« PreviousContinue »
• And that he was the Messiah, was the great truth he took pains to convince his disciples and apostles of ; appearing to them after his resurrection : as may be seen, Luke xxiv, which we shall more particularly confider in another place. There we read what gospel our Saviour preached to his disciples and apoftles; and that, as soon as he was risen from the dead, twice the very day of his resurrection."
And if we may gather what was to be believed by all' nations, from what was preached unto them ; we may certainly know what they were commanded, Matt, c. ult. To teach all nations, by what they actually did teach all nations; we may observe, that the preaching of the apostles every where in the Acts tended to this one point;' to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. Indeed, now after his death, his resurrection was also commonly required to be believed as a necessary article, and sometimes folely insisted on: it being a mark and undoubted evidence of his being the Melliah, and necellary now to be believed by those who would receive him as the Mefliah, For since the Meiliah was to be a Saviour and a King, and to give life and a kingdom to those who received him, as we shall see by-andby, there could have been na pretence to have given him out for the Mesliah, and to require men ta believe him to be fo, who thought him under the power of death, and corruption of the grave, And therefore those who believed him to be the Meffiah, muft believe that he was risen from the dead; and those who believed him to be risen froin the dead, could not doubt of his being the Mefliah. But of this more in another place,. in eten .. ** 9. Let:us lec therefore how the apostles preached Christ, and what they proposed to their hearers to believe, St. Peter at Jerúsalem, Acts ii, by his first sermon, converted three thousand souls, . What f was his word,” which as we are told, ver. 41. “they gladly re« ceived, and thereupon were baptized?” That may be seen from ver. 22. to:ver. 36. In short, this, which is the conclusion drawn from all that he had said, and which he presses on them as the thing they were to believe, viz, « Therefore let all the house of « Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom " ye have crucified, Lord and Messiah,” ver, 36, tiro
To the fame purpose was his discourse to the Jews in the temple, Acts iii. the design whereof you have, ver. 18. ". But those things “ that God before had thewed by the mouth of all his prophets; « that the Messiah should suffer, he hath fo fulfilled. vii. :
In the next chapter, Acts iy. Peter and John being examined about the miracle on the lame man, profess it to have been done in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, who was the Messiah, in whom alone there was salvation, ver. 10, 12. The same thing they confirm to them again, Acts v. 29. 32. “ And daily in the temple, and " in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jelus the « Messiah.” ver, 42,
What was Stephen's speech to the council, Asts vii. but a repre, hension to them, that they were the betrayers and murderers of the « Just One?” Which is the title by which he plainly designs the
Melliah, Meffiah, whose coming was fore-thewn by the Prophets, ver. 51, 521 And that the Messiah was to be without fin-(which is the import of the word “ Jull") was the opinion of the Jews appears from John ix. ver. 22. compared with 24. : .
Acts viii, Philip carries the gospel to Samaria. « Then Philip « went down to Sainaria, and preached to them.” What was it he preached? You have an account of it in this one word, « The « Meffiah," ver. 5. This being that alone which was required of them, to believe that Jesus was the Meffiah; which when they believed, they were baptized. “And when they believed Philip's « preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and the name of “ Jefus the Mefliah, they were baptized both men and women.” ver. 12.
