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spoke to here were of those who, the day before, would by force have made him king; and therefore it is no wonder he should speak to them of himself, and his kingdom and subjects, in obscure and mystical terms; and such as should offend those who looked for nothing but the grandeur of a temporal kingdom in this world, and the protection and prosperity they had promised themselves under it. The hopes of such a kingdom, now that they had found a man that did miracles, and therefore concluded to be the Deliverer they expected; had the day before almost drawn them into an open insurrection, and involved our Saviour in it. This he thought fit to put a stop to; they still following him, 'tis like, with the same design. And therefore, though he here speaks to them of his kingdom, it was in a way that so plainly baulked their expectation, and shocked them, that when they found themselves disappointed of those vain hopes, and that he talked of their eating his flesh, and drinking his blood, that they might have life; the jews said, ver. 52, “ How can this man
give us his flesh to eat? And many, even of his dis
ciples said, It was an hard saying: Who can hear it?” And so were scandalized in him, and forsook him, ver. 60, 66. But what thetruemeaning of this discourse of our Saviour was, the confession of St. Peter, who understood it better, and answered for the rest of the apostles, shows: when Jesus answered him, ver. 67, " Will ye also go “ away?” Then Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to “ whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal “ life :" i. e. thou teachest us the way to attain eternal life; and accordingly, “ we believe, and are sure, that “ thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” This was the eating his flesh and drinking his blood, whereby those who did so had eternal life.
Some time after this, he inquires of his disciples, Mark viji. 27, who the people took him for? They telling him, “ for John the Baptist,” or one of the old prophets risen from the dead; he asked, What they themselves thought? And here again, Peter answers in these words, Mark viii. 29, “ Thou art the Messiah," Luke ix. 20, “ The Messiah of God." And Matt,
xvi. 16, “ Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living “ God :" Which expressions, we may hence gather, amount to the same thing. Whereupon our Saviour tells Peter, Matt. xvi. 17, 18, That this was such a truth “ as flesh and blood could not reveal to hin, but
only his Father who was in heaven;" and that this was the foundation, on which he was “ to build his “ church :” by all the parts of which passage it is more than probable, that he had never yet told his apostles in direct words, that he was the Messiah ; but that they had gathered it from his life and miracles. For which we may imagine to ourselves this probable reason; because that, if he had familiarly, and in direct terms, talked to his apostles in private, that he was the Messiah the Prince, of whose kingdom he preached so much in public every-where; Judas, whom he knew false and treacherous, would have been readily made use of, to testify against him, in a matter that would have been really criminal to the Roman go
This, perhaps, may help to clear to us that seemingly abrupt reply of our Saviour to his apostles, John vi. 70, when they confessed him to be the Messiah: I will, for the better explaining of it, set down the passage at large. Peter having said, “ We believe “ and are sure that thou art the Messiah, the Son of the
living God; Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen
you twelve, and one of you is doloros?” This is a reply, seeming at first sight, nothing to the purpose ; when yet it is sure all our Saviour's discourses were wise and pertinent. It seems therefore to me to carry this sense, to be understood afterwards by the eleven (as that of destroying the temple, and raising it again in three days was) when they should reflect on it, after his being betrayed by Judas: you have confessed, and believe the truth concerning me; I am the Messiah your king: but do not wonder at it, that I have never openly declared it to you; for amongst you twelve, whom I have chosen to be with me, there is one who is an informer, or false accuser, (for so the Greek word signifies, and may, possibly, here be so translated, rather than devil) who, if I had owned myself in plain
words to have been the “ Messiah, the king of Israel,” would have betrayed me, and informed against me.
That he was yet cautious of owning himself to his apostles, positively, to be the Messiah, appears farther from the manner wherein he tells Peter, ver. 18, that he will build his church upon that confession of his, that he was the Messiah: I say unto thee, “ Thou art
Cephas,” or a rock, “ and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail
against it.” Words too doubtful to be laid hold on against him, as a testimony that he professed himself to be the Messiah ; especially if we join with them the following words, ver. 19, “ And I will give thee the
keys of the kingdom of heaven, and what thou shalt “ bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and what 6 thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.” Which being said personally to Peter, render the fore-1 going words of our Saviour (wherein he declares the fundamental article of his church to be the believing him to be the Messiah) the more obscure and doubtful, and less liable to be made use of against him ; but yet such as might afterwards be understood. And for the same reason, he yet, here again, forbids the apostles to say that he was the Messiah, ver. 20.
