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PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS OF THE GOSPEL
S T. M A T T H E W.
We have now before us, 1. The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, so this second part of the holy Bible is entitled : The new Covenant ; so it might as well be rendered; the word signifies both. But when it is (as here) spoken of as Christ's act and deed, it is most properly rendered a Testament, for he is the Testator, and it becomes of force by his death, (Heb. 9. 16, 17;) por is there, as in covenants, a previous treaty between the parties, but what is granted, though an estate upon condition, is owing to the will, the free-will, ihe good-will of the Testator. Thus all the grace contained in this book is owing to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour; and unless we consent to him as our Lord, we cannot expect any benefit by him as our Saviour. This is called a New Testament, to distinguish it from that which was given by Moses, and was now antiquated; and to signify that it should be always new, and should never wax old, and grow out of date. These books contain, not only a full discovery of thal grace which has appeared to all men, bringing salvation, but a legal instrument by which it is conveyed io, and settled upon, ali believers. How carefully do we preserve, and with whai attention and pleasure do we read, the last will and testament of a friend, who has therein left us a fair estate, and, with it, high expressions of his love to us! How precious then should this Testament of our blessed Saviour be to us, which secures to us all his unsearchable riches! It is his Testament; for though, as is usual, it was written by others, (we have nothing upon record that was of Christ's own writing,) yet he dictated it, and the night before he died, in the institution of his supper, he signed, sealed, and published it, in the presence of twelve witnesses. For though these books were not written for some years afier, for the benefit of posterity, in perpetuam rei memoriam-as a perpetual memorial, yet the New Testament of our Lord Jesus was settled, confirmed, and declared, from the time of his death, as a nuncupative will, with which these records exactly agree. The things which St. Luke wrote, were things which were most surely believel, and therefore well known, before he wrote them; but when they were written, the oral tradition was superseded and set aside, and these writings were the repository of that New Testament. This is intimated by the title which is prefied to many Greek Copies, Tūs kaivis Aralians "A tavra-The whole of the New Testament, or All the things of it. In it is declared the whole counsel of God concerning our salvation, Acts 20.27. As the law of the Lord is perfect, so is the Gospel
of Christ, and nothing is to be added to We have it all, and are to look for no more. II. We have before us The Four Gospels. Gospel signifies good news, or glad tidings; and this history of Christ's coming
into the world to save sinners, is, without doube, the best news that ever came from heaven to earih; the angel gave it this title, (Luke 2. 10,) Evayyearsonar bir-I bring you good tidings; I bring the Gospel to you. And the prophet foretold it, Is. 52.7. -61.1. It is there foretold, that in the days of the Messiah good tidings should be preached. Gospel an old Saxon word; it is Gol's spell or word ; and God is so called because he is good, Deus optimus, God most excellent, and therefore it may be a good spell, or word. If we take spell in its more proper signification for a charm (carmen,) and take that in a good sense, for what is moving and affecting, which is apt lenire dolorem-to calm the spirits, or to raise them in admiration or love, as that which is very amiable we call charming, it is applicable to the Gospel ; for in it the charmer charmeth wisely, though to deaf adders, Ps. 58. 4, 5. Nor (one would think) can any charms be so powerful as those of the beauty and love of our Redeemer. The whole New Testament is the Gospel. St. Paul calls it his Gospel, because he was one of the preachers of it. Oh that We may each of us make it ours by our cordial acceptance of it, and subjection to it! But the four books which contain the history of the Redeemer, we commonly call The Four Gospels, and the inspired penmen of them Evangelists or Gospelborilers; not, however, very properly, because that title belongs to a particular order of ministers, that were assistants to the apostles, (Eph. 4.11 ) He gave some apostles and some evangelists. It was requisite that the doctrine of Christ should be interwoven with, and founded upon, the narrative of his birth, life, miracles, death, and resurrection; for then it appears in its clearest and strongest light. As in nature, so in grace, the most happy discoveries are those which iake rise from the certain representations of matters of fact. Natural history is the best philosophy; and so is the sacred history, both of the Old and New Testament, the most proper and grateful vehicle of sacred truth. These four gospels were early and constantly received by the primitive church, and read in Christian assemblies, as appears by the writings of Justin Martyr and Irenæus, who lived little more than a hundred years after the ascension of Christ; they declared that neither more nor fewer than four were received by the church. A Harmony of these four evangelists was compiled by Tatian about that time, which he called, to did 100cáowr--The Gospel out of the four. In the third and fourth centuries there were gospels forged by divers sects and published, one under the name of St. Peter, another of St. Thomas, another of St. Philip, &c. But they were never owned by the church, nor was any credit given to them; as the learned Dr. Whitby shows. And he gives this good reason why he should adhere to these written records, because, whatever the pretences of tradition may be, it is not sufficient to preserve things with any certainiy, as appears by experience. For, whereas Christ said and did many memorable things, which were not written, (John 20. 30.--21. 25,) tradition has not preserved any one of them to us, but all is lost except what was written; that therefore is what
we must abide by; and blessed be God that we have it to abide by ; it is the sure word of history. III. We have before us the Gospel according to St. Matthew. The penman was, by birth, a Jew, by calling a publican, till
Christ commanded his attendance, and then he left the receipt of custom, to follow him, and was one of those that accompanied him all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out, beginning from the baptism of John unto the day that he was taken up, Acts 1. 21, 22. He was therefore a competent witness of what he has here recorded. He is said to have written this history about eight years after Christ's ascension. Many of the ancients say that he wrote it in the Hebrew, or Syriac language ; but the tradition is sufficiently disproved by Dr. Whitby. Doubtless it was written in Greek,* as the other parts of the New Testament were ; not in that language which was peculiar to the Jews, whose church and state were near a period, but in that which was common to the world, and in which the knowledge of Christ would be most effectually transmitted to the nations of the earth ; yet it is probable that there might be an edition of it in Hebrew, published by St. Matthew himself, at the same time that he wrote it in Greek; the former for the Jews, the latter for the Gentiles, when he left Judea, to preach among the Gentiles. Let us bless God that we have it, and have it in a language which we understand.
