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fore, the testimony of contemporaries to the doings and sayings of Christ, and those contemporaneous holy men who died to seal the truth of their narrative,
PROPHETIO PROOF. Prophetic fulfilments we will treat under two classes, namely, Prophecies shown to be fulfilled by pagan testimony, and Prophecies shown to bo fulfilled by the New Testament.
I. Taking the Hebrew Scriptures and the Pagan testimonies above given, (without adducing the New Testament,) we could give a powerful froof from prophecy of the divine character of Christianity. We would leave out of account all prophecy that could be called obscure, (which belongs to the interior doctrines rather than to the external proofs,) and take those which are unequivocal and clear.
1. Tacitus, Suetonius, and Josephus agree that the time of Christ was the period when, according to the Sacred Books, the advent was generally expected. So clear was prophecy as to the time, that the age was looking for its fulfilment.
2. The celebrated prophecy (Gen. xlix, 3, 10) predicted that Shiloh should come before the sceptre should depart from Judah ; and all the ancient Jewish writers agreed that Shiloh was Messiah, that is, Christ. The sceptre has departed, and Messiah has therefore come; and he came 80 early as the time at which Tacitus, etc., affirm that Jesus came; and the Jews admit he never came before.
3. Daniel (ix, 25) prophesies (in Persia during the captivity, when Jerusalem was in ruins) that “from the going forth of the command” of the Persian king " to restore and build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah, the Prince, shall be" 1+60+2, equal to sixty-nine weeks. These weeks, it is on all hands admitted, are year-weeks, of which each day is a year. Certainly no Jew can claim them to be day-weeks, for Messiah did not come in sixty-nine ordinary weeks. But the extent of the period from the time of the restoration of Jerusalem to the time assigned by Tacitus, etc., to Christ, (leaving to learned men to prove the exactitude of the fit) we may affirm, upon the face of it, to agree with the requirements of the prophecy. But Daniel goes on to say that the Messiah “shall be cut off;" of which Tacitus states, as exact fulfilment, that “Christ suffered death in the reign of Tiberius, under his procurator Pontius Pilate."
II. In taking up prophecies whose fulfilment appears from the New Testament, we assume that the argument for the veracity of the New Testament writers is conclusive, so far as concerns the main facts they attest. Leaving out all reference to miraculous facts, if the evangelists and Paul are reliable for the historical points, like the lineage. birthplace, humble origin, peaceful doctrines, sacrificial death, and diffusion of his religion among the Gentiles, Jesus fulfils the pictures of prophecy. Here note:
1. His lineage from David, making him a hereditary temporal princo. See notes on Matt. i, 21, 1-17.
2. His birthplace, identical with David's birthplace, Bethlehem. See notes on Matt. ii, 1-6.
3. His humble rise, as a branch or sprout. See notes on Matt. iii, 23.
4. His character as a peaceful teacher, yet his doctrines to become the religion of the Gentiles. See notes on Matt. xii, 17-21.
5. The locality of his early ministry, Galilee. See notes on Matt. iv, 12–16.
6. His death: At the passover. See note on Matt. xxvi, 3. As a ransom. Isa. liii, 4-11. See note on Matt. xx, 28.
Of miraculous facts we select the following:
2. Performance of miracles. Consult Isa. XXXV, 4-6, and xxix, 18. See note on Matt. xi, 4, 5.
3. His resurrection from the dead. Isa. liii, 12.
Frally, with the full recollection that the Old Testament claimed to be prophetic, and to foretell the future Messiah, read the passage of Isaiah lii, 13—liii, 12, and judge whether it is not a wonderful descriptive outline of the Messiah of the Gospels.
INSPIRATION OF THE SORIPTURES. If the New Testament writings be true, they are inspired, since they affirm their own inspiration. Rom. iii, 1; 2 Tim. iii, 16; 2 Pet. i, 21; John xxiv, 49 ; xiv, 16–26; Matt. x, 19, 20, (see note.) 1. That the Scriptures are an infallible expression of the religion of Jesus is necessarily truc. For how absurd would it be for Jesus to pass through the terrible labour and suffering of bringing his religion into existence, and then to leave it in no definite, certain, intelligible, and permanent shape. 2. The Scriptures were accepted as inspired by the Primitive Church in its inspired and martyr age, before the last apostle had deceased, and while miracle and the discerning of spirits were still existing in the Church. 3. Without at the present time discussing the nature of inspiration; without deciding whether it was by the divine selection of every word, and giving it to the mind and pen of the writer; or by guarding him from every error in Christian truth and doctrine, or even in historical, natural, or chronological fact; or whether it was by elevation, filling the mind with the spirit and the clear perception of Christian truth; thus much is certain: that the New Testament is accepted and sanctioned by the inspired Church; by Jesus, the Head of the Church; and by God in his providence, as the true and altimate expression and record of religious truth and doctrine.
GOSPEL OF MATTHE W.
ITS AUTHOR. MATTHEW the evangelist and apostle was a Galilean, and the son of Alpheus. If his father was the same with the Alpheus named as the father of James the Less, then he was cousin of the Lord Jesus. His name of Matthew, signifying, probably, Gift of God, seems to have been a new, regenerate name, substituted for his birth-name Levi, like Peter for Simon, and Paul for Saul.
