§. 7.

Upon this Information the Blessed Virgin Mary arose and went into the Hill-Country to the house of Zacharias[1], to visit her cousin Elizabeth[2], who no sooner heard her salutation, but the babe[3] leaped in her Womb, and she was filled with  the Holy Ghost: so that she said with  loud voice, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, whence is it that the Mother of my Lord[4] should come to me?[5]

Aachen Altar

I praise thy Name,

For this marvelous effect of thy Presence[6],

O Blessed Jesus,

and for the powerful influence of thy Spirit[7] manifest therein,

even before thy Manifestation[8] to the world[9].

Help me, O Lord,

so to correspond[10] with Thee in thy gracious visitations[11]

as to discharge all the offices of love, friendship, and christian piety

incumbent on me toward all relations[12],

that I also may be a joy unto thy servants,

and they such unto me,

as Thou art unto us all[13].

And let the voice of thy Salutation, sounded in mine Ears

by the ministry of thy Word[14],

make me blessed in believing

that there shall be a performance of those things which were told us from the Lord[15],

as well concerning the Second Coming to judge the world

as hath already been of thy First Coming to redeem it[16].

[1] Zacharias is the husband of Elizabeth and the father of John the Baptist. He is the first person we meet in the Gospel of Luke, as Zacharias is entering the temple to burn incense. We have learned that his wife has been unable to bear children.  The Angel Gabriel appears to tell him that she will have a son.  Zacharias expresses some skepticism and asks for a sign, so the Angel strikes him dumb until the child is born. Elizabeth is pregnant at the time of Mary’s visit.

[2] Jesus and John the Baptist are related.

[3] John.

[4] Jesus is the “Lord.”

[5] The prayer which is follows is that we should respond to hearing the Word of God just as Elizabeth and John responded to the presence of Jesus.

[6] The effect of Jesus’ presence upon John the Baptist

[7] The Holy Spirit in various places in the New Testament is also known as the “Spirit of Christ”. On the question of why the Holy Spirit is called the “Spirit of Christ”, see John Owen’s A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit, in particular:

It will be said, perhaps, that he is called the “Spirit of Christ” because he is promised, given, and poured out by him. So Peter speaks, Acts 2:33, “Having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” But in this regard, namely, as given by Christ the mediator, he is expressly called the Spirit of the Father; he was given as the promise of the Father: for so he is introduced speaking, verse 17, “It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh.” And so our Saviour tells his disciples that he would “pray the Father, and he should give them another Comforter, even the Spirit of truth,” John 14:16, 17. Nor is he otherwise the Spirit of Christ, originally and formally, but as he is the Spirit of God,—that is, as Christ is God also. On this supposition I grant, as before, that he may consequently be called the “Spirit of Christ,” because promised and sent by him, because doing his work, and communicating his grace, image, and likeness to the elect.

Owen, John. The Works of John Owen. Edited by William H. Goold, vol. 3, T&T Clark, pp. 61–62.

[8] In 1 John 1:2, John refers to the Incarnation in this manner, “the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.”

[9] Before Jesus was born.

[10] That I would have the appropriate response to the “visitation” of God.

[11] A “visitation” would be an especial intervention by God. For example, in Ruth 1:6, it is said that God “visited” His people, meaning God had broken the famine. A visitation can also be a peculiar admonition of God’s people for sin, such as Sibbes explains:

God usually visits a people when some horrible crying sins reign amongst them, as (1) atheism. Beloved, God stands upon his prerogative then, when he is scarce known in the world; when they say, Where is God? God sees us not, &c. So, likewise (2), when idolatry prevails. This is spiritual adultery and a breach of covenant with God. Again (3), when divisions grow amongst a people.

Sibbes, Richard. The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes. Edited by Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 1, James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1862, p. 379.

[12] It is interesting to consider these expressions of the Christian life as “offices”; responsibilities.

[13] The hope and goal in our relations among the Church is that we be a joy to others and they to us. This is a good prayer, Make me a joy to Your people.

[14] To hear the Word of God, read or preached, should bring in the same sort of response of John the Baptist at the Lord’s visitation.

[15] That we should do those things we have been instructed to do.

[16] We are preparing for the Second Coming of Christ.