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ORASMUCH as many have taken in hand to
set forth in order a declaration of those things 2 which are most surely believed among us, Even as
they delivered them unto us, which from the begin
ning were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the word: 3. It seemed good to me also, having had perfect
understanding of all things from the very first, to write
unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus (a), 4
That thou mightest know the certainty of those
things wherein thou hast been instructed. 5 THERE was, in the days of Herod, the king of
Judea, a certain prieft named Zacharias, of the (b) course of Abia : and his wife was of the daughters
(a) Here is an instance of giving titles of honour and respect to perfons, according to their rank; which therefore cannot be pretended to be unlawful. See John xx. 15.
(6) The Jewish priests attended on the service of the temple by turns, or courses, of which there were two for each month, twentyfour in all; that of Abiah being the eighth. Set 2 Chron. xxiv. 10.
6 of Aaron (c), and her name was Elisabeth. And they
were both righteous before God; walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blame
And they had no child, because that Élisabeth was barren, and they both were now well ftricken in 8 years. And it came to pass, that while he executed
the priest's office before God in the order of his 9 course, According to the custom of the priest's
office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into 10 the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude
of the people were praying without, at the time of Ii incenfe (d). And there appeared unto himn an angel of
the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of 12 incense.
And when Zacharias faw him, he was 13 troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel
said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias : for 'thy prayer
is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee 14 a fon, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou
shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice 15 at his birth: 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, 16 even from his mother's womb. And many of the
children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their 17 God. And he shall go before him (e) in the spirit
and power of (f ) Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wis
dom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for 18 the Lord. And Zacharias said unto the angel,
(c) She was descended from the family of Aaron.
(d)- The people performed their devotion in the outward of the temple; none but the Priests and Levites being permitted to enter into the fan&tuary where the altar of incense was.
(e) Before him the Messiah and Saviour, who was the Lord their God; the angel of the covenant, in whom the name of God is. Exod. xxiii. 21. This is a strong proof that Jesus Christ was Jehovah of the Old Testament.
6). In the character of Elias (or Elijah) described Malachi iva 5. as the forerunner of the Messiah,
Whereby shall I know this? for I am an oid man, 19 and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel
answering faid unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand
in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto 20 thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And be
hold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed,
because thou believest not my words, which shall 21. be fulfilled in their season. And the people waited
for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long 22 in the temple. And when he came out, he could
not speak unto them; and they perceived that he
had seen a vision in the temple : for he beckoned (8) 23 unto them, and remained speechless. And it came
to pass, that as soon as the days of his ministration
were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, 25 and hid herself (b) five months, saying, Thus hath
the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he look
ed on me, to take away my reproach among men (i): 26 And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was
sent from God, unto a city of Galilee, named Naza27 reth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was
Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's 28 name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her,
and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord
is with thee: blessed art thou among women (k): 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his
saying, and cast in her mind what manner of falu.
(8) He made signs. (h) Did not go abroad out of her house. (i) Barrennels was reckoned a great disgrace among the Jewish
(k) See an higher expression of this kind applied to Jael and Ju. dith, Fudges v. 24. Judith xiii. 18. they being pronounced blessed above women; whereas the Virgin is said to be blessed among women. No
argument then can be drawn from this passage for the religious worship paid to her.
30 tation (1) this should be. And the angel faid unto
her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour 31 with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in
thy womb, and bring forth a son, and thalt call his 32 name (m) JESUS. He shall be great, and shall
be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord
God shall give unto him the throne of his father 33 David (n). And he shall reign over the house of Jacob
for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, 35 seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered
and said unto her, The Holy Ghost fhall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which
shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also
conceived a son in her old age : and this is the sixth 37 month with her who is called barren. For with 38 God nothing fhall be impossible. And Mary said,
Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed
from her. 39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into
the hill-country with hafte, into a city of Juda, 40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and falut 41 ed Elisabeth.
And it came to pass that when Elisabeth heard the falutation of Mary, the babe leaped in
her womb : and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy 42 Ghost. And she spake out with a loud voice, and
said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is 43 the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
(1) The word Hail was in fact, as it is here called by the blessed Virgin, a mere falutation, expressive of kindness rather than of reverence, and was so used by our Saviour himself to the women as they were returning from the sepulchre. Matt. xxviii. 9.
(m) Matt. i. 21. In) In a spiritual sense.
44 For lo, as soon as the voice of thy falutation founded
in mine ears, the babe leaped in my.womb for joy. 45 And blessed is the that believed : for there shall be
a performance of those things which were told her 46 from the Lord, And Mary said, My soul doth 47 magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in 48 God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low
estate of his handmaiden ; for behold, from hence49 forth all generations shall call me blessed. For he
that is mighty hath done to me great things, and 50 holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that 51 fear him, from generation to generation. He hath
shewed strength with his arm, he hath (0) scattered 52 the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He
hath put down the mighty from their seats, and ex53
alted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry
with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty 54 away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in re55 membrance of his mercy, As he spake to 56 fathers, to Abraham and to his feed for ever. And
Mary abode with her about three months, and re
turned to her own house. -57 Now Elisabeth's full time came, that she should 58 be delivered; and she brought forth a fon. And
her neighbours and her coutins heard how the Lord
had shewed great mercy upon her; and they re59 joiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the
eighth day they came to circuncise the child, and
they called him Zacharias, after the name of his 60 father. And his mother answered and said, Not
jo: but he shall be called (P)- John. 61 faid unto her, There is none of thy kindred that
it. See Verse 74:
(0) Mary probably thought that the deliverance to be effected by Chrift was no more than the overthrow of the Roman power. Zachariah feems to have looked further, to the spiritual benefits of
(p) John fignifies the favour, or gift, of God, the child being born when his parents had tost all hope of having issue.. 5
62 is 3