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CH A P. I. The Conception of John the Baptist foretold by an Angel. MANY have undertaken to draw ap in writing an Account of what they have

receiv'd concerning Jesus Christ from credible Witnesses, who were all along with him, from the time he first began to publish the Gospel, and who gave a large Relation of the things themselves had heard and seen : but since not a little has

been

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dca, a certain priest named
Zacharias, of the .course of
Abia : and his wife was, of
the daughters of Aaron, and
her name was Elizabeth,

6 And they were both
righteous before God, walk-
ing in all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord,
blameless.

7 And they had no child, because that Elizabeth was. barren, and they both were now well Itricken in years.

8. And it came to pass, that while he executed the priests office before God in the order of his course

; been omitted by them, and they have not exactly observ'd the order of Time in which they were done, I thought it would be well worth the while to write the History of those Affairs in a more copious and exact mammer ; fupposing it may not a little conduce to the establishment of thé Faith of all pious Perfons.

There liv'd in Judea, at what time Herod sirnam'd the Great was Governor of that Country, a certain Priest whose name was Zacharias. He was of the course of Abia, which is wont (as all the other Classes or Courses into which the Priests are dispos’d) to exercise the Sacerdotal Offices, one week in twenty four, in the Temple at Jerusalem. His Wife Elizabeth was of the Posterity of Auron, as well as her Husband. Both were conspicuous for a diligent and unfeign'd obferyation of the Divine Commands, and a singular probity of Manners. They had no Child, for Elizabeth had bitherto been barren, nor did they, now in their old Age, fo. much as hope for any. Towards the end of Herods Reign, and, about lixteen months before the birth of Jesus Christ, when Zacharias, as the course of his

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9 According to the custom of the priests office, his lor was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.

10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying withouc, at the time of incense.

11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias : for thy prayer is heard ; and thy wife Elizabeth fhall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name Jobn.

14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoyce at his birth.

Is For he shall be great in the fight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink ; and he shall be filled with the holy Ghost,even from his mothers womb.

Family came about, was attending the Duties of his Function in the Temple, upon
casting Lots according to the Custom, to assign the Priests their several charges, the
Duty of offering Incense within the Sanctuary fell to his share.
Accordingly he enter'd the Holy Place, while the Multitude stood without

pray. ing to God in silence. Here Zacharias saw an Angel standing on the right side of the Altar of Incense, and was struck with extraordinary Terror at the sight of him. But the Angel thus accosted him: Fear not Zacharias, for God is propitious to thee, and has sent me to acquaint thee that the Prayers thou hast so often pour'd out to him to obtain an Of-spring, are at last heard.' Thy Wife Elizabeth Thall bear a Son, and the name thou art to give him is John, which signifies, one gracionfly given of God. He shall one day be an occasion of great Joy to thee, and not to thee only, but to others also. He shall be in favor with God himself, and dig. nified with an especial Office. He shall abstain from all inebriating Liquors after the manner of those who have taken on them the Vow of Nazarite's. He thall be inspir’d with the Spirit of God, even from his Mother's Womb, and before fiis

Birth

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16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby Thall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

19 And the angel answer ing said unto him, I am Ga. briel, that stand in the presence of God : and am sent to speak unco thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.

20 And behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things Thall be performed, because,

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Birth. He shall bring over many of the Jews to a stricter course of Life. He
Thall be the forerunner of the Mehiah, who by the appointment of God is to ap-
pear soon after him. He shall be furnish'd with Abilities and Instructions, like those
with which the Prophet Elias was formerly entrusted, and shall reduce the Jews
who are divided about Religion to a state of Concord ş. shall engage the more Ob-
ftinate to receive the sentiments of the Pious, and shall lead them all to one Master,
the Mefliah, that when he comes he may meet with a People prepard to receive and
obey his Divine Precepts.

Zacharias having heard all this, and reflecting on his own and his Wife's old
Age, could not persuade limself that he should have any Child burn of her, and
therefore desir'd a sign of the Angel that might assure him of it. The Angel per
ceiving his Mind agitated with Doubts, tho without just reason, began thus to
correct him : Thou dost not well to doubt of the happy news which I Gabriel,
an Angel of God, and one of his principal Ministers, am come to tell thee... There
fore for a Sign which thou hast rashly desir'd of me, thou shalt be deaf and
dumb from this hour till thou hast a Son born of thy Wife Elizabeth. This

MATTHBW.

MARK

LUKE.

JOHN.

CHAP. I.

thou believest not my words,
which thall be fulfilled in their
season.

21 And the people waited
for Zacharias, and marvelled
that he carried so long in the
Temple.

22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto chem: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.

23. And it came to pass, that afsoon as the days of his mini. stration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.

24 And after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and hid her self five months, faying,

Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, co take away my reproach among men.

Shall be the punishment of thy Incredulity, but the things I have foretold shall: nevertheless be accomplish'd in their proper seafon. The People in the mean tima; who were waiting in the Court of Israel for Zacharias, wonder'd that he tarried. in the Sanctuary longer than was usual for one that offer'd Incense. At length he came forth and found himself depriv'd of Speech; for when the People ask'd him why he staid so long in the Sanctuary, he could return no answer, as he endea. vour'd to signify to them by beckning and making Signs, whence they collected he had had some Vision. When his Week of Ministration expir'd, Zacharias return'd: home, and Elizabeth had Conception not long after, but discover'd the matter to. gone for the first five months, contenting her felf in giving thanks to God in private, i hat he had at last taken away from her the reproach of Barrennesse

GHA P.

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