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Messiah, is promised to be put in paradise, and so re-instated in an happy immortality.
Thus our Saviour ended his life. And what he did after his refurrection, St. Luke tells us, Acts i. 3. That he shewed himself to the apostles « forty days, speaking things concerning the kingdom « of God.” This was what our Saviour preached in the whole course of his ministry, before his passion : and no other mysteries of faith does he now discover to them after his resurrection. All he says, is concerning the kingdom of God; and what it was he faid concerning that, we thall fee presently out of the other evangelists ; having first only taken notice, that when they now asked him, ver. 6. “ Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ?” He said unto them, ver. 7. “ It is not for you to know the times, « and the seasons, which the Father hath put into his own power : “ but ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye
shall be witnesses unto me unto the utmost parts of " the earth.” Their great business was to be witnesses to Jesus, of his life, death, resurrection, and ascenfion; which, put together, were undeniable proofs of his being the Messiah. This was what they were to preach, and what he laid to them concerning the kingdom of God, as will appear by what is recorded of it in the other evangelifts.
When, on the day of his resurrection, he appeared to the two going to Emmaus, Luke xxiv. they declare, ver. 21. what his disciples faith in him was: “ But we trusted that it had been he that < should have redeemed Israel ;" i. e, we believed that he was the Mefliah, come to deliver the nation of the Jews. Upon this Jesus tells them, that they ought to believe him to be the Messiah, notwithstanding what had happened; nay, they ought by his fuffering and death to be confirmed in that faith, that he was the Messiah. And ver. 26, 27, “Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he " expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning u himself;" how, “ that the Mefliah ought to have suffered there “ things, and to have entered into his glory.” Now he applies the prophecies of the Messiah to himself, which we read not that he did ever do before his paffion. And afterwards appearing to the eleven, Luke xxiv. 36. he said unto them, ver. 44 - 47. « words which I spoke unto you while I was yet with you, that all " things must be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses, « and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me. I hen “ opened he their understandings, that they might understand the « scripture, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it be“ hoved the Messiah to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third “ day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached « in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Here we see what it was he had preached to them, though not in so plain open words before his crucifixion; and what it is he now makes them understand; and what it was that was to be preached to all pations, viz. that he was the Meffiah, that had suffered, and rose
· from the dead the third day, and fulfilled all things that were written
in the Old Testament concerning the Mefliah ; and that tnore who believed this, and repented, should receive remiffion of their fins through this faith in him. Or, as St. Mark has it, chap. xvi. 15. « Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; « he that believeth, and is baptized, thail be saved; but he that « believeth not, shall be damned,” ver. 20. What the “ gospe!” or “ good news" was, we have shewed already, viz. the happy tidings of the Messiah being come, ver. 20. And they went forth " and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and con« firming the word with signs following.” What the “ word” was which they preached, and the Lord confirmed with miracles, we have seen already out of the history of their Acts: I have already given an account of their preaching every where, as it is recorded in the Acts, except fome few places, where the kingdom of the Messiah is mentioned under the name of “ the kingdom of God," which I forbore to set down, till I had made it plain out of the evangelists, that that was no other but the kingdom of the Messiah.
It may be seasonable therefore now, to add to those fermons we have formerly seen of St. Paul (wherein he preached no other article of faith, but that “ Jesus was the Meffiah,” the king, who being risen from the dead, now reigneth, and shall more publicly manifeft his kingdom, in judging the world at the last day) what farther is left upon record of his preaching. Acts xix. 8. At Ephesus, “ Paul went into the synagogues, and spake boldly for the space of " three months ; disputing and persuading concerning the kingdom “ of God.” And Acts xx. 25. At Miletus he thus takes leave of the elders of Ephesus: “And now behold, I know that ye all, “ among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall « see my face no more.” What this preaching the kingdom of God was, he tells you, ver. 20, 21. “ I have kept nothing back « from you, which was profitable unto you, but have fnewed you, « and have taught you publicly, and froin house to houle; teltity« ing both to the Jews, and to the Greeks, repentance towards God, « and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.” And so again, Acts xxviii. 23, 24. “ When they (the Jews at Rome] had appointed “ him [Paul] a day, there caine many to him into his lodgings; to ..“ whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God; persuad« ing them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Mofes, and
“ out of the prophets, from morning to evening. And some be.« lieved the things which were spoken, and some believed not.” And - the history of the Acts is concluded with this account of St. Paul's
preaching : “ And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired a house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the e kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the « Lord Jesus the Melliah.” We may therefore here apply the same conclusion to the history of our Saviour writ by the evangelists, and to the history of the apostles writ in the Acts, which St. John does to his own gospel, chap. xx. 30, 31. “ Many other signs did
« Jerus before his disciples :" and in many other places the apostles preached the fame doctrine, “ which are not written” in these books; . * But there are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the “ Mefian, the son of God; and that believing you may have life « in his na'ne.”
