Page images

out of Idumea, and from Tyre and Sidon, mentioned Mark iii. 7, 8. and Luke vi. 17. But in this whole sermon of his we do not find one word of believing, and therefore no mention of the Mefhah, or any intimation to the people who himself was. The reason whereof we may gather from Matt. xii. 16. where “ Christ forbids " them to make him known;" which supposes them to know al. ready who he was. For that this 12th chapter of Matthew ought to precede the fermon in the mount, is plain, by comparing it with Mark ii. beginning at ver. 13. to Mark iii. 8. and comparing those chapters of St Mark with Luke vi. And I desire my reader, once for all, here to take notice, that I have all along observed the order of time in our Saviour's preaching, and have not, as I think, passed by any of his discourses. In this sermon our Saviour only teaches them what were the laws of his kingdom, and what they must do who were adınitted into it, of which I shall have occasion to fpeak more at large in another place, being at present only enquiring what our Saviour proposed as matter of faith to be believed.

After this, John the Baptist sends to him this message, Luke vii. 19. alking,

« Art thou he that should come, or do we expect an« other?” that is, in short, art thou the Messiah ? and if thou art, why dost thou let me, thy forerunner, languish in prison? must I expect deliverance from any other? To which Jesus returns this answer, ver. 22, 23. « Tell John what you have seen and heard; <the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf

hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached; « and blefied is he who is not offended in me. What it is to be o offended” or “scandalized in him,” we may see by comparing Matt. xiii. 28. and Mark iv. 17. with Luke viii. 13. For what the two first call “scandalized” the last calls standing off from,” or “ forsaking," i. e. not receiving him as the Messiah (lee Mark vi. 1-6.) or revolting from him. Here Jesus refers John, as he did the Jews before, to the testimony of his miracles, to know who he was; and this was generally his preaching, whereby he declared himself to be the Meffiah; who was the only prophet to come, whom the Jews had any expectation of; nor did they look for any other person to be sent to them with the power of miracles, but only the Mefliah. His miracles we see by his answer to John the Baptist, he thought a sufficient declaration amongst them, that he was the Messiah. And therefore, upon his curing the poffefied of the devil, the dumb, and blind, Matt. xii. the people, who saw the miracle, faid, ver. 23.

“ Is not this the son of David ?” as much as to fay, Is not this the Mefliah? whereat the Pharifees being offended, laid, He cast out devils by Beellebub. Jesus, shewing the falfhood and vanity of their blafphemy, justifies the conclusion the people made from this miracle, saying, ver. 28. That his casting out devils by the spirit of God, was an evidence that the kingdom of the Metfiah was come.

One thing inore there was in the miracles done by his disciples, which inewed him to be t'ie Nieffüh; that they were done in his


name. " In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk," says St. Peter to the lame man whom he cured in the Temple, A&s iii. 6. And how far the power of that name reached, they themselves seem to wonder, Luke x. 17. “ And the seventy returned “ again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us « in thy name.

From this message from John the Baptist, he takes occasion to tell the people that John was the forerunner of the Messiah; that from the time of John the Baptist the kingdom of the Messiah began; to which time all the prophets and the law pointed, Luke vii. and Matt. xi.

Luke viii. 1. “Afterwards he went through every city and village, “ preaching and shewing the good tidings of the kingdom of God.” Here we see, as every where, what his preaching was, and confequently what was to be believed.

Scon after, he preaches from a boat to the people on the shore. His sermon at large we may read Matt. xiii. Mark iv. and Luke viii. But this is very observable, that this second sermon of his here is quite different from his former in the mount: for that was all so plain and intelligible, that nothing could be more so; whereas this is all so involved in parables, that even the apostles themselves did not understand it. If we enquire into the reason of this, we shall possibly have some light from the different subjects of these two sermons. There he preached to the people only morality; clearing the precepts of the law from the false gloffes which were received in those days, and setting forth the duties of a good life in their full obligation and extent, beyond what the judiciary laws of the Israelites did, or the civil laws of any country could prescribe or take notice of. But here, in this fermon by the sea-side, he speaks of nothing but the kingdom of the Messiah, which he does all in parables. One reason whereof St. Matthew gives us, chap. xiii. 35. “ That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the pro~ phet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things " that have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” Another reason our Saviour himself gives of it, ver. 11, 12.

