Page images
PDF
EPUB

time deposed him, and carried him captive to Egypt, according to the prediction of the prophet concerning him (Jer. xxii. 10-12, compared with 2 Kings xxiii. 33, 34), and having thus deposed him, he made Jehoiakim, the elder brother, who was formerly called Eliakim, king in his room. But this Jehoiakim was soon subdued by the king of Babylon," Nebuchadnezzar, "who, after his conquest, suffered him for a while to continue on the throne; but, on his revolt to the king of Egypt again, he was slain by the Chaldeans (2 Kings xxiv. 1, 2), and thrown out unburied, as Josephus tells us, agreeably to what the prophet had foretold (Jer. xxii. 18, 19; xxxvi. 30)." I would here observe, that, at the period of this conquest in the reign of Jehoiakim, many of the Jews were led away captive to Babylon; and this may be regarded as the first captivity. "After Jehoiakim's death, his son Jehoiachin, by some called Jehoiakim the second, was put in his place; and this is he who is elsewhere called Jeconiah (1 Chron. iii. 16), and Coniah (Jer. xxii. 24). But, after a reign of three months, he was taken captive and imprisoned by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings xxiv. 8-16), according to the prophecy, Jer. xxii. 24-26, and after thirtyseven years released (2 Kings xxv. 27)." This captivity under Jehoiachin may be reckoned as the second. When Jeconiah was deposed and carried captive, "his uncle Zedekiah, the third son of Josiah, was raised to the throne; but, after a reign of eleven years, his eyes were put out,

and he was carried captive to Babylon, Jerusalem and the temple being destroyed (2 Kings xxiv. 17, 18; xxv. 7)." The last-mentioned was the third, and final, Babylonian captivity.

Theophilus. I hope I shall have a more distinct remembrance of these events, in future. I now understand the narrative very clearly.

Reader. Some persons have imagined a difficulty in verse 12, where none exists; regarding Zorobabel, who is there named, as the son of Pedaiah, mentioned in 1 Chron. iii. 19. But that Zorobabel was another person. The celebrated Zerubbabel was the son of Shealtiel or Salathiel, as here stated.-The whole pedigree here recorded is, doubtless, such as was found in the Jewish genealogical tables; and it does not appear that the Jews, although violently opposed to Christianity, ever charged the Evangelists with inaccuracy in this particular.

Many are the reflections which may arise when we consider the different characters and condition of the various individuals who are numbered among our Saviour's earthly ancestors. Some of those persons were illustrious saints, patterns of faith, obedience, and holy consistency of conduct; men whose lives demand our imitation, and whose example may animate our courage.-Others were sinners, who died, we fear, in a state of impenitence and unbelief; and from these men's history we may derive a solemn warning. While their names are included in the Saviour's genealogy, their souls, we

fear, are lost; and thus it is still very possible to hear the Saviour's name, and to profess an profess an outward and formal relation to his church, without being indeed partakers of the blessings of his salvation.-Here we find also that royal penitent, David, the man after God's own heart, who fell into sin, but, having deeply repented of his offence, was mercifully forgiven. His history, in this instance, forms a most instructive comment on his own words, at the beginning of the 32nd Psalm, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile."-All the males who are mentioned in the genealogy, were, of course, Jews; but, while we observe the names of some Gentile women inscribed in the list, we cannot but be reminded of the delightful truth that in Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Greek, and that nations who were once accounted strangers to the covenant of promise have been mercifully admitted to the citizenship of the saints.-Oh that each of our names may hereafter be found written in heaven, in the Lamb's book of life!

Theophilus. The pedigree before us is evidently that of Joseph, who was betrothed to Mary. But, since Joseph was not the father of Jesus, of what value is this genealogy in proving his descent from Abraham and David?

Reader. The Jews reckoned their genealogies only by the males; so that, in order to know to what tribe

any one belonged, they did not ask who was his mother, but who was his father. And hence it was quite necessary for the satisfaction of the Jews, to prove that the reputed and legal father of our Lord was of the line of Abraham and David.—Besides this, you will remember that Mary was of the family of David, in another branch, as appears from the genealogy recorded by St. Luke. It is probable that Heli was really the father of Mary, and became the father of Joseph only by adoption, upon his espousal to his daughter.-Can you refer me to a passage of this Gospel which may suggest to us the way in which we may possess a more honourable and blessed relation to Jesus, than such as belonged to those who were merely his kindred according to the flesh ?-Read the passage, if you remember to which I allude. May the blessedness therein described be our own!

Theophilus. "While yet he talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Matt. xii. 46–50.

Reader. What is the meaning of the term Christ, or The Christ, which,

as we are reminded in the sixteenth verse, is emphatically appropriated to our blessed Saviour? And to what Hebrew word does it correspond?

Theophilus. Christ is a Greek word, meaning The Anointed One, and is the same as The Messiah in Hebrew.

Reader. Can you tell me what official persons were anointed among the Jews, at the time of their admission to office, or consecration? Theophilus. Prophets, priests, and kings.

Reader. And what was the signification of this ceremony?

Theophilus. It was an emblem of the communication of authority, and of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit.

Reader. True. And therefore when our Saviour is called the Messiah or the Christ, we are reminded that he has been appointed and qualified to act as the prophet, priest, and king of his church. "As no man was ever dignified by holding the three offices, so no person ever had the title of Messiah, the Anointed One, but Jesus, the Christ. He alone is King of kings and Lord of lords: the king who governs the universe and rules in the hearts of his followers; the prophet, to instruct men in the way wherein they should go; and the great high priest, to make atonement for their sins," and to plead for them in heaven.