What St. John thought necessary and sufficient to be « believed,” for the attaining eternal life, he here tells us. And this, not in the firit dawning of the gospel, when, perhaps, some will be apt to think less was required to be believed, than after the doctrine of faith and mystery of salvation was more fully explained in the epistles writ by the apostles. For it is to be remembered, that St. John says this not as soon as Christ was ascended; for these words, with the rest of St. John's gospel, were not written till many years after, not only the other gospels, and St. Luke's history of the Acts, but, in all appearance, after all the epiftles writ by the other apostles. So that above threescore years after our Saviour's passion (for so long after, both Epiphanius and St. Jerome afiure us this gospel was written), St. John knew nothing else required to be believed for the attaining of life, but that “ Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God.”
To this, it is likely, it will be objected by some, that to believe only that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, is but an Historical and not a Justifying or Saving Faith.
To which I answer, that I allow to the makers of systems, and their followers, to invent and use what distinctions they please; and to call things by what names they think fit. But I cannot allow to them, or to any man, an authority to make a religion for me, or to alter that which God hath revealed. And if they please to call the believing that which our Saviour and his apostles preached and proposed alone to be believed, an Historical Faith, they have their liberty, but they must have a care how they deny it to be a Justifying or Saving Faith, when our Saviour and his apostles have declared it so to be, and taught no other which men should receive, and whereby they should be made believers unto eternal life; un-, less they can so far make bold with our Saviour, for the sake of their beloved systems, as to say, that he forgot what he came into the world for; and that he and his apostles did not instruct people right in the way and mysteries of salvation : for that this is the sole doctrine pressed and required to be believed in the whole tenor of our Saviour's and his apostles preaching, we have shewed through the whole history of the evangelists and the Acts. And I challenge them to thew, that there was any other doctrine, upon their assent to which, or disbelief of it, men were pronounced believers or unbelievers; and accordingly received into the church of Christ, as members of his body, as far as mere believing could make them so, or elle kept out of it: this was the only gospel-article of faith which was preached to them. And if nothing else was preached every where, the apostle's argument will hold against any other arficles of faith to be believed under the gospel, Rom. x. 14. “ How “ shall they believe that whereof they have not heard ?” For to F 3
preach any other doctrines neceflary to be believed, we do not find that any body was sent.
Perhaps, it will be further argued, that this is not a faving faith, because such a faith as this the devils may have, and it was plain they had; for they believed and declared Jesus to be the Messiah, And St. James, chap. ii. 19. tell us, “ The devils believe, and « tremble;") and yet they shall not be saved. To which I answer, 1. That they could not be saved by any faith, to whom it was not proposed as a means of salvation, nor ever promised to be counted for righteousness. This was an act of grace, shewn only to mankind. God dealt so favourably with the posterity of Adam, that if they would believe Jesus to be the Messiah, the promised king and Savious, and perform what other conditions were required of them by the covenant of grace, God would justify them because of this belief; he would account this faith to them for righteousness, and look on it as making up the defects of their obedience; which being thus supplied by what was taken instead of it, they were looked on as juft or righteous, and so inherited eternal life. But this favour shewn to mankind was never offered to the fallen angels. They had no such proposals made to them; and therefore whatever of this kind was proposed to men, it availed not devils whatever they performed of it. This covenant of grace was never offered to them.
