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to burn incense upon it. This office was solely allotted to Aaron and his sons; no other one could touch this holy incense, or go in to do it, as it was typical of the redeeming power of the Holy Spirit: so that while Zacharias was performing this office, the whole multitude of people were praying without.
While performing this holy duty, there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense; and when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
Fear not, Zacharias, said the angel, for thy prayer is heard, and thy wife shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John; and thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
What, Mamma, without asking at the fountain for it?
It was predestinated so to be, my child; and doubtless the good Zacharias and Elizabeth had repeatedly, when they prayed for a son, promised to give him to God, by bringing him up in his love and knowledge. For you will remember, my child, God has said, I will visit the sins of the fathers up. on the children of them that hate me, but shew mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments. And many of the children of Israel, continued the angel, shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the power and spirit of Elias.
Before God, Mamma?
Yes, my child.
Who was Elias?
A glorious prophet, my child, whom God took up into heaven, without permitting him to die and be buried.
What does it mean, then, Mamma, "in the spirit of Elias?"
As Elias was filled with the Holy Spirit, so would John be.
To turn the hearts, said the angel, of the fathers to the children.
Hitherto, my child, parents were regardless about the teaching of children the ways of God; but now their whole hearts would be set upon delivering their souls from perdition, by pointing out to them the road to heaven. But to return to the words of the angel: he continued, "and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. To make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
How was that to be done, Mamma?
By going about, my child, from house to house, from field to field, and in market places, to declare that God was coming, entreating them to repent of their sins, and to be ready to run to him, and to fall at his feet, to entreat his forgiveness.
Did Zacharias continue to fear, Mamma?
No, my child, God removed his alarm ; so that, in reply, Zacharias enquired, how he was to know that he was to have a son, for he was an old man, and was well stricken in years.
I am Gabriel, answered the angel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings: and behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believedst not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season: on which the angel disappeared.
Yes, my child; it was a sign, that what Zacharias had seen was no delusion. Now it was the custom for the people, who were outside praying, to wait for the return of the high priest before they arose; and they marvelled, therefore, what could detain Zacharias so long in the Temple. At length he appeared; but as the angel pronounced, he was perfectly dumb: he, therefore, could only beckon unto the people, who were all satisfied in their own mind that Zacharias had seen a vision. Suffice it to say, my child, that Elizabeth was soon made sensible that the words of the angel were about to be realized.
It also occurred, about six months after this event, that the same angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin, espoused to a man whose name was Joseph.
How espoused, Mamma?
It is customary in the East, my child, for even children to be espoused to each other: they are called man and wife, even at four years of age, but are not actually married, until they are grown up. Joseph was of the house of David, a poor man, and a carpenter, but was just and upright before God; and the virgin's name was Mary.
Mary happening to be alone, the angel suddenly appeared to her. Hail! he exclaimed, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.
When Mary saw him, she was troubled, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
Fear not, Mary, said the angel, for thou hast found favour with God: and, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call his name 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 David.
What, Mamma, is this the Son of David, Jmmanuel; and the second Adam, who was to be the son of God?
Yes, my child.
Then why was he called Jesus?' 1
Because, my child, Jesus means a deliverer; so he was our deliverer, my child, from all our trou* bles, sorrows, sins, and from death.
O, then, Mamma, how sweet must be the name of Jesus! How I shall love that name!
Thou art my dearest child. I find God has answered my prayers for thy precious soul; for none but by the Spirit can love the name of Jesus. As proof of it, the name is detested by the world; even many ministers mention it, as if it was a ward of low origin; but there will yet be the day, my child, when every knee will bow to it. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. But how shall this be? said Mary; for she was not married, my love, she was only espoused to Joseph. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, answered the angel, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow