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prophets writ, v. 25-29, i. è. the Messiah : and that, as a demonstration of his being so, God had raised him from the dead, v. 30. From whence he argues thus, v. 32, 33 : We evangelize to you, or bring you this Gospel, “how that the promise which was made to our fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us, in that he hath raised Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day I have begotten thee.” And having gone on to prove him to be the Messiah, by his resurrection from the dead, he makes this conclusion, v. 38, 39 : “ Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you forgiveness of sins; and by him all who believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." This is in this chapter called “the word of God," over and over again : compare v. 42 with 44, 46, 48, 49, and chap. xii. v. 24.
Acts xvii. 2-4. At Thessalonica, “ Paul, as his manner was, went into the synagogue, and three sabbath days reasoned with the Jews out of the Scriptures; opening and alleging, that the Messiah must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead : and that this Jesus, whom 1 preach unto you, is the Messiah. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas : but the Jews which believed not, set the city in an uproar.' Can there be any thing plainer, than that the assenting to this proposition, that Jesus was the Messiah, was that which distinguished the believers from the unbelievers? For this was that alone, which, three sabbaths, Paul endeavoured to convince them of, as the text tells us in direct words.
From thence he went to Bercea, and preached the same thing; and the Beræans are commended, v. 11, for searching the Scriptures, whether those things, i.e. which he had said, v. 2, 3, concerning Jesus's being the Messiah, were true or no.
The same doctrine we find him preaching at Corinth, Acts xviii. 4–6, “ And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in spirit, and testified to the Jews, that Jesus was the Messiah. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads, I am clean ; from henceforth I will go unto the Greeks.'
Upon the like occasion he tells the Jews at Antioch, Acts xiii. 46, “ It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing you put it off from you, we turn to the Gentiles." It is plain here, St. Paul's charging their blood on their own heads, is for opposing this single truth, that Jesus was the Messiah; that salvation or perdition depends upon believing or rejecting this one proposition. I mean, this is all that is required to be believed by those who acknowledge but one eternal and invisible God, the Maker of heaven and earth, as the Jews did. For that there is something more required to salvation, besides believing, we shall see hereafter. In the meantime, it is fit here on this occasion to take notice, that though the Apostles in their preaching to the Jews and the devout (as we translate the word obolevou, who were proselytes of the gate, and the worshippers of one eternal and invisible God) said nothing of the believing in this one true God, the Maker of heaven and earth; because it was needless to press this to those who believed and professed it already (for to such, it is plain, were most of their discourses hitherto). Yet when they had to do with idolatrous heathens, who were not yet come to the knowledge of the one only true God; they began with that, as necessary to be believed; it being the foundation on which the other was built, and without which it could signify nothing.
Thus Paul speaking to the idolatrous Lystrians, who would have sacrificed to him and Barnabas, says, Acts xiv. 15, “ We preach unto you, that ye
should turn from these vanities unto the living God, who made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
Thus also he proceeded with the idolatrous Athenians, Acts xvii. telling them, upon occasion of the altar dedicated to the unknown God, “whom you ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God who made the world, and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands. Forasmuch, then, as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art, or man's device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent; because he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained: whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” So that we see, where any thing more was necessary to be proposed to be believed, as there was to the heathen idolaters, there the Apostles were careful not to omit it.
Acts xviii. 4, “ Paul at Corinth reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath-day, and testified to the Jews, that Jesus was the Messiah." Ver. 11, “ And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God amongst them;" 1.e. the good news that Jesus was the Messiah, as we have already shown is meant by " the Word of God."
Apollos, another preacher of the Gospel, when he was instructed in the way of God more perfectly, what did he teach but this same doctrine ? As we may see in this account of him, Acts xviii. 27, that “when he was come into Achaia, he helped the brethren much, who had believed through grace. For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.'
St. Paul, in the account he gives of himself before Festusand Agrippa, professes this
alone to be the doctrine he taught after his conversion ; for, says he, Acts xxvi. 22, “ Having obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say
should come: that the Messiah should suffer,
and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” Which was no more than to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. This is that which, as we have above observed, is called the Word of God; Acts xi. 1, com
! pared with the foregoing chapter, from v. 34 to the end. And xiii. 42, compared with 44, 46, 48, 49, and xvii. 13, compared with v. 11, 13. It is also called “ the Word of the Gospel,” Acts xv. 7. And this is that Word of God, and that Gospel, which, wherever their discourses are set down, we find the Apostles preached; and was that faith which made both Jews and Gentiles believers and members of the church of Christ; purifying their hearts, Acts xv. 9, and carrying with it remission of sins, Acts x. 43. So that all that was to be believed for justification, was no more but this single proposition, that “ Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, or the Mes. siah.” All, I say, that was to be believed for justification: for that it was not all that was required to be done for justification, we shall see hereafter.
Though we have seen above, from what our Saviour has pronounced himself, John iii. 36, “ that he that
, believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life; and he that
2 believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him ;” and are taught from John iy. 39, compared with v. 42, that believing on him, is believing that he is the Messiah, the Saviour of the world; and the confession made by St. Peter, Matt. xvi. 16, that he is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” being the rock on which our Saviour has promised to build his church ; though this, I say, and what else we have already taken notice of, be enough to convince us what it is we are in the Gospel required to believe to eternal life, without adding what we have observed from the preaching of the Apostles; yet it may not be amiss, for the farther clearing this matter, to observe what the Evangelists deliver concerning the same thing, though in different words; which, there. fore, perhaps, are not so generally taken notice of to
We have above observed, from the words of Andrew and Philip compared, that “the Messiah, and him of
whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write,” signify the same thing. We shall now consider that place, John i. a little farther. Ver. 41, Andrew says to
, Simon, “We have found the Messiah.” Philip, on the same occasion, v. 45, says to Nathanael, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael, who disbelieved this, when, upon Christ's speaking to him, he was convinced of it, declares his assent to it in these words: “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the king of Israel.” From which it is evident, that to believe him to be “Him of whom Moses and the prophets did write,” or to be the “Son of God,” or to be “the king of Israel,” was in effect the same as to believe him to be the Messiah: and an assent to that was what our Saviour received for believing. For, upon Nathanael's making a confession in these words, « Thou art the Son of God, thou art the king of Israel; Jesus answered and said to him, Because I said to thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, dost thou believe? Thou shalt see greater things than these,” ver. 51. I desire any one to read the latter part of the first of John, from ver. 25, with attention, and tell me, whether it be not plain, that this phrase, The
Son of God, is an expression used for the Messiah. To which let him add Martha's declaration of her faith, John xi. 27, in these words : “I believe that thou art the Messiah, THE SON OF God, who should come into the world;" and that passage of St. John xx. 31, “ That ye might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life, through his name:" and then tell me, whether he can doubt that Messiah, the Son of God, were synonymous terms at that time amongst the Jews.
The prophecy of Daniel, chap. ix. when he is called “Messiah the Prince;' and the mention of his government and kingdom, and the deliverance by him, in Isaiah, Daniel, and other prophecies, understood of the Messiah, were so well known to the Jews, and had so raised their hopes of him about this time, which, by their account, was to be the time of his coming, to