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THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST FORETOLD IN
THE OLD TESTAMENT:
Acts üi. 18.
But those things, which God before had shewed by the
mouth of all his Prophets, that Christ should suffer, he
hath so fulfilled. Many good arguments there are different in kind, which SERM. conspire to persuade the truth of our religion; such as are LXXVI. the intrinsic reasonableness, excellency, and perfection of its doctrine; the miraculous works performed in attestation thereto; the special favour of Providence declared in the support and propagation thereof : but upon no other ground do the Scriptures so much build its truth, and our obligation to embrace it, as upon the exact correspondence and conformity thereof to all the ancient Scriptures, which did foreshew or foretell its revelation and introduction into the world; to those especially which described the personal characters, circumstances, and performances of our Lord : to this our Lord, in his discourses and disputes with incredulous people, referred them ; Search the Scriptures, said he, because in them ye expect John v. 39. to have eternal life; (that is, to find the true way of saving truth leading thereto;) and those are they which testify of me : by this he instructed and convinced his Disciples; be- Luke xxiv. ginning from Moses and
from all the Prophets, he expound- 37. i 70. ed unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning him
15. . 14. John i. 45.
SERM. self: and, These (said he to them presently before his deLXXVI.
parture) are the words which I spake unto you, while I was Luke xxiv. yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were
written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me: this the Apostles, in all their
preaching, (whereby they taught, proved, and persuaded Acta iü. 22. the Christian doctrine,) did chiefly insist upon; Moses, saith
St. Peter, truly said unto the Fathers, yea, and all the Pro
phets from Samuel, and those that follow after, as many as Acts x. 43. have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days ; and, To aiii . 27; xv. him, saith he again, give all the Prophets witness, that
through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive Acts xviii. remission of sins. And of St. Paul it is said, that he 28. xxviii, mightily convinced the Jews—shewing by the Scriptures,
that Jesus was the Christ; and-he expounded, and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the Law of Moses, and out of the Prophets: thus the chief Apostles and founders of our religion in their public discourses; and in their Epistles they observe the same method ; as particularly asserting Christian doctrines and duties by the testimonies of Prophetical Scriptures, so
generally affirming our religion to be chiefly grounded on 1 Pet. i. 10. them; of which salvation (saith St. Peter, concerning the
salvation exhibited by the Gospel) the Prophels did inquire, and search diligently, who prophesied of the grace to come unto you; and (in regard to the conviction of others) he seems to prefer the attestation of this kind before the special revelation immediately made to the Apostles ; for having
spoken of it, he subjoins, και έχομεν βεβαιότερον τον προφητικόν 2 Pet. i. 19. nóyov We have also a more sure word of prophecy; where
unto ye do well, that ye do take heed, as unto a light that
shineth in a dark place, until the day dawon, and the dayRom. xvi. star arise in your hearts. And St. Paul saith, that the mys25, 26. i. 2.
tery, which was kept secret since the world began, was then
mude manifest, and by the prophetical Scriptures, according 2 Tim. iii. to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to
all nations, to the obedience of faith ; and, The holy Writings, he telleth Timothy, were able to make him wise to the salvation, which is, by the faith of Jesus Christ ; that
is, they were able to shew and persuade to him the truth SERM. of Christianity, which promiseth salvation to all that hearti-LXXVI. ly embrace it and observe its laws.
Such a stress was laid upon this probation by the founders of our religion ; and no wonder ; for that it is not only extremely forcible in itself, but hath some particular uses, and some peculiar advantages beyond others. The foreknowledge of future contingent events, (such as were many of those concerning our Saviour, depending upon the freest acts of human will,) as it is for the manner of attaining it most incomprehensible to us, so it is most proper to God, and by all men so acknowledged; future contingencies being secrets which no man, no angel, no creature can dive into, they being not discernible in their causes, which are indeterminate; nor in themselves, who are finite. The prediction therefore of such events could not otherwise than proceed from his pleasure; neither could he yield it in way of favour and approbation to that which was not perfectly true and good : this way therefore doth absolutely confirm the truth and goodness of Christian doctrine; it withal manifests the great worth and weight thereof, as implying the particular regard and care God had of it, designing it so anciently, laying trains of providence toward it, and preparing such evidences for the confirmation thereof; it together into the bargain maintaineth the truth of the Jewish dispensation, the sincerity of the ancient Patriarchs and Prophets, and the vigilant care the divine goodness hath always had over the state of religion, and toward the welfare of mankind; never leaving it destitute of some immediate revelations from himself. It had a peculiar aptitude to convert the Jews, who were possessed with a full persuasion concerning the veracity and sanctity of their ancient Prophets ; and could not therefore doubt concerning the truth of that, which appeared conforniable to that which they had foretold should be declared and dispensed for their benefit This probation also hath this advantage, that it singly taken doth suffice to convince; whereas others can hardly do it otherwise than in conjunction with one another, and
SERM. especially with its aid : for the goodness of the doctrine LXXVI. may be contested in some points ; and however good it
seem, it may be imputed to human invention : strange effects may be deemed producible by other causes beside divine power ; and they may be suffered to be done for other ends than for confirmation of truth; they are also commonly transient, and thence most liable to doubt. Providence also is in many cases so mysterious and unsearchable, that the incredulous will never allow any inferences to be drawn from it: but the plain correspondence of events to the standing records of ancient prophecies (obvious and conspicuous to every one that will consult and compare them) concerning a person to be sent by God, who should have such circumstances, and be so qualified, who should in God's name preach such doctrines and perform such works, is a proof, which alone may assure any man, that such a person
doth come from God, and is in what he declareth or doeth approved by him: no counterfeiting can here find place; no evasion can be devised from the force of this proof.
This way therefore of discourse our Lord and his Apostles (whose business it was by the most proper and effectual methods to subdue the reasons of men to the obedience of faith and entertainment of Christian truth) did especially use; as generally in respect to all things concerning our Lord, so particularly in regard to his passion ; declaring it to happen punctually according to what had
been foreseen by God, and thence foreshewed by his ProLuke xviii. phets, rightly understood : He took the twelve, saith St. 31, 32, 33. Luke of our Lord, and said unto them, Behold, we go up
to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the Prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished : for he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shalt be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on; and they shall
scourge him, and put him to death. And again, after his Luke xxiv. resurrection, he thus reproves his Disciples; O fools, and 25, 26, 46. slow of heart to believe all that the Prophets have spoken :
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? They did not then (partly being blinded
2, 3. xxvi.
with prejudice, partly not having used due industry, and SERM.
That the Messias was to come in an humble and homely manner; (without appearance of worldly splendor or grandeur ;) that he was to converse among men in a state of external poverty and meanness; that he was to cause offences, and find oppositions in his proceedings; that he was to be repulsed and rejected, to be hated and scorned, to be disgracefully and harshly treated, to be grievously persecuted and afflicted; yea, that at last he was to be prosecuted, condemned, and executed as a malefactor, is a truth indeed, which the Jews (although they firmly believed and earnestly expected the coming of a Messias) did not, and indeed were hardly capable to entertain. It was a point repugnant to the whole frame of their conceits; yea, inconsistent with the nature and drift of their religion, as they did understand it; for their religion in its surface (deeper than which their gross fancy could not