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ALTHOUGH the Jews, by mistaking the prophecies of Scripture concerning the kingdom of their Messias, expected he should have a temporal kingdom; and because our Lord Jesus was not for that, therefore they would not acknowledge him for their Messias; yet, all things considered, there is no essential difference between our religion and theirs. We own the very same God whom they formerly worshipped, the maker of the world, and their lawgiver. We receive that very Messias whom God promised them by his prophets, so many ages before his coming. We own no other Spirit of God to have inspired the Apostles, besides the Holy Ghost, who spoke by the Prophets, and by whose manifold gifts the Messias was to be known, as one in whom all nations should be blessed.
This plainly appears in the way and method which both Christ and his Apostles followed in preaching the Gospel. They endeavoured to take off the prejudices the then Jews laboured under, concerning the nature of the Messias, and the characters by which he was to be known: for they argued all along from the books of Moses and the Prophets, and never proposed any thing to their disciples but what was declared in those writings which the Jews acknowledged as the standard of their religion; which may be seen in Christ's discourse to the Jews, John v. 46. and to his disciples after his resurrection, Luke xxiv. 27. and 44. in the words of St. Peter, Acts x. 43, and of St. Paul, Acts xxvi. 22.
The truth is, in those sacred Books, although one only God be acknowledged, under the name of Jehovah, which denotes his essence, and therefore is incommunicable to any other; yet not only that very name is given to the Messias, but also all the works, attributes, and characters peculiar to Jehovah, the God of Israel, and the only true God, are frequently bestowed on him.
This the old Jewish authors, as Philo and the Targumists, do readily acknowledge. For in their exposition of those places of the Old Testament which relate to the Messias, they generally suppose him to be God; whereas the modern Jews, being of a far different opinion, use all shifts imaginable to evade the force of their testimonies. The Apostles imitated in this the synagogue, by applying to Christ several places of the Old Testament, which undoubtedly were primarily intended of the God of Israel.
But because they sometimes only touch at places of the Old Testament, without using them as formal proofs of what they then handled; Socinus and his disciples have fancied that those citations out of the Old Testament, which are made use of by the Apostles, though they represent the Messias as being the same with the God of Israel; yet for all this are but bare allusions and accommodations, made indeed
by them to subjects of a like nature, but not at all by them intended as arguments and demonstrations.
Nothing can be more injurious to the writings of the New Testament, than such a supposition: and there can hardly be an opinion more apt to overthrow the authority of Christ and his Apostles, and to expose the Christian religion to the scorn both of Jews and heathens. For the bare accommodation of a place of Scripture cannot suppose that the Holy Ghost had any design in it to intimate any thing sounding that way; and consequently the sense of that Scripture so accommodated is of no authority. Whereas it is a most certain truth, that Christ and his Apostles did design, by many of those quotations, to prove that which was in dispute between them and the Jews.
To what purpose should Christ exhort the Jews to search the Scriptures of the Old Testament, because they testified of him, John v. 39. if those Scriptures could only give a false notion of him, by intimating that the Messias promised was the God of Israel? This were to suppose that Christ and his Apostles went about to prove a thing by that which had no strength and no authority to prove it: and that the citations out of the Old Testament are like the works of the Empress Eudoxia, who writ the history of Christ in verses put together and borrowed from Homer, under the name of 'Ounpókeypa; or that of Proba Falconia, who did the same in verses and words taken out of Virgil.
It follows at least from such a position, that in the Gospel God gave a revelation so very new, that it has no manner of affinity to the Old, although he
caused this old revelation to be carefully written by the Prophets, and as carefully preserved by the Jews to be the standard of their faith, and the ground of their hopes, till he should fulfil his promises contained in it; and although Christ and his Apostles bid the Jews have recourse to it, to know what they were to expect of God's promises.
The Christian Church ever rejected this pernicious opinion. And although her first champions against the ancient heretics did acknowledge that the new revelation, brought in by Christ and his Apostles, had made the doctrines much clearer than they were before, (which the Jews themselves do acknowledge, when they affirm that hidden things are to be made plain to all by the Messias,) yet they ever maintained that those doctrines were so clearly set down in the books of the Old Testament, that they could not be opposed by them, who acknowledge those books to come from God; especially since the Jews are therein told, that the Messias, when he came, should explain them, and make them clearer.
This observation is particularly of force against those who formerly opposed the doctrine of the blessed Trinity, and that of our Saviour's being God. These heretics thought they followed the opinion of the ancient Jews. Therefore they that confuted them, undertook to satisfy them that the Christian Church had received nothing from Christ and his Apostles, about those two articles, but what God had formerly taught the Jews, and what necessarily followed from the writings of Moses and the Prophets ; so that those doctrines could not be rejected,