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moreover, "My face shall go before thee; that is, the "angel of the covenant, whom ye desire; in whom my "face shall be seen; of whom it is said, in an accepta❝ble time have I heard thee; my name is in him; I will "cause thee to rest; or cause that he shall be gentle and "kind to thee; nor shall lead thee with rigor, but qui"etly and mercifully." This R. Moses bar Nachman wrote about the year 1220, in Spain, and died at Jerusalem 1260, and is one of the chief masters of the Jews. There are many things occurring in his writings, beyond the common rate of their present apprehensions; and in the places above cited, he plainly everts one of the principal foundations of their present infidelity. For he not only grants, but contends and proves, that the angel spoken of was God, and being sent of God, as his angel, he must be a distinct person in the Deity, as we have proved. The reason, indeed, he fixeth on, why he is called an angel, because he governeth the world, though true in itself, is not so proper. For he is so called because of his eternal designation, and actual delegation by the father, to the work of saving the church, in all conditions, from first to last. And as he acknowledgeth, that his being called the face of God, proves him to be God, so it doth no less evidently evince his personal distinction from him whose face he is; that is, "the brightness of his glory and the express im"age of his person." And what he adds of the mercy and benignity which, by the appointment of God, he exerciseth towards his people, is remarkably suitable to the tenderness and mercy which the great Captain of our salvation exerciseth, by God's appointment, towards all those whom he leads and conducts to glory.
§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.