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30, &c.

A. M. 4034, a man of poverty and affliction, to live meanly and die ignominiously, when, had he Ann. Dom. been the true Messiah, he must, according to the representations made of him in the prophets, have appeared as one of the greatest monarchs in the world? This is the Vulg. Er. 28. grand objection of the Jews; and therefore, to give it a proper solution, it ought to be considered, that the (a) Messiah, in order to accomplish the prophecies concerning him, was to sustain three different characters; for he was to be a prophet and a priest as well as a king. The predictions, indeed, which refer to his kingly office, are more in number, and enlarged upon more copiously, than either of the other; yet both the other are so essential to the character of the Messiah, that, had any one of these been wanting in him, the scheme of man's redemption had been broken and imperfect: And yet it is certain, that these three offices require operations, not only distinct, and peculiar to each, but such as could not equally be exercised, at one and the same time, by one and the same person.

As a prophet, the Messiah was not only to teach and instruct his people, but to undergo the common fate of prophets, in being despised, contradicted, persecuted, and in bearing testimony of the truth of his doctrine by the example of his sufferings for it. As a priest, he was to make sacrifice for the sins of his people; which in this case could not be otherwise done than by offering his own blood, and consequently dying in their stead. Now both these, in the course of things appointed by God, were to go before the entrance upon his kingly office, because the prophecies mentioned this last as a recompence for the faithful discharge of the other two. This is a matter that both the (b) royal and (c) evangelical prophet express so very plainly, that St Paul, in effect, does but expound those passages, when he tells the Hebrews, (d) that “Jesus, for the suffering of death, was crowned with glory and honour;" and the Philippians, (e) that “for his taking upon him the form of a servant, and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, God had highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name," &c. Since therefore his regal office was not to commence till after he had accomplished his other two, to complain, that his kingly power was not exercised at his first coming, is to misunderstand the prophecies, and confound the order of events: it is to expect a full accomplishment of predictions, within a very narrow space, that strictly belong to an office still in exercise, and to which the Scripture says (f) "there shall be no end."

2. It is to be observed farther, that the style and manner of prophets, especially when they treat of subjects uncommon, sublime, and spiritual, abound with figurative schemes of speech, and such pompous and bold metaphors and descriptions, taken from sensible objects, as awaken in our minds the most lofty imaginations we are capable of. This the Jews themselves make no difficulty to allow; and (g) some of their greatest doctors have laid it down for a rule, in the interpretation of the prophets, that, in many places, they are not literally to be understood, by reason of those metaphorical expressions, whose true intent is to represent things according to our capacity, by images tamiliar to our senses. If therefore most of these great and pompous things that are said in the prophets concerning the glorious reign of the Messiah, may he understood of the spiritual benefits which we have received by his coming, such as the graces of our regeneration and sanctification, the wisdom of his laws, the comforts of his ordinances, the holy and peaceable temper which his Gospel inspires, the large extent of its propagation, and the blessed effects, which in all places where it is sincerely believed and practised it produces :-If things be reduced to this sense, I say, I cannot see, but that the character of a powerful prince has been fulfilled in our Saviour already; for what king was

(a) Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. iii. and his 7th Sermon at Boyle's Lectures. (b) Psal. xxii. (c) Isaian im. (d) Chap. ii. 9. (e) Chap. ii. 8, 9. (ƒ) Isaiah ix. 7, (g) Maim. More Nevoch, part ii. c. 29. 47. Menas Ben Israel Qu. in Gen. xxx.

ever so prosperous as he, who, by the propagation of his Gospel, has enlarged his domi- From the benions so wonderfully over the most distant regions of the habitable world? Or, what ginning of the conquest was ever so glorious, as that which he hath gained over the errors and preju- Matth. ix. 8. dices, the lusts and passions, of wicked and mistaken men, nay, even over all the powers Mark ii. 23. of darkness, and sin, and death, and hell?

