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First Nine Chapters of St. Matthew's
CHAPTER 1. VERSE 1.
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, &c.
S the bounty of God appears in the furniture and comforts of our natural life, in that he hath not only provided for simple necessity, but enriched it with plentiful variety; thus he hath done likewise towards the spiritual life in the provision of the Holy Scriptures, having in them so rich diversity of the kind of writings, prophesies, and histories, poesies and epistles: and of the same kind, and expressly on the same subject, four books written by the hands of four several men, but all led by the hand of the same spirit; and all of them so harmoniously according together, as makes up one song; the four with a delightful variety of notes, but no mistuning, or jarring difference: those that seem to be so, being duly considered, do not only well agree, but there is still some instructive advantage in the diversity; each recording something, some of them divers things that are not in the other; and what one hath more briefly, is more enlarged in some other: they are not so different as to be discordant, nor so the same as to be superfluous. Their order in the time of their writing is, with good reason, conceived to be the same with that of their placing as VOL. III.
we have them. This of St. Matthew first, and very likely in Hebrew, as more particularly for the use of his own nation, though in his purpose that set him on to work (as all the other scriptures) intended for the good of the church in all succeeding ages. And he begins with the great mysterious point on which hangs our happiness, that which is our grand comfort, as St. Austin speaks, the manhood of God. The chapter hath these two, his genealogy, and his nativity, each particularly intituled, for the first words are the inscription, not of the whole book, nor of the whole chapter, but only of that first part of it. The book, that is (as the Hebrew word signifies) the roll, or list of the generation, that is the descent of Jesus Christ.
The account by ascending, as St. Luke does, or by descending, as this evangelist, is altogether indifferent; neither need we, with the ancients, seek subtle and mysterious reasons of it, which are too airy to have either certain truth, or profitable use in them. The reckoning of the one only down. from Abraham, and the other up to Adam, may have some more solid reason; the one having regard to the particular promise made to Abraham, and the other to the general interest of mankind, and that according to the promise made to our first parents in the garden. And this beginning in Abraham here, relishes somewhat of that we spake, of penning this gospel in Hebrew, with particular respect to the Jews for informing them first, as indeed the gospel was first to be preached to them, so might they have somewhat of the same privilege in the writing of it. He of whom it treats being born among them, and of them. And before entering to branch the lineage, the Evangelist particularly mentions David and Abraham, because of the particular promises made to them of the Messiah to come of their seed.
The great diversity of the names from David to Joseph (of them all indeed save two) has drawn