Joseph's doubts


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of little consequence. These classes have a marked distinction: the first fourteen, under the prophets and judges from Abraham to David: the second, under the kings from their state of splendour, and the building of the temple to its destruction: the third, under the Asmonean priests, from the misery of the captivity to real glory again in Christ. Dr. Lightfoot.

18. Now the birth of Jesus &c.] It will be observed, that, according to the chronological notice given in the margin, the birth of our Saviour is stated to have taken place "in the fifth year" before the era which is vulgarly assigned for that event, and from which the dates of our years are usually reckoned. The fact is, that the practice of dating from the birth of Christ did not begin in the early times of Christianity, and was not generally adopted among Christians, till about A. D. 730; and it is now the universal opinion of learned men, that, at its first adoption, an errour of about four years was made in fixing the era from which the dates are computed. Edit.

was espoused to Joseph,] It was usual for some space to intervene, generally a year or six months, between the espousals and the nuptials, Deut. xx. 7. Beausobre. No woman in Israel was married, unless she had been first espoused. Dr. Lightfoot.

she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.] The miraculous conception of our Lord, here announced, is the foundation of the whole distinction between the character of Christ in the condition of a man, and that of any other Prophet. Had the conception of Jesus been in the natural way, had He been the fruit of Mary's marriage with her husband, His intercourse with the Deity would have been of no other kind than the nature of any other man might equally have admitted; an intercouse of no higher kind than the Prophets enjoyed, when their minds were enlightened by the extraordinary influence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Scriptures however speak a truth very different from this. They tell us, that the same God who "spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son," (Heb. i. 1;) evidently establishing a distinction between the two characters of a Prophet of God, and of the Son of God; and lest the superiority of the Son should be deemed a mere superiority of the office to which He was appointed, we are told that the Son is higher than the angels, being the effulgence of God's glory, "the express image of His person," "the God whose throne is for ever and ever," (Heb. i. 3, &c.) and this high dignity of the Son is alleged as a motive for religious obedience to His commands and for reliance on His promises. It is this indeed which gives such authority to His precepts, and such certainty to His whole doctrine, as render faith in Him the first duty of religion. Had

Year before


are satisfied. 20 But while he thought on these The Fifth things, behold, the angel of the Lord the Common appeared unto him in a dream, say- called Anno ing, Joseph, thou son of David, fear Domini. not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

21" And she shall bring forth an Luke 1. 31. son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

Christ been a mere Prophet, to believe in Christ had been the same thing as to believe in John the Baptist. The messages indeed announced on the part of God by Christ and by John the Baptist might have been different, as also their relative importance; but the principles of belief in either must have been the same. Bp. Horsley.

of the Holy Ghost.] The Third Person in the blessed Trinity. See notes at John xiv. 16; xv. 26. 19.-being a just man,] Being a merciful pious man. Dr. Hammond. The word, translated "just," admits two senses: the first is "just" in the strictest acceptation, attentive to the rules of equity in our dealings; the second is, "righteous" in the most extensive sense, including every essential part of a good character. Dr. Campbell.

to put her away privily.] The publick punishment for adultery was stoning, Deut. xxii. 23, 24. Joseph being a just man, that is, according to the style of Scripture, a good, a charitable man, found it was more agreeable to justice to treat an offending person with the easiest sentence, (See Deut. xxiv. 1,) than to put things to extremity. According he purposed to put his spouse away privily, that he might preserve her reputation. In so doing he was a pattern of charity, and reads to us a rule for our deportment towards erring and lapsed persons, that we should treat them with meekness, and pity, and fear; not hastening their shame, nor provoking their spirit, nor making their reformation desperate by harsh treatment. Bp. J. Taylor.

20.-to take unto thee Mary thy wife:] That is, to be married to her according to the Jewish manner of celebrating marriage then in use. She is here called his wife, as he was called her husband, ver. 19. See Deut. xxii, xxiii, xxiv. Bp. Pearce.

