« PrécédentContinuer »
the meaning thereof, and that we should be firmly persuaded of its truth. The following method observed in the ensuing discourses on this subject.
1. The notion and reason of this name or title, Christ, is explained.
2. It is shown that there was by God's appointment to come into the world one person, signally that which the name imports, the very Christ. 3. That Jesus was that person. 4. It is explained, in what manner and respects, and to what purposes, Jesus, in the New Testament is represented as Christ. 5. Some practical application of the point is made.
I. For the first particular. Christ is a name or title, importing office and dignity, being the same with Messias; that in Greek, this in Hebrew, signifying the Anointed. Of ancient times, in the Eastern countries, which abounded with the finest oil and odoriferous spices, it seems generally to have been the custom (and it was such among the Jews) to separate or consecrate persons, and things also, designed to any great or extraordinary employment, by anointing them with ointments composed of those ingredients: reason of this given: instances also of prophets, priests, and kings so anointed. These things being considered, it appears that the name Christ imports a person in a special and signal manner designed and ordained by God to one, or some, or all of these charges and functions; an extraordinary king, a great priest, and an eminent prophet.
II. Now that there was a person supereminently endued with all these characters, (a Christ in all these respects,) decreed by God in due time to come into the world to accomplish the vast purposes answerable to the tle, many express passages in the ancient Scriptures declare.
That such a prophet should be sent, Moses in express terms foretold (Deut. xviii. 15. 18.): and the latter prophets agree with him this shown.
The ancient Scriptures do also plainly signify, concerning
the same person, that he should be a great prince, constituted by God to govern his people for ever, in righteousness, peace, and prosperity, &c. : so Isaiah ix. 6. xi. 10. &c. Other scriptural passages quoted to this purpose. ·
That he also should assume and execute the priestly function, may be learned from prophetical instruction: instances given.
These things being considered, it is no wonder that the ancient Jews (though the text of Scripture doth perhaps only once explicitly and directly apply the name of Christ or Messias to this illustrious person so prophesied of and promised,) did especially assign the title to him: this point enlarged on: instances quoted of their applying to him the character of Prince and Prophet. That the Messias in their opinion was also to be a priest, is not so clearly apparent; yet it may be probably inferred this explained. Thus, according to the ancient Scriptures, interpreted and backed by the current tradition and general consent of God's people, it is sufficiently apparent that a Messias (according to the notion promised) was to come into the world.
III. Now farther, that Jesus, whom we acknowlege, was indeed that Messias, may appear plainly from the perfect correspondency of all circumstances belonging to the Messias's appearance, of all characters suiting his person; of all things to be performed by him; of whatever was to be consequent on his presence and performances, according to ancient predictions, &c.; which things cannot possibly suit with any other person that hath come, or may be expected to come.
Among circumstances the most considerable, is the time, which did fully agree to Jesus: this shown.
Other circumstances also explained: the family out of which he was to be born; the place where he was to be born; the manner in which he was to be born. All these shown accurately to correspond with Jesus.
The state and condition also, in which the Messias was predicted to appear, shown to agree with that in which Jesus appeared.
The same observed concerning the qualities and endowments of the Messias's personal character, such as should dispose and fit him for his great task, &c. His supereminent piety and sanctity, with perfect innocence and integrity, implied in all descriptions of his person and performances; wherein an unspotted innocence, an excellent faculty of speaking and teaching, &c.; an invincible fortitude; a most quiet and peaceable disposition; an exceeding meekness and gentleness; a marvellous humility; an unparalleled patience; an inconceivable charity; in fine, all virtue and all goodness, suitable to his character, do shine with transcendent lustre. His performances s next to be considered.
And in Jesus Christ, &c.
THAT JESUS IS THE TRUE MESSIAS.
ACTS, CHAP. IX.-VERSE 22.
Proving that this is the very Christ.
As for the name of Messias, there is evident reason why it should not be openly expressed in the ancient predictions; it being an easy thing for any persons, out of imposture or wantonness, to have assumed that name; and consequently it would not have suited so well the true person. It was therefore more expedient that his name should rather only be covertly signified or intimated; it was sufficient that a name should be imposed on him well agreeing to his office and chief performances. There be indeed several names attributed to the Messias; They shall call his name Immanuel,' said Isaiah; 'This is his name, whereby he shall be called,' 'The Lord our Righteousness,' (Jehovah tsidkenu;) and, ' His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,' said Isaiah again; but it is apparent that these were not intended to be so much his proper names, as attributes or epithets congruous unto him in regard to the eminency of his person and performances.
The prophet Zechariah seemeth also (insisting in the footsteps of Isaiah and Jeremiah) to assign him the name Netser, (or the Branch;) Behold the man whose name is The
Branch: but this only denoted an appellation suiting him, as derived from the stock of David, and might beside mystically allude to some circumstance concerning him. It doth not therefore appear that the one proper name, by which the Messias, as the Son of man, should be known and called, is directly forementioned; yet it is reasonable to suppose that God would have an especial care that he should have one befitting him. It was one of the seven things which the Talmudists say were constituted before the world: the law, repentance, paradise, hell, the throne of glory, the sanctuary, the name of the Messias; according to that in the seventy-second Psalm, verse 17. Ante solem primum nomen ejus; so it seems they read it: the LXX. have it, πρὸ τοῦ ἡλίου διαμενεῖ τὸ ὄνομα
It was anciently a method of Divine Providence to impose on persons (destinated by God to be especial subjects of his favor and eminent ministers of his glory) names answerable to the nature of their employment, or to the design which was by their means and ministry to be accomplished. Whereby as God's care and providence over human affairs was declared, so men on the mention of such names were admonished to consider the divine benefits, and the duties correspondent to them. The particular reason of imposing such names is sometime expressly set down; as in the cases of Seth, Abraham, Israel, Solomon; sometime it seems tacitly implied, the actions of the persons interpreting the reason of their names, as in Melchizedek, Joshua, Malachi, and perhaps in many others.
This method with great reason we may suppose that the same divine wisdom would use in assigning a name to that person, whom from the beginning of things he had promised, and before the foundation of the world had designed to sanctify and send into the world, for achieving the most high and excellent design that ever, for the glory of God and the good of his creation, was to be undertaken in this world. Most fit it would be that God himself should be his godfather; that he should have no ordinary, no casual, no insignificant name; but such an one, which being heard might instruct and admonish us, might raise in us a sense of God's infinite mercy and bounty toward us; might breed love in our hearts, and impress vene