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SUMMARY OF SERMON XX.
JOHN, CHAP. V.-VERSE 37.
OUR Lord, here and in the context, affirms that Almighty God his Father had granted him several kinds of extraordinary attestation, sufficient to convince all well-disposed persons that he truly was the predicted Messias : it is now intended to represent those several ways of divine attestation, &c. But first some reasons are assigned why it was requisite that they should be afforded to our Lord.
1. The nature of the Messias's office required such attestations. So high and eminent was it; so new, strange, and important was his revelation ; that the excellency of his doctrine, the sanctity of his life, the wisdom of his discourse, &c. would not have been enough to produce faith and submission : this topic enlarged on and explained.
2. The effects which he was to produce required such. So great were the exploits he was to achieve against sin and Satan, that they could not have been encountered without remarkable testimonies of the divine presence, especial aids of the divine power, and large influences of the divine Spirit : this enlarged on.
3. We may farther consider that the Christ was designed to present himself first to the Jews, that is, to a people wholly addicted to this sort of proof, and incapable of conviction by any other : they did not, as did the Greeks, seek wisdom, but required a sign.
4. It was agreeable to God's usual method of proceeding in
cases resembling this, although very unequal thereto in weight and consequence : this shown at large.
5. If we consider the general reasons assignable, why God bath been wont to proceed in this manner, or why he should úse it on any occasion, they are with strongest force applicable to this case : this explained.
But in opposition to this, it may be said that no such testifications can well serve to such purpose ; for that the like have been and may be applied to the persuasion of error and impiety, by false prophets and antichrists, by magicians and wizards.
This objection answered generally: also in a more distinct and particular manner.
Having thus showed reasons why, and signified to what purposes, the Messias was to receive special testimonies from God, we proceed to survey those which were in fact eshibited.
1. God did attest to him long before his coming, by presignifying and predicting at several times, in several ways, by several persons, many and indeed all considerable things concerning him. This however is a matter of very large consideration, which has been already insisted on, and may be now omitted.
2. God did in attestation to him immediately send before his face, as his herald and harbinger, a prophet, or one more than a prophet, for his extraordinary integrity, &c. : this topic enlarged on.
3. God attested unto our Lord by visible apparitions from heaven, at several times, in fit seasons, made in presence of very good witnesses : this shown.
4. He also by vocal attestation did expressly at several times own and approve Jesus ; as at his baptism, his transfiguration, &c.
5. God attested to our Lord, in that he was endued with a
power constantly residing in him of performing miraculous works, such as could only proceed from a divine source ; works of a stupendous greatness and difficulty: such specified : works proper unto God; such also specified : the manner also of their performance seemed to emulate the creative power of God, &c.: they had also no less of goodness than of greatness divine: considering which things, we may well discern by what power, and to what purpose Jesus did perform his admirable works: the multitude of them, and the various places in which they were performed, considered : we may observe that he did not affect to perform wonders out of any vanity, or to humor men's curiosity; but from piety and charity, and other righteous causes: this topic enlarged on. We may also, with Irenæus, observe that Jesus, in performing his cures and other miracles, never used any profane, silly, fantastic ceremonies, &c.: that also the whole tenor of his proceedings was directly levelled against the kingdom of darkness and power of Satan, &c. Whence we may well apprehend the validity of our Lord's own argument for confirming John the Baptist in his opinion of him; go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard, &c.
6. God did most signally attest to our Lord by miraculously raising him from the dead ; or in that by a divine power he raised up himself from the grave; which is indeed the point that invincibly guards and fortifies all other testimonies; but its discussion would require more time than can be now spared.
7. A farther attestation was given to our Lord by the power of working miracles in his name imparted to the disciples; who were by him commissioned to prosecute the great design which he had commenced : this topic enlarged on.
8. God also did attest to our Lord by accomplishing his prediction and promise, in a plentiful effusion of the divine Spirit on his church and followers, for their instruction, guidance, comfort, and support: this subject dilated on.
9. Lastly, God has attested unto him by the wonderful success which has attended his gospel, in its conveyance and propagation. They were not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble, but a very few, mean and poor, unlearned and simple men, whom no outward circumstances or worldly advantages recommended, who boldly set about this great work, &c.
All their great exploits they were to achieve in a most quiet peaceable manner, without any terror or tumult, without any plausibility of language, or subtilty of reasoning, &c.: they were indeed to do little more than barely report a story, and affirm it true of their own knowlege, &c. and with such weapons of their warfare, God's help concurring, they did pull down strong holds, &c., and did maintain their cause.
The little plausibility of this cause ; the few apparent in. ducements to embrace it; its doctrines so adverse to worldly gratifications, &c. considered. Now to what or to whom is it to be ascribed, that a handful of such persons, against such obstacles, in ways so different from the course of human proceedings, &c. were able to render such a cause victorious ? This point enlarged on.
Having thus seen how Jesus our Lord is the Messias, let us briefly recapitulate, and explain in what manner, and in what respects the New Testament represents him as Christ ; how, according to that, Jesus was signally chosen and consecrated by God, supereminently, to all the offices denoted by the title Christ, and how he effectually executes them.'
Him, saith St. Peter in general, God anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, &c.: he was by this unction constituted in right and effect a Prophet, a King, a Priest.
1. A Prophet : for they were not mistaken, who, on his raising the widow's child, were amazed, and glorified God, saying, that a great prophet was raised up among them, &c. This topic enlarged on and illustrated,
2. He is also a King, by many unquestionable titles: by nature and birth, as the only Son of God, &c.; by divine designation and appointment, for God hath made him Lord and Christ, &c. : also by merit and purchase, &c. This topic enlarged on.
3. He is likewise a Priest, and that much above an ordipary one: he hath obtained a more excellent function, says the Apostle to the Hebrews, than any other priest had: this head dilated on.
IV. The consideration of these things ought to beget in us a practice answerable to the relations between him and us, grounded thereon.
If Jesus be such a Prophet, we must with docile mind hearken to his admonitions, believe his doctrine, and obey what he teaches.
If he be a King, we must hold fast our due allegiance to him, pay him reverence, and submit to his laws, &c. If he be a Priest, we must with sincere faith and hope apply ourselves unto him for, and rely on, his spiritual ministry in our behalf, &c.
In short, if Jesus be Christ, let us be Christians ; Christians, not only in name, but in very deed and reality, &c. Conclusion.