صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

all nations. We may observe, that the preaching of the apostles everywhere in the Acts, tended to this one point, to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. Indeed, now, after his death, his resurrection was also commonly required to be believed, as a necessary article, and sometimes solely insisted on : it being a mark and undoubted evidence of his being the Messiah, and necessary now to be believed by those who would receive him as the Messiah. For since the Messiah was to be a Saviour and a king, and to give life and a kingdom to those who received him, as we shall see by and by ; there could have been no pretence to have given him out for the Messiah, and to require men to believe him to be so, who thought him under the power of death, and corruption of the grave. And therefore those who believed him to be the Messiah, must believe that he was risen from the dead : and those who believed him to be risen from the dead, could not doubt of his being the Messiah. But of this more in another place.

Let us see therefore, how the apostles preached Christ, and what they proposed to their hearers to believe. St. Peter at Jerusalem, Acts ii. by his first sermon, converted three thousand souls. What was his word, which, as we are told, ver. 41, “ they gladly received, and thereupon were baptized ?” That may be seen from ver. 22 to 36. In short, this; which is the conclusion, drawn from all that he had said, and which he presses on them, as the thing they were to believe, viz. “ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, Lord and Messiah,” ver. 36.

" . To the same purpose was his discourse to the Jews, in the temple, Acts iii. the design whereof you have, ver. 18. “But those things that God before had showed, by the mouth of all his prophets, that the Messiah should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.”

In the next chapter, Acts iv. Peter and John being examined, about the miracle on the lame man, profess it to have been done in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, who was the Messiah, in whom alone there was salvation, ver. 10–12. The same thing they confirm to

them again, Acts v. 29–32. “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus the Messiah,” ver. 42.

What was Stephen's speech to the council, Acts vii. but a reprehension to them, that they were the betrayers and murderers of the Just One? Which is the title by which he plainly designs the Messiah, whose coming was foreshown by the prophets, ver. 51, 52.And that the Messiah was to be without sin, (which is the import of the word Just) was the opinion of the Jews, appears from John ix. ver. 22, compared with 24.

Acts viii. Philip carries the Gospel to Samaria: “ Then Philip went down to Samaria, and preached to them.” What was it he preached? You have an account of it in this one word, “the Messiah,” ver. 5. This being that alone which was required of them, to believe that Jesus was the Messiah : which when they believed, they were baptized. “And when they believed Philip's preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus the Messiah, they were baptized, both men and women,” ver. 12.

Philip being sent from thence, by a special call of the Spirit, to make an eminent convert; out of Isaiah preaches to him Jesus, ver. 35. And what it was he preached concerning Jesus, we may know by the profession of faith the eunuch made, upon which he was admitted to baptism, ver. 37. “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God :" which is as much as to say, I believe that he, whom you call Jesus Christ, is really and truly the Messiah, that was promised. For, that believing him to be the Son of God, and to be the Messiah, was the same thing, may appear, by comparing John i. 45, with ver. 49, where Nathanael owns Jesus to be the Messiah, in these terms: “Thou art the Son of God; thou art the king of Israel.”

So the Jews, Luke xxii. 70, asking Christ, whether he were the Son of God, plainly demanded of him, whether he were the Messiah? Which is evident, by comparing that with the three preceding verses. They ask him, , ver. 67, Whether he were the Messiah? He answers, "If I tell you, you will not believe:" but withal tells

them, that from thenceforth he should be in possession of the kingdom of the Messiah, expressed in these words, ver. 69: “Hereafter shall the Son of Man sit on the right hand of the power of God:” which made them all cry out, “ Art thou then the Son of God ?”' i.e.

