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dress, and having removed all mifconceived apprehensions, proceed to instruct and comfort those to whom they are sent. “ Fear not, Zacharias, “ for thy prayer is heard, and thy 6 wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a “Son*.” Zacharias had prayed for the redemption of Ifrael by. Mefliah, and therefore was honoured by being made, in a wonderful manner, the father of his illustrious forerunner. The priest was anxious for the wel fare of the church, and the man was blessed in his own private concerns. He fought “.first the kingdom of “God, and his righteousness,” and the blessing of a son was 66 added un. si to him.”—“ Thy wife Elizabeth $ mall bear thee a son, and thou shalt Luke i. 13.
ss call his name John,” that is, being interpreted, the grace, or gift; "and “ many fhall rejoice at his birth :” not only thou shalt rejoice, and Elizabeth with thee, at the birth of a son so long despaired of, and fuch a fon too, but it fhall be matter of joy, at the time, to all who look for redemption ; and afterwards, thoufands and millions Thall rejoice at the remembrance of it; the day shall be kept as a festival throughout all generations; with joy and gladness shall it be kept, thanksgiving and the voice of melody. Encouraged by the example of Zacharias, let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, be never weary of waiting for his loving kindness in the midst of his temple. Let it be the delight of their lives to exe
“ form *.” The demand of Zacharias, however, was complied with, and a sign was granted him in the punishment of his unbelief. The ufe of that tongue, which, instead of giving glory to God, had been employed in raising objections, was taken from him, and a filence of some months was imposed as a penance for the abuse of speecht.
But when the wonderful child was born, who, even before his birth, entered upon his prophetical office, and gave testimony to his Saviour in the womb, then declaring, by his exultation, what he afterward did by words, “ Behold the Lamb of God;" and Zacharias had acknowledged the GIFT of God, by direcling that his name should be John ; then the mouth of the father was opened; and to thew us the proper employment of the tongue, when heaven grants the use of it, he “ praised God.” Faith restored what incredulity had taken away; “ he believed, and therefore
* Rom. iv. 18. † Conticefcere paulatim oportuit omne Levitici apparatus Choragium, quod ominoso hoc Sacerdotis filentio prefiguratum eft ; ut fola Mefliæ docentis et benedicentis vox in Ecclefiâ audiretur,--Witfii Miscell. Sacr. II. 494.
he spake.” And his heart having been prepared, by filence and retirement, for the reception of celestial influences, he was now “ filled with “the Holy Ghost,” and brake forth into that divine hymn, which shall be the subject of the next section.
MONG the alterations in naA
ture, which notify the return of spring, no one is more pleasing, than the exchange of a long and melancholy filence, for that melody which then refourideth on every fide
us, in the woods and fields. Solomon hath not forgotten this circumstance, in his short but lovely description of that delightful feafon. "Lo, the winter is paft, the rain is “over and gone, the flowers appear "on the earth, the time of the fing“ing of birds is come, and the voice