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The sickness and death of two beloved members of my family during the progress of my labor, together with other cares, and trials, and anxieties, may entitle me to some forbearance in respect to comparatively unimportant defects. . Such as it is, this volume (which will be succeeded by a second, in due time, if God permit) is offered to the public, with the hope that, in the Sunday School, Bible Class, Family, and even the Clergyman's Study, it may not be unwelcome or unprofitable. May God add his blessing to this effort to extend among men the knowledge of his abounding grace.
LUCIUS R. PAIGE Cambridge, June 1, 1844.
GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW.
The word Gospel literally signifies good news, or, a joyful message. It is now almost exclusively applied to the doctrines of the New Testament; or, by a common figure, to the New Testament itself, especially to the first four books, namely, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Matthew, the writer of this Gospel, was one of the twelve apostles; his call is recorded by himself, in ch. ix. 9; and by Mark, in ch. ii. 14, where he is called “Levi the son of Alpheus.” Of his labors as an apostle, and the time and manner of his death, little is known. He is represented, by some ancient writers, to have suffered martyrdom; but the evidence rests on tradition only.
Critics have disputed concerning the true date of this Gospel. Some suppose it was written as early as A. D. 37; others, as late as A. D. 61. Horne suggests, that, “as the weight of evidence is in favor of Saint Matthew's having composed his Gospel in Hebrew and Greek, we may refer the early date of A. D. 37 or 38 to the former, and A. D. 61 to the latter." Introd. iv. 234. It has stood at the beginning of the New Testament, from the time when the books were first arranged; which is, in itself, an argument in favor of its early date, or, at least, that it was then supposed to have been written before either of the other three.
The language in which this Gospel was written has also been a subject of dispute. Some have asserted that the original was in the Hebrew, or Syro-Chaldaic, the common language of Palestine ; others, that it was in Greek. By others, again, as before suggested, it has been supposed that Matthew wrote a copy, at different times, in each language. However this be, it is certain that the only authentic copies, which have survived the wreck of ages, evidently owe their origin to the Greek.
That this Gospel is authentic, there is a perfect agreement among the ancient ecclesiastical writers. Recently, some have questioned, and even ! denied, the genuineness of the first two chapters; but not, in my judg.
ment, on sufficient grounds. The fact stated by Horne is very material, if not decisive; namely, that these two chapters are “found in all the ancient
manuscripts now extant, which are entire, as well as in many that have come down to us mutilated by the hand of time, and also in the ancient versions without exception." Introd. iv. 240.
Bishop Pearce notices seven “remarkable things in Matthew's Gospel," or circumstances in which it differs from the other three :
“I. That he mentions only one journey of Jesus to Jerusalem, and that was when he suffered.
“ II. That he, for the most part, means, by the kingdom of God, or of heaven, that spiritual kingdom which Jesus was to set up in the world by his Gospel.
“III. That, almost everywhere, he makes Jesus express himself in the figurative style, which was the Eastern manner.
"IV. That he seems to have written this Gospel within ten years after Jesus' ascension into heaven, as ancient authors say he did.
“V. That he observes the order of time in his history much more than either Mark, Luke, or John, does.
“VI. That he does not mention Jesus' ascension into heaven, nor his meeting his disciples at Bethany, mentioned by Luke, xxiv. 50.
“VII. That he mentions only two appearances of Jesus, after his resurrection."
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW
CHAPTER I. 12 Abraham begat Isaac; and
| Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob beMTHE book of the generation of gat Judas and his brethren;
1 Jesus Christ, the son of Da- | 3 And Judas begat Phares and vid, the son of Abraham.
Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat
crate. Believing that the promised CHAPTER 1.
