What we have in this verse assures us, that Joseph was not only inclined, by the kindness and benignity of his own natural temper, and by his charity, to that moderate resolution he had taken up, but also more immediately influenced by God, who was now sending a messenger to him to tell him what he would have him to do in this case. Whether this angel was the angel Gabriel, who Luke tells us, Luk_1:26, was sent to Mary, to tell her that the power of the Most High should overshadow her, or some other angel, none can assert; an angel it was. He appeareth to Joseph while he was asleep, and in and by a dream. By dreams was one way by which God revealed his mind to people formerly, Heb_1:1; one of those ways by which God made himself known to prophets, Num_12:6; and not to prophets only, but to pagan princes sometimes, as appeareth by the instances we have in Scripture of the dreams which Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar both had. Dreams are either natural, or supernatural, or preternatural. How to distinguish the former from the two latter is not my work in this place, and possibly a difficult task, especially in our times, when God, having spoken to us by his Son, and given us his word as a perfect rule, hath left off ordinary speaking to his prophets by dreams and visions, though not limited himself but that he may sometimes so speak. We are assured of the truth of a Divine revelation to Joseph by this way of dreams, while his head was full of thoughts what he was to do in this case. God thinks of us when we sleep, and one way or other will not be wanting to our inquisition in sincerity to know his will, in the difficult cases of our lives. The angel saith unto Joseph,
Joseph, thou son of David; by which compellation he lets him know he was to be the supposed and legal, though not the natural, father of the Messias, who was by the confession of all men to be the Son of David.
Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; she that is thy betrothed wife, and so thy wife in my sight; thou hast espoused her, and called me to witness that thou wilt consummate this marriage with her in a due time, and take her to thine house. I see what hath happened which troubleth thy thoughts; possibly thou art afraid lest thou shouldest offend me, marrying one who appeareth unto thee to be defiled; or thou art afraid of bringing a blot upon thyself if thou shouldest consummate this marriage; but do not fear any of these things, but go on, and consummate thy marriage. She is not, as you supposeth, or mayest fear, defiled by man,
for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.That holy thing, ( as Luke speaks), that human body which is in her womb, is created in her, and is of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost, by his almighty creating power, hath supplied what is wanting from the help of the creature, as to ordinary productions of this nature.