« PreviousContinue »
and glory, yet he shall make it known to you wherein it consists : and though I am now in a mean state, and ready to be given up to contempt, torment, and death, so that ye know not what to think of it; yet the Spirit, when he comes, “ shall glorify me,” and fully satisfy you of my power and kingdom ; and that I sit on the right hand of God, to order all things for the good and increase of it, till I come again at the last day, in the fulness of glory.
Accordingly, the apostles had a full and clear sight and persuasion of this, after they had received the Holy Ghost; and they preached it every-where boldly and openly, without the least remainder of doubt or uncer tainty. But that, even so late as this, they understood not his death and resurrection, is evident from ver. 17, 18, “ Then said some of his disciples among themselves, " What is it that he saith unto us; A little while, and
ye shall not see me; and again, a little while, and ye “ shall see me; and because I go to the Father? They “ said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little “ while? We know not what he saith.” Upon which he goes on to discourse to them of his death and resurrection, and of the power they should have of doing miracles. But all this he declares to them in a mystical and involved way of speaking : as he tells them himself, ver. 25, “ These things have I spoken to you in pro“ verbs ; " i. e. in general, obscure, ænigmatical, or figurative terms (all which, as well as allusive apologues, the jews called proverbs or parables). Hitherto my declaring of myself to you hath been obscure, and with reserve: and I have not spoken of myself to you in plain and direct words, because ye" could not bear it.” A Messiah, and not a King, you could not understand: and a King living in poverty and persecution, and dying the death of a slave and malefactor upon a cross ; you could not put together. And I had told you in plain words, that I was the Messiah, and given you a direct commission to preach to others, that I professedly owned myself to be the Messiah, you and they would have been ready to have made a commotion, to have set me upon the throne of my father David, and to fight for
me; and that your Messiah, your King, in whom are your hopes of a kingdom, should not be delivered up into the hands of his enemies, to be put to death; and of this Peter will instantly give you a proof. But “ the “ time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you “ in parables ; but I shall show unto you plainly of the “ Father.” My death and resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Ghost, will speedily enlighten you, and then I shall make you know the will and design of my Father; what a kingdom I am to have, and by what means, and to what end, ver. 27. And this the Father himself will show unto you: “ For he loveth you, because ye “i have loved me, and have believed that I came out “ from the Father.” Because ye have believed that I am “ the Son of God, the Messiah ;” that he hath anointed and sent me; though it hath not yet been fully discovered to you, what kind of kingdom it shall be, nor by what means brought about. And then our Saviour, without being asked, explaining to them what he had said, and making them understand better what before they stuck at, and complained secretly among themselves that they understood not ; they thereupon declare, ver. 30, "Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, “ and needest not that any man should ask thee.” It is plain, thou knowest men's thoughts and doubts before they ask.
“ By this we believe that thou camest forth “ from God. Jesus answered, Do ye now believe?” Notwithstanding that you now believe, that I came from God, and am the Messiah, sent by him : “ Behold, the “ hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scat“ tered ;” and as it is Matth. xxvi. 31, and “ shall all “ be scandalized in me." What it is to be scandalized in him, we may see by what followed hereupon, if that which he says to St. Peter, Mark xiv. did not sufficiently explain it.
This I have been the more particular in; that it may be seen, that in this last discourse to his disciples (where he opened himself more than he had hitherto done; and where, if any thing more was required to make them believers than what they already believed, we might have expected they should have heard of it) there were
no new articles proposed to them, but what they believed before, viz. that he was the Messiah, the Son of God, sent from the Father; though of his manner of proceeding, and his sudden leaving of the world, and some few particulars, he made them understand something more than they did before. But as to the main design of the gospel, viz. that he had a kingdom, that he should be put to death, and rise again, and ascend into heaven to his Father, and come again in glory to judge the world; this he had told them : and so had acquainted them with the great counsel of God, in sending him the Messiah, and omitted nothing that was necessary to be known or believed in it. And so he tells them himself, John xv, 15, “ Henceforth I call you “ not servants : for the servant knoweth not what his “ Lord does : but I have called you friends; for ALL
THINGS that I have heard of my Father, I have made 6 known unto you ;
though perhaps ye do not so fully comprehend them, as you will shortly, when I am risen and ascended.