" Be« cause to you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of “heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to " him thall be given, and he shall have more abundantly; but « whosoever hath not,” i. e. improves not the talents that he hath, « from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”

One thing it may not be ainiss to observe, that our Saviour here, in the explication of the first of these parables to his apostles, calls the preaching of the kingdom of the Meffiah, simply, « the word;" and Luke viji. 21. " the word of God :" from whence St. Luke, in the Acts, often mentions it under the name of “ the word," and the “ word of God,” as we have elsewhere observed. To which I shall here add that of Aits viii. 4. “ Therefore they that “ were scattered abroad, went every where preaching the word;"> which word, as we have found by examining what they preached VOL. IV. by



was come.

all through their history, was nothing but this, that “ Jesus was the « Messiah :" I mean, this was all the doctrine they proposed to be believed: for what they taught, as well as our Saviour, contained a great deal more ; but that concerned practice, and not belief. And therefore our Saviour says, in the place before quoted, Luke viii.

“ They are my mother and my brethren who hear the word “ of God, and do it :” obeying the law of the Messiah their king, being no less required than their believing that Jesus was the Meifiah, the king and deliverer that was promised them.

Mat. ix. 13. We have an account again of his preaching; what it was, and how. “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages “ teaching in their fynagogues, and preaching the gospel of the king

dom, and healing every fickness and every diseate annongst the of people.” He acquainted them that the kingdom of the Meffiah ivas come, and left it to his miracles to instruct and convince them that he was the Mesiah.

Matt. x. . When he sent his apostles abroad, their commission to preach we have, ver. 7, 8. in these words: “As ye go, preach, “saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand; heal the tick," &c. All that they had to preach, was, th, the kingdom of the Mefliah

Whosoever thould not receive them, the meffenders of these good tidings, nor hearken to their meflage, incurred a heavier doom than Sodom and Gomorrah at the day of judgment, ver. 14, 15. But ver. 32. « Whosoever fhall confess me before men, I “ will confefs him before my father who is in heaven.” What this confusing o: Christ is, we may fee by con paring John xii. 4. with ix. 22. “ Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also many be“ lieved on him ; but because of the Pharisees they did not con

FESS HIM, left they should be put out of the synagogue.” And chap. ix. 22. “ These words fpake his parents, because they feared " the Jews : for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did « CONFESS THAT HE WAS THE MESSIAH, he should be put out

of the fynagogue." By which places it is evident, that to confess him, was to confess that he was the Mefliah. From which give me leave to observe alto (what I have cleared from other places, but cannot be too often remarked, because of the different sense has been put upon that phrase) viz. that “ believing on" or "in “him” (for siç avtòr is rendered either way by the English translation) fignifies believing that he was the Messiah. For many of the rulers (the text fays) believed on him;” but they durft not confels what they believed, “ for fear they should be put out of the « fynagogue. Now the offence for which it was agreed that any onc Thould be put out of the fynagogue, was, if he “ did confess " that Jesus was the Messiah.” Hence we may have a clear understanding of that paffage of St. Paul to the Romans, where he tells them positively what is the faith he preaches, Rom. x. 8, 9. “ That is the word of faith which we preach, that if thou shalt « confess with thy mouth the Lord Jefus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved :"


and that also of 1 John iv. 14, 15.

« We have seen, and do testify, " that the father sent the son to be the Saviour of the world: « whosoever fhall confess that Jesus is the son of God, God dwel« leth in him, and he in God.” Where confeffing Jesus to be the son of God, is the same with confefling him to be the Messiah; those two expressions being understood amongst the Jews to signify the same thing, as we have shewn already.

How calling him the son of God came to signify that he was the Messiah, would not be hard to thew: but it is enough that it appears plainly that it was so used, and had that import amongst the Jews at that time; which if any one desires to have farther evidenced to him, he may add Matt. xxvi. 63. John vi. 69. and xi. 27. and xx. 31. to those places before occasionally taken notice of.

