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and ever; the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.”
This is a spiritual king, who rules the world by his word; and whosoever receiveth his word, pertaineth to his kingdom. But he that is not subject to this sceptre, neither heareth his word, is not of God, neither pertaineth to his kingdom ; but is subject to the kingdom of satan; under whose tyranny we all are, until the Lord delivers us from it, and defends us with his sceptre ; which is done when we believe in him. Therefore, as our salvation comes merely by the promise of God, let every one be fully persuaded in his own mind, that he will never obtain salvation without this promise. Should he do the works of all the saints, they would profit him nothing : but, on the contrary, if we lay hold on the sceptre of this king, that is, the promise of God, we shall not perish, though the sins of the whole world should lie upon us ; they shall all be swallowed
up in him.
We have an example of this in the thief, who was hung by the side of our Lord on the cross; he laid hold on the word of God, and believed in Christ, and therefore obtained the promised paradise. Here is no doubt left ; let us only believe that it is so, and it is so indeed : all things which we have done or can do, being set aside. All things must give place, at the coming of this new king, that he alone may rule and reign in us. Let a man think of these things which are written of this new king, as being his own matters, and as pertaining all to himself For whatsoever is written of Christ, is written for our comfort, that we may thereby feed and cherish our faith. To the establishing of this faith, God hath mercifully left us his written promise, and suffered it to be published; and therefore he will surely perform that which he hath promised.
Let us now come more particularly to our
present text, which pierceth the heart by force, and poureth into it love, pleasure, joy. and gladness: as if an angel should come from heaven, and say unto us miserable and condemned wretches, “ Behold, O man, thou hast sinned, wherefore thou hast deserved condemnation forever. (This being heard, the heart must needs tremble.) Although all this be true, nevertheless God of his grace hath mercy upon us, and sendeth us a Saviour, as he promised to Abraham and his seed. Be of good cheer, and give thanks to God! Lo, here is the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, who is the son of David, the son of Abraham. This is not only done, but also written, that we may be certain thereof. He will not deceive; only believe, and thou shalt have all things."
Matthew setteth David before Abraham, although the promise was first made to Abraham, and came afterwards to David, The promise made to David, the prophets afterwards published more abroad, and by it comforted the people. The prophet saith, Esa. xi. - There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." And likewise it is said, Jer. xxïï. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgement and justice in the earth.” And many other such prophecies are to be found in the writings of the prophets. The angel likewise declared to Mary; saying, Luke i. 32,
“The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David : and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Wherefore Matthew thought proper to set David first, as being better known ; and next Abraham, unto whom the promise was first made: as Mary in her song saith, Luke 1. 54. “He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his
mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abrahani, and to his seed forever." That promise is now performed, and in our text described, as we shall see hereafter.
St. Matthew maketh a triple difference of fathers, of whom Christ came ; fourteen patriarchs, fourteen kings, and fourteen princes. It was necessary that the sceptre and kingdom should be taken from Judah, according to the prophecy of Jacob; which is thus ; Gen. xlix. 10. “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” There are thrice fourteen generations, as Matthew rehearsed them: from Abraham to David, fourteen generations; from David till they were carried away into Babylon, fourteen generations; there is a person omitted in Matthew ; that is, Jakim : it ought to be written thus, Josias begat Jakim, and Jakim begat Jechonias and his brethren; this the Chronicles witness. And after they were carried away into Babylon, until Christ, fourteen generations : which triple distinction hath a great mystery, as we shall notice.
The Jews among other laws were commanded to observe these three precepts ; namely, to worship that God whom their fathers worshipped ; to choose no priest of any other stock but their own, that is, of the tribe of Levi ; and to choose no king but of their own people. These three precepts did very well agree in our Lord Christ ; to wit, that he is the one God; that he is an eternal priest, who continually maketh intercession for us ; and a king, our brother, who hath taken our nature upon him, who by his divine power is able to help and save us; he is king also that he may defend and preserve us. If this priest did not stand before God, who would be able to stand in the sight of his Creator and not be terrified ? who would defend us if he were not king?
who would save us if he were not God ? how could he have care of us if he were not man, and our brother? O most gracious Saviour, how wisely hast thou done all things; I know that thou art my brother ; as it is said in Psalm xxii. 22. “ I will declare thy name unto my brethren." And again in the epistle to the Hebrews, although thou art God, the Lord Jesus Christ, King of heaven and earth, yet I can not be afraid of thee; for thou art my friend and brother.
It is no hinderance to us, because we are sinners, and Christ holy; for if we had not been sinners, there would be no need that Christ should suffer for us. We see in his genealogy that both good and evil are rehearsed, of whose posterity he should come ; that weak and timorous consciences might be comforted, that they might confidently and cheerfully put their trust in him who has taken away our sins. That we may be certain of this, he has left us his word, which assuredly declares it to us. Among the kings and princes that Matthew rehearsed, some were exceedingly evil, as we may read in the books of the kings; yet God suffereth them to be rehearsed in his genealogy, as if they were worthy that he should come to them.
Likewise four women are named, all of whom had an evil report. As Thamar, of whom Judah the father of her husband begat Pharez and Zarah. Gen. xxxviii. Rahab is called a harlot in the book of Joshua ; Ruth was a heathen woman, of whom, although no evil was written, yet she was despised and detested by the Jews. Bath-sheba, the wife of Uriah, was an adulteress before she was married to David, and of her he begat Solomon. These women are undoubtedly rehearsed, that we may see how God hath set forth, as it were, a looking glass to sinners; that they may see that he would be born of the posterity of sinners ; that the chief of sinners
might trust in him, and flee to him for refuge. He is our God, priest, and king; in whom only we are able to fulfil the law, and obtain the grace of God.
Christ requires us to believe that he came down from heaven, that he is our God, priest, and king. By him alone we become the sons of God, and heirs of the heavenly kingdom ; as St. Paul saith, Gal. iii. 26. “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Here the hearts of all sinners may leap for joy, that they are counted worthy of such a Saviour. Must not he needs be regenerate, whose heart understandeth and feeleth this ? yea, he is enticed by an ardent desire and love to lead a new life? for he is inspired with the grace of God, and layeth hold of the promise of the remission of all his sins.
The number of persons rehearsed in this text, is forty-two; which is the number of mansion places occupied by the children of Israel, before they entered into the promised land; as written in the fourth book of Moses. If we also will come into the promised land, which our Lord Jesus Christ hath prepared for us by his nativity, we must also occupy two and forty mansion places; that is, we must cease from our own purpose, and be regenerate man by man, and thereby come to Jesus where we shall find rest to our souls. But this nativity is hard, as our evil and corrupt nature is loth-to leave its own will and purpose. The case of nature is such, that no nativity can take place without grief; yet one hath more grief, temptation and affliction than another. The thief on the cross came suddenly to Christ; so did many martyrs, and other holy men.
We must go faithfully from Abraham to Isaac, from Isaac to Jacob, &c. We must begin at Abraham that we may be found endued with like faith, and obtain the blessing promised to him : then we shall more easily and cheerfully go from one patriarch to another; that is, we shall pass over one af