« הקודםהמשך »
were restored to thy favour and reconciliation by the meritorious sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be thy holy name, that thou didst not abandon mankind to that blindness they had contracted, that thou didst not leave them under that weakness and impotency they had brought upon themselves; but when the primitive laws of our being began to lose their vigour and force by the evil practices of a degenerate and corrupted world, wert pleased, by fresh manifestations of thyself, to discover to us the knowledge of our duty, and the ways and means of appeasing thy just wrath and indignation against us, and of restoring penitent sinners to thy mercy and favour.
What is man that thou art mindful of him ; or the Son of Man that thou dost thus remember him? Grant, O Lord, that I may answer the ends of thy gracious discoveries to mankind, that thy heavenly light may direct all my ways, and that my delight may be in thy statutes ; that the reasonableness of thy precepts may influence my understanding, and the excel . lency of them may inflame my affections; that, conforming myself to the methods of thy grace in this world, I may be qualified for the manifestations of thy glory in the next, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
TUESDAY IN WHITSUN-WEEK.
Q. What was the blessed effect of those miraculous Gifts, which were at this time bestowed upon the Apostles ?
A. The miraculous Gifts which the Apostles received at this time, by the descent of the Holy Ghost, were
designed to enable them to preach and propagate the gospel, throughout all the world, and to make known the Christian religion to all nations.
Q. What do you mean by the Christian religion?
A. That way and manner of worshipping and serving God, which was revealed to the world by Jesus Christ; wherein are contained propositions of faith to be believed, precepts of life to be practised, and motives and arguments to enforce obedience.
Q Wherein appears the truth of the Christian religion?
A. From that full and clear evidence which our Saviour and his Apostles gave of their divine mission and authority, and from the nature of that religion they taught, which was worthy of God, and tended to the happiness and welfare of mankind. Both which proofs are necessary to convince us of the truth and certainty of a divine revelation. For if miracles are wrought to establish idolatry, or to promote the practice of any wicked doctrine, we have all the assurance imaginable, that such a revelation cannot proceed from God, because wisdom and holiness, justice and goodness, are essential perfections that belong to his nature; and it is impossible we should be obliged to believe any thing as from him, which plainly contradicts them. And this is very agreeable to what Moses has taught us in such a case, If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, let us go after other gods (which thou hast not known) and let us serve them ; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer oj dreams.
Deut. xiii, 1-3.
Q. What proof have we that there ever was such a person as Jesus Christ, and that he suffered under Pontius Pilate?
A. That there was such a person as Jesus Christ, who lived in the reign of the emperor Tiberius, is not only universally acknowledged by Christians, but has been owned by Jews who have written of those times; and the Heathens themselves have borne their testimony to the truth of this matter of fact, as Tacitus, Suetonius, and younger.
And that the same Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, is averred both by Christians and Jews. The Christians professed it, notwithstanding the ignominy they might thereby seem to bring upon themselves, who worshipped him as a God; and the Jews owned it, notwithstanding the provocation they might thereby give to the Christians ; for it was by their ancestors that he was delivered to be crucified: and it is very probable there were public records of the whole matter at Rome, as the account was sent by Pontius Pilate to Tiberius : for the ancient Christians in their apologies appealed to it, which they had too much understanding and modesty to have done, if no such account had ever been sent, or had not been then extant to be produced. And indeed the great enemies of Christianity, Celsus and Julian, never made this matter of fact a controversy; so that no history can be better established by the unanimous testimony of people, otherwise very different from one another than the life and death of Jesus Christ.
Q. What evidence did Jesus Christ give that he was a prophet sent from God?
A. All the former prophecies which related to the Messias were fulfilled in him, which ought to have been a convincing argument to the Jews, who owned such
prophecies to have been of divine inspiration. He received the testimony of a voice from heaven several times; he was endowed with the power of working miracles ; and particularly with the gift of prophecy, proved and made good by the fulfilling his own predictions ; than which nothing can be a greater evidence of a divine mission, because the greatest argument of infinite power and knowledge.
Q. What prophecies that related to the Messias were fulfilled in Jesus Christ?
A. Those prophecies that concerned his birth and life, his death, resurrection, and ascension.
Q. What prophecies that related to the birth of the Messias were fulfilled in Jesus ?
A. According to Jacob's prophecy, the Messias was to come about the time of the dissolution of the Jewish government;' the Sceptre was not to depart from Judah, that is, the power and authority of the Jewish government was not to cease, till Shiloh came; by whom the ancient Jews did understand the Messias. And it was foretold by the prophets Haggai and Malachi, that he should come before the destruction of the second temple ;' and the destruction of the temple was foretold by Daniel, with the precise time of our Saviour's coming. And to manifest to the world that Christ is come, the Jews are now dispersed among all nations, and their government lost, and their families confounded: the second temple is long since destroyed, and the city of Jerusalem made desolate, which was foretold, should be after the cutting off of the Messias. And as the time of Christ's birth was foretold, so was the place of it: It was prophecied, that the Messias should be born in
Bethlehem of Judea,' which was accordingly fulfilled, the providence of God so ordering it, that Joseph and Mary should be brought up to Bethlehem, by a general tax which Augustus then laid ; not only that she might be delivered, but that their names might be there entered, and their family ascertained and proved, without doubt to have descended from David. The
The person of whom our Saviour was born, was likewise foretold ; according to Isaiah, she was to be a virgin, which was accordingly fulfilled and thus Christ was emphatically the seed of the woman,' according to the promise made to our first parents, being, as the gospel tells us, born of a pure virgin, which never knew man.
Q. What prophecies related to the life of the Messiah, which were fulfilled in Jesus?
A. The meanness and obscurity and sorrows of it are expressed by Isaiah ;' he was spoken of by the prophets as of a person that was to be reputed vile and abject, despised and rejected of men ;" and accordingly, in the gospel, Christ is called a Nazarene, and had not where to lay his head; and yet, notwithstanding these circumstances, he was to be eminent for his patience and meekness. His abode was to be chiefly in Galilee, and accordingly he was brought up at Nazareth, and dwelt at Capernaum. His character of a prophet was asserted by Moses and Isaiah, which was eminently fulfilled, in that he foretold future contingencies. His power of working many and great miracles was foretold by the same prophet," and accomplished by himself in such a manner that many of the people believed in him,