« AnteriorContinuar »
the old prophecies, concerning the time of the Messiah's coming, are perfectly fulfilled in this Jesus of Nazareth.
But farther, the Law saith, that though the Messiah should be crucified, yet God would not leave his soul in hell, nor suffer his Holy One to see corruption, Psal. xvi. 10. and that, when God should make his soul an offering for sin, he should see his seed, and prolong his days, Isa. liii. 10. which plainly implies, that though the Messiah should die, yet he should rise again, and that within few days too, otherwise he would have seen corruption. Now the Gospel saith, that this Jesus rose from the dead, Matt. xxviii. 6. Luke xxiv. 6. and that he was seen of several after his resurrection, as of Mary Magdalen, Matt. xxviii. 9. of the eleven disciples, ver. 16, 17, 18. Mark xvi. 14. of the two that were going to Emmaus, Luke xxiv. 13, 14, 15. of Peter, ver. 34. and of the disciples that were gathered together, the door being shut, John xx. 19. And, to be sure it was himself, and not an apparition, Thomas, one of the twelve, thrust his hands into his side, and found it flesh and blood indeed, as before, John xx. 27. And he ate before them, Luke xxiv. 43. which it is impossible for a spirit to do; yea, he was seen of above five hundred at one time, 1 Cor. xv. 6. and of Paul himself, ver. 8. Neither did he lie so long as to see corruption, for he was buried but the day before the sabbath, Mark xv. 42. and rose the day after, chap. xvi. 1.
Lastly, he was not only to rise again, but the Law saith, he was to ascend on high, to lead captivity captive, and to give gifts to men, Psal. lxviii. 18. Now this cannot but be an undoubted character of the Messiah, not only to rise from the dead, but to ascend up to heaven, and thence to disperse his gifts amongst the children of men; and that Jesus did so, is likewise evident from the Gospel; for, after he had spoken with them, he was received up into heaven, and there sat at the right hand of God, Mark. xvi. 19. Luke xxiv. 51. And he gave such gifts to men, as that his disciples, of
a sudden, were enabled to speak all manner of languages, Acts ii. 8. to work many signs and wonders, chap. v. 12. to heal all manner of diseases, ver. 15, 16. yea, with a word speaking, to cure a man lame from his mother's womb, chap. iii. 6, 7.
Thus the Gospel seems to me to be a perfect transcript of the Law, and the histories of Jesus nothing else but the prophecies of Christ turned into an history. And when to this I join the consideration of the piety of the life which this man led, the purity of the doctrine which he taught, and the miraculousness of the works he wrought, I cannot but be farther confirmed in the truth of what is here related. For the miracles which he wrought, as the healing of the sick with a word of his mouth, raising the dead, feeding so many thousands with five loaves, and the like, were so powerful and convincing, that his very enemies, that would not believe him to be the Messiah, could scarce deny him to be a God, Joseph. Antiq. 1. xviii. c. 4. And it is to this day a tenet amongst some of them, that the miracles which Jesus did were not the delusions and jugglements of the devil, but real miracles, wrought, as they say, by the virtue of the name of God, m Jehovah, which he had gotten out of the temple. By which it is plain they acknowledged God to be the author of them, which I cannot see how he should be, unless they were agreeable to his will, and for the glory of his name.
Neither was the doctrine of the Gospel only established at the first, but likewise propagated by miracles afterwards, as it was necessary it should be. For if it had been propagated without miracles, that itself had been the greatest miracle of all. It was, no doubt, a great miracle, that a doctrine so much contrary to flesh and blood should be propagated by any means whatsoever; but a far greater, that it should be propagated by a company of simple and illiterate men, who had neither power to force, nor eloquence to persuade, men to the embracing of it. For who would have thought that such
sons as these were should ever make any of the Jews, who expected a King for their Messiah, to advance them to temporal dignities, believe that that Jesus, whom themselves scourged and crucified at Jerusalem,was the person! or, that they should be able to propagate the Gospel amongst the Gentiles also, who neither believed in the true God, nor expected any thing of a Messiah to come and redeem them? But this they did, and brought over not only many persons, but whole nations and countries, to the profession of the Gospel; propagating this most holy doctrine amongst the most barbarous and sinful people in the world, maugre all the opposition that the world, the flesh, and the devil, could make against it. Now can any man that exerciseth his reason think they did all this purely by their own strength? No sure, none of these wonderful effects could ever have been produced by any thing less than the wisdom, and power, and faithfulness of their Lord and Master, whose service they were engaged in, and who promised to be with them to the end of the world, Matt. xxviii. 20. Questionless, it was nothing else but the Spirit of the most high God that went along with them, and accompanied the word they preached; otherwise, it never could have made such deep impression upon the hearts of them that heard it, as not only to command their attention, but to hinder them from resisting, when they strove and endeavoured to do it, the power and authority by which the disciples spake.
