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Sect. I. their address, and having removed alt

m isconceived apprehensions, proceed to
instruct and comfort those to whom they
are fent...“ Fear not, Zacharias, for
“thy prayer is heard, and thy wife
“ Elizabeth shall bear thee a son 2.".
Zacharias had prayed for the redemp-
tion of Israel by Meffiah, and therefore
was honoured by being made, in a won-
derful manner, the father of his illus-
trious forerunner. The priest was anxi-
ous for the welfare of the church, and
the man was blessed in his own private
concerns. He fought “ first the king-
“ dom of God, and his righteousness,"
and the blessing of a son was “ added
“ unto him." -- " Thy wife Elizabeth
“ Thall bear thee a fon, and thou shalt
“ call his name John,” that is, being
interpreted, the grace, or gift ; " and
“ many shall rejoice at his birth :” 'not
only thou shalt rejoice, and Elizabeth
with thee, at the birth of a son so long
despaired of, and such a son too, but it
fhall be matter of joy, at the time; to
all who look for redemption ;, and after-
wards, thousands and millions shall re-

a Lukę i, 13.

joice at the remembrance of it; the day Sect. I. Thall be kept as a festival throughout ailm 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 execute their office, every one in that order and station in which he is placed. So will God make them to hear of joy and gladness, and grant them to behold the success of their labours for the conversion of sinners, and the edification of his people. The church, like Elizabeth, shall bring forth fruit in her old age, and her friends Thall rejoice greatly, when they hear that the Lord hath shewed mercy on her..

DISTRUST of Providence, and the accomplishment of it's designs, when appearances are on the other side, will sometimes invade the hearts of the best of men; and Zacharias himself so far partook of the incredulous spirit which at that period had possessed the syna

Luke i. 58.


Sect. I. gogue, that he “ sought after a figo." m . " Whereby shall I know this ? For

“ I am an old man, and my wife well “ stricken in years." How different, in a parallel case, was the behaviour of his father Abraham, of which St. Paul has left us the following exalted description, ---"Who against hope believed in hope, “ that he might become the father of “ many nations, according to that which “.was spoken, So Thall thy seed be, “ And being not weak in faith, he con“ sidered not his own body now dead, “ neither yet the deadness- of Sarah's “womb. He staggered not at the pro“ mise of God through unbelief, but “ was strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded, that “ what he had promised he was able also to performa." The demand of Zacharias, however, was complied with, and a sign was granted him in the punishment of his unbelief. The use of that tongue, which, instead of giving glory to God, had been employed in raising objections, was taken from him, and a

* Rom. iv, 18.


silence of some months was imposed as Sect. I. a penance for the abuse of speech. m

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 directing 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 he spake.” And his heart having been prepared, by silence 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.


SECTION II. Confiderations on the hymn of Zacharias.

Sect. II. A MONG the alterations in na

m ture, which notify the return of
spring, no one is more pleasing, than
the exchange of a long and melancholy
silence, for that melody which then re-
soundeth on every side of us, in the
woods and fields. Solomon hath not forg
gotten this circumstance, in his short
but lovely description of that delightful
season. “ Lo, the winter is past, the
“ rain is over and gone, the flowers ap-
s pear on the earth, the time of the
« finging of birds is come, and the
“ voice of the turtle is heard in our
« land." The advent of Meffiah was
announced, in a similar manner, to the
church; and we may say of it, in the
words of the Roman poet, which, like
those of Caiaphas, contained much more

Cant. ii, 11.


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