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It has also been made the subject of much investigation, whether this Gospel was originally written in Hebrew, or in Greek. It is not our purpose to give any detail of the arguments which have been employed on both sides of this question. We shall merely state what appears to be more probable to our own mind, - that this Gospel was, in the first instance, written by St. Matthew in Hebrew, and translated very soon afterwards, under Divine superintendence, either by himself or by some other person, but most likely by himself, into Greek. It is certain that he first laboured among his own countrymen, in obedience to the commands of Christ to “ begin at Jerusalem," and therefore he most probably wrote his Gospel in Hebrew for their use; and that he wrote for their use originally, is evident from the manner in which he is careful to show the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old Testament in the circumstances of the Saviour's life. And it is also extremely probable, if he also directed his attention to the Gentile world, that he would have translated his Gospel for their use into Greek, which was a language then very generally understood.
We shall conclude this Introduction by briefly stating some of those feelings with which, and the manner in which, the Word of God should ever be perused :
1. We should read the Bible in a spirit of faith. Some read to cavil to seek for difficulties, as an excuse for their scepticism or infidelity — some read the Scriptures in order to prove that their contents are contrary to the principles of science and sound philosophy: But let the sincere disciple of Jesus read the Bible in the exercise of that faith which makes him ready to acquiesce in its statements, although all human testimony should be against them, and to say with the Apostle, “ Let God be true, but every man a liar.”
2. We should read the Bible in a spirit of reverence and humility, always remembering that it is the Word of God, and not the word of man, and letting our contemplations continually ascend in feelings of solemn adoration to Him, who is at the same time the author and the chief subject-matter of his own word. As when we look abroad upon the splendours of creation, we should always be led upwards from a contemplation of nature to a recognition of the eternal power and godhead of the Creator; so, in studying the Scriptures, we should ever be led back to an humble and grateful acknowledgment of the mercy and grace of God, in not only giving his Son to be our Saviour, but in also giving us the Scriptures to make us wise unto salvation through faith in him.
3. We should read the Bible with regularity, constancy, and attention, and with a desire to appropriate its contents. All our faculties should be engaged, and all our feelings should be deeply interested in this important and sacred study. The doctrines of Scripture should be carefully converted by meditation into principles of obedience, -its precepts should be adopted as the daily directory of our conduct,—its history should be used for example and encouragement, —and its promises should be made the material of comfort and consolation to our souls.
4. We should read the Bible with an abiding conviction that every portion of its contents is intended, directly or indirectly, to testify of Christ. This is a principle of interpretation that would solve many a difficulty in the Word of God, — that the testimony of Jesus is the very soul, and life, and pervading spirit of that word. He dwells in every page and passage of the Bible. The natural sun occupies only one particular position in the visible firmament of Heaven: the Sun of Righteousness occupies the entire expanse of revelation, and his grace and glory shine in every department of inspired Scripture-in the two hemispheres of the Old and New Testament-pervading and occupying the entire length and breadth of God's revealed Word. If the Bible be compared to a fountain, Christ, in the richness of his mediatorial character, is the water of life springing out of that fountain for the benefit of man. If the Bible be compared to a map, Christ is the way described therein, which leads to the inheritance of immortal bliss hereafter. If the Bible be compared to a garden, Christ is the tree of life which mercy has planted therein for the healing of the nations. This book has been given in order to convey to the sinner a description of his absent Saviour, that, as he beholds in the glass of Scripture the glory of the Lord, he may in a manner see him that is invisible, and be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord.
Lastly, We should read the Scriptures with fervent and persevering prayer for that divine illumination which is essential in order to enable us to derive instruction or comfort from their contents. The Bible in itself is of comparatively little use. Like the sun-dial, which cannot avail for the purpose for which it has been erected unless the sun shall shine, in order that a shadow
be thrown upon its surface; so the Bible cannot make us wise unto salvation, unless the Spirit of God shall shed his light upon its contents, and enable us to understand them. We should, therefore, ask continually for the teaching of that Spirit; and whenever we open the Bible, our hearts should be filled with the desire which is so earnestly expressed in the following inimitable Collect:“ Blessed Lord, who hast caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy Holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL
EXTENDING TO THE END OF THE 17th CHAPTER.
GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW.
here connected with it, to shew, at once, to THE GENEALOGY.
whom the Evangelist refers. Joshua, who
succeeded Moses, was also called Jesus; or THE 'HE book of the generation of rather Jesus is the Greek version of Joshua
, Jesus Christ, the son of David, 8. And also the son of Jozadak, who was the
as is evident from Acts vii. 45, and Heb. iv. the Son of Abraham.
first high priest after the return of the Jews
from the Babylonish captivity, was, by name It has been questioned whether this ve Jesus, Ezra v. 2. Both these persons were is intended to be an introduction to the entire remarkable types of the Saviour, and for this book, or only to the first seventeen verses reason, were probably called, by the arrangewhich contain the genealogy or pedigree of ment of Providence, by the same name; for the Saviour. Without entering upon any the type frequently bears the name of the detail of the arguments on either side, I shall antitype. To the Lord Jesus Christ, howmerely state, that it appears more probable ever, this name is properly given in its highthat it is only the introduction to the gene- est and most emphatic sense, as denoting his alogy, and it may thus be rendered -“ The great and merciful undertaking to save his table of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the people from their sins. The word “ Christ”
of David, the son of Abraham.” The signifies “ anointed;" and is the same in Jews and Greeks were in the habit of calling sense as the word “ Messiah ;" only Christ any writings, whether long or short, by the is of Greek, Messiah of Hebrew derivation.
Jesus is called “ Christ,” or anointed, in alfind in Mark x. 4, where the phrase rendered lusion to the custom of setting persons apart "a bill of divorcement" is literally “ a book by that ceremony to any important office, such of divorcement.” And the genealogy con- as those of prophet, priest, and king. Proofs tained in the 5th chapter of Genesis is intro- of this custom may be found by referring duced by these words in the first verse to Exodus xxviii. 41, xxix. 29, Lev. iv. 3, “ This is the book of the generations of Judges ix. 8, 1 Sam. ix. 16, 1 Kings xix. 15, Adam;" in which passage the Hebrew word 16. This ceremony, as originally practised rendered" book” is equivalent to the Greek and performed by the use of perfumed oil, word in this passage. The Latin phrase was emblematical of the person being sanc“ tabula generis,” which occurs in Juvenal, tified and dedicated to the office to which he Sat. 8, line 6, is also equivalent to the phrase was appointed. Jesus was anointed, not emwhich we are here considering,
blematically, but literally, by the reception St. Matthew, being about to write a history of the Holy Spirit, as it is written in Isaiah of the Saviour's life, commences by giving lxi. 1, “ The Spirit of the Lord God is upon his genealogy. He calls him by the name of me, because the Lord hath anointed me, &c.” “ Jesus Christ;" for as the name of Jesus
a passage which the Saviour applied to himwas borne by others, the name of Christ is self, as is recorded in Luke iv. 18. He is