« ForrigeFortsæt »
cannot be put upon the promise of the coming of the Messiah, without a direct denial of some, and by just consequence, of all the essential properties of Jehovah. There is not in the whole scripture the least intimation of such a condition, as that which they pretend the promise insisted on to be clogged with. It is no where said, no where intimated, that if the Jews repented, and merited well, the Messiah should come at the time mentioned; no where threatened, that if they did not so, his coming should be put off to an uncertain day. He was to come to turn men from ungodliness, and not because they were turned before his coming.
§7. 3. The suggestion overthrows the rise of the promise, and the whole nature of the thing promised. The spring of the promise was mere love, and sovereign grace; there was not any thing in man, Jew or Gentile, that should move the Lord to provide a remedy for them who had destroyed themselves. Now, to suspend the promise of this love and grace, on the righteousness and repentance of them to whom it was made, is perfectly to destroy it, and to place the merit of it in man; whereas it arose purely from the grace of God. Again, it utterly destroys the nature of the thing promised, which is a salvation from sin and misery. To suppose that this shall not be granted, unless men, as a condition of it, deliver themselves from their sins, is to assert a plain contradiction, and wholly to destroy the promise. He was not promised to men, because they were penitent and just, but to make them so. And to make the righteousness of Jews and Gentiles, the condition of his coming, is to take his work out of his hand, and to render both him and his righteousness useless. The Jews, on several accounts, are self-condemned in the use of this
pretence. Their great sins, they say, are the cause, why the coming of the Messiah is retarded. But what those sins are, they cannnot declare. We readily grant them to be wicked enough; but withal, we know their great wickedness to consist, in that which they will not acknowledge; not in being unfit for his coming, but in refusing him when he came. They instance sometimes in their hatred one to another, their mutual animosities, and frequent adulteries, and want of observing the Sabbath, according to the rules of their present superstitious scrupulosity. But take them from the rack of our arguments, and you hear no more of their confessions, no more of their sins and wickedness, but they are immediately all righteous and holy, all beloved of God, and better than their forefathers; yea, as before hinted, on the day of expiation they are as holy, if we believe them, as the angels in heaven. There is not one sin amongst them! Is it not strange, then, that the Messiah did not, at one time or other, come to them on that day?
§8. 4. The vain plea is directly contrary to the nature of the covenant, which God promised to make at the coming of the Messiah, or that which he came to ratify and establish, and the reason which God gives for the making of that covenant, Jer. xxxi, 31-33. The foundation of the new covenant lies in this, that the people had "disannulled and broken the former "made with them." Now, surely they do not disannul that covenant, if they are righteous according to the tenor of it; and unless they are righteous, they say, the Messiah will not come; that is, the new covenant shall not be made, unless by them it be first made needless! Again, the nature of the covenant lies in this, that God in it makes men righteous and holy, Ezek. xi, 19. So that righteousness and holiness cannot be the con
dition of making it, unless it be of making it useless. This, then, is the contest between God and the Jews; he takes it upon himself to give men righteousness, by the covenant of the Messiah, and they take it themselves to be righteous, that he may make that covenant with them.
$9. 5. If the coming of the Messiah depend on the righteousness and repentance of the Jews, it is not only possible, but very probable, that he may never come. Seeing that they have not repented all this while, what assurance have we, nay what hope may we entertain, concerning the remnant of future trial? Greater calls to repentance from God, greater motives from themselves and others, they are not like to meet with. And what grounds have we to expect, that they who have withstood all these calls, without any good fruit, by their own confessions, will ever be any better? Upon this supposition, then, it would be very probable, that the Messiah should never come.
JESUS OF NAZARETH THE ONLY TRUE AND PROMISED MESSIAH.
§1. Introduction and subject stated. §2. (I.) That Jesus come within the time limited. §3. (II.) That no other came within that season, that could claim the character. §4-6. (III.) That the scriptural characteristic notes of the Messiah belong to Jesus Christ, and centre in his person. 1. He came from the true stock. §7. 2. The place of his birth. §8-13. 3. Born of a Virgin. $14, 15. 4. What he taught. §16-19. 5. What he suffered. §20-25. 6. His miracles. §26. 7. The success of his doctrine and religion.
1. IF, then, the Messiah, came not within the time limited, all expectation from the scripture of the Old
Testament must come to a nought; nor can the Jews, on that supposition, in any measure defend the truth of it against an infidel. And, indeed, the ridiculous fable of his being born at the time appointed, but kept hid to this day, they know not where, is not to be pleaded, when they deal with men not bereaved of their senses, or judicially blind. We ask them, then, if Jesus of Nazareth be not the Messiah, where is he? or who is he, that came in answer to the prophecies insisted on? Three things then remain to be proved:
I. That our Lord Jesus Christ came, lived, and died within the time limited for the coming of the Messiah.
II. That no other came within that season, that either pretended, with any color of probability, to that dignity, or was ever owned to be such by the Jews themselves.
III. That all the scriptural characteristical notes of the Messiah centre in the person of our Lord Jesus.
§2. (I.) That Jesus came and lived in the time limited, some short space before the departure of the sceptre and scribe from Judah, the ceasing of the daily sacrifices, and final desolation of the second temple, we have all the evidence that a matter of fact so long passed is capable of. The histories of the church are express, that he was born during the empire of Augustus Cæsar, in the latter end of the reign of Herod over Judea, when Cyrenius was governor of Syria; that he lived to the time when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, under Tiberius, about thirty-six or thirtyseven years before the destruction of the nation, city, and temple, by Titus. Neither did the most malicious and fierce impugners of his religion, such as Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian, ever once attempt to attack the truth of the story, as to his real existence, and the time
of it. So that herein we have as concurrent a suffrage as the whole world in any case is able to afford. The best historians of the nations, who lived near those times, give their testimony to what is recorded in our gospel. Corn. Tacitus expressly assigns the time of his death to the reign of Tiberius, and the government of Pilate. The same also is confirmed by Flav. Josephus.*
§3. (II.) We secondly affirmed, that no other person came, within the time limited, that could pretend to be the Messiah. This the Jews themselves confess; nor can they think otherwise, without condemning themselves; for if any such person came, seeing they received him not, nor do own him to this day, their guilt would be the same that we charge upon them, for the refusing of our Lord Jesus. It remaineth, that either Jesus is the true Messiah, as coming from God, in the season limited for that purpose, or that the whole promise concerning the Messiah is a mere figment, the whole Old Testament a fable, and both the old and present religion of the Jews a delusion. At that season the Messiah must come, or there is an end of all religion. If any came, then, whom they had rather embrace for their Messiah, than our Lord Jesus, let them own him, that we may know who he was, and what he hath done for them. If none such there was, as they will not pretend there was, their obstinacy and blindness, in refusing the only promised Messiah, is such as no reasonable man can give an account of, who doth not call to mind the righteous judgment of God, in giving them up to blindness and obstinacy, as a just punishment for their rejection and murdering of his only Son.
*Antiq. Lib. xviii. Cap. 4.