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A50855 A sermon preached on the Feast of the Annunciation of the B. Virgin Mary, at St. Martins in the Fields, Westminster by John Mill ... Mill, John, 1645-1707. 1676 (1676) Wing M2059; ESTC R14945 14,174 34

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Recorded in Scripture to have been fill'd with the Holy Ghost And indeed every good Christian may be said to be Partaker of the Divine Nature 2 Pet. 1. 4. To have put on Christ Gal. 3. 17. Nay to have Christ formed in him Gal. 4. 19. in a Spiritual sense But the Blessed Virgin was the Person alone of all the World in whom the Almighty would not by the Gifts and Graces of his Spirit only but Essentially Locally Properly reside whose Womb was to be the real Receptacle and Temple of God and in whom was to dwell all the fulness of the Godhead bodily Behold says St. John what manner of love the Father hath bestow'd upon us that we should be called the Sons of God If so great be the love of God to us in making us his Sons what must That be whereby be made the Blessed Virgin besides the favour she enjoys in common with the best of Christians our Saviours Mother We are his Sons only in a Qualified and Spiritual Notion but she is in Truth and Reality the Mother of God This is her Title and this is her Memorial for all Generations So that now we shall adventure to take up again the Angels Salutation and say Hail Thou that art highly favoured the Lord is with Thee Blessed art Thou among Women Highly favoured And that not only upon account of our blessed Lords Incarnation the Reason hitherto insisted on but also II. Upon the score of those Excellent Graces and Vertues wherewith she was in a very eminent degree dignified and accomplish'd God might 't is true had it so pleas'd Him have made choice of any other even Unsanctified Virgin as well as the Virgin Mary wherein to transact the Mysterious Incarnation of his Son And I know very well there are a sort of ill-natur'd Fanatical Spirits who will not allow this Holy Woman any Extraordinary Grace nay indeed not any Civil Respect upon the account of this her Honourable Relation She was say they beloved meerly gratis without the least respect had to any peculiar Graces and Qualifications she could pretend to An Assertion so far true indeed that her Piety could not challenge either This or any other Divine Favour strictly and by way of Merit but if so extended as to exclude the Singular Eye or Respect God had to her Vertues and Graces in so grand an Affair as this was is an absurd and unworthy Doctrine For if according to the Wise mans Aphorism Into a Malicious Soul Wisdom shall not enter nor dwell in the Body that is subject unto Sin 't is infinitely gross to imagine that our Blessed Lord who is the Wisdom of the Father should inhabit the Body and cloath Himself with the Flesh and Blood of an Irreligious Woman Far be this from our Conceptions The Holy IESVS undoubtedly had a very tender and special regard not only to the low estate Vers. 48. but much more to the Piety of this Hand-maiden whom he design'd for his Mother Not that I would here be thought in the least wise to affirm the Blessed Mary perfectly free from all Actual Sin much less from Original Corruption I leave such Anti-Scriptural Doctrines to be Established by the Council of Trent and Preach'd up by the Franciscan Fryars We have no warrant for any Magnificent Strains of that kind concerning her Having on the contrary as good Assurance as Scripture can give us that all Men the Virgin Mary no where excepted are conceived and born in Sin All that I aim at is this that the Mother of our Blessed Saviour was an eminently Religious and Holy Woman And truly we need not go far for an Argument of this Truth St. Luke has in this very Chapter given us a sufficient account of her Graces The History of the Annunciation representing to us these several Particulars 1. Her Chastity She was a Virgin V. 29. one that knew not a Man V. 34. free from all carnal Uncleanness and Pollution Her Mind and Body entirely pure and Immaculate not in the least measure sullied and ruffled by Lust and consequently devoid of what might otherwise have alienated her from the Divine Love and render'd her Body an unfit Temple for the God of all Purity to inhabit 2. Her Humility and Modesty Vertues express'd in her behaviour towards the Angel V. 29. When she saw him says the Evangelist she was troubled at his saying and cast in her mind what manner of Salutation this should be She was troubled at his saying Poor Virgin● The Angels Complyment is in all Circumstances too big for her Modesty The Address in her Apprehension most infinitely unsuitable to a Woman of her low Rank and Condition in the World What! An Angel clad all in Robes of Glory come to visit a poor mean Daughter of Israel Can it be that Heaven should in Her of all the Women in the World find any thing that might incline God to respect and favour Her She blushes upon the Angels Address Sees and hears herself highly magnifi'd Thinks upon the Message deeply Considers it again and again But after all cannot apprehend any thing in herself which may in any wise correspond to the Angels Character Her Modesty will not allow her to understand the least part of the Import of the Angels Salutation How she of all others should be the great Favourite of Heaven advanc'd and honour'd above all her Sex a Person to be celebrated throughout all Ages she cannot imagine And as for her Humility 't was the same after her Exaltation as before In her Magnificat she expresses herself sensible of her low Condition and takes occasion to meditate upon and adore the Mercy of God who rejects the Proud but gives Grace and Honour to the Humble He hath scattered says she the Proud in the Imagination of their Hearts He hath put down the Mighty from their seat and hath exalted the Humble and Meek Vers. 51 52. Her Humility was one of the principal Graces which procur'd her this favour God delights in this Grace in a peculiar manner Loves those and only those that are Humble He loves and lives with them Thus saith the high and lofty One who 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 Isai. 57. 15. The next Grace observable in the Virgin Mary is her Faith express'd Vers. 38. Behold says she the Handmaid of the Lord Be it unto me according to thy Word She staggers not at the promise of God through unbelief to apply to her St. Pauls words concerning Abraham upon a much-like Argument but is strong in Faith giving Glory to God and being fully perswaded that what he had promised he was able also to perform The Consideration of Omnipotency removes all Doubts and Difficulties To be a Mother without knowing
