« PreviousContinue »
Neceffities, Miferies and Infirmities; he fed them by Miracle, when their Provifions fail'd; he heal'd them by Miracle, when their Diseases were otherwife incurable. He cured Blindness from the Birth, remov'd inveterate Dropfies, Palfies and Leprofies; and ftaunch'd Iffues of Blood, which could be no otherwife ftopt: yea, he rais'd Perfons from the Dead, after they had lain fome time in the Grave. The time would fail me to reckon up the many wonderful Works of our Saviour; of which St. John in a proverbial Expreffion tells us, that if they were all put together, the whole World could not contain the Books that should be written. John 21. 25. Again,
zly, The Manner and Eafinefs of his doing those mighty Works, may fill us with Astonishment at the Greatness of his Power; for whatsoever any Man elfe did of this kind, he did it by a borrow'd and limited Power, which he could neither communicate to others, nor exercife himself, but by God's fpecial Appointment: but Chrift did all by his own inherent Power, the Fulness of the Godhead dwelling bodily in him, by which he did what he pleas'd, how he pleas'd, and when he pleas'd, either by himfelf or by others; being determin'd by nothing, but by his own Wif dom and Goodnefs. This I find enlarg'd upon by a Reverend Father of our Church, who tells us, that Chrift did all his Miracles, even that of raifing the Dead to Life again, with the greatest ease, and without the leaft difficulty: for he effected thefe things as well abfent as prefent, as well in an inftant, as by degrees; for he did them by the applying of his Hand, by the Touch of his Garment, by the Word of his Mouth, by the Motion of his Will; to fhew that any Means would ferve, that no Means were neceffary, that all Times and Places were alike to the fovereign Virtue he employ'd in doing his mighty Works. Moreover,
3ly, The great Benefit and Ufefulness of his Miracles to Mankind are fufficient to excite, not only Wonder, but the greatest Thankfulnefs. For his Miracles were all healing and medicinal, design'd either to give Life or restore it, to promote the Good of all Men, and to prevent the Hurt or Evil of any and therefore we find, when two of his Difciples in a great Rage urg'd him to work a Miracle, in calling for Fire from Heaven to confume the Samaritans, he gave them a fharp Rebuke, faying, Te know not what Spirits ye are of; for the Son of Man is come not to destroy Mens Vol. IV. Part 2.
Lives, but to fave them. He went up and down still doing good to the Bodies and Souls of Men, and always exerted his Divine Power for the Welfare and Happiness of both. To all which if we add,
Laftly, The Extent of his Miracles, or that general Influence and Benefit that all Ages and Places have receiv'd by them ever fince; we fhall find abundant caufe both to admire his Power, and to adore his Perfon.
And this will lead me to the Ufe and Application of this Difcourfe, which will be to confirm our Faith in our Bleffed Saviour as the true Meffias, and to perfuade us all to receive his Doctrine, which stands confirm'd by so many Miracles. This Ufe we are the rather to make of it, becaufe of the many late Attempts of fome to fhake our Faith or Belief of both. He muft be a great ftranger to the World, who does not fee what great Endeavours are ufing to weaken the Credit of Chrift's Doctrine and Miracles, and thereby to undermine the whole Chriftian Religion. How far thefe have prevail'd upon too many, whofe bad Lives have made it their Interest and Wifh that Chrift's Doctrine fhould not be true, is eafily apparent to any ordinary Obferver. It is a vicious World we live in; and always the more Vice, the more Unbelief: which may make us think and fear, that we are not far from that time, of which Chrift himself fpake; When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find Faith upon Earth? How far it hath fail'd of late years among us, and how much it is ftill finking, is a Subject very fad to confider: fo that inftead of building Men up in their holy Faith, and carrying on the Work and Business of a Chriftian Life, we are forc'd to combat the Atheists and the Deifts, who are ftill pecking at the Foundation. However, if these Mens Lufts would give them any time to confider, they muft needs fee fuch a Demonftration of the Spirit and Power in Chrift's Doctrine and Miracles, as is fufficient to open the eyes of any, that do not wilfully fhut them against the Truth, and to convince all that are not refolv'd against Conviction. Pertinacia nullum dedit Remedium Deus, there is no Remedy for Obftinacy; and they must perifh without redrefs, who perfift in their Infidelity without Repentance. Let us then confider these things in time, that we be not carry'd away with the Error of the Wicked. Remember the heavy Doom denounc'd against Corazin and Bethfaida, for defpifing the Doctrine
Doctrine and Miracles of Chrift. The barbarous Nations of Tyre and Sidon, that never heard of a Saviour, fhall fare better at the Day of Judgment, than they who faw his mighty Works and believ'd not. And Capernaum, the place of Chrift's Refidence, where many of his Miracles were done, being thereby lifted up to Heaven in the height of their Privileges, will yet for their Unbelief and Impenitence be funk fo much the deeper in Hell. Wherefore let us take heed left there be in any of us an evil Heart of Unbelief, in departing from the living God; but rather let us hold fast the Profeffion of our Faith without wavering: fo fhall we receive at laft the End of our Faith, the Salvation of our Souls; which God grant, for the Merits of Jefus Chrift, &c.