* See a vindication of the opposite opinion in Dr. Campbell's Preface to his Translation of this Gospel.- Ep. VOL. III.-2
a Luke 3. 23, &c. 6 P. 132. 11. c. 22. 45. Acts 2. 30. c Gen. 22. 18. Gal. 3. 16. d Gen. 21. 2-5. e Gen. 25. 26. s cien. 29. 35, &c. & Gen. 38. 2930, &c. h Gen. 46. 12. i Ruth 4. 19. kl Chr. 2. 10. Nun. 1. 7. Ruth 4. 20. m Joh.
7 And Solomon begat ?Roboam; and Roboam
begat Abia ; and Abia begat Asa; This evangelist begins with the account of Christ's parentage and birth, the ancestors from whoin he descendent, and the manner of his entry into the world, to make 8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat It appear that he was med tre Merinos protested for it was formet be what they Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; is here plainly shown ; for here is, I. His pedigree from Abrahain in forty-two 9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begenerations, three lourteens, v. 1-17. I. An account of the circunstances of his Orth, was was requisite to show that he was born of a virgin, v. 13-25. gat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
metholically lives be 10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Mawritten, for the clearer proposing of the example of them.
nasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias ; THE book of the generation of Jesus Christ, 11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren,
about the time they were carried away to Babylon; 2 Abraham beyat Ísaac; and Isaac begat Ja 12 And after they were brought to Babylon, cob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren ; Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat
3 And Judas begat «Phares and Zara of Tha- Zorobabel ;! mar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom be 13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Aram;
gat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor ; 4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab 14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat begat "Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;' Achim; and Achim begat Eliud ;
5 And Salmon begat Booz of mRachab; and 15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar beBooz begat Obed "of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; gat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David 16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of the king begat PSolomon of her that had been the Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called wife of Urias;
Jakim begat Jechonias. &1 Chr. 3. 17, &c. I Neh. 12. 1.
when the house of David was buried in obscurity ; for Christ CHAP. I. v.1-17. Concerning this genealogy of our Sa was to be a Rool out of a dry ground. Note, God's time for viour, observe,
the performance of his promise is, when it labours under the 1. The title of it. It is the book (or the account, as the greatest improbabilities. Hebrew word sepher-a book, sometimes signifies) of the gene III. The particular series of it, drawn in a direct line from ration of Jesus Christ, of his ancestors, according to the flesh; | Abraham downward, according to the genealogies recorded in or, It is the narrative of his birth. It is Biblos levérews- the beginning of the books of Chronicles, (as far as those go, book of Genesis. The Old Testament begins with the book of and which here we see the use of. the generation of the world, and it is its glory that it does so; Some particulars we may observe in this genealogy. but the glory of the New Testament herein Is, that it begins 1. Among the ancestors of Christ, who brethren, genewith the book of the generation of him that made the world. As rally, he descended from a younger brother; such Abraham God, his outgoings were of old, from everlasting, (Mic. 5. 2,) himself was, and Jacob, and Judah, and David, and Nathan, and none can declare that generation ; but, as Man, he was and Rhesa ; to show that the pre-eminence of Christ came not, sent forth in the fulness of time, born of a woman, and it is that as that of earthly princes, from the primogeniture of his ancesgeneration which is here declared.
