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OF Matthew, the writer of this gospel, we learn from his own account (Matt. ix. 9, and x. 3) that he was a publican, or collector of taxes, whom Jesus called from " the receipt of custom” to follow him as his disciple. From that period he attended him throughout his ministry, and is therefore one of those who bore record of what he had seen, and testified that which he knew.
It is believed that he wrote his gospel within eight years of our Lord's ascension.
Matthew begins with an account of the generation, or descent of Jesus Christ, according to the promises, from Abraham and David.
1. The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham;
2. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
3. And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
4. And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson ; and Naasson begat Salmon ;
5. And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
6. And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias ;
7. And Solomon begat Roboum ; and Roboam begat Abia ; and Abia begat Asa ;
8. And Asa begat Josaphat ; and Josaphat begat Joram ; and Joram begat Ozias.
9. And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
10. And Ezekias begat Manasses ; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias ;
11. And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon :
12. And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel ;
13. And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
14. And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
15. And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
16. And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
17. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
It had been promised, from the first, that THE Christ should spring from the seed of Abraham. He had been also foretold as the son of David.
The genealogy here recorded by St. Matthew, proves that Joseph, the reputed father of Jesus, was so descended : and the genealogy of Mary, given by St. Luke, proves that Jesus himself was so descended. Jesus was born, therefore, as it had been prophesied, and as it was expected that He should be born who was to " redeem Israel.”
18. Now the birth of Jesus 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.
19. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make 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.
The word Jesus was a name in frequent use among the Jews, and simply means a saviour. It was particularly assigned to him who succeeded Moses in leading the people of Israel into the promised land of Canaan. We call him JOSHUA; but the name is exactly the same as that of Jesus: and is so written Acts vii. 45, and Heb. iv. 8.
Such was the meaning of the name; a deliverer, a saviour: and it was given to the Son now born into the world, because it described the character which he should bear and the office which he should
perform. To save his people from their sins is mentioned as the purpose of his great undertaking, and of his long expected coming.
It is assumed, then, that this was what the world most wanted, and ought to be most grateful for. And we know it was so : Scripture acquaints us, that “in Adam all died ;" by that “one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin ;” “and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Rom. v. 12. &c. Since, therefore, “judgment had come upon all men to condemnation," what the world required was a DELIVERER from that judgment. Jesus came to be such a deLIVERER:-not in the sense in which Moses or Joshua were deliverers : but in a sense as different as his birth was different from theirs: he came “to give his life a ransom for many;" to "suffer once for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” (1 Pet. iii. 18.)
But the world required something more ;-required to be delivered not only from the fatal consequences of sin, but from sin itself. This too is a part of the salvation brought by Jesus. It was for this salvation that St. Paul gave thanks to God:-After lamenting the natural state of man,—that “in him (that is, in his flesh) dwelleth no good thing : for the good that he would he does not, but the evil which he would not, that he does”—he “ thanks God,” who has delivered him “from the body of this death through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. vii. 18—25.) To this power he trusted, saying, “I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me.” (Phil. iv. 13.) For he had been as
sured, and believed the promise, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” (2 Cor. xii. 9.)
Such is the fulfilment of that gracious purpose announced in the name of Jesus : he saves his people from their sins : he saves them from the guilt of sin by his blood; and by the power of his Holy Spirit he saves them from the dominion of sin.
The miraculous birth here related, which makes Jesus, emphatically, the Son of God, had been foretold by the prophet Isaiah.
22. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23. Behold a virgin shull 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 firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.
The purpose for which God thus vouchsafed to be“ with us," to dwell among men, to live and die in our nature, must have been no light purpose. And it was no light purpose to save his people from their sins. For “the wages of sin is death ;” “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish;" “the blackness of darkness for ever."
Is he such a DELIVERER to us? He must be, if we belong to the number of his people : and if we do not belong to the number of his people, he is “ dead in vain; we are yet in our sins.” have the means at hand of answering the important question, whether, or not, we do belong to the number of his people. This same sentence which