the Fifth Week of Lent
Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary Poor Man's Commentary
by Robert Hawker
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW.
ONE general observation will meet the Reader, at his entrance, on all the four Books of the Evangelists: namely, that they are directed to one and the same interesting subject. They form a corresponding harmony and agreement, in giving the history of the blessed JESUS. And they form therefore, when taken together, the whole of those inspired records, which God the Holy GHOST hath thought proper to give to the Church, concerning the Person, Life, Ministry, Miracles, Discourses, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and unchanging Priesthood of the Almighty Savior of the world, whom truly to know is life eternal.
The word Gospel is borrowed from the Saxons, the early inhabitants of this island. They were accustomed to call our holy faith by this name. And hence, it is probable, that it hath been ever since distinguished by this title But perhaps it was not always pronounced, as we are now accustomed to do, by the name Gospel; but rather God's-spell, meaning God's blessing. And surely, it is in the highest and fullest sense of the word, the greatest blessing whichever the LORD JEHOVAH bestowed upon mankind, in the gospel of salvation, by God's dear SON.
In the present acceptation of the word Gospel, is meant glad tidings; great joy to all people. And in this sense also it must be allowed, that Christ and his salvation is the most joyful tidings which were ever proclaimed to sinful, dying men. So much so, that one of the Prophets declared the very feet of them who were sent to preach it, were beautiful. Isaiah 52:7 . Nay, angels themselves, as if earnest to become the first heralds of such blissful tidings to a lost world, hastened to come down upon the earth the moment the news brake out in heaven, and in a multitude together sung the song of redemption: Glory (said they) to God in the highest, and on earth peace; good will toward men. Luke 2:10-14 .
The Gospel, according to St. Matthew, opens with the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the time of Joseph his reputed father; as that of the Evangelist Luke, traces the pedigree in the line of the Virgin Mary. And Matthew, carries on the history of CHRIST through the whole of our LORD'S continuance upon earth; including a period of about three and thirty years and half. But the exercise of CHRIST'S ministry did not exceed three years and half. Luke 3:23 .
The name of Matthew, or Matthai, signifies a gift, or a thing given. And this was not an unsuitable name for this Evangelist, for he might be truly said to be given to CHRIST. And thus the LORD Jesus speaks of his people, to whom he manifested his FATHER'S name, that they were the men whom He had given him out of the world. Of such, JESUS said, that all whom the FATHER had given him, must come to him; and him that came, he would in no wise cast out. John 17:9; John 17:9 , compared with John 6:37 . But besides this name of Matthew, he was also called Levi. Luke 5:27 . And this double name seems to decide, that though a publican by office, yet was Matthew a Jew by birth. For it was common with the children of Israel to give two names to their children; but not so generally with other nations. The history of Matthew, and his wonderful conversion, will meet the Reader in its proper place. I only here detain him in those general observations, to remark, that as a Son of Abraham, his engaging in the odious calling of a tax-gatherer for the Romans, which they called a Publican, and which the children of Israel considered as oppressive, must have been the more intolerable to them when performed by any of the seed of Abraham.
The Gospel of Matthew is supposed by some, to have been written as early as within eight years after our LORD'S ascension. But others place it at a later period, even to fifteen years. However, in either case, supposing the latest of the two, it may serve to teach us how graciously GOD the HOLY GHOST watched over the Church, that before that generation was passed away; among whom the wonderful actions of the LORD JESUS had been wrought; the records were made for the benefit of all succeeding ages of the Church, to the consummation of all things.
I shall make no further observations in a way of preliminary to the Gospel of St. Matthew, but proceed with the Reader to, the perusal of the Gospel itself: praying only, that the gracious LORD who called Matthew from the receipt of Custom, may, by the ministry of his writings, call many from darkness to light, and from the power of Sin and Satan to the living GOD. And, if the LORD will condescend to make this Poor Man's Commentary upon it useful to the blessed purpose, that both Reader and Writer may find the unction of the HOLY GHOST upon it, as they prosecute the delightful subject: may they be enabled to invite the LORD JESUS to their houses and hearts, as this Evangelist did; and call many Publicans and Sinners to sit down to the holy feast with JESUS and his disciples; that many, many may be the partakers of this glorious Gospel of the ever blessed God.