Let us thankfully acknowledge and submit to him in these high offices, to our eternal welfare: and as Christians, those who, through divine mercy, have ourselves received

the anointing of the Holy Spirit, according to our measure,—may we walk worthy of our high vocation, and be finally made partakers of all the blessings of redemption!

HYMN.

Hark, the glad sound! the Saviour comes,
The Saviour promised long!

Let every heart prepare a throne,
And every voice a song.

He comes the prisoners to release
In Satan's bondage held;
The gates of brass before him burst,
The iron fetters yield.

He comes from thickest films of vice
To clear the mental ray,

And on the eye-balls of the blind,
To pour celestial day.

He comes the broken heart to bind,
The bleeding soul to cure;
And with the treasures of his grace
To enrich the humble poor.

Our glad Hosannahs, Prince of Peace,
Thy welcome shall proclaim;
And heaven's eternal arches ring
With thy beloved name.

OLNEY H.

S III. CHAP. I. 18-25.

Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary, when she was espoused to Joseph. The angel satisfieth the misdeeming thoughts of Joseph, and interpreteth the names of Christ.

18 Now the 'birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

8

19 Then Joseph her husband,

being a just man, and not willing | Saviour; and express allusion to

tomake her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: "for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

y

22 Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

2

23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and

took unto him his wife:

25 And knew her not till she had brought forth "her first-born son; and he called his name JESUS.

The Fifth Year Defore the Common Account called Anno Domini.- Luke i. 27. Luke i. 35.- Deut. xxiv. 1.- Luke i. 35. Gr. begotten.-x Luke i. 31. That is, Saviour, Heb. y Acts iv. 12, & v. 31, & xiii. 23, 38.-2 Is. vii. 14.- Or, his name shall be called.• Ex. xiii. 2. Luke ii. 7, 21.

Reader. We have here a brief notice of some circumstances attending the miraculous birth of our blessed

some of his most significant names. I will make a few remarks on the conduct and character of Joseph and Mary; and we will then consider more at length the fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecy, and the meaning of the names here given to our Lord.

Mary was espoused or betrothed, as was usual among the Jews, some time before she was taken home by Joseph, to live with him as his wife. This contract was binding upon both parties, who, in the eye of the law, were already regarded as married persons; so that, in case of separation, a formal divorce had now become as necessary as it would have been at any subsequent period. And hence we find that Joseph is

"

already styled the husband of Mary, and Mary the wife of Joseph.

Now Joseph, being a just man, that is, as we should say, being a good man, kind, considerate, and merciful, and therefore, or, being a strict observer of the law, and yet,-not willing to expose Mary to infamy by a public accusation, was disposed to put her away privily; that is, to give her a writing of divorce in the presence of two witnesses, without assigning any reason. But even this he would not do without much deliberation, including, no doubt, prayer for divine direction. He thought on these things, we are told; he them an attentive consideragave tion before he would venture to act. The conduct of Joseph, in this difficult affair, contains many particulars which deserve our imitation. I will thank Theophilus to read a

passage in Henry, on the nineteenth verse, which I have marked with pencil.

Theophilus." It becomes us, in many cases, to be gentle towards those that come under suspicion of having offended, to hope the best concerning them, and make the best of that which at first appears bad, in hope that it may prove better." And again; "The necessary censures of those who have offended ought to be managed without noise;-Christian love and Christian prudence will hide a multitude of sins, and great ones, as far as may be done without having fellowship with them."

Reader. Read the same author's remarks on the words While he thought on these things.

Theophilus. "Those who would have direction from God must think on things themselves, and consult with themselves. It is the thoughtful, not the unthinking, whom God will guide."

Mary. May I be allowed to ask whether you think that this history encourages us to regard our own dreams as containing prophetic hints, or conveying supernatural information?

Reader. Certainly not. The dreams by which God made known his will, or sent messages, to his ancient prophets and people, were different from any which may occur to ourselves, especially inasmuch as they were accompanied by some certain evidence of their divine origin and authority. While, therefore, we read of this ancient mode of revelation with reverence and thankful

ness, we are yet by no means encouraged to attach any undue importance, or to affix any mysterious meaning, to our own common dreams. Let us be content to be guided by the leadings of Providence, the dictates of conscience, the advice of prudent friends, and our own careful deliberations, in subordination to the general rules of God's written word.

Theophilus. It must have been a great consolation to Joseph to hear the angel say, "Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife."

Reader. Yes;-and a great cause of thankfulness to that gracious Being who had so seasonably relieved him from his perplexity. There is also something very encouraging and delightful in the vindication of Mary's innocence. "Those who take care to keep a good conscience may cheerfully trust God with the keeping of their good names, and have reason to hope that he will clear up, not only their integrity, but their honour, as the sun at noon day."

I will now ask, have you any question to propose in connection with the history before us?

Theophilus. The infant Saviour is spoken of, in the last verse, as Mary's first-born son. Had Mary any other children afterwards?

Reader. We do not know; nor is the question of any importance. Some of the early Christian writers, falling into their very common error of seeming to be wise above what is written, affirm very confidently that Mary had no other children; and it was once a fashion among some peo

« PreviousContinue »