21. — his name JESUS:] This name, of Hebrew derivation, signifies "The Saviour," and eminently belongs to Him who is "the Saviour of the world," by delivering us both from the power and from the punishment of sin, and putting us in the way of attaining everlasting salvation. Abp. Wake.


that it might be fulfilled &c.] The meaning is, not that the prophecy was the cause or reason why the thing was done, but that the thing done was the means or way, whereby the prophecy was fulfilled and shewn to be true. The phrase is sometimes to be understood, as expressing not the design, but the event only. Bp. Mann.

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1 The wise men out of the east are directed to fathers would be faithfully fulfilled. The remainder belongs to Isaiah's son, Shear-Jashub, and was delivered to Ahaz in the singular, to animate and support him in his then present distress. Dr. H. Owen.

25.- her firstborn son :] This expression does not imply that she had afterwards other sons. Since by the Jewish constitution certain privileges belonged to the firstborn, those who were entitled to these prerogatives were invariably denominated "the firstborn," whether their parents had issue afterwards or not. Dr. Camp


The mode of our Saviour's birth was undoubtedly most wonderful and unexampled. But it was natural to imagine that, when the Son of God was to appear upon the scene, He would enter upon it in way different from the sons of men. And, in fact, we find Him appearing upon earth in a manner perfectly new and peculiar to Himself; in a manner which united in itself at once the evidence of prophecy and of miracle. He was born of a virgin, and, what is no less wonderful, it was predicted of Him 700 years before, that He should be so born, Isai. vii. 14. What man, but a Prophet inspired of God, could have foreseen an event so completely improbable and apparently impossible? What less than the power of God could have enabled Jesus to fulfil such a prophecy? By that power He did fulfil He only, of the whole human race, did fulfil it, and thus proved Himself to be, at the very moment of His birth, what the whole course of His future life, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension into heaven further declared Him to be, the Son of God. Bp. Porteus.

The miraculous conception of our Lord evidently implies some higher purpose of His coming than the mere business of a teacher. The business of a teacher might have been performed by a mere man, enlightened by the prophetick spirit. For, whatever instruction men have the capacity to receive, a man might have been made the instrument to convey. Had teaching therefore been the sole purpose of our Saviour's coming, a mere man might have effected the whole business; and the supernatural conception had been an unnecessary miracle. He therefore, who came in this miraculous way, came upon some higher business, to which a mere man was unequal. He came to be made a sin offering for us, "that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him," 2 Cor. v. 21. Bp. Horsley.

Wise men come from the east.

Year before

Christ by a star. 11 They worship him, and The Fourth offer their presents. 14 Joseph fleeth into the Common Egypt, with Jesus and his mother. 16 He- Account rod slayeth the children: 20 himself dieth. called Anno 23 Christ is brought back again into Galilee to Nazareth.


Chap. II. ver. 1. Now when Jesus was born] That which here follows was not immediately after the birth of Jesus, but some time afterwards. The several particulars of our Lord's birth are given by St. Luke, chap. ii. · in Bethlehem of Judea] This town lay to the

NOW when Jesus was born in a Luke 2. 6.



Herod the king, behold, there
Bethlehem of Judea in the days

came wise men from the east to

2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

south of Jerusalem: Eusebius and St. Jerome say, at the distance of six miles; Josephus makes the distance less. Bp. Pearce. As Bethlehem has been all along honoured by Christians of all nations on account of its being our Saviour's birth-place, so at this very day it is generally visited by pilgrims; to whom they pretend to shew the very spot where He was born, and the manger in which He was laid. Dr. Wells.

