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And in handling this I shall in the first place inquire what were the Çauses and Reasons of this prodigious Ignorance of the Apostles, after so long and so excellent Instruction.
Secondly, I shall prove that the permission of this Ignorance till the sending of the Holy Ghost, was not in the least repugnant to the divine Wisdom, or the Design of the Gospel.
Thirdly, I shall draw some few Conclusions from both.
First then, the Causes and Reasons of this so long continued Ignorance of the Apostles.
Of these I take the chief and most fundamental one to have been their Ignorance of the true Sense of Scripture.
For the better explaining of this Cause, I will premise some few Observations.
As 1. The Conformity of the Life and Actions of Christ, to the Prophecies of the Old Testament, was to the Jews the best and principal Argument of the Divinity of Christ, of his divine Mission, and the Truth of his Revelations.
Miracles indeed might create a great probability of the Truth of these Articles. But such a conformity alone could demonstrate it, since Miracles were common to inferiour Prophets, and sometimes even to false Prophets. But an intire Agreement of the precedent Prophecies was appropriated to the sole Person of the true Mellias. This appears from the Nature of the Old
, , ken in all its Parts, is chiefly designed to point out the future Messias, by certain plain Notes and Indications, whereby he might easily be discover'd to the Jews.
The Historical Books are imployed in De. fcribing his Genealogy. The Psalms and Prophets in foretelling the Time of his coming, the Manner of his Life, his Passion, Resurrection and Doctrine.
Now it would be highly injurious to the Wisdom of God, that he should profelfedly cause so many Books to be written, chiefly to design the Messias; and yet design him by such Characters, as should not be proper to him alone, but might be common to other Persons. So that the a. greement of those Prophecies to the Person of Jesus, Christ, was to the Jews a most demonstrate Proof that he was the true Messias.
Miracles indeed were in their respect also necessary to him. But that chiefly, because it was before prophecied of the Messias, that great and wonderful Miracles should be wrought by him. And some such extraordinary Actions were required to excite the Jews to a serious Consideration of the Quality and Character of the Person who wrought them.
If tlie Actions of Christ had been deficient in any one Point of Conformity to the precedent Prophecies, it had been irrational as well as unlawful for the Jews to have admitted his Revelations, altho' confirmed by the
greatest Miracles imaginable; since they muit have owned thereby the fallity of those Prophecies, of the Truth of which they were abundantly convinced, as being confirm’d to them by an equal Authority of Miracles.
But not only doth the Reason and Nature of Things demonstrate this Truth; the Practice and Example of Christ and his Apostles evidently manifest it.
The first, while yet on Earth, constantly asserted his divine Mission and Quality of Messias from the Scriptures of the Old Testament, which had testified of him. And his Disciples after his Death carried on the same Argument.
He perform'd indeed greater Miracles than any ever had done before him. But in disputing with the Jews he commonly waved that Argument, and appealed to the Scripture; as well knowing, That if they would not hear Mofes and the Prophets, neither would they be perswaded though one rose from the Dead. By which Words he plainly insinuates, that the greatest of his Miracles, his Resurrection, was a less valid Proof, and inferiour to the Testimony of Moses and the Prophets.
This he often thought alone sufficient to propose, as a necessary Motive of Belief to the the Jews. And such a Motive as could not be rejected, without disowning, and destroying thie Authority of the Old Testament.
For thus he disputes in the vth of St. John, Verses 39, 46, 47. Search the Scriptures, for in
them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which Testifie of me. For had ye believed Mofes, ye would have believed me: For he wrote of me. But if ye believed not his writings, hom shall believe
words. No other Method did he make use of to convince his Disciples walking to Emmaus, that all those Calamities, which had befallen his Person, ought necessarily to be inflicted on thie Messias.
All thofe glorious Miracles, of which themfelves had been Witnesses, proved unsucessful; and could not secure their Faith from a shameful fluctuation. Until Christ, beginning at Mofes and all the Prophets, expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself, and opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scripture, that it was thus written, and that it thus behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the Dead the Third Day.
If the constant Companions of our Saviour's Life, could be drawn to the true Knowledge of him, by no other Argument, than a full and plain Interpretation of the Prophecies of the Old Testament; in vain do we hope that any other Arguments could convince the remaining Jews, who were less acquainted with the Holiness of his Life, and greatness of his Miracles.
In the next Place, we may observe that the Apostles were chosen by Christ, and used as the inseparable Companions of his Life. Not so much to be instructed in the Mysteries of
the Christian Faith; or trained up in the necessary Qualification of Preachers, who might propagate the Gospel after the Departure of their Master; as to be Witnesses and Spectators of his Actions and Conversation; which they might afterwards testifie to the World, and thereby convince Mankind, that they were intirely conformable to the Antient Pres dictions of the Prophets.
That the former could not be the End or Intention of their accompanying Christ through the whole Discharge of his Prophetick Office, appears plainly from their Ignorance, both of the Mysteries of Religion, and their own Duty at the Time of our Saviour's Crucifixion
Yet can we not suppose, but that Christ obtain'd his chief Aim, which he proposed to himself, in selecting certain Persons for the Companions of his Life.
This End therefore could indeed be no Other, than that which I have already assigned, of witnessing and publishing to the World the Actions of Christ, whose reasonableness and agreement to the Predictions of the Mosaick Law, was to be judged and determined by every private Man.
For we no where find, that the Apostles, from the Authority of their Miracles, which where not inferiour to those of Christ himself, pretended to set up themselves for infallible Judges, or exercise an arbitrary Command over the Judgments of other Men.