tors, but from the will of God, who, according to the method of II. The principal intention of it. It is not an endless or his providence, eralts them of low degree, and puts more abunneediess genealogy; it is not a vainglorious one, as those of dant honour upon that part which lacked. great men commonly are. Stemmata, quid faciunt-Of what 2. Among the sons of Jacob, beside Judah, from whom Shiloh avail are ancient pedigrees? It is like a pedigree given in evi- came, notice is here taken of his brethren ; Judas and his bredence, to prove a title, and make out a claim; the design is to thren. No mention is made of Ishmael, the son of Abraham, prove that our Lord Jesus is the Son of David, and the Son of or of Esau, the son of Isaac, because they were shut out of the Abraham, and therefore of that nation and family out of which church ; whereas all the children of Jacob were taken in, and the Messiah was to arise. Abraham and David were, in their though not fathers of Christ, were yet patriarchs of the church, day, the great trustees of the promise relating to the Messiah. (Acts 7. 8;) and therefore are mentioned in this genealogy, for The promise of the blessing wis made to Abraham and his seed, the encouragement of the twelve tribes that were scattered abroad, of the dominion, to David and his seed; and they who would intimating to them that they have an interest in Christ, and have an interest in Christ, as the Son of Abraham, in whom all stand in relation to him as well as Judah. the families of the earth are to be blessed, must be faithful, loyal 3. Phares and Zara, the twin-sons of Judah, are likewise subjects to him as the Son of David, by whom all the families of both named, though Phares only was Christ's ancestor, for the the earth are to be ruled. It was promised to Abrahain that same reason that the brethren of Judah are taken notice of: Christ should descend from him, (Gen. 12. 3.–22. 18,) and to some think because the birth of Phares and Zara had someDavid that he should descend from him, (2 Sam. 7. 12. Ps. thing of allegory in it. Zara put out his hand first, as the 89. 3, &c.-132. 11;) and therefore, unless it can be proved that first-born, but drawing it in, Phares got the birthright. The Jesus is a Son of David and a Son of Abraham, we cannot Jewish church, like Zara, reached first at the birthright, but, admit him to be the Messiah. Now this is here proved from through unbelief, withdrawing the hand, the Gentile church, the authentic records of the heralds' offices. The Jews were like Phares, broke forth, and went away with the birthright; very exact in preserving their pedigrees, and there was a pro- and thus blindness is in part happened unto Israel, till the fulvidence in it, for the clearing up of the descent of the Messiah ness of the Gentiles be come in, and then Zara shall be bornfrom the fathers; and since his coming, that nation is so dis-all Israel shall be saved, Rom. 11. 25, 26. persed and confounded, that it is a question whether any person 4. There are four women, and but four, named in this gein the world can legally prove himself to be a son of Abraham; nealogy; two of them were originally strangers to the commonhowever, it is certain that none can prove himself to be either wealth of Israel, Rachab a Canaanitess, and a harlot besides, a son of Aaron, or a son of David, so that the priestly and kingly and Ruth the Moabitess; for in Jesus Christ there is neither office must either be given up as lost for ever, or be logged in Greek nor Jew; those that are strangers and foreigners are welthe hands of our Lord Jesus. Christ is here first called the Son come, in Christ, to the citizenship of the saints. The other two of David, because under that title he was commonly spoken of, were adulteresses, Tamar and Bathsheba ; which was a further and expected, among the Jews. They who owned him to be mark of humiliation put upon our Lord Jesus, that not only he the Christ, called him
the Son of David, ch. 15. 22.-20. 31.- descended from such, but that tris descent from them is parti21.15. This, therefore, the Evangelist undertakes to make cularly remarked in his genealogy, and no veil drawn over it. out, that he is not only a Son of David, but that Son of David He took upon him the likeness of sinful flesh, (Rom. 8. 3,) and on whose shoulders the government was to be; not only a Son takes even great sinners, upon their repentance, into the nearof Abraham, but that Son of Abraham, who was to be the Fa- est relations to himself. Note, We ought not to upbraid people ther of many nations.
with the scandals of their ancestors; it is what they cannot In calling Christ the Son of David, and the Son of Abraham, help, and has been the lot of the best, even of our Master himhe shows that God is faithful to his promise, and will make self. David's begetting Solomon of her that had been the wife good every word that he has spoken; and this, 1. Though the of Urias, is taken notice of, (says Dr. Whitby,) to show that performance be long deferred. When God promised bra crime of David, being repented of, was so far from hinham a Son, who should be the great Blessing of the world, dering the promise made to him, that it pleased God by this perhaps he expected it should be his immediate son; but it very woman to fulfil it. proved to be one at the distance of forty-two generations, and 5. Though divers kings are here named, yet none is expressly about 2000 years. So long before can God foretel what shall called a king but David, (v. 6,) David the king; because with be done, and so long after, sometimes, does God fulfil what has him the covenant of royaliy was made, and to him the promise been promised. Note, Delays of promised mercies, though of the kingdom of the Messiah was given, who is therefore said they exercise our patience, do not weaken God's promise. 2. to inherit the throne of his father David, Luke 1. 32. Though it begin to be despaired of. This Son of David, and 6. In the pedigree of the kings of Judah, between Joram and Son of Abrahum, who was to be the Glory of his Father's Ozias, (v. 8,) there are three left out, Abaziah, Joash, and house, was born then when the seed of Abraham was a de- Amaziah; and therefore when it is said, Joram begat Ozias, spised people recently become tributary to the Roman yoke, and it is meant, according to the usage of the Hebrew tongue, that
17 So all the generations from Abraham to Da
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this vil are fourteen generations; and from David until wise : When as his mother Mary was espoused to the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen gene
Joseph, *before they came together, she was found rations, and from the carrying away into Babylon with child of the Holy Ghost. unto Christ are fourteen generations.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, Luke 1.27, &c.
