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there occur not the names of Abiud and Rhesa; yet it being common with the Jews for one man sometimes to have two names, there is ground enough for us, without any presumption, to believe and conclude that it so happened here.
4. The fourth proposition is this, That it was the custom of the Jews not to reckon the woman by name in her pedigree, but to reckon the husband in right of his wife. For which reason Joseph is twice reckoned, namely, first in his own right by Saint Matthew; and secondly, in his wife Mary's right by Saint Luke. For Mary was properly the daughter of Eli; and Joseph, who is there reckoned after him, is so reckoned, not as his natural son, but as his son-in-law, instead of his wife Mary, according to that custom of the Jews; whereupon it is noted by Chemnitius, that Saint Luke doth not say that Joseph was the son of Eli, or Eli begat Joseph, as Saint Matthew precisely doth, that Jacob begat Joseph, but To 'Hai, who was of Eli, that is, was related to him, and belonged to his family, namely, as his son-in-law. Nor ought any to object against Mary's being the daughter of Eli, that ancient and received tradition, which reports her the daughter of Joachim and Anna; for, as the learned Bishop Mountague observes, Eli and Joachim, however they are two words, (and very different,) are yet but one name, and signify but one person; Eli being but ÚTOZOITIXÒ, a diminutive of Eliakim, and Eliakim the same with Jehoiachim, or Joachim, as appears from 2 Kings, xxiii. 34, and 2 Chron. xxxvi. 4, quoting withal two noted Jewish rabbies, namely, Macana Ben Nehemiæ, and rabbi Hacadosh, in confirmation of the same, and with particular application of it to the father of the blessed Virgin, there pointed out by them as the mother of the Messias.
5. The fifth and last proposition is this, That although Jesus of Nazareth naturally descended only from Mary, yet he derives not his title to the crown and kingdom of the Jews originally by the line of Mary, (forasmuch as she sprang from the line of Rhesa, the younger son of Zorobabel,) but received that from Joseph, who was of the elder line by Abiud ; which line of Abiud failing in Joseph, as having no issue, the right of inheritance devolved upon one of the younger line, namely, upon Mary, and consequently upon Jesus, her son and legal heir. From whence there rises this unanswerable argument, both against the opinion of those who affirm Joseph to have had other children by a former wife; as also against that old heresy of Helvidius, who, against the general and constant sense of the church, denied the perpetual virginity of Mary, affirming that Joseph had other children by her after the birth of Jesus. Span
Acts and Monuments of the Church, p. 522.
hemius, in his Dubia Evangelica, concludes against the opinion of Helvidius (which I much marvel at) merely upon the account of decency and congruity, as judging it more suitable and agreeable to that honourable esteem we ought to have of our blessed Saviour's mother, to hold that, after his birth, she remained a perpetual virgin. But I add, that to assert so, seems not only decent, but of as absolute necessity, as that Jesus Christ, the Messias, was to be of right king of the Jews. For had Joseph had any children, either by Mary or any other wife, they, as coming from the elder line of Abiud by Joseph, their father, must have claimed the inheritance of the kingdom in his right, and not Jesus, the son of Mary, who descended from a younger line, and so could not legally inherit, but upon default of issue from Joseph, the only remaining heir of the elder: for this was the law of Moses, which, in this case, would have barred Jesus from a title to the kingdom of the Jews. But we know Jesus came to "fulfil the law" in every part and tittle of it; and therefore, would never have owned himself king of the Jews, contrary to the express injunctions and tenor of it. For though it must be confessed, that the gospel makes mention of the brothers and sisters of Jesus, yet it is known to be most usual in the Jewish language to call any collateral kindred, as cousins and cousins-german, by that name. And antiquity reports the Virgin Mary to have had two sisters, the children of which might very well be called the brethren of Jesus. So that from hence there can be no necessity of granting that Jesus had any brother or sister, either by his mother Mary, or his reputed and legal father Joseph.