Herod the king,] This was Herod the Great, the first Jewish king of that name. He had many descendants, who are also called Herods, althoug they had other names. As the mention of these will frequently occur in different parts of the New Testament, it may be proper here to give a list of them. 1. Archelaus, (ver. 22,) ethnarch or governor of Judea and Samaria. 2. Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, (Matt. xiv. 1, Luke iii. 1,) who caused John the Baptist to be beheaded, (chap. xiv. 10,) and to whom Pilate sent Jesus, (Luke xxiii. 7.) 3. Philip, the tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis, (Luke iii. 1.) 4. Herod Philip, (chap. xiv. 3,) his son by Mariamne the daughter of the high priest Simon. All these four were the sons of the first Herod. 5. Herod Agrippa the elder, the grandson of the first Herod by Aristobulus: he caused James the Apostle to be beheaded, (Acts xii. 1, 2.) 6. Herod, king of Chalcis, who was the brother of the abovementioned Herod Agrippa. 7. Herod Agrippa the younger, son of the former Agrippa, and king of Chalcis after the death of his uncle; he is the king mentioned in Acts xxv. 13. Bp. Pearce.

wise men] The name of these "wise men" is, in the Latin language, magi, from whence is derived our English word magicians; a word now used in a bad sense. The magi were a sect of ancient philosophers, living in the Eastern part of the world, collected together in colleges, addicted to the study of astronomy and other parts of natural philosophy, and highly esteemed throughout the East, having juster sentiments of God and His worship than any of the ancient heathens, for they abhorred the adoration of images, and worshipped one only God: they were therefore evidently the fittest of all the ancient heathens to have the first knowledge of the Son of God, and of salvation by Him imparted to them. Bp. Porteus.

from the east] This country might either be Persia, where the principal residence of the magi was, or else Arabia, to which ancient authors say they did, and undoubtedly they easily might, extend themselves; which, it is well known, abounded in the valuable things of which their presents consisted, and concerning which the 72d Psalm (plainly speaking of the Messiah) says, "the kings of Arabia and Saba (or Sabea, an adjoining region) shall bring gifts:" and again, "unto Him shall be given of the gold of Arabia." Bp. Porteus.

Herod is alarmed.


The wise men worship Christ. 3 When Herod the king had heard of them diligently what time the star The Fourth the Common these things, he was troubled, and all called Anno Jerusalem with him.

The Fourth
Year before



Year before the Common Account called Anno


4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently Domini. for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall I rule my people Israel.

7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired

b Mic. 5. 2. John 7. 42.

|| Or, feed.

2.-for we have seen his star in the east,] It is here natural to inquire how these wise men could know this to be His star, or that it signified the birth of a king. It has been supposed by many that they learnt this from the prophecy of Balaam, Numb. xxiv. 17. It is certain, as Suetonius and Tacitus inform us, that an expectation prevailed through the whole East that, about that time, a King should arise out of Judea that should rule over all the world. Dr. Whitby. at the extraordinary Person then generally expected was to have dominion over the whole earth, was part of the prevailing persuasion, founded on predictions of the clearest import, and among others on the text of Ps. lxxii. plainly relating to Christ, "All kings shall fall down before Him, all nations shall do him service." There were Jews enough even in Persia, and much more in Arabia, to propagate this doctrine, and shew it to be contained in their sacred books, from whence therefore the wise men may well be supposed to have received it. Bp. Porteus.



his star] Probably this star or light was of the nature of what the Jews called the Shechinah or Divine glory, (see note at Exod. xiii. 21,) the appearance of which is mentioned in chap. xvii. 5, and at 2 Pet. i. 17. Bp. Pearce. Perhaps it was the same glory of the Lord," or miraculous light which shone round about the shepherds," which may have appeared to the magi, on the same night, at a great distance, diminished to the size of a star. Dr. Hales. It was plainly some new appearance, which they, whose profession led them peculiarly to the study of astronomy, had observed in the heavens. Bp. Porteus.

-in the east,] It is not meant that they saw the star to the east of themselves, but that they, being eastward of Judea, saw the star, probably seeming to hang over that country. Bp. Porteus.

3.- he was troubled, and all Jerusalem] That is, Herod with fear, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for joy; Herod and his family being much hated by the Jews. Bp. Pearce. Or perhaps it is meant, that the people were alarmed, not knowing what the consequence of so extraordinary a birth might be. Bp. Porteus.

