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Flown ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness in “ that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful a seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
Thus also he proceeded with the idolatrous Athenians, Acts xvii. telling them, upon occasion of the altar dedicated to the unknown God, « Whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto “ you ; God who made the world, and all things therein : secing " that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples « made with hands. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of « God, we ought not to think that the godhead is like unto gold, « or silver, or stone, graven by art, and man's device. And the « times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth « ail men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day « in which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man « whom he hath ordained: whereof he hath given assurance unto « all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” So that we see, where any thing more was necessary to be proposed to be believed, as there was to the Heathen idolaters, there the apostles were careful not to omit it.
Acts xviii. 4. “ Paul at Corinth reasoned in the synagogue every « Sabbath-day, and testified to the Jews, that Jesus was the Messiah.” Ver. II. “ And he continued there a year and six months, teach« ing the word of God amongst them;" i. e. The good news, that Jesus was the Messiah ; as we have already thewn is meant by “ the word of God.”
Apollos, another preacher of the gospel, when he was instructed in the way of God more perfectly, what did he teach but this same doctrine ? As we may see in this account of him, Acts xviii. 27. That " when he was come into Achaia, he helped the brethren “ much who had believed through grace. For he mightily con« vinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the Scriptures « that Jesus was the Messiah,”
St. Paul, in the account he gives of himself before Festus and Agrippa, professes this alone to be the doctrine he taught after his conversion : for, says he, Acts xxvi. 22. “Having obtained help of « God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, “ saying none other things than those which the prophets and “ Moses did say should come : that the Messiah should suffer, and « that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and
should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles." Which was no more than to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. This is that, which, as we have above observed, is called “ the word of “ God;" Acts xi. 1. compared with the foregoing chapter, from ver. 34, to the end. And xiii. 42. compared with 44, 46, 48, 49. And xvii, 13. compared with ver. II. 3. It is also called “ the « word of the gospel,” Aets xv. 7. And this is that, “ word of “ God,” and that “ gospel,” which, where-ever their discourses are set down, we find the apostles preached; and was that faith, which made both Jews and Gentiles believers and members of the VOL. IV,
Ama 343 to the end. 1. compared observed, is the Metfiah.
church of Christ; purifying their hearts, Aits xv. 9. And carrying with it remiffion of lins, Acts X. 43. So that all that was to be believed for justification, was no more but this fingle proposition : that “ Jefus of Nazareth was the Christ, or the Messiah.” All, I jay, that was to be believed for justification : for that it was not all that was required to be done for justification, we íall fee hcreafter.
Though we have seen above from what our Saviour has pronounced himself, John iii. 36. " That he that believeth on the son, « hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the son, shall not « fee life, but the wrath of God abideth on him :" and are taught from John iv. 39. compared with ver. 42. “ That believing on « him, is believing that he is the Mcíliah, the Saviour of the world;" and the confession made by St. Peter, Matt. xvi. 16. That he is " the Messiah, the son of the living God,” being the rock, Qal which our Saviour has promised to build his church ; though this, I say, and what else we have already taken notice of, be enough to convince us what it is we are in the gospel required to believe to eternal life, without adding what we have observed from the preaching of the apostles; yet it may not be amniss, for the farther clearing this matter, to observe what the evangelists deliver concerning the same thing, though in different words; which therefcre perhaps are not fo generally taken notice of to this purpose.
We have above observed, from the words of Andrew and Philip compared, that the Messiah, and « him of whom Mofes in the “ law and the prophets did write,” signify the same thing. We shall now consider that place, John i. a little further. Ver. 41. Andrew says to Simon, « We have found the Messiah.” Philip, on the same occasion, ver. 45. says to Nathanael,” We have “ found him, of whom Mofes in the law and the prophets did “ write, Jesus of Nazareth, the fon of Joseph.” Nathanael, who disbelieved this, when upon Christ's speaking to him he was convinced of it, declares his affent to it in these words ; « Rabbi, " thou art the son of God, thou art the king of Israel.” From which it is cvident, that to believe him to be « hiin of whom “ Moses and the prophcis did write,” or to be the « son of God," or to be the “ king of Israel," was in effect the same as to believe him to be the Melliah : and an affent to that, was what our Saviour received for believing. For upon Nathanael's making a confeliion in these words, “ Thou art the fon of God, thou. « art the king of lfrael ; Jesus answered and said to him, Because • I laid to thee, I saw thưe under the fig--tree, doit thou BELIEVE ? " Thou shalt lee greater things than there,” ver. 51. I desire any one to read the latter part of the first of John, from ver. 25. , with attention, and tell me, whether it be not plain, that this phrase, “ the fon of God,” is an expression used for the Messiah.. To which let him add Martha's declaration of her faith, John xi. 27. in these words ; « I believe that thou art the Meffiah, THE “ SON OF God, who fhould come into the world;" and that pasiage of St. John, chap. xx. 31. “ That ye might believe that
« Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God; and that believing, ye « might have life through his name;" and then tell me whether he can doubt that Mefliah and « son of God” were synonymous terms, at that time, amongst the Jews.