And thus I have endeavoured to make out our blessed Saviour's descent from the line of David. But as for that opinion which asserts him to have been of the tribe of Levi, because his mother Mary was cousin to Elizabeth, who was of that tribe, it is very weak and groundless. For no man asserts Jesus to have been so of the house of David, as to exclude all relation to other tribes aud families, with which, by mutual marriages, he might well contract a kindred; it being prohibited to none but heiresses to marry out of their own family. And as for another opinion, which (in order to the making of Christ a priest) affirms Nathan the son of David, from whom Christ descended, to have been a priest, as Solomon was a king, and so to have founded a sacerdotal line as Solomon did a royal; this being a conceit both so groundless in itself, and withal so expressly contradicted by the Scripture, which in Heb. vii. 13, so positively affirms, that "no man of the tribe of Judah ever gave attendance at the altar;" I say, upon this account, it deserves no farther thought, and much less confutation.
Now, to sum up all that has been delivered, it briefly amounts to thus much, that the royal line of David by Solomon being extinct in Jeconiah, the crown and kingdom passed into the immediately younger line of Nathan (another son of David) in Salathiel and Zorobabel; which Zorobabel having two sons, Abiud and Rhesa, the royal dignity descended of right upon the line of Abiud, of which Joseph was the last, who marrying the Virgin Mary, which sprung from the line of Rhesa the younger son of Zorobabel, and withal having no issue himself, his right passes into the line of Mary, being the next of kin, and by that means upon Jesus her son. Whereupon he was both naturally the son of David, and also legally the king of the Jews; which latter is accounted to us by Saint Matthew, as the former is by Saint Luke, who delivers down the pedigree of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and daughter of Eli; though Joseph, her husband, only stands there named according to the known way of the Jews computing their genealogies. And this to me seems a most clear, full, and manifest deduction of our Saviour's pedigree from David, which yet I shall farther confirm with this one consideration,-that whatsoever cavils the modern Jews and others make now
a-days against the genealogies recorded by the evangelists; yet the Jews, their contemporaries, who were most nice and exactly skilful in things of this nature, and withal most maliciously bent against Christ and Christianity, never offered to quarrel against or invalidate the accounts they have given us of this particular; which, had they been faulty, the Jews would most certainly have done, this giving them so vast an advantage against us. And this consideration alone, were we now not able particularly to clear these matters, is of that weight and substance, that, so far as terms of moral certainty can demonstrate a thing, it ought, with every sober and judicious person, to have even the force of a demonstration. But the discussion which has already passed upon this subject will afford us ground firm enough for the most rational and impartial belief to stand upon. However, if any one knows some other way of clearing this great article of our faith, which may better accord all difficulties, and lie open to fewer and less exceptions, he will do a worthy service to the Christian religion to produce it, and none shall be more thankful to him for it than myself.
Having thus finished the second part of my text, which speaks "Christ the offspring of David," according to his human nature, as the first declared him the "root of David" in respect of his divine, I shall descend now to that
Three things there are considerable in a star,
First, The nature of its substance. Secondly, The manner of its appearance. Thirdly, The quality of its operation. In every one of which respects Christ bears a lively resemblance to it.
Third and last part of the text, which represents him to us under the glorious denomination of "the bright and morning star."
First. And first, for the nature of its substance. It is commonly defined in philosophy the purest and most refined part of its orb; by which it is distinguished from all those meteors and shining nothings that ascend no farther than the air, how high soever the mistake and ignorance of vulgar eyes may place them, as also from the other parts of the celestial sphere or orb in which it is. In like manner, was not Christ the purest and the noblest part of the world, which was the sphere and orb wherein, during his humiliation, he was pleased to move? He was the very flower, the extract and quintessence of mankind, uniting all the perfections of it in his person, without any alloy or mixture of imperfection. Upon which account David, by the spirit of prophecy, calls him "fairer than the sons of men, as being anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows," that is, the graces of the Spirit descended not upon him in those minute portions and stinted measures that they do upon other mortals. Their drop was nothing to his ocean.
And to shew yet farther of how pure a make he was, we know him to have been wholly untouched with any thing of that original stain, which has universally sunk into the nature of all men besides. He was a second Adam without any of the guilt contracted by the first- he was born a man without any human imperfections-a rose without thorns. He was nothing but purity itself; virtue clothed in a body, and innocence incarnate. So blameless and free from all shadow of guilt, that the very Jews, his bitter enemies, gave him this testimony, "that he had done all things well," (Mark, vii. 37.) And even Pilate, his unjust judge, though he took from him his life, yet left him his innocence, declaring openly, "that he found in him no fault at all," (John, xviii. 38.)
