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And that he was the Meffiah, 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 consider in another place. There we read what golpeł our Saviour preached to his disciples and apoftles; and that, as foon as he was risen from the dead, twice the very day of his resurrections."
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 Meffiah.. Indeed, now after his death, his refurrection was also commonly required to be believed as a necessary article, and sometimes folely infifted on: it being a mark and undoubted evidence of his being the Messiah, and neçellary now to be believed by those who would receive him as the Mefliah For fince the Melliah 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 ng pretence to have given him out for the Messiah, 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 Messiah. But of this more'in another place, . 5. Let us feç therefore how the apostles preached Christ, and what they proposed to their hearers to believe, St. Peter at Jerusalem, Acts ii, by his first sermon, converted three thousand fouls, What
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 froin all that he had said, and which he presles on them as the thing they were to believe, viz. « Therefore let all the house of " Ifrael know affuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom
ye have crucified, Lord and Messiah,” ver. 36, ۲۰
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.''
In the next chapter, Acts iv. Peter and John being examined about the miracle on the lame man, profess it to have been done in the pame of Jelus of Nazareth, who was the Mefliah, in whom alone there was falvation, 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 Jesus the « Mefliah.” ver. 42,
What was Stephen's speech to the council, Acts vii. but a repre, hension to them, that they were the betrayers and murderers of the “ Just One ?” Which is the tide by which he plainly designs the
Melliah, Messiah, whose coming was fore-shewn by the Prophets, ver. 51, 521 And that the Messiah was to be without fin-(which is the import of the word “ Juft") 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 Messiah; 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 Jesus, 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 is of God:” which is as much as to say, I believe that he, whom you call Jesus Christ, is really and truly the Messiah that was promised. For that believing him to be the Son of God,” and to be the Messiah, was the same thing, may appear by comparing John i. 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 verfes. They ask him, ver. 67. whether he were the Meffiah? He answers, “ If I tell you, you will not believe;” but withal tells them, that from henceforth he thould be in poffeffion of the kingdom of the Meffiah, cxprefled in thefe words, ver. 19.
Hereafter shall the son of man fit on the right hand of the power " of God: which made them all cry out, “ Art thou then the son " of God?" i. e. Doft 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 fay to Pilate, John xix. 7. “ We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, becaute he « made himself the Son of God;" i. e. by making himself the Metfiah, the Prophet which was to come, but fallly; and therefore he deserves to die by the law. Deut. xviii. 20. That this was the common signification of the fon of God,” is farther evident from what the chief priests, mocking him, faid, when he was on the cross, Matt. xxvii. 42. “He saved others, himself he cannot save : " if he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the
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 Mefliah is to
be king of Israel, the faviour of others; but this man cannot fave himselt. The chief priests mention here the two titles then in use whereby the Jews commonly deligned the Mefliah, viz. “fon of « God, and « king of Ifrael." "That of “ son of God” was so familiar a compellation of the Messiah, who was then so 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 naine. And that this was it which Paul preached, appears from ver. 22. “ Saul encreased the inore in strength, and con* founded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this is “ the very Chrift," i. e, the Messiah.
Peter, when he came to Cornelius at Cesarea; who by a vision was ordered to send for him, as Peter, on the other side, was by a vision commanded to go to him; what does he teach him? His whole discourse, Acts x. tends to show 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 " of the quick and the dead." And that it was « to him that all * the Prophets give witness, that through his name whosoever bc« lieved in him Thall 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 promifed to Cornelius,
“ Whereby he and all his house should be faved :" which “ words amount only to thus much, that Jesus was the “ Mefliah," the Saviour that was promised. Upon their receiving of this (for this was all was taught them) the Holy Ghoft 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 beítowing on them the Holy Ghoft, did thus declare from heaven, that the Gentiles, upon believing Jesus to be the Melliah, 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 circumcision, that he had not kept that distance which he ought with the uncircumcised, will be of this opinion; and see by what he fays, 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 members of the Christian church) to admit Gentiles into their communion, 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 circumcision, which came with him, « and were astonished, because that on the Gentiles also was poured * out the gift of the Holy Ghoft: can any one forbid water, that " these 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 those here converted with him, “ by my mouth should hear the Gospel, and believe. And « God, who knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them " the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us, and put no difference
Aets xi. 14.
between us and thein, purifying their hearts by faith,” ver. 7. 9. So that both Jews and Gentiles, who believed Jesus to be the Meiliah, 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 Jesus 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,
And St. Matthew, chap. xiii. 19. “the word of the kingdom ; " which were, it feems, in the gospel-writers fynonymous terms, and are so to be understood by us. But to go on : Acts xiii
. Paul preaches in the Synagogue at Antioch, where he makes it his business to convince the Jews, that u God, according to his promise, had of the seed of David raised " to Israel a Saviour, Jesus,” ver. 24. That he was He of whom the prophets writ, ver. 25—29. i. e. the Melliah : 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 golpel, “ how that the promise « which was made to our fathers, God hath fulfilled the fame unto
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 Melliah, 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 fins; 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 Thesalonica, Paul, “ as his manner was, went into the Synagogue, and three Sabbath-days reasoned with
# the Jews out of the scriptures ; opening and alledging, that the € Messiah must needs have luffered, and risen again from the dead : « and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is the Messiah. « 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 Jesus 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 same thing : and the Bereans are commended, ver. 11. for searching the scriptures, whether those things, i. e. which he had said, ver: 2, 3, concerning Jelus his being the Messiah, were true or no.
The fame doctrine we find him preaching at CorinthActs xviii 4, 6. " And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and per« fuaded 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 Messiah. And when « they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, hc 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 are 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 Mefliah ; that falvation or perdition depends upon believing or rejecting this one proposition. I mean, this is all is required to be believed by those who acknowledge but one eternal and invisible God, the maker of heaven and earth, as the Jews did. For that there is fomething more required to falvation, besides believe ing, we shall see hereafter. In the mean time, it is fit here on this occafion to take notice, that though the apostles in their preaching to Jews, and the “ Devout” (as we translate the word [Còueron, 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 come 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 Lyftrians, who would have facrificed to him and Barnabas, says, Acts xiv. 15.“ We preach
unto you, that you Tould 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 past suffered all nations to walk in their