« PreviousContinue »
THE FAITH OF THE JEWS CONCERNING THE MESSIAH.
§1. The state and expectations of the Jews at the birth of Christ. §2. The faith of their forefathers lost among them. §3. The reason why the true Messiah was rejected by them. §4. Their state after this. §5. The things concerning the Messiah mysterious; yet seeming inconsistencies reconciled in the gospel. §6. The notion of the Jews about two Messiahs. Messiah Ben Joseph. §7. Messiah Ben David. The faith and expectations of the Jews concerning him. §8. Their perplexity about the time of their coming. §9. A description of him and his kingdom, out of Maimonides. §10. Ground and reason of their present unbelief. 1. Ignorance of their miserable state by nature. §11. 2. Ignorance of acceptable righteousness, and of the judgment of God concerning sin. $12. 3. Of the nature and end of the law. §13. 4. Carnal affections. §14. 5. Their envy against the Gentiles, which is increased by their oppressions. 15. Conclusion.
§1. We have proved the promise of a person to be born, and anointed to the work of relieving mankind from sin and misery, and to bring them back to God. And what kind of person he was to be, we have also shewed. It now remains, that we consider the faith of the Jews concerning him. That the minds of men were intently fixed on the coming of the Messiah, the last of the prophets clearly testifies, Mal. iii, 1; "The "Lord, whom ye seek; the angel of the covenant, "whom ye are desiring, shall come suddenly." As the time of his coming drew nigh, this expectation was increased and heightened; so that they continually looked out after him, as if he were to enter among them every moment. No sooner did any one make an appearance
of something extraordinary, but instantly they were ready to say, Is not this the Messiah? This gave advantage to various impostors, as Theudas, and Judas of Galilee, to deceive many to their ruin. Yea, the Jews had divulged such report of their expectations, with the predictions and prophecies they were built upon, that the whole world took notice of it. This was the state of the Jewish church, not long before the destruction of the second temple. And so fixed they were in their opinion, that he was to come about that season, that during the last desolating siege of the city, they looked every day when he would come and save them..
2. But, together with this earnest expectation and desire, they had utterly lost the sight and faith of their forefathers about the nature, work, and office of the promised Messiah. For, being grown carnal, and minding only things that are earthly and present, they utterly overlooked the spiritual genealogy of the "seed "of the woman," from the first promise; and wresting all predictions to their ambitious, covetous, corrupt inclinations and interests, they fancied him to themselves as one that was to deliver them from outward troubles, and to satisfy them with the glory and desirable things of this world, without respect to sin, or the curse, or deliverance from them. And hence the Sadducees, who denied the immortality of the soul, and consequently all rewards and punishments in another world; yet no less desired the coming of the Messiah, than the Pharisees and their disciples. And the truth is, they had brought their principles to a better consistency than the others had done. For if the promised Messiah was only to procure them the good things of this world, and whilst they lived in it, it was in vain to look for another world to come, and the blessings thereof. To look for eternal life, and yet to confine the promise of
the seed to the things of this life only, there was neither solid ground, nor colorable reason. So that the Pharisees laid down the principle, and the Sadducees naturally drew their conclusion from it. Some, in the mean time, among them, God's favored secret ones, as Simeon, Anna, Joseph, Zecharia, and Elizabeth; but especially the blessed Virgin, with many more, retained, no doubt, the ancient faith of their forefathers. But the body of the people, with their leaders, being either flagitiously wicked, or superstitiously proud, fancied a Messiah suited to their own lusts and desires. And this prejudicate opinion of a terrene, outward, glorious kingdom, was that which, working in them a neglect of those spiritual and eternal purposes for which he was promised, hardened them to an utter rejection of the true Messiah when he came to them.