5th year before the account called Anno Domini. Ozias was lineally descended from him, as it is said to Heze- adored, not pryed into. If we know not the way of the Spirit Liah, that the sons which he should beget should be carried to
in the formation of common persons, nor how the bones are Babydose
, whereas they were removed several generations from formed in the womb of any one that is with child, (Ec. 11.5,) him. li was not through mistake or forgetfulness that threse much less do we know how the blessed Jesus was formed in the three were omitted, but, probably, they were omitted in the
womb of the blessed virgin. When David admires how he himgenealogical tables that the Evangelist consulted, which yet self was made in secret, and curiously wrought, (Ps. 139. 13– trere adioitted as authentic. Some give this reason for it. It | 16,) perhaps he speaks, in spirit, of Christ's incarnation. Some being Matthew's design, for the sake of memory, to reduce the
circumstances attending the birth of Christ we find here, which Buruber of Christ's ancestors to three fourteens, it was requi are not in Luke, though it is more largely recorded there. Here site
that in this period three should be left out, and none inore we have, fit than they who were the immediate progeny of cursed Atha I. Mary's espousals to Joseph. Mary, the mother of our lian, who introduced the idolatry of Ahab into the house of Lord, was espoused to Joseph, not completely married, but conDavad; for which this brand is set upon the family, and the tracted; a purpose of marriage solemnly declared in words de iniquity thus visited to the third and fourth generation. Two of futuro--that regarded the future, and a promise of it made if these three were apostates; and such God commonly sets a God permit. We read of a man who has betrothed a wife, and mark of bis displeasure upon in this world ; they all three had has not taken her, Deut. 20.7. Christ was born of a virgin, but their heads brought to the grave with blood.
contracted virgin, 1. To put respect upon the married state, 7. Some observe what a mixture there was of good and bad, and to recommend it as honourable among all, against that in the succession of these kings; as for instance, (v. 7, 8,) doctrine of devils which forbids to marry, and places perfection wicked Robouza begat wicked Abia; wicked Abia begat good in the single state. Who more highly favoured than Mary 48; good as begat good Josaphat; good Josaphat begat was in her espousals? 2. To save the credit of the blessed wicked Joram. Grace does not run in the blood, nor does virgin, which otherwise would have been exposed. It was fit rigning sin. God's grace is his own, and he gives or with that her conception should be protected by a marriage, and so boiis it as he pleases.
justified in the eye of the world. One of the ancients says, 8. The captivity in Babylon is mentioned as a reinarkable it was better it should be asked, Is not this the son of a carperiod in this line, v. 11, 12. All things considered, it was a penter ? than, Is not this the son of a harlot? 3. That the wonder that the Jews were not lost in that captivity, as other blessed virgin might have one to be the guide of her youth, the nations have been; but this intimates the reason why the companion of her solitude and travels, a partner in her cares, streams of that people were kept to run pure through that dead and a help meet for her. Some think that Joseph was now a Bez, because from them, as concerning the flesh, Christ was to widower, and that those who are called the brethren of Christ, Come Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it, even that Blessing (ch. 13. 55,) were Joseph's children by a former wife. This of Wessings, Christ himself, Is. 65. 8, 9. It was with an eye is the conjecture of many of the ancients. Joseph was a just to him that they were restored, and the desolations of the man, she a virtuous woman. Those who are belicvers should sanctuary, were looked upon with favour for the Lord's sake, not be unequally yoked with unbelievers ; but let those who are Daa. 9. 17.
religious choose to marry with those who are so, as they expect 9. Josiz iş here said to beget Jechonias and his brethren, the comfort of the relation, and God's blessing upon them in (6.11.) By Jechonias is meani Jehoiakim, who was the first it. We may also learn from this example, that it is good to born of Josias ; but when it is said (v. 12) that Jechonias begat enter inio the married state with deliberation, and not hastily ; Szatnie, that Jechonias was the son of that Jehoiakim who to preface the nuptials with a contract. It is better to take was carried into Babylon, and there begat Salathiel, (as Dr. time to consider before, than to find time to repent after. Why shows,) and when Jechonias is said to have been writ II. Her pregnancy of the Promised Seed : before they came ten chaldives, (Jer. 22. 30,) it is explained thus : No man of his together, she was found with child, which really was of the Holy
Salathiel is here said to beget Zorobabel, Ghost. The marriage was deferred so long after the contract, betea: Sa'atbiel begat Pedaiah, and he begat Zorobabel, that she appeared to be with child, before the time came for the (1 Chr. 3. 19:) bal, as before, the grandson is often called the solemnizing of the marriage, though she was contracted before $0; Pedaiah, it is likely, died in his father's lifetime, and she conceived. Probably, it was after her return from her so his son Zorobabel was called the son of Salathiel.
cousin Elizabeth, with whom she continued three months, 10. The hoe is brought down not to Mary, the mother of our (Luke 1.56,) that she was perceived by Joseph to be with Lord, bar to Joseph, the kushand of Mary, (v. 16;) for the Jews child, and did not herself deny it. Note, Those in whom always reckoned their genealogies by the males : yet Mary was Christ is formed, will show it ; it will be found to be a work of of the same tribe and family with Joseph, so that, both by the God, which he will own. Now we may well imagine, what mother and by this supposed father, he was of the house of a perplexity this might justly occasion to the blessed virgin. Dand; yet his interest in that dignity is derived by Joseph, to She herself knew the divine original of this conception; but
una really, according to the flesh, he had no relation, to show how could she prove it? She would be dealt with as with a that the kingdom of the Messiah is not founded in a natural harlot. Note, After great and high advancements, lest we descent from David.