There are spots, they say, not in the moon only, but also in the face of the sun itself; but this star was of a greater and more unblemished lustre, for not the least spot was ever discovered in it, though malice and envy itself were the perspectives through which most of the world beheld it. And as it is the privilege of the celestial luminaries to receive no tincture, sulliage, or defilement from the most noisome sinks and dunghills here below, but to maintain a pure, untainted, virgin light, in spite of all their exhalations; so our Saviour shined in the world with such an invincible tight of holiness, as suffered nothing of the corrupt manners and depraved converse of
men to rub the least filth or pollution upon him. He was not capable of receiving any impression from all the sin and villainy which, like a contagion, fastened upon every soul round about him. In a word, he was pure, righteous, and undefiled, not only above the world, but, what is more, in the midst of it.
Secondly. The next thing considerable in a star is the manner of its appearance. It appears but small, and of a little compass; so that, although our reason assures us that it is bigger than the whole earth, yet our sight would seem to persuade us that it is not much bigger than a diamond sparkling upon the circle of a little ring. And now, how appositely does this consideration also suit the condition of our Saviour! who, both in his rising and shining upon the world, seemed, in the eyes of all men, but a small and a contemptible thing, a poor helpless man, first living upon a trade, and then upon something that was much meaner, namely, upon alms. Whereupon, what slight thoughts had they of his person! as if he had been no more than an ordinary soul, joined to an ordinary body, and so sent into the world to take his course in the common lot of mortality. They little dreamed of a Deity, and of something greater than the world, lodged in that little tabernacle of his flesh. So that, notwithstanding his being the great and almighty God, the Lord of hosts, and King of kings, yet the generality of men took him for but a mean person, and such another living piece of clay as themselves. And what could be the cause of his being thought so, but the same that makes stars to be thought little things, even their height and vast distance from poor earthly spectators? So the glories of Christ's person were, by the very transcendency of their height, placed above the reach and ken of a mortal apprehension. And God must yet elevate our reason by revelation, or the Son of God himself will still seem but a small thing in our eyes. For carnal reason measures the greatest things by all the disadvantages of their outward appearance, just as little children judge of the proportion of the sun and moon, reckoning that to be the smallness of the object which is only the distance of the beholder, or the weakness of the organ.
Thirdly. The third and last thing to be considered in a star is, the quality of its operation, which is twofold. First, open and visible, by its light. Secondly, secret and invisible, by its influence. And,
First, This morning star operates by its brightness and lustre; in respect of which it Is the first fruits of light, and, as it were, day in its minority, clearing the heavenly stage, and chasing away all other stars, till it reigns in the firmament alone. And now, to make good the comparison between Christ and this, we shall shew how he, by his appearance,
chased away many things much admired and gazed at by the world, and particularly these three,
First, Much of the heathenish worship and superstition, which not only like a cloud, but like a black and a dark night, had, for a long time, covered the face of the whole earth, and made such triumphs over the reason of mankind, that in nothing more appeared the ruins and decays of our nature. And it was unquestionably the greatest and severest instance of the divine wrath upon man for his origina. apostasy from God, thus to leave him confounded and uncertain in the management of the greatest affair and concernment of his soul, his religion; so that, as it was then ordered, it was nothing else but a strange, confused compound of absurdity and impiety. For as to the object of their worship, the apostle tells us, that they "worshipped devils," (1 Cor. x. 20,) and elsewhere they worshipped
men like themselves." Nay, "birds, and beasts, and creeping things;" and, as historians tell us, roots and herbs, leeks and onions; yea, and their own base desires and affections, deifying and building temples to lust, anger, revenge, and the like. In sum, they worshipped all things but God, who only, of all things, was to have been worshipped.
Now, upon the coming of Christ, very much, though not all, of this idolatrous trumpery and superstition was driven out of the world so that many of the oracles (those great instruments of delusion) ceased about the time of our Saviour's nativity. The divine power then dispossessing the devil of his greater temples, as well as of his lesser, the bodies of men; and so casting down the throne of fallacy and superstition, by which he had so long enslaved the vassal world, and led it captive at his pleasure.
