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first glance, methought I read divinity in it, and could not but conclude, from the majesty of its style, the purity of its precepts, the harmony of its parts, the certainty of its promises, and the excellency of its rewards, that it could be derived from no other author but God himself. It is here only that I find my Maker worshipped under the proper notion of a Deity, as he is
Jehovah, and that in the right manner; for we are here commanded to love and serve him with all our hearts, with all our souls, our might and mind, Deut. iv. 5. chap. x. 12. which is, indeed, the perfection of all true worship whatsoever. And as God is here. worshipped aright, so is the happiness which is here entailed upon this true worship, the highest that is possible a creature should be made capable of, being nothing less than the enjoyment of him we worship, so as to have him to be a God to us, and ourselves to be a people to him, Jer. xxxi. 33.
But that which I look upon still as the surest character of the true religion is, its holding forth the way how I, being a sinner, can be invested with this happiness; or how God can shew his justice in punishing sin in itself, and yet be so merciful as to pardon and remit it to me, and so receive me to his favour; which the religions I viewed before did not so much as pretend to, nor offer at all at. And this is what this book of the Law does likewise discover to me, by shewing that God Almighty would not visit our sins upon ourselves, but upon another person; that he would appoint and ordain one to be our Sponsor or Mediator, who, by his infinite merit, should bear and atone for our iniquities, and so shew his love and mercy in justifying and acquitting us from our sins, at the same time that he manifests his justice in inflicting the punishment of them upon this person in our stead. A method so deep and mysterious, that if God himself had not revealed it, I am confident no mortal man could ever have discovered or thought of it!
Neither are there any doubts and scruples concerning this great mystery, but what this book does clearly answer and resolve; as will appear more plainly, from a distinct consideration of the several objections that are urged against it.
As, 1. That it does not seem agreeable either to reason or Scripture, that one man should bear the sins of another; because every man has enough to do to bear his own burden: and since sin is committed against an infinite God, and therefore deserves infinite punishment, how can any finite creature bear this infinite punishment; especially, it being due to so many thousands of people as there are in the world!
But this book sufficiently unties this knot for me, by shewing me, that it is not a mere man, but God himself, that would bear these my sins; even he, whose name is 1, The Lord our Righteousness, Jer. xxiii. 6. where the essential name of the most high God, which cannot possibly be given to any but to him who is the Being of all beings, is here given to him, who should thus bear my sins, and justify my person; whence David also calleth him Lord, Psal. cx. 1. Isaiah calleth him, The mighty God, Isa. ix. 6. yea, and the Lord of Hosts himself, with his own mouth, calls him his fellow, Zech. xiii. 7.
Obj. 2. But my reason tells me God is a pure act, and therefore how can he suffer any punishments? or, suppose he could, how can one nature satisfy for the offences of another? It was man that stood guilty; and how can it stand with the justice of God not to punish man for the sins he is guilty of?
To resolve this doubt, this holy book assures me that this God should become man, expressly telling me, that as his name is Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, so should he be born a child, and given as a son, Isa. ix. 6. And therefore at the, same time that the Lord of Hosts calls him his fellow, he calls him a man too,
against the man that is my fellow, says the Lord of Hosts, Zech. xiii. 7.
Obj. 3. But if he be born as other men are, he must needs be a sinner as other men be; for such as are born by natural generation, must necessarily be born also in natural corruption.
To remove this obstacle, this holy book tells me, that a virgin shall conceive, and bear this Son, and his name shall be Immanuel, Isa. vii. 14. And so being begotten, but not by a sinful man, himself shall be a man, but not a sinful man: and so being God and man, he is every way fit to mediate betwixt God and inan, to reconcile God to me, and me to God, that my sins may be pardoned, God's wrath appeased, and so my soul made happy in the enjoyment of him.
