Luke 1:46
Then Mary said: "My soul magnifies the Lord,
A Harp of Ten StringsCharles Haddon Spurgeon Luke 1:46
The Key-Note of a Choice SonnetCharles Haddon Spurgeon Luke 1:46
The MagnificatAlexander MaclarenLuke 1:46
Inspirations Amid the Hills of JudaeaR.M. Edgar Luke 1:39-56
The Voice of PraiseW. Clarkson Luke 1:46-48
A New SongDr. Parker.Luke 1:46-55
All the Perfections of God Glorified in the Gift of the SaviourC. S. Robinson, D. D.Luke 1:46-55
An Ignominious FallDr. Talmage.Luke 1:46-55
Christianity and WomenCanon Liddon.Luke 1:46-55
Copiousness of God's MercyH. W. Beecher.Luke 1:46-55
God's Continuing MercyC. H. S.Luke 1:46-55
Greatness of GodSermons by Dr. Hamilton.Luke 1:46-55
Happiness of Confiding in GodStudent's Handbook to Scripture Doctrines.Luke 1:46-55
Help OfferedLuke 1:46-55
Joy Under Unfavourable CircumstancesSamuel Martin.Luke 1:46-55
Joyous Workers Do Most for GodH. Bonar, D. D.Luke 1:46-55
Living in God a Source of JoyLuke 1:46-55
Magnifying the LordC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 1:46-55
Mary's CanticleW. Burkitt, M. A.Luke 1:46-55
Mary's PatriotismStopford A. Brooke, M. A.Luke 1:46-55
Mary's SongC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 1:46-55
Mary's UnselfishnessH. B. Stowe.Luke 1:46-55
My SaviourStems and Twigs.Luke 1:46-55
My Soul Doth Magnify the LordC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 1:46-55
Power of a True Christian WomanH. B. Stowe.Luke 1:46-55
Pride Before DestructionH. R. Burton.Luke 1:46-55
Pride the Master SinH. R. Burton.Luke 1:46-55
Rejoicing AlwaysLife of Billy Bray.Luke 1:46-55
Rejoicing in GodCanon Liddon.Luke 1:46-55
Religious JoyC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 1:46-55
Take Heed of Abusing the Mercy of GodT. Watson.Luke 1:46-55
The Beatitude of Mary, the Mother of the LordCanon Knox Little.Luke 1:46-55
The Christian's ExaltationT. Brooks.Luke 1:46-55
The Coming of Jesus IsVan Oosterzee., Luther.Luke 1:46-55
The Greatest Blessedness is to be a Follower of ChristJ. Stringer Rowe.Luke 1:46-55
The Hungry and the RichCanon Liddon.Luke 1:46-55
The MagnificatC. S. Robinson, D. D.Luke 1:46-55
The MagnificatDr. Dolittle.Luke 1:46-55
The MagnificatBishop Wm. Alexander.Luke 1:46-55
The Magnificat -- External CharacteristicsC. S. Robinson, D. D.Luke 1:46-55
The Magnificat -- Internal CharacteristicsC. S. Robinson, D. D.Luke 1:46-55
The Magnificat -- its Structure and ContentsF. Godet, D. D.Luke 1:46-55
The Magnificat, as it Exemplifies the Life of JoyCanon Body.Luke 1:46-55
The Prophecy of the MagnificatCanon Liddon.Luke 1:46-55
The Reverence Due to the Blessed VirginJ. H. Newman, D. D.Luke 1:46-55
The Song of MaryPreacher's MonthlyLuke 1:46-55
The Virgin Mary; Or, True BlessednessRowland Ellis, M. A.Luke 1:46-55
The Virgin Mary's JoyC. Bradley, M. A.Luke 1:46-55
The Virgin's CharacterStopford Brooke.Luke 1:46-55
The Visit of Mary to ElisabethG. D. Boardman.Luke 1:46-55
True PraiseVan Doren., Van Doren.Luke 1:46-55
True Womanly FameStopford A. Brooke, M. d.Luke 1:46-55

This "improvisation of a happy faith" is not more musical to the ear than it is beautiful to our spiritual discernment. It presents to us the mother of our Lord in a most pleasing light. We will look at these words of devout gratitude as -

I. MARY'S RESPONSE to God's distinguishing goodness to her. She received from God a kindness that was:

1. Necessarily unique. Only to one of the daughters of men could be granted the peculiar honor conferred on her. We are naturally and properly affected by mercies which speak of God's distinguishing goodness to us.

2. Fitted to fill her heart with abounding joy. She was to become a mother, and the mother of One who should render to his people services of surpassing value; no wonder that her "spirit rejoiced" in such a prospect.

3. Calculated to call forth all that was highest and worthiest in her nature. She would have to cherish and to rear, to teach and to train, that illustrious Son who should call her "mother."

4. Certain to confer, upon her, an honorable immortality. All generations would call her blessed.

5. Rendered to one who could not have expected it. God had stooped low to bless, even to the low estate of "his bondmaiden." And, impressed with this wonderful and unanticipated goodness, she poured forth her gladness in a song of holy gratitude, of lofty praise. Such should be -

II. OUR APPRECIATION of God's abounding kindness to ourselves.

1. The indebtedness under which our heavenly Father has laid us. It is, indeed, as different as possible from that which inspired this sacred lyric. Yet may we most reverently and most becomingly take the words of Mary into our lips - both the utterance of felt obligation and the language of praise. For:

(1) How low is the condition on which, in our case, God has mercifully looked! from what depth of error, of folly, of wrong, has he raised us! - a depth with which the lowly estate of Mary is not to be compared.

(2) With what a great salvation has he delivered us! - a salvation with which even the national deliverance Mary would be expecting of her Son is of very small account.

(3) And what a lasting good he confers upon us who have received God our Savior! The blessing of an immortality of undying fame is very precious to these thirsting human spirits of ours: but is it comparable with that of an actual immortality of conscious, eternal life with God and with the good in the heavenly kingdom? Distant generations will not hear our name, but in remotest times we shall be dwelling and serving in unimaginable joy.

2. The response we should make to our Father.

(1) Great gladness of heart. We should rejoice in God our Savior; welcoming him, trusting and resting in him, finding our refuge and our strength in his faithfulness and his love.

(2) Honouring him before all men. "Magnifying the Lord" with the utterance of the lip, with the obedience of the life, with active service in his vineyard. - C.

My soul doth magnify the Lord.
Mary was on a visit when she expressed her joy in the language of this noble song. It were well if all our social intercourse were as useful to our hearts as this visit was to Mary. "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." Mary, full of faith, goes to see Elisabeth, who is also full of holy confidence, and the two are not long together before their faith mounts to full assurance, and their full assurance bursts forth in a torrent of sacred praise. This praise aroused their slumbering powers, and instead of two ordinary village women, we see before us two prophetesses and poetesses, upon whom the Spirit of God abundantly rested. When we meet with our kinsfolk and acquaintance, let it be our prayer to God that our communion may be not only pleasant, but profitable; that we may not merely pass away time and spend a pleasant hour, but may advance a day's march nearer to heaven, and acquire greater fitness for our eternal rest.


1. Her subject is a Saviour. She hails the incarnate God.

2. Her peculiar delight was that this Saviour was to be born of her.

3. The choice poem before us is a hymn of faith. No Saviour was yet born: nor had the Virgin any evidence as yet, such as carnal sense requires, that He would be. But faith has its music as well as sense — music of a diviner sort. If the viands on the table make men sing and dance, feelings of a more refined and ethereal nature can fill believers with a hallowed plentitude of delight.

4. Her lowliness does not make her stay her song; nay, it imports a sweeter note into it. The less worthy I am of His favours, the more sweetly will I sing of His grace.

5. The greatness of the promised blessing did not give her an argument for suspending her thankful strain. Although she appreciated the greatness of the favour, she did but rejoice the more heartily on that account.

6. The holiness of God did not damp the ardour of her joy. On the contrary, she exults in it. She weaves even that bright attribute into her song.

7. Mark how her strain gathers majesty as it proceeds.

8. She does not finish her song till she has reached the covenant — the softest pillow for an aching head, the best prop for a trembling spirit.


1. She praises her God right heartily. Evidently her soul is on fire.

2. Her praise is very joyful.

3. She sings confidently.

4. She sings with great familiarity. It is the song of one who draws very near to her God in loving intimacy.

5. While her song was all this, yet how very humble it was, and how full of gratitude. She wants a Saviour; she feels it; her soul rejoices because there is a Saviour for her. She does not talk as though she should commend herself to Him, but she hopes to stand accepted in the Beloved. Let us take care that our familiarity has always blended with it the lowliest prostration of spirit, when we remember that He is God over all, blessed for ever, and we are nothing but dust and ashes. He fills all things, and we are less than nothing and vanity.

III. SHALL SHE SING ALONE? Yes, she must, if the only music we can bring is that of carnal delights and worldly pleasures. The joy of the table is too low for Mary; the joy of the feast and the family grovels when compared with hers. But shall she sing alone? Certainly not, if this day any of us, by simple trust in Jesus, can take Christ to be our own. If Christ be thine, there is no song on earth too high, too holy, for thee to sing; nay, there is no song which thrills from angelic lips, no note which thrills archangel's tongue, in which thou mayest not join.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The keynote of a choice sonnet. When your own heart is lifted up, then lift up the name of the Lord. Exalt Him when He exalts you. If you cannot magnify God, it is probably because you are magnifying yourself. May the Lord cut self down, and make nothing of you, and then you will make everything of Him. When you sink in your own estimation, God will rise in your esteem.

I. HERE IS AN OCCUPATION FOR ALL GRACIOUS PEOPLE. All who know the Lord, and have been born into His family, may "magnify " Him.

1. It is an occupation which may be followed by all sorts of people. None are too humble or lowly to do this.

2. This occupation can be followed in all places. The occupation sanctifies the place.

3. It can be fitly performed in solitude.

4. It requires no money.

5. It does not require great talent. The soul may sing, although the voice cannot.

6. It is the grandest occupation that mortals can engage in.

II. A REMEDY FOR SELF-CONGRATULATION. Mary had received a great promise. Nature would have bid her magnify herself; grace taught her to " magnify the Lord." Following the prompting of grace, she dealt a death-blow to the temptation to pride, and rendered praise where due.

