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of his own Death and Sufferings, Peter rebuked him for it, Math. 16. 22. And none of them knew what his rising from the Dead mould mean, Mark 9. 10. for they thought, together with the rest of the People, that Christ or the Messiah abideth for ever, i.e. must never die, John 12. 34. And even after the Resurrection of Christ they expected with some Impatience the same temporal Glory and Grandeur when they said, Aits 1. 16. Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the Kingdom unto Ifrael.
But to defcend to Particulars, and enquire What opinion the Jews had of the Nature of their Messiah, Who or What he was to be.
1. They generally believed he should be a Man of their own Nation, of the Tribe of Judah, of the Seed of David, born at Bethlehem, who was to be the King of the Jews, and their Saviour.' When Herod demanded where the Messiah the King of the Jews jould be born, the chief Priests and Scribes told him, at Bethlehem, Mat. 2. 5. And they said to him, In Bethlehem of Judah, for thus it is written by the Prophet, And thou Bethlehem in the Land of Judah art not the least among the Princes of Yudah, for out of thee shall come a Governor that mall rule my People Ifrael. And when Yesus asked the Pharisees, Whose Son is Christ, or the Messiah? they roundly answered, The Son of David.
Yet others of the Jews were so very ignorant and doubtful in this matter, that they refused Jesus, and denied him to be the Mef fiah, for this very Reason, because they knew his Birth and Parentage. John 7; 27. We know this Man whence he is, but when Christ cometh, no Man knoweth whence he is.
2. They believed that he had an Existence before he came into the World; for we can hardly luppose that the Scribes and Priests should be so ready in citing one part of this Verse, Micah 5. 2. which shews him to be born at Bethlehem, and take no notice of the other
part of it, a Ruler in Ifrael, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Yet it may perhaps be doubted whether this Opinion was universal, because in some Instances they were stupid enough to believe one part of a Chapter or Period concerning the Messiah's Glory, and neglect another
part which related to his Sufferings. 3. They believed that he had some glorious and eminent relation to God. This appears from the Name of Honour that the Messiah was universally known by amongst them, viz. The Son of God. The Scribes, the Pharisees, the Priests, and all the Yews, talk'd with our Lord Jesus freely about the Messiah under this Name and Title, as being the common Name of the Messiah, and perfectly well known amongst them, viz. that the Messiah was the
Son of God in some superior and more excellent way. When Philip told Nathanael, John 1. 46. We have found him of whom Mofes and the Prophets did write, that is, the Messiah ; Nathanael being convinced that Hesus was he, presently faluted him by this Name, Thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel.
4. The Prophets in the Old Testament frequently intimate the Divinity of Christ; and some few of the ancient Jews might probably believe that he was the Memra, or Word of the Lord, the Shekinah or glorious Habitation of God, of which the Chaldee Paraphraft sometimes speaks. Dr. Allix in his Judgment of the ancient Jewish Church against the Unitarians, secms to be too positive and triumphant in this point, that this Memra or Logos to which the Chaldee Paraphraft ascribes the Creation of the World, and the Government of it, and particularly of the Jewish Nation, is the Messiah in their Sense. Mr. Nye and others utterly deny it. But the excellent Mr. Robert Fleming, in his Discourse of Christology, Vol. I. p. 136,144. very judiciously follows a middle Path, and tells us, “That he did not find one of the
many Citations used by Dr. Allix that “ seem'd to necessitate our Judgment this
way. Therefore he run thro' the Targums " himself in those Places where he thought
it most probable to find what he sought,
" and yet could find but few Passages that “ seemed very plainly to relate to the Messiah." Upon which he concludes, “ That tho the word Memra is sometimes used for the
Messiah, yet ʼtis much more frequently used " in other Senses, and that the Jewish Memra “ and Mefliah are spoken of sometimes as two “ distinct Beings or Persons *.”
But what doubtful Hints or plain Evidences foever there might be from the Books of the Prophets or these Paraphrastical Authors, that Christ was to be the true God, yet the Jews in Christ's Time did not generally belicve it: And tho' some learned Authors have asserted it, yet I never saw it proved.
Surely if the Pharisees had but embraced this Opinion, they could never been at a loss to have answered our Lord Jesus, when he ask'd them, Mat. 22. 43, 45, 46. If Christ be David's Son, how doth he in Spirit call him Lord? It was plain by their Silence and Confusion, that they did not believe his Godhead. Bishop Bull is of this mind as well as Dr.Whitby. See Bull's Judic. Eccl. Cath. &c. c. 1. §. 13. and Whitby's Comment.
head. Mr. Fleming in that place tells us, that tho' he could not find the word Memra and Mefliah used as explicatory of one another in those Places which are plainly prophetical of Chrift, yet he supposes the Reason might be this, that Memra denotes Chrift with relation only to his Divine Nature before his assuming human Nature, and Mesiah denotes him only as he was to appear visibly and become Man; therefore it was hardly poffible that both these' Words should be used of him at once. See Christology, Vol. I. p. 143. Thus 'tis evident that Mr. Fleming searched after this Notion with a seeming Inclination to find it true, yet he could not find fo great and uncontested Evidence of it, as to suppose that the ancient Jews generally embraced this Opinion, that the Memra or Word of God was the fame with chc Meskab.
In short, their Notions of this Matter were fo very confused, so uncertain, so inconsistent, and so various, that they cannot be reduced to any certain or settled Scheme of Sentiments.
Sect. II. What Ideas did Christ give his
Disciples of himself.
II. I Proceed now in the second place to in,
quire, what Ideas or Notions our Lord Jesus Christ taught his Disciples concerning himself.
1. Ke takes particular Pains upon many Occasions to shew that he was sent frore God, or received Commission from Heaven to teach the Doctrines which he taught, and to perform those glorious and surprizing Miracles which he wrought, to confirm both his Doctrine and his Commission. This is so largely insisted on in the fifth, fixth, and following Chapters of the Gospel by St. John, that I need not cite particular Instances.
2. He proves by most infallible Evidences, that he was the Mesiah, the Saviour of Mankind: and he endeavoured to lead his Difciples out of their own national Prejudices, and to give them a juster Notion of the Office of the Messiah, and his spiritual Kingdom. This he did in several of his Dilcourses.