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9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young

courses or families of the priests, spoken of at 1 Chron. xxiv. 6. Bp. Pearce.

- scribes of the people] The word "scribes" is not the title of any particular sect, distinguished from all others as to any peculiar modes of practice and belief, but it is a general term, applicable to all those of any sect who made the law of Moses and the prophetical and sacred books their peculiar study, so as to become capable of commenting upon them, and thence of publickly instructing the people. It appears from the frequent mention of the scribes and Pharisees in conjunction, throughout the Gospels, that the greatest number of Jewish teachers, or doctors of the law, (which mean the same as scribes,) were of the sect of the Pharisees. Bp. Percy. Being persons employed to write out the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and thus being well versed in them, they were consulted in cases of moment or difficulty, and were the authorized expounders of the law. They insisted much on the necessity of observing traditions, many of which, however, were such as destroyed the force and intent of God's commands. See chap. xv. 2. Bp. Mann.

·where Christ should be born] Where their expected Messiah and King should be born. Dr. Whitby. 6.-thou Bethlehem, art not the least] Thou Bethlehem, though small in size, art excelled in dignity by none of the principal cities. Bp. Mann. It is evident from this passage that the chief priests and scribes understood Mic. v. 2. of the birth of the Messiah. The generality of the Jews of that age did the same, as they speak of it as an undoubted truth, that Christ was to come of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was. John vii. 42. The Chaldee agrees with their sentiments, and expressly applies the prophecy to the Messiah. Our Lord was born at Bethlehem by a special act of providence, that this prophecy might be plainly fulfilled in Him. W. South.

7.- enquired of them diligently] Procured from them exact information. Dr. Campbell.

- what time the star &c.] It was probably from their answers that Herod fixed the age of the children, whom he caused to be slain, at "two years old and under," ver. 16. Bp. Pearce.

8.- that I may come and worship him] His intention, however, was not to worship, but to destroy Him. Dr. Whitby.

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11.-their treasures,] That is, their bags or sacks, in which they brought what they presented. Bp. Pearce.

-gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.] These were the natural productions of that country from which the

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Joseph fleeth into Egypt with Christ.

Year before


The Fourth child with Mary his mother, and fell | the Common down, and worshipped him: and ed Anno when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.


12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the child and young his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

| Or, offered.


14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

15 And was there until the death of Herod that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Hosea 11.1. prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt have I called my son.

wise men are supposed to have come, Arabia, or Sabea. It is observable, that the manner in which these wise men approached our Lord is precisely that, in which the people in those countries always addressed themselves to persons of rank and dignity. They worshipped Him, that is, prostrated themselves before Him, which was and still is the custom in the East; they also offered presents to Him, and it is well known that without a present no great man was at that time or is now approached. Bp. Porteus.

Thus was the knowledge of our Saviour's birth communicated to a few chosen witnesses, both Jews (see Luke ii. 8.) and Gentiles; it was revealed to "babes" in simplicity, innocence, and docility, while it was hidden from the great and mighty, "the wise and prudent" of His own nation, Herod and the chief priests, who "sought the young child to destroy Him." Dr. Hales.

Herod slayeth the children.

Year before



16 Then Herod, when he saw The Fourth that he was mocked of the wise men, the Common was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, called Anno and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the

wise men.

13.-the angel] Rather, an angel. Bp. Pearce. 15. That it might be fulfilled] "Thus was fulfilled" that prophecy of Hosea, chap. xi. 1. Bp. Mann. 16.-and in all the coasts thereof,] In all the borders or boundaries thereof. -according to the time] According to the time of the star's first appearing to the wise men, of which he had got from them an exact account. Bp. Pearce.

This dreadful transaction, the murder of the innocents, exactly corresponds with the character of Herod, who was one of the most cruel and ferocious tyrants that ever disgraced a throne, and amongst other enormities had put to death one of his own sons. No wonder then that his jealousy should prompt him to murder a number of infants not at all related to him. Bp. Porteus.