should be puffed up with them, we must expect something or 11. The ceatre in whom all these lines meet is Jesus, who is other to humble us; some reproach, as a thorn in the flesh, nay, caled Christ, o. 16. This is he that was so importunately as a sword in the bones. Never was any daughter of Eve so de red, so impatiently expected, and to whom the patriarchs dignified as the Virgin Mary was, and yet in danger of falling Lai an eye when they were so desirous of children, that they under the imputation of one of the worst of crimes; yet we do might have the honour of coming into the sacred line. Blessed not find that she tormented herself about it; being conscious bu God, we are not now in such a dark and cloudy state of of her own innocence, she kept her mind calm and easy, and Espretation as they were then in, but see clearly what these committed her cause to him that judges righteously. Note, prophets and kings saw as through a glass darkly. And we Those who take care to keep a good conscience, may cheermay have, if it be not our own fault, a greater honour than that fully trust God with the keeping of their good names, and have of which they were so ambitious : for they who do the will of reason to hope that he will clear up, not only their integriiy, Gord, are ma a more honourable relation to Christ, than those but their honour, as the sun at noonday. 50 were akin to him according to the flesh, ch. 12. 50. Jesus III. Joseph's perplexity, and his care what to do in this is called Christ, that is, the Anointed, the same with the Hebrew case. We may well imagine what a great trouble and disapDame Heral He is called Messiah the Prince, (Dan. 9. pointment it was to him, to find one he had such an opinion of, 25,) and often God's Anointed, (Ps. 2. 2.) Under this charac- and value for, come under the suspicion of such a heinous ter he was espected; Art thou the Christ-the Anointed one? crime. Is this Mary? He began to think ; How may we David, the king, was anointed, (1 Sam.
16. 13 ;) so was Aaron, be deceived in those we think best of! How may we be disapthe priest, (Lev. 8. 12,) and Elisha, the prophet, (1 Kings 192 pointed in what we expect the most from !" He is loath to 16,) and isaiah, the prophet, (Is. 61,1;) Christ, being appointed bolieve so ill a thing of one whom he believed to be so good a t, and qualified for, all these offices, is therefore called the woman; and yet the matter, as it is too bad to be excused, is Aroniadansinted with the oil of gladness above his fellows; also too plain to be denied. What a struggle does this occaand from this name of his, which is as ointment poured forth, all sion in his breast, between that jealousy which is the rage of be fullywers are called Christians, for thoy also have received man, and is cruel as the grave, on the one hand, and that affocthe anointing.
tion which he has for Mary, on the other. Observe, Lasty, The general summary of all this genealogy we have, 1. The extremity which he studied to avoid. He was not r. 17, where it is summed up in three fourteens, signalized by willing to make her a public erample. He might have done pezarkable periods. In the first fourteen, we have the family it; for, by the law, a betrothed virgin, is she play the harlot, of land rising, and looking forth as the morning; in the second, was to be stoned to death, Deut.
22, 23, 24. But he was w bare it Hourishing in its meridian lustre; in the third, we not willing to take the advantage of the law against her ; if have it declining and growing less and less, dwindled into the she be guilty, yet it is not known, nor shall it be known from fancy of a poor carpenter, and then Christ shines forth out of him. How different was the spirit which Joseph displayed it, b« Glory of his people Israel.
from that of Judah, who in a similar case hastily passed that V. 18–25. The mystery of Christ's incarnation is to be severo sentence, Bring her forth and let hier be burnt! Gen. 38.
pot sa prosper.
10 ver. 16.
Acts 5. 31. 13.
z John 1. 14.
and not willing to make her a public example, was filled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet minded rto put her away privily.
saying, 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a bring forth a son, and they shall call his name wdream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear Emmanuel; which being interpreted, is, God with not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that us. which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 24 Then Joseph, being raised from sleep, did as
21. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou the angel of the LORD had bidden him, and took shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save ahis unto him his wite: people from their sins.
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth 22 Now all this was done, that it might be ful her first-born ason: and he called his name JESUS. . Deut. 21. 1. • begotten. 1 i. e. Saviour. y ls. 7. 14. or, his name shall be called.
a Ex. 13. 2. b Luke 23, 38. 24. How good is it to think on things, as Joseph did here! take Mary for thy wife ; so it may be read. Joseph, susWere there more of deliberation in our censures and judgments, pecting she was with child by whoredom, was afraid of taking there would be more of mercy and moderation in them. Bring-her, lest he should bring upon himself either guilt or reproach. ing her to punishment, is here called making her a public exam- No, saith God, Fear not; the matter is not so. Perhaps Mary ple ; which shows what is the end to be aimed at in punishments had told him that she was with child by the Holy Ghost, and -giving warping to others : it is in terrorem--that all about he might have heard what Elisabeth said to her, (Luke 1. 42,) muy hear and fear. Smite the scorner, and the simple will when she called her the mother of her Lord; and if so, beware.
