« PreviousContinue »
The state and condition also, in which the Messias was predicted to appear, shown to agree with that in which Jesus appeared.
The same observed concerning the qualities and endowments of the Messias's personal character, such as should dispose and fit him for his great task, &c. His supereminent piety and sanctity, with perfect innocence and integrity, implied in all descriptions of his person and performances; wherein an unspotted innocence, an excellent faculty of speaking and teaching, &c.; an invincible fortitude ; a most quiet and peaceable disposition ; an exceeding meekness and gentleness; a marvellous humility; an unparalleled patience ; an inconceivable charity ; in fine, all virtue and all goodness, suitable to his character, do shine with transcendent lustre. His performances are next to be considered. Conclusion.
and in Yesus Ehrist, &c.
THAT JESUS IS THE TRUE MESSIAS.
ACTS, CHAP. IX.-VERSE 22.
Proving that this is the very Christ.
As for the name of Messias, there is evident reason why it should not be openly expressed in the ancient predictions ; it being an easy thing for any persons, out of imposture or wantonness, to have assumed that name; and consequently it would not have suited so well the true person. It was therefore more expedient that his name should rather only be covertly signified or intimated; it was sufficient that a name should be imposed on him well agreeing to his office and chief performances. There be indeed several names attributed to the Messias; They shall call his name Immanuel,' said Isaiah ; * This is his name, whereby he shall be called,” • The Lord our Righteousness,' (Jehovah tsidkenu ;) and, His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,' said Isaiah again; but it is apparent that these were not intended to be so much his proper names, as attributes or epithets congruous unto him in regard to the eminency of his person and performances, .
The prophet Zechariah seemeth also (insisting in the footsteps of Isaiah and Jeremiah) to assign him the name Netser, (or the Branch ;) • Behold the man whose name is The Branch :' but this only denoted an appellation suiting him, as derived from the stock of David, and might beside mystically allude to some circumstance concerning him. It doth not therefore
appear that the one proper name, by which the Messias, as the Son of man, should be known and called, is directly forementioned; yet it is reasonable to suppose that God would have an especial care that he should have one befitting him. It was one of the seven things which the Talmudists say were constituted before the world : the law, repentance, paradise, hell, the throne of glory, the sanctuary, the name of the Messias ; according to that in the seventy-second Psalm, verse 17. Ante solem primum nomen ejus ; so it seems they read it: the LXX. have it, προ του ηλίου διαμενει το όνομα αυτού. .
It was anciently a method of Divine Providence to impose on persons (destinated by God to be especial subjects of his favor and eminent ministers of his glory) names answerable to the nature of their employment, or to the design which was by their means and ministry to be accomplished. Whereby as God's care and providence over human affairs was declared, so men on the mention of such names were admonished to consider the divine benefits, and the duties correspondent to them. The particular reason of imposing such names is sometime expressly set down; as in the cases of Seth, Abraham, Israel, Solomon; sometime it seems tacitly implied, the actions of the persons interpreting the reason
of their names, as in Melchizedek, Joshua, Malachi, and perhaps in many others. .
This method with great reason we may suppose that the same divine wisdom would use in assigning a name to that person, whom from the beginning of things he had promised, and before the foundation of the world had designed to sanctify and send into the world, for achieving the most high and excellent design that ever, for the glory of God and the good of his creation, was to be undertaken in this world. Most fit it would be that God himself should be his godfather; that he should have no ordinary, no casual, no insignificant name; but such an one, which being heard might instruct and admonish us, might raise in us a sense of God's infinite mercy and bounty toward us; might breed love in our hearts, and impress veneration on our minds toward him, who should bear that auspicious and comfortable name; that name, which, as the spouse of the mystical Solomon in her mystical song did sing, is as an ointment poured forth,' full of most wholesome and most pleasant fragrancy.
Now since of all the Messias's performances none was to be more signal than that of saving; to publish, to purchase, to effect salvation, were to be (according to what the prophets expressly and frequently say) his peculiar works; to be the Saviour of the world was (as we before touched, according to the common opinion of the Jews) a proper attribute of his.
Wherefore the name Jesus (which we are told in the gospel was by direction from God imparted by particular revelation, brought by an archangel from heaven, imposed on our Lord) did very well suit the Messias. No other name could be more sweet or acceptable; no other name could better become him, who was to redeem men from all their enemies, their slaveries, their errors, their sins, their miseries.
It was indeed a name not in its immediate application altogether new, for many others had borne it: Jesus, the son of Justus, we have mentioned in St. Paul; Jesus the son of Sirach, that excellent writer, we know; and divers others so named occur in Josephus : yet was it questionless by God's providence, or by Moses, by divine instinct, first produced with relation to the Messias; • Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua,' saith the text: being in a mysterious exchange from a former name assigned to the famous Jesus (as not only Bensirach, but the Apostle to the Hebrews write him) the son of Nun, who of all the ancient types did most exactly (in office and performance) represent and presignify the Messias ; being, as Bensirach speaks, 'great for the saving of God's elect;' whose actions are wonderfully congruous to those which we attribute to our Jesus. For, by the way, to show the resemblance, (omitting less and more nice congruities,) as Joshua did bring the good report, and evangelised concerning the promised land, (when other false or faint inquirers defamed it, and discouraged the people from entering ;) as he was educated under Mcses, and served him faithfully; as he succeeded in the administration and government of God's people, perfecting what Moses had begun of deliverance and settlement to them; as he brought the Israelites (not that old disbelieving, mutinous, and repining generation, but a new progeny of better disposed people) finally out of the wilderness into Canaan, by God's miraculous assistance, subduing their enemies, and establishing them in a quiet possession of the promised land, allotting unto each tribe its inheritance ; and as he did re-circumcise the children of Israel : so did our heavenly Jesus first make a true and faithful discovery concerning the mystical land of promise (that better country) flowing with spiritual milk and honey, (abundant with all spiritual comforts and pleasures, for the food, sustenance, and refreshment of our souls.) He was born under the law, and submitted to its injunctions, fulfilling all righteousness. He survived it, (the part of it which was purely Mosaical and arbitrary,) and did complete it. He doth conduct God's regenerate people (such as believe, and willingly follow him) out of the desert state of error, guilt, and sin, into the superior state of happy rest and joy, with miraculous power and efficacy; vanquishing all the spiritual Amorites, (the devil, world, and flesh,) which infest, obstruct, and oppose them; settling them in a perpetual, undisturbed, and immovable enjoyment of that blissful region; having also by a spiritual circumcision prepared and consecrated them to God. Our Saviour therefore, not only when he at last in fulness of truth did come into the world, but anciently in type and shadow, may be supposed to have received this name Jesus, conferred on him in the person of Joshua, his most illustrious representative. It certainly was most apposite to the Messias.
That Jesus (that Person, whose birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension hence, are related in the evangelical histories) is “the Christ,' is the principal article of pure faith; the most peculiar doctrine of our religion as such, and as distinct from all other religions : it indeed virtually comprehends all other doctrines of moment therein, regarding either faith or practice. For that our being persuaded that Jesus is the Christ,' implies that we apprehend ourselves obliged to embrace for truth whatever was taught by him and his Apostles,