Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh “ such to worship him.”

Thus then, as to the law, in short: the civil and ritual part of the law, delivered by Moses, obliges not christians, though, to the jews, it were a part of the law of works; it being a part of the law of nature, that man ought to obey every positive law of God, whenever he shall please to make any such addition to the law of his nature. But the moral part of Moses's law, or the moral law, (which is every-where the same, the eternal rule of right,) obliges christians, and all men, every-where, and is to all men the standing law of works. But christian believers have the privilege to be under the law of faith too; which is that law, whereby God justifies a man for believing, though by his works he be not just or righteous, i. e. though he come short of perfect obedience to the law of works. God alone does or can justify, or make just, those who by their works are not so: which he doth, by counting their faith for righteousness, i. e. for a complete performance of the law. Rom. iv. 3,

Rom. iv. 3, “ Abraham believed God, and “ it was counted to him for righteousness.” Ver. 5, “ To him that believeth on him that justifieth the un“ godly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Ver. 6, “ Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the

man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without “ works ;” i. e. without a full measure of works, which is exact obedience. Ver. 7, Saying, “ Blessed are they “ whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are co“ vered.” Ver. 8, “ Blessed is the man, to whom the “ Lord will not impute sin.”

This faith, for which God justified Abraham, what was it ? It was the believing God, when he engaged his promise in the covenant he made with him. This will be plain to any one, who considers these places together, Gen. xv. 6, “ He believed in the Lord, or be“ lieved the Lord.” For that the Hebrew phrase,

believing in,” signifies no more but believing, is plain from St. Paul's citation of this place, Rom. iv. 3, where he repeats it thus : “ Abraham believed God, "

which he thus explains, ver. 18—22, “ Who against

hope believed in hope, that he might become the fa“ther of many nations : according to that which was “ spoken, So shall thy seed be. And, being not weak “ in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, “ when he was about an hundred years old, nor yet the “ deadness of Sarah's womb. He staggered not at the

promise of God, through unbelief ; but was strong “ in faith giving glory to God. And being fully per“ suaded, that what he had promised he was also able to “ perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for “ righteousness.” By which it is clear, that the faith which God counted to Abraham for righteousness, was nothing but a firm belief of what God declared to him ; and a steadfast relying on him, for the accomplishment of what he had promised.

“ Now this,” says St. Paul, ver. 23, 24, “was not “ writ for his [Abraham's] sake alone, but for us also ;” teaching us, that as Abraham was justified for his faith, so also ours shall be accounted to us for righteousness, if we believe God, as Abraham believed him. Whereby it is plain is meant the firmness of our faith, without staggering, and not the believing the same propositions that Abraham believed ; viz. that though he and Sarah were old, and past the time and hopes of children, yet he should have a son by her, and by him become the father of a great people, which should possess the land of Canaan. This was what Abraham believed, and was counted to him for righteousness. But nobody, I think, will say, that any one's believing this now, shall be imputed to him for righteousness. The law of faith then, in short, is for every one to believe what God requires him to believe, as a condition of the covenant he makes with him : and not to doubt of the performance of his promises. This the apostle intimates in the close here, .ver. 94, “ But for us also, to whom it shall be “ imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus

our Lord from the dead." We must, therefore, examine and see what God requires us to believe now, under the revelation of the gospel ; for the belief of one

invisible, eternal, omnipotent God, maker of heaven and earth, &c. was required before, as well as now.

What we are now required to believe to obtain eternal life, is plainly set down in the gospel. St. John tells us, John iii. 36, “He that believeth on the Son, “ hath eternal life; and he that believeth not the Son, “ shall not see life.” What this believing on him is, we are also told in the next chapter : “ The woman “ said unto him, I know that the Messiah cometh: “ when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus 6 saith unto her, I that speak unto thee, am he. The « woman then went into the city, and saith to the men,

come see a man that hath told me all things that

ever I did : is not this the Messiah ? and many of the 6 Samaritans believed on him for the saying of the “ woman, who testified, he told me all that ever I did. 66 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, many “ more believed because of his words, and said to the

woman, We believe not any longer, because of thy

saying; for we have heard ourselves, and we know “ that this man is truly the Saviour of the world, the “ Messiah.” John iv. 25, 26, 29, 39, 40, 41, 42.

