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archs and of others to become the mothers of sons; for the reproach cast upon barrenness, which was then universally regarded as a stigma; for the Jewish regulations with respect to marriage, by which the different families might be respectively kept up, and none be lost; for the great care observed with regard to genealogies and patrimonial estates, by which descents and inheritances were easily ascertained; for the rite of circumcision, to which no Gentile would submit, but universally scorned and derided it; and for various local and temporary enactments, which preserved them a distinct and separate race. These all tended to render the descent of the Redeemer clear and indisputable, easily enquired into, and safely determined; whilst at the same time they led the Jew, who was thus subject to a yoke of strange ordinances, to dwell upon the great end for which they were instituted.
If, then, the descent of Christ be satisfactorily made out; if the Son of the virgin Mary were the seed of David, the descendant of Abraham, He in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed, he must have been that very Seed of the woman, who was announced in Paradise to our hapless progenitors, and who in all periods of time from Adam to John the Baptist, had been expected, enquired after, and desired, by the faithful among the children of men. Whatever darkness obscured this light of truth in ages remote from Messiah's birth, and whatever difficulties holy men of old had to contend with in seeing this light afar off, we
must be satisfied, that the Day-spring from on high hath visited us, and that our course is one on which the glory of the Lord hath shed its rays. Olet us be thankful for this inestimable benefit.
“ If the light that is in us be darkness, how great is that dark
We can trace the Messiah from the garden of Paradise to the stable of Bethlehem-Ephratah. We know his personal history, as well as his family descent. We have seen him born and seen him die, and have the chief passages of his life carefully preserved on record. We have been early initiated into the faith of his Gospel, instructed in his holy doctrines, trained up in obedience to his admirable laws, and sanctified by his blessed Spirit. We are one with him and he with us, because our body is a temple in which he is said to dwell. Let us, then, adore him with the profoundest reverence.
He requires this homage from us, and it is no more than the natural expression of our bounden duty. And let us frequently meditate on his wondrous origin, search the Scriptures that we may understand it better, compare the annals of old with the events of more modern days, and render ourselves such masters of the subject, that we may be able to confound the adversary, “and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us.” Then will the word of God become a source of edification and refreshment to us, and we shall find that “this is life eternal, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent.”
THE OBJECTIONS TO OUR LORD'S PARENTAGE CONSIDERED.
JOHN vi. 42.
AND THEY SAID,
OF JOSEPH, WHOSE FATHER AND MOTHER WE KNOW ? HOW IS IT THEN THAT HE SAITH, I CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN?”
THE position in which our blessed Lord stood with respect to his birth is very singular, and deserves to be well considered by every devout and reflecting mind.
one born out of due time, his nativity being accomplished before the legitimate period from his mother's nuptials. The Scriptures inform us, that after she was betrothed, but before she and her husband came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. The notoriety of her condition must have rendered her an object of remark to many of her friends and neighbours; and her husband, by taking her to his own home, gave ample cause to suppose that he was the father of the child. To have removed the difficulty attending this state of public opinion seems almost impossible, or, if possible, it was not, perhaps, consistent with the wisdom of God, to leave such a question free from cavil and dispute. Had the Virgin been kept without a hus
band till she brought forth her first-born Son, the scandal against her character, by scoffers and unbelievers, would have been uncontrollable. Had the birth of Jesus taken place within the ordinary limits from the time of her nuptials, the doubt about his descent from a virgin would have been more fairly and consistently maintained. But, coming between the two extremes, it placed the question of his origin in the only position in which it was least liable to dispute, and most exactly fitted to the circumstances; and it gave just that cover and protection to the event, which the state of the times, and the trial of men's faith, seemed immediately to require. Some obscurity might be essential both for the protection of Jesus and the test of public opinion, and if we bear in mind that our blessed Lord never once referred directly to his birth, or brought forward his family pretensions, we shall discover great wisdom and prudence in this arrangement of Providence. He lived in a cavilling and disputatious age, when men were ready to object wherever they could find a cause for it, and a more plain avowal of his wonderful conception, or a more direct reference to his descent from a virgin, might have led to very angry conflicts on the part of his adversaries.
Now, laying out of view the miraculous nature of this transaction, and regarding it merely as a matter of historical narrative, there is one thing that must strike us with great surprise. Supposing that it was the design of the authors of the New Testament to impose upon the world, why should they have placed the mother of Jesus in a light which could ever be questioned? Why relate the doubts of her husband as to the correctness of her conduct? Why give her a husband at all, when that very circumstance was calculated to mislead the world? The name of Joseph seems to be no way necessary to the history. It forms no indispensable link in the origin of Christ. It is not brought forward more than two or three times in the narrative, and is never heard of after Jesus had attained to his twelfth year. If they meant their hero to spring from a virgin, could anything be more unlikely than giving her a husband ? The purity of Christ's birth is the corner-stone of his Messiahship. His heavenly origin, his unlimited power, his sacrificial qualifications, and his atoning influence, all rest upon it. Was it not going out of the way in the writers of a history of romance, or the relators of a story composed partly of facts and partly of fiction, supposing the Gospel to partake of either of these characters, to encumber their narrative with matters, which, even if true, opened a door for cavil and dispute, but if false, threw an air of suspicion over the whole transaction, and rendered the account marvellously absurd ?