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And here two things present themselves to our consideration : first, the perfon; who he was, what his authority ? Secondly, his message, his doctrine, what he taught? Which, though ever so reasonable in itself, depended very much, in its entertainment among the people, upon the truth of his mission and authority, that he was no impostor, but came from God, and was the promised Messiah. This was done two ways; by revelation and by miracles. By revelation, to such as were well prepared and inclined; as honest Peter, the woman of Samaria, and those that were moved to believe him from the authority in which he spake, so unlike that of the formal scribes. By miracles, to those that, being blinded by ignorance or prejudice, needed to have their senses struck with such supernatural evidences; from many of whom this witness came, « that he was the Mefiah, the Christ and Son of « God.”
In fine, all was done, within the compass of that people among whom he daily conversed, that was needful to prove he was from God, and had God's message to declare to the world. Insomuch that when some of his disciples were not so firm in their belief of his authority, as he deserved at their hands, he calls his own works to prove his commission, and convict them of incredulity: “ If ye will not believe " that the Father is in me, that he doth these works “ by me, believe me for the very works sake.”k Thus he argued with the Jews : “ Say ye of him the Father “ hath fanctified and sent into the world, thou blas• phemeft; because I said, I am the Son of God?” ~ If I do not the works of my Father, believe me « not :” this is reasonable ; he that shall judge the world, offers to be tried himself: he goes on : “ But if “ I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works, " that ye may know and believe that the Father is in “ me.”? And he laid the sin of the Jews upon this foot, viz. That they rejected him, after he had made
proof of his divine mission by such extraordinary works, as no man among them all could do: which, to give them their due, they do not deny, but shamefully pervert, and foolishly abuse, by attributing them to the power of the devil. To which malice and flander he returned this inconfutable answer ; " A kingdom di« vided against itself cannot stand.”—What! Cast out devils by the prince of devils ? It is a contradiction, and very madness itself.
I have nothing to do now with Atheists, or those that call themselves Theists, but such as own themselves Christians; and shall therefore keep to my task, namely; " What of the Christian dispensation is so peculiar
and important, as to challenge of right the name of o creed or faith. I say then; "That the belief of Jesus < of Nazareth to be the Promised Messiah, the son and
Christ of God, come and sent from God to restore cand save mankind,' is the first, and was then the only requisite, article of faith, without any large confessions, or an heap of principles or opinions, resolved upon after curious and tedious debates by councils and fynods: and this may be proved both by example and doctrine.
It is evident from example, as in the case of Peter ; who for having believed in his heart, and confessed with his mouth, " That Jesus was the Christ and Son 6c of God,” obtained that signal blessing." This made Nathaniel a disciple; “ Rabbi,” said he, “ Thou art « the Son of God, thou art the king of Israel.” It was the like confesion, that made amends for Thomas's incredulity, when he was sensibly assured of the resurrection of Jesus, “ My Lord and my God !” This was also the substance of Martha's confesion of faith to Jesus, when he said to her, “ I am the resurrection and " the life; he that believeth in me shall never die: « believest thou this ? She answered, yea, Lord, I be« lieve that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, « which should come into the world ?” She answered
* Mat. xvi. 16, 17. John 1. 49.
him not as to that particular of the resurrection, but in general, . That he was the Christ, the Messiah, that < was to come into the world,' and that sufficed. It was a confession not unlike to this, that the blind man made, to whom Christ gave fight, when Jesus said to him, " “ Dost thou believe on the Son of God ? Lord, " said he, I do believe; and he worshipped him.” What shall we say of the Centurion, preferred by Christ himself before any in Israel, though a Gentile ? Or of the faith of the woman and inhabitants of Samaria, that he was “ the Messiah ?”? or of that importunate woman that cried to Jesus, to cast a devil out of her possessed daughter, and would not be put off, to whom Christ said, iO woman, great is thy faith; be it un" to thee even as thou wilt?” To which let me add the faith of the people that brought the sick man of the palsy to Christ, who uncovered the roof to let him down to be touched; the faith of Jairus the ruler ;s and of that good woman, who pressed through the croud to touch the hem of Christ's garment, to whom Jesus said, “ Be of good comfort, daughter, thy faith “ has made thee whole:” Also the two blind men that followed him out of the ruler's house, crying," « Thou Son of David have mercy on us ;” who, when Jesus had said, “ Believe ye that I am able to do “ this?” answered, “ Yea, Lord;” upon which he touched their eyes, and said, “ According to your « faith be it unto you :" Also the blind man near Jericho; the leprous Samaritan that Christ cleansed ;* and that notable passage of the woman that kissed his feet, and anointed his head; to whom he pronounced this happy sentence ;' « Thy faith hath saved thee, go « in peace.”
