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which to do it was requisite he should feel the in- SERM. conveniences and miseries incident to mankind. He XIX. was to advance the repute of spiritual and eternal goods; and to depress the value of those corporeal and temporal things, which men vainly admire; the most ready and compendious way of doing this was by an exemplary neglecting and refusing worldly enjoyments, (the honours, profits, and pleasures here.) He was by gentle and peaceable means to erect a spiritual kingdom, to subdue the hearts and consciences of men to the love and obedience of God, to raise in men the hopes of future rewards and blessings in heaven; to the accomplishment of which purposes temporal glory had been rather prejudicial than conducible. He was to manage his great designs by means supernatural and divine, the which would be more conspicuous by the visible meanness and impotency of his state. He was to merit most highly from God for himself and for men; this he could not do so well, as in enduring for God's sake and ours the hardest things. He was to save men, and consequently to appease God's wrath and satisfy his justice, by the expiation of our sins; this required that he should suffer what we had deserved. But reasons of this kind I partly before touched, and shall hereafter have occasion to prosecute more fully in treating upon the article of our Saviour's passion.
Now that Jesus (our Lord) did most thoroughly correspond to whatever is in this kind declared concerning the Messias, we need not by relating minutely the known history of his life and death make out further; since the whole matter is palpably notorious, and no adversary will deny it. I conclude
SERM. this point with St. Peter's words, (for the illustration and proof of which this Discourse hath been made ;) Acts iii. 18. But those things which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.
And in Jesus Christ, &c.
THAT JESUS IS THE TRUE MESSIAS.
JOHN V. 37.
And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me.
JESUS, our Lord, here and in the context doth SERM. affirm, that Almighty God, his Father, had granted unto him several kinds of extraordinary attestation, sufficient to convince all well-disposed persons, unto whom they shall be discovered, that he truly was that Messias, whom God before all beginning of time had designed, and frequently by his prophets had promised to send for the reformation of the world and salvation of mankind: to represent those several ways of divine attestation with some reflections on them, serving both to the confirmation of our faith, and improving our affection and our reverence thereto, is my chief design at this time.
But first, in preparation to what we shall say concerning those particulars, and for declaration of the divine wisdom in this manner of proceeding, I shall assign some reasons, why it was requisite that such attestations should be afforded to our Lord.
1. The nature of the Messias's office required such attestations; for since he was designed to the most
SERM. eminent employment that ever was or could be comXX. mitted to any person; since he was to reveal things
no less great and important, than new and strange; since he was to assume a most high authority unto himself; since he was to speak and act all in the Deut. xviii. name of God; since also all men under great penalActs iii. 23. ties were obliged to yield credit and obedience to him, there was great reason that God should appear to authorize him; that he should be able to produce God's hand and seal to his commission; for that otherwise he might have been suspected of imposture; his doctrine might have been rejected, his authority disclaimed, and his design frustrated, without great blame, or however without men's being convincible of blame for well might the people suspect that person, who, professing to come in such a capacity an extraordinary agent from heaven, brought no credentials thence, (no evidence of God's espécial favour and assistance;) well might they reject that new doctrine, which God vouchsafed not by any signal testimony to countenance; well might they disclaim that authority, which offering to introduce so great innovations (to repeal old laws, to cancel settled obligations, to abolish ancient customs; to enact new laws and rules, exacting obedience to them from all men) should not be able to exhibit John vi. 27. its warrant, and shew its derivation from heaven: well might such peremptory assertions and so confident pretences, without confirmations answerable in weight, beget even in wise men distrust and aversation. The reasonableness and excellency of his doctrine, the innocence and sanctity of his life, the wisdom and persuasiveness of his discourse would not, if nothing more divine should attend them, be tho
xvi. Mark viii.
roughly able to procure faith and submission; they SERM. would at best have made his precepts to pass for the devices of a wise man, or the dictates of a good philosopher. They were therefore no unreasonable desires or demands (if they had proceeded from a good meaning, and had been joined with a docile and tractable disposition) which the Jews did make to our Lord; Master, we would see a sign from thee; John ii. 18. what sign therefore dost thou do, that we may see, Matt. xii. and believe thee? what dost thou work? what sign 28. XV. I. dost thou shew to us, that thou doest these things? 12. that is, how dost thou prove thy doctrine credible, or thy authority valid, by God's testimony and warrant? This challenge our Lord himself acknowledged somewhat reasonable; for he not only asserts the John viii. truth of his doctrine and validity of his commission by divine attestation, (in words and works,) nor only 36. exhorts them to credit him upon that account, but he also plainly signifies that his bare affirmation did not require credit, and that if he could produce no better proof, they were excusable for disbelieving him: If, saith he, I witness of myself, my witness John v. 31. is not true; not true, that is, not credible; or not
16, 29. x. 25. v. 32,
so true, as to oblige to belief: and, If I do not the John x. 37. works of my Father, (that is, works only imputable to God's extraordinary power,) believe me not; that is, I require no belief from you: yea, he further adds, I had not done the works among them, John xv. which no man else had done, they (the incredulous people then) had not had any sin; that is, had not been culpable for unbelief. It was then from the nature of the Messias's office and undertaking very necessary, that he should have attestations of this kind; and our Lord himself, we see, declines BARROW, VOL. V.