspicuous figure among the children of men, how many have there been whose names have perished with them! and how many of whom nothing but their names are remaining! Thus are we passing away, and thus shall we be shortly forgotten. Happy if, while we are forgotten of men, we are remembered by God, and our names are found written in the book of life! There they will make a much brighter appearance than in the records of fame, or than they would do even in such a catalogue of those who were related to Christ according to the flesh; whose memory is here preserved, when that of many, who were once the wonder and terror of the mighty in the land of the living, is lost in perpetual oblivion.
We observe, among these ancestors of Christ, some that were Heathens, and others that, on different accounts, were of infamous characters; and perhaps it might be the design of Providence that we should learn from it, or at least should, on reading it, take occasion to reflect that persons of all na
tions, and even the chief of sinners amongst them, are encouraged to trust in him as their Saviour. To him therefore let us look even from the ends of the earth, yea from the depths of guilt and distress, and the consequence will be happy beyond all expression or conception.
Adam, though originally the son of God, lost that inheritance of life and glory, which, in consequence of such a relation, he might reasonably have expected; but the second Adam repairs the loss which we had sustained by the transgression of the first. We are now predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, and raised by him to the hope of a fairer inheritance than the terrestrial Paradise. Let it be our daily labour to secure this invaluable blessing; that so, as we have borne the image of the earthly Adam, we may in due time bear the image of the heavenly, and at length attain to the perfect manifestation of the sons of God.
LUKE II. 22-39.
AND when the days of the purification of Mary according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought Jesus to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice, according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and the same was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and
his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
And there was one Anna a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity: and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
Who can behold the pious Simeon thus welcoming death, whilst he embraced his Saviour, without wishing to pass over the intermediate moments of life to meet so peaceful a dissolution? May we, like him, approve ourselves the faithful servants of God; and then we may hope that, when our dismission comes, we shall share in his serenity and joy!
We may comfortably expect it, if our eyes are now opened to behold with wonder and delight the great salvation he has prepared for his people; and if our hearts, with our lips, are frequently praising him for this light which he hath given to lighten the Gentiles as well as to be the glory of his people Israel.
As such may Christ be universally owned and adored, both by Jews and Gentiles! In the mean time, while he is set up as a mark of contradiction and contempt, let us not be ashamed of him or of his words; but rather let those indignities which are offered to him be as a sword to pierce through our own souls! Let us remember that the gospel, with all the difficulties which attended it, is the great touch-stone by which God will try the characters of all to whom it comes! May our ready acceptance of it, and our zealous adherence to that sacred cause, approve the humble sincerity with which we inquire into its evidence; that Christ may not be to us a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, but rather the means of
raising us to God and happiness, even to that redemption for which they that wait shall never be ashamed!
Our circumstances in life are various: there are comparatively few who have such leisure for extraordinary devotion as was the privilege of the pious Anna: where it is found, let it be valued and improved: but how great and how many soever our engagements and entanglements in life may be, let the care of our souls be still our chief concern. Let us be serving God in one sense or another, night and day; with prayers, pouring out our souls before him morning and evening; and at proper seasons adding fasting to prayer, and public solemnities to private retirement.
To conclude: let the example of these aged saints impress and animate those, whose hoary heads, like theirs, are a crown of glory, being found in the way of righteousness. (Prov. xvi. 31.) Let those venerable lips, so soon to be silent in the grave, be now employed in shewing forth the praises of their Redeemer. Surely days should speak, and the multitude of years should teach, such wisdom. (Job xxii. 7.) Such fruit may they produce in old age; and may they have the pleasure to see all these pious attempts most thankfully received by the rising generation, and most gratefully improved by them; that they may quit the world with the greater tranquility, in the view of leaving those behind them to whom Christ shall be as precious as he had been to them, and who will be waiting for God's salvation, while they are gone to enjoy it! Amen.
MATTHEW II. 1-12.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said 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 Israel.