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MATT HE W.
SAINT Matthew begins his Gospel with the i.
genealogy of Jefus, to prove him, I apprehend, a defcendant of David, in conformity to the Jewish prophecies. He traces the descent from David through his fon Solomon and her who had been the wife of Uriah, down, not to Mary, but to Jofeph. St. Luke probably thought this a tender part, and therefore traces the defcent, not through Solomon, but through Nathan the fon of David. He likewise brings it down to Jofeph : but how do either of these prove Jefus to be the fon of David after the flesh? Matthew proceeds to inform us that Jofeph, before he had confummated his marriage with Mary, difcovered that she was with child: upon which, being a good man and wifhing to avoid fcandal, he in
Chapter Verfe tended to put her away privately. But while he
20 flept, an angel faid to him- Jofeph thou fon
of David, fear not, to take unto thee Mary thy wife for that which is conceived in her is of 'the Holy Ghoft," &c. Thus admonished, he took his wife, and the, in Bethlehem brought forth her firft born fon. 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 fon, to name him John; and that the faid John fhould be filled with the Holy • Ghoft, even from his mother's womb; and many of the children of Ifrael fhall he turn to the 'Lord their God, and he fhall go before him in
the fpirit and power of Elias.' Five or fix months after this, the faid angel was fent to Nazareth, a city in Judea; there he acquaints Mary that the fhould bring forth a fon and call him Jefus ; that he fhould be called the Son of the Higheft, that the Lord God would give him the throne of his father David; and that he fhould reign over the houfe of Jacob for ever. (How this was fulfilled I know not). Mary afked-How shall this be, feeing I know not a man. And was anfwered the Holy Ghoft fhall come upon thee, &c. Upon this Mary fubmitted, faying-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 compofition worthy the prophetic pen of St. Luke (who perhaps, after all, only copied from Samuel's mother: David : and Ifaiah). After which the returns to her own house, and it is to be fuppofed with child; but we read nothing of Jofeph's diffatisfaction, thereat, or of his being reconciled thereto by the angel Gabriel.
We will now refume Matthew's account of what happened upon the birth of Jefus. He begins his fecond chapter with- Now when Je- ii. fus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the ' days of Herod the king, behold there came wife men from the eaft to Jerufalem faying, 'Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have feen his ftar in the eaft and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerufalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and fcribes of the 'people together, he demanded of them where 'Chrift fhould be born. And they faid 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 fhall come a governor that fhall rule ny people If• rael.'
(From these and many other paffages, the Jews were led to expect a temporal prince, as will be fully fhewn hereafter.) Herod having received this information, and enquiring of the wife men, at what time they faw the ftar; fent them to Bethlehem in fearch of the child, and commanded them to acquaint him if they fucceeded, that he alfo might worship him. The wife men, by the affiftance of the ftar, found the child in an out-house with Mary his mother; worshipped, and prefented him with gold, frankincenfe, 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 coafts thereof, from two years old and under according to the time which he had diligently en
quired of the wife men.' (His information, it feems, was not very exact.) But Jofeph, 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 ftar, the wife men; Herod's fears, or his cruelty. Thefe wife men from the caft, were they Jews or Gentiles? In the church fervice (Epiphany) they are called Gentiles; as fuch, 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 confequences of this wife journey? The deftruction (according to St. Matthew) of many innocent children, who had refted in peace but for their wife information. But is it not a little extraordinary that fo cruel a maffacre fhould pass unnoticed, not only by all the Pagan writers, but by three out of four evangelifts?
St. Luke gives us fome particulars of the birth, &c. omitted by the other three. After recording that of John the Baptift, he informs us that in confequence of a decree iffued by Auguftus Cæfar, that all the world fhould be taxed; Jofeph with his wife Mary went from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the city of David-because he was of the house and lineage of David. Here fhe was delivered, and the child laid in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Here, though we have no vifit by wife men from the eaft; we have, by fhepherds from the neighbourhood- And there were in the fame country fhepherds 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 fhone round about them : and they were fore afraid. And the angel faid
unto them, Fear not for behold I bring you
good tidings of great joy which shall be to all
6 people. For unto you is born this day in the
city of David, a Saviour which is Chrift the Lord. And this fhall be a fign unto you: Ye