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No. I.









The annunciation of the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Saviour, and the annunciation of the birth of the Saviour Christ himself.


FORASMUCH as many have taken in hand to set forth a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us; according as they who, from the beginning, were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word, have delivered them to us; it seemed good to me also, having gained exact knowledge of every thing from the very first, to write to thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mayest know the certainty of those things in which thou hast been instructed.

There was, in the days of Herod the king of Judea, a certain priest, named Zacharias, of the course of Abia,* and his wife was of the daughters

*Of the course of Abia, &c.-By the appointment of David, the descendants of Aaron were divided into twentyfour families, who attended at the temple in rotation. Of these families the eighth was Abia, from whom was descended this Zacharias, who was at this time attending at the temple in his turn.

of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both just before God, walking in all the commandments and righteousness of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.

And it came to pass, that when he executed the priest's office before God, in the order of his course, according to the custom of the priest's office, it was his lot to offer incense, going into the temple of the Lord. And all the multitude of the people was praying without at the time of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zacharias seeing him was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth 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 before the Lord, and shall drink no wine or strong drink;+ and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb; and he shall turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the unbelieving to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

And Zacharias said to the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my

*John-Grace of the Lord.

+ Shall drink no wine, &c.-Persons who took upon them a vow to abstain from wine and other intoxicating liquors, and to submit to certain other privations, were called Nazarites. Sometimes children were dedicated to be Nazarites to God from their infancy.

wife is advanced in years. And the angel answering, said unto him, I am Gabriel who stand before God and am sent to speak to thee, and to bring thee these good tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be able to speak, until the day when these things shall come to pass; because thou hast not believed* my words, which shall be fulfilled in their time.

And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and wondered that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out he could not speak to them, and they understood that he had seen a vision in the temple, and he made signs to them, and remained dumb. And it came to pass, that as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.

And after these days Elizabeth his wife conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days when he looked upon me, to take away my reproach among


And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. [And the angel saluted her as one peculiarly blessed of God, and intimated to her that, although she was a virgin, she should bear a son, by the immediate power of the Holy Ghost, and that she should call his name JESUS, † which name signifies Saviour. This name was to be given to him, because, as St. Matthew tells us, he was to save his people from

* Because thou hast not believed, &c.-Zacharias might not be blameable in doubting, for what he saw might have been an illusion: but he should have waited the event, which would have decided. Craving, however, an immediate sign, he received one, which was also a rebuke.

† Jesus.-The same name with Joshua.

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