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intimations into one high-sounding symphony of joy, they recoil, baffled, yet fascinated, only to return to the task with increasing zest and energy ; for ah! these words are words of God, spoken, as Solomon's foundation stones were laid, for all time. These harmonies sound through the diapason of eternity. These lights and shades are flung athwart the perspective of endless vistas of ages. How shall the finite faculties of this daughter of an hour achieve the conquest of the mighty whole?
Far be it then from me here even to attempt conjecturing the words they spoke, the answers they gave, the emotions they exchanged. With silent reverence I muse hereon; and as the three short months expire, behold the gentle daughter of Heli reluctantly depart toward her northern home. After scenes may perchance develop fruit of those ideas obtained by her and treasured up in this important interview.
. Meanwhile, as she is leisurely proceeding northward, other scenes detain our attention at the dwelling of the priest, where not many days elapse before the birth of the angel-promised Son. Eight days after, around his hospitable board is gathered a joyous company. Mustering with mirth and high festival, all the friends and kindred are come, from far and near, to celebrate the rite of circumcision, and the naming of the child.
In garden, gallery, and court, under ancient sycamores, oaks, and cool orange groves, by old and young, the marvelous circumstances of his birth are variously discussed, and his future greatness, in the restoration of Israel to pristine splendor, sagely prognosticated. At length the initiatory rite of the covenant having been completed, all await to hear the name pronounced.
66 Zachariah shall he be called," says one ancient matron to another, “to preserve the remembrance of his holy father long upon the land.”
“Thou sayest well,” replies the other, “since evil it were to hear no more that venerable name in our midst." And a murmur of affectionate approval rises from all the listening circle, when, to the universal dismay, Elizabeth declares,
“ His name is John.”
“How !” exclaim all, in astonishment,“John when none of thy kindred are called by that name ?" and murmurs of dissent are audible from all.
“Let his father then decide,” responds Elizabeth, turning, with a smile, and presenting the writing tablets to the old man, as he stands placidly leaning on his staff, watching the coun.
tenances of the speakers. Seizing the pen, while an answering smile lights up his face, the father writes,
“ His name is John!"
Then, immediately, before the others can express their surprise, his tongue is loosed, and, filled with the Holy Ghost, he cries aloud, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel ! For he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, Which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, And from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, And to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, That we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our
life. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest : For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his
ways, To give knowledge of salvation unto his people, By the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of
our God; Whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shad
ow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
THE RETURN. Slowly, by reason of the increasing heats, and anxiously, in prospect of what she must encounter, the delicate maiden approaches the rocky heights of Nazareth.
The consciousness of innocence and of divine protection sustains her courage, which otherwise would be too sternly tested by the approaching crisis. Those dear to her as life it. self may, she is well aware, in a moment discard and doom her to a dreadful fate.
Yet God will keep his word. Her son shall rise to possess his ancestral throne, she thinks, even though her eye should never see it, though her agonized heart should long first cease to beat, and her form be reposing beneath the sods of the valley.
At length she arrives, and as soon as the first moments given to affectionate greeting are over, she summons her espoused husband, and before him and her father alone, unfolds her simple narrative, and having told all, awaits in silent suspense the verdict they shall pass. The result is partly as she dreaded; for, while her fa
ther, thoroughly persuaded of the purity and probity of his child, is ready to rejoice in the thought of her high exaltation, and thus yields credence to her narration, Joseph, on the contrary, with difficulty commanding himself, leaves her presence in a tumult of contending feelings. Never before has his sedate and settled disposition been so profoundly agitated; and there is somewhat in the agitation of a calm nature fearful to look upon. He is driven, by turns, into the extremes of hope the most glowing, of despair the most murky. He can not forget her, for such natures never do forget; neither can he fully confide in her, much less bring himself to a total unbelief-a full admission of her guilt and shame. Tenacious of his first thoughts of her, he feels as if to give them up would be to give up life itself; and, though his mind is not at rest, he can not pronounce her doom. Perceiving the unhesitating confidence of old Heli, he converses with him, endeavoring to participate in that confidence. He looks upon the clear, open brow, gazes into the mild, deep, truth-tell. ing eye of his affianced, listens to her melodious voice, rehearsing ever such a simple, unvarying tale, and he says,
" I will not doubt!" But once again alone, in the silent night, or