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THE GOSPEL

ACCORDING TO

ST. MATTHEW.

§ I. CHAP. I. 1.

THE book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, 'the son of Abraham.

Luke iii. 23. b Pa. cxxxii. 11. Isa. xi. 1. Jer. xxiii. 5; ch. xxii. 42. John vii. 42. Acts ii. 30, & xiii. 23. Rom. i. 3. e Gen. xii. 3, & xxii. 18. Gal. iii. 16.

Reader. We are now about to begin our family reading of the New Testament, on a systematic plan; and I wish, at the outset, to describe to you the method which I have devised, with a view to derive and impart instruction from our study of this portion of the sacred volume. May our Divine Teacher be always present in the midst of us, to assist our feeble endeavours, to remove our ignorance, to give us a right understanding of his sacred word, and, above all, to endue us

with a teachable temper, a serious, humble, holy frame of mind!

Whenever we meet together for this purpose, I will begin by reading to you a portion of the sacred text, of such length as I may deem expedient. I will then make some remarks in explanation of the passage read, giving the interpretation of any difficult or obscure verses, and pointing out the connection and bearing of the whole, whenever such elucidation may seem necessary. But I do not intend to say all that may occur to my mind on the several subjects which will be brought before our notice; since I wish to leave room for your own inquiries, and to encourage a serious and lively conversation concerning the meaning and force of the successive portions of the sacred volume. I shall also occasionally take an opportunity of

proposing questions, in order at once to ascertain your proficiency in biblical learning, and to direct your attention to points which may otherwise pass unobserved. I trust that this method will be at once agreeable and profitable to all parties. Perhaps some of you, for various reasons, will derive more benefit from listening to our dialogue, than from sharing in it; and, indeed, I think it best at once to name only two of you as parties, with myself, in the conversation which may thus arise. Let them be the eldest and the youngest of those now present;-Theophilus, whose name bears allusion to the love of God and divine things; and Mary, whose name may remind us of her who sat at her divine Master's feet, and listened to his words. If any other member of the family should wish to receive information concerning any particular passage or text about to be read, let the question be entrusted beforehand to one of those whose names I have mentioned, and by this means it will be regularly brought forward in due time.

At the close of each reading and conversation, I hope to be able to recite to you a Psalm or Hymn adapted to the subject in hand.

Let us now turn our attention to the passage which has just been read.

In the first verse, the great subject of the Gospel is brought before our view. When I read this introduction of the New Testament, I seem to hear the whole volume saying to me, in the language of St. Paul, "I determined not to know

anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified." Yes; Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, in his person, his work, his character, and his offices, forms the sum and substance of all that Evangelists or Apostles have left upon record for our learning. Let us lift up our hearts in gratitude, and say, "Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift !”

The book of the generation, that is, as we should now say, the pedigree or genealogy, of Jesus Christ; the account of his ancestry, according to his human nature. I am aware that some commentators suppose that this verse is designed as a title to the whole Gospel, and not merely to the genealogical table which follows; understanding "the book of the generation" as denoting, according to a Hebrew idiom, "the history of the life and actions' of Jesus Christ. But I prefer the former interpretation.

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The latter part of the first verse points out the design or use of the genealogy or pedigree which is here recorded. The object of the inspired writer was to prove, for the satisfaction of the Jews, and of all persons acquainted with ancient prophecy, that Jesus of Nazareth, who was proclaimed as the Messiah, was the son, i. e. descendant, of David, the son, i. e. descendant, of Abraham, "The design," says Matthew Henry, whose expositions and remarks I shall sometimes quote, "is to prove that our Lord Jesus Christ is the son of David, and the son of Abraham, and, therefore, of that nation and family out of which the Messiah

was to arise. Abraham and David were, in their day, the great trustees of the promise relating to the Messiah. The promise of the blessing was made to Abraham and his seed; of the dominion, to David and his seed; and they who would have an interest in Christ, as the son of Abraham, in whom all the families of the earth are to be blessed, must be faithful, loyal subjects to him as the son of David, by whom all the families of the earth are to be ruled. It was promised to Abraham that Christ should descend from him (Gen. xii. 3; xxii. 13), and to David, that he should descend from him (2 Sam. vii. 12; Ps. lxxxix. 3, &c.; cxxxii. 11); and, therefore, unless it can be proved that Jesus is a son of David, and a son of Abraham, we cannot admit him to be the Messiah."