But, be it granted (as it seems indeed very probable) that several passages in the prophets relate to the temporal greatness, prosperity, and peace, that shall attend the government of the Messiah, yet we are to consider,

3. That, before the consummation of all things, there will be an enlargement of Christ's kingdom even here upon earth. For, though he have all power both in heaven and earth already vested in the human nature, united with his own Divine person, yet is not that power so visibly and fully executed as it shall one day be; nor are all those glorious effects as yet accomplished, which the prophets foretold, when describing the victorious and peaceable, the unlimited and everlasting, dominion of the Messiah. The enlightening of the Jews and Gentiles, by bringing such multitudes of the one, and so many nations of the other sort, to the acknowledgment of the truth, is already a partial completion of the prophecies; but there is still a nobler in reserve, when the fulness of both shall come in. He reigns now actually in the hearts of men, and subdues the most formidable of our enemies, by the holiness of his laws, and the mighty operations of his grace; but that dominion and conquest will be much more absolute, when the time comes for every enemy to be utterly destroyed. Though therefore the whole be not, yet abundantly enough has already been fulfilled, to make us acquiesce in a stedfast assurance, that what is still behind will most certainly come to pass. For, sure, how meanly soever they that consider things imperfectly may think of a despised and crucified man, yet there is nothing so gloriously great, that may not most reasonably be expected from that very man, when (a) “ declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead."


It is made a strong objection by the Socinians against our Saviour's being the Son of God, that, at the time of his baptism, the Holy Ghost descended upon him, for which there had been no manner of occasion, say they, had the Divinity (which was certainly no less powerful than the Holy Ghost) been personally united to him. While our Blessed Saviour was discoursing concerning his approaching death, and a voice from heaven was heard speaking unto him, he told the people (who seemed to be divided in their opinions of it), (b) "This voice came not because of me," i. e. to satisfy me of the Divine favour, or to comfort me against the agonies of death, "but for your sake," that ye might believe in me: And in like manner, it might be a sufficient answer to this objection, that this visible descent of the Holy Ghost upon our Saviour, was not for his sake, or to convey any virtue or power that he was not equally possessed of by the Divine nature that resided in him, but for the sake of the Baptist, and those that were then present with him, even to inform them of the excellency of his person and his Divine mission: For so the voice which immediately follows the prodigy, (c) "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; (d) Hear ye him," plainly shews that this whole transaction was designed for the instruction of all the company. Our Saviour indeed was now entering upon his prophetic office, and fit it was that the world should have some previous notice of it before he came to open his commission. When he came to offer himself to John for baptism, John indeed, by some sudden inspiration, knew him, but he had not as yet made any public declaration of that knowledge; and therefore God took care to give the company this glorious manifestation of his being his Son, and a person sanctified, by this descent of the Holy Ghost upon him, to declare his will

Gospels to

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Ann. Dom.

30, &c.

A. M. 4034, to the world (according to the prophecy (a) concerning him), and whose words and doc&c. or 5439. trine it therefore concerned all men to hear and obey. Our Blessed Saviour, indeed, as he was God, had no need of this unction of the Holy Spirit, but, as he was to execute Vulg. Er. 28. the prophetic office, it was expedient for him to have it: For as a prophet is not to speak in his own name, but in the name of God, and what he has suggested to him by the Spirit of God; so this prophetical office was to be performed, not by the Divine nature of our Lord, but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. "We must therefore (with a great Divine (b) of our church) distinguish between the excellencies and perfections of Christ, which flowed from the hypostatical union of the two natures, and those which flowed from the donation and anointing of the Holy Spirit. From the bypostatical union of the natures flowed the infinite dignity of his person, his impeccability, his self-sufficiency to fulfil the law, and satisfy the Divine justice; as from the anointing of the Spirit flowed his knowledge of all evangelical mysteries, the doctrines and precepts which he delivered in his Father's name, and the many miraculous works which he did in confirmation of his mission and doctrine." For this is plain to every one that looks into the gospels, that, almost in every page, our Saviour (c) owns his mission from God; that the doctrines which he taught were not his own, but God's; that they were all dictated by the Spirit of God; and that the miracles which he exhibited in testimony of these, proceeded from the same Spirit of God. Upon the whole therefore we may conclude, that Jesus Christ, being now in a state of humiliation, and emptied of the form of God, acted, in things relating immediately to his prophetic office, not as God, but only as a prophet sent from God; not by the power of his Divine nature, but of that Spirit by which he was anointed and sanctified to that office; though, notwithstanding this quiescence in the Deity, being still God, of the same essence derived from the Father, he might do many other things by virtue of his Divinity, such as discerning the hearts of all men, walking upon the sea, and stilling the stormy winds with a word, &c. And as this divinity was part of the doctrine he was to publish, he might, without any contradiction to himself, assert, that God was properly his Father, and he properly his Son; that "he and his Father were one, and that all men were to worship the Son, even as they worshipped the Father."

