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were particularly foretold by the Prophets , and accordingly expected at that time by the Jews. ■
Concerning the Tribe and Family of which our Saviour was born , 1 shall observe, that effectual Care was taken by the Law of Moses to keep a perpetual Distinction of their several Tribes and Families: for by the Law of Inheritances, no Inheritance could pass out of a Family, either by Sale of Lands, (for every fiftieth Year was a Year of Redemption, and every pian returned to his oven possession, and every man to his pwn family, Lev. xxv. 10.) or by defect of Heirs Male j for if there were Daughters, they were to inherit j and if there were no Daughters, it was to pass to the nearest Kinsman, Numb, xxvii. and the Daughters, who were Heiresses, were obliged to marry to one of their Father's Tribe and Family, chap.xxxvi.8. But'if a man died without Children, his Brother, or his next Kinsman was to raise up Seed unto the deceased, and the First-born was to succeed in the name of him that died without Issue, Deut. xxv. 5,6. Ruth iii. 12. So that he had a Natural and a Legal Father, the Names of both which must be enroll'd in their Registers, to entitle him and his Heirs to their Inheritance. All which was appointed- with a peculiar regard to the Messias, that the Prophecies concerning his Tribe and Family might be known to be fulfill'd at his Birth.
The Genealogies of the Jews therefore were of two kinds; one of their Natural, and the other of their Legal Descent and Parentage } and we have both these Genealogies of our Saviour set down, the-one ^by St. Mat'thew-, and the other by St. Luke , which must be exactly the fame with the Registers of the Genealogies then extant, which both in their publick.^.Records , and in their private Books, were kept with great Care and Exactness , their Expectation of- the
Lights, on Matt. i. 1.
Messias obliging them to if, and the Constitution of their Government necessarily requiring it: for all the Title and Claim they could have to their Inheritances k entirely depended upon it, and they were fc careful herein, that their Genealogies were preserv'd to the Destruction of Jerusalem; and if the Genealogies in St. Matthew and St. Luke had been different from those in the publick Registers, this had for ever silenc'd and extinguished all Pretences to our Saviour's being the Messias; but they being exactly the fame, did prove that the Prophecies concerning the Messias were fulfill'd in him. For the Virgin Mary being the only Child of her Father, or at least having no Brother , it was lawful for her to be espous'd to none out of her awn Family, and therefore the Pedigree of Joseph, as was customary in such cases, is set down, this shewing her Lineage and Family, as certainly as her own Pedigree could have done: for the poorest amongst the Jews observ'd the Law oslnheritances, as strictly as the rich, and even in Exile it was observ'd, as well as when they were in possession of their Inheritances, Tob. v'u 10, 11. • > . •:
1 Isaiah aud Jeremiah had prophesied, that the Messias should be born of a Virgin, and m so their Prophecies had been understood by the ancient Jews. And that a Virgin should bear a Son, can seem to no man incredible, who will but consider, that the God of Nature cannot be confined to the Laws of his own Institution, and that to make Man of the Dust of the Earth, or by other means than by natural Genei'ation, as the first Man and Woman must certainly be made, whatever Hypothesis be admitted, is as unaccountable, and as wonderful as this can be. But to make this Conception of the Blessed Virgin the more easily be
K<L<rtLv]uv Outij) Uk&v, Epiph. Hær. 78. n. 7.