But there is one thing more yet that keeps me from settling upon this religion; and that is, the expiration of the time in which this book promiseth this person should come into the world; for it is expressly said, Dan. ix. 24. that seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy city, to finish the transgressions, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and the prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. From which anointing, he is, in the next verse, called no Messiah, the Anointed, (under which name he is, from hence, expected by the Jews ;) and the beginning of these seventy weeks is expressly said, ver. 25. to be at the going forth of the commandment to build and restore Jerusalem. Now if we understand these seventy weeks in the largest sense, for seventy weeks or sabbaths of years, as it is expressed, Lev. xxv. 8. the time of the Messiah's coming must have been but 490 years after the commandment for the building of the city; whereas, whether we understand it of the decree and command that Cyrus made, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 22, 23. Ezra i. 1, 2, 3. or that which Darius made, Ezra vi. or that Artaxerxes made, chap.
vii. I say, whichsoever of these decrees we understand this prophecy of, it is evident that it is above 2000 years since they were all made; and therefore the time of this person's coming hath been expired above 1600 years at least.
So likewise doth this book of the law (as they call it) assure us, that the sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a Lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, Gen. xlix. 10. where the Jews themselves, Jonathan and Onkelos, expound the word w Shiloh, by AD Messiah; and so doth the Jerusalem Targum too. Now it is plain, that there hath been neither sceptre nor lawgiver in Judah, nor any political government at all among the Jews, for above 1600 years; which plainly shews, either that their prophecies and expectations of a Messiah are false, or that he came into the world so many ages since, as were here prefixed.
So likewise it was expressly foretold in this book, that the glory of the second temple should be greater than the glory of the former, Hag. ii. 9. Now the Jews themselves acknowledge, that there were five of the principal things which were in the first, wanting in the second temple, viz. 1. the Ark, with the Mercy-Seat and Cherubim. 2. The now Schechinah, or Divine Presence. 3. The Holy Prophetical Spirit. 4. The Urim and Thummim. 5. The Heavenly Fire: and from the want of these five things, they say, the word 78, I will be glorified, Hag. i. 8. wants an at the end, which in numeration denotes five. Yea, and when the very foundation of the second temple was laid, the old men that had seen the first wept to see how far short it was like
to come of the former, Ezra iii. 12. To make up therefore the glory of the second temple to be greater than the glory of the first, notwithstanding the want of so inany glorious things, they must of necessity understand it of the coming of the Messiah into it, who, ver. 8. is called, The Desire of all nations. Whereas the
Jews themselves cannot but confess that this temple hath been demolished above 1600 years; and therefore it is impossible for the Messiah to come into it, and so for its glory to be greater than the glory of the first temple; and, by consequence, for the word which they profess to believe in to be true.
Indeed, the time of the Messiah's coming was so expressly set down in these and the like places, that Elias, one of their great rabbies, gathered from hence, that the world should last 6000 years, 2000 without the law, 2000 under the law, and 2000 under the Messiah, Sanh. c. 11. which computation of the Messiah's coming, after 4000 years, from the beginning of the world, comes near the time of the sceptre's departing from Judah, and the end of Daniel's seventy weeks; which shews, that this rabbi was fully convinced that it was about that time that the Messiah should come. And therefore it was, likewise, that about 1600 years ago, the Jews did so generally expect his coming, and that so many did pretend to be the person; as Bar-Cozbah, who, about that time, venting himself to be the man, almost the whole nation unanimously concurred in following him; insomuch that, as the Jews report, there were no less than 400000, or, as others, 500000 men slain by Adrian the emperor, in the city Bitter, all fighting in defence of this pretended Messiah. There were likewise many others that fancied themselves to be the man, and were esteemed so by some, till manifestly convinced of their error, as we may read in a book of theirs, And unto this day many of them hold that he is already come, but that, by reason of their sins, he is not yet revealed to them.
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Hence it is that my natural reason draws me into this dilemma, that either that book which the Jews receive as the word of God is indeed not so, or else that they do not rightly apply it; and so, that either their religion is a false religion, or else their profession of it is a false profession: and therefore I must go hence,