As was the apostles commission, such was their performance, as we read Luke ix. 6. “ They departed, and went through the towns, “ preaching the Gospel, and healing every where.” Jesus bid them preach,“ saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And St. Luke tells us, they went through the towns, preaching the gorpel; a word which in Saxon answers well the Greek réalyénor, and fignifes, as that does, “ good news.” So that what the inspired writers call the “ gospel,” is nothing but the goo.l. tidings that the Meffiah and his kingdom was come; and so it is to be understood in the New Testament; and so the angel calls it “good tidings of “ great joy,” Luke ii. 10. bringing the first news of our Saviour's birth. And this seems to be all that his disciples were at that time sent to preach.

So Luke ix. 59, 60. To him that would have excused his present attendance, because of burying his father, “ jesus said unto « him, Let the dead bury their dead, but go thou and preach the « kingdom of God.” When I say this was all they were to preach, I must be understood, that this was the faith they preached; but with it they joined obedience to the Mefliah, whom they received for their king. So likewise when he sent out the seventy, Luke x. their commillion was in these words, ver. 9. « Heal the « fick, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh “ unto you."

After the return of his apostles to him, he sits down with them on a mountain, and a great multitude being gathered about them, St. Luke tells us, chap. ix. II. “ The people followed him, and he « received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God; « and healed them that had need of healing.” This was his preaching to this assembly, which consisted of five thousand men, befides women and children; all which great multitude he fed with five loaves and two fifhes, Matt. xiv. 21. And what this miracle wrought upon them, St. John tells us, chap. vi.: 14, 15. « Then " thefe men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, faid, « This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world,” i. e. the Messiah: for the Messiah was the only person that they expected from God, and this the time they looked for him. And


D 2

hence John the Baptift, Matt. xi. 3. styles him, “He that should

come;" as in other places, « Come from God,” or “ sent from “God,” are phrases uled for the Messiah.

Here we fee our Saviour keeps to his usual method of preaching : he speaks to them of the kingdom of God, and docs miracles, by which they might understand him to be the Mesiiah, whose kingdoin he fpake of. And here we have the reason also, why he lo much concealed himself, and forbore to own his being the Messiah. For what the consequence was of the multitude's but thinking him fo, when they were got together, St. John tells us in the very next words; “ When Jelus then perceived that they would come and " take him by force to make him a king, he departed again into a u mountain himself alone.” If they were fo ready to fet him up for their king, only because they gathered from his iniracles that he was the Messiah, whilst he himlelf said nothing of it, what would not the people have done, and what would not the Scribes and Pharisees have had an opportunity to accufe him of, it he had openly professed himself to have been the Messiah, that king they looked for? But this we have taken notice of already.

From hence going to Capernaum, whither he was followed by a great part of the people, whom he had the day before so miraculously fed, he, upon the occasion of their following him for the loaves, bids thein seek for the meat that endureth to eternal life: and thereupon, John vi. 22–69. declares to them his being sent from the Father, and that those who believed in him should be raised to eternal life; but all this very much involved in a mixture of allegorical terms of eating, and of bread, bread of life, which came down from heaven, &c. which is all comprehended and expounded in these short and plain words, ver. 47 and 54. « verily I fay unto you, he that believeth on me hath everlasting « life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” The sum of all which discourse is, that he was the Messiah sent from God; and that those who believed hiin to be so, thould be raised from the dead at the last day to eternal life. These whom he fpoke to, were of those who the day before would by force have made him king; and therefore it is no wonder he thould speak to them of himself, and his kingdom and subjects, in obfcure and mystical terms, and such as should offend those who looked for nothing but the grandeur of a temporal kingdom in this world, and the protection and prosperity they had proinised themselves under it. The hopes of luch a kingdom, now that they had found a man that did miracles, and therefore concluded to be the deliverer they expected, had the day before alınost drawn them into an open insurrection, and involved our Saviour in it. This he thought fit to put a stop to, they still following him, it is like, with the same design; and therefore, though he here speaks to them of his kingdom, it was in a way that lo plainly taulked their expectation, and shocked them, Thai, when they found themselves ditappointed of those vain hopes, and that he talked of their eating his Hein, and drinking his blood,


« Verily,

« PreviousContinue »