Q. 4 lieved,
lieved, the Birth of Isaac, when his Mother Sarah was old, and had been barren, and other Births of the like nature, were both Types of Christ's Birth, and an Evidence $f the Power of God above the Course of Nature; particularly St. John Baptist, being born of a Mother, who was both old and barren, was in this, as well as in other things, the Fore-runner of Christ. But this Virgin was to be espous'd to Joseph, a just and good Man, both that he might be a Security and Protection to her, and might be assisting to her, in her Care and Tenderness for the Blessed Infant; and likewise that he, who was most concern'd to make the Discovery, if it had been otherwise, might testify to the World, that an Angel from Heaven had satisfy'd him, that she was with Child of the Holy Ghost. Jealousy, the wise Man fays, is the rage of a man-, therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance : he will not regard any ransom, neither will he he content, though thou givest him many gifts, Prov.vi. 34, 35. And the Jewish Law in this cafe was as severe, as any could well be; For a Virgin betroth'd, who had been thus found guilty, was to be stoned to Death, Dent. xxii. 23. And tho' Joseph not being willing to make her a publick exampb, was minded to put her away privily; yet this shews, that if it had prov'd, as he at first suspected, he was not a-man, that would have been insensible of the Injury; and it is a good Evidence, that there was nothing to be objected, when there was nothing that Jealousy could object •, and no Testimony could possibly have satisfy'd those, who will not be satisfy'd, tho' Joseph himself testify'd, that the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a Dream, faying, Josephs thou Son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy Wise ', for that which is conceived in her is of the'Holy Ghost. And his carrying the Infant into sÆgypt at another Appearance of an Angel, and all his Behaviour shews, that as he was the most competent person to deliver this Message of the Angel to the World, so he was the
most zealous and forward Aslerter of this Article of our Faith.
And befides his first Suspicions, his other Prejudices and Discouragements must be so great, that nothing but a clear and undoubted Revelation could poslibly remove them; he could expect nothing but Trouble and Danger to himself j he could not hope to be reputed the Father of the Meflias, since the Prophets had foretold, that he was to be born of a Virgin*. The Jews had this Notion of him, When Christ cometh, no man knoweth, whence he is, Joh. vii. 27. and » how should they be persuaded that he was the Son of Joseph? and nothing could be more contrary to the Expectation they had of the Meflias, than that he should be a Carpenter's Son, this was thought by them a sufficient reason to reject both his Doctrine and his Miracles: and Joseph had no cause to flatter himself that.it would be otherwise. Simeon prophesied of Christ, that he was set for a sign, which fliould he spoken against ', and Herod presently seeks to take away his Life by a terrible Maflacre: yet Joseph was so well satisfy'd of the Angels Revelation to him , and was so well aflur'd of the Certainty of it; that he willingly exposed himself to all the Inconveniencies and Dangers, which he could not but see must be the necessary Consequence of it, and which he soon saw come so thick and violently upon him: A Sword wot to pierce through the Virgins own Soul also. But all the Hazards and the Sorrows, which were foretold them, and which accordingly they underwent, may abundantly convince us, that they could have no Design or Prospect of any Advantage, but of declaring the Truth, and of that Salvation, which was brought to them and to all Mankind by it.
Thus we see that both the Time and Place of our Saviour's Nativity, and the Person of whom he was born, are evident Proofs of his being the Christ. He was to be born whilst the second Temple stood, he was
to to be born at Bethlehem., and he was to be born of a Virgin of the Tribe of Judah, aud of the Lineage of t David ; all which most exactly agree in^the Birth of our Saviour.
II. The Prophecies concerning the Life of the Meslias, were fulsill'd in our Saviour. The Meanness and Obscurity, and Sorrows of it are express'd, Ifai. liii. 23. For he snail grow up before him as a tender plant , and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall jiee him, there is no beauty that we should desire him- He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from him, he was despised and we esteemed him not. His Meekness and Patience are described, Ifai- xlii. 2, 3, 4. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street; a bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoaking Flax snail he not quench ; he snail bring forth judgment unto truth ; he snail not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth, and the Istes shall wait for his Law. His Abode was to be chiefly in Galilee, Isai.ix. 1. Matt. iv. 14. And accordingly, he was brought up at Nazareth, and dwelt at Capernaum.
His Miracles are every where inculcated by the Prophets, and this was so well understood by the Jews of that time, that many of the people believ'd in him, upon the account of his Miracles, and said, When Christ cometh , shall he do greater Miracles than these , which this man hath done? Joh. vii. 31. And when St. John Baptist sent two of his Disciples to enquire of our Saviour, whether he were the Christ , he gives them no other Answer, but that they should acquaint John with what things-they had seen and heard, how that the blind saw, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard, the dead were raised, to the poor the Gospel was preached, Luke vii. 22. which was the literal fulfilling of that Prophecy, Isaiah xxxv. 5, 6. and it was the very Character which all the Prophets had