Something of the like nature is to be said, in relation to our Saviour's being tempted by the devil, viz. that though his Divinity did set him far above the utmost opposition of any created being, yet did not that Divinity exert itself upon all occasions, but sometimes suspended its operations, and was quiescent, as we said before. (d) That the Divinity was thus quiescent in Christ until he entered upon the public exercise of his prophetic office, is generally thought by most orthodox divines; that in all the actions relating to the execution of that his office, it ceased in the like manner to act, we have just now endeavoured to prove; and it is generally thought, that this was the case of his temptation by the devil, in which his Divine perfections lying by (as it were), and forbearing to engage, he is to be considered abstractly as a man, though much more perfect than any other man. For fit it was that he (who, for this very reason perhaps, is called the second Adam) should overcome the great enemy of mankind, in that very nature, alone and unassisted, wherein the first Adam was so miserably foiled.

Whether the devil might know that our Saviour was in reality the Son of God, or only some peculiar favourite of his, divines are at a stand to determine. It is the observation of Origen, that (e) "all the while that our Saviour was under the temptation he never confessed himself to be the Son of God;" and therefore, (f) since the dispensation of the Gospel was not fully and perfectly understood by good angels, but gradually manifested to them, it is no wonder that the devil should be ignorant of the

(a) Isaiah xlii. 1.

of St John.
(f) Eph. i. 10, and

(b) Dr Lightfoot on Mark xiii. 32. (c) Vid. Whitby's Preface to the Gospel (d) Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. ii. (e) Hom, 6. in Lucam. 1 Pet, i. 12.

ginning of the

Luke vi. 1.

mysteries of the Gospel, particularly that "great mystery of godliness, God's mani- From the befestation in the flesh." The devil, therefore, seeing our Saviour, after he had been (a) Gospels to "declared the Son of God," so long in the wilderness with wild beasts, and hungry Matth. ix. 8. without any food to sustain him, might be induced to question whether he was indeed Mark ii. 23. the Son of God, in the most proper and highest sense of the words, and thereupon incited to assail him: but, if even he knew him never so well, such is his inveterate malice, that it hath often prevailed with him to attempt things very foolish and impossible. For, what could be more so than for a creature to attempt to be like God, or to annul the truth of the prophecies concerning Christ? What could be more pernicious to him than the death of the Lord of Life for the redemption of mankind? and yet this he attempted with the utmost eagerness, and by setting all his instruments to work to accomplish it, though (b) "it was impossible for our Lord to be held under the power of death." Whatever Satan therefore might conceive of Christ, (as Petavius retorts the argument upon the head of Crellius) he could not but certainly know from the Scriptures that he was to be the Redeemer of mankind, and the author of their salvation; that he was "the seed of the woman who was to bruise his head; to sit on the throne of his father David, and there rule for ever:" and therefore, knowing all this, he could not hope to prevail in his temptations of our Lord, unless he could believe that he was able to reverse both the decrees and oath of God. Whether therefore the devil knew or knew not our Saviour, it may well be deemed an infatuation in him to think of being able to pervert him as he had done our first parents in their obedience to God; but then it was far from being a foolish or unnecessary thing for our Lord thus to suffer himself to be tempted, (c) since he hath instructed us, that not any-the best. and most exalted-degree of virtue sets men above temptations; and since thereby he has encouraged us to hope for his assistance and support under the like circumstances; both because, (d)" himself hath suffered, being tempted," and because, (e)" he was in all points tempted like as we are, he cannot but be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." These were the true ends and reasons why our Saviour suffered temptation; and the proper and natural inference from hence, is that which the same author to the Hebrews makes, (f)" Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help us in time of need."

"But it may be said, that, though the general circumstances of this history be consistent with the purposes for which Christ came into the world, there are however in the detail of it certain appearances which cannot be reconciled to our views of nature and of the Divine government, and which tend to invalidate our belief of the whole transaction."-To enable us to estimate the force of this objection, it is previously necessary that we know what these appearances are, and whether they result from the history itself, or from our misconception of the narrative which it presents.