seed of Abraham would be both priest
and king, consecrated to a most impor1. The book of the generation. Com- tant office, and that he would be holy, mentators differ in opinion concerning the prophets described him as emphatithe meaning of this phrase. Some con-cally the anointed, or Messiah. By sider it the title of the whole gospel; Christians he is styled the anointed, or others, the title of this chapter, espe- Christ, not only on account of his regal cially the first seventeen verses. The and priestly character, but because he former understand the word translated received the spirit of holiness most generation to mean a general history of abundantly. The apostles frequently a person's life and conduct; the latter use the emblem of anointing, to indicate regard it as equivalent to genealogy. his divine graces. Acts iv. 27 ; x. 38; The Jews were very careful to preserve Heb. i. 9. He himself, also, used the genealogical registers of their tribes and same figure of speech, in the applicafamilies, that the rights and privileges tion of an ancient prophecy. Luke iv. of each might not be forfeited. Such 18. 1 The Son of David. The word forfeiture is mentioned, Ezra ii. 62. In son, in the Scriptures, has a great variety conformity with this custom of the of signification. Sometimes, it indicates Jews, and to convince them that the literally a son; sometimes, a grandson, ancient promises had their fulfilment in a remote descendant, a pupil, a very the proper tribe and family, the evan- dear friend. Besides these more obvigelist commences the history of our ous significations, it has several others, Lord's ministry by giving his pedigree, which will be hereafter noticed. In the --drawn, probably, from the public reg- text, it manifestly means a descendant. isters at Jerusalem. This portion he f The Son of Abraham. It would seem might properly call the book of the gen- that Abraham and David were selected eration, or an account of the genealogy, from the catalogue of ancestors, and of Jesus Christ. 1 Jesus. See note particularly named in this place, beon ver. 21. I Christ. This is a Greek cause the promise was so solemnly word, signifying anointed. The He- made to Abraham, that the Saviour brew word Messiah has the same signi- should be one of his posterity, Gen. fication. The Jewish priests and kings xxii. 13; compare Gal. iii. 16; Heb. vi. were anointed with oil, as an emblem 17, 18; and because it was so univerof consecration to their respective offi- sally expected by the Jews, that he ces. See Exod. xxx. 30; 1 Sam. xvi. 3. should descend through the family of Vessels and altars, also, designed for David. To excite attention, therefore, sacred purposes, were consecrated by a it was well to give a prominent place to similar anointing. See Ex. xxix. 36; these two names. xl. 9, 10, 11. Hence it resulted, that, | 24-16. These verses contain the geneamong the Jews, to anoint signified alogy, or pedigree, mentioned in ver. 1. almost precisely the same as to conse- It differs very considerably from that
Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; 14 And Aram begat Aminadab;'
given by Luke, ch. iii. This difference were incorrect, if they were really so; has caused much perplexity in the and it is clear that they were fully disminds of many writers. The solution posed, if possible, to do it. The fact, which seems most probable is, that therefore, that it is not done, is clear Matthew gives the genealogy of Jo- evidence that they thought them to be seph, the reputed father of Jesus, and correct. The same may be said of the Luke names the ancestors of Mary, his acute pagans who wrote against Chrismother. Matthew is supposed to have tianity. None of them have called in written his Gospel for the more imme- question the correctness of these tables. diate benefit of the Jews; and Luke, for This is full proof that, in a time when the instruction of the Gentiles. It it was easy to understand these tables, might be sufficient for the Jews to they were believed to be correct." I prove the descent of Joseph from David, only add, that, although Jesus had frebecause their marriage customs were quent occasion to answer other objecsuch as to render it nearly certain that tions alleged against his Messiahship, Mary was of the same tribe and family. I it does not appear, in the sacred narraIf any doubt existed on this point, the tive, that he ever encountered any obpublic registers were at hand, and might jection in regard to his lineage, or found easily be consulted. With the Gen- it necessary to offer additional proof tiles, the case was different. Not that he was a son or descendant of necessarily acquainted with the laws David and of Abraham. of marriage among the Jews, or, if they 2. Judas. The names of several per. were, not having ready access to the sons in this catalogue differ from the proof that Joseph and Mary were of the corresponding names in the Old Testasame lineage, it was proper that they ment, on account of certain peculiarishould receive an account of Mary's ties in the Hebrew and Greek lanpedigree. The descent of Jesus from guages. Lightfoot says, “The Greek David and Abraham was the great fact cannot utter h before a vowel in the to be proved. And this could not be middle of a word, nor after one in the satisfactorily proved, without showing end; therefore, in the middle, it leaveth that such was the descent of Mary; it out, as in Josaphat, Joram, and this because both Matthew and Luke dis- word Judas; and in the end it changeth tinctly assert that Joseph was not the it into s, as in this and many other actual father of Jesus. The foremen- words in this chapter.” Among the tioned facts being considered, it appears words, thus changed in their orthograhighly probable that Matthew compiled phy, a few, of frequent occurrence, may ealogy of Joseph from the pub- be named. M
med. Messiah is written Meslic registers at Jerusalem, as sufficient sias, in the New Testament; Abraham, for the Jews; while Luke, from the Abram; Elijah, Elias; Elisha, Eliseus; same registers, compiled the genealogy Isaiah, Esaias; Rahab, Rachah; Jehoshof Mary, as more
as more satisfactory to the laphat. Josaphat. And his brethren. Gentiles. Whether or not this be the These are added, being heads of the true solution of the difficulty, we need several tribes, and therefore worthy of not doubt the substantial accuracy of honorable notice. Some have supposed either genealogy; for, as Barnes very that the evangelist also designed thus sensibly observes,—"No difficulty was to administer additional consolation to ever found or alleged, in regard to the dispersed tribes, intimating their them, by any of the early enemies of equal interest in the Saviour. Christianity. There is no evidence 3. Pharcs and Zara. The latter is that they ever adduced them as con- named, being a twin with the former. taining a contradiction. Many of those A peculiarity like this is serviceable in enemies were acute, learned, and able; identifying the individuals named in a and they show by their writings that genealogy, and distinguishing them they were not indisposed to detect all from others of similar names. Nor is the errors that could possibly be found it unusual, in genealogies, to introduce in the sacred narrative. Now it is to be a reference to something peculiar in the remembered, that the Jews were fully history of an individual, even though competent to show that these tables bis identity be otherwise perfectly man.