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and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” Which was no more than to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. This is that which, as we have above observed, is called the Word of God; Acts xi. 1, compared with the foregoing chapter, from v. 34 to the end. And xiii. 42, compared with 44, 46, 48, 49, and xvii. 13, compared with v. 11, 13. It is also called “ the Word of the Gospel,” Acts xv. 7.. And this is that Word of God, and that Gospel, which, wherever their discourses are set down, we find the Apostles preached ; and was that faith which made both Jews and Gentiles believers and members of the church of Christ; purifying their hearts, Acts xv. 9, and carrying with it remission of sins, Acts x. 43. So that all that was to be believed for justification, was no more but this single proposition, that “ Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, or the Messiah.” All, I say, that was to be believed for justifica. tion: for that it was not all that was required to be done for justification, we shall see hereafter. . Though we have seen above, from what our Saviour has pronounced himself, John iii. 36, “ that he that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him ;' and are taught from John iy. 39, compared with y, 42, that believing on him, is believing that he is the Messiah, the Saviour of the world; and the confession made by St. Peter, Matt. xvi. 16, that he is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God," being the rock on which our Saviour has promised to build his church; though this, I say, and what else we have already taken notice of, be enough to .convince us what it is we are in the Gospel required to believe to eternal life, without adding what we have observed from the preaching of the Apostles; yet it may not be amiss, for the farther clearing this matter, to observe what the Evangelists deliver concerning the same thing, though in different words; which, there. fore, perhaps, are not so generally taken notice of to this purpose.
We have above observed, from the words of Andrew and Philip compared, that “the Messiah, and him of
whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write," signify the same thing. We shall now consider that place, John i, a little farther. Ver. 41, Andrew says to Simon, “ We have found the Messiah." Philip, on the same occasion, v. 45, says to Nathanael, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael, who disbelieved this, when, upon Christ's speaking to him, he was convinced of it, declares his assent to it in these words: “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the king of Israel." From which it is evident, that to believe him to be “Him of whom Moses and the prophets did write," or to be the “Son of God,” or to be “the king of Israel," was in effect the same as to believe him to be the Messiah: and an assent to that was what our Saviour received for believing. For, upon Nathanael's making a confession in these words, " Thou art the Son of God, thou art the king of Israel; Jesus answered and said to him, Because I said to thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, dost thou believe? Thou shalt see greater things than these,” ver. 51. I desire any one to read the latter part of the first of John, from ver. 25, with attention, and tell me, whether it be not plain, that this phrase, The Son of God, is an expression used for the Messiah. To which let him add Martha's declaration of her faith, John xi. 27, in these words: “I believe that thou art the Messiah, THE SON OF GOD, who should come into the world;" and that passage of St. John xx. 31, " That ye might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, THE Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life, through his name:" and then tell me, whether he can doubt that Messiah, the Son of God, were synonymous terms at that time amongst the Jews.
The prophecy of Daniel, chap. ix. when he is called “ Messiah the Prince;" and the mention of his government and kingdom, and the deliverance by him, in Isaiah, Daniel, and other prophecies, understood of the Messiah, were so well known to the Jews, and had so raised their hopes of him about this time, which, by their account, was to be the time of his coming, to
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restore the kingdom of Israel; that Herod no sooner heard of the magi's inquiry after “ Him that was born king of the Jews,” Matt. ii. but he forthwith “demanded of the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah should be born,” ver. 4. Not doubting but, if there were any king born to the Jews, it was the Messiah: whose coming was now the general expectation, as appears, Luke iii. 15, “The people being in ex. pectation, and all men musing in their hearts of John, whether he were the Messiah or not." And when the priests and Levites sent to ask him who he was; he, understanding their meaning, answers, John i. 20, “ That he was not the Messiah ;” but he bears witness, that Jesus “is the Son of God,” i. e. the Messiah, ver. 34.
This looking for the Messiah, at this time, we see also in Simeon; who is said to be “waiting for the consolation of Israel,” Luke ii. 21. And having the child Jesus in his arms, he says, he had “ seen the salvation of the Lord,” ver. 30. And “ Anna coming at the same instant into the temple, she gave thanks also unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Israel,” ver. 38. And of Joseph of Arimathea, it is said, Mark xv. 43, That “he also expected the kingdom of God:" by all which was meant the coming of the Messiah ; and Luke xix. 11, it is said, “ They thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.”
This being premised, let us see what it was that John the Baptist preached, when he first entered upon his ministry. That St. Matthew tells us, chap. iii. 1, 2, “In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This was a declaration of the coming of the Messiah: the kingdom of heaven, and the kingdom of God, being the same, as is clear out of several places of the Evangelists; and both signifying the kingdom of the Messiah. The profession which John the Baptist made, when sent to the Jews, John i. 19, was that «he was not the Messiah ;" but that Jesus was. This will appear to any one, who will compare ver.
26–34, with John iii. 27, 30. The Jews being very inquisitive to know, whether John were the Messiah, he positively denies it; but tells them, he was only his forerunner; and that there stood one amongst them, who would follow him, whose shoe-latchet he was not · worthy to untie. The next day, seeing Jesus, he says, he was the man; and that his own baptizing in water was only that Jesus might be manifested to the world ; and that he knew him not, till he saw the Holy Ghost descend upon him : he that sent him to baptize, having told him, that he on whom he should see the Spirit descend, and rest upon, he it was that should baptize with the Holy Ghost; and that therefore he witnessed, that “this was the Son of God,” ver. 34, i. e. the Messiah ; and, chap. iii. 26, &c. they come to John the Baptist, and tell him, that Jesus baptized, and that all men went to him. John answers, He has his authority from heaven; you know I never said, I was the Messiah, but that I was sent before him. He must increase, but I must decrease ; for God hath sent him, and he speaks the words of God; and God hath given all things into the hands of his Son. “ And he that believes on the Son, hath eternal life ;' the same doctrine, and nothing else, but what was preached by the Apostles afterwards: as we have seen all through the Acts, v. g. that Jesus was the Messiah. And thus it was, that John bears witness of our Saviour, as Jesus himself says, John v. 33.
This also was the declaration given of him at his baptism, by a voice from heaven: “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matt. iii. 17. Which was a declaration of him to be the Messiah, the Son of God, being (as we have showed) understood to signify the Messiah. To which we may add the first mention of him after his conception, in the words of the angel to Joseph, Matt. i. 21. 4 Thou shalt call his name Jesus," or Saviour; “ for he shall save his people from their sins.” It was a received doctrine in the Jewish nation, that at the coming of the Messiah, all their sins should be forgiven them. These words, therefore, of the angel, we may look upon as a declaration that Jesus was the Messiah ; whereof these
words, “ his people,” are a farther mark : which súppose him to have a people, and consequently to be a king.' · 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. · I. 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 mi. racles, and only one more, they expected; who was to be the Messiah. And therefore we see the people just. ified their believing in him, i. e. their believing him to be the Messiah, because of the miracles he did, John vii. 31, “ 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 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