afraid of presumption in marrying one so much above him. But Some persons of a rigorous temper would blame Joseph for from whatever cause his fears arose, they were all silenced with his clemency, but it is here spoken of to his praise; because he this word, Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife. Note, It was a just man, therefore he was not willing to expose her. is a great mercy to be delivered from our fears, and to have He was a religious, good man; and therefore inclined to be our doubts resolved, so as to proceed in our affairs with satismerciful as God is, and to forgive as one that was forgiven. faction. In the case of a betrothed damsel, if she were defiled in the 2. He is here informed concerning that Holy Thing, with field, the law charitably supposed that she cried out, (Deut. 22. which his espoused wife was now pregnant. That which is 26,) and she was not to be punished. Some charitable con- conceived in her, is of a divine original. He is so far from struction or other Joseph will put upon this matter; herein he being in danger of sharing in an impurity by marrying her, that is a just man, tender of the good name of one who never before he will thereby share in the highest dignity he is capable of. had done any thing to blemish it. Note, It becomes us, in many Two things he is told, cases, to be gentle toward those that come under suspicion of (1.) That she had conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost; having offended, to hope the best concerning them, and make not by the power of nature. The Holy Spirit, who produced the best of that which at first appears bad, in hopes it may the world, now produced the Saviour of the world, and prepared prove better. Summum jus summa injuria-The rigour of the him a budy, as was promised him, when he said, lo, I come, law is (sometimes) the height of injustice. That court of con- Heb. 10.5. Hence he is said to be made of a woman, (Gal. 4.4;) science which moderates the rigour of the law, we call a court and yet to be that second Adam, that is, the Lord from heaven, of equity. Those who are found faulty, were perhaps overtaken i Cor. 15. 47. He is the Son of God, and yet so far partakes in the fault, and are therefore to be restored with the spirit of of the substance of his mother, as to be called the Fruit of meekness.
her womb, Luke 1. 42, It was requisite that his conception 2. The expedient he found out for avoiding this extremity. should be otherwise than by ordinary generation, that so, though He was minded to put her away privily, that is, to give a bill of he partook of the human nature, yet he might escape the cordivorce into her hand before two witnesses, and so to hush up ruption and pollution of it, and not be conceived and shapen in the matter among themselves. Being a just man, a strict ob- iniquity. History tells us of some who vainly pretended to server of the law, he would not proceed to marry her, but have conceived by a divine power, as the mother of Alexander; resolved to put her away; and yet, in tenderness for her, deter- but none ever really did so, except the mother of our Lord. mined to do it as privately as possible. Note, The necessary His name in this, as in other things, is Wonderful. We do not censures of those who have offended, ought to be managed read that the Virgin Mary did herself proclaim the honour done without noise. The words of the wise are heard in quiet. Christ her ; but she hid it in her heart, and therefore God sent an himself shall not strive nor cry. Christian love and Christian angel to attest it. Those who seek not their own glory, shall prudence will hide a multitude of sins, and great ones, as far as have the honour that comes from God; it is reserved for the may be done without having fellowship with them.
humble. IV. Joseph's discharge from this perplexity by an express (2.) That she should bring forth the Saviour of the world, sent from heaven, (v. 20,21 ;) While he thought on these things, (v.21;) She shall bring forth a Son; what he shall be is intiand knew not what to determine, God graciously directed him mated, what to do, and made him easy. Note, Those who would have [1.] In the name that should be given to her Son; Thou direction from God, must think on things themselves, and con shalt call his name Jesus, a Suviour. Jesus is the same name sult with themselves. It is the thoughtful, not the unthinking, with Joshua, the termination only being changed, for the sake whom God will guide. When he was at a loss, and had car of conforming it to the Greek. Joshua is called Jesus, ried the matter as far as he could in his own thoughts, then (Acts 7. 45. Heb. 4. 8,) from the Seventy. There were two God came in with advice. Note, God's time to come in with of that name under the Old Testament, who were both illustriinstruction to his people, is when they are nonplussed, and at a ous types of Christ; Joshua, who was Israel's Captain at their stand. God's comforts most delight the soul, in the multitude first settlement in Canaan; and Joshua, who was their High of its perplexed thoughts.
Priest at their second settlement after the captivity, Zech. 6. The message was sent to Joseph by an angel of the Lord ; 11, 12. Christ is our Joshua ; both the Captain of our salvaprobably, the same angel that brought to Mary the tidings of tion, and the High Priest of our profession, and, in both, our the conception-the angel Gabriel. Now the intercourse with Saviour ;-a Joshua who comes in the stead of Moses, and heaven, by angels, with which the patriarchs had been digni- does that for us, which the law could not do, in that it was weak fied, but which had been long disused, begins to be revived ; Joshua had been called Hoshea, but Moses prefixed the first for when the First-Begotten is to be brought into the world, the syllable of the name Jehovah, and so made it Jehoshua, (Num. angels are ordered to attend his motions. How far God may 13. 16,) to intimate that the Messiah, who was to bear that now, in an invisible way, make use of the ministration of name,"should be Jehovah; he is therefore able to save to the angels, for extricating his people out of their strafts, wo onnnot utter most, neither is there salvation in any other. say; but this we are sure of, they are all ministering spirits for [2.] In the reason or that name, For he shall save his people their good. This angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, when from their sins ; not the nation of the Jews only, (he came to he was asleep, as God sometimes spake unto the fathers. his own, and they received him not,) but all who were given him When we are most quiet and composed, we are in the best by the Father's choice, and all who have given themselves to frame to receive the notices of the divine will. The Spirit him by their own. He is a King who protects his subjects, and, moves on the calm waters. This dream, no doubt, carried its as the Judges of Israel of old, works salvation for them. Note, own evidence along with it, that it was of God, and not the Those whom Christ saves, he saves from their sins ; from the production of a vain fancy.
