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of things that there should be any other way of religion (different substantially from it) so very good. God himself, we may presume to say, cannot infuse truer notions concerning himself or concerning us, cannot reveal more noble or more useful truths ; cammot prescribe better laws or rules, cannot afford more proper means and aids, cannot propound more equal and reasonable terms, cannot offer higher encouragements and rewards, cannot discover his mind in a more excellent way than he hath done by Jesus, for his own glory and service, for our benefit and happiness : so that hence we may reasonably infer that the doctrine taught, the law promulgated, the religion instituted by Jesus in God's name, are the very same which the predictions concerning the Messias do refer unto, as the last which should ever come from God, most full and perfect, universally and perpetually obliging.
2. Thus in general the prophets spake concerning the Messias's doctrine, and so that of Jesus correspondeth thereto : but of that doctrine particularly it was signified that it should be very comfortable, joyful, and acceptable to mankind; as containing a declaration (peculiar thereto) of God's kind and gracious intentions toward us, overtures of especial mercy and love, dispensations of all sorts of spiritual blessings; the pardon and abolition of sins committed, peace and satisfaction of conscience, deliverance from spiritual slaveries and captivities;
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, o daughter of Jerusalem : behold, thy King cometh unto thee :' so Zechariah speaketh of his coming, and implieth the joyful purport of his message: and, How beautiful,' saith Isaiah, “on the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!' and, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance,' or of recompense, as the LXX. render it, of our God; to comfort all that mourn ; to give unto them that mourn n Zion beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the gar
ment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.' It is a part of what God in Jeremiah promised to dispense by him ; I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.' It is one of the Messias's performances, “to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity;' to sprinkle clean water' on God's people, and “to save them from their uncleannesses.' In fine, the prophet Zechariah saith of his time, that in that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.'
Now to all this the preaching of Jesus did exactly correspond; it being indeed, as it was named, a gospel, or message of good and joy ; declaring the special good-will of God, and his merciful willingness to be reconciled to mankind; offering peace and pardon to all that are sensible of their guilt, and penitent for their sin; imparting rest, comfort, and liberty to all that are weary and afflicted with spiritual burdens, grievances, and slaveries ; taking off all grievous yokes of superstition, servility, and sin ; and in their stead imposing a no less sweet and pleasant, than just and reasonable obedience ; mi. nistering all sorts of blessings needful for our succor, relief, ease, content, and welfare; wholly breathing sweetest love, (all kinds of love; love between God and man, between man and man, between man and his own conscience ;) filling the hearts of those who sincerely embrace and comply with it, with present joy, and raising in them gladsome hopes of future bliss. It was indeed the most joyous sound that ever entered into man's ears, the most welcome news that ever was reported on earth ; news of a certain and perfect salvation from all the enemies of our welfare, from all the causes of mischief and misery to us; well therefore deserving that auspicious gratulation from the angel — Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.'
3. Collateral unto, or coincident with, those performances, (the teaching such a doctrine, publishing such a law, dispensing such blessings,) was the formal institution and establishment of a new, everlasting covenant, (different from all precedent covenants, and swallowing them up in its perfection,) a covenant between God and man, wherein God, entering into a most strict alliance and relation with us, should be pleased to dispense the blessings of spiritual illumination and assistance, of mercy and favor, of salvation and felicity; wherein we in way of condition, according to obligations of justice and gratitude, should engage to return unto God by hearty repentance, and to persist in faithful obedience to him: of such a covenant the Messias was to be the messenger and mediator, or the angel thereof, (as the prophet Malachi speaketh, alluding, it seems, to that angel of God's presence, who ordained the Jewish law, and conducted the Israelites toward the promised land ;) of which covenant and its mediator, God in Isaiah thus spake : • I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and I will hold thine hand, and I will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house :' and of the same he again ; · Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David-Behold, I have given him a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people: so in general he speaketh thereof, and inviteth thereto: then a special part thereof he expresseth thus; • Let the wicked man forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon.' Of the same covenant God in Ezekiel speaketh thus ; • I will set up one shepherd over them'- and I will make with them a covenant of peace, and it shall be an everlasting corenant with them'—'and I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore'— they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.' Of the same, God thus declareth in Jeremiah, most fully and plainly reckoning the particular blessings tendered therein : · Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah ; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt-but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law into their
inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: and they shall teach no more every man his brother, saying. Know the Lord : for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more :' which words signify the tenor of that covenant on God's part to import that God would impart å full and clear discovery of his will unto them, whom it should concern; that he would afford to them all requisite means and helps, qualifying them for the performance of their duty; that he would bestow on them (complying with the terms of this covenant, and performing their duty) an intire remission of all their sins, with an assurance of his constant and perpetual favor.
Now that Jesus did institute such a covenant, wherein all the benefits promised on God's part, and all the duties required on our parts, do punctually correspond to the terms of that predesigned by the prophets, is apparent by the whole tenor of the Christian gospel; wherein a full declaration of God's will is held forth, so that no man (except out of wilfulness or negligence) can be ignorant thereof; wherein, on condition of faith and repentance, God's mercy and pardon are exhibited and offered to all; wherein the communication of God's holy Spirit of grace (for directing and assisting the embraces of this covenant in the practice of their duty) is promised and dispensed ; wherein on our part faith in God (or heartily returning to him) and faithful observance of God's laws are required; wherein God declareth a most favorable regard and love (together with very near and endearing relations) to those who undertake and conform to his terms; of which new covenant Jesus is represented the Angel, the Mediator, the Sponsor; having by his preaching declared it, by his merits and intercessions purchased and procured it, by his blood ratified and assured it to us.
4. In coincidence also with those performances, it is declared that the Messias should erect a kingdom spiritual in nature, universal in extent, and perpetual in duration ; by the power and virtue whereof the enemies of God's people should be curbed and quelled; the subjects of which should live together in amity and peace, in safety and prosperity ; wherein truth and righteousness should gloriously flourish. The chief testimonies of ancient Scripture predicting this kingdom I had occasion before to mention, and shall not repeat them now; only concerning the nature and extent thereof I shall add somewhat, serving for illustration and proof of our main purpose.
That it was to be a spiritual kingdom (not a visible dominion over the bodies and estates of men, managed by external force and co-action, but a government of men's hearts and consciences by secret inspirations, and moral instructions or persuasions) may be several ways collected and argued : it appeareth from the temper and disposition of its Founder, who was to be "a Prince of Peace;' of a peaceable, meek, patient, and humble disposition: it may be inferred from his condition, which was not to be a state of external grandeur and magnificence, but of poverty and affliction ; for he was to be as he is described, mean and despicable in appearance ; haviugno form or comeliness, no beauty, that when we should see him, we should desire him ;' being a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief:' it also followeth from the events happening to him, which were not to conquer and triumph openly in view of carnal eyes; but to be despised and rejected, to be afflicted, oppressed, and slaughtered by men; the same we may learn from the manner of its establishment and propagation; which was not to be effected by force and violence, but by virtue of a quiet and gentle instruction ; by reasonable words, not by hard blows: so doth the prophet signify, when he saith of the Messias, that, with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth ; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips be shall slay the wicked :' not by force of hands, or terror of arms, not in furious and bloody combats, but by the spiritual" rod of his mouth,' with the soft breath of his lips he was to slay the wicked, converting them unto righteousness : so doth Daniel also imply when he saith, that' a stone cut out of the mountains without hands should break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms.' Yea the nature thereof itself doth argue the same; for the laws enjoined and duties required, the blessings ministered and rewards propounded therein are purely spiritual, not relating to a temporal state, yea hardly consisting