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it, on the sea of Tiberias. Though he constantly calls himself Matthew, he is called 'Levi by the other evangelists; and it is for this reason that Levi and Matthew have been supposed by some celebrated scholars to be two different persons. But the circumstances of Matthew's call to be a disciple, as related in his own Gospel, are so precisely similar to those which attend the call of Levi, as related in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, that the predominant opinion has always been, that Matthew and Levi were only two names for one and the same person:

Though a publican, of an inferior rank, belonging to a class of men who were considered vile, and who generally deserved their reputation, Matthew was an upright and religious man; and there was one of his countrymen, if there were no more, who could separate the man from the profession, and fearlessly engage him for his companion and friend. It was he who saw him sitting in his place of business, or at the receipt of custom, as it is called, and said unto him, “ Follow me. ." * These were words, which, from those lips,

* It appears from the relation of Mark, in the second chapter of his Gospel, that Matthew's official station was at the seaside, where he was sitting when Jesus called him. Commentators say that the particular duty of Matthew as a publican, was to gather the customs

could not be uttered in vain ; and the humble publican, who probably had before heard the discourses of Jesus, and heard them with admiration, and seen also some of the wonders which he had done, immediately arose and followed him.

Our Saviour, after having called Matthew, went to his house; and there his new disciple prepared a supper for him; and many publicans and sinners, the former associates of Matthew, came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. When some Pharisees, who were present, şaw this, they said to the disciples, "Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They who are whole need not a physician, but they who are sick. But go ye, and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice;. for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

In both of these incidents, the spirit of Christianity and the character of its founder are conspicuous. The call of a publican to be a follower of Christ and a herald of his religion, was a sign of the sublime superiority of the new faith, in its impartiality and mercy, over the bigotries of the old; and evinces the discernment and the independence of Jesus, in selecting a worthy disciple from an order of men, among whom common opinion had pronounced that there was no worth to be found. And in sitting down to eat, that greatest token of familiarity, in the house of this publican, and with a mixed company of reputed sinners, Jesus again manifests the universal benevolence of his temper and his doctrine. To the hypocritical Pharisees, it was indeed a strange and scandalous thing, that one who set up as the Messiah of Israel, and the purifier of its ordinances, should take a publican to be å pupil, and break bread with other publicans and notorious sinners; but how well are their narrow prejudices and their supercilious and uncharitable self-righteousness rebuked by the steadfast- reply of the Saviour! “The religion which I would inculcate," as the reply may be paraphrased, "embraces in its pure mercy the whole family of man; it draws no impassable line between the privileged and the profane; it leaves none to despair of heaven's favor and acceptance;—if ye are perfect, if ye are whole, my errand is not to you; go; go to your temple, and perform your rites; but when there, study the meaning of that scripture, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. As for these, they are sick; they need a physician, and I must heal them; ye yourselves say that they are sinners, and why shall I not call them to repentance,

of commodities which came by the sea of Galilee, and the tribute which passengers were to pay who went by water. According to this statement, he was a toll-gatherer.

and save them?"

With what has been now told from the Gospels concerning Matthew, we must rest contented; but even from these slight memorials we shall gain a highly favorable impression of his character. In his depressed condition as a publican, he seems to have learned the valuable lesson of humility; and thus to have become “almost a Christian, before he was a follower of Christ. Among his vile companions, whom public obloquy had made yet more vile than their habits and their occupation would have made them, he was upright, honest, merciful, uncontaminated. His integrity appears doubly bright by contrast, amidst the dark examples and fearful temptations which were all around it like clouds; and his virtue, reared among quicksands and waves, proved, simply by its being and standing there, how very deeply and strongly its foundations were laid. It is further to be remarked, that though he was the writer of one of the Gospel histories, he says nothing more of himself than that he was called to follow Jesus, while he was sitting in his office, and that he

afterwards entertained his Master at his house; and this latter circumstance he only mentions in order that he may introduce the answer of Jesus to the Pharisees. We could have no better evidence than this, of his disinterestedness and modesty.

His Gospel is every where distinguished by plain good sense and manly simplicity. It was written, as some of the ancients say, fifteen years after the ascension of our Saviour, or as others affirm, yet seven years earlier, or, according to yet others, at a considerably later period than the latest of these two dates, that is, about the year 60, or between 60 and 70 of our era, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome. Although some critics have advanced the opinion that Luke's Gospel was the first which was written, the general voice of antiquity is against them, and a majority also, I believe, of the moderns. So that the Gospel of Matthew really stands, in all probability, where a place is given to it in our Bibles, the first in order of the four evangelical histories.

Another circumstance respecting this Gospel, which the earliest ecclesiastical authors record, and which, though it has been controverted, is most probably a fact, is, that we do not possess

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