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while he was there the people used to say their prayers in their own part of the Temple till he came back to them, and sent them away with his blessing.
Well, as I said, one day Zacharias went into that place, and began to do his usual duty of burning incense or perfume on the altar, when suddenly, on looking up, he saw an angel standing close to him by the side of the altar. Angel is a Greek word which means messenger, and the angels of Heaven are so called because they are the messengers of God. You may judge of the surprise and terror of Zacharias, for he had never seen any thing so bright and glorious before. He soon, however, recovered from his fright, when the angel said, in a gentle voice, « Fear not, Zacharias ; for I am come “ from God to tell you that he has
“ heard your prayer, and that you “ shall have a son, and when he is “ born you shall call him John. And you and many
others shall rejoice at “ his birth, for he will be in favour with “ God; and many of the people will “ he teach to serve God, and he shall “ tell them that the Saviour of the 66 world will soon appear.'
Now, you would have supposed that when Zacharias heard this joyful message,
he would have fallen on his knees and thanked God for sending an angel to tell him such good tidings : but no, - he did not think that what the angel said was true, although he saw him with his own eyes standing before him, and really heard his words; so he asked, “How shall I be sure that what you
tell me is true, for we are very old, and how can we now have a
só son ?" The angel answered, “I am 'Gabriel, and am sent from God with “ this message to you, and is not that “ enough to make you believe when
you see me before you? but since
you are not satisfied with that, you « shall have a token. You shall be “ dumb, and not able to speak till
your child is born, because you have “ not believed my words.” So saying, the angel disappeared, and left Zacharias not able to speak a word.
All this time the people were waiting in the Temple for Zacharias to come out and bless them before they went home, and they began to wonder how it was he was so long. At last, after waiting and watching for him for some time, they saw him come out; but not a word could he speak when he tried to bless them : so he was obliged to make signs to them to go away
without the blessing. When they were all gone, Zacharias went home to his wife; but he could not speak to her of what had happened, so no doubt he wrote it down, and then she read it.
Now what the angel told Zacharias came to pass exactly as he said, for Elizabeth had a son; and eight days after he was born, they called together their friends and neighbours, as they were going to give the child a name: so their friends said to Elizabeth, “ You had “ better call your son Zacharias, after “ his father;" but Elizabeth said, “ No, “ he must be called John.”—“ But,” they said, “ none of your relations “ are called by that name."
So they made signs to his father to know what he should be called ; and Zacharias hay
l ing, by signs, asked for a writing table,
wrote down these words, “ His name is “ John,” and gave the paper to his friends; but no sooner had Zacharias written down « His name is John," than he found that he could speak again. Now pay attention to the first words he said. We are told in the Bible, He praised God!
These surprising things were soon known by all the people living near; and every body wondered what sort of a person John should be, as his birth was so extraordinary. His father never forgot what the angel told him John was intended to do; so he took him, when he was a little boy, into a desert place, away from the rest of the people, and had him brought up to fear God in his youth; and John remained there till the time came when he was to preach to the people, and teach them to be good,