Matthew's residence was at Capernaum, and he was by profession a publican. The Lake of Gennesaret, by which he lived, however deserted now, was then surrounded with an immense population; it was embosomed in the fertile Jor. dan valley; its fisheries supplied a source of livelihood, and its surface was alive with a busy navigation and traffic. It was the great thoroughfare for the commerce of Damascus and Babylon with Southern Palestine. A custom-house, for the collection of duties upon the commodities of this traffic, was located by the Roman government at Capernaum, and Matthew was there a tax collector. The publicans proper were usually Romans of rank and wealth, who farmed or let out the business of collecting to resident deputies, who were called portitors. It was to this last class that Matthew belonged. A competence, if not wealth, was likely to be gained by this office; but, as the officer thereby became an agent of the Roman government, he encountered a great unpopularity with his countrymen.
As Matthew was one day sitting at the receipt of customs by the sea-side Jesus, at an early period of his ministry, passed and pronounced the mandate, “Follow me.” That Matthew already knew Jesus, if not his relative, is plain from the instant result. “He arose and followed” his Lord. When, before the sermon on the mount, our Lord inaugurated his body of apostles, Matthew was included; and in his own catalogue stands second in class and eighth in order.
About six months after this first call Matthew gave a great feast in honour of his Lord, to which he invited many of his former publican associates. He gives a brief account of the feast; but we are indebted to Luke for the fact, which Matthew's modesty omitted to mention, that Matthew himself was the giver. The first three evangelists (whose Gospels are called synoptical, from the fact of their marked correspondence with each other, in which John's Gospel does not share) mention the sullen murmurs of the scribes and Pharisees at the association of Jesus with publicans and sinners, as well as our Lord's most wise and benevolent replies.
Matthew's name appears in the New Testament for the last time in the catalogue of the eleven in the Actx, and he was doubtless at the feast of Pentecost. The most authentic primitive tradition assures us that he preached the Gospel for some years in Palestine. This accords well with the similar record that the apostles remained and preached in Jerusalem twelve years. See note on Acts viii, 1. Later ecclesiastical writers suppose that he preached in Ethiopia, and there suffered martyrdom. But an earlier writer, Heracleon, who lived in the second century, affirmed that Matthew was one of the apostles that did not undergo the martyr's fate.
ITS ORIGIN AND DATE. The earliest antiquity was unanimous in assigning the present order of the four Gospels as their chronological order of publication, and Matthew's was therefore held to be the earliest. The same antiquity also agrees that Matthew originally wrote it in Hebrew; that is, in the Aramaic or popular Hebrew, as spoken by the Palestinian Jews of that day. It was therefore doubtless written while the Church was mainly Jewish, in Palestine ; and during, or soon after, the twelve years while the Apostles remained in Jerusalem. This accords with the historic statements of Theophylact and others, placing its publication at from eight to fifteen years after the ascension. This early date is not at all contradicted, as is by many supposed, by the passages xxvii, 8, and xxviii, 15, in which the name Potter's Field and the Jewish fable of the stealing Christ's body by the disciples, are said to be permanent "until this day.” Such language does not so much furnish a great distance of time, as make an appeal to the then present existence of this name and this fable in illustration of the truth of the evangelist's narrative.
But while the Hebrew original of Matthew's Gospel may thus be pronounced unquestionable, critics are clearly agreed that our present copy has all the marks of an original Greek composition. The proofs of originality are too explicit and numerous to be gainsaid. It is, also, quoted by all the earliest writers, without misgiving, as a true authoritative Matthew. The only conclusion left us is that the Greek is a duplicate, rather than a translation, and that both are by Matthew.
This Gospel, then, may be fairly considered the most ancient of Christian doc. uments existing. Mr. Lewin, in his Life of St. Paul, maintains with no little plausibility that the Apostle used it and quoted it. Thus, 1 Cor. vii, 10-12, alludes to Matt. xix, 5; and 1 Thess. v, 1, 2, alludes to Matt. xxiv, 36, 43; and 1 Cor. iv, 14, to Matt. x, 7; and 1 Cor. vi, 3, to Matt. xix, 28; and 1 Cor. xiii, 2, to Matt. xvii, 20, and xxi, 21. These passages in the Apostle and the Evangelist undoubtedly refer to the same sayings of Jesus; and unless Paul obtained them through some independent tradition, he must have had this Gospel in hand. The fact that these sayings are given by Matthew alone creates a strong presumption for Mr. Lewin's theory, and throws the burden of proof upon the adverse side. From all these considerations, dissenting from a very general opinion among scholars, we hold the very early publication of Matthew. See our vol. ii, p. 10.
HISTORICAL SYNOPSIS OF THE GOSPELS.
The figures with the mark & in the notes refer to the sections of this Synops18.
..1:1-4. 2 Preface of St. John..........
....1:1-18. 3 Annunciation to Elizabeth.....
1: 5-25. 1. 4 Salutation of Mary........
1: 26–38. 5 Visit of Mary to Elizabeth.......
1:39-56.. 6 Birth of John the Baptist......
1:57-80.. 7 An angel appears to Joseph....1:18-25. 8 Jesus's birth......
2: 1-7.1. 9 Genealogy of Jesus...........1:1-17.
3:23–38... 10 Appearance of an angel to the | shepherds; their visit to Jesus
2: 8–20. 11 Circumcision of Jesus........ 11: 25.
2: 21. 12 Jesus presented in the temple. l.
2: 22–38.. 13 The Magi. Flight of Jesus into
Egypt. Cruelty of Herod.
Return of Jesus from Egypt.. 2:1-23. ........2: 39. .. 14 Jesus goes to the Passover at
twelve years of age......... .......... 2: 40–52......
PERIOD THIRD. THE PREPARATORY MINISTRY. 19 Marriage Feast at Cana, of Gali
Füst Passover of Jesus's Ministry. 20 Jesus goes to Jerusalem, at the
Passover; he casts the traders
.................. 2 13–26.