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eternal life. And we believe, and are sure, that thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” John vi. 69. This was the faith which distinguished them from apostates and unbelievers, and was sufficient to continue them in the rank of apostles : and it was upon the same proposition, " That Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” owned by St. Peter, that our Saviour said, he would build his church, Matt. xvi. 16—18.
To convince men of this, he did his miracles : and their assent to, or not assenting to this, made them to be, or not to be, of his church; believers, or not believers : “ The Jews came round about him, and 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 name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.” John X. 24-26. Conformable hereunto, St. John tells us, that “ many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus, the Messiah, is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver, and an antichrist; whosoever abideth not in the doctrine of the Messiah, has not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of the Messiah,” i. e. that Jesus is he,“ hath both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 7, 9. That this is the meaning of the place, is plain from what he says in his foregoing epistle, “ Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Messiah, is born of God." 1 John v. 1. And therefore, drawing to a close of his Gospel, and showing the end for which he writ it, he has these words : “ Many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book : but these are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that, believing, you might have life through his name.” John xx. 30, 31. Whereby it is plain, that the Gospel was writ to induce men into a belief of this proposition, “ That Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah ;" which if they believed, they should have life.
Accordingly the great question among the Jews was, whether he were the Messiah or no? and the great point insisted on and promulgated in the Gospel was, that he was the Messiah. The first glad tidings of his birth, brought to the shepherds by an angel, was in these words : “ Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people: for to you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke ii. 11. Our Saviour discoursing with Martha about the means of attaining eternal life, saith to her, John xi. 27, “ Whosoever believeth in me, shall never die. Be. lievest thou this ? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord, I believe that thou art the Messiah, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” This answer of hers showeth, what it is to believe in Jesus Christ, so as to have eternal life ; viz. to believe that he is the Messiah, the Son of God, whose coming was foretold by the prophets. And thus Andrew and Philip express it : “ Andrew says to his brother Simon, we have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. Philip saith to Nathanael, we have found him, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." John i. 41, 45. According to what the Evangelist says in this place, I have, for the clearer understanding of the Scripture, all along put Messiah for Christ : Christ being but the Greek name for the Hebrew Messiah, and both signi. fying the Anointed.
And that he was the Messiah, was the great truth he took pains to convince his disciples and apostles of ; appearing to them after his resurrection : as may be seen Luke xxiv. which we shall more particularly consider in another place. There we read what Gospel our Saviour preached to his disciples and apostles; and that as soon as he was risen from the dead, twice, the very day of his resurrection.
And, if we may gather what was to be believed by all nations from what was preached unto them, we may certainly know what they were commanded, Matt. ult. to teach all nations, by what they actually did teach
all nations. We may observe, that the preaching of the apostles everywhere in the Acts, tended to this one point, to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. Indeed, now, after his death, his resurrection was also commonly required to be believed, as a necessary article, and sometimes solely insisted on : it being a mark and undoubted evidence of his being the Messiah, and necessary now to be believed by those who would receive him as the Messiah. For since the Messiah was to be á Saviour and a king, and to give life and a kingdom to those who received him, as we shall see by and by ; there could have been no pretence to have given him out for the Messiah, and to require men to believe him to be so, who thought him under the power of death, and corruption of the grave. And therefore those who believed him to be the Messiah, must believe that he was risen from the dead : and those who believed him to be risen from the dead, could not doubt of his being the Messiah. But of this more in another place.
Let us see therefore, how the apostles preached Christ, and what they proposed to their hearers to believe. St. Peter at Jerusalem, Acts ii. by his first sermon, converted three thousand souls. What was his word, which, as we are told, ver. 41, “ they gladly received, and thereupon were baptized ?” That may be seen from ver. 22 to 36. In short, this; which is the conclusion, drawn from all that he had said, and which he presses on them, as the thing they were to believe, viz. “ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, Lord and Messiah,” ver. 36.
To the same purpose was his discourse to the Jews, in the temple, Acts iii. the design whereof you have, ver. 18. “ But those things that God before had showed, by the mouth of all his prophets, that the Messiah should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.”
In the next chapter, Acts iv. Peter and John being examined, about the miracle on the lame man, profess it to have been done in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, who was the Messiah, in whom alone there was salvation, ver. 10–12. The same thing they confirm to
them again, Acts v. 29–32. “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus the Messiah,' ver. 42. : What was Stephen's speech to the council, Acts vii. but a reprehension to them, that they were the betrayers and murderers of the Just One? Which is the title by which he plainly designs the Messiah, whose coming was foreshown by the prophets, ver. 51, 52.And that the Messiah was to be without sin, (which is the import of the word Just) was the opinion of the Jews, appears from John ix. ver. 22, compared with 24.
Acts viji. Philip carries the Gospel to Samaria : “ Then Philip went down to Samaria, and preached to them.” What was it he preached? You have an account of it in this one word, “the Messiah,” ver. 5. This being that alone which was required of them, to believe that Jesus was the Messiah : which when they believed, they were baptized. “And when they believed Philip's preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus the Messiah, they were baptized, both men and women,” ver. 12.
Philip being sent from thence, by a special call of . the Spirit, to make an eminent conyert; out of Isaiah preaches to him Jesus, ver. 35. And what it was he preached concerning Jesus, we may know by the profession of faith the eunuch made, upon which he was admitted to baptism, ver. 37. “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God :" which is as much as to say, I believe that he, whom you call Jesus Christ, is really and truly the Messiah, that was promised. For, that believing him to be the Son of God, and to be the Messiah, was the same thing, may appear, by comparing John i, 45, with ver. 49, where Nathanael owns Jesus to be the Messiah, in these terms: “Thou art the Son of God; thou art the king of Israel.” So the Jews, Luke xxii. 70, asking Christ, whether he were the Son of God, plainly demanded of him, whether he were the Messiah? Which is evident, by comparing that with the three preceding verses. They ask him, ver. 67, Whether he were the Messiah? He answers, "If I tell you, you will not believe :" but withal tells
them, that from thenceforth he should be in possession of the kingdom of the Messiah, expressed in these words, ver. 69: “Hereafter shall the Son of Man sit on the right hand of the power of God:” which made them all cry out, “ Art thou then the Son of God ?” i. e. Dost thou then own thyself to be the Messiah? To which he replies, “ Ye say that I am.” That the Son of God was the known title of the Messiah at that time, amongst the Jews, we may see also, from what the Jews say to Pilate, John xix. 7, “ We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made him. self THE SON OF GOD;" i. e. by making himself the Messiah, the prophet which was to come, but falsely'; and therefore he deserves to die by the law, Deut. xviii. 20. That this was the common signification of the Son of God, is farther evident, from what the chief priests, mocking him, said when he was on the cross, Matt. xxvii. 42, “ He saved others, himself he cannot save: if he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him, He trusted in God, let him deliver him now, if he will have him ; for he said, I am the Son of God;" i. e. He said, he was the Messiah : but it is plainly false ; for, if he were, God would deliver him : for the Messiah is to be king of Israel, the Saviour of others; but this man cannot save himself. The chief priests mention here the two titles, then in use, whereby the Jews commonly designed the Messiah, viz. “Son of God, and king of Israel.” That of Son of God was so familiar a compellation of the Messiah, who was then so much expected and talked of, that the Romans it seems who lived amongst them, had learned it, as appears from ver. 54. “Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, truly this was the Son OF God;" this was that extraordinary person that was : looked for.
Acts ix. St. Paul, exercising the commission to preach the Gospel, which he had received in a miraculous way, v. 20, “Straightway preached Christ in the synagogues,