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Olympas. To what town was Gabriel sent, James!
Susun. I have. See here is Nazareth, a town in Galilee, about 50 miles north of Jerusalem.
Olympus. And how many inhabitants are said to be in it at this day, Susan?
Susan. In the Appendix to the Family Testament it is said that there are some 2 or 3000 inhabitants, and the place is often visited by pilgrims, and is memorable for having been the residence of oui Saviour for some thirty years.
Olympas. Why did Gabriel visit Nazareth, Susan?
Susan. There was a virgin named Mary there, who was betrothed to one Joseph, a carpenter, and the angel went there to intimate to her that she should be the mother of our Lord and Saviour.
Olympas. State the names and offices which this wonderful child
was to assume.
William. His personal name was to be Jesus. He is also called othe Son of the Highest.” He was to inherit the throne of his father David, to reign over the house of Jacob forever, and to have an everlasting kingdom.
Olympas. You will observe, then, that "the throne of David” and "the house of Jacob" comprehend more than the literal throne of David and the fleshly offspring of Jacob: for these are no more the peculiar people of God. But I will reserve this for a future lesson. I only wish at this time to mark the fact that Jesus inherits the sceptre of David, and is to govern the house of Jacob forever. To whose personal influence is the creation of the body of Jesus assigned?
Thomas, The Holy Spirit, the Power of the Highest, or God himself.
Olympas. The body of Jesus is a creation of God, but the material is human flesh. God made but one human being out of the earthour father Adam. The Holy Spirit came upon him, and the power of the Highest overshadowed him. He fell into a deep sleep, and from a rib taken out of his side God created a woman. And now we have the third display of the same power on the body of Mary. The Holy Spirit descends, and by a similar omnipotence fashions out of the body of Mary the body of Jesus. Adam was made out of the dust, therefore he is called human; Even is made out of a rib, therefore she is called woman; and Jesus is made out of the flesh of Mary, therefore is ho called EMANUEL, God with us, the Son of God, and the Son of Man. Therefore, said the angel, shall he be called the Son of God. He never had this name before, unless prospectively. He was called by other names, and amongst which was the Wond. The Word became incarnate. Reuben, relate what ensued after this visit of Gabriel to the Virgin Mary.
Reuben. She burst forth into a rapturous eulogy on the mysterious and benignant promises of the Lord, especially his faithfulness in keeping his engagement with his people. Her words are, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; because he has not disdained the low condition of his handmaid; for, henceforth all posterity will pronounce me happy. For the Almighty, whose name is venerable, has done wonders for me.
His mercy on them who fear him, extends to generations of generations. He dis. plays the strength of his arm, and dispels the vain imaginations of the proud. He pulls down potentates from their thrones, and exalts the lowly. The needy he loads with benefits; but the rich he spoils of every thing. He supports Israel his servant, (as he promised to cur fathers,) ever inclined to mercy towards Abraham and his race.”
Eliza. I do not understand how the naines Gabriel and Michael denote offices.
Gabriel imporis God is my excellency, and Michael One who has all.
Olympas. The osice of Gabriel was, then, to represent the excel. lency and glory of God in the affairs of his providence. Hence he was employed to reveal to Daniel the scheme of Providence in reference to the glory of God in the great work of man's redemption. So it come to pass that he is always employed in affairs connected with providence and redemption; and with the former only in reference to the latter. Michael denotes God's President--one who has all entrusted 10 him as a steward or president of affairs. He was the president angel of the Abrahamic race. There is not, said Gabriel, any that counsels with me in these allairs, but Michael your prince. Gabriel calls him the chit for the head of the princes. He is also called the Archangel. Concerning the person called Michael we have something more to say at ano her time. But to the history:- What are the circumstances of the birth of the son of Zacharias?
Willium. On the eiglath day he was circumcised and named. His relations would have him called after his father, but his mother would have himn called John.
Thomas. There must have been something in this name, as it seems there was some controversy about it. I should like to understand what mystery was in it.
VOL VI. N. 9
Olympas. It simply means the favor, or the favor of God. This is not the first time the name is found: it is the first of the New Testament occurrences of the word. Observe how ancient the custom of giving names at circumcision.
Thomas. Is this the reason why names are given at baptism?
Olympas. It is the reason. Hence the personal name of an indivi. dual is commonly called his Christian name. Thus, you may rememher in the Catholic and Episcopalian Catechism, after the question, “What is your name?” comes “Who gave you that name?” This question is usually answered, "My godfather at my baptism." Baplism, then, like circumcision, was the time of naming persons. The personal name was solemnly imposed when the names of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were employed in the ritual of baptism. The cause of this I presume to be was the fact that the person with whom the covenant of circumcision was made had his name changed from Abram to Abraham; and as a new name was given to him at the time of circumcision, the Jews, and after them the Greek Christians, the Romanists, and some Protestants, reserved the imposition of a name on the child till the day of circumcision. Hence both John and Jesus received their names on the eighth day, at their circumcision. Why, Susan, did Zacharias ask for a writing table to write the name of his son?
Susan. Because he was dumb, not being able to speak since the angel Gabriel reproved him for his doubting his word.