The prophecy of Daniel, chap. ix. where he is called “ Messiah « the Prince ;" and the mention of his government and kingdom, and the deliverance by him, in Ilaiah, Daniel, and other prophecies, understood of the Messiah, were so well known to the Jews, and had so raised their hopes of him about this time, which, by their account, was to be the time of his coming to restore the kingdom to Israel, that Herod no sooner heard of the Magi's enquiry after “ him that was born king of the Jews,” Matt. ii. but he forthwith “ demanded of the chief priests and Scribes, where “ the Messiah Thould be born,” ver. 4. Not doubting, but if there were any king born to the Jews, it was the Messiah, whose coming was now the general expectation, as appears, Luke iii. 15. « The people being in expectation, and all men musing in their “ hearts of John, whether he were the Messiah or not.” And when the priests and Levites sent to ask him who he was, he, understanding their meaning, answers, John i. 20. that he was not “ the Messiah ;” but he bears witness that Jesus “is the son of « God,” i. e. the Messiah, ver. 34. . This looking for the Messiah at this time we fee also in Simeon, who is said to be a waiting for the consolation of Israel,” Luke ii. 21. And having the child Jesus in his arms, he says he had “ seen “ the falvation of the Lord,” ver. 30. And Anna « coming at " the same instant into the Temple, she gave thanks also unto the " Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption « in Israel,” ver. 38. And of Joseph of Arimathea it is said, Mark xv. 43. that “ he also expected the kingdom of God:" by all which was meant the coming of the Messiah. And Luke xix. 11. it is said, “ They thought that the kingdom of God should im“ mediately appear.”
This being premised, let us see what it was that John the Baptist preached, when he first entered upon his ministry., That St. Matthew tells us, chap. iii. 1. 2. “In those days came John the “ Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, Rcpent, for " the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This was a declaration of the coining of the Messiah; the “ kingdom of heaven” and the “ kingdom of God” being the same, as is clear out of several places of the evangelists; and both signifying the kingdom of the Meffiah. The profession which John the Baptist made, when sent to the Jews, John i. 19. was, that “ he was not the Messiah,” but that Jesus was. This will appear to any one, who will compare ver. 26. 34. with John iii. 27. 30. The Jews being very inquifitive to know whether John were the Messiah, he positively denies it, but tells them, he was only his forerunner; and that there stood cne amongst them, who would follow him, whose shoe-latchet he was not worthy to untie. The next day seeing Jetus, he says, he C 2
was the man ; and that his own baptizing in water, was only that Jesus might be manifested to the world ; and that he knew him not, till he saw the Holy Ghost descend upon him. He that sent him to baptize having told him, that he on whom he should see the Spirit descend, and reft upon, he it was that should baptize with the Holy Ghost ; and that therefore he witnessed, that " this was the son of “ God,” ver. 34. i. e. the Messiah. And chap. Mi. 26, &c. they came to John the Baptist, and tell him, that Jefus baptized, and that all men went to him. John answers, He has his authority from heaven ; you know I never said, I was the Mefliah, but that I was sent before hiin: he must increase, but I must decreafe; for God hath sent him, and he speaks the words of God; and God hath given all things into the hands of his fon, “And he that be« lieves on the son hath eternal life.” The fame doctrine, and 10thing else, but what was preached by the apostles afterwards ; as we have seen all through the Acts, v. g. that Jesus was the Messiah. And that it was that John bears witness of our Saviour, as Jesus himself says, John v. 33.