III. A FRUITFUL UTTERANCE FOR HOLY FEELINGS. This was evidently the overflow of a full soul.

1. Wonder.

2. Expectation.

3. Awe.

4. Humility.

5. Calm thought. Mary's utterance is full, many-sided, and natural, and yet most spiritual. It breathes the purest and the holiest emotions.

IV. A REASON FOR HOPEFULNESS. It Would be well to be wrapped up in this spirit with regard to everything.

1. Our own providential condition.

2. Our glances into futurity.

3. The salvation of our fellow-men.

V. A GUIDE IN OUR THEOLOGY. This will keep us right.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

When Mary speaks here of her soul and her spirit, she means to describe exhaustively the whole inward immaterial being of man — its higher and its lower elements — the seat of reason and personality, as well as the seat of affection; that which we have in common with the lower animals, as well as that which distinguishes us from them as immortal beings. The whole inward being, she says, enters on this work of joyful praise — soul and spirit alike. And the reason is that the human soul is so constructed that contact, real contact, with God affords it the highest pleasure, of which such language as Mary's is the natural, the unexaggerated, expression. Without God, man, viewed on the highest side of his nature, is but a spent force — incomplete, inexplicable. With God, he attains the complement, the explanation, of his mysterious being. These words express —

I. THE SATISFACTION WHICH MAN'S REASON EXPERIENCES AT CONTACT WITH GOD. God satisfies some of the deepest yearnings of our intellectual nature, e.g. —

1. The desire to find some common principle and comprehensive law explaining seeming irregularities.

2. The desire to know the real causes of things.


1. The emotion of awe. God alone is great in Himself, distancing all possible competition.

2. The love of beauty.

3. Filial affection.

III. SATISFACTION TO THE CONSCIENCE. God supports and justifies conscience. He gives to conscience basis, firmness, consistency. He relieves its anxieties. He reconciles by a fuller revelation its questionings about Himself.

(Canon Liddon.)

1. Clear eye to estimate God's works.

2. A glad heart to rejoice in them.

3. A loosened tongue.

(Van Doren.)

I.Thankful joy.

II.Humble joy.

III.Hopeful joy.

IV.God-glorifying joy.

(Van Doren.)

Mary's praise is very joyful — "My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." The word in the Greek is a remarkable one. I believe it is the same word which is used in the passage, "Rejoice ye in that day and leap for joy." We used to have an old word in English which described a certain exulting dance, "a galliard." That word is supposed to have come from the Greek word here used. It was a sort of leaping dance; the old commentators call it a levalto. Mary, in effect, declares, "My spirit shall dance like David before the ark, shall leap, shall spring, shall bound, shall rejoice in God my Saviour." When we praise God, it ought not to be with dolorous and doleful notes. Some of my brethren praise God always on the minor key, or in the deep, deep bass; they cannot feel holy till they have the horrors. Why cannot some men worship God except with a long face? I know them by their very walk as they come to worship: what a dreary pace it is! How solemnly proper and funereal indeed! They do not understand David's Psalm —

"Up to her courts with joys unknown,

The sacred tribes repair."

No, they come up to their Father's house as if they were going to jail, and worship God on the Sunday as if it were the moat doleful day in the week. It is said of a certain Highlander, when the Highlanders were very pious, that he once went to Edinburgh, and when he came back again he said he had seen a dreadful sight on Sabbath, he had seen people at Edinburgh going to kirk with happy faces. He thought it wicked to look happy on Sunday; and that same notion exists in the minds of certain good people hereabouts; they fancy that, when the saints get together, they should sit down and have a little comfortable misery, and but little delight. In truth, moaning and pining is not the appointed way for worshipping God. We should take Mary as a pattern. All the year round I recommend her as an example to fainthearted and troubled ones. "My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." Cease from rejoicing in sensual things, and with sinful pleasures have no fellowship, for all such rejoicing is evil. But you cannot rejoice too much in the Lord. I believe that the fault with our public worship is that we are too sober, too cold, too formal.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

A majesty truly regal reigns throughout this canticle. Mary describes first her actual impressions (vers. 46-48a): then she rises to the Divine fact which is the cause of them (vers. 48b-50): she next comtemplates the development of the historical consequences contained in it (vers. 51-53); lastly, she celebrates the moral necessity of this fact as the accomplishment of God's ancient promises to His people (vers. 54, 55). The tone of the first strophe has a sweet and calm solemnity. It becomes more animated in the second, in which Mary contemplates the work of the Most High. It attains its full height and energy in the third, as Mary contemplates the immense revolution of which this work is the beginning and cause. Her song drops down and returns to its nest in the fourth, which is, as it were, the amen of the canticle. This hymn is closely allied to that of the mother of Samuel (1 Samuel 2), and contains several sentences taken from the Book of Psalms. Is it, as some have maintained, destitute of all originality on this account? By no means. There is a very marked difference between Hannah's song of triumph and Mary's. While Mary celebrates her happiness with deep humility and holy restraint, Hannah surrenders herself completely to the feeling of personal triumph, in her very first words breaking forth into cries of indignation against her enemies. As to the borrowed Biblical phrases, Mary gives to these consecrated words an entirely new meaning and a higher application. The prophets frequently deal in this way with the words of their predecessors. By this means these organs of the Spirit exhibit the continuity end progress of the Divine work. Every young Israelite knew by heart the songs of Hannah, Deborah, and David; they sang them as they went up to the feasts at Jerusalem; and the singing of psalms was the daily accompaniment of the morning and evening sacrifice, as well as one of the essential observances of the Passover meal.

(F. Godet, D. D.)

It is worth much just in itself as a Christian hymn.

1. Begin with the poetry of it. It strikes us with wonder in these modern days that a peasant woman of Galilee should be able to chant in so exalted a strain. But we know "a pure heart makes the best psalter." And she was speaking out of the abundance of hers. Yet never was such an occasion, never was such an angelic preparation; never — surely never before — was such a theme! Israel's Messiah was on His way, God was about to manifest Himself on earth in the flesh!

2. Observe also the Israelitish aspect of the song. It would be easy to parallel almost every expression in Mary's poetry by an utterance very similar in the anthems of the temple service. The mechanical structure is not very difficult, for the Hebrew and Syrian languages are easily wrought into rhymeless verses. There is extant now a Gospel in Hebrew; those who can read it are interested in noting the idioms followed here in the Magnificat, The mind of this woman was filled with the old prophets' imagery. Her whole thoughts were tinged with what she had studied and committed to memory. So this song has been exquisitely compared to what might have been expected from "some ideal Puritan maiden," whose mind was so imbued and saturated with the Scriptural forms of expression, that it would fall unconsciously into inspired phrases when she spoke.

3. Then observe the femininity of this song. No one but the queen of her sex could possibly have composed it. Mark the delicacy of turn in the sentences, the mingling of dignity with humility; the majesty, as sublime as Ezekiel's, and the tenderness, more gentle than John's. For this shows the mind and heart of just the one woman whom Elisabeth could call the "Mother of her Lord."

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

1. Mary's instant devotion. She does not pause to return Elisabeth's greeting; she dues net wait to pass back the congratulation; she seems to think only of God above.

2. Her evangelic faith. She felt the need of a Saviour, just as much as any one else. A great word this, Saviour. Here first it appears in the New Testament; the word which the heathen orator said afterward he found on a tomb that he passed on one of his journeys, "Salvator, a new word, but very beautiful as it appears to me."

3. Her personal humility. How sweetly she says, "He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden." What was this Galilean damsel, poor and lonely now, that she should have been singled out for so exalted a lot? There is in her whole demeanour, during this pathetic part of her history, an unusual poise and serenity. She was not even frightened or abashed by the angel; she meekly received his announcement, neither overcome nor unduly elated in her prospects. As she acquiesced then, she sings now.

4. Her lofty ambition. Her heart rises to its supreme elevation. "From henceforth," &c. She is glad with her whole heart that the chance is going to be given her to become a blessing. She is peerlessly ambitious, not to De rich, prospered, honoured, famous, but — to do good.

5. Her voluminous praise. Mary makes each Divine attribute in succession record God's glory in a new light. Holiness, grace, power, justice, beneficence.

6. Her magnificent patriotism. She passes almost unconsciously from God's attributes to God's people. The finest thing in the Magnificat is this adoring ascription of praise to God for what He had done for her country and her race. "He hath holpen," &c.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Mary's song of praise is —

1. The climax of all the hymns of the old covenant.

2. The beginning of all the hymns of the new. (Van Oosterzee.) This hymn exhibits deep conviction of the reception of the highest favours combined with personal humility.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

1. Grace.

2. Power.

3. Holiness.

4. Mercy.

5. Justice.

6. Faithfulness.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

This is the first canticle, or song of praise, recorded in the New Testament, composed by the Blessed Virgin with unspeakable joy, for designing her to be the instrument of the conception and birth of the Saviour of the world. Observe —

1. The manner of her praise. Her soul and spirit bear their part in the work of thanksgiving. As the sweetest music is made in the belly of the instrument, so the most delightful praise arises from the bottom of the heart.

2. The object of her praise. She does not magnify herself, but the Lord; yea, she does not rejoice so much in her Son as in her Saviour.(1) Thus she implicitly owns and confesses herself a sinner; for none need a Saviour but sinners.(2) By rejoicing in Christ as her Saviour, she declares how she values herself, rather by her spiritual relation to Christ as His member, than by her natural relation to Him as His mother.

3. Observe how she admires and magnifies God's peculiar favour towards herself, in casting an eye upon her poverty and lowly condition; that she, a poor, obscure maid, unknown to the world, should be looked upon with an eye of regard by Him who dwells in the highest heavens. As God magnified her, she magnifies Him.

4. She thankfully takes notice that it was not only a high honour, but a lasting honour, which was conferred upon her, "All generations," &c. She beholds an infinite, lasting honour prepared for her, as being the mother of a universal and everlasting Blessing, which all former ages had desired, and all succeeding ages should rejoice in, and proclaim her happy for being the instrument of.

