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they plenteoujly bringing forth the Fruit os good Works, may es him be plenteoujly rewarded. To which end,
The Epistle begins with a Prediction of him in these words; Behold! the Days come (faith the Lord) that I will raise up unto David a righteous Branch, &c„
The word Ecce, Behold., in the front of them, is never used but to usher in some matter of great weight and importance, and evermore denotes the Dignity and' seeming 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,
First, A Promise of the Messiah, together with the Stock from which he was to descend: The Days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise up unto David a righteous Branch*
Secondly, We have a Description of his Person and Government: He stall reign at a Ring and prosper, and flail execute Judgment and Justice in she Earth.
Thirdly, The Benefit and Security that should then accrue to his People: In his days Judah shall be faved, and Israel shall dwell safely.
Lastly, The Name whereby he stjouid be calsd; and that is, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Of each of these briefly. And, . .. .
First, Of tke Promise os the Messias, together with tht Lineage or Stock from whence he descended: Behold! the Days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise up unto David a righteous Branch. Where by the Days ffjall come, we are to understand the latter Days, or the last Age of the World, call'd in Scripture the last Days,, or the latter Times, which were the Days or Age of the Messias, into which we are fallen. St. Peter speaking os him, faith, He was manifested in the last days, i Pet. 1. 5. And St. John to the fame purpose, Little Children, it is the last Time , 1 John 2.18.
But because some may ask with the Scoffers of old, Where is the Promise os his Coming? I stall, beside this of our Text, point out some of the Prophtcres extant in the Old Testament 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 pass in the days or Herod. Moses told the Israelites, that God would raise up a Prophet, wt only like unto, but greater than he* and to him they JhouM
hearken; Deut. 18.18. And Christ (as the Gospel for this Day informs us) was own'd and receiv'd as such. The Prophet Haggai declar'd at the building of the second Temple, that this great Prophet should come and fill that House with his Presence; Hag. 2. 7. And the Prophet Malachi, that the Lord whom they sought would suddenly come to his Temp-le ., Mai. 3. f. Both which were shortly after fulfill'd in Christ's being presented in the Temple, and there instructing his Disciples in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.
These, and many more that might be quoted, are plain. Prophecies of the Meflias, whom God by the Prophet Jeremy here promis'd to raise up for the Salvation of Mankind.
But the Prophet here, to the Promise of his Coming, adds the Stock or Lineage from whence he descended, and that was from the Family of David; / will raise unto David a Righteous Branch. By which it appears, that the Mesfias 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 stil'd, the Son of David. The Prophet Isaiah foretold, that there should tome forth a Rod out of the Stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of its Root; Ifa. 11.1. Which is by all Interpreters understood of Christ, call'd therefore in the Prophecy of Zechary, The Man whose Name is the BRANCH, Zech.6.12. Accordingly we find St.Matthew and St. Luke, in reckoning his Genealogy, both deriving his Pedegree from the Lineage of David; making Joseph his reputed Father, and Mary his Mother, to descend from that Stock: Mat. 1. Luke 24. From his Pedegree, so carefully recorded in Scripture, proceed we,
Secondly, To the Description of his Person and Government, in these words-, As a King shall he reign and prosper? and shall execute Judgment and Justice upon Earth. Whei e three things are prophesy'd of the Messias:
(r.) That he should be a King to reign over his People.
(2.) That his Reign should be prosperous. And,
(3.) That his Reign should be just and righteous, being ever ready to execute Judgment and Justice upon the Earth.
(1.) That the Meliias was to be a King, and that he actually reign'd over Israel, is evident by the History both of the Old and New Testament. Zechary in his Prophecy
Kk 3 'of of our Saviour exprefly stiles him King of Israels Chap.9.9; Rejoice., 0 Daughter of Zion ., and shout, O Daughter of Jerufalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee! that is, to the House of Israel, or the People of the Jews. The Prophet Isaiah declares, that the Government was to be on his shoulders, calling him, The Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace Ifa. 9.6,7. And nothing is more common in all the Prophets, than to stile the Meffias the Lord of Hosts, and the King of Israel. And the fame is the frequent Language of the New Testament: Where is he that is born King of the Jem? fay the Wisemen upon the Birth of Christ, Mat. 2. 2. Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel; faid Nathaniel, John 1.49. Pilate asking him, Art thou a King then i he answer.'d, Thou fayest it: meaning, that he faid true, for so he was.
(2.) And as he reign'd as a King, so was his Reign prof perous; He shall reign and prosper. Which is a Prophecy of the Glory and Extent of his Kingdom, that it mould reach over the World, and extend to all the Ends of the Earth. Of the Increase of his Government and Peace, there si ail be no end, faith the Prophet Isaiah: The Zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform it, Chap. 9.8. And elsewhere, that the Pleasure of the Lord should so prosper in his hand, that his Kingdom should reach unto all Parts, and his Dominion to all Ages.