Secondly, As the heathenish false worship, so also the Jewish imperfect worship, began to be done away by the coming of Christ. The Jews, indeed, drew their religion from a purer fountain than the Gentiles; God himself being the author of it, and so both ennobling and warranting it with the stamp of divine authority. Yet God was pleased to limit his operations in this particular to the narrowness and small capacities of the subject which he had to deal with; and therefore, the Jews, being naturally of a gross and sensual apprehension of things, had the economy of their religion, in many parts of it, brought down to their temper, and were trained to spirituals by the ministry of carnal ordinances. Which yet God was pleased to advance in their signification, by making them types and shadows of that glorious archetype that was to come into the world, his own Son; both in person and office, by admirable mystery and contrivance, fitted to be the great Redeemer of mankind. He, therefore, being the person to
whom all the prophets bore witness, to whom all ceremonies pointed, and whom all the various types prefigured; it was but reason, that, when he actually appeared in the world, all that previous pomp and apparatus should go off the stage, and, like shadows, vanish before the substance. And accordingly, we look upon the whole Mosaical institution as having received its period by Christ, as defunct and ceased, and the church now grown up to that virility and stature, as to be above the discipline of beggarly rudiments, and, like an adult heir passing from the pedagogy of tutors, to assume its full liberty and inheritance; for those whom Christ makes free are free indeed.
Thirdly and lastly, All pretended false Messiahs vanished upon the appearance of Christ the true one. A crown will not want pretenders to claim it, nor usurpers, if their power serves them to possess it: and hereupon the messiahship was pretended to by several impostors; but fallacy and falsehood being naturally weak, they still sunk, and came to nothing. It must be confessed, indeed, that there rose up such counterfeits after Christ, as well as bef him; yet still, I think, their defeat ought to be ascribed to his coming; because, as a light scatters the darkness on all sides of it, so there was such a demonstration and evidence given of Jesus's being the true Messias by his coming in the flesh, that it cast its discovering influence both backwards and forwards, and equally baffled and confuted the pretences of those who went before, and of those who rose up after him; so potent and victorious is truth, especially when it comes upon such an errand from heaven, as to save the world.
Amongst those several false Messiahs it is remarkable that one called himself Barchocab, or the son of a star; but by his fall he quickly shewed himself of a nature far differing from this glorious "morning star" mentioned in the text, which even then was fixed in heaven while it shone upon the earth. It was not the transitory light of a comet, which shines and glares for a while, and then presently vanishes into nothing; but a light durable and immortal, and such an one as shall outlive the sun, and shine and burn when heaven and earth, and the whole world, shall be reduced to cinders.
Having thus shewn how Christ resembled a star in respect of his external visible shinings to the world, by which he drove away much of the heathenish idolatry, all the Jewish ceremonies, together with the pretences of all counterfeit Messiahs, as the light dispels and chases away the darkness; come we now, in the
Second place, to see how he resembles a star also in respect of its internal, secret operation and influence upon all sublunary
inferior beings. And indeed this is the noblest and the greatest part of the resemblance. Stars are thought to operate powerfully even then when they do not appear; and are felt by their effects, when they are not seen by their light. In like manner, Christ often strikes the soul, and darts a secret beam into the heart, without alarming either the eye or the ear of the person wrought upon. And this is called, both properly and elegantly, by Saint Peter, (2 Ephes. i. 19,) "the day star's arising in our hearts;" that is, by the secret silent workings of his Spirit he illuminates the judgment, bends the will and the affections, and at last changes the whole man and this is that powerful but still voice by which he speaks eternal peace to the souls of his elect, in the admirable but mysterious work of their conversion. So that our great concern and inquiry should be, whether those heavenly beams have reached us inwardly, and pierced into our minds, as well as shone in our faces; and whether the influence of this star upon us has been such as to govern and draw us after it, as it did the wise men, and thereby both make and prove us wise unto salvation. For light is operative as well as beautiful, and by working upon the spirits, affects the heart as well as pleases the eye. Above all things, therefore, let us be strict and impartial in this search, where the thing searched for is of such conse quence. For since there are false lights, light itself should be tried: and if we would know infallibly whether it be the light from above, by which we are led and live; and whether this "morning star" has had its full efficacy upon, or rather within us; let us see whether or no it has scattered the clouds and darkness of our spiritual ignorance and the noisome fogs of our lusts and vile affections. Do we live as the sons of light? Do we walk as in the day, without stumbling into the mire of our old sins? These are the only sure evidences that Christ is not only a star in himself, but such an one also to us. For when the "dayspring from on high visits us" truly and effectually, it first takes us out of these shadows of death, and then guides our feet into the ways of peace.