5. Observe how she passes from the consideration of her personal privileges to the universal goodness of God. She declares the general providence of God towards all persons; His mercy to the pious, His justice on the proud, His bounty to the poor. Learn, hence, the excellency and advantageous usefulness of the grace of humility; how good it is to be meek and lowly in heart. This will render us lovely in God's eye; and though the world trample upon us, He will exalt us to the wonder of ourselves and the envy of our despisers.

6. Observe how she magnifies the spiritual grace of God in our redemption — "He hath holpen His servant Israel," i.e., blessed them with a Saviour, who lived in the faith, hope, and expectation of the promised Messiah; and this blessing she declares was —

(1)The result of great mercy;

(2)the effect of His truth and faithfulness in His promises.

(W. Burkitt, M. A.)

In glancing at the Magnificat, observe, first, that it is marked by that peculiar characteristic of Hebrew poetry known as parallelism. Our rhythm is the rhythm of metre, our rhyme is the rhyme of sound. The Hebrew rhythm was the rhythm of clause or statement, the Hebrew rhyme was the rhyme of thought and sentiment; or, as Ewald beautifully expresses it, "The rapid stroke as of alternate wings," "The heaving and sinking as of the troubled heart." Hebrew poetry is as much nobler than the classic as rhyme of thought is nobler than rhyme of sound. When will our colleges teach Job, and David, and Isaiah, and Habakkuk, as well as Homer, and Virgil, and Dante, and Shakespeare? Again, observe the intensely Jewish character of the Magnificat, alike in its phraseology and in its reminiscences. Once more, observe how, in the holy strains of the Magnificat, the Old Testament glides into the New. Mary's cadences are the interlude between law and gospel — at once the finale to the old covenant and the overture to the new — and so linking Sinai and Calvary, temple and church, Moses and Jesus. Very beautiful is the picture, this mutual greeting of aged Elisabeth and youthful Mary; it is the emblem of the mutual greeting of type and antitype, of law and grace. Such is the story of the visitation. All deep feeling is essentially poetical. And as there is a profound relation between devotion and poetry, so there is a profound relation between devotion and music. Accordingly, music is an essential, vital part of public worship. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing, one another with psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God" (Colossians 3:16). But devotion is even more than a song, it is a life. And here even the deaf and dumb may sing, singing and making melody in their hearts to the Lord. Oh, how many spiritual Beethovens there are!

There are in this loud, stunning tide

Of human care and crime,

With whom the melodies abide

Of the everlasting chime;

Who carry music in their heart

Through dusky lane and wrangling mart, Plying their daily task with busier feet, Because their secret souls a holy strain repeat. What God is like our God, who giveth songs in the night, turning the raven's croak into the nightingale's warble! God be praised! there is such a thing as rhythm of life, an inward life-psalm, and so an outward — heaven the phone, earth the anti-phone. Our heavenly Father, Thy will be done, as in heaven so on earth! The real liturgy, after all, is the service of daily character.

(G. D. Boardman.)

Bible contains accounts of three remarkable women whose lips broke forth into a song of pious exultation and profound gratitude. Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1), and Mary, mindful of the honours and benedictions with which she is about to be crowned as the mother of the Messiah. It is a threefold expression of mercy.




(Dr. Dolittle.)

Preacher's Monthly.

1. That all generations would call her blessed.

2. That her Son would be a blessing to Israel.


1. That God did not regard the conventional distinctions among men (ver. 48).

2. The greatness of the blessing (ver. 49).

3. That God had cast dishonour on pride and vanity, and had honoured humility (vers. 50-52).

4. That God gives favours through His mercy (ver. 54), not through His justice, &e. Helplessness is the strongest argument to secure Divine help.

5. Because of the blessing which was to come to Israel through God's remembrance of His promises (ver. 54-55). Her heart had yearned that Zion and her nation might be blessed."

(Preacher's Monthly.)

This song is in its substance the fit utterance of all hearts in whom Christ is born the hope of glory. It must never be forgotten that whenever Christ has entered into the human heart, a new song has been put into the mouth of the believer. Christianity in the heart means music in the life. A religion without joy is a landscape without the sun. Christianity without elevation is as an eagle with broken wings. Christianity has given to the world more poems, hymns, anthems, and manifold utterances of triumph and joy than any other influence which has touched the nature of mankind. Truly it has made the dumb man eloquent and turned silence itself into singing; and as for those of low degree and no account, it has in innumerable instances brought them to the front and invested them with supreme attraction and commanding influence.

(Dr. Parker.)

1. We have here a type of that character in which Christ is for ever being born. To the pure, the humble, and the unselfish, the Blessedness of blessedness was given. When the angel appeared to her she was troubled at the tidings and the praise. It was the trouble of a beautiful unconsciousness. A rare excellence in man or woman this fair unconsciousness I rarer than ever now. The unconscious life of Mary — what a charm those who possessed it might exercise upon the world!

2. Look next at the Virgin's quiet acceptance of greatness.

3. Her idea of fame.

4. This large conception of womanly duty this which is the patriotism of the woman, was not absent from the Virgin's character. She rejoiced in being the means of her country's blessing (vers. 54-55). She forgot her own honour in God, she forgot herself in her country. And this is that which we want in England-women who will understand and feel what love of country means and act upon it. This is the woman's patriotism, and the first note of its mighty music — a music which might take into itself and harmonize the discord of English society — was struck more than 1800 years ago in the song of the Virgin Mary.

(Stopford Brooke.)





(Stems and Twigs.)

These words contain at once —

(a)A prophecy;

(b)a command, because spoken in the fulness of inspiration;

(c)a revelation. Why should all generations call her blessed?

I. THE FIRST BROAD AND GENERAL ANSWER IS THIS: She occupies in one — and that a subject of the highest importance — a unique position as the example.

1. There was a strong and vivid faith.

2. Humility.

3. The entire simplicity of self-surrender.

II. The fulfilment of this beatitude is to be found, above all, in THE DIGNITY OF HER OFFICE. Mary was called in the beginning of redemptive love to co-operate, by the grace that was given to her, in the effecting of the mystery of the Incarnation, which is the foundation-truth of Christianity.

III. She was THE MOTHER OF THE SON OF GOD. That strikes the keynote of the beatitude. Beautiful picture always — the mother and her child; and the great prototype is that heavenly vision — nay, that historical reality — Jesus and Mary. Nearness and devotion to Jesus were her beatitude, and may be ours.

(Canon Knox Little.)

You know the circumstances under which it was uttered. Recall them briefly to mind. In the cottage of the Annunciation the call of God had come to her; she had responded to it; she had given herself by a magnificent act of abandonment into the manipulation of the Divine Hand: " Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word." And even as she spoke — for there is no delay with God — the mystery of mysteries was wrought out, and the Incarnate had taken up His dwelling within her very person, and she was the shrine, the ark, of the Eternal Son of God. It cannot have been that she could have undergone such a crisis as this without its having an effect upon her inner being. Could Christ have been in her without illuminating her intellect, without communicating fervour to her heart, without acting mightily on her will? Who should be the first to taste the reality of the Incarnation? Who but the earthly instrument through whom it is wrought out. Who should first sing the hymn that tells of the thrilling experiences of those who know the touch of the Incarnate? Who but the dear mother in whom He abode. But for the moment her lip is sealed; she cannot speak as yet. There is within her a thought too big for utterance, and she cannot speak of it until she has received some confirmation from without. She has got a secret; with whom shall she share it? With whom but her cousin Elisabeth. She rises and goes from Nazareth into the hill-country with haste, into a city of Judah where Elisabeth is dwelling with her husband Zacharias, and as she enters the house she salutes Elisabeth, and hereupon Elisabeth utters her beatitude, "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?" Thus the mystery that has been wrought out in her has been by God revealed to another; it is no longer a secret that she must keep to herself; she may share it with another; she may know the joy and sympathy of communicating it to another. As thus the message of Gabriel is confirmed, Mary said, " My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." Cannot you follow, step by step, the whole of this wondrous experience that led up to the utterance of this hymn of hymns? And yet how was it that Mary was thus enabled to utter this wondrous hymn? It is an unique hymn. Amidst all the poetic compositions which are the treasure of the world to-day, is there one hymn which in its chaste and wondrous beauty surpasses the Magnificat? Why, its loveliness has attracted generation after generation, and its beauty is as intensely felt to-day as in any previous age of the Church. And who was it who composed it? A poor, simple, peasant maid, probably some sixteen years of age, untrained in all the culture which generally precedes the composition of a hymn so exquisitely perfect and so beautiful as this. Whence was this poor, simple maiden of Galilee enabled to give utterance to a hymn which through eighteen centuries of Christendom has expressed fully, and more than expressed, all the adoring worship of mighty spirits in their vision of the Incarnate God? Mary was taught this undoubtedly by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Yes; but how? By the action of the Spirit upon her whole being, upon her whole nature, her soul, her Psyche, and then upon her spirit, her Pneuma — the emotional and moral part of her nature; and then upon her very lips. Her lips were touched with a live coal from God's altar, and in perfect language they gave expression to the perfect music of her sanctified inner nature as it thrilled under the touch of the Holy Ghost, " My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." What illumination there is in it, how deep she saw into the mystery of the Incarnation, how, above all, was she enabled to look forward and prophetically to foretell its magnificent results! What fervour there is in it, chastened, I know, but how intense! And whence came this rapt fervour that finds expression in this hymn? Surely she who is revealed to us in it cannot be a maiden in her early youth! What a strength there is in it! Whence comes it all but through the action of the Spirit, giving fervour, giving love. Yes; it was the Spirit of God that drew forth from Mary's nature all the wondrous music that finds expression in her unequalled hymn. And again, what is it that fills Mary with this joy that inspires her with this hymn? What inflames, what energizes her whole being? It is the vision of Jesus Christ. She looks within — not around, not above, but she looks within, and the eyes of her understanding, enlightened by the Spirit of God, fall upon the wondrous vision of the Babe indwelling. She is indeed Christopheros — the Christ-bearer. O mystery of mysteries, within her tabernacles the very Eternal Son of God Himself, and every step she treads from Nazareth she bears within herself the burden of her Incarnate God! And as she looks on the Presence of Jesus Christ dwelling within her, her whole being thrills with a joy hitherto untasted by the sons and daughters of men. For her joy is not primarily joy in God as He is in Himself, but it is primarily joy in God Incarnate. Why? There is in Mary, first of all, as she gazes on Jesus, joy in the revelation of the love of God. She knew what God had wrought for man; she knew that God had taken in her very person, lowly as she was, human nature into union with the personality of the Divine Son, and she knew why. Now, if you look at the Magnificat, you will see what were the three elements in her joy in her vision of Christ.

