« السابقةمتابعة »
25, 26. i. a.
the day dawn, and the day-slar arise in your hearts. S E R M. And St. Paul iaith, tliat the myslery, zehich was kept Secret since the world began, was then made manifesi, and by the prophetical Scriptures, according to the commeild- Rom. xvi. ment of the everlasiing God, made known to all nations, to the obedience of faith ; and, The holy Il ritings (he telleth Timothy) were able to make him wife to the è 'Tim. üi. falvation, which is, by the faith of Jesus Christ; that'5. is, they were able to shew and persuade to him the truth of Christianity, which promileth falvation to all that heartily embrace it, and observe its laws.
Such a stress was laid upon this probation by the founders of our religion; and no wonder; for that it is not only extremely forcible in itself, but hath fome particular ules, and fome peculiar advantages beyond others. The foreknowledge of future contingent events, (such as were many of those concerning our Saviour, depending upon the freest acts of human will,) as it is for the manner of attaining it most incomprehensible to us, so it is most proper to God, and by all men so acknowledged; future contingencies being secrets, which no man, no angel, no creature can dive into, they being not discernible in their causes, which are indeterminate ; nor in themselves, who are finite. The prediction therefore of such events could not otherwise than proceed from his pleasure ; neither could he yield it in any way of favour and approbation to that, which was not perfeetly true and good : this way therefore doth abiolutely confirm the truth and goodness of Christian doctrine ; it withal manifests the great worth and weight thereof, as implying the particular regard and care God had of it, designing it fo anciently, laying trains of providence toward it, and preparing fuch evidences for the confirmation thereof; it together into the bargain maintaineth the truth of the Jewith dispensation, the fincerity of the ancient Patriarclis and Prophets, and the vigilant care the divine goodnefs hath always had over the state of religion, and
SE R M.toward the welfare of mankind; never leaving it
deftitute of some immediate revelations from himself. It had a peculiar aptitude to convert the Jews, who were poffeffed with a full persuafion concerning the veracity and sanctity of their ancient Prophets ; and could not therefore doubt concerning the truth of that, which appeared conformable to that which they had foretold Thould be declared, and dispensed for their benefit. This probation also hath this advantage, that it singly taken doth suffice to convince; whereas others can hardly do it otherwise than in conjunction with one another, and especially with its aid : for the goodness of the doctrine may be contested in some points; and however good it feem, it may be imputed to human invention : ftrange effects may be deemed producible by other caules beside divine power; and they may be suffered to be done for other ends than for confirmation of truth; they are also conmonly transient, and thence inoít liable to doubt : Providence also is in many cases fo mysterious and unsearchable, that the incredulous will never allow any inferences to be drawn from it : but the plain correspondence of events to the standing records of ancient prophecies (obvious and conspicuous to every one that will consult and compare them) concerning a person to be sent by God, who should have such circumstances, and be lo qualified, who should in God's name preach such doctrines and perform such works, is a proof, which alone may assure any man, that such a perfon doth come from God, and is in what he declareth or doeth approved by him: no counterfeiting here can find place; no evasion can be devised from the force of this proof.
This way therefore of discourse our Lord and his Apostles (whose business it was by the most proper and effe ftual methods to subdue the reasons of men to the obedience of faith, and entertainment of Chriltian truth,) did especially ule; as generally in repect
to all things concerning our Lord, so particularly in s E R M. regard to his passion; declaring it to happen punctually according to what had been foreseen by God, and thence foreihewed by his Prophets, rightly understood ; He took the twelve, (iaith St. Luke of our Luke xviii. Lord) and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jeruja- 31, 32, 33. lem, and all things that are written by the Prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished; for he hall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and Spitefully entreated, and spitted on; and they shall scourge him, and put him to death And again, after his resurrection, he thus reproves his Disciples ; O fools, Luke xxix. and pow of heart to believe all that the Prophets have 25, 26. 46. Jpoken! Ought 10t Christ to have fufered these things, and to enter into his glory? They did not then (partly being blinded with prejudice, partly not having used due industry, and perhaps not excelling in natural capacity, however not yet being fufficiently enlightened by divine grace) apprehend, or discern, that, according to the prophetical instructions, our Lord was so to suffer ; but afterward, when he had opened their Luke xxiv. understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, 45. they did fee, and specially urge this point : then St. Peter declared, that the spirit of Christ, which was in 1 Pet. i, 11. ihe Prophets, did tiftify beforehond the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow' ; then it was their manner to reason (as is said of St. Paul) out of the Aets xvii. 2, Scriptures, opening, and alleging, that Christ must needs 3. have suffered; saying none other things, than those, which the Prophets and Moses did say should come, that Christi Cor. st. jould suffer ; delivering first of all, that Christ died for our fins, according to the Scriptures : this is that which in my text St. Peter doth infist upon, affirming about the passion of Christ, that it not only had been predicted by one, or more, but foreshewed by an universal consent of all the Prophets; to illustrate and confirm which affertion of his, is the scope of qur present discourse : to perform which, after hav
SER M.ing briefly touched the state of the matter in hand,
we shall apply ourselves.