To which God of his mercy vouchsafe to bring us all; to whom be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all honour, praise, might, majesty, and dominion, both now and for evermore. Amen.
JESUS OF NAZARETH PROVED THE TRUE AND ONLY PROMISED MESSIAH.
PREACHED AT ST MARY'S IN OXFORD, BEFORE THE UNIVERSIY, ON CHRISTMAS DAY, 1665.
"He came to his own, and his own received him not." JOHN, i. 11.
I cannot think it directly requisite to the prosecution of these words, (nor will the time allotted for it permit,) to assert and vindicate the foregoing verses from the perverse interpretatious of that false pretender to reason, and real subverter of all religion, Socinus: who, in the exposition of this chapter, together with some part of the 8th, (both of them taken from the posthumous papers of his uncle Lelius,) laid the foundation of that great babel of blasphemies, with which he afterwards so amused and pestered the Christian world, and under colour of reforming and refining, forsooth, the best of religions, has employed the utmost of his skill and art to bring men indeed to believe none. And therefore no small cause of grief must it needs be to all pious minds, that such horrid opinions should find so ready a reception and so fatal a welcome in so many parts of the world as they have done, considering both what they tend to, and whom they come from. For they tend only to give us such a Christ and Saviour, as neither the prophets nor evangelists know nor speak any thing of. And as for their original, if we would trace them up to that, through some of the chief branches of their infamous pedigree, we must carry them a little backward from hence; first to the forementioned Faustus Socinus and his uncle Lelius, and from them to Gentilis, and then to Servetus, and so through a long interval to Mahomet and his sect, and from them to Photinus, and from him to Arius, and from Arius to Paulus Samosatenus, and from him to Ebion and Cerinthus, and from them to Simon Magus, and so in a direct line to the Devil himself: under whose conduct in the several ages of the church these wretches successively have been some of the most notorious opposers of the divinity of our Saviour, and would undoubtedly have overthrown the belief of it in the world, could they, by all their arts or wresting, corrupting, and false interpreting the holy text, have brought the Scriptures to speak for them, which they could never yet do. And amongst all the scriptures, no one has stood so directly
and immovably in their way as this first chapter of Saint John's Gospel, a chapter carrying in it so bright and full an assertion of the eternal godhead of the Son, that a man must put common sense and reason extremely upon the rack, before he can give any tolerable exposition of it to the contrary. So that an eminent Dutch critic-who could find in his heart, so much as in him lay, to interpret away that noble and pregnant place of Scripture, (John, viii. 58,) “Before Abraham was, I am," from being any proof at all of Christ's eternal pre-existence to his incarnation, and so to give up one of the main forts of the Christian religion to the Socinianshas yet been forced, by the overpowering evidence of this chapter, (notwithstanding all his shifts, too manifestly shewing what he would be at,) to express himself upon this subject more agreeably to the sense of the catholic church, than in many other places he had done. And well indeed might he, even for shame itself, do so much, when it is certain that he might have done a great deal more. For such a commanding majesty is there in every period almost of this chapter, that it has forced even heathens and atheists (persons who valued themselves not a little upon their philosophy) to submit to the controlling truth of the propositions here delivered, and, instead of contradicting or disputing, to fall down and worship. For the things here uttered were mysteries kept hid from ages, and such as God had for four thousand years together, by all the wise arts and methods of his providence, been preparing the world for, before it could be fit or ripe to receive them and therefore a most worthy subject they must needs have been for this beloved apostle to impart to mankind, who, having so long lain in the bosom of truth itself, received all things from that great original by more intimate and immediate communications than any of the rest of the apostles were honoured with. In a word, he was of the cabinet; and therefore no wonder if he spake oracles.
In the text we have these two parts, First, Christ's coming into the world, in those words," he came to his own."