Olympas. Was he also deaf as well as dumb, William?
Reuben. Because they made signs to him to know what he would have him called. Now if he could have heard them, why not have asked him?
Olympas. This is, indeed, a strong presumplive evidence that he was deaf as well as dumb. It is an example of a fact that occasionally happens--- viz. that inferential reasonings are sometimes as conclusive as express declarations. What remarks have you to make on the opening speech of Zacharias, Thomas?
Thomas. You call it the opening speech, because the first speech after a dumbness of nine months, and the commencement of a new era in the life of this distinguished priest. His thoughts and musings on this great event in his life, and its connexions with another child six months younger than his son John, seem, like waters long dammed op, to burst forth in a mighty torrent. His ecstacy is beautifully espressed in the text—"Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel, because
he has visited and redeemed his people; and (as anciently he promised by his holy Prophets) has raised a Prince for our deliverance in the house of David his servant; for our deliverance from our enemies, and from the hands of all who hate us; in kindness to our fathers, and remembrance of his holy appointment; the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, to grant to 13, that, being rescued out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve him boldly, in piety and uprightness, all the days of our life. And you, child, shall be called a Prophet of the Most High; for you shall go before the Lord, to prepare his way, by giving the knowledge of salvation to his people, in the remission of their sins, through the tender compassion of our God, who has caused a day-spring from on high to visit us, to enlighten those who abide in darkness and in the shades of death, to direct our feet in the way
of The lloly Spirit speaks through Zacharias as through any of thre Prophets. Hence the conclusion of his speech is prophetic of John and of Jesus. Is there not some peculiar views of salvation expressed in this speech of Zacharias, William?
William. “Salvation by the remission of sing" is the peculiar salvation to be preached by John and Jesus-not from the Roman yokenot from their political enemies. I am, indeed, at a loss to know whether the phrase "the day spring from on high” refers to John or to Jesus.
Olympas. John I understand to be a day-spring, not the day-spring from on high: 20 reads the original, as you sre in the new version. Jesus is not "a day-spring,” but the "Sun of Righteousness” himself. John was "a burning and a shining light” to the Gentiles and to Israel. He did, indeed, enlighten the world and prepare a people for the Lord. The salvation which he preached was from sin--from the guilt, power, and punishment of sin. Therefore his preaching had to do with confessing sin, repenting of sin, and the remission of sin-of which, in its proper place. But now we must attend to the time and circumstances of the birth of our Lord. Read, William the first fourteen verses of the next chapter, and then state to us the public fact that dates his nativity.
William. The decree of Cesar Augustus for the taxing, or, as you have taught us, the enrolment of the land of Judea, it seems occasioned our Lord's birth at Bethlehem. But for the decree, it would appear, he had not been born in that royal city.
Olympus. True: In what year was this decree, Thomas?
Thomas. I cannot so reconcile the various accounts of it I have read as to make it quite certain to my mind.
Olympas. Our Lord was born four years before the present Anno Domini--certainly in the fourth year before; and therefore his birth ought to be set down in the year of the world 4000. This would be the 26th year of the empire of Augustus, counting from the battle of Actium. The most accurate looking calculation I have met with of the precise date of the nativity of the Messiah, places it about the close of the fourth year before the present Anno Domini, which is the year of the world 4004. Cyrenius, or Quirinius, had been depuiy governor of Syria before the reign of Archelaus, as well as governor of that province after his reign. This fact reconciles all difficulties, and fixes our Lord's birth in the year of the world 4000, after the founding of Rome 749 years. That would make the world at present 5846 years old, and that brings the end of Daniel's days next year, or the year
of the world 5847. You will therefore in all your readings of Anno Domini remember that it commences four years after the birth of Jesus, of Nazareth. Of this, however, we may have occasion to speak more particularly hereafter.
JAMESTOWN, O., 16th February, 1812. Dear brother Campbell,
ONCE more on the subject of "Demonology," and I will cease for a while. I have your opinion expressed that Jannes, and Jambres, and Simon the sorcerer did work real miracles. Before I can fully accord with you, it will be necessary that I should have testimony that the Devil himself has power to work_miracles. If he possess the power, I am at a loss to know how the Jews could distinguish the sent of God from the sent of the Devil. "We know you are a teacher come from God, because no man can do the miracles which you do except God be with him.” Now if the Devil has power to arrest a law of nature, or to originate any thing save a lie, he has more power than I thought he had. If he can delegate miraculous powers to men, it would be difficult for men to decide who were of God, miracles being the test, which has been ihe true test in ages past. The powers of Satan are said to consist of signs and wonders of falsehood," or of "lying signs and wonders.” False signs and wonders cannot be real ones: they are mere deceptions. If it should be ascertained that the Devil himself cannot work a real mirarle, then it will follow of course that he cannot delegate a power which he does no possess. Therefore, Jannes, nor Jambres, nor Simon ever worked a real miracle, else they were not of the Devil, but of God; which cannot be admitted, because it would resist God himself in so far as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses.
You see my difficulty, and know how to remove it. Just prove that the Devil can work real miracles, and that will suffice. Affectionately yours,