guilt of sin by the merit of his death, from the dominion of sin Now, 1. Joseph is here directed to proceed in his intended by the Spirit of his grace. In saving them from sin, he saves marriage. The angel calls him, Joseph, thou son of David : them from wrath and the curse, and all misery here and herehe puts him in mind of his relation to David, that he might be after. Christ came to save his people, not in their sins, but prepared to receive this surprising intelligence of his relation from their sins; to purchase for them, not a liberty to sin, but to the Messiah, who, every one knew, was to be a descendant a liberty, from sins, to redeem them from all iniquity, (Tit. 2. from David. Sometimes, when great honours devolve upon 14;) and so to redeem them from among men, (Rev. 14. 4,) those who have small estates, they care not for accepting them, to himself, who is separate from sinners. So that those who but are willing to drop them ; it was therefore requisite to put leave their sins, and give up themselves to Christ as his people, this poor carpenter in mind of his high birth; “Value thyself
, are interested in the Saviour, and the great salvation which he Joseph, thou art that son of David, through whom the line of has wrought out, Rom. 11. 26. the Messiah is to be drawn.' We may thus say to every true V. The fulfilling of the scripture in all this. This evangebeliever ; "Fear not, thou son of Abraham, thou child of God; list, writing among the Jews, more frequently observes this than forget not the dignity of thy birth, thy new birth.” Fear not to l any other of the evangelists. Here, the Old Testament pro
in Bethlehem of
Newhen Jesus was Le this chapter, we have the history of com Seviour infancy, where we find how hold, there came wise men from the east to Jeru
Judea, in the days of Herod the king, be
O belare based leguan to fall all righteousness. Here is I. The wise men's
soli salem, wy ,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born «King of the e criedy of Herod, v. 13-15. IV. The barbarous murder of the infants of Jews ? for we have seen his óstar in the east, and Becheurs, . 15-13. Y. Christ's return out of Egypt into the land of Israel
are come to worship him.
they are he was, v. 9-12
ml. Christ's fight into Egypt, to avoid
• 4th rear before the account called Arino Domini.
a Zech. 9. 9.
8 Num. 24. 17. Is. 60. 3. c Joba 5. 23.
pbecies had their accomplishment in our Lord Jesus; by which conceived of the Holy Ghost never proves abortive, but will cerit appears, that this was He that should come, and we are to tainly be brought forth in its season. What is of the will of look for no other; for this was He to whom all the prophets the flesh, and of the will of man, often miscarries; but if Christ bear rits. Now the scripture that was fulfilled in the birth be formed in the soul, God himself has begun the good work of Canst, was that promise of a sign which God gave to king which he will perform; what is conceived in grace, will, no Abaz, (Is. 7.14,) Behold, a virgin shall conceive; where the doubt, be brought forth in glory. peoprt, encouraging the people of God to hope for the promised It is here further observed, i. That Joseph, though he solemdriverance frorn Sennacherib's invasion, directs them to look nized the marriage with Mary, his espoused wife, kept at a forward to the Messiah, who was to come of the people of the distance from her while she was with child of this holy thing; Jews, and the house of David; whence it was easy to infer, he knew her not till she had brought him forth. Much has been that thugh that people and that house were afflicted, yet nei- said concerning the perpetual virginity of the mother of our ter the one nor the other could be abandoned to ruin, so long Lord; Jerome was very angry with Helvidius for denying it. as God had such an honour, such a blessing, in reserve for them. It is certain that it cannot be proved from scripture. Dr. The deliverances which God wrought for the Old-Testament Whitby inclines to think, that when it is said, Joseph knew her church, were iy pes and figures of the great salvation by Christ; not till she had brought forth her first-born, it is intimated that, and f God will do the greater, he will not fail to do the less. afterward, the reason ceasing, he lived with her according to
The prophecy bere quoted is justly ushered in with a Behold, the law, Ex. 21. 10. 2. That Christ was the First-Born; and which commands both attention and admiration ; for we have so he might be called, though his mother had not any other chilhere the mystery of godliness, which is, without controversy, dren afier him, according to the language of scripture. Nor great, that God was manifested in the flesh.
was it without a mystery that Christ is called her Firsi-Born, 1. The sign given us, that the Messiah shall be born of a for he is the First-born of every creature, that is, the Heir of all pigia. A urgin shall conceive, and, by her, he shall be mani-things; and he is the First-Born among many brethren, that in fested in the flesh. The word Almah signifies a virgin, in the all things he may have the pre-eminence. 3. That Joseph callstrictest sense, such as Mary professes herself to be, Luke 1. ed his name Jesus, according to the direction given him. God 34. I know not a man; nor had it been any such wonderful having appointed him to be the Saviour, which was intimated siga as it was intended for, if it had been otherwise. It was in his giving him the name Jesus, we must accept of him to be in imated from the beginning that the Messiah should be born our Saviour, and, in concurrence with that appointment, we da rvgin, when it was said that he should be the Seed of the must call him Jesus, our Saviour. oran: so the Seed of the woman, as not to be the seed of any
NOTES. man. Christ was born of a virgin, not only because his birth CHAP. II. V. 1 It was a mark of humiliation put upon was to be supernatural, and altogether extraordinary, but the Lord Jesus, that though he was the Desire of all nations, berause it was to be spotless, and pure, and without any stain yet his coming into the world was liule observed and taken of sin. Christ would be born, not of an Empress or Queen, for notice of, his birth was obscure and unregarded: herein he be appeared not in outward pomp or splendour, but of a virgin, emptied himself, and made himself of no reputation. If the Son to teach us spiritual purity, to die to all the delights of sense, of God must be brought into the world, one might justly expect ani so to keep ourselves unspotted from the world and the flesh, that he should be received with all the ceremony possible; that that we may be presented chaste virgins to Christ.