1. She rejoiced in the revelation of God's saving love.

2. She rejoiced in Christ as revealing God's ennobling love. "I am high and lifted up, I have been magnified; but my magnificence is an act of God's grace, it is the result of God's condescension. God has come to me not simply to set me free from the trammels of sin by His saving love, but, having set me free from sin by His gift of salvation, He has embraced me, He has brought me near to Himself in close and mystic union." And Mary's second joy in the vision of her Child was the joyful recognition of her elevation.

3. But more than that, there was in her vision of Jesus a third joy, the joy of union with God, and that a twofold union. First the joy of the union of contemplation. As Mary looked upon Jesus she saw mirrored in Him the beauty of God. There she sees the vision of His might — God is powerful. There is then the vision of His holiness — God's power is blended with righteousness. There is then the vision of His mercy — it is tempered by His compassion. There is then the revelation of His wisdom underlying His mysterious elections. There is the revelation of His justice, showing that He deals with men according to their moral position. Above all, there is the revelation of His faithfulness, for ever true to His blessed word. And as Mary gazed upon her Son she saw God — God in all the beauty of His perfection, and, as she saw God in Christ, God took possession of her whole being, and she rejoiced in the union of contemplation. But more than that, she rejoiced in her co-operation with Him. As she gazed upon Jesus, she knew that she had responded to God's call; and, therefore, her life was a life of joy; in the knowledge of her union with her God as His chosen instrument in His great work. And so we learn this great truth, that the life of Mary was a life of joy. Before we con-elude, we may pass on to one other thought in connection with her life of joy — it was not a selfish joy. It is remarkable how, in the Magnificat, Mary begins with her personal experiences, but soon passes on from that to identify herself with the human race. Mary looks ahead and sees what the effect of the birth of her Son is to be on the world, how it is to ameliorate the whole condition of human life, how the oppressed are to be set free from their oppression, the hungry to be fed, the helpless to be assisted. And as she looks forward and sees the effect of the Incarnation on the race, Mary rejoices with the joy of a perfect charity, with the joy of the second Eve of our race, with each member of which she was so specially identified, because she was the mother of Him who is indeed the Son of Man. And so it ever is. Christian life is truly a life of joy. What strikes the keynote of life in the Church? Is it not the Holy Eucharist? What does the term mean? Joy, thanksgiving. It is not penance that strikes the keynote of Christian life. True, as we shall see next week, there is an under-current of the note of penance for ever blending with the thanksgiving of the Church on earth; there is a sorrow that tempers and beautifies its joy; but for all that, it is not at the tribunal of penance that the keynote of Christian life is struck. It is struck at the altar morn by morn, and it rings out there clear and distinct in the Holy Eucharist. We are baptized into Christ that we may live our lives beneath the shadow of the altar; we are baptized into Christ that we may live lives that are true to the Eucharistic note that there is struck; we are baptized into Christ in order that the experience of Mary may be our abiding experience, and the song, Magnificat, be our continuous song. Is it not so? What did Mary rejoice in as she sang Magnificat? In the indwelling of Jesus Christ. And in strange real mystery the blessing of Mary becomes the blessing of her children. Did not our Lord once say — " Whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and mother." What do you understand these words to mean? Are they not words which cannot be fully understood outside the limits of His Church and divorced from the mystery of the Eucharist? But in His Eucharist their meaning is clear and distinct. For what was the privilege of the Incarnation? That Mary was the Christ-bearer. What is the joy of the Eucharist? That we each become a Christ-bearer. "He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood dwelleth in Me and I in him. So, then, as we go forth on our way into the world from the altar of God we bear about within us Christ. "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."

(Canon Body.)


1. In her the curse pronounced on Eve was changed into a blessing. Eve was doomed to bear children in sorrow, but now this very dispensation was made the means of bringing salvation into the world. All our corruption can be blessed and changed by Christ. The very punishment of the fall, the very taint of birth-sin, admits of a cure by His advent.

2. When Christ came as the seed of the woman, He vindicated the rights and honour of His mother. From that time, marriage has not only been restored to its original dignity, but even gifted with a spiritual privilege, as the outward symbol of the heavenly union subsisting betwixt Christ and His Church.

3. Mary is doubtless to be accounted blessed and favoured in herself, as well as in the benefits she has done us. Who can estimate the holiness and perfection of her who was chosen to be the mother of Christ? If to him that hath, more is given, and holiness and Divine favour go together (and this we are expressly told), what must have been the transcendant purity of her, whom the Creator Spirit condescended to overshadow with His miraculous presence? What, think you, was the sanctified state of that human nature, of which God formed His sinless Son — knowing, as we do, that "what is born of the flesh, is flesh," and that " none can bring a clean thing out of an unclean"?


1. Scripture was written, not to exalt this or that particular saint, but to give glory to Almighty God. Had Mary been more fully disclosed to us in the heavenly beauty and sweetness of the spirit within her, she would have been honoured, her gifts would have been clearly seen; but the Divine Giver would have been somewhat less contemplated, because no design or work of His would have been disclosed in her history. He would have been seemingly introduced for her own sake, not for His, and we should have been in danger of resting in the thought of her, the creature, more than God the Creator. Thus it is a dangerous thing, it is too high a privilege, for sinners like ourselves, to know the best and innermost thoughts of God's servants. It is in mercy to us that so little is revealed about the blessed virgin, in mercy to our weakness, though of her there are " many things to say," yet they are "hard to be uttered, seeing we are dull of hearing."

2. The more we consider who Mary was, the more dangerous will such knowledge of her appear to be. Other saints are but influenced or inspired by Christ, and made partakers of Him mystically. But, as to Mary, Christ derived His manhood from her, and so had an especial unity of nature with her; and this wondrous relationship between God and man, it is perhaps impossible for us to dwell upon without some perversion of feeling. For, truly, she is raised above the condition of sinful beings, though by nature a sinner; she is brought near to God, yet is but a creature; and seems to lack her fitting place in our limited understandings, neither too high nor too low. We cannot combine in our thought of her all we should ascribe with all we should withhold. Hence, we had better only think of her with and for her Son, never separating her from Him, but using her name as a memorial of His great condescension in stooping from heaven, and not abhoring the virgin's womb. Nothing is so calculated to impress on our minds that Christ is really partaker of our nature, and in all respects man, as to associate Him with the thought of her, by whose ministration He became our brother.

(J. H. Newman, D. D.)

A true woman's thought I For so far as a woman is sincere to the nature God has given her, her aspiration is not so much that the world should ring with her fame, or society quote her as a leader of fashion, but that she should bless, and be blessed in blessing. It is not that she should not wish for power, but that she should wish for a noble, not an ignoble power. It is not that she should not wish to queen it in this world, but that she should wish to queen it, not by ostentation of dress or life, nor by eclipsing others, but by manifestation of love, by nobility of gentle service, by unconscious revelation in her life and conscious maintenance in others by her influence, of all things true and pure, of stainless honour in life, of chivalrous aspiration in the soul. At home or in the wider sphere of social action her truest fame is this, that the world should call her blessed. The music of that thought sounds through every line of the virgin's psalm. And there is no sadder or uglier sight in this world than to see the women of a land grasping at the ignoble honour, and rejecting the noble; leading the men, whom they should guide into high thought and active sacrifice, into petty slander of gossip in conversation, and into discussion of dangerous and unhealthy feeling; becoming, in this degradation of their directing power, the curse and not the blessing of social intercourse — becoming what men in frivolous moments wish them to be, instead of making men what men should be; abdicating their true throne over the heart to grasp at the kingdom over fashion; ceasing to protest against impurity and unbelief, and giving them an underhand encouragement; turning away from their mission to bless, to exalt, and to console, that they may struggle through a thousand meannesses into a higher position, and waste their Divine energy to win precedence over their rival; expending all the force which their more excitable nature gives them, in false and sometimes base excitements day after day, with an awful blindness and a pitiable degradation; exhausting life in amusements which fritter away, or in amusements which debase, their character; possessing great wealth, and expending it only on self, and show, and shadows; content to be lapped in the folds of a silken and easy life, and not thinking, or thinking only to the amount of half a dozen charitable subscriptions — a drop in the waters of their expenditure — not thinking that without "their closed sanctuary of luxurious peace," thousands of their sisters are weeping in the night for hunger and for misery of heart, and men and children are being trampled down into the bloody dust of this city, the cry of whose agony and neglected lives goes up in wrath to the ears of God. This is not our work, you say, this is the work of men. Be it so if you like. Let them be the hands to do it; but who, if not women, are to be the hearts of the redemption of the poor from social wrong? As long as the women of England refuse to guide and to inspire, as long as they forget their nature, and think of pleasure instead of blessing, as long as they shut their ears to the agony of the cities of this land, that they may not be disturbed in their luxury, and literature, and arts, so long men will, as they have ever done, take the impulse of their lives from them and do nothing chivalrous, nothing really self-sacrificing, nothing very noble and persistent for the blessing of the world. The regeneration of society is in the power of the woman, and she turns away from it. All future English generations might call her blessed, and she prefers that they should call her fashionable!

(Stopford A. Brooke, M. d.)

The Virgin Mary is the woman of all others whom truly to contemplate is to revere. She stands alone among the women of the earth. She occupies a position that is unique in the history of the world — the most illustrious of all her sex, "whom all generations shall call blessed.


1. The error of the Roman Church — "Mariolatry," i.e., the exaltation of Mary to a position that no created being can occupy, a position scarcely inferior to that of Christ Himself, the appealing to her to bring her influence to bear on her Son, as though He needed thus influencing, as though any one could be more tender, more compassionate, more truly sympathetic than that all-merciful High Priest, who is " touched with the feeling of our infirmities," having been "tempted in all things as we are," "bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh."

