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Verse 18

Matthew 1:18 . Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise, ουτως ην , was thus It was not in the ordinary course of nature, or manner in which children are conceived and born, but in the wonderful manner following. Not only the birth, but the conception of Christ, and what preceded it, are here included in the word γεννησις , which some critics have unwarily confounded with the word γενεσις , used in the first verse of this chapter. When his mother was espoused to Joseph According to the custom of the Jews, who did not usually marry without previous espousals. This was nothing but a solemn promise of marriage, made by the parties to each other, before witnesses, to be accomplished at such a distance of time as they agreed upon, which, it seems, was sometimes longer and sometimes shorter, according as the age of the persons, or other circumstances, might demand or advise. It was a custom, if not ordained, at least approved of by God, as appears from Deuteronomy 20:7, and had many advantages attending it. The parties had hereby time to think seriously of the great change they were soon to make in their lives, and to seek unto God for his blessing upon them. And they might converse together more freely about their household affairs, and the management of their family, than they could well have done consistently with modesty, without such a previous betrothing. God would have Mary to be espoused, for the safety and honour of Christ in his infancy, and the credit, and comfort of his mother. Before they came together Viz., to cohabit as man and wife; she was found with child Very unexpectedly, doubtless; perhaps by Joseph, who, with the care of a husband, observed his intended wife, and from whose sight she did not conceal herself, being conscious she had not dishonoured him. Of, or rather, by the Holy Ghost Mary knew it was by the Holy Ghost she had conceived with child; both because she was sure she had not known man, as she told the angel, and because the angel had assured her, the Holy Ghost should come upon her, and the power of the Highest overshadow her. This, no doubt, she would reveal to some of her friends, who, considering her great piety, and the testimony borne by her cousin Elizabeth, probably, fully believed her. But certainly she had not mentioned it to Joseph, as despairing, perhaps, of his giving credit to what was so improbable, or judging it better to commit the matter to God, by whom, as she had learned, it had already been revealed to her cousin Elizabeth, and by whom she might hope it would be revealed to Joseph also. Indeed, it is not easy to conceive how he should know or believe it, otherwise than in consequence of some supernatural revelation made to himself. This, therefore, in tenderness to her reputation, and out of regard to their mutual peace when they should come together, as well as to prepare the way for Joseph’s acknowledging Jesus for the true Messiah and his Saviour, God was graciously pleased to grant him. We may observe here, it became Christ to be born thus by the supernatural agency of the Holy Spirit forming his human nature of the body of a virgin, as he formed Adam out of the dust of the earth, 1, that he might have no other father but God: 2, that the womb of the virgin being sanctified by the Spirit of holiness, there might be no traduction of original sin, which would have been contrary both to the majesty of his person, and the execution of his office: 3, that his nativity might be perfectly free from every defilement of lust and impurity. And as it was necessary that he should be born of a virgin that he might be born without sin, and that the ancient promise might be fulfilled, (see Isaiah 7:14,) so it was wisely ordered that he should be born of a betrothed virgin. For hereby he was preserved from coming under the reproach of illegitimacy, and his mother from being subjected to the punishment of the judicial law. And at the same time, by this means she was not destitute of one to take care of her during her confinement, nor Jesus of a guard during his infancy. “Never was a daughter of Eve so dignified as the virgin Mary, yet she was in danger of falling under the imputation of one of the worst of crimes. We find not, however, that she tormented herself about it; but, conscious of her own innocency, she kept her mind calm and easy, and committed her cause to him who judgeth righteously; and, like her, those who are careful to keep a good conscience, may cheerfully trust God with the keeping of their good name.”

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