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M A T T H E W.
Saint Matthew begins his Gospel with the i:
Chapter Verse genealogy of Jesus, to prove him, I apprehend, a descendant of David, in conformity to the Jewish prophecies. He traces the descent from David through his son Solomon and her who had been the wife of Uriah, down, not to Mary, but to Joseph. St. Luke probably thought this a tender part, and therefore traces the descent, not through Solomon, but through Nathan the son of David. He likewise brings it down to Joseph : but how do either of these prove Jesus to be the son of David after the flesh ? Matthew proceeds to inform us that Joseph, before he had consummated his marriage with Mary, discovered that she was with child: upon which, being a good man and wishing to avoid scandal, he in
Chapter Verle tended to put her away privately. But while he
20 flept, an angel said to him— 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,” &c. Thus admonished, he took his wife, and she, in Bethlehem brought forth her first born son. St. Mark gives us no account of this matter ; nor does St. John : but St. Luke makes ample amends. He records the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Zacharias in the temple, telling him, that his wife Elizabeth should produce a son, to name him John; and that the said John should be filled with the Holy
Ghost, even from his mother's womb; and many 6 of the children of Israel shall he turn to the ' Lord their God, and he shall go before him in * the spirit and power of Elias.' Five or six months after this, the said angel was sent to Nazareth, a city in Judea ; there he acquaints Mary that the fhould bring forth a fon and call him Jesus; that he should be called the Son of the Highest, that the Lord God would give him the throne of his father David; and that he should reign over the house of Jacob for ever. (How this was fulfilled I know not). Mary asked-How shall this be, seeing I know not a man.
And was anfwered--the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, &c. Upon this Mary submitted, saying-Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me. according to thy word. Soon after this Mary
went to the house of Zacharias, and abode with Chapter Verfe Elizabeth three months. Here we find her delivering a very poetical composition worthy the prophetic pen of St. Luke (who perhaps, after all, only copied from Samuel's mother : David : and Isaiah). After which she returns to her own house, and it is to be supposed with child; but we read nothing of Joseph's diffatisfaction, thereat, or of his being reconciled thereto by the angel Gabriel.
We will now resume Matthew's account of what happened upon the birth of Jesus. He begins his second chapter with ~ Now when Je- ii. ' sus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the
days of Herod the king, behold there came • wise men from the east to Jerusalem saying, " Where is he that is born King of the Jews ? ( for we have seen his star in the east and are
come to worship him. When Herod the king ' had heard these things, he was troubled, and
all Jerusalem with him. And when he had ga• thered all the chief priests and scribes of the
people together, he demanded of them where . Christ should be born. And they said unto ' him, in Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is • written by the prophet; And thou Bethlehem,
in the land of Judea, art not the least among • the princes of Judah—for out of thee shall
come a governor that shall rule iny people Il
Chapter Verle (From these and many other passages, the
Jews were led to expect a temporal prince, as will be fully thewn hereafter.) Herod having received this information, and enquiring of the wise men, at what time they saw the star ; fent them to Bethlehem in search of the child, and commanded them to acquaint him if they succeeded, that he also might worship him. The wise men, by the assistance of the star, found the child in an out-house with Mary his mother; worshipped, and presented him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh : being warned of God in a dream to avoid Herod, they returned to their
own country by another way.' Herod enraged at 16 this deception—' fent forth and flew all the chil. 'dren that were in Bethlehem, and all the coasts
thereof, from two years old and under accord
ing to the time which he had diligently en• quired of the wise men.' (His information, it seems, was not very exact.) But Joseph, acquainted of this intention by an angel in a dream, had escaped with the child and his mother into Egypt. Neither Mark, Luke, or John, give us any account of the star, the wise men ; Herod's fears, or his cruelty. These wise men from the east, were they Jews or Gentiles? In the church service (Epiphany) they are called Gentiles; as such, what advantage could they derive from a child born King of the Jews, that they should make a long journey to worship him? and what were the consequences of this wife journey ? The destruction (according to St. Matthew) of many innocent children, who had rested in peace but for their wise information. But is it not a little extraordinary that fo cruel a massacre should pass unnoticed, not only by all the Pagan writers, but by three out of four evangelists ?
St. Luke gives us some particulars of the birth, &c. omitted by the other three. After recording that of John the Baptist, he informs us that in consequence of a decree ifsued by Augustus Cæsar, that all the world should be taxed ; Joseph with his wife Mary went from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the city of David-because he was of the house and lineage of David. Here she was delivered, and the child laid in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Here, though we have no visit by wise men from the east; we have, by shepherds from the neighbourhood—' And there were in the ' fame country shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night. And "lo the angel of the Lord came upon them, and
the glory of the Lord Ihone round about them : ' and they were sore afraid. And the angel said
unto them, Fear not : for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the
city of David, a Saviour which is Christ the "Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye