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will be manifest: but time now forbiddeth the pro- SERM. secution of those matters; and I must therefore reserve it to other occasion.
Now, To him that is able to keep us from* fall * offending. ing, and to present us blameless before the pre- 25. sence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, do-. minion and power, both now, and for ever.
1 Tim. i.
Unto the King† eternal, immortal, invisible, the +of ages. only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and 7. Amen.
Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be Rev. v. 13. unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.
Salvation be unto our God which sitteth upon vii.10. the throne, and unto the Lamb.
Amen; Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and v. 12. thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive v. 12. power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our i. 5, 6. sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
And in Jesus Christ, &c.
THAT JESUS IS THE TRUE MESSIAS.
ACTS ix. 22.
Proving that Jesus is the Christ.
SERM. WHAT is the true notion of the name or title Christ, we (in discoursing formerly upon this text) did explain. That one person, to whom that notion signally doth agree, was by God's especial determination to come into the world, we did also in the next place, from prophetical instruction (backed with the common tradition and current opinion of God's people) declare. We further in the sequel did propound to shew, that Jesus (whom we acknowledge) was that very person; the Messias predicted by the prophets, and expected by the Jews. This we have already (in the foregoing Discourses, proved from several circumstances of his birth and coming among men; from his personal qualifications, and from divers illustrious performances managed by him, in correspondency to what the prophets foretold concerning the Messias. The same we now proceed to confirm from other very considerable particulars
foretold by them, and suiting to him; and first from SERM. those things which the Messias was to undergo and XIX.
Acts iii. 18.
That the Messias was to come in a humble and homely manner, (without appearances of worldly splendour or grandeur;) that he was to converse among men in a state of external poverty and meanness; that he was to be disregarded and despised by men; that he was to cause offences, and to find oppositions in his proceedings; that he was to be repulsed and rejected, to be scorned and hated, to be disgracefully and hardly treated, to be grievously persecuted and afflicted; yea, that at last he was to be prosecuted, condemned, and executed as a malefactor, is a truth which the Jews (although they firmly believed and earnestly expected the coming of a Messias) did not, and indeed were hardly capable to entertain. It was a point repugnant to the whole frame of their conceits, yea inconsistent with the nature and drift of their religion, as they understood it. For their religion in its surface (deeper than which their gross fancy could not penetrate) did represent earthly wealth, dignity, and prosperity as things highly valuable; did propound them as very proper (if not as the sole) rewards of piety and obedience; did imply consequently the possession of them to be certain arguments of the divine good-will and regard; they could not therefore but esteem poverty, affliction, and disgrace, as curses from heaven, and plain indications of God's disfavour toward those on whom they fell: they particularly did conceit, that to be rich was a necessary qualification to a prophet, (no less necessary, than to be of a good complexion, of a good capacity, of a good life;) Spi
SERM. ritus Dei non requiescit super pauperem; The XIX. Spirit of God rests not upon a poor man, (that is, no special communications of grace, wisdom, goodness, are ever by God afforded to persons of a low or afflicted condition,) was a rule they had framed, and which passed among them. That he therefore, who was designed to be so notable a Prophet; who was to have the honour of being so special an instrument of promoting God's service and glory; who therefore must be so highly favoured by God, should appear despicable, and undergo great afflictions, was a notion that could not but seem very absurd, could not otherwise than be very abominable to them. They had also (in congruity to those prejudices, abetted by that extreme self-love and self-flattery, which were peculiar to that nation) raised in themselves a strong opinion, that the Messias was to come in a great visible state and power; to do acts of great prowess and renown, to bring the nations of the world into subjection under him, and so to reign among them in glorious majesty and prosperity. When Jesus therefore (however otherwise answerable in his circumstances, qualifications, and performances to the Matt. xiv. prophetical characters of the Messias) did appear, such as he did, with pretences (or intimations rather) that he was the Messias, their stomach rose at it, they were hugely offended at him, they deemed him not only a madman (one possessed or distracted) and Matt. xiii. an impostor, but a blasphemer; for to be no less than blasphemy they took it, for so pitiful a wretch to arrogate unto himself so high a dignity, so near a relation to God, as the being the Messias did import. We see even the disciples of our Lord so deeply tainted with this national prejudice, that (even after
22. xvii. 2.
they had acknowledged him to be the Christ) they SERM. could not with patience hear him foretelling what should befall him, (St. Peter, upon that occasion, Matt. xvi. even just after he had confessed him to be the Christ, John xvi. did, as the text says, take him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord.) Yea, pre- Matt. xx. sently after that he most plainly had described his 21, 25. sufferings to them, they could not forbear dreaming of kingdoms, and being grandees in them; yea, even after our Lord's passion and resurrection, this fancy still possessed them; for even then they demand of him, whether he would at that time restore the Acts i. 6. kingdom unto Israel, (meaning such an external visible kingdom.)
This hence of all things notifying the Messias seems to be the only particular which in general the Jews did not, or would not, see and acknowledge: and this caused them to oversee all the rest, how clearly soever shining in and about the person of Jesus. This cloud hindered them from discerning Nisi enim ignoratus the excellency of his doctrine, from regarding the nihil pati sanctity of his life, from being affected with the Tert. in wonderfulness of his works; from minding or credit- Marc. iii. ing all the testimonies ministered from heaven unto him. This, as St. Paul tells us, was the great scandal 1 Cor. i. 23. which obstructed their embracing the gospel. We cannot therefore here, as in other particulars, allege the general consent of God's people, in expounding the prophets according to our sense; this being one Vid. Tert. of those points, in respect to which the prophets did Isa. vi. 9. foresee and foretell their perverse stupidity and in- Matt. xiii. credulity; that they should look and not see, hear 13. and not understand; yielding herein special occasion 26. to that complaint, Who hath believed our report? Isa. liii. 1.
Ezek. xii. 2.