? Dost thou then own thyself to be the Messiah? To which he replies, “Ye say that I am.” That the Son of God was the known title of the Messiah at that time, amongst the Jews, we may see also, from what the Jews say to Pilate, John xix. 7, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God;" i. e. by making himself the Messiah, the prophet which was to come, but falsely ; and therefore he deserves to die by the law, Deut. xviii. 20. That this was the common signification of the Son of God, is farther evident, from what the chief priests, mocking him, said when he was on the cross, Matt. xxvii. 42, “He saved others, himself he cannot save: if he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God, let him deliver him now, if he will have him ; for he said, I am the Son of God;" i. e. He said, he was the Messiah : but it is plainly false ; for, if he were, God would deliver him: for the Messiah is to be king of Israel, the Saviour of others ; but this man cannot save himself. The chief priests mention here the two titles, then in use, whereby the Jews commonly designed the Messiah, viz. “Son of God, and king of Israel.” That of Son of God was so familiar a compellation of the Messiah, who was then so much expected and talked of, that the Romans it seems who lived amongst them, had learned it, as appears from ver. 54. “Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, truly this was the Son of God;" this was that extraordinary person that was looked for.

Acts ix. St. Paul, exercising the commission to preach the Gospel, which he had received in a miraculous way, v. 20, “Straightway preached Christ in the synagogues,

[ocr errors]

that he is the Son of God;" i. e. that Jesus was the Messiah : for Christ, in this place, is evidently a proper name. And that this was it, which Paul preached, appears from ver. 22, “Saul' increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews, who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this is the very Christ," i. e. the Messiah.

Peter, when he came to Cornelius at Cæsarea, who, by a vision, was ordered to send for him, as St. Peter on the other side was by a vision commanded to go to him; what does he teach him? His whole discourse, Acts x. tends to show what he says God commanded

x. the Apostles, “To preach unto the people, and to testify, that it is he [Jesus] which was ordained of God to be the judge of the quick and the dead. And that it was to him, that all the prophets give witness, that, through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall have remission of sins,” ver. 42, 43. “ This is the word which God sent to the children of Israel ; that WORD, which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached, ver. 36, 37. And these are the words, which had been promised to Cornelius, Acts xi. 14, “ Whereby he and all his house should be saved :” which words amount only to thus much: that Jesus was the Messiah, the Saviour that was promised. Upon their receiving of this, (for this was all that was taught them) the Holy Ghost fell on them, and they were baptized. It is observable here, that the Holy Ghost fell on them before they were baptized, which, in other places, converts received not till after baptism. The reason whereof seems to be this, that God, by bestowing on them the Holy Ghost, did thus declare from heaven, that the Gentiles, upon believing Jesus to be the Messiah, ought to be admitted into the church by baptism, as well as the Jews. Whoever reads St. Peter's defence, Acts xi. when he was accused by those of the circumcision, that he had not kept that distance which he ought with the uncircumcised, will be of this opinion; and see by what he says, ver. 15, 16, 17, that this was the ground, and an irresistible authority to him for doing so strange a thing, as it appeared to the Jews, (who alone yet were members of the Christian church) to admit Gentiles into their communion, upon their believing. And therefore St. Peter, in the foregoing chapter, Acts x. before he would baptize them, proposes this question, “ to those of the circumcision, which came with him, and were astonished, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost: can any one forbid water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" ver. 47. And when some of the sect of the Pharisees, who believed, thought it needful that the converted Gentiles should be circumcised and keep the law of Moses, Acts xv. “ Peter rose up and said unto them, Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God made choice amongst us, that the Gentiles," viz. Cornelius, and those here converted with him, “by my mouth should hear the Gospel, and believe. And God, who knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us, and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith,” v. 7–9. So that both Jews and Gentiles, who believed Jesus to be the Messiah, received thereupon the seal of baptism; whereby they were owned to be his, and distinguished from unbelievers. From what is above said, we may observe, that this preaching Jesus to be the Messiah is called the Word, and the Word of God; and believing

; it, receiving the Word of God, vid. Acts x. 36, 37, and xi. 1, 19, 20, and the word of the Gospel, Acts xv. 7. And so likewise in the history of the Gospel, what Mark, chap. iv. 14, 15, calls simply the word, St. Luke calls the Word of God, Luke viii. 11. And St. Matthew, chap. xiii. 19, the word of the kingdom; which were, it seems, in the Gospel-writers, synonymous terms, and are so to be understood by us.

But to go on : Acts xiii. Paul preaches in the synagogue at Antioch, where he makes it his business to convince the Jews, that “God, according to his promise, had of the seed of David raised to Israel a Saviour Jesus.” v. 24. That he was He of whom the


« السابقةمتابعة »