2. I answer; that though the devils believed, yet they could not be saved by the covenant of grace ; because they performed not the other condition required in it, altogether as necessary to be performed as this believing; and that is repentance, Repentance is as absolute a condition of the covenant of grace, as faith; and as necessary to be performed, as that. John the Baptist, who was to prea pare the way for the Mefliah,“ preached the baptism of repentance c for the remiffion of fins.” Mark i. 4.
As John began his preaching with “ Repent, for the kingdom of « heaven is at hand,” Matt. ii. 2. so did our Saviour begin his, Matt. iv. 17. “ From that time began Jesus to preach, and to say, • Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Or, as St, Mark has it in the parallel place, Mark i. 14, 15. “ Now after that « John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the « gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying; The time is fulfilled, « and the kingdom of God is at hand : 'repent ye, and believe the « gospel.” This was not only the beginning of his preaching, but the sum of all that he did preach; viz, that men should repent, and believe the good tidings which he brought them, that the time was fulfilled for the coming of the Messiah. And this was what his apı ftles preached, when he sent them out, Mark vi. 12. “ And they “ going out, preached that men should repent,” Believing Jesus to be the Messiah, and repenting, were so necessary and fundamental parts of the covenant of grace, that one of them alone is often put for both. For here St. Mark mentions nothing but their preaching repentance; as St. Luke, in the parallel place, chap. ix, 6, mentions nothing but their evangelizing, or preaching the good news of the kingdom of the Messiah. And St. Paul often in his epiftles puts faith for the whole duty of a Christian. But yet the tenor of the gospel is what Chrift declares, Luke xii. 3. 5. “Unless " ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” And in the parable of the rich man in hell, delivered by our Saviour, Luke xvi. repentance alone is the means proposed of avoiding that place of torment, ver, 30, 31. And what the tenor of the doctrine, which should be preached to the world, should be, he tells his apostles after his relurrection, Luke xxiv. 27. viz. « That repentance and remision “ of sins should be preached in his name," who was the Messiah. And accordingly believing Jesus to be the Messiah, and repenting, was what the apostles preached. So Peter began, Acts ii. 38. “Re“ pent, and be baptized.” These two things were required for the remiflion of lins, viz. entering themselves in the kingdom of God, and owning and professing themselves the subjects of Jesus, who.n they believed to be the Messiah, and roceived for their Lord and king; for that was to be baptized in his name : baptisin being an initiating ceremony known to the Jews, whereby those, who leaving heathenisin, and profefling a submission to the law of Moses, were received into the coinmonwealth of Israel. And so it was made use of by our Saviour, to be that solemn visible act, whereby those who believed him to be the Messiah, received him as their king, and professed obedience to him, were admitted as subjects into his kingdom: which in the gospels is called “ The kingdom of “ God;" and in the Acts and Epistles often by another name, viz. « The church.”
The same St. Peter preaches again to the Jews, Acts iii. 19. « Repent, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”
What this repentance was, which the new covenant required as one of the conditions to be performed by all those who should receive the benefits of that covenant, is plain in the scripture, to be not only a sorrow for fins past, but (what is a natural consequence of such forrow, if it be real) a turning from them, into a new and contrary life. And so they are joined together, Acts iii. 19. “Re“ pent, and turn about;" or, as we render it, Be converted. And Acts xxvi. « Repent and turn to God.”
And sometimes turning about is put alone to signify repentance, Matt. xiii. 15. Luke xxii. 32. Which in other words is well exa pressed by newness of life. For it being certain, that he who is really forry for his sins, and abhors them, will turn from them, and forfake them; either of these acts, which have so natural a connexion one with the other, may be, and is often, put for both together. Repentance is a hearty sorrow for our past rideeds, and a sincere resolution and endeavour, to the utmost of our power, to conform all our actions to the law of God. So that repentance does not consist in one single act of sorrow (though that, being the first and leading act, gives denomination to the whole), but in doing works of repentance, in a sincere obedience to the law of Christ, the remainder of our lives. This was called for by John the Baptist,