crowns and sceptres should immediately have been laid at his 2. The truth proved by this sign is, that he is the Son of feet, and that the high and mighty princes of the world should God, and the Mediator between God and man; for they shall have been his humble servants ; such a Messiah as this the oti his eae Iamanud ; that is, he shall be Immanuel ; when Jews expected, but we see none of all this; he came into the itis ad He shall be called, it is meant, he shall be, the Lord our world, and the world knew him not ; nay, he came to his oun, Righteousness. Immanuel signifies God with us ; a mysterious and his own received him not; for having undertaken to make tanne, but very precious ; God incarnate among us, and so satisfaction to his Father for the wrong done him in his honour Greconcileable to us, at peace with us, and taking us into by the sin of man, he did it by denying himself in, and despoiling covenant and communion with himself. The people of the himself of, the honours undoubtedly due to an incarnate Deity; Jens bad God with them, in types and shadows, dwelling be- yet, as afterward, so in his birth, some rays of glory darted twera the cherubim; but never so as when the Word was forth in the midst of the greatest instances of his abasement. Rade flesh-that was the blessed Shechinah. What a happy Though there was the hiding of his power, yet he had beams lp is hereby taken toward the settling of a peace and corre-coming out of his hand, (Hab. 3. 4) enough to condemn the spoleoce between God and man, that the two natures are thus world, and the Jews especially, for their stupidity. brogue bogether in the person of the Mediator ; by this he be The first who took notice of Christ after his birth, were the came an merceptionable Referee, a Days-Man, fit to lay his shepherds, (Luke 2. 15, &c.) who saw and heard glorious hind upon them both, since he partakes of the nature of both. things concerning him, and made them known abroad, to the Behad, in this, the deepest mystery, and the richest mercy, that amazement of all that heard them, v. 17, 18. After that, eres war. By the light of nature, we see God as a God above Simeon and Anna spake of him, by the Spirit, to all that were w, by the light of the law, we see him as a God against us ; disposed to heed what they said, Luke 2. 38. Now, one would bet by the light of the Gospel, we see him as Immanuel, God think, these hints should have been taken by the men of Judah math , in our own nature, and (which is more) in our interest. and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and they should with both Herein the Redeemer commended his love. With Christ's arms have embraced the long-looked-for Messiah; but, for Dane Immanuel we may compare the name given to the Gospel aught that appears, he continued nearly two years after at church, (Ez. 48. 35,) Jehovah Shammah-The Lord is there; Bethlehem, and no further notice was taken of him till these to Lord of hosts is with us.
wise men came. Note, Nothing will awaken those that are Noe is it improper to say that the prophecy which foretold resolved to be regardless. Oh the amazing stupidity of these that he should be called Immanuel, was fulfilled in the design Jews! And no less, that of many who are called Christians ! and mention of it, when he was called Jesus; for if he had not Observe, bera laranuel-God with us, he could not have been Jesus I. When this inquiry was made concerning Christ, it was A Sarin; and here in consists the salvation he wrought out, in the days of Herod the King. This Herod was an Edomite, in the bringing of God ard man together; this was what he made king of Judea by Augustus and Antonius, the then chief de izzed, to bring God to be with us, which is our great happi- rulers of the Roman state, a man made up of falsehood and Beis, and to bring us to be with God, which is our great duty. cruelty ; yet he was complimented with the title of Herod the
VI. Joseph's obedience to the divine precept, (v. 24;) being Great. Christ was born in the 35th year of his reign, and and from serp by the impression which the dream made upon notice is taken of this, to show that the sceptre was now depart, him, he did as the ange of the Lord had bidden him, though it ed from Judah, and the lawgiver from between his feet; and was contrary to his former sentiments and intentions; he took therefore now was the time for Shiloh to come, and to him shall *** hii hus uife; he did it speedily, without delay, and cheer- the gathering of the people be, witness
the wise men, Gen. 49. 10. for, without dispute; he was not disobedient to the heavenly II. Who and what these wise men were ; they are here Ticken. Extraordinary direction like this we are not now to called Máyo.-Magicians. Some take it in a good sense ; the espe": but God has still ways of making known bis mind in Magi among the Persians were their philosophers, and their dafil cases, by hints of providence, debates of conscience, priests; nor would they admit any one for their king who had al airice of faithful friends; by each of these, applying the not first been enrolled among the Magi; others think they dealt general rules of the written word, we should, therefore, in all in unlawful arts; the word is used of Simon, the sorcerer, the steps of our life, particularly the great turns of it, such as (Acts 8. 9, 11,) and of Elymas, the sorcerer, (Acts 13. 6,) thi a Joseph's, take direction from God, and we shall find it nor does the scripture use it in any other sense; and then it sabr and comfortable to do as he bids us.
was an early instance and presage of Christ's victory over the VII. The accomplishment of the divine promise, (v. 25;) Devil, when those who had been so much his devotees, becamo She brouzhe farth her first-born son. The circumstances of it the early adorers even of the infant Jesus ; so soon were troare more largely related, Luke 2.1, &c. Note, That which is phies of his victory over the powers of darkness erected. Well,