By which place it is plain, that believing on the Son is the believing that Jesus was the Messiah ; giving credit to the miracles he did, and the profession he made of himself. For those who are said to BELIEVE ON HIM, for the saying of the woman, ver. 39, tell the woman that they now believed not any longer, because of her saying: but that having heard him themselves, they knew, i. e. BELIEVED, past doubt, THAT HE WAS THE Messiah.

This was the great proposition that was then controverted, concerning Jesus of Nazareth, “ Whether he

was the Messiah or no?” And the assent to that was that which distinguished believers from unbelievers. When many of his disciples had forsaken him, upon his declaring that he was the bread of life, which came down from heaven, “ He said to his apostles, Will ye “ also go away?” Then Simon Peter answered him,

Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe, and are sure, that VOL, VI.

C

WALIOT

[ocr errors]

w thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” John vi. 69. This was the faith which distinguished them from apostates and unbelievers, and was sufficient to continue them in the rank of apostles : and it was upon the same proposition,' " That Jesus was the Mes.“ siah, the Son of the living God,” owned by St. Peter, that our Sayiour said, he would build his church, Matt. xvi. 16-18.

To convince men of this, he did his miracles : and their assent to, or not assenting to this, made them to be, or not to be, of his church ; believers, or not believers : “ The jews came round about him, and " said unto him, How long dost thou make us doubt ? " If thou be the Messiah, tell us plainly. Jesus an“ swered them, I told you, and ye believed not : the “ works that I do in my Father's name, they bear 66 witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are

not of my sheep,” John X. 24–26. Conformable hereunto, St. John tells us, that “ many deceivers are “ entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus, “ the Messiah, is come in the flesh. This is a de6 ceiver and an antichrist; whosoever abideth not in " the doctrine of the Messiah, has not God. He that “ abideth in the doctrine of the Messiah,” i. e. that Jesus is he, “ hath both the Father and the Son," 2 John 7, 9. That this is the meaning of the place, is plain from what he says in his foregoing epistle, “Who“ soever believeth that Jesus is the Messiah, is born

of God," 1 John v. ). And therefore, drawing to a close of his gospel, and showing the end for which he writ it, he has these words : “ Many other signs truly “ did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are * not written in this book : but these are written that

ye may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of “ God; and that believing, you might have life “ through his name," John xx. 30, 31. Whereby it is plain, that the gospel was writ to induce men into a belief of this proposition, " That Jesus of Nazareth was 6 the Messiah ;

which if they believed, they should have life.

Accordingly the great question among the jews was, whether he were the Messiah or no? and the great point insisted on and promulgated in the gospel, was, that he was the Messiah. The first glad tidings of his birth, brought to the shepherds by an angel, was in these words: “ Fear not: for, behold, I bring you

good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people : for to you is born this day, in the city of

David, a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord,” Luke ii. 11. Our Saviour discoursing with Martha about the means of attaining eternal life, saith to her, John xi. 27, “ Whosoever believeth in me, shall never 66 die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, “ Lord, I believe that thou art the Messiah, the Son of

God, which should come into the world.” This answer of hers showeth, what it is to believe in Jesus Christ, so as to have eternal life; viz. to believe that he is the Messiah, the son of God, whose coming was foretold by the prophets. And thus Andrew and Philip express it : Andrew says to his brother Simon, " we have “ found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the “ Christ. Philip saith to Nathanael, we have found

him, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did

write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph,” John i. 41, 45. According to what the evangelist says in this place, I have, for the clearer understanding of the scripture, all along put Messiah for Christ; Christ being but the Greek name for the Hebrew Messiah, and both signifying the Anointed.

And that he was the Messiah, was the great truth he took pains to convince his disciples and apostles of; appearing to them after his resurrection : as may be seen, Luke xxiv. which we shall more particularly consider in another place. There we read what gospel our Saviour preached to his disciples and apostles ; and that as soon as he was risen from the dead, twice, the very day of his resurrection.

And, if we may gather what was to be believed by all nations from what was preached unto them, we may certainly know what they were commanded, Matt. ult. to teach all nations, by what they actually did teach all

« PreviousContinue »