Keep this in view, and you will feel convinced that the catalogue of names contained in this chapter is an important and valuable document, and not any vain or useless genealogy. Turn to your Bibles; and, in the passages which I will name, you will perceive with what reason the Jews expected that the Messiah would be the descendant of David and Abraham; and you will remark that they were accustomed to designate him by that appropriate appellation," the Son of David."Let Theophilus begin by reading Gen. xii. 3. Theophilus." In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."

Reader. Those words were addressed to Abraham; and they are

repeated in Gen. xxii. 18.; xxvi. 4; xxviii. 14.-Read Gal. iii. 16.

Theophilus. "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."

Reader. How important then to show that, according to his human nature, Jesus, the Messiah, was a descendant of Abraham!-Read Psalm lxxxix. 3, 4.

Theophilus. "I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant. Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations."

Reader. And Psalm cxxxii. 11. Theophilus. "The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne."

Reader. Look now at the writings of prophets who lived after the time of David.-Read Isa. xi. 1.

Theophilus. "There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots."

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Theophilus. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby

proposing questions, in order at once anything among you, save Jesus to ascertain your proficiency in bib- Christ and him crucified.” Yes ; lical learning, and to direct your at- Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, in his tention to points which may other person, his work, his character, and wise pass unobserved. I trust that his offices, forms the sum and subthis method will be at once agreeable stance of all that Evangelists or and profitable to all parties. Per-Apostles have left upon record for haps some of you, for various rea- our learning. Let us lift up our sons, will derive more benefit from hearts in gratitude, and say, " Thanks listening to our dialogue, than from be to God for his unspeakable gift !" sharing in it; and, indeed, I think it best at once to name only two of you as we should now say, the pedigree as parties, with myself, in the con- or genealogy, of Jesus Christ; the versation which may thus arise. Let account of his ancestry, according to them be the eldest and the youngest his human nature. I am aware that of those now present;—Theophilus, some commentators suppose that this whose name bears allusion to the verse is designed as a title to the love of God and divine things; and whole Gospel, and not merely to Mary, whose name may remind us the genealogical table which follows; of her who sat at her divine Master's understanding "the book of the genefeet, and listened to his words. If ration" as denoting, according to a any other member of the family Hebrew idiom, “the history of the should wish to receive information life and actions” of Jesus Christ. concerning any particular passage or But I prefer the former interpretatext about to be read, let the ques- tion. tion be entrusted beforehand to one The latter part of the first verse of those whose names I have men- points out the design or use of the tioned, and by this means it will be genealogy or pedigree which is here regularly brought forward in due recorded. The object of the intime.

spired writer was to prove, for the At the close of each reading and satisfaction of the Jews, and of all conversation, I hope to be able to persons acquainted with ancient prorecite to you a Psalm or Hymn phecy, that Jesus of Nazareth, who adapted to the subject in hand. was proclaimed as the Messiah, was

Let us now turn our attention to the son, i. e. descendant, of David, the passage which has just been read. the son, i. e. descendant, of Abraham.

In the first verse, the great sub- “ The design," says Matthew Henry, ject of the Gospel is brought before whose expositions and remarks I our view. When I read this intro- shall sometimes quote, “is to prove duction of the New Testament, I that our Lord Jesus Christ is the seem to hear the whole volume say- son of David, and the son of Abraing to me, in the language of St. ham, and, therefore, of that nation Paul, “I determined not to know and family out of which the Messiah

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