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force the devils to come out of the bodies they tormented, lamenting their ejection. Now we cannot imagine they would so far discredit their doctrine and reputation, as to pretend to such a power without they had it. In short, to deny the miracles wrought by the primitive Christians, were as great rashness, as to deny that Cæsar conquered Pompey, or that Titus succeeded Vespasian ; for we have the concurrent testimony of the gravest and best men, of understanding and conscience, who were eye-witnesses ; and which was not contradicted by those of the same age. Briefly, there are such clear characters of the divine hand to render the gospel authentic, that to deny it to be true, is to make God a liar.
The conclusion is this we see how reasonable it is to give an entire assent to the truth of Christianity. The nature of the doctrine that is perfectly divine, declares its original. It is confirmed by supernatural testimonies. The doctrine distinguishes the miracles from false wonders, the illusions of Satan, and the miracles confirm the doctrine. What doubt can there be after the full deposition of the Spirit in raising Christ from the grave, in qualifying the apostles, who were rude and ignorant, with knowledge, zeal, courage, charity, and in all the graces requisite for their great enterprise, and in converting the world by their ministry and miracles ? If we believe not so clear a revelation, our infidelity is desperate. When our Saviour was upon the earth, the meanness and poverty of his appearance lessened their crime, who did not acknowledge and honour him in the disguise of a servant; therefore they were capable of favour. Many of his bloody persecutors were converted and saved by the preaching of the apostles. But since the Holy Ghost hath convinced the world, by so strong a light, of sin, righteousness, and judgment, viz. that Jesus, whom the Jews most unworthily crucified, was the Son of God; that in dying he purchased the pardon of sin ; since he is risen and received to glory, “that all power in heaven and earth is given to him," the effect of which is most visible, for spiritual wickedness trembled at his name, were expelled from their dominions, and sent to their old prison'to suffer the chains and flames due to them; to refuse his testimony, is a degree of obstinacy not far distant from the malice of the devils, and puts men without the reserves of pardoning mercy. And it is not a slight, superficial belief of this great
truth, that is sufficient, but that which is powerful in making us universally obedient to our glorified Redeemer, who will distribute crowns to all his faithful servants. We cannot truly believe his resurrection without believing his doctrine, nor believe his doctrine without unfeigned desires after the eternal felicity it promises, nor desire that felicity without a sincere compliance to his commands in order to the obtaining of it. In short, it is infidelity approaching madness, not to believe the truth of the gospel ; but it is madness of a higher kind and more prodigious, to pretend to believe it, and yet to live in disobedience to its precepts, in contempt of its promises and threatenings, as if it were a mere fable.
THE TRUTH OF GOD IN REDEMPTION.
The original law given to man in paradise had a severe penalty annexed, that upon the first breach of it he should die. The end of the threatening was to preserve in him a constant reverence of the command. Aster his disobedience, the honour of the divine truth was concerned as to the inflicting of the punishment; for although the supreme Lawgiver hath power over the law to relax the punishment as to particular persons, yet having declared that according to that rule he would proceed in judgment with man, the perfection of his truth required, that sin should be punished in such a manner, that his righteousness and holiness might eminently appear, and the reasonable creature for ever fear to offend him. Now the God of truth hath by the death of his only Son so completely answered the ends of the legal threatening, that the glory of that attribute is broke forth like the sun through all the clouds that seemed to obscure it. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other,” Psalm lxxxv. 10. Of this I have so largely treated before, that I shall add nothing more concerning it.
There is a secondary respect wherein the truth of God is concerned, as to the accomplishing of our redemption by Jesus Christ, which I will briefly explicate. God having decreed the sending of his Son in the quality of Mediator to purchase our salvation, was pleased by several promises to declare his merciful purpose, and by various types to show the design of that glorious work, before the exhibition of it. This was the effect of his supreme wisdom and goodness— to comply with the weakness of the church, when it was newly separated from the world; for, as a sudden strong light overpowers the eye that hath been long in the dark, so the full, bright revelation of the gospel had been above the capacity of the church, when it was first freed from a state of ignorance! Light mixed with shadows was proportionable to their sight. Therefore he was pleased by several representations and predictions to exercise the faith, entertain the hope, and excite the desires of his people before the accomplishment of our salvation by his Son-to render the belief of it easy and certain afterwards. Now for the honour of his truth, he was engaged to make good his word; for although pure love and mercy is the original of all God's promises to man, yet his truth and fidelity are the reasons of his fulfilling them. Not that God is under the obligation of a law, but his own righteous name is the inviolable rule of his actions. Accordingly the apostle lays it as the foundation of our hopes, that “God who cannot lie,” hath promised eternal life, Tit. i. 2. The divine decree alone concerning our salvation by Christ, is a sure foundation ; for God is as unchangeable in his will, as his nature; in him there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning," Jam. i. 17. But the promise determines the will of God to perform it upon another account; for it is not single inconstancy but falsehood, not to perform what is promised ; from both which he is infinitely distant. St. Paul alleges this for the reason why the covenant of grace is unchangeable and of everlasting efficacy, in that the counsel of God was by his promise and oath confirmed, “that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation,” Heb. vi. 18. For the promise gives a rightful claim to the creature, and the fulfilling of it is the justification of God's fidelity. In this sense it is said, " the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ;" that is, the grace of the gospel is the substantial and complete accomplishment of the types and promises under the law.
