Page images
PDF
EPUB

words, “ his people,” are a farther ‘mark: which suppose him to have a people, and consequently to be a

After his baptism, Jesus himself enters upon his ministry. But, before we examine what it was he proposed to be believed, we must observe, that there is a threefold declaration of the Messiah.

1. By miracles. The spirit of prophecy had now for many ages forsaken the jews; and, though their commonwealth were not quite dissolved, but that they lived under their own laws, yet they were under a foreign dominion, subject to the Romans. In this state their account of the time being up, they were in expectation of the Messiah, and of deliverance by him in a kingdom he was to set up, according to their ancient prophecies of him: which gave them hopes of an extraordinary man yet to come from God, who, with an extraordinary and divine power, and miracles, should evidence his mission, and work their deliverance. And, of any such extraordinary person, who should have the power of doing miracles, they had no other expectation, but only of their Messiah. One great prophet and worker of miracles, and only one more, they expected; who was to be the Messiah. And therefore we see the people jus

to be the Messiah, because of the miracles he did; John vii. 41. “ And many of the people believed in him, “ and said, When the Messiah cometh, will he do more “ miracles, than this man hath done?” And when the jews, at the feast of dedication, John x. 24, 25, coming about him, said unto him, “ How long dost thou “ make us doubt? If thou be the Messiah, tell us “ plainly; Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye “ believed not; the works that I do in my Father's 6 name bear witness of me.” And, John v. 36, he says, “ I have a greater witness than that of John; for “ the works, which the Father hath given me to do, “ the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that “ the Father hath sent me.” Where, by the way, we may observe, that his being “ sent by the Father," is but another way of expressing the Messiah; which is evident from this place here, Jonn v. compared with that of John x. last quoted. For there he says, that his works bear witness of him: And what was that witness? viz. That he was “the Messiah.” Here again he says, that his works bear witness of him : And what is that witness ? viz. “ That the Father sent him.” By which we are taught, that to be sent by the Father, and to be the Messiah, was the same thing, in his way of declaring himself. And accordingly we find, John iv. 53, and xi. 45, and elsewhere, many hearkened and assented to his testimony, and believed on him, seeing the things that he did.

2. Another way of declaring the coming of the Mes, siah, was by phrases and circumlocutions, that did sig. nify or intimate his coming; though not in direct words pointing out the person. The most usual of these were, “ The kingdom of God, and of heaven ;” because it was that which was often spoken of the Messiah, in the Old Testament, in very plain words : and a king. dom was that which the jews most looked after and wished for. In that known place, Isa. ix. “ The Go“ VERNMENT shall be upon his shoulders; he shall be “ called the PRINCE of peace : of the increase of his “ GOVERNMENT and peace there shall be no end ; upon “ the THRONE of David, and upon his KINGDOM, to “ order it, and to establish it with judgment, and with “ justice, from henceforth even for ever.” Micah v. 2, “ But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be lit“ tle among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee " shall he come forth unto me, that is to be the RULER “ in Israel.” And Daniel, besides that he calls him “ Messiah the PRINCE," chap. ix. 25, in the account of his vision" of the Son of man,” chap. vii. 13, 14, says, “ There was given him dominion, glory, and a “ KINGDOM, that all people, nations, and languages

should serve him : his dominion is an everlasting do“ minion, which shall not pass away; and his KING“ DOM that which shall not be destroyed.” So that the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of heaven, were common phrases amongst the jews, to signify the times of the Messiah. Luke xiv. 15, “ One of the jews that

VOL. VI.

D

“ sat at meat with him, said unto him, Blessed is he o that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God." Chap. xvii. 20, The pharisees demanded, “ when the king

dom of God should come?” And St. John Baptist • came, saying, Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is • at hand ; " a phrase he would not have used in preaching, had it not been understood.

There are other expressions that signified the Messiah, and his coming, which we shall take notice of, as they come in our way.