That the Meffias was to come in an humble and homely manner; (without appearance of worldly splendor, or grandeur;) that he was to converte among men in a state of external poverty and meannels; that he was to cause offences, and find oppositions in his proceedings; that he was to be repulsed and rejected, to be hated and fcorned, to be disgracefully and harshly treated, to be grievously persecuted and afflicted; yea, that at last he was to be prosecuted, condemned, and executed as a malefactor, is a truth indeed, which the Jews (although they firmly believed and earnestly expected the coming of a Mefsias) did not, and indeed were hardly capable to entertain. It was a point repugnant to the whole frame of their conceits; yea, inconsistent with the nature and drift of their religion, as they did understand it; for their religion in its surface (deeper than which their grofs fancy could not penetrate) did represent earthly wealth, dignity, and prosperity, as things most highly valuable ; did propound them as very proper, if not as the sole rewards of piety and obedience ; did imply consequently the poffesfion of them to be certain arguments of the divine good-will and regard : they could not therefore but esteem poverty, affliction, and disgrace, as curses from heaven, and plain indications of God's disfavour toward those on whom they fell : they particularly are said to have conceited, that to be rich was a needful qualification for a Prophet; (no less needful, than to be of a good complexion, of a good capacity, of a good conversation and life:) Spiritus Dei non requiescit super pauperem, the Spirit of God doth not rest upon a poor man; (that is, no special communications of grace, or of wisdom and goodness, are by God ever afforded to persons of a low and afflicted condition ;) being a maxim, which they had framed, and which currently
paffed among them : that he therefore, who was de-S ER M. figned to be to notable a Prophet ; who was to have the honour of being so fpecial an instrument of promoting God's service and glory; who therefore should be so highly favoured by God, that he should appear despicable, and undergo great afflictions, was a notion that could not but seem very absurd ; that could not otherwise than be very abominable to them. They had farther (in congruity to these prejudices, abetted by that extreme felf-love and selfflattery, which were peculiar to that nation,) raised in themselves a strong opinion, that the Messias was to come in a great visible state and power ; to atchieve deeds of mighty prowess and renown; to bring the nations of the world into subjection under him ; and so to reign among them in huge majesty and prosperity. When Jesus therefore (however otherwife antwerable in his circumfiances, qualifications, and performances, to the prophetical characters of the Messias) did first appear such as he did, with Matt. xvi. some pretences, or intimations rather, that he was 20. the Messias, their stomach presently rose at it; they were exceedingly fcandalized at him ; they deemed him not only a madman (one poffefled or distracted) Matt. xiii. and an impofior, but a blasphemer ; for no less than 57. xxvi.
65. blasphemy they took it to be for so mean and pitiful a wretch (as to their eyes he seemed) to assume unto himself so high a dignity, and so near a relation unto God, as being the Meffias did import. We even see the Disciples themselves of our Lord so deeply imbued with this national prejudice, that, even after they had avowed him for the Christ, they could scarce with patience hear him foretelling what grievous things should befall him : St. Peter himself, upon that occasion, even just after he had seriously confeffed him to be the Christ, did, as it is expressed, Matt. xvi. take him, and began 10 rebuke him, saying, Be it far from John xvi. thee, Lord: yea, presently after that our Lord most 12. plainly had described his sufferings to them, they