(3.) And as he should reign and prosper, so should he execute Judgment and Justice in the Earth: that is, his Reign should be not only glorious, but just and righteous j doing Right to all, and equally distributing both Rewards and Punishments. So the Prophet Isaiah foretold, that he should sit upon the Throne of David, and upon his Kingdom, to order and to establtsh it with Judgment and Justice; Ifa. 9.8.
All whjch things are .to be understood, not of any temporal Kingdom, as if he were to reign here in the transitoty Glory and Splendor of an earthly Monarch; but of a spiritual Kingdom, or a Kingdom within us, whereby he reigns in our Hearts by Faith, and governs us by his holy Spirit. This he told his Disciples himself, when suing to him for earthly Profits and Preferments, he reply'd to them, that his Kingdom was ?iot of this World, but his Busi. ness was to purchase and prepare for them a better ; and to that end ne came not so much to make them great as good, and by Grace to advance them to Glory, to triumph over the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, and to make all their Foes their Footstool. This the Pfalmist foretold of his Kingdom, that a Scepter of Righteousness was to be the Scepter of hU Kingdom, Plal. 45. 62. which the Apostle applies to the just Exercise of his Regal Power, in succouring the Faithful, and punishing the obdurate Resisters of his Will; Heb. 1. 8. In this fense it is that he is faid to reign as a King, his Empire being not so much over the Bodies, as the Souls of Men, where he rules by his holy Spirit, and subdues all his and our Enemies; in which he is likewise faid to prosper, all Nations coming in, and being made subject to him: His Dominion is from Sea to Sea, and his Power reaches over aH Lands. In a word, he reigns over all the Princes and Potentates of the Earth, who veil their Crowns to his Cross, and submit their Scepters to his Scepter of Righteousness: for which reason he is stil'd King of Kings, and Lord of Lords; all inferiour Princes reigning by his Power, and decreeing Justice by his Author rity: So that all the Help that is done upon Earth, he doth it himself. And this will lead me to consider,
Thirdly, The great Blessings that accrue by the Coming of the Messias, and they are set forth in the next words j In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely. Salvation and Peace are two of the greatest Blessings tkat can befal a People -, they relate to the Welfare both of Body and Soul, and that not only in the Life that now is, but in that which is to come. To live in Peace ancf Safety, is the great Comfort and Happiness of this Life; and to be fav'd at last, is the Joy and Blessedness of the next: both these are here prophesy'd and promis'd at the Coming of the Messias, and particularly to the Tribe of Judah and the House of Israel, from both which he descended. Accordingly we read that Christ came unto his twn; that is, to the Jews, who were of his own Tribe, Stock, and Nation, and of them he was sent first to the lost Sheep of the House of Israel, to reduce the wandring Tews, and bring Salvation to Israel; for he tells us, that he came to seek, and to save them that were lost. After which he enlarg'd his Favour, and extended it to the Gen? tiles also, according to the Prophecy, that to him should the gathering of the People be, and he should become the Desire and Saviour of all Nations.
K k 4 But
But how is Judah faid to be fav'd, and Israel to dwell in fafety, when neither the one hath receiv'd Salvation, nor is the other restor'd to their own Country or Kingdom?
In answer to this, we must note, that there were some of the Jews and Israelites, that wilfully rejected Christ, the righteous Branch of the House of David -, and said with them in'the Parable, We will not have this Man to reign over m, and so obstinately thrust Salvation from them: These were they of whom St. John speaks, when he came unto his own, his own receiv'd htm notj and 'tis no wonder if they miss of Mercy and Salvation, who wilfully refuse and cast it from them. But to as many as receiv'd him (faith the fame Evangelist) to them gave he power to become the Sons of Gcd, even to as many as believ'd in his Name; John i. 12. They that came to him were sav'd by him; and for others that would not, it could not be expected. Besides, St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, hath expounded Judah and Israel in a spiritual and mystical sense, for those that are truly and by Faith such: For he is not a Jew (faith he) that is one outwardly, neither is that Circumcision, that is outward in the Flesh; hut he is a Jew that is one inwardly, and Circumcision is that of the Heart: Rom. 2. 28. Neither are they all Israel, that are of Israel; Rom. 9.6. where the Apostle makes the name of Jew or Judah to signify a Follower of the Faith of Abraham; and a true Israelite to be one like Nathaniel, in whose Spirit there is no .Guile. Now 'tis to all, and only these, that the Promise of Peace and Salvation is here made: for such, by believing in Christ, as Abraham did, shall be fav'd by Faith, as he was; and being made righteous by this righteous Branch, shall grow up and live for ever in Peace and Safety. And this will lead me to the
Next thing propounded, viz.. the Name or Title here given him-, And this it his Name whereby he shall be calsd, the LORD OUR RIG HTEOUSNESS. In the Prophecy of Jacob, he is stil'd SHILOH, that is, one that was to be sent. Mvfes calls him the great PROPHET, that was to reveal his Father's Will. In the Prophecy of Isaiah, he is caird EMMANUEL, which signifies Godwith us: And here the Prophet Jeremy stiles him, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS\ implying, that he is not only infinitely righteous in'hini
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