"The circumstances which occur in this narrative may be viewed in three different lights. They may be viewed as events that happened in the most literal and sensitive meaning which the words can convey; or they may be regarded as the representation of scenes that were exhibited only in vision to the mind of Jesus; or, lastly, they may be considered as a picturesque and lively description of the seductive conceptions that were actually suggested to his mind by Satan-a description in which the tempter and his arts are brought forth before our imaginations as a specimen of what takes place in every temptation that assails us.'

The first of these suppositions is that which has been most frequently adopted; and though to many wise and pious men it has appeared liable to great objections, i cannot

(a) Matth. iii. 17. (d) Heb. ii. 18.

(b) Acts ii. 24, 25. (e) Ibid. Chap. iv. 15.

(c) Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. ii. (f) ibid. ver. 16.

Ann. Dom. 30, &c.

Vulg. Er. 28.

A. M. 4034, think any of these objections insuperable. That the devil has been occasionally per&c. or 539. mitted to appear in a bodily form, cannot be called in question by any one, who admits the authenticity and Divine inspiration of the Scriptures; and if, in the form of a serpent, he seduced the first Adam from his duty, there is nothing incongruous in the supposition that he assumed the form of a man to assail the second. He is not, in this narrative, represented, as has sometimes been said, as openly assuming his true character of the enemy of God. At least nothing of this enmity appears in the two first temptations; but rather a friendly concern for Jesus under his present and impending sufferings, and suggestions, as we shall see by and bye, how these sufferings might be diminished or averted entirely. The third temptation, if interpreted literally, does indeed represent Satan as openly declaring himself the enemy of God; and this is not agreeable to the devices by which he is exhibited in Scripture as deceiving mankind at large, or even as he deceived our first parents; but he might, by the time that he proposed the last temptation, have had strong suspicions that he was more than man with whom he was contending; and between despair and hope he might make, as other daring combatants have made, one desperate effort to decide the contest. On account, however, of this difficulty, many learned and pious Christians, among whom we may class Warburton, have had recourse to vision for the removal of it.

They who adopt this opinion, suppose that "Jesus was placed in imagination only on the pinnacle of the temple; that the shew of worldly dominion and grandeur presented before him was unsubstantial; and in short, that the whole was a delusory representation, formed by Satan in the fancy of our Lord, weakened as he was by long continued fasting, and prepared by solitude for regarding the internal fictions of the mind as real existent objects."

That solitude, especially in a wild and desert country, has some tendency to produce such effects on the mind must perhaps be granted; but to this view of the case it has been well objected, that "it ascribes to Satan a most unlimited power over the human heart. It supposes that he has at his command our perceptions and opinions, the sources of all our conduct. But this supposition renders us mere machines moved by foreign powers, and leads, by direct consequence, to the destruction of our accountableness as moral agents.

"Others, therefore, have been disposed to regard the scenes here described as a visionary representation excited in the mind of Jesus by the Spirit of God, for the purpose of exhibiting to him Satan as his most formidable opponent, and of prefiguring the difficulties, which, under the conduct of this arch-apostate, would embarrass him in the execution of his mediatorial office. According to this account, therefore, the transactions, which are here recorded, were a Divine prophetic vision of the temptations which Satan would throw in the way of Jesus during the course of his ministry, in order to induce him on some occasions to employ, improperly for the supply of his private wants, the miraculous powers with which he was invested for public purposes; to propose the evidence of his mission in a more irresistible form than is consistent with our present probationary state; and to comply with the prejudices of the Jews, by assuming at once the splendour and magnificence of a temporal prince. This interpretation is free from one insuperable objection that lies against the last; but it is exposed to others in its turn. It is too ingenious to be just-too remote from the ordinary use of language to receive the approbation of sober criticism-and it rests on a supposition concerning the interposition of the Divine Spirit, for which the text furnishes no authority, and which is in direct contradiction to the obvious tendency of the whole passage. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, for the purpose of enduring temptation as an appointed part of his earthly trial; but when placed there, he was left to contend with Satan, and not with illusions from on high."

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