a Man is a strong Objection against her Faith But that GOD can do in this case as well as any other what transcends our Imaginations is on the other hand as much out of question And if he say he Will do it the Divine Veracity which is as infallible as his Power is infinite is engag'd to a performance And so she 's undoubtedly assured that it must be so though she cannot tell how And thereupon she acquiesceth in what the Angel had told her without any further Hesitancy or Contradiction Behold says she freely resigning up herself to the Divine Pleasure Behold the Handmaid of the Lord be it unto me according to thy word But I shall not insist any longer upon the Variety of Gifts and Graces wherewith the blessed Virgin was Endow'd but shall only take notice of the profound Reverence and Honour which Antiquity paid Her in that Celebrated Opinion of theirs That after she had given the consent just now mentioned Be it unto me according to thy word She was by singular Priviledge kept secure from all Actual Sin during her whole Life An Opinion I confess entertainable without any prejudice to our Holy Faith and such as the Fathers who embrac'd it took up certainly out of the great and awful Regard they had to the Dignity and Person of our Saviour but such as has not the least Foundation in Scripture and therefore may reasonably be laid aside among many other ungrounded Ejaculations and over-officious Praises of a Saint too honourably and advantageously represented in the Gospel as to her Vertue and Piety to need the Accession of our groundless extravagant Commendations And if we cannot account the Zeal of some Ancient Fathers of the Church so discreet as well-meaning in this particular What shall we say of that Abominable Superstition which has induc'd the Church of Rome and her Doctors to sally out so far in the Praises of the Virgin Mary as to Romance her into a Deity to attribute to her Divine Perfections and to pay her that Religious Worship which belongs only to God She was says the Angel 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 〈◊〉 that is say they Gratia plena Full of Grace And a very Gracious Person she was undoubtedly so far we concur and here we must leave them For they go on and with a Confidence befitting the Worshippers of Saints and Angels mention'd by the Apostle Col. 2. 18. who should boldly intrude into those things which they had not seen They affirm that her Fulness of Grace was such that she was able to communicate it to any that wanted in the very same manner as our Saviour says that as the Father had Life in Himself so had he given to the Son to have Life in Himself Nay Suarez the Jesuite is wonderfully Nice and Critical in stating this Plenitude and giving us an exact Estimate of it The Grace of the Virgin Mary says he upon the the Popish Hypothesis of her Immaculate Conception was greater in the very first moment she was conceiv'd than the Grace of the highest Angel and consequently merited more than a thousand Men can merit all their Life long Now this Grace of hers receiv'd a continual Increase as long as she liv'd in such a manner that in the first instant of her Conception her Grace excell'd that of the highest Angel who by one or two Acts compleated his Merits In the second instant her Grace was doubl'd and so was twice as Excellent and Meritorious as the former In the third instant four times in the fourth eight times as much as the first and so on according to Geometrical Proportion So that the Grace of every instant doubling its foregoing Grace from the moment in which she was conceiv'd till the time of her Nativity and afterwards every Act of Grace being in like manner twice as excellent as its precedent Act till the Seventy Second Year of her Age wherein she died She was so far advanc'd in Goodness and Merit as to have more Grace and Merit than the whole Society of Men and Angels put together She is dearer to God than the whole Reasonable Creation He loves her more than the Vniversal Church What odd Metaphysical Notions are these And yet a World of such Insignificant and Non-sensical Trash we meet with in the School-men Who in their Discourses relating to the Holy Virgin thought they could never be Romantic enough in describing the Praises and advancing after their dull rugged fashion the Merits of a Saint whom the Church of Rome had in so singular a manner made the Object of a Religious Adoration But I shall wave at present any farther pursuit of these and the like Superstitious Fopperies whereby whilst they would be thought to magnifie the Mother of our Lord they do really expose Christ himself and his Gospel to scorn and contempt contenting my self with what has been said already concerning the high Honour done her in making her so miraculously Instrumental in our Lords Incarnation and bestowing upon her such eminent Gifts and Graces The Contemplation of this transcendent Dignity of the Virgin was I told you one Branch of this Days Religious Exercise 2. The second part of our Duty consists in the Celebration of her Memory or in expressing to her upon account of her eminent Vertue and Goodness all due Respect and Veneration The blessed Angel you see did this in his Address to her Hail Thou that art highly favour'd the Lord is with Thee Blessed art Thou among Women Blessed art Thou i. e. Let all Men Honour Thee as an ever blessed Saint Indeed who can seriously reflect upon her wonderful Relation to God who can truly love our Lord Iesus Christ and not entertain a most Profoundly Reverend Esteem of Her whose Womb bare Him and whose Paps He sucked If the Woman in the Gospel was to have a Perpetual Memorial for breaking her Box of Spikenard and pouring it upon our Saviours head Mark 14. 9. of what Honour shall She be thought worthy who was the very Mother of God How lasting and precious ought her Name to be among us by whom God brought forth Christ into the World and convey'd to Us the Benefits of our Redemption But how must we declare and manifest the great Esteem and Honour we have for the Blessed Virgin To this I answer 1. Negatively 2. Positively 1. Negatively We are not to express the great Esteem we have of Her by a Religious Worship or such a sort of Adoration as we pay unto God We are not to ascribe to her such Perfections as are proper to the Deity nor pray to or call upon her in any case or exigency whatsoever For it is written Thou shalt Worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve He is the God hearing Prayer and therefore to Him and Him alone shall all Flesh come St. Iohn indeed fell down at the feet of the Angel to worship him Rev. 19. 10. But receiv'd a Reprimend