§3. That this was the ground on which they rejected the promised Messiah, is evident from the story of the gospel. But after they had done this, and murdered the Prince of Life, to justify themselves in their wickedness and unbelief, they still with all earnestness looked after such a Messiah as they had framed in their own imagination: and herein they grew more earnest and furious than ever; for they had not only their own false pre-conceived opinion strengthened by their carnal interests and desire of earthly things to actuate them, but also their reputation and pretence to the love and favor of God, to heighten them in their presumptions. For this is the force of pride and carnal wis dom, to pursue those miscarriages with violence wherein they had been wickedly engaged, and to lay hold on any pretence that may seem to justify them in what they have done; and on this account they exposed themselves as a prey to every seducer, who made the least appearance of being such a Messiah as they
thought fit to receive. This at last drove them to a second shipwreck in the business of Barchocheba, who, pretending himself to be their Messiah sent to deliver them from the Roman yoke, and to set up a kingdom amongst them,* drew them all the world over into that sedition, outrage, and war, which ended in an almost universal extirpation of them from the face of the earth.
§4. From this time forward the remaining Jews, with their posterity, utterly rejected the faith of their father Abraham, and the rest of their progenitors, who thereby obtained a good report, "that they pleased "God." A Messiah promised to Adam, the common father of us all, one that should be a spiritual Redeemer from sin and misery, a Goel, or redeemer from death and wrath, a peace-maker between God and man; one that should work out everlasting salvation, the great blessing in which all the nations of the earth were to have an interest, a spiritual and eternal prophet, priest, and king, God and man in one person; they neither looked for any more, nor desired. A temporal king and deliverer, promised to themselves alone, to give them ease, dominion, wealth, and power, they would now have, or none at all. They would not think it thankworthy towards God himself to send them a Messiah to deliver them from sin.
§5. Our apostle tells us, 1 Tim. iii, 16; "That with"out controversy, great is the mystery of godliness, God "was manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen "of angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the "world, received up into glory." All things which concern the Messiah, his person, office, and work, are exceedingly mysterious, as containing the principal effect
Vid. Talm. Tract. Saned. Dist. Cheleck.
of the wisdom and goodness of God, and the sacred depths of the counsel of his will. Hence the things spoken of in the Old Testament are to carnal reason full of seeming inconsistencies; as for instance, it is promised of him, that he should be the seed of the woman, Gen. iii, 15; of the seed of Abraham, Gen. xxii, 18; and of the posterity of David; and yet that his name should be, the MIGHTY GOD, THE EVERLASTING FATHER, THE PRINCE OF PEACE, Isa. ix, 6; and of him it is said, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever "and ever," Psal. xlv, 6; and that he is the "Lord our "righteousness," Jer. xxiii, 6; and that he is the "Lord "of hosts," Zech. ii, 8. Moreover it is declared, that he shall "sit upon his throne for ever," and "reign, whilst "his enemies are made his footstool," Isa. ix, 7; Psal. ii, 7, 8; xlv, 6, 7; and yet, that he shall be cut off, Dan. ix, 26; that he shall be "pierced in his hands and feet," Psalm xxii, 16; "slain by the sword of God," Zech. xiii, 7; and that "in his death he shall have his grave "made among the wicked," Isa. liii, 9. Also, that he "shall come with great glory, and on the clouds of "heaven, Dan. vii, 13, 14; and that he "shall come "lowly, riding on an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass," Zech. ix, 9. That the "soul of the Lord was well "pleased with him, and always delighted in him,” Isa. xliii, 1; and yet that it "pleased him to bruise him, and "put him to grief," Isa. liii, 10; "to forsake him, "Psal, xxii, 1. That he was to be a "king and priest upon "his throne," Zech. vi, 13; and yet these things were literally consistent, the kingdom being annexed to the family of David, and the priesthood to the posterity of Aaron, by Divine constitution; that he should be honored and worshipped of all nations, Psal. xlv, 11, 12, Ixxii, 10, 11, 15; and yet that he should be rejected and despised as one altogether undesirable, Isa. liii, 3;