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Long after the following stories were written, and when above half of them had been already printed, the Author saw a publication called “ Bible Stories,” so very like this in both its design and execution, that her first thought was to suppress her own work, not only lest it should look like plagiarism, but chiefly because the proposed object seemed to be anticipated and accomplished in the other. But on further consideration it has appeared that the “Bible Stories,” though so very similar in general appearance, are of a somewhat different character. There is in them more of
commentary and doctrinal argument than in these “Gospel Stories,” which being in a more simple and narrative style, may therefore be, in some respects, more acceptable and profitable to very young minds; and, in this hope, the Author has been encouraged to proceed with her publication.
A LONG, long time ago,—so long that we reckon from it the passing year, — a king reigned over a country very distant from England, where you live, called Judea. The name of this king was Herod; and he was a very wicked man, very cruel to his subjects, and very much hated and feared.
In his days there lived an old man and woman called Zacharias and Elizabeth : they were very different from Herod, for they loved and served God, and were very good people. Zacharias was a priest, and used to go very often to the Temple in Jerusalem, the chief city of Judea, to serve God, as our clergymen go on Sundays to perform divine service in Church. Now
. Zacharias and Elizabeth had no children, which grieved them very much, and they had often and often prayed to God to give them a child ; but now they had grown so very old that they thought they should never have one; but you
shall hear how they were mistaken, and how God heard their prayers, and gave
them a son after all. One day Zacharias went as usual to the Temple -- but first I must tell you that the Temple was not built like our churches here, where the clergyman and the people are all together, and can see one another; for there was one part of the Temple where nobody was allowed to go except the priest, and where no one could see him; - and