3. By plain and direct words, declaring the doctrine of the Messiah, speaking out that Jesus was he; as we see the apostles did, when they went about preaching the gospel, after our Saviour's resurrection. This was the open clear way, and that which one would think the Messiah himself, when he came, should have taken ; especially, if it were of that moment, that upon men's believing hiın to be the Messiah depended the forgive. ness of their sins. And yet we see, that our Saviour did not : but on the contrary, for the most part, made no other discovery of himself, at least in Judea, and at the beginning of his ministry, but in the two former ways, which were more obscure ; not declaring himself to be the Messiah, any otherwise than as it might be gathered from the miracles he did, and the conformity of his life and actions with the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning him: and from some general discourses of the kingdom of the Messiah being come, under the name of the “ kingdom of God, and of hea. “ ven.” Nay, so far was he from publicly owning himself to be the Messiah, that he forbid the doing of it: Mark viii. 27-30. “ He asked his disciples, " Whom do men say that I am ? And they answered, “ John the Baptist; but some say Elias; and others, “ one of the prophets.” (So that it is evident, that even those, who believed him an extraordinary person, knew not yet who he was, or that he gave himself out for the Messiah; though this was in the third year of his ministry, and not a year before his death.) “ And he saith “ unto them, But whom say ye that I am ? And Peter *answered and said unto him, Thou art the Messiah. “ And he charged them, that they should tell no man “ of him.” Luke iv. 41. " And devils came out of “ many, crying, Thou art the Messiah, the Son of • God: and he, rebuking them, suffered them not to “ speak, that they knew him to be the Messiah.” Mark iü. 11, 12. “ Unclean spirits, when they saw 6 him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou · “ art the Son of God: and he straitly charged them, “ that they should not make him known.” Here again we may observe, from the comparing of the two texts, that “ Thou art the Son of God,” or, “ Thou art the “ Messiah,” were indifferently used for the same thing. But to return to the matter in hand.

This concealment of himself will seem strange, in one who was come to bring light into the world, and was to suffer death for the testimony of the truth. This reservedness will be thought to look, as if he had a mind to conceal himself, and not to be known to the world for the Messiah, nor to be believed on as such. But we shall be of another mind, and conclude this proceeding of his according to divine wisdom, and suited to a fuller manifestation and evidence of his being the Messiah; when we consider that he was to fill out the time foretold of his ministry; and after a life illustrious in miracles and good works, attended with humility, meekness, patience, and sufferings, and every way conformable to the prophecies of him ; should be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and with all quiet and submission be brought to the cross, though there were no guilt, nor fault found in him. This could not have been, if, as soon as he appeared in public, and began to preach, he had presently professed himself to have been the Messiah; the king that owned that kingdom, he published to be at hand. For the sanhedrim would then have laid hold on it, to have got him into their power, and thereby have taken away his life ; at least they would have disturbed his ministry, and hindered the work he was about. That this made him cautious, and avoid, as much as he could, the occasions of provoking them and falling into their hands, is plain from John vii. 1. “ After these things Jesus walked in Galilee ; ”

out of the way of the chief priests and rulers ; " for “ he would not walk in Jewry, because the jews sought “ to kill him.” Thus, making good what he foretold them at Jerusalem, when, at the first passover after his beginning to preach the gospel, upon his curing the man at the pool of Bethesda, they sought to kill him, John v. 16, “ Ye have not,” says he, ver. 38, « his

“ him ye believe not.” This was spoken more particularly to the jews of Jerusalem, who were the forward men, zealous to take away his life: and it imports, that, because of their unbelief and opposition to him, the word of God, i. e. the preaching of the kingdom of the Messiah, which is often called “ the word of God,” did not stay amongst them, he could not stay amongst them, preach and explain to them the kingdom of the Messiah.

That the word of God, here, signifies “ the word of « God," that should make Jesus known to them to be the Messiah, is evident from the context: and this meaning of this place is made good by the event. For, after this, we hear no more of Jesus at Jerusalem, till the pentecost come twelvemonth; though it is not to be doubted, but that he was there the next passover, and other feasts between; but privately. And now at Jerusalem, at the feast of pentecost, near fifteen months after, he says little of any thing, and not a word of the kingdom of heaven being come, or at hand; nor did he any miracle there. And returning to Jerusalem at the feast of tabernacles, it is plain, that from this time 'till then, which was a year and a half, he had not taught them at Jerusalem.

For, 1. it is said, John vii. 2, 15, That, he teaching in the temple at the feast of tabernacles, “ the jews “ marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, “ having never learned ?” A sign they had not been used to his preaching : for, if they had, they would not now have marvelled.

2. Ver. 19, He says thus to them: “ Did not Moses “ give you the law, and yet none of you keep the law ? " Why go ye about to kill me? One work," or mira

« PreviousContinue »