From this time (say the evangelists) “ Jesus began to “ show to his disciples,” i. e. his apostles, (who are often called disciples) “ that he must go to Jerusalem, and “ suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and “ scribes ; and be killed, and be raised again the third
day,” Matt. xvi. 21. These, though all marks of the Messiah, yet how little understood by the apostles, or suited to their expectation of the Messiah, appears from Peter's rebuking him for it in the following words, Matt. xvi. 22. Peter had twice before owned him to be the Messiah, and yet he cannot here bear that he should suffer, and be put to death, and be raised again. Whereby we may perceive, how little yet Jesus had explained to the apostles what personally concerned himself. They had been a good while witnesses of his life and miracles : and thereby being grown into a belief that he was the Messiah, were, in some degree, prepared
to receive the particulars that were to fill up that character, and answer the prophecies concerning him. This, from henceforth, he began to open to them (though in a way which the jews could not form an accusation out of;) the time of the accomplishment of all, in his sufferings, death, and resurrection, now drawing on. For this was in the last year of his life: he being to meet the jews at Jerusalem but once more at the passover, and then they should have their will upon him: and, therefore, he might now begin to be a little more open concerning himself: though yet so, as to keep himself out of the reach of any accusation, that might appear just or weighty to the Roman deputy. After his reprimand to Peter, telling him,
That he “ savoured not the things of God, but of man," Mark viii. 34, he calls the people to him, and prepares those, who would be his disciples, for suffering, telling them, ver. 38, “ Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my $ words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of “ him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he “ cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy an.
gels:” and then subjoins, Matt. xvi. 27, 28, two great and solemn acts, wherein he would show himself to be the Messiah, the king : “ For the Son of man shall “ come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and “ then he shall render to every man according to his “ works.” This is evidently meant of the glorious appearance of his kingdom, when he shall come to judge the world at the last day; described more at large, Matt. xxv.
66 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he “ sit upon the THRONE of his glory. Then shall the “ KING say to them on his right hand,” &c.
But what follows in the place above quoted, Matt. xvi. 28, “ Verily, verily, there be some standing here, “ who shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of
man coming in his kingdom ;" importing that dominion, which some there should see him exercise over the nation of the jews; was so covered, by being annexed to the preaching, ver. 27, (where he spoke of the manifestation and glory of his kingdom, at the day of
judgment,) that though his plain meaning here in ver. 28, be, that the appearance and visible exercise of his kingly power in his kingdom was so near, that some there should live to see it ; yet if the foregoing words had not cast a shadow over these latter, but they had been left plainly to be understood, as they plainly signified; that he should be a King, and that it was so near, that some there should see him in his kingdom; this might have been laid hold on, and made the matter of a plausible and seemingly just accusation' against him, by the jews before Pilate. This seems to be the reason of our Saviour's inverting here the order of the two solemn manifestations to the world, of his rule and power; thereby perplexing at present his meaning, and securing himself, as was necessary, from the malice of the jews, which always lay at catch to entrap him, and accuse him to the Roman governor; and would, no doubt, have been ready to have alleged these words,“ Some here “ shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man
coming in his kingdom," against him, as criminal, had not their meaning been, by the former verse, perplexed, and the sense at that time rendered unintelligible, and not applicable by any of his auditors to a sense that might have been prejudicial to him before Pontius Pilate. For how well the chief of the jews were disposed towards him, St. Luke tells us, chap. xi. 54, “ Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something “ out of his mouth, that they might accuse him ;" which may be a reason to satisfy us of the seemingly doubtful and obscure way of speaking, used by our Saviour in other places; his circumstances being such, that without such a prudent carriage and reservedness, he could not have gone through the work which he came to do; nor have performed all the parts of it, in a way correspondent to the descriptions given of the Messiah ; and which would be afterwards fully understood to belong to him, when he had left the world.
After this, Matt. xvii. 10, &c. he, without saying it in direct words, begins, as it were, to own himself to his apostles to be the Messiah, by assuring them, that as