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without being more particular than he had ordered, or mixing their own prudence with his commands, to promote the kingdom of the Meffiah. They preached it without giving, or so much as intimating, that their master was he; which men of another condition, and an higher education, would scarce have forborn to have done. When he asked them who they thought him to be, and Peter anfwered, “ The Messiah, the son of God,” Matt. xvi. 16. he plainly fhews, by the following words, that he himself had not told them so; and at the same time, ver. 20. forbids them to tell this their opinion of him to any body. How obedient they were to him in this, we may not only conclude from the filence of the evangelists concerning any such thing published by them any where before his death, but from the exact obedience three of them paid to a like command of his. He takes Peter, James, and John, into a mountain, and there Moses and Elias coming to him, he is transfigured before them: Matt. xvii. 9. he charges them, saying, “ see that ye « teil no man what ye have seen, till the son of man shall be risen “ from the dead.” And St. Luke tells us, what punctual observers they were of his orders in this case, chap. ix. 36. “ They kept “ it close, and told no man, in those days, any of those things “which they had seen."
Whether twelve other men, of quicker parts, and of a station or breeding which might have given them any opinion of themselves, or their own abilities, would have been so easily kept from meddling beyond just what was prescribed them, in a matter they had so much interest in; and have said nothing of what they might in human prudence have thought would have contributed to their master's reputation, and made way for his advancement to his kingdom, I leave to be considered. And it may suggest matter of meditation, whether St. Paul was not, for this reafon, by his learning, parts, and warmer temper, better fitted for an apostle after, than during our Saviour's ministry; and therefore, though a chosen verfel
, was not by the divine wisdom called till after Christ's resurrection.
I offer this only as a subject of magnifying the admirable contrivance of the divine wisdom, in the whole work of our redemption, as far as we are able to trace it by the footsteps which God hath made visible to hunan reason. For though it be as easy to omnipotent power to do all things. by an immediate over-ruling will, and so to make any mftruments work, even contrary to their natures, in fubserviency to his ends; yet his wisdom is not usually at the expence of miracles (if I may lo say), but only in cases that require them, for the evidencing of some revelation or mission to be from him. He does conítantly (unless where the confirmation of some truth requires it otherwise) bring about his parposes by means operating according to their natures. If it were not so, the course and evidence of things would be confounded; miracles would lose their name and force; and there could be no distinction between natural and fupernatural.
There had been no room left to see and admire the wisdom, as well as innocence, of our Saviour, if he had rafhly every where expofed himself to the fury of the Jews, and had always been preferved by a miraculous suspension of their malice, or a miraculous rescuing him out of their hands. It was enough for him once to escape from the men of Nazareth, who were going to throw him down a precipice, for him never to preach to them again. Our Saviour had multitudes that followed him for the loaves, who, barely seeing the miracles that he did, would have made him king. If to the miracles he did, he had openly added, in express words, that he was the Messiah, and the king they expected to deliver them, he would have had inore followers, and warmer in the cause, and readier to set him up at the head of a tumult. These indeed God, by a miraculous influence, might have hindered from any such attempt; but then posterity could not have believed that the nation of the Jews did at that time expect the Messiah, their king and deliverer; or that Jesus, who declared himself to be that king and deliverer, shewed any miracles amongit them, to convince them of it; or did any thing worthy to make him be credited or received. If he had gone about preaching to the multitude which he drew after him, that he was " the Mefliah, the king of Israel,” and this had been evidenced to Pilate, God could indeed, by å supernatural influence upon his mind, have made Pilate pronounce him innocent, and not condemn him as a malefactor, who had openly, for three years together, preached fedition to the people, and endeavoured to persuade them that he was the Messiah “ their king,” of the blood-royal of David, come to deliver them. But then I ask, whether posterity would not either have suspected the story, or that some art had been used to gain that testimony from Pilate? because he could not (for nothing) have been so favourable to Jesus, as to be willing to release so turbulent and seditious a man, to declare him innocent, and to cast the blame and guilt of his death, as unjust, upon the envy of the Jews.
