Wright - BT300 W8 1788

LORD and SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST. 13 who waited for the confolation of Ifrael, floubtlefs he had often prayed that he might live to fee the Meffiah come, which was the prayer that the angel aflured him was heard ; but that his wife Elizabeth Thould bear a fon, who thould be the fore- runner of the Redeemer of Ifrael, feemed a thing fo extraordinary, and out of the courfe of nature, that the prieft could not believe it, though afferted by an angel ; and therefore replied to the heavenly mef- fenger, Whereby I/mil I know this P For I am an old man, and my wife wellfìricken. in years. The bright commander of the angelic fquadrons feemed difpleafed that Zacharias Ihould queftion the truth of his predifion; and therefore proceeded to let him know his dignity, and the high place he occupied in the heavenly world, and the confequential impoffibility that he Ihould deceive him. Know, faid he, that I am Gabriel that fiend in the pretence of God, and amfont from heaven, to f eak unto thee, and to thew thee thefe glad tidings. But, as thou haft prefumed to call in quef- tion the truth of the heavenly inefage, thou(halt be dumb, and not able to (peak, until thefe things flsall be performed : for though thou haft not believed my words, they neverthelefs arè true, and fhall be performed in their feafon. The prieft, aftonifhed at the vifion, flayed longer in the holy place than ufual ; at which the people, who waited without for his bene- diftion, were much furprifed : at laft he came to them, but found the prediftion of the angel awfully fulfilled ; for when, ac- cording to the courfe of his office, he was to, biefs the people, he could not fpeak ; but fignified to them by figns, that he had feen a vifion, which was the caufe of his dumbnefs ; and, the week of his admini- firation being accomplifhed, he returned to his houle. Soon after this, his wife Elizabeth found herfelf with child, but made a fecret of her conception for the firft five months, contenting herfelf with giving God thanks in private, for his great goodnefs in taking away the reproach of No. z. her barrennefs ; and revolving in her mind, with wonder and praife, the unfearchable counfels of God, and his great goodnefs ta the children of men. Six months after this, the angel Gabriel; the fame who had appeared to the pro- phet Daniel, and foretold the very time of our Redeemer's birth, and had lately pre difed to Zacharias the birth of his fore- runner, ,was fent from the heavenly re- gions, to the city of Nazareth, to an amiable and virtuous virgin, named Mary, fuppofed to be about fifteen years of age. She was of the houle and lineage of Da- vid, and was efpoufed to a good man, fuppofed to be a widower, and pretty far advanced in years, named Jofeph, who was alfo of the royal line of David. The hufband had not takenhome his wife, but the remained a virgin at her father's houle ; and while, as fuppofed, at her private de- votions, the angel appeared to her arrayed in heavenly brightnefs; and, with a con- defcending fmile, faluted her in terms of the higheft refper : Hail Mary, he cried, thou art highlyfavoured ; the Lord is with thee: bled art thou amongf women. The pious maid was not more furprifed at the blaze of heavenly glory which {hone around her, than at the falutation of the cceleftial meffenger, to whom the knew not how to reply. When the angel rejoined, with looks and accents of fuch kindnefs, and heavenly goodnefs, as diffipated every fear- ful apprehenfton : Fear not, Mary; for thou haftfoundfavour withGod. And beholdthou fhalt conceive, and bring forth a Son, and fhalt call his name JESUS ; heflail be great, and /hall be called the Son of the Highe: and the Lord Godfliallgive him the throne ofhisfather David, and hefhall reign over the houfe of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there flail be no end. The holy maid, not immediately recollefing that the prophet Ifaiah had, in his predi&ions of the Meffiah, Paid, Behold a virginfhell conceive, and bear afon: 'and being con- fcious of her purity, did not, like Zacha- D rias,