2. On the other hand, there is the opposite error, which is doubtless a reaction, a recoil from this undue exaltation of the Blessed Virgin — I mean the error of the puritanical school of thought, which, by a kind of rebound, throws itself into the opposite extreme, and, almost dreading the very mention of her name, seems to deny to her the respect which is surely due to her, and which is claimed for her in Holy Scripture.

II. CONSIDER WHAT THOSE SPECIAL VIRTUES WERE THAT SHONE FORTH IN THE VIRGIN MARY, those graces and characteristics that give such beauty to our conception of her saintliness.

1. Humility. The burden of the Magnificat is the greatness of God and her own littleness, the marvellous condescension of "the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity," in stooping so low to visit one so poor and so humble as she was. Humility, what a beautiful virtue it is! and yet how difficult to acquire! How easy it is to mistake it. There are so many spurious imitations of it; there is so much dissimulation in the world that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between a mock humility and the genuine virtue. It is so necessary that the motive be the right one. True humility consists not merely in appearing lowly to others, it is the being lowly, lowly in one's own estimation, lowly in heart. It is to recognize what God is, and what we are. It is the only garb that befits weak and erring mortals such as we are.

2. Simplicity of character. How much this grace is needed among us — in words, in dress, in demeanour.

3. Faith. "Blessed is she that believed." Faith, what is it? It is to take God at His word, it is to rest the soul on Him, to trust Him, to surrender the whole being, body, soul, and spirit, to His keeping. A person strong in faith is one who can rise above the poor paltry objects of this earth, and "endure as seeing Him who is invisible." Conclusion: If we would do the will of God, if we would be blessed as Mary, there must be in us the qualifications that Mary possessed — humility, simplicity, faith. Humility, that God may dwell in us; simplicity, that we may be true children of God; faith, that God's voice may be heard and obeyed. Oh, how beautiful must such a life as this be! the life of God in the soul — "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."

(Rowland Ellis, M. A.)

Every burst of true religious life is accompanied by its burst of religious poetry. This is marked in our own most popular hymn-books by the names of Luther, Wesley and Whitfield, Keble and Newman. St. Luke's Gospel shows us that it was so just before our Lord's appearance. All through that Gospel, indeed, an attentive ear can catch choral vibrations. Its close is anthem-like. But more especially is this the case with its opening chapter. The air is full of song. The whole field is in flower.

I. LET US LOOK AT THE HISTORICAL FRAMEWORK IN WHICH THE MAGNIFICAT IS SET. Mary was misconstrued by the world. She was called upon to bear the cross which is heaviest for the purest souls — a cross of shame. In Nazareth she could not remain. She turned to the spot towards which she seemed to be invited by an angel's lips, and pointed by an angel's finger. A light twinkled for her among the hills. If, as seems most probable, Elisabeth lived at Hebron, the journey would be, for a traveller supplied with the best horses of the country, one of seven or eight hours; for one unable to procure such help, about twice that length of time. The journey lies through one of the sternest and wildest routes in Palestine. The solitude is the most desperate which travellers of experience have ever traversed. The scenery is so stern that the very mountains of Moab, touched as they are with a beautiful rosy tint, present a contrast which is almost a relief. At the end of her second or third day's journey — probably late on the third — lines of blue smoke, piercing a sky touched by the twilight shadows, told the Virgin that she was drawing near to Hebron. The softer and more humanised character of the landscape might insensibly communicate a measure of relief to that aching heart. Yet Hebron was a spot which could scarcely be entered without solemn associations, by one whose spirit habitually breathed and moved in the atmosphere of the Old Testament Scriptures. It not only included the grotto of Machpelah, the last resting-place of Sarah, of Abraham, of Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, Jacob. Its foundation ascended to an antiquity which just exceeded that of Tanis, in Egypt. Long before the Canaanites came, the gigantic shapes of Anakim and Rephaim moved through the primaeval forests by which it was surrounded. The Canaanites gave it the name of Arba, a great warrior of the Anaks (Kirjath-arba). These distant and marvellous recollections must impress the least susceptible imagination. However this may have been, there must have beer a pathos in the quiet worn of the gentle maiden as she saluted Elisabeth. Elisabeth, for her part, knew her cousin's voice, even before she saw her pale and suffering face. And in the power of the Holy Spirit, the babe within her quickening, and seeming to leap into joyous life, she spoke with a thrilling and exultant voice, that swelled and rang out in ecstatic welcome to the mysterious incarnation into whose presence she was brought. Two thoughts here naturally occur.

1. It was nothing but a brief, unrecorded salutation, probably of one or two words, which drew out the amazing and magnificent acknowledgment, that came home to Elisabeth with the power of the Holy Ghost, and, for a while, stirred her very frame, elevated her spirit, ennobled and transformed the tones of her voice into a rich and stately music. Here, as is so often the case, God's work is done by an unconscious influence going forth from His servants. Even handkerchiefs and aprons lead to high manifestations of the powers that are lodged in the gospel. When souls are steeped, day by day, in prayer and prolonged realization of the presence of God, more especially when they are in sorrow, or bearing the cross, a sweet contagion goes forth from them. A mere act of common courtesy and affection perhaps, as in the case of Mary's salutation, touches the deepest spiritual chords in other hearts.

2. It certainly should not be overlooked that, in the presence of the incarnate Lord, Elisabeth's child leaped and quickened beneath her leaping heart. It is strange, then, that believing people should assume that very young children are necessarily insusceptible of grace. Such an assumption is not reasonable. "The first springs of thought," said a great philosopher, "like those of the Nile, are veiled in obscurity." What influences may be made to stir those unknown springs, what elements may be mingled with those obscure waters, we cannot tell, and therefore we are not in a position to deny, in the presence of a counter-affirmation of the Word of God.

II. WE NOW PROCEED TO THE MAGNIFICAT ITSELF. After the prominence given to the loud ecstatic utterance of Elisabeth (ver. 42), it seems certain that the delicate pencil of St. Luke presents us with a real contrast in a single word. "And Mary said." Elisabeth's utterance and supernatural possession by the Holy Ghost was instantaneous; it was a single and exceptional burst, a momentary elevation. But, during those months, when her very frame was the shrine of the Christ of God, Mary was habitually steeped in the Spirit, habitually absorbed in the great Presence by which she was inhabited. There is a noble quiet in the one word said. But that quiet does not exclude a great and special joy, which gushed up within her soul and spirit at the words of Elisabeth. For those words are pervaded not only by enthusiastic acknowledgment of Mary's purity, but by enthusiastic recognition of the secret in her soul, of the truth of which she was the favoured depositary. Every one who is possessed by a great unpopular truth, finds that unpopularity one of the severest of trials. He may, indeed, and he must bring it forth to others; but he will be plied with sarcasms in the world, with texts and anathemas even in the Church. There is a joy of the purest and rarest kind, when some one at last says, "The truth which possesses you has taken possession of me also. I understand you." Such was Mary's joy when she said, in the rhyme-thought of Hebrew poetry, the second rhythm at once repeating and passing beyond the first — "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit did exalt upon that God who is my Saviour." Let us examine the personal traits, and the general religious principles, by which the Magnificat is pervaded.

1. Of these personal traits, humility is, no doubt, the chief. Mary, in the Magnificat, does not profess humility; she practises it. Favoured, indeed, she is. Yet (as the word so translated implies) she has no thought of that which she is — only of that which, in God's free grace, she has received. In the second line she counts herself among the lost whom He has brought into a state of salvation. Her joy and exultation repose upon that God who is her Saviour. Her woman's heart does, indeed, throb as it thinks of the cry which arises from the heart of redeemed humanity, as it turns to the grace which she has received — "For lo! from hence on, all the generations shall call me blessed." But why? "For He that is mighty hath done to me great things, and holy is His name." "He who hath a gift," writes an excellent old divine, "and is puffed up by it, is doubly a thief; for he steals the gift, and the glory of it also; and both are God's."

2. The religious principles by which the Magnificat is pervaded are these. Mary's soul is full of faith in the tenderness and power of God — in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. And she believes intensely in the victory of that Incarnation: in the sure triumph of God. With the instinct of a prophetess, she sees an outline of all history, and compresses and crushes the vast drama into four strong rugged words — still as the rocks, obscure as the mists or troubled sunlights that veil them, the secrets of God, whose meaning men see when a great revolution is over, and which then goes back into silence for centuries again. "He hath put down the lords of dynasties from thrones." That dethronement includes not Herod only, though it may have begun from the Idumaean usurper. Scribes and Pharisees, men of action and science; pontiffs, powerful with a power not of God; men of action which is not heavenly, and science which is not true; Mary sees them sink, or their thrones stand untenanted, if they stand at all. Not always by the earthquake of war and revolution. In an old Greek city, a modern engineer once remarked a mass of stone, many tons in weight, lifted up for several feet from the ground, and hanging, as if suspended in the air. On looking more closely, he saw that the root of a huge fig-tree had performed this achievement. By exercising an even, continued pressure, every moment of the twenty-four hours, for about three centuries, it had fairly lifted off this stupendous weight. Something of this strong, yet gentle and gradual work is done by the influence of Christianity. A miracle of lifting is performed. The tyrant is hurled from his throne, "not by might, not by power."


1. It will not, we think, offend those earnest Christians who object upon principle to parts of the English Liturgy, or even to liturgies in general, if we venture — surely in no spirit of offence or controversy — to give expression to the reasons which probably induced our Reformers to retain this poem in the Reformed Prayer-book. A manual of public prayer, they doubtless thought, would scarcely be complete without the Magnificat, and other poems of the New Testament. A Scriptural service should reproduce the Bible essentially. In the Old Testament it should incorporate the Psalms. In the New Testament there are but few Divine songs. But there are some, and surely they are there for good reasons. We can scarcely fail to remark that there is much caprice in the taste for hymns. It is, in the midst of fluctuation and mutability, a great thing to have some hymns in public service whose permanence is insured by their being strictly scriptural.

2. Not without propriety is the Magnificat placed in the public service. It comes after the Old Testament lesson. Now the Magnificat was breathed by Mary with the Old Testament promise fully before the gaze of her soul. "In remembrance of His mercy," she exclaims, "as He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever." She stood, as her song stands with us, between the two Testaments.