But now the malice of the chief prieits, Scribes, and Pharisees ; the hia liness of the mob, animated with hopes, and raised with miracles; Judas's treachery, and Pilate's care of his government, and of the peace of his province, all working naturally as they should; Jesus, by the admirable wariness of his carriage, and an extraordinary wisdom visible in his whole conduct, weathers all these difficulties, does the work he comes for, uninterruptedly goes about preaching his full appointed time, fufficiently manifests himself to be the Melfiah in all the particulars the scriptures had foretold of him; and, when his hour is come, suffers death; but is ac, knowledged both by Judas that betrayed, and Pilate that condemned him, to die innocent. For, to ule his own words, Luke xxiv. 46. « Thus it is written, and thus it behoved the Messiah to suffer." And of his whole conduct, we have a reason and clear resolution in those words to St. Peter, Matt. xxvi. 53. “ Thinkest thou that I “ cannot now pray to my father, and he shall presently give me
« more than twelve legions of angels ? but how then shall the “ scripture be fulfilled, that thus it must be ?”
Having this clue to guide us, let us now observe how our Saviour's preaching and conduct comported with it in the last scene of his life. How cautious he had been in the former part of his ministry, we have already observed. We never find him to use the name of the Mefliah but once, till he now came to Jerusalem this last parsover. Before this, his preaching and miracles were less at Jerusalein (where he used to make but very short stays) than any where else ; but now, he comes six days before the feast, and is every day in the Temple teaching; and there publicly heals the blind and the lame, in the presence of the Scribes, Pharisees, and chief priests. The time of his ministry drawing to an end, and his hour coming, he cared not how much the chief priests, elders, rulers, and the Sanhedrim, were provoked against him by his doctrine and miracles; he was as open and bold in his preaching, and doing the works of the Messiah now at Jerusalem, and in the light of the rulers, and of all the people, as he had been before cautious and reserved there, and careful to be little taken notice of in that place, and not to come, in their way more than needs. All that he now took care of was, not what they should think of him, 'or design against him (for he knew they would seize him), but to say or do nothing that might be a just matter of accusation against him, or render him criminal to the governor. But as for the grandees of the Jewish nation, he spares them not, but sharply now reprehends their miscarriages publicly in the Temple, where he calls them, more than once, hypocrites, as is to be seen Matt. xxiii. and concludes all with no softer a compellation, than “ serpents” and “ generation of vipers.”
After this severe reproof of the Scribes and Pharisees, being retired with his disciples into the Mount of Olives, over-againit the Temple, and there foretelling the destruction of it, his disciples ask him, Matt. xxiv. 3. &c. “ When it should be, and what should “ be the signs of his coming ?” He says to them, “Take heed that “ no man deceive you : for many shall come in my name ;” i. e. taking on them the name and dignity of the Messiah, which is only mine ; saying, “ I am the Mefliah, and shall deceive many.” But be not you by them milled, nor by persecution driven away from this fundamental truth, that I am the Messiah ; " for many shall
be fcandalized,” and apostatize, « but he that endures to the " end, the same shall be faved: and this gospel of the kingdom shall " be preached in all the world :" i. e. the good news of me, the Messiah, and my kingdom, shall be spread through the world. This was the great and only point of belief they were warned to . stick to; and this is inculcated again, ver. 23–26. and Mark xiii. 21-23. with this emphatical application to them in both these evangelists, “Behold, I have told you before-hand ;” remember ye are forewarned.
This was bis answer to the apostles enquiry concerning his * coming, and the end of the world,” ver. 3. For so we translato
añs outlensias tã aiwe; we must understand the disciples here to put their question, according to the notion and way of speakirìg of the Jews. For they had two “ worlds,” as we translate it, vùr aim xas o héanm aiar; the present world, and the world to come.” The kingdom of God, as they called it, or the time of the Messiah, they called ó seénawe alwr, “ the world to come,” which they believed was to put an end to “ this world,” and that then the just should be raised from the dead ; to enjoy, in that “ new world,” a happy eternity, with those of the Jewilh nation who should be then living.
