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Before the and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Temple at Vulgar Era, was Elisabeth.
Year of the
Julian Period, 4708.
few individuals: and he instances the predictions said to have
After a long cessation therefore, then, of miracle and pro-
The numbers of each of the twenty-four courses of the priests was so great, that many thousands were in weekly and daily attendance upon the service of the temple. The most solemn of the daily services was that which had been appointed by lot, in the usual manner, to Zacharias. When he entered into the holy place to burn incense, the congregation of Israel stood without in profound silence, offering up their prayers, and waiting till the Priest returned, as was customary, to dismiss them with his blessing. The congregation consisted of the whole course of the Priests, whose weekly turn of attendance was now going on; in addition to which, were the Levites that served under these Priests -the men of the station, as the Rabbis called them, whose office it was to present the whole congregation, by putting their hands on the heads of the sacrifices-and the multitude from the city, whom devotion would now have drawn to their
6 And they were both righteous before God, walking Temple at Valgar Era, in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord Jerusalem. blameless.
Year of the
Julian Period, 4708.
temple, including of course the Presidents and Overseers of the
When we remember the scrupulous exactness with which the
As Zacharias had now become both deaf and dumb, it is highly probable that he wrote down an account of the heavenly vision, which must by this means have been well known throughout Judea. The prediction of the Angel was quite consonant to the generally received opinions of the day. Elias was first to appear, and the first revelation therefore of the approaching change in the dispensations of God must have reference to his Messenger, rather than to the Messiah himself. It had been prophesied that the forerunner of Immanuel was to resemble Elias in his spirit and power, in the effects of his mission; in the austerity of his character; the boldness of his preaching, and in his successful reform in the Jewish Church. He was to be the "Voice of one crying in the wilderness,
Before the 7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was Temple at Vulgar Ara, barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
Year of the
8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the
10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying
11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
15 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.
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
19 And the angel answering, said unto him, I am Ga
Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths strait; to turn
Many things worthy of remark occur in considering the
(a) On Simon the Just, vide Prideaux Connection, vol. ii. p. 816, 8vo. edit. 1729. Lightfoot, vol. i. p. 2008; and vol. ii. p. 381; arrangement of the Old Testament, vol. ii. p. 854, note. (b) Vitringa, in his Observ. Sacræ, vol. i. b. vi. p. 294, &c. (c) Hãv rò rλñ¤oç r8 λaz.-Lightfoot, vol. i. p. 407.
Before the briel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to Temple at Vulgar Era, speak unto thee; and to shew thee these glad tidings.
Year of the 20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to Jalian Pe- speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, riod, 4708. because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.
22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
The Annunciation 8.
LUKE I. 26-38.
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was Nazareth. riod, 4709. sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
5, early in
ON THE DOCTRINE OF THE MIRACULOUS CONCEPTION.
The doctrines, both in the Old and New Testaments, would be utterly incredible, if they were not confirmed by the most unquestionable and convincing evidence; and if they were not also so interwoven together that they must all be received, or all be rejected. They are so involved with the history of the world, that the latter alternative is impossible to a rational mind; and the various absurdities and inconsistent conclusions to which men have been uniformly betrayed, when they have endeavoured to believe one part of the system of Revelation and to reject another, are almost sufficient reasons of themselves to compel us to receive the whole of what is revealed to us. The doctrine of the miraculous conception, which contains so much that contradicts experience, and seems at first sight so incredible, is founded upon evidence the most complete and satisfactory. It is intimately blended with the whole system of Revelation. The fabric would not be complete without it. It is supported by the general interpretation of the first promise, and is repeated and corroborated by the ancient prophets of the Old, and the positive assertions of the writers of the New, Testament.
In what manner mind acts upon body, and body upon mind, we are totally ignorant. We know only from daily experience, that the will of the mind gives an impulse at pleasure to the limbs and body. We know also, by observation, that the mind of an individual, which thus controuls or directs the body, is
Julian Period, 4709. Before the Vulgar Æra, 5, early in the year.
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Nazareth,
often biassed in the very same manner as the mind of his pro-
When man had fallen, we read that Adam begat a son in his
Such being the law of animal life, impressed upon matter by the will of the Supreme Being; it becomes evident that no creature can be free from the inferior nature in which he is begotten. "Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me," Ps. li. 5. No mere man can be exempt from the laws of his kind. If then a long succession of prophecies foretold that a Being should come into the world to perform certain works, which necessarily implied perfection, and therefore an exemption from the universal law of human nature; our reason tells us that his birth must take place in some peculiar or miraculous manner, differing from that which is entailed on the imperfect beings around him: or, in other words, an immaculate conception was the only mode in which a sinless or spiritual Being could be born into a sinful or animal world, without partaking of its common nature.
If it be said, that our Lord partook of this inferior nature as the Son of the Virgin, as much as if he were the offspring also of Joseph: we answer.-In the same way as Adam, when he was created in the image of God, and therefore sinless; received from the hands of his Maker a body formed from the dust of the ground, so likewise did the second Adam receive from the Virgin an earthly body, as free from sin as that with which the first Adam sprang from the ground, yet like that subjected to all the weakness, infirmities, and sufferings of humanity. When we can comprehend in what manner the inanimate dust became an organized being at the first creation,