And now, methinks, I begin to perceive this divine Spirit is come upon me too, and seems, by its powerful influence, to be working up my heart into a thorough persuasion, that it is Christ, and Christ alone, I am to cast my soul upon; that it is he alone that is the way to life, and his word alone the word of life, which whosoever believes, and is baptized into, shall be saved; and he that believeth not, shall be damned. Away then with your Paganish idolatries, your Mahometan superstitions, and Jewish ceremonies; it is the Christian re
ligion alone that I am resolved to live and die in, because it is this alone in which I am taught to worship God aright, to obtain the pardon and remission of my sins, and to be made eternally happy. And since all its doctrines and precepts are contained in the holy Scriptures, it is necessary that I should assent unto them, as a standing revelation of God's will, and an eternal treasure of divine knowledge; whereby all that sincerely believe in Christ may be sufficiently instructed, as well as thoroughly furnished unto every good word and work.
..Without any more ado therefore, I believe, and am verily persuaded, that all the books of the ancient Law, with all those that have been received into the Canon of the Scripture by the church of God since the coming of Christ, which we call the New Testament; I say, that all these books, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of the Revelations, are indeed the word of the eternal God, dictated by his own Spirit, unto such as himself was pleased to employ in the writing of them; and that they contain in them a perfect and complete rule of faith and manners; upon the due observance of which, I cannot fail of worshipping and serving God in such a manner as will be acceptable to him here, and of enjoying hereafter those exceeding great and precious promises, that he has reserved in heaven for such as do so.
Unto these books, therefore, of the Law and Gospel, I am resolved, by his grace that wrote them, to conform all the ensuing articles of my faith, and all the actions and resolutions of my life. Insomuch that whatsoever I find it hath pleased his sacred Majesty herein to assert, I believe it is my duty to believe; and whatsoever he hath been pleased to command me, I believe it is my duty to perform.
I believe, that as there is one God, so this one God is three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
THIS I confess is a mystery which I cannot possibly conceive, yet it is a truth which I can easily believe yea, therefore it is so true, that I can easily believe it, because it is so high that I cannot possibly conceive it ; for it is impossible any thing should be true of the infinite Creator, which can be fully expressed to the capacities of a finite creature: and for this reason I ever did, and ever shall, look upon those apprehensions of God to be the truest, whereby we apprehend him to be the most incomprehensible; and that to be the most true of God, which seems most impossible unto us.
Upon this ground, therefore, it is, that the mysteries of the Gospel, which I am less able to conceive, I think myself the more obliged to believe; especially this mystery of mysteries, the Trinity in Unity, and Unity in Trinity, which I am so far from being able to comprehend, or indeed to apprehend, that I cannot set myself seriously to think of it, or to screw up my thoughts a little concerning it, but I immediately lose myself, as in a trance, or ecstasy: that God the Father should be one perfect God of himself, God the Son one perfect God of himself, and God the Holy Ghost one perfect God of himself; and yet these three should be but one perfect God of himself; so that one should be perfectly three, and three perfectly one, that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost should be three, and yet but one; but one, and yet three! O heart-amazing, thought-devouring, inconceivable mystery! Who cannot believe it to be true of the glorious Deity! Certainly, none but such as are able to apprehend it, which, I am sure, I cannot, and believe no other creature can. And, because no creature can possibly conceive how it should be so, I therefore believe it really to be so, viz. that the Being of all