-from two years old and under,] The extending of the massacre to children of two years old seems to have arisen from an excess of precaution, in order to compass with the greater certainty the death of Christ within this wider limit, by including all that were under it Dr. Hales. The behaviour of Herod on this dreadful occasion,


17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, d Jer. 31. 15. saying,

18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Year before

19 But when Herod was dead, The Third behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth the Common in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,


20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.

21 And he arose, and took the

called Anno


should caution us, to what amazing lengths of sin human beings are capable of advancing, unless they check themselves in time, especially when the love of power and dominion hurries them on. We should also observe how the providence of God overrules the designs of the wicked. Herod destroyed indeed those infants whom he would have wished to spare, but that Infant, whom alone he wished to destroy, escaped him. Thus he plunged himself into the deepest guilt, and gave himself up to endless infamy and misery, yet gained not that point at which he aimed. Abp. Secker.

17. Then was fulfilled &c] It should be observed, that it is not here said, as at ver. 15, This was done "that it might be fulfilled," but then that happened which gave a more full completion to the words of Jeremiah. Dr. Whitby. Then was fulfilled again and more literally the prophecy of Jeremiah. Dr. H. Owen. 18. In Rama · Rachel weeping for her children,] These words at Jer. xxxi. 15, were, in a primary sense, spoken figuratively of the captivity in Babylon, and the slaughter at Jerusalem, which city was in the tribe of Benjamin, the son of Rachel: and as these events occurred long after the death of Rachel, it is not meant that she really wept; but the expression is used to set forth the lamentable nature of the slaughter, and so it receives a secondary completion in this slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem. The Bethlehemites might well be called the children of Rachel, being descended from her husband and her own sister, and she being buried among them, Gen. xxxv. 19; and, as Rama was in the tribe of Benjamin which sprang from Rachel, and not far from Bethlehem, the voice of her weeping might well be said to be heard in Rama. Drs. Hammond and Whitby. The lamentation at Ramah was made, at first, only for the captivity of an impious people, but was now most grievously repeated for the actual death of harmless children. Dr. H. Owen.

20.-they are dead] Meaning, he, that is, Herod, is dead; a mode of expression not unusual in classical authors. Le Clerc.

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22.— that Archelaus did reign.] Archelaus then governed in Judea, but not as king. His father Herod had by will declared him king of the greatest part of his dominions; but the emperour Augustus, not approving of this, appointed him governor of Judea, Idumea, and Samaria, promising at the same time, that if he conducted himself properly, he should have the title of king over those dominions; but, in a few years after, he lost that emperour's favour by his bad conduct, was deprived of his government, and banished to a city in Gaul, where he ended his days. Bp. Pearce.

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22 But when he heard that Arche-1 John
laus did reign in Judea in the room
of his father Herod, he was afraid to
go thither: notwithstanding, being
of God in a dream,
aside into the parts of Galilee :

23 And he came and dwelt in a
city called Nazareth: that it might
be fulfilled which was spoken by the
prophets, He shall be called a Na-



preacheth: his office: life, and baptism. 7 He reprehendeth the Pharisees, 13 and baptizeth Christ in Jordan.

It may be observed in general, with respect to this and some other expressions of the Old Testament, which the Evangelists have applied to Christ, that those applications must necessarily be just, because the Evangelists have made them. For, if the same Spirit

The preaching of John.

those days came
a John the
Baptist, preaching in the wilder-
ness of Judea,


2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mark 1. 3.

3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the Isa. 40. 3. that dictated the prophecies of the Old Testament, dictated also the interpretations of them in the New, He surely best knew His own design, and could best ascertain to whom and to what they were meant to be ultimately referred. Dr. H. Owen.

of Galilee] This province of the Holy Land was not within the government of Archelaus, but in that of his brother Herod Antipas; see chap. xiv. 1. Bp. Mann. Galilee, the country honoured above every other with our Lord's presence, was bounded on the south by Samaria, on the west and north by "the coasts of Tyre and Sidon," and on the east by the countries of Abilene and Iturea. See the map. It was the country formerly occupied by the tribes of Issachar, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and part of Asher. Dr. Wells.

