DOWN UPON THE earth there was a small band of people whose expectations had been aroused to the highest pitch. The miraculous appearance of Gabriel to Zacharias, and the subsequent miraculous birth of John were known to all the hill country of Judaea. The priesthood in Jerusalem also knew of the astounding experience vouchsafed to one of their number, and the words of the Holy Ghost had accompanied it. It had been stated that John should be filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb: indeed had he not leapt in it at the approach of Mary! What manner of child should the Son of the Highest be when Mary's womb gave up its secret, and the Almighty manifested His Well-Beloved! Their minds doubtless turned back to Samson, to Samuel, to David, all great men in their youth and leaders of the nation. If the sons of men were so remarkable, what might not be expected when the Son of God appeared!
How eagerly did Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zacharias look into their children's faces as if to see some sign of the secrets that lay within: how often did they tell over the words of the Angel and ask each other what manner of children they might be! Zacharias determined at any rate to send his boy away from the temptations of city life to live as Elijah had lived apart from men in the desert, that he might more easily fulfil the prediction that he should move in the Spirit and power of Elijah.
Joseph and Mary, after the exciting events which followed the visit of the Magi, seem to have made no such