Philip being sent from thence, by a special call of the spirit, to make an eminent convert, out of Ilaiah preaches to him Jelus, ver. 35. And what it was he preached concerning Jesus, we may know by the profeffion of faith the eunuch made, upon which he was admitted to baptism, ver 37. “ I believe that Jesus Christ is the son
of God" which is as much as to say, I believe that he, whom you call Jesus Christ, is really and truly the Meffiah that was promised. For that believing him to be the “ Son of God," and to be the Meffiah, was the same thing, may appear by comparing John is 45. with ver. 49. where Nathaniel owns Jesus to be the Messiah in these terins : « Thou art the son of God, thou art the King of " Israel.". So the Jews, Luke xxii. 70. alking Christ, whether he were the son of God;" plainly demanded of him, whether he were the Meffiah? Which is evident by comparing that with the three preceding verses. They ask him, ver. 67. whether he were the Mefliah? He answers, « If I tell you, you will not believe;" but withal tells them, that from henceforth he should be in poffeffion of the kingdom of the Meffiah, expressed in these words, ver. 69. « Hereafter shall, the son of man sit on the right hand of the power « of God: which made them all cry out, « Art thou then the son « of God?” i. e. Dost thou then own thyself to be the Messiah? To which he replies, “ Ye say that I am.” That the “ Son of « God” was the known title of the Messiah at that time amongst the Jews, we may see also from what the Jews say to Pilate, John xix. 7. “ We haye a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he “ made himself the SON OF God;" i. e. by making himself the Meiliah, the Prophet which was to come, but falfly; and therefore he deserves to die by the law. Deut. xviii. 20. That this was the common signification of the son of God,” is farther evident from what the chief priests, mocking him, said, when he was on the crois, Matt. xxvii. 42. “He laved others, himself he cannot save :
if he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the i cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God, let him de"liver him now, if he will have him; for he said, I am the SON « OF GOD;" i. e. he said, he was the Messiah : but it is plainly false; for if he were, God would deliver him : for the Mesiah is to
be be king of Israel, the saviour of others; but this man cannot save himself. The chief priests mention here the two titles then in use whereby the Jews commonly designed the Messiah, viz. “ son of « God, and“ king of Ifrael.” That of “ son of God” was so familiar a compellation of the Messiah, who was then fo much expected and talked of, that the Romans, it seems, who lived amongst them, had learned it; as appears from ver. 54. “ Now when the « Centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, faw the u earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, « faying, truly this was the son of God;" this was that extraordinary perfon that was looked for.
Acts ix. St. Paul exercising the commission to preach the gospel, which he had received in a miraculous way, ver. 20. « Straitway « preached Christ in the Synagogues, that he is the son of God;" i. c. that Jesus was the Messiah: for Christ in this place is evidently a proper name. And that this was it which Paul preached, appears from ver. 22. « Saul encreased the more in strength, and conis founded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this is « the very Christ," i. e, the Meffiah.
Peter, when he came to Cornelius at Cefarea; who by a vision was ordered to send for him, as Peter, on the other fide, was by a vision commanded to go to him; what does he teach him? His whole discourse, Acts x. tends to shew what he says God commanded the apostles « to preach unto the people, and to testify; “ That it is he [Jesus] which was ordained of God to be the judge «c of the quick and the dead.” And that it was « to him that all * the Prophets give witness, that through his name whosoever be« lieved in him shall have remission of fins.” ver. 42, 43. This is " the word which God sent to the children of Israel; that WORD « which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Ga“ lilee, after the baptism which John preached,” ver. 36, 37. And these are the words” which had been promised to Cornelius, Acts xi. 14. " Whereby he and all his house should be saved :" which “ words amount only to thus much, that Jesus was the « Melliah," the Saviour that was promised. Upon their receiving of this (for this was all was taught them) the Holy Ghost fell on them, and they were baptized. It is observable here, that the Holy Ghost fell on them before they were baptized; which in other places converts received not till after baptilin. The reason whercof seems to be this; that God, by bestowing on them the Holy Ghoft, did thus declare from heaven, that the Gentiles, upon believing Jesus to be the Mcíliah, ought to be admitted into the church by baptism as well as the Jews. Whoever reads St. Peter's defence, Acts xi. when he was accused by those of the circuincision, that he had not kept that distance which he ought with the uncircumcised, will be of this opinion; and see by what he says, ver. 15, 16, 17, that this was the ground, and an irresistible authority to him for doing so ftrange a thing, as it appeared to the Jews (who alone yet were mem. bers of the Christian church) to admit Gentiles into their com
om heavod, by bestow baptifin.
munion, upon their believing. And therefore St. Peter, in the foregoing chapter, Acts x. before he would baptize them, proposes this question « to those of the circumcifion, which came with him, « and were astonished, because that on the Gentiles also was poured k out the gift of the Holy Ghoft: can any one forbid water, that « there should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost as « well as we?” ver. 47. And when some of the feet of the Pharisees, who believed, thought « it needful that the converted « Gentiles should be circumcised, and keep the law of Moses," Acts XV: “ Peter role up and said unto them, Men and brethren, « you know that a good while ago God made choice amongst us, * that the Gentiles,” viz. Cornelius, and thofe here converted with him, “by my mouth should hear the Gospel, and believe. And « God, who knoweth the hearts, bare them withers, giving them « the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us, and put no difference « between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith,” ver. 7. g. So that both Jews and Gentiles, who believed Jesus to be the Messiah, received thereupon the seal of baptism : whereby they are owned to be his, and distinguished from unbelievers. From what is above faid, we may observe, that this preaching Jefus to be the Messiah, is called “ the word,” and “ the word of God;" and believing it, “ receiving the word of God.” See Acts X. 36, 37, and xi. 1. 19, 20. And the word of the Gospel," Acts xv. 7. And so likewise in the History of the Gospel, what Mark, chap. iv. 14, 15. calls fimply “the word,” St. Luke calls “ the word of God.” Luke viii. 11. 'And St. Matthew, chap. xiii. 19. “the word of the kingdom ;” which were, it seems, in the gospel-writers synonymous terms, and are so to be understood by us.
