1 Whereas several have undertaken to draw up a narrative of those transactions, which pass'd among us; 2 according as they were delivered to us by persons, who were all along eye-witnesses, and had a share in the transactions themselves: 3 I have likewise thought proper; most excellent Theophilus, to write to you a particular account; having made a very diligent inquiry into the whole matter, 4 that you may have a distinct view of those things about which you have been inform'd.
5 In the time of Herod, the king of Judea, there was a certain priest, named Zacharias, of the family of Abia, whose wife; nam'd Elizabeth, was of the race of Aaron: 6 they were both of them sincerely pious; observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord; with unspotted reputation. 7 they had no children, because Elizabeth was steril, and they were both advanced in years.
8 now Zachary was to officiate in divine service, in the order of his family, 9 and according to the custom of distributing the parts, it fell to his lot to burn incense in the sanctuary. 10 and all the congregation of the people stood praying without, at the time of offering incense, 11 when there appear'd to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the incense-altar. 12 Zacharias startled at the sight and was seized with fear. 13 but the angel said to Zacharias, don't be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard: and your wife Elizabeth shall bear you a son, whom you shall name John: 14 he shall be your joy and transport, and numbers shall rejoice at his birth. 15 he shall appear as a divine messenger. he shall drink neither wine, nor any other strong liquor: he shall be filled with the holy spirit, even from his infancy: 16 he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 and he shall march before him, in the spirit and power of Elias, to reconcile parents and children together, and the unruly to the practice of justice, that the people may be duly dispos'd to receive the Lord.
18 But Zacharias said to the angel, by what sign shall I know this? for I am old, and my wife is of a great age.
19 the angel replied, I am Gabriel, who attend in the presence of God, and am sent to communicate to you this agreeable message. 20 you shall now become dumb and not recover your speech, till the very day when these things shall happen; because you distrusted my words, which in due time shall have their effect.
21 In the mean time the people were waiting for Zacharias, and wonder'd at his tarrying so long in the temple. 22 but when he came out, he could not speak to them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; for he intimated it to them by signs, and continued dumb. 23 and the time of his officiating being ended, he departed to his own house.
24 Some time after, Elizabeth his wife was pregnant, and went into retirement for five months. 25 it is the Lord, said she, who has thus favour'd me, at the time when he took care to remove the reproach I was under among men.
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin contracted to a man; whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 the angel, upon his arrival, said to her; "Hail, favorite of heaven, the Lord is with thee: thou happiest of thy sex." 29 Mary was surpriz'd at the voice of such an appearance, and wonder'd what the meaning of this salutation should be. 30 but the angel said to her, "Mary, be not afraid: for you are the object of divine favour. 31 you shall be now pregnant, and be delivered of a son, whom you shall name JESUS. 32 he shall be great, he shall be the son of the most high. the Lord God shall give him the throne of his father David. 33 he shall reign over the house of Jacob, and of his kingdom there shall be no end."
35 the angel answered her, "the holy spirit shall descend upon thee, and the power of the most high shall over-shadow thee: wherefore thy holy offspring shall be called the son of God.
36 even your cousin Elizabeth, as old as she is, is become pregnant with a son: she, who was stiled barren, is now in her sixth month; 37 for nothing is impossible to God."
38 then said Mary, "behold the servant of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word." upon which the angel disappeared.
39 Soon after this, Mary departed, and made an expeditious journey to a city of Juda, in the mountains: 40 where entring into the house of Zacharias, she saluted Elizabeth. 41 no sooner had Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, but the babe leap'd within her: 42 and Elizabeth divinely inspired, broke out into this acclamation.
43 "Blessed mother of the most blessed offspring! what an honour is this, that I should be visited by the mother of our Lord! 44 no sooner did the sound of your salutation strike mine ear, than the babe leap'd within me for joy. 45 blessed is she that has believed; for what she has heard from the Lord, shall be accomplished."
46 Then Mary said, "my soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my saviour, 48 for he hath regarded the low estate of his servant: and future ages shall proclaim me blessed. 49 the almighty hath distinguish'd me by the greatest marks of favour: his name be for ever reverenc'd. 50 his mercy is on them that fear him, from generation to generation. 51 he hath displayed the strength of his arm, and has confounded the proud by the devices of their hearts. 52 he has cast down princes from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree, 53 the needy he has furnished with plentiful enjoyments, and the rich he has reduced to poverty. 54 he has taken Israel his servant into his protection, in pursuance of the mercy, 55 which he promised to our forefathers, to Abraham, and to his posterity for ever."
56 Now Mary stay'd about three months with Elizabeth, and then return'd to her own house. 57 When Elizabeth had gone her full time, she was delivered of a son. 58 her neighbours and her relations having heard how the Lord had heap'd his favours upon her, they congratulated with her:
59 and on the eighth day were present at the circumcision of the child. but upon their proposing to call him by his father's name, Zacharias: his mother objected to it, 60 and said, no, he shall be called John.
61 they answered her, there is not any of your family of that name. 62 they therefore ask'd his father to signify how he would have him call'd. 63 then he made signs for a writing-book, and writ these words, "his name is John:" at which they were all surprized. 64 immediately he had the use of his speech: and he uttered himself in praises to God. 65 All the neighbourhood were struck with reverence, and the rumour of these events ran thro' all the mountains of Judea, 66 and made an impression upon all that heard of them. what a child will this be? said they, for the divine influence does attend him.
67 Then Zacharias his father, inspired by the holy spirit, vented his divine enthusiasm in these words.
68 "blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he hath regarded and wrought a deliverance for his people: 69 he hath rais'd up a powerful saviour for us, in the family of his servant David, 70 according to the antient promise he made by the mouth of the holy prophets, 71 to deliver us from our enemies, and from the power of all that hate us: 72 to show regard to our forefathers, in performing his holy covenant, 73 the oath which he made to our father Abraham, to grant us this favour, 74 that we should be delivered from the power of our enemies, and serve him with security, 75 in the sincere practice of holiness and justice, all our days. 76 and you, dear babe, you shall be the prophet of the most high: for you shall go before the Lord, in order to prepare his way, 77 by acquainting his people how they may be saved by the remission of their sins, 78 through the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun has visited us from on high, 79 to enlighten those, who are in darkness, and in the shadow of death, and to direct our steps into the ways of peace."