These two things, viz. the visible and powerful appearance of his kingdom, and the end of the world, being confounded in the apostles question, our Saviour does not separate them, nor distinctly reply to them apart; but, leaving the enquirers in the common opinion, answers at once concerning his coming to take vengeance of the Jewish nation, and put an end to their church, worship, and commonwealth ; which was their ó vũr aiwr, present world, which they counted should last till the Meffiah came : and fo it did, and then had an end put to it. And to this he joins his last coming to judgement, in the glory of his father, to put a final end to this world, and all the dispensation belonging to the posterity of Adam upon earth. This joining them together made his answer obscure, and hard to be understood by them then ; nor was it safe for him to speak plainer of his kingdom, and the destruction of jerufalem, un'less he had a mind to be accused for having designs against the government. For Judas was amongst them : and whether no other but his apostles were comprehended under the name of « his disci« ples," who were with him at this time, one cannot determine, Our Saviour therefore speaks of his kingdom in no other style but that which he had all along hitherto used, viz. « The kingdom of « God;” Luke xxi. 31. « When you see these things come to pass, « know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand,” And continuing on his discourle with thein, he has the same expression, Matt. xxv. J. “ Then the kingdom of heaven shall be like unto « ten virgins.” At the end of the following parable of the talents, he adds, ver. 31. “ When the son of man shall come in his glory, « and all the holy angels with him, then thall he fit upon the « throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all the « nations. And he ihall set the sheep on his right-hand, and the “ goats on his left. Then shall the King say, &c.” Here he describes to his disciples the appearance of his kingdom; wherein he will shew himself “a king" in glory upon his throne : but this in such a way, and so remote, and so unintelligible to a heathen iragistrate, that, if it had been alledged against him, it would have feemed rather the dream of a crazy brain, than the contrivance of an ambitious or dangerous man designing against the government : the way of expressing what he meant being in the prophetic style; which is feldom fo plain as to be understood till accomplished. It is plain, that his disciples themselves comprehended not what kingdom he here spoke of, frorn their question to him after his re
surrection, furrection, “ Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to « Ifrael ?" · Having finished these discourses, he takes order for the passover, and eats it with his disciples; and at supper tells them, that one of them should betray him: and adds, John xiii. 19. “I tell it you “ now, before it come, that when it is come to pass, you may « know that I am.” He does not say out the Messiah; Judas should not have that to say against him if he would; though that be the sense in which he uses this expression, syú cipt, more than once. And that this is the meaning of it, is clear from Mark xii. 6. Luke xxi. 8. In both which evangelists the words are, « For “ many shall come in my name, saying, eyú eius, I am:" the meaning whereof we shall find explained in the parallel place of St. Matthew, chap. xxiv. 5. “ For many shall come in my name, saying, « iyu sizes é Xposós, I am the Messiah.” Here in this place of john xiii. Jesus foretells what should happen to him, viz. that he should be betrayed by Judas; adding this prediction to the many other particulars of his death and suffering, which he had at other times foretold to them. And here he tells them the reason of these his predictions, viz. that afterwards they might be a confirmation to their faith. And what was it that he would have them believe, and be confirmed in the belief of ? Nothing but this, oto éryú sius, that he was the Meffiah. The same reason he gives, John xiii. 28. “ You “ have heard, how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto “ you: and now I have told you before it come to pass, that when “ it is come to pass, ye might believe.”
When Judas had left them, and was gone out, he talks a little freer to them of his glory, and of his kingdom, than ever he had done before. For now he speaks plainly of himself, and of his kingdom, John xiii. 31. “ Therefore when he [Judas] was gone « out, jesus said, Now is the son of man glorified, and God is « also glorified in him. And if God be glorified in him, God shall « also glorify him in himself, and shall straitway glorify him.” And Luke xxii. 29. “And I will appoint unto you a kingdom, as « my father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink « with me at my table in my kingdom.” Though he has every where all along through his ministry preached “ the Gospel of the « kingdom," and nothing else but that and repentance, and the duties of a good life;. yet it has been always “ the kingdom of God," and “ the kingdom of heaven;" and I do not remember, that any where, till now, he uses any such expression as “my kingdom.” But here now he speaks in the first person, “ I will appoint you a « kingdom ;” and “ in my kingdom:" and this we see is only to the eleven, now Judas was gone from them.
With these eleven, whom he was now just leaving, he has a long discourse to comfort them for their loss of him, and to prepare them for the persecution of the world, and to exhort them to keep his commandments, and to love one another. And here one may expect all the articles of faith should be laid down plainly, if any