This also was the declaration that was given of him at his baptifm, by a voice from heaven; “ This is my beloved for, in « whom I am well pleased,” Matt. iii. 17. which was a declaration of him to be Messiahı ; “ the son of God” being (as we have Thewed) understood to signify the Meffiah. To which we may add the first mention of him after his conception, in the words of the angel-to Jofeph; Matt. i. 21. « Thou shalt call his name Jefus," or Saviour; « for he shall fave his people from their fins." It was a received doctrine in the Jewish nation, that at the coming of the Mefliah all their fins should be forgiven them. These words therefore of the angel we may look on as a declaration, that Jesus was the Mefliah ; whereof these words, “his people,” are a farther mark; which fuppofe him to have a people, and consequently to be a king.
After his baptism, Jesus himself enters upon his ministry. But before we examine what it was he proposed to be believed, we must observe that there is a threefold declaration of the Meiliah :
1. By miracles. The spirit of prophecy had now for many ages forsaken the Jews; and though their commonwealth were not quite diffolved, but that they lived under their own laws, yet they were under a foreign dominion, subject to the Romans. In this state, their account of the time being up, they were in expectation of the Messiah, and of deliverance by him in a kingdom he was to set up, according to their ancient prophecies of himn: which gave them hopes of an extraordinary man yet to come from God, who with an extraordinary and divine power, and miracles, should evidence his mission, and work their deliverance. And of any such extraordinary person, who should have the power of doing miracles, they had no other expectation but only of their Meriah. One great prophet and worker of miracles, and only one more, they expected, who was to be Messiah. And therefore we see the peuple justified
their « believing in him," i. e. their believing him to be the Meffiah, because of the miracles he did ; John vii. 31. « And many < of the people believed in him, and said, When the Messiah « cometh, will he do more miracles than this man hath done?” And when the Jews, at the feast of dedication, John X. 24, 25. coming about him, said unto him, “ How long dost thou make us « doubt? If thou be the Messiah, tell us plainly; Jesus answered " them, I told you, and ye believed not; the works that I do in « my father's name, bear witness of me.” And John v. 36. he says, “I have a greater witness than that of John; for the works “ which the father hath given me to do, the same works that I do, « bear witness of me, that the father hath sent me.” Where, by the way, we may observe, that his being “sent by the father,” is but another way of expressing the Messiah ; which is evident from this place here, John v. compared with that of John X. last quoted. For there he days, that his works bear witness of him : and what was that witnesó? viz, that he was the Melliah. Here again he says, that his works bear witness of him: and what is that witness ? viz. « That the father sent him.” By which we are taught, that to be sent by the father, and to be the Messiah, was the same thing in his way of declaring himself. And accordingly we find, John iv. 53. and xi. 45. and elsewhere, many hearkened and asented to his teftimony, and believed on him, seeing the things that he did.
2. Another way of declaring the coming of the Messiah, was by phrases and circumlocutions, that did fignify or intimate his coming, though not in direct words pointing out the person. The most usual of these were, « the kingdom of God, and of heaven;" because it was that which was ofteneft spoken of the Messiah, in the Old Testament, in very plain words; and a kingdom was that which the Jews most looked after, and wished for. In that known place, Ifai. ix. « The GOVERNMENT shall be upon his shoulders; he shall « be called the Prince of peace : of the increase of his GOVERN« MENT and peace there shall be no end : upon the THRONE of « David, and upon his KINGDOM, to order it, and to establish it « with judgement and with justice, from henceforth even for ever.” Micah v. 2. “ But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be « little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come « forth unto me, that is to be the Ruler in Ifrael.” And Daniel, besides that he calls him “Messiah the PRINCE," chap. ix, 25. in the account of his vifion of the son of man," chap. vii. 13, 14, says, “ There was given him dominion, glory, and a KINGDOM, « that all people, nations, and languages should serve: his domi« nion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away; and « his KINGDOM that which shall not be destroyed." So that the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of heaven, were common phrases amongst the Jews, to signify the times of the Messiah. Luke xiv. 15. “ One of the Jews that sat at meat with him, said unto him, * Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God,” chap. xvii. 20. The Pharifecs demanded, “ When the kingdom of God C3