To conclude all, in his prayer, which shuts up this discourse, he tells the Father, what he had made known to his apostles; the result whereof we have John xvii. 8, “ I have given unto them the words which thou gavest
me, and they have received them, and THEY HAVE
BELIEVED THAT THOU DIDST SEND ME.” Which is, in effect, that he was the Messiah promised and sent by God. And then he prays for them, and adds, ver. 20, 21, “ Neither pray I for these alone, but for them “ also who shall believe on me through their word.” What that word was, through which others should believe in him, we have seen in the preaching of the apo'stles, all through the history of the Acts, viz. this one great point, that Jesus was the Messiah. The apostles, he says, ver. 25,“ know that thou hast sent me;" i. e. are assured that I am the Messiah. And in ver. 21 and 23, he prays, “ That the world may believe” (which, ver. 23, is called knowing) " that thou has sent me." So that what Christ would have believed by his disciples, we may see by this his last prayer for them, when VOL. VI.
he was leaving the world, as by what he preached whilst he was in it.
And, as a testimony of this, one of his last actions, even when he was upon the cross, was to confirm his doctrine, by giving salvation to one of the thieves that was crucified with him, upon his declaration that he believed him to be the Messiah: for so much the words of his request imported, when he said, “Remember me,
Lord, when thou comest into thy kingdom,” Luke xxiii. 42. To which Jesus replied, ver. 43, “Verily, " I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in
paradise." An expression very remarkable ; for as Adam, by sin, lost paradise, i. e. a state of happy immortality ; here the believing thief, through his faith in Jesus the Messiah, is promised to be put in paradise, and so re-instated in an happy immortality,
Thus our Saviour ended his life. And what he did after his resurrection, St. Luke tells us, Acts i. 3, That he showed himself to the apostles, “ forty days, speak
ing things concerning the kingdom of God." This was whąt our Saviour preached in the whole course of his ministry, before his passion : and no other mysteries of faith does he now discover to them after his resurrection. All he says, is concerning the kingdom of God; and what it was he said concerning that, we shall see presently out of the other evangelists; having first only taken notice, that when now they asked him, ver. 6, “ Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the king“ dom of Israel? He said unto them, ver. 7, It is not * for you to know the times and the seasons, which the “ Father hath put in his own power: but ye shall re“ceive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon
you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me, unto the “ utmost parts of the earth.” Their great business was to be witnesses to Jesus, of his life, death, resurrection, and ascension; which, put together, were undeniable proofs of his being the Messiah. This was what they were to preach, and what he said to them, concerning the kingdom of God; as will appear by what is recorded of it in the other evangelists.
When on the day of his resurrection he appeared to the two going to Emmaus, Luke xxiv. they declare, ver, 21, what his disciples faith in him was: “ But we “ trusted that it had been he that should have redeemed • Israel : " i. e. we believed that he was the Messiah, come to deliver the nation of the jews. Upon this, Jesus tells them they ought to believe him to be the Messiah, notwithstanding what had happened; nay, they ought, by his sufferings and death, to be confirmed in that faith, that he was the Messiah, And ver. 26, 27,
Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them, in all the scriptures, the things
concerning himself,” how, “ that the Messiah ought “ to have suffered these things, and to have entered into “ his glory.” Now he applies the prophecies of the Messiah to himself, which we read not, that he did ever do before his passion. And afterwards appearing to the eleven, Luke xxiv. 36, he said unto them, ver, 44-47, “ These are the words, which I spake unto you, while “ I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled “ which are written in the law of Moses, and in the
prophets, and in the psalms concerning me. Then “ opened he their understanding, that they might un“ derstand the scripture, and said unto them: Thus it “ is written, and thus it behoved the Messiah to suffer, “ and to rise from the dead the third day; and that re
pentance and remission of sins should be preached in “ his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Here we see what it was he had preached to them, though not in so plain open words before his crucifixion ; and what it is he now makes them understand; and what it was that was to be preached to all nations, viz. That he was the Messiah that had suffered, and rose from the dead the third day, and fulfilled all things that were written in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah and that those who believed this, and repented, should receive remission of their sins, through this faith in him. Or, as St, Mark has it, chap, xvi, 15, “ Go into all the “ world, and preach the gospel to every creature; he " that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but o he that believeth not, shall be damned,” ver. 16,