3. By using the Magnificat we fulfil her own prophecy, "All generations shall call me blessed." Some, in a superstitious horror of superstition, forget this. She is blessed. Blessed because chosen out from all the mothers of Israel, and of the earth, to an inconceivable privilege. Blessed, because consecrated as a temple for the Eternal Word; by ineffable conjunction, uniting to Himself that human nature which was conceived and born from her.

4. Personal lessons. We may well apply Mary's words to ourselves for a mercy common to all. Jesus Himself teaches us that her blessedness is ours; that so there is a strange family likeness between us and her (Matthew 12:48-50). In a family which possesses some one specially gifted member, we often see looks of him in others. So the likeness of Christ is reproduced, generation after generation, in all the children of God. Again, praise should be our work. The brute rolling in the dust of our roads is said to have inherited associations of the free desert sands. The dog, scraping and turning before he lies down to rest, similarly acts from a blind reminiscence of progenitors in the prairie grass. Much more do men inherit the instinct of that praise, of which the Magnificat is the purest expression. Once more, joy and peace are part of our purchased inheritance. When we read or join in the Magnificat, let us see to it, that that peace is ours which will make its words true for us.

(Bishop Wm. Alexander.)

The events in Mary's life which lead to this burst of joy.

I. The first event to be noticed in her life, IS THE HIGH HONOUR GOD UNEXPECTEDLY PUTS ON HER. We find her, in an earlier part of this chapter, living at Nazareth, a city or town of Galilee. Little, however, is said of her rank or condition there. But suddenly comes down an angel from heaven to her, salutes her as the highly favoured of Jehovah, and announces to her that she is the destined mother of the world's Saviour. We often tell you, brethren, that there may be many an unexpected affliction and sorrow awaiting you in the future; we may tell you now that there may be too in that future many unlooked for joys and honours awaiting you. These things, like all others, are in the hands of a sovereign God, and in His wise and holy sovereignty He often pours them out abundantly where they are the least expected. "He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden," says Mary, as though recognizing the pleasure He takes in exalting the humble, and surprising them with manifestations of His love.

II. We see next in Mary's life THE PAINFUL TRIAL WITH WHICH THIS HIGH HONOUR WAS ACCOMPANIED. One moment's thought, brethren, will bring this to your minds. The angel appeared to her privately. None saw or heard him but herself. When she tells of his visit and message, who will believe her? and if she is not believed, what in a short time will be her situation: Her character ruined, the world scorning her, her friends mourning over her, and worse — her betrothed husband, the object perhaps of her warmest youthful affections, lost to her, loving her still but casting her off may, her very life endangered, for she will be charged with an offence which, by a Jewish law, is death. Dearly, some would say, will she pay for the honour intended her. But when does God bestow honour on any one without calling on him to pay something for it? We could not bear the Divine mercies, were it not for the afflictions, the sorrows and mortifications, which generally accompany them.

III. Observe next in Mary HER SUBMISSIVE ACQUIESCENCE BOTH IN THE HONOUR AND IN THE TRIAL ALLOTTED HER. Moses, when God Himself appears to him at Horeb, and makes known to him that He has chosen him to be the deliverer of His people, begins to debate the matter with God, telling Him He has made a mistake, and chosen a wrong instrument for the accomplishment of His purpose. "Who am I," he asks, "that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? " Mary rises above it all. The angel delivers his message to her. There is no bidding him pass her by and go elsewhere, no telling him of her unworthiness, no obtruding of herself or her own feelings in any way. "Behold the handmaid of the Lord," she says: "be it unto me according to thy word." And that is real humility, which leads us to regard ourselves as God's servants. But Mary was a thoughtful as well as an humble woman. It is more than probable, therefore, that all the consequences which must naturally follow the honour designed for her, rushed at this moment into her mind. The tone of her answer seems to intimate this. And a word from her, we are ready to say, would have averted these consequences. "Go," she might have said to the angel, "to my parents, or go to some of my neighbours and friends, or go to Joseph and tell him what is to happen to me. Save those kind hearts from sorrow, and me from shame." But not a word of the kind comes from her. She looks on honour and dishonour, evil report and good report, with the same calmness. "Come what will," she seems to say, "be it unto me according to thy word." We must now look at her joy.

1. It is clear that it was a joy ACCOMPANIED WITH BOTH AFFLICTION AND SUBMISSION. At Nazareth, Mary's home, all was still dark as before. Ye! Mary is happy; she magnifies the Lord and her spirit rejoices. But what is the promised joy of the gospel? It is abounding joy in abounding tribulation. You must wait, therefore, for your tribulation to abound, before you are warranted to complain or wonder that your spiritual joy does not overflow. But are your trials severe? Then you have to learn that there is no abounding joy for you, till you are perfectly content to have them severe; till your minds are completely reconciled to them; till all murmuring, and rebellion, and impatient struggling to get rid of them, are come to an end. The soul often keeps up a long effort in affliction to make terms with its God. Tribulation must work patience before it can work joy, or hope, or anything pleasant.

2. And this joy before us is A DEEPLY SEATED JOY. "My soul doth magnify the Lord; my spirit hath rejoiced." It was no superficial, transient pleasure, excited in her by Elisabeth's words or kindness; it was a joy lodged deeply within her, filling her heart and soul; quickened and called into outward expression indeed by the sympathy she had experienced, but existing in perfect independence of that sympathy and of all outward things. It is evident that, young as she was, she had a mind and feelings of unusual strength. Her joy partook, therefore, of the character of her mind and feelings. It was a powerful joy. Light minds will have light joys They are not spacious enough for the joy of the Holy Ghost to dwell largely in them. A child must not wonder that it can take little or no share in the pleasures of a man.

3. This joy again IS A SINNER'S JOY IS A SINNER'S GOD. It is joy in a Saviour. Holy as she was, she felt herself a sinner; and her highest joy was not in Elisabeth's kindness, though that must have been at this time a balm indeed to her; nor in the honour the Lord had put on her, though in that she exults; it was in this — that she had found for her guilty soul a mighty, a Divine Saviour. And was there anything wonderful or peculiar in this? Nothing peculiar, for the saints of God in all ages have felt the same. "My heart shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in His salvation;" had said her father David long before. The reason is, the Lord in all His dispensations with us deals with us as sinners. There is a peculiarity in His dispensations towards us. He will have a corresponding peculiarity therefore in our conduct and in our feelings towards Him. The worship that He requires of us, is a sinner's worship; the praise we offer Him, must be a sinner's praise; and the joy too we feel in Him, will be a sinner's joy. Nor is this wonderful. Consider what salvation is. It is the restoration of a ruined soul. It is the taking of us from the very gates of hell to heaven. "I would not forget God as my Preserver, my Benefactor, my Comforter, the sole Author and Giver of all my blessings; but if I magnify Him, my soul must magnify Him the most, and if I rejoice in Him, my spirit must rejoice in Him the most, as God my Saviour."

4. And this also we must notice in this joy — it was A JOY THAT WAS THE FRUIT AND EFFECT OF FAITH. It is as a Saviour that we must chiefly rejoice in Him, and His salvation is a future thing, not one of us has received more than an earnest and foretaste of it. Faith therefore becomes a necessary pre-requisite to joy. It is the eye of the soul, which enables it to discern the beauty, and excellency, and glory, of its unseen God; and the reality, greatness, and certainty, of the salvation and blessings He has promised us. We turn to Mary, and in her we see this faith exemplified. As we repeat her words in our service, we are ready to imagine that they must have come from her with the infant Jesus in her arms, that they were a young mother's first words of joy over her new-born babe. But that Jesus is as yet unborn. She is singing here a song of almost pure faith. She is placing God's promises before her mind, and in them she is exulting. And here, brethren, lies the great secret of almost all a Christian's joy — he is living, not a life of sense, but a life of faith. Many of you look to what you have for comfort and happiness; he looks to what he is to have, to what God has promised him, to what the rolling years are to bring him ages and ages hence. This is no delusion, brethren. It is not, as you may suppose, an ideal thing. It is a real thing. There are those now around you, who could tell you that it is a real thing. The joy of Mary's soul in God her Saviour, is a joy they can understand as well as you can understand a parent's joy in his children, or a friend's joy in his friend, or a thirsty man's joy in a fountain, or a weary traveller's joy in his home. It is a joy they have known and felt.

(C. Bradley, M. A.)

"My soul doth magnify the Lord." Here is an occupation for all of us who know the Lord, and have been born into His family. It is an occupation which may be followed by all sorts of people. This humble woman speaks of her low estate, and yet she could magnify the Lord. All believers, of every rank and condition, can attend to this work. This is an occupation which can be followed in all places. You need not go up to the meeting-house to magnify the Lord, you can do it at home. You may be tossed about upon the sea in a storm, but you may trust His name, and be calm, and so magnify Him. Or, you may be no traveller, and never go a hundred yards out of the village in which you were born, but you may magnify the Lord just as well for all that. This is not an occupation which requires a crowded congregation, it can be fitly performed in solitude. I suppose this sonnet of the Virgin was sung with only one to hear it, her cousin Elisabeth. There is quorum for God's praise even where there is only one; but, where there are two that agree to praise God, then is the praise exceeding sweet.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

What a blessing is a cheerful spirit! When the soul throws its windows wide open, letting in the sunshine, and presenting to all who see it the evidence of its gladness, it is not only happy, but it has an unspeakable power of doing good. To all other beatitudes may be added, "Blessed are the joy-makers." I have power in my soul which enables me to perceive God. I am as certain as that I live that nothing is so near to me as God. He is nearer to me than I am to myself. It is part of His very essence that He should be nigh and present to me And a man is more blessed or less blessed in the same measure as he is aware of the presence of God.

( John Tauler.)

When some of its tribe have migrated to lands where the frost never sets, and the snow never falls, the sweet little Robin with its red breast, and its warm brown plumage, its cheerful chirp, and nimble movements, never seems to lack any good thing, but in frost and snow is daily fed, and is seldom found dead from cold or hunger, or even wearing the appearance of a famished state. The peasants wonder how the robin lives, and in some districts they call it "God Almighty's bird," because they suppose that by some special providence it is sustained and fed. There are many like this feathered creature; their outward circumstances always wear a wintry aspect, and yet they are always cheerful, they never complain, they never seem to want any good thing.

(Samuel Martin.)