I will conclude this with that famous instance of the thief upon the cross, who neither knew, nor had time to make, a large confession like the creeds of these
a Joh. ix. 35, 38. Mat. viii. 10. P John iv. 9 Mat. xv. 23. 28. * Mark ii. 4, 5. Mark v. 22. u Mat. ix. 20, 21, 22, 27. i Luke xviii. 35. 42. * Luke xvii. 15, 19. y Luke vii. 45, 50. F 3
days; but, it seems, he said enough ;? « Lord, re« member me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” And Jesus said unto him, “ Verily, I say unto thee, “ to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” By which it is easy to learn that it was the heart, not the mouth; the sincerity, not the words, that made the confession valid.
Nor was this only, in the days of Christ, the effect of his gracious dispensation, or peculiar indulgencei for after-timeș afford us the like instances. This was the main bent of Peter's sermon; and when the « three a thousand believed that he, whom the Jews had cruos cified, was both Lord and Christ, and repented of « their sins, and gladly received his word,” they are said to have been « in a state of salvation.". Thus Cornelius, and his houshold and kindred, so soon as Peter declared « Jesus to be the Messiah," and that they had believed," the Holy Ghost fell upon them,” and they were received into the Christian communion. But the story of the Eunuch is very pat to our purpose: as he rid in his chariot, he was reading these words out of the prophet Isaiah, viz. " That he was " led as a sheep to the Naughter, and like a lamb “ dumb before the shearers, so opened he not his “ mouth. In his humiliation his judgment was taken « away; and who shall declare his generation for as his life is taken from the earth.” Philip joined to him, and asked him, “ If he understood what he « read?” He desired Philip to interpret the mind of the prophet, whether he spoke of himself, or another ? Philip upon the place preached to him Jesus: the Eunuch was so well persuaded by the apostle, that coming to a water, he said, “What doth hinder me « to be baptized ?” Philip answered him, “ If thou « believest wịth all thine heart, thou mayest:" To this the Eunuch replied, “ I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Upon which he was baptized ;
2 Lnke xxiii. 42, 43. a A&ts ii. 37, 47.
A Ets viii. 27, 37.
A&ts X. 24, 48.
and it is said, “ He went away rejoicing;” which indeed he might well do, that felt the comfort of his faith, the remission of his sin, and the joys of the Holy Ghost, which always follow true faith in Christ.
I' will conclude these examples with a passage in the Acts, of Paul at Thessalonica; • it is this: “ Paul, as « his manner was, went in unto them, and three fab« bath-days reasoned with them out of the scriptures; “ opening and alledging that Christ must needs have “ suffered and risen again from the dead ; and that " this Jesus (faid he) whom I preach unto you, is " Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted so with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a “ great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.” Thus we may plainly see, that they were baptized into the faith of Jesus, and not into numerous opinions; and that this one confeflion, from true faith in the heart, was the ground and principle of their churchfellowship. Then God's church was at peace; she throve; there were then no snares of words made to catch men of conscience with. Then not many words, but much integrity; now much talk, and little truth : many articles, but “ O ye of little faith!”
Nor was this only the judgment and practice of that time, out of condescension to weakness, and charity to ignorance ; for both Christ Jesus himself and his apostles (those blessed messengers of holy truth) have doctrinally laid it down, as the great test to Christians; that which should distinguish them from infidels, and justly intitle them to his discipleship, and Christian communion one with another. Let us read a little farther: “ Then said they to Jesus, what shall o we do, that we might work the works of God?" Jesus « answered and said to them, This is the work of God,
that ye believe on him, whom God hath sent. “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on
• Aēts xvii. 2, 3, 4. • john vi. 28, 29. 47. John viii. 24. Aets xvi. 30, 31. Rom. x. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.