But to go on: Acts xiii. Paul preaches in the Synagogue at Ani tioch, where he makes it his business to convince the Jews, that « God, according to his promise, had of the seed of David raised K to Israel a Saviour, Jesus,” ver. 24. That he was He of whom the prophets writ, ver. 25-29. i. e. the Messiah ; and that, as a demonstration of his being so, God had raised him from the dead, ver. 30. From whence he argues thus, ver. 32, 33. “ We evange« lize to you," or bring you this gospel, “ how that the promise « which was made to our fathers, God hath fulfilled the fame unte # us, in that he hath raised up Jesus again ; as it is also written in * the second Pfalm, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten & thee.” And having gone on to prove him to be the Messiah, by his resurrection from the dead, he makes this conclusion ; ver. 38, 39. « Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that « through this man is preached unto you forgiveness of sins; and « by him all who believe, are justified from all things from which « they could not be justified by the law of Moses,” This is in this chapter called " the word of God” over and over again : compare ver. 42, with 44, 46, 48, 49. And chap. xii. ver. 24.
Acts xvii, 2. 4: At Thessalonica, Paul, “ as his manner was, * went into the Synagogue, and three Sabbath-days reasoned with
uld not be believe shed white efore, me, conclufiomeliah,
" the Jews out of the scriptures ; opening and alledging, that the « Messiah must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead : " and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is the Meffiah. es And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas : « but the Jews which believed not, fet the city in an uproar.” Can there be any thing plainer, than that the assenting to this propofition, that Jefus was the Messiah, was that which distinguished the believers from the unbelievers ? For this was that alone which, 'three Sabbaths, Paul endeavoured to convince them of, as the text tells us in direct words.
From thence he went to Berea, and preached the faine thing : and the Bereans are commended, ver. II. for searching the scriptures, whether those things, i. e. which he had said, ver: 2, 3, con: cerning Jelus his being the Mefliah, were true or no
The same doctrine we find him preaching at Corinth, Acts xviii, 4, 6, “ And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and per« suaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timo« theus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in spirit; « and testified to the Jews, that Jesus was the Melliah. And when « they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his rayment, " and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads, I am « cle:in ; from henceforth I will go unto the Greeks."
Upon the like occasion he tells the Jews at Antioch, Acts xiiia 46. “ It was necessary that the word of God should first have been
fpoken to you ; but seeing you put it off from you, we turn to " the Gentiles.” It is plain here, St. Paul's charging their blood on their own heads, is for opposing this single truth, that Jesus was the Messiah ; that salvation or perdition depends upon believa ing or rejecting this one proposition. I mean, this is all is required to be believed by those who acknowledge but one eternal and invitible God, the maker of heaven and earth, as the Jews did. For that there is something more required to salvation, besides believe ing, we shall see hereafter. In the mean time, it is fit here on this occasion to take notice, that though the apostles in their preaching to Jews, and the “ Devout" (as we translate the word Erfoueron, who were profelytes of the gate, and the worshippers of one eternal and invisible God), said nothing of the believing in this one true God, the maker of heaven and earth ; because it was needless to press this to those who believed and professed it already (for to such it is plain, were most of their discourses hitherto); yet when they had to do with idolatrous Heathens, who were not yet coine to the knowledge of the one only true God; they began with that, as necessary to be believed ; it being the foundation on which the other was built, and without which it could signify nothing.
Thus Paul speaking to the idolatrous Lystrians, who would have facrificed to him and Barnabas, says, Acts xiv, 15. “ We preach "" unto you, that you should turn from these vanities unto the living
“God, who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that « are therein. Who in times paft suffered all nations to walk in their