23.-called Nazareth that it &c.] It appears from Luke i. 26; ii. 39, that Joseph and Mary dwelt at Na-tained at Luke iii. 1. Bp. Pearce. zareth before they went to Bethlehem. Nazareth was so called because of its remote and separate situation; and to be a Nazarite, or Nazarene, signifies to be separated from the common employments of life, and dedicated wholly to the service of God. Bp. Mann. See note at Judg. xiii. 4. Nazareth was situated in the southwest part of Galilee, not far from the confines of Samaria to the south. Mr. Maundrell informs us, that it is at present an inconsiderable village, situate in a kind of round concave valley on the top of a high hill. Here is a convent built over what is said to be the place of the Annunciation, or the place where the Blessed Virgin received the joyful message brought to her by the angel, Luke i. 26: they also pretend to shew here the house of Joseph, where our Lord lived thirty years in subjection to His parents, Luke ii. 51. Dr. Wells.

the wilderness of Judea,] By a wilderness is meant, not a place wholly void of inhabitants, but a place in which the inhabitants were few, and the habitations more dispersed than in villages. Dr. Whitby. See the note on Jer. ix. 10. This wilderness lay along the river Jordan, and on each side of it; whence St. Mark relates, that John baptized as well as preached in this wilderness, Mark i. 4. and St. Luke expresses it, that "he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance," Luke iii. 3. Dr. Wells. It appears from Luke i. 80, that John had lived constantly in this wilderness from his birth till the time of his preaching. Bp. Porteus.

2.-Repent ye: for &c.] That is, Renounce those vices and abominations which at present blind your eyes and cloud your understandings, and then you will be able to see the truth and bear the light. Bp. Porteus. -for the kingdom of heaven] Meaning the Christian.

- He shall be called a Nazarene.] These words do not occur in any of the Prophets; but at Judg. xiii. 5. occur the words, "the child shall be a Nazarite," al-religion, which is Christ's spiritual kingdom in the luding to Samson; and the book of Judges is placed by hearts of men, and into which none are worthy to be St. Jerome among the Prophets. It seems therefore that admitted without sincere repentance and reformation. St. Matthew, applying these words to Jesus, which Bp. Mann. were originally spoken concerning Samson, who was a type of Christ, says, 'He shall be called a Nazarene,' or Nazarean. The expression, "He shall be called," frequently bears the sense of "He shall be," in the Sacred and other writers. See Isai. ix. 6. Bp. Pearce,




A sect of ancient Christians, called Ebionites, who denied the Divinity of our Lord and His miraculous conception, denied the authenticity of the Gospels of St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John, and received only a spurious copy of St. Matthew's Gospel, curtailed of its two first chapters. It must be thought a very strong confirmation of these important doctrines of Christianity, that the sect who denied them found it necessary, in order that they might palliate their infidelity, to reject three of the Gospels, and to mutilate the fourth. Bp. Horsley.

a Mark 1. 4.

A. D. 26.
Luke 3. 2.

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Chap. III. ver. 1. In those days] In the days when John the Baptist and Jesus were about to enter on their respective offices. That which is here to be related occurred nearly thirty years after what was mentioned in the former chapter. The time is particularly ascer


the prophet Esaias, Prepare ye the way &c.] Here is a plain allusion to the custom that prevailed in Eastern countries of sending messengers and others to make the ways level and straight before kings and princes when they passed through any country with large retinues. In the same manner was John the Baptist, in a spiritual sense, "to go before the Lord," the Saviour of the world, to prepare His way, to make His paths straight, to remove from the minds of men every thing that opposed the admission of Divine truth, and, above all, to regulate and subdue those depraved

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