Joy. God delights in joy; and His desire for His people is that they should be trustful and joyful — and this both for their own sakes and for His glory. God needs vigorous workers, and He can only have these by bestowing on them a joy adequate to the greatness of the work. In joy the apostles went forth to work for God, and they found that the joy of the Lord was their strength. It is joy then, not sorrow, that is our strength; and they that have done most for God, have been those who have had most joy in God.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

Billy's whole life was spent in praising the Lord, and for the most part aloud. He couldn't help himself; with a heart always in tune, every influence, every breath shook from its tremulous chords some note of thanksgiving. "As I go along the street," he said, "I lift up one foot, and it seems to say 'Glory!' and I lift up the other, and it seems to say 'Amen!' and they keep on like that all the time I walk." Probably you would have come upon him singing. "Bless the Lord, I can sing," he would say; "my Heavenly Father likes to hear me sing. I can't sing so sweetly as some, but my Father likes to hear me sing as well as those who can sing better than I can. My Father likes to hear the crow as well as the nightingale, for He made them both."

(Life of Billy Bray.)

There once lived in an old brown cottage a solitary woman. She tended her little garden, and knit and spun for her living. She was known everywhere, from village to village, by the name of " Happy Nancy," She had no money, no family, no relatives, and was half-blind, quite lame, and very crooked. There was no comeliness in her, and yet there, in that homely, deformed body, the great God, who loves to bring strength out of weakness, had set His royal seal. "Well, Nancy, singing again?" would the chance visitor say, as he stopped at her door. "O yes, I'm for ever at it." "I wish you'd tell me your secret, Nancy. You are all alone, you work hard, you have nothing very pleasant surrounding you; what is the reason you're so happy?" "Perhaps it's because I haven't got anybody but God," replied the good creature, looking upward. "You see, rich folks like you depend upon their families and their houses; they've got to be thinking about their business, of their wives and children; and then they're always mighty afraid of troubles a-head. I ain't got anything to trouble myself about, you see, 'cause I leave all to the Lord. I think, well, if He can keep this great world in such good order, the sun rolling day after day, and the stars shining night after night, and make my garden things come up the same, season after season, He can certainly take care of such a poor thing as I am; and so you see I leave it all to the Lord, and the Lord takes care of me." "Well, but, Nancy, suppose a frost comes after your fruit-trees are all in blossom and your plants out; suppose" "But I don't suppose — I never can suppose — I don't want to suppose, except that the Lord will do everything right. That's what makes you people unhappy — you're all the time supposing. Now, why can't you wait till the suppose comes, and then make the best of it?" "Ah, Nancy, it's pretty certain you'll get to heaven, while many of us, with all our worldly wisdom, will have to stay out." "There you are — at it again," said Nancy, shaking her head; " always looking out for some black cloud. Why, if I were you, I'd keep the devil at arm's length, instead of taking him right into my heart. He'll do you a desperate sight of mischief." She was right. We do take the demon of care, of distrust, of melancholy foreboding, of ingratitude, right into our heart. We canker every pleasure with gloomy fear of coming ill. We seldom trust that blessings will enter, or hail them when they come. We should be more childlike to our Heavenly Father, believe in His love, learn to confide in His wisdom, and not in our own and, above all, wait till the "suppose" comes, and make the best of it. Depend upon it, earth would seem an Eden if you would follow Happy Nancy's rule, and never give place in your bosom to imaginary evils.

(Student's Handbook to Scripture Doctrines.)

"All generations shall call me blessed." So sang Mary, when the greatness of her mother-joy was made known to her. Yet her highest blessedness, after all, was not so much because she was the mother, as because she was the disciple, of Jesus Christ. It was a great favour to be His nurse, but a far greater to be His follower.

(J. Stringer Rowe.)

In these words we see, as in the song of Hannah, the exaltation of a purely unselfish spirit, whose personal experiences merge themselves in those of universal humanity. One line alone expresses her intense sense of the honour done her, and all the rest is exultation in her God as the helper of the poor, the neglected, the despised and forgotten, and the Saviour of her oppressed country. No legend of angel ministrations or myths of miracle can so glorify Mary in our eyes as this simple picture of her pure and lofty unselfishness of spirit.

(H. B. Stowe.)

The position of yemen in Christian society is directly traceable not only or chiefly to our Lord's teaching, but to the circumstances of His birth. Before He came woman, even in Israel, was little better than the slave of man. In the heathen world, as in Eastern countries now, she was a slave to all intents and purposes. Here and there a woman of great force of character joined to hereditary advantages might emerge from this chronic oppression — might become a Deborah or a Semiramis, or a Boadicea, or a Cleopatra, or a Zenobia — might control the world by controlling its rulers. But the lot of the great majority was a suffering and a degraded one. But when Christ took upon Him to deliver man, He did not abhor the virgin's womb. In the greatest event in the whole course of human history, the stronger sex had no part whatever. The Incarnate Son was conceived by the Holy Ghost and was born of the Virgin Mary, and therefore in, and with Mary, woman rose to a position of consideration unknown before, in which nothing is forfeited that belongs to the true modesty and grace of her nature — by which a larger share of influence in shaping the destinies of the Christian races was secured to her in perpetuity. It was the Incarnation which created chivalry and those better features which sweeten our modern life, and which are due to chivalry.

(Canon Liddon.)

When Massillon pronounced one of those discourses which have placed him in the first class of orators, he found himself surrounded by the trappings and pageants of a royal funeral. The temple was not only hung with sable, but shadowed with darkness, save the few twinkling lights on the altar. The beauty and the chivalry of the land were spread out before him. The censers threw forth their fumes of incense, mounting in wreaths to the gilded dome. There sat Majesty, clothed in sack-cloth and sunk in grief. All felt in common, and as one. It was a breathless suspense. Not a sound stole upon the awful stillness. The master of mighty eloquence arose. His hands were folded on his breast. His eyes were lifted to heaven. Utterance seemed denied to him. He stood abstracted and lost. At length, his fixed look unbent; it hurried over the scene, where every pomp was mingled and every trophy strewn. It found no resting-p/ace for itself amidst all that idle parade and all that mocking vanity. Again it settled; it had fastened upon the bier, glittering with escutcheons and veiled with plumes. A sense of the indescribable nothingness of man "at his best estate," of the meanness of the highest human grandeur, now made plain in the spectacle of that hearsed mortal, overcame him. His eye once more closed; his action was suspended; and, in a scarcely audible whisper, he broke the long-drawn pause — "There is nothing great but God."

(Sermons by Dr. Hamilton.)

What a comfort to remember that the Lord's mercy and lovingkindness are to be continued. Much as we have experienced in the long years of our pilgrimage, we have by no means outlived eternal love. Providential goodness is an endless chain, a stream which follows the pilgrim, a wheel perpetually revolving, a star for ever shining, and leading us to the place where He is who was once a babe in Bethlehem. All the volumes which record the doings of Divine grace are but part of a series "to be continued."

(C. H. S.)

How proudly in history sounded the name of William the Conqueror I Intimidator of France and Anjou and Brittany, victor at Hastings sustaining the English crown, driving people from their homes that he might have a game forest, making a Domesday Book by which all the land was put under despotic espionage to avenge a joke at his obesity, proclaiming war, trampling harvest-fields and vineyards under cavalry hoof, until nations were horror-struck. But at that apex of renown, while he was riding one day his horse put forefoot on a hot cinder and plunged, wounding the rider against the pommel of the saddle so that he died, his son hastening to England to get the crown before his father's breath ceased. The imperial corpse, coffinless, carried in a cart, most of the attendants leaving it in the street at a fire alarm, that they might go and see the conflagration. The burial in the church, built by the Conqueror, interrupted by some one who cried: "Bishop, the man whom thou hast praised was a robber; the very ground on which we are standing is mine, and is the site where my father's house stood. He took it from me by violence to build this church upon it. I reclaim it as my right, and in the name of God I forbid you to bury him here or cover him with my glebe." "Go up," said the ambition of William the Conqueror. "Go up by way of a throne; go up by way of criminality; go up by way of revenge." "Come down," says God. "Come down by the way of a miserable death; come down by the way of ignominious obsequies; come down in the sight of all nations; come clear down; come for ever down!"

(Dr. Talmage.)

"Pride is the great master sin of the human heart." Ruskin says, "In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes." Napoleon declared, "Pride never listens to the voice of reason, nature, or religion." "God resisteth the proud." "Those that walk in pride He is able to abase." David, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Herod experienced this. (See Daniel 4:5; Acts 12:23.) Charles V. was so sure of victory when he invaded France, that he ordered his historians to prepare plenty of paper to record his exploits. But he lost his army by famine and disease, and returned crest-fallen. A South-American farmer had such large herds of horses, that he boasted, "I'll never want horses, not even if God wished it." Soon after, an epidemic destroyed them every one. "He that exalteth himself shall be abased."

(H. R. Burton.)

As weeds naturally grow in rich soil, so pride is commonly engendered by prosperity. The devil and his angels when they were in heaven, and desired to usurp the place of God; our first parents when they were in Eden, and aspired to be as gods; Haman when he was the favourite of Ahasuerus, and wished everybody to honour him; David when he became great, and commanded Joab to number Israel that he might know how mighty a king he was; — are Scripture illustrations of pride and its results. Bajazet, Sultan of the Turks about five hundred years ago, was a great conqueror, till at length he was completely defeated by Timur, the Emir and general of the Tartars. In reply to Timur's question, " Had you conquered what would you have done with me?" Bajazet haughtily answered, "Put you in an iron cage, and exhibited you wherever I went." "Proud man," angrily replied Timur, "it shall be done so to thee;" and for about three years Bajazet was exhibited like a wild beast, till, in his misery, he killed himself by beating his head against the bars of his cage. When the first Napoleon was preparing to invade Russia, a lady, trying to dissuade him, said, "Man proposes, but God disposes;" "Madame," he proudly answered, "I dispose, as well as propose." It was remarked that from that time he never prospered. "Great gifts are beautiful as Rachel, but pride makes them barren as she was." "A proud heart and a lofty mountain are never fruitful."

(H. R. Burton.)