I. I will not enter into the discussion of all the prophecies concerning the Messiah in the old testament, to show how they are verified in Jesus Christ; but briefly consider some special predictions that concern the time of the Messiah's coming, his person, and offices.
1. The prophecy of dying Jacob; “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come,” Gen. xlix. 10. By the sceptre and lawgiver are meant divers forms of government, the first being the mark of regal power; the other title respects those whose power succeeded that of their kings, in the person of Zerubbabel and his successors. Jacob prophetically declares two things, their establishment in Judah, and their continuance till the coming of Shiloh. This oracle doth not precisely respect the person of Judah, for he never ascended the throne, nor possessed the empire over his brethren; nor foretold his posterity as a tribe distinguished from the rest, although it had special advantage from that time; for the banner of Judah led the camp in their march through the wilderness, Numb. ii. 3; that tribe had the first possession of the land of Canaan; these were the beginnings of its future glory. And from David to the captivity, that tribe possessed the kingdom ; but the glory of his sceptre was lost in the person of Zedekiah: therefore the full meaning of the prophecy regards the people of Israel in the relation they had to the tribe of Judah, for that tribe alone returned entire from the captivity with some relics of Levi and Benjamin; so that the nation from that time was distinguished by the title of the Jews in relation to it; and the right to dispose of the sceptre was always in the tribe of Judah, for the Levites that ruled after the captivity received their power from them. “Till Shiloh come,” that is, the Messiah, as the Chaldee paraphrase and the ancient Jewish interpreters expound; so that the intent of the oracle is, that after the establishment of the supreme power in the family of Judah, it should not pass into the hands of strangers, but as a certain presage and immediate forerunner of the coming of Shiloh. And this was fully accomplished ; for in the captivity there was an interruption, rather than an extinction of their government; their return was promised at the time they were carried captives to Babylon. But at the coming of Christ, Judea was a province of the Román empire; Herod an Edomite, sat on the throne; and as the tribe of Judah in
general, so the family of David in particular was in such a low state, that Joseph and Mary that were descended from him, were constrained to lodge in a stable at Bethlehem. And since the blessed Peace-maker hath appeared on the earth, the Jews have lost all authority: their civil and ecclesiastical state is utterly ruined, and they bear the visible marks of infamous servitude.
2. The second famous prediction is by an angel to Daniel, when he was lamenting the ruin of Jerusalem, who comforted him with an assurance that the city should be rebuilt; and farther told him, “that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and three-score and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall even in troublous times. And after three-score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the prince that shall come, shall destroy the city and sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and to the end of the war desolations are determined,” Dan. ix. 25. The clear intent of the angel's message is, that within the space of seventy prophetical weeks, (that is, four hundred and ninety years, according to the exposition of the rabbins themselves) after the issuing forth of the order for the rebuilding Jerusalem, the Messiah should come, and be put to death for the sins of men, which was exactly fulfilled.
3. The time of the manifestation of the messiah is evidently set down in Haggai, ii. 7–9; “I will shake all nations and the Desire of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former, saith the Lord of hosts; and in this place will I give peace.” The prophetto encourage the Jews in building the temple, assured them that it should have a surpassing glory by the presence of the Messiah, who is called the Desire of all nations; and being the Prince of peace, his coming is described by that blessed effect; And in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts."
The second temple was much inferior to Solomon's, as in magnificence and external ornaments, so especially because defective in those excellencies that were peculiar to the first. They were the ark of the covenant, and the appearance of glory between the cherubim; the fire from heaven to con