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believing Jesus to be the Messiah, taking him for their king, and becoming his subjects. But that Christ does require obedience, sincere obedience, is evident from the law he himself delivers, (unless he can be supposed to give and inculcate laws, only to have them disobeyed) and from the sentence he will pass when he comes to judge.
The faith required was, to believe Jesus to be the Messiah, the Anointed; who had been promised by God to the world. Among the Jews (to whom the promises and prophecies of the Messiah were more immediately delivered) anointing was used to three sorts of persons, at their inauguration ; whereby they were set apart to three great offices, viz. of priests, prophets, and kings. Though these three offices be in holy writ attributed to our Saviour, yet I do not remember that he any where assumes to himself the title of a priest, or mentions any thing relating to his priesthood ; nor does he speak of his being a prophet but very sparingly, and only once or twice, as it were by the by: but the Go. spel, or the good news of the kingdom of the Messiah, is what he preaches every where, and makes it his great business to publish to the world. This he did, not only as most agreeable to the expectation of the Jews, who looked for their Messiah, chiefly as coming in power to be their king and deliverer ; but as it best answered the chief end of his coming, which was to be a king, and, as such, to be received by those who would be his subjects in the kingdom which he came to erect. And though he took not directly on himself the title of King, until he was in custody, and in the hands of Pilate; yet it is plain, “King” and “ King of Israel” were the familiar and received titles of the Messiah. See John i. 50. Luke xix. 38, compared with Matt. xxi. 9, and Mark xi. 9. John xii. 13. Matt. xxi. 5. Luke xxiii. 2, compared with Matt. xxvii. 11, and John xviii. 33–3 Mark xv. 12, compared with Matt. xxvii. 22, 42...
What those were to do who believed him to be the Messiah, and received him for their king, that they might be admitted to be partakers with him of his kingdom in glory, we shall best know by the laws he
expects from we shall see and what it
gives them, and requires them to obey; and by the sentence which he himself will give, when, sitting on his throne, they shall all appear at his tribunal, to receive every one his doom from the inouth of this righteous Judge of all men. "
What he proposed to his followers to be believed, we have already seen, by examining his and his apostles' preaching, step by step, all through the history of the four evangelists, and the Acts of the Apostles. The same method will best and plainest show us whether he required of those who believed him to be the Messiah any thing besides that faith, and what it was. For, he being a king, we shall see by his commands what he expects from his subjects: for, if he did not expect obedience to them, his commands would be but mere mockery; and if there were no punishment for the transgressors of them, his laws would not be the laws of a king, and that authority to command, and power to chastise the disobedient, but empty talk, without force, and without influence.
We shall therefore from his injunctions (if any such there be) see what he has made necessary to be performed, by all those who shall be received into eternal life, in his kingdom prepared in the heavens. And in this we cannot be deceived. What we have from his own mouth, especially if repeated over and over again, in different places and expressions, will be past doubt and controversy. I shall pass by all that is said by St. John Baptist, or any other before our Saviour's entry upon his ministry, and public promulgation of the laws of his kingdom.
He began his preaching with a command to repent, as St. Matthew tells us, iv. 17, “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And Luke v. 32, he tells the Scribes and Pharisees, “ Icome not to call the righteous," (those who were truly so needed no help, they had à right to the tree of life,) “but sinners to repentance.”
In his sermon, as it is called, in the mount, Luke vi. and Matth. V., &c. he commands they should be exem
plary in good works: “Let your light so shine amongst men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven," Matth. v. 15. And that they might know what he came for, and what he expected of them, he tells them, ver. 17-20, “Think not that I am come to dissolve," or loosen, “the law, or the prophets: I am not come to dissolve,” or loosen, “butto make it full,” or complete; by giving it you in its true and strict sense. Here we see he confirms, and at once re-enforces all the moral precepts in the Old Testament. “For verily I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle, shall in nowise pass from the law, till all be done. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least (i. e. as it is interpreted, shall not be at all) in the kingdom of heaven." Ver. 21, “I say unto you, That except your righteousness," i. e. your performance of the eternal law of right, “shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." And then he goes on to make good what he said, ver. 17, viz. “ That he was come to complete the law,” viz. by giving its full and clear sense, free from the corrupt and loosening glosses of the Scribes and Pharisees, ver. 22–26. He tells them, That not only murder, but causeless anger, and so much as words of contempt, were forbidden. He commands them to be reconciled and kind towards their adversaries; and that upon pain of condemnation. In the following part of his sermon, which is to be read Luke vi, and more at large, Matth. v. vi. vii. he not only forbids actual uncleanness, but all irregular desires, upon pain of hell-fire; causeless divorces; swearing in conversation, as well as forswearing in judgment; revenge ; retaliation; ostentation of charity, of devotion, and of fasting; repetitions in prayer, covetousness, worldly care, censoriousness : and on the other side commands loving our enemies, doing good to those that hate us, blessing those that curse us, praying for those that despitefully use us ; patience and meekness under injuries, forgiveness, liberality, compassion : and closes all his particular injunctions with this general golden rule, Matt. vii. 12, “ All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do you even so to them ; for this is the law and the prophets.” And to show how much he is in earnest, and expects obedience to these laws, he tells them, Luke vi. 35, That if they obey, " great shall be their reward;" they “ shall be called, the sons of the Highest." And to all this, in the conclusion, he adds the solemn sanction; “ Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?" It is in vain for you to take me for the Messiah your King, unless you obey me. “Not every one who calls me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven," or be the sons of God; “but he that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” To such disobedient subjects, though they have prophesied and done miracles in my name, I shall say at the day of judgment, “ Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity; I know you not.”. · When, Matt. xii. he was told, that his mother and brethren sought to speak with him, ver. 49, “ Stretching out his hands to his disciples, he said, “ Behold my mother and my brethren ; for whosoever shall do the will of my Father, who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.” They could not be children of the adoption, and fellow-heirs with him of eternal life, who did not do the will of his heavenly Father. • Matt. xv. and Mark vi. the Pharisees finding fault, that his disciples eat with unclean hands, he makes this declaration to his apostles : “ Do not ye perceive, that whatsoever from without entereth into a man, cannot defile him, because it entereth not into his heart, but his belly? That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man; for from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, false witnesses, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these ill things come from within, and defile a man.”
He commands self-denial, and the exposing ourselves to suffering and danger, rather than to deny or disown
him: and this upon pain of losing our souls; which are of more worth than all the world. This we may read, Matt. xvi. 24–27, and the parallel places, Mark viii. and Luke ix.
The apostles disputing among them, who should be greatest in the kingdom of the Messiah, Matt. xviii. 1, he thus determines the controversy, Mark ix. 35, “ If any one will be first, let him be last of all, and servant of all:" and setting a child before them, adds, Matt. xviii. 3, “ Verily, I say unto you, Unless ye turn, and become as children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Matt. xviii. 15, “ If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone : if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen and publican." . Ver. 21, " Peter said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus said unto him, I say not unto thee, till seven times ; but until seventy times seven.” And then ends the parable of the servant, who being himself forgiven, was rigorous to his fellow-servant, with these words, ver. 34: “and his Lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due to him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”
Luke x. 25, to the lawyer, asking him, " What shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said, What is written in the law? How readest thou ?" He answered, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Jesus said, “ This do, and thou shalt live.” And when the lawyer, upon our Saviour's parable of the good Sa. maritan, was forced to confess, that he that showed