With marked effect Mr. Moody narrated the following incident, communicated to him by Pastor Monod: A friend of mine in Paris said that when Prussia was at war with France, they went out one night after darkness had come to bring in the wounded men. They were afraid to take out lights for fear of getting a bullet from the enemy. When they thought they had gotten all the wounded, and were ready to retire into the city, a man got on the top of a high spot of ground and cried in a loud voice, asking if there were any who wished to be taken into Paris, and telling them the ambulance was ready to go. Before he spoke it was silent; not a voice was heard. But the moment he had ceased speaking, and the men knew that there was help, there was a cry all over the field. I come to-day to tell you that there is One willing to save, that there is help. Let a cry go up: "Shepherd, save me from death and hell." This is the gospel.

God's pity is not as some sweet cordial, poured in dainty drops from a golden phial. It is not like the musical water-drops of some slender rill, murmuring down the dark sides of Mount Sinai. It is wide as the whole scope of heaven. It is abundant as all the air. If one had art to gather up all the golden sunlight that to-day falls wide over all this continent, falling through every silent hour; and all that is dispersed over the whole ocean, flashing from every wave; and all that is poured refulgent over the northern wastes of ice, and along the whole continent of Europe, and the vast outlying Asia and torrid Africa — if one could in anywise gather up this immense and incalculable outflow and treasure that falls down through the bright hours, and runs in liquid ether about the mountains, and fills all the plains, and sends innumerable rays through every secret place, pouring over and filling every flower, shining down the sides of every blade of grass, resting in glorious humility upon the humblest things — on sticks, and stones, and pebbles — on the spider's web, the sparrow's nest, the threshold of the young foxes' hole, where they play and warm themselves — that rests on the prisoner's window, that strikes radiant beams through the slave's tear, that puts gold upon the widow's weeds, that plates and roofs the city with burnished gold, and goes on in its wild abundance up and down the earth, shining everywhere and always, since the day of primal creation, without faltering, without stint, without waste or diminution; as full, as fresh, as overflowing to-day as if it were the very first day of its outlay — if one might gather up this boundless, endless, infinite treasure, to measure it, then might he tell the height, the depth, and unending glory of the pity of God! The light, and the sun, its source, are God's own figures of the immensity and copiousness of His mercy and compassion.

(H. W. Beecher.)

We are told that this sacred visit lasted three months. A mythical legend speaks of a large garden, pertaining to the priests' house, where Mary was wont to walk for meditation and prayer, and that bending one day over a flower, beautiful, but devoid of fragrance, she touched it, and thenceforth it became endowed with a sweet perfume. The myth is a lovely allegory of the best power of a true and noble Christian woman.

(H. B. Stowe.)

Suck not poison out of the sweet flower of God's mercy: do not think that because God is merciful you may go on in sin; this is to make mercy become your enemy. None might touch the ark but the priests, who by their office were more holy; none may touch this ark of God's mercy but such as are resolved to be holy. To sin because mercy abounds is the devil's logic. He that sins because of mercy, is like one that wounds his head because he hath a plaister; he that sins because of God's mercy, shall have judgment without mercy. Mercy abused turns to fury. Nothing sweeter than mercy, when it is improved; nothing fiercer when it is abused; nothing colder than lead, when it is taken out of the mine, nothing more scalding than lead, when it is heated; nothing blunter than iron, nothing sharper when it is whetted. Mercy is not for them that sin and fear not, but for them that fear and sin not. God's mercy is a holy mercy; where it pardons, it heals.

(T. Watson.)

I have read of Ingo, an ancient king of the Draves, who, making a stately feast, appointed his nobres, at that time pagans, to sit in the hall below, and commanded certain poor Christians to be brought up into his presencechamber, to sit with him at his table, to eat and drink of his kingly cheer; at which many wondering, he said, " that he accounted Christians, though never so poor, a greater ornament to his table, and more worthy of his company, than the greatest peers unconverted to the Christian faith; for when these might be thrust down to hell, those might be his consorts and fellow-princes in heaven." Although you see the stars sometimes by their reflections in a puddle, or in the bottom of a well, aye, in a stinking ditch, yet the stars have their situations in heaven. So, though you see a godly man in a poor, miserable, low, despised condition for the things of this world, yet he is fixed in heaven.

(T. Brooks.)

1. The exaltation of the lowly.

2. The putting down of the mighty.

3. The satisfying of the hungry.

4. The leaving empty of those who regard themselves as spiritually rich.

(Van Oosterzee.)It is the nature of God to make something out of nothing; therefore, when any one is nothing, God may yet make something of him.


It might be imagined that thoughts like these would be too universal for a simple Jewish maiden. But remember she was espoused to one in whose veins ran the blood of Abraham, whose fathers had been kings in Jerusalem. Joseph was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and in him she was linked to all the glorious past of her nation. From the hill-top, too, of Nazareth she saw daily the peaks of Hermon, Tabor, and Carmel, and the mist above the distant sea. So wide a prospect is scarcely seen in Palestine; and as the woman walked at eventide, the beauty and glory of her land must have grown deeply into her heart, till love of country was mingled with the life-blood in her veins. And now, inspired with the thought of the blessedness coming on her nation, the whole past and future of her race, from the tents of the wandering patriarch to the church of the Messiah to come, lay before her patriotic eyes, so blessed at last through Him who should be born of her. The heart of the Virgin broke into a song of joy. She forgot her own honour in God who gave, she forgot herself in her country. And this is what we want in England — women who will understand and feel what love of country means and act upon it; who will lose thought of themselves and their finery and their pleasure in a passionate effort to heal the sorrow and to destroy the dishonour, dishonesty, and vice of England; to realize that as mothers, maidens, wives, and sisters, they have but to bid the men of this country to be true, brave, loving, just, honourable, and wise; and they will become so, as they will become frivolous, base, unloving, ashamed of truth and righteousness, if women are so; to be not content to live only for their own circles, and to be self-sacrificing and tender there, but to take upon their hearts the burden of the poor, the neglected, and the sinful, for whom many of the most influential now exercise a dainty distant pity and no more. This is the woman's patriotism; and the first note of its mighty music — a music which might take into itself and harmonize the discord of English society — was struck more than 1800 years ago in the song of the Virgin Mary.

(Stopford A. Brooke, M. A.)

The Magnificat is recognized, by the judgment and the heart of Christendom, as the noblest of Christian hymns.

1. It is in the third strophe of the hymn that Mary's feeling seems to attain its highest point of elevation. She has already referred in tender, solemn, and reserved language to the great things which God has done for her. And now she is, as it were, looking out across the centuries at the mighty religious revolution which would date from the appearance of her Divine Son on the scene of human history. She uses past tenses, because she reads off what she sees intuitively, as if it were already history. Gibbon felt the power of Mary's words, when, as he tells us in his autobiography, he sat musing amid the ruins of the Capitol, while they were chanting the vesper service in what had once beta the Temple of Jupiter; and the idea of writing the Decline and Fall of the city first presented itself to his mind. That which met his eye was a comment on the language of the Magnificat, as it fell upon his ear: "He hath put down the mighty from their thrones." Pagan Rome was succeeded by Christian Europe; and since that astonishing revolution, the last clause of this strophe of Mary's song has been continually fulfilling itself. The old civilizations receive nothing, century after century, from the Master of the feast; while simple and comparatively rude peoples, such as the New Zealanders and the Melanesians, are brought into the fold of Christ, and filled with the good things of the everlasting gospel.

2. But while we may thus with fair probability connect these clauses of the Magnificat with successive stages in the history of the Church, it is unquestionable that they are or may be in course of fulfilment, at any one period and simultaneously; that each and all of them is or may be realized perfectly in every age. The "proud," the "mighty," the "rich" of the Incarnation hymn are always here; to be scattered by the arm of God; to be put down from their thrones; to be sent empty away. This is true in the private and spiritual, as well as in the political and public sphere. And the question arises, why is it true? Why is there this intrinsic antagonism between the revelation of God on the one hand, and so much that is characteristic of human nature and energy on the other? The answer is, that Christianity presupposes in man the existence of an immense want, which it undertakes to satisfy; and further, that this want is so serious and imperative, that all honest natures must crave for its satisfaction. Happy they who in this world experience the sentence of the Magnificat; in whom pride and self-reliance is put down from its seat, and spiritual hunger is rewarded; who discover ere it is too late that they are poor and blind and naked, and who take the Divine counsel to buy raiment and fine gold and eyesalve from the Son of Man.

3. It would be easy to show how intimately our prospects of improvement in all departments of human activity and life must depend upon our faith in the continuous fulfilment of the words of the Magnificat. The temper which is there fore-doomed is in reality the great obstacle to the attainment of our best hopes for the future.

(Canon Liddon.)

Mary has, as she sings, two classes of persons before her — the hungry and the rich. She employs these words in their spiritual meaning. By the hungry Mary means those who have a sense of spiritual need, those who are dissatisfied with their present attainments. By the rich she means those who are conscious of no want, the self-satisfied.

I. THE REWARD OF SPIRITUAL HUNGER. "He hath filled," &c. Mary touches upon a principle of very wide range, applicable to the needs of mental, of moral, and of physical life. If a living being is to benefit by nourishment in body, mind, or spirit, there must be the appetite, the desire for it. The soul must desire God as its true life, if God is to enlighten and strengthen it. Without this desire He will do nothing for it. It will be sent empty away. The one condition of true spiritual enrichment is a humble, earnest, persistent desire for the graces which God has to give.

II. THE PUNISHMENT OF SPIRITUAL SELF-SATISFACTION — "Sent empty away." The "rich" were the most numerous class in the days of the Incarnation. The people did not — the mass of them — feel any sense of religious want, but were very well content with themselves. There was but a small minority who waited for the consolation of Israel. The rich still abound in the race of Israel.

III. A man, to have the presence of God in his soul, must FEEL HIS NEED OF GOD — he must be hungry. God gives to every creature a sort of preliminary endowment which creates in the soul a longing for Himself. The vast differences between man and man in later life depend upon almost unobserved acts which encourage or repress spiritual hunger in early years. Like other tastes, a hunger for spiritual things is strengthened by exercise — weakened by neglect. We cannot afford the eternal loss of God. Let us ask Him to give us a strong desire to enjoy Him for ever.

(Canon Liddon.)

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