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S we are now entering upon a new part of the Holy Scriptures, it may be desirable to explain to you the difference between that which we have gone through, and that which we are about to
notice. That which we have gone through, is called THE OLD TESTAMENT, and that which we are about to notice, is called The New TESTAMENT. Testament is a word which properly means covenant or agreement. From Genesis to Malachi, we have the book first given to the Jews, and which contains all the agreements and promises made with and to them, by their kind and gracious God. But when Jesus Christ came into the world, he declared the mercy of God, not to the Jews only, but also to the Gentiles, or all the other nations which were then heathen. This declaration is called The New Covenant, because the former is no longer in existence, for that confined God's favours to the Jewish Church, but this opens them freely to people of all nations on the face of the earth. Some call this second volume of the Sacred Scriptures, a will, for by that name we sometimes express a testament.
When understood as a will, it means something left by a friend, to be given us after his death. So, by the death, of Jesus Christ, pardon, and peace, and heaven are bestowed upon all who believe in him; and for the purpose of giving us this information the New Testament is published.
All the terms of the old covenant are now done away. Circumcisionor an incision, or cut on the flesh, as the mark of an Israelite-and the
sacrifices, and various ceremonies peculiar to the Jews, were the evidences of agreeing on their part to the terms of God's promises, but now whosoever believes in Jesus Christ shall not perish, but have everlasting life ; for in him all the law has been fulfilled, and he, by one offering of himself, has removed the guilt of sin from all that trust in him for salvation.
Gospel" is a word which signifies glad tidings or good neus; and this book is so called, because it tells us about Jesus Christ coming into the world to save sinners. By Gospel we also mean God's Word.
Matthew, whose surname was Levi, was a native of Galilee, a part which Christ visited. He was a Jew, and was employed by the Romans as a taxgatherer among his people, who in the days of Christ, paid tribute or taxes to the Romans, a powerful nation that ruled over them, and over many other parts of the world. The taxes which he collected were what we should call Custom-house duties, or certain sums of money on things brought into Judea from other parts, and things sent out of the country. His station was at Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee, and there too he received tax-money from all persons that went by water. He sitting at the receipt of custom," taking money, when Christ called him to leave his affairs and follow him ; that he might bear witness to what he should hear him say, and what he should see him do. Hence he became one of the twelve Apostles, and the messenger of Christ to mankind, and the first writer of his history.
This Gospel was written for the use of the Hebrews. The writer's design was to strengthen the faith of those that trusted for salvation in Jesus Christ, and to make those believe who knew nothing of Jesus, by declaring all the great things which he knew about him : having himself seen and heard enough to establish his own belief in him, as the holy Saviour and Redeemer, who was foretold by the prophets, and who had at lost “visited and redeemed his people."
The first chapter of this Gospel gives us an account of "the generation of Jesus Christ,--that is, it tells us from whom he descended. And this was very important; for none of the Jews would ever have believed in him, if they had not been sure that he was the same Messiah of whom the prophets often spoke. I must here tell you that Messiah means anointed. The prophets, priests, and kings of Israel were anointed with oil; that is, oil was poured upon them, to signify that God would so pour his holy blessings upon them; and it showed that they were set apart for their particular offices, to attend to those alone. The Messiah, as Jesus is called, more especially bore that name, which is is in other words the anointed, or the
CHRIST is a name which has also the same meaning. None were ever anointed with such an abundance of gifts and of grace as he was. He was a Prophet, a Priest, and a King at the same time: a prophet, because he taught the way to heaven, besides foretelling many things which were to happen on earth ;- —a priest, because he offered up a sacrifice, and such an one as made all sacrifices of an inferior kind of no use in future, so that they ceased when he offered up himself ;—and a king, because he was to reign over many hearts, and his subjects should yield him willing obedience in all times to come, and in all parts of the world.
Matthew traces the line of Jesus Christ from Abraham; for God promised to Abraham in the twelfth chapter of Genesis, “In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Now all the families of the earth could not be blessed in Abraham himself, for the blessing of God rested only on the Jews as a people, while Abraham lived; all the earth besides consisted of the worshippers of idols, whom God abhorred, instead of blessing them. It was, therefore, understood by the Jews, that one should spring from him, who should indeed bless all the world,—not the Jews only, but the nations of the Gentiles. Matthew, then, in showing that Christ was the Messiah expected, here proves, in the first place, that he had one mark of the Messiah, for he sprung from Abraham.
But this was not enough: Abraham's family branched off in different lines, Isaac's in one branch and Ishmael's in another; and so with the families that followed. But there was one particular line in which the promise was made, and among those of that line from Abraham was David; God had promised him, as we are told in the seventh chapter of the Second Book of Samuel, that he would set up his seed—or one of his race, after him, and establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.” Well, then, Matthew proves that Christ sprang from David, as well as he did from Abraham; and therefore, so far, he showed that he was of a race from which the Messiah was to come.
Now you must see that there is nothing unmeaning in the long train of hard Hebrew names which you find in this chapter, beginning with “ Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren.” For had not Matthew been so particular, he could not have proved that Christ came from Abraham and David, from whom the Messiah, who was to redeem his people, was to come. And thus he traces the whole pedigree-as we call it—from father to son, from generation to generation, till he comes to Jacob, who begat, or was the father of, " Joseph the husband