The EPISTLE for the Five and Twentieth Sunday after Trinity.
Jer. xxiii. 59.
Behold the Days come, faith the Lord, that I will raife unto David a righteous Branch, and a King Shall reign and profper, and shall execute Judgment and Justice in the Earth. In his days Judah fball be faved, and Ifrael fball dwell fafely. And this is his Name whereby he shall be call'd, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, &c.
HESE Words containing both a Prophecy and a Promife of the Meffias, are felected for the Epiftle for this Day, and order'd by the Church to be always read upon the Sunday next before Advent, to preferve the Memory of his Coming, and to prepare for his Reception. Accordingly,
The Collect for the Day befeeches God to ftir up the Hearts of his faithful People, to be ready for him, that Kk 2
they plenteously bringing forth the Fruit of good Works, may of him be plenteously rewarded. To which end,
The Epiftle begins with a Prediction of him in thefe words; Behold! the Days come (faith the Lord) that I will raife up unto David a righteous Branch, &c.
The word Ecce, Behold, in the front of them, is never used but to usher in fome matter of great weight and importance, and evermore denotes the Dignity and feeming Difficulty of what comes after it; which is therefore to be receiv'd with the greater Attention and Veneration, as this most especially is. In the following words we have,
Firft, A Promife of the Meffiah, together with the Stock from which he was to defcend: The Days come, faith the Lord, that I will raife up unto David a righteous Branch.
Secondly, We have a Defcription of his Perfon and Go vernment: He fall reign as a King and profper, and shall execute Judgment and Justice in the Earth.
Thirdly, The Benefit and Security that fhould then accrue to his People: In his days Judah fhall be faved, and Ifrael fall dwell fafely.
Laftly, The Name whereby he should be call'd; and that is, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Of each of thefe briefly. And,
First, Of the Promife of the Meffias, together with the Lineage or Stock from whence he defcended: Behold! the Days come, faith the Lord, that I will raise up unto David a righteous Branch. Where by the Days fhall come, we are to understand the latter Days, or the laft Age of the World, call'd in Scripture the last Days, or the latter Times; which were the Days or Age of the Meffias, into which we are fallen. St. Peter fpeaking of him, faith, He was manifefted in the last days, 1 Pet. 1. 5. And St. John to the fame purpofe, Little Children, it is the last Time; 1 John 2. 18.
But because fome may ask with the Scoffers of old, Where is the Promife of his Coming? I fall, befide this of our Text, point out fome of the Prophecies extant in the Old Teftament concerning it. In the Prophecy of Jacob we read of Shiloh's coming, together with the Time appointed for it, which was at the Scepter's departing from Judah, Gen. 49. 10. and that came to pafs in the days of Herod. Mofes told the Ifraelites, that God would raife up a Prophet, not only like unto, but greater than be, and to him they thould hearken
hearken; Deut. 18. 18. And Chrift (as the Gospel for this Day informs us) was own'd and receiv'd as fuch. The Prophet Haggai declar'd at the building of the fecond Temple, that this great Prophet fhould come and fill that Houfe with his Prefence; Hag. 2. 7. And the Prophet Malachi, that the Lord whom they fought would fuddenly come to his Temple; Mal. 3. 5. Both which were fhortly after fulfill'd in Chrift's being prefented in the Temple, and there inftructing his Difciples in the Myfteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Thefe, and many more that might be quoted, are plain Prophecies of the Meffias, whom God by the Prophet Jeremy here promis'd to raise up for the Salvation of Mankind.
But the Prophet here, to the Promife of his Coming, adds the Stock or Lineage from whence he defcended, and that was from the Family of David, I will raife unto David a Righteous Branch. By which it appears, that the Meffias was to be the Seed and Offspring of David; and therefore he is often mention'd in Scripture as deriving his Pedegree from that Line, being frequently ftil'd, the Son of David. The Prophet Ifaiah foretold, that there should come forth a Rod out of the Stem of Jeffe, and a Branch fhall grow out of its Root; Ifa. 11. 1. Which is by all Interpreters understood of Chrift, call'd therefore in the Prophecy of Zechary, The Man whofe Name is the BRANCH, Zech. 6. 12. Accordingly we find St. Matthem and St. Luke, in reckoning his Genealogy, both deriving his Pedegree from the Lineage of David, making JoJeph his reputed Father, and Mary his Mother, to defcend from that Stock: Mat. 1. Luke 24. From his Pedegree, fo carefully recorded in Scripture, proceed we,
Secondly, To the Defcription of his Perfon and Government, in these words; As a King fhall he reign and prosper, and Jhall execute Fudgment and Fuftice upon Earth. Where three things are prophefy'd of the Meffias:
(1.) That he fhould be a King to reign over his People. (2.) That his Reign fhould be profperous. And,
3.) That his Reign fhould be juft and righteous, being ever ready to execute Judgment and Fuftice upon the Earth. (1.) That the Meffias was to be a King, and that he actually reign'd over Ifrael, is evident by the History both of the Old and New Teftament. Zechary in his Prophecy Kk 3