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we are here primarily to understand the Jews; who notwithstanding all the mighty Signs and Miracles performed by Christ, denied Assent to his Doctrine. This Difbelief of theirs before the Mission of the Holy Ghost, our Saviour in many places seems to excuse and pardon; and St. Peter in Afts iii. 17. extenuates their crucifying the Lord of Life by their Ignorance : Which Plea would have been but trifling , had not their Ignorance in some Measure been excufable ; but after the Mission of the Holy Spirit, to stand out against those manifold Convictions that were then of fer'd, could be no other than an inexcufable Perverseness and Incredulity. Of this we may assign two several Reasons.
First, That although our Lord had in his own Person performed many, and those stupendious Miracles; yer these affected no other than the Spectators of them. For while alive, he never blazoned abroad his Miracles, nor employed his Disciples in spreading the Report, and testifying the Truth of them. So that however many particular Perfons, who were Eye-witnesses of his Miracles, could not but be abundantly convinced of his Divinity; yet the universal Conviction of the whole Nation of the Jews was to be reserved to the Misfion of the Holy Ghost: When the Apoftles were to be endued with Courage and Power from on High, to proclaim his Acti
ons and Doctrines to all Men, and if need were, to assert the Truth of them, by other no less extraordinary Miracles.
Secondly, The chief Note affixed by God, whereby to judge of the Truth of any Prophet, and particularly of the Messias, was the Completion of his Prophecies. Thus in Deut. xviii. when Mofes assureth the Children of Israel, That God should raise them up in the latter days a Prophet like unto himself, whom they should be obliged to bear in all things; he gives them this Token, whereby to judge between the true and any false Messias : If the Predictions of him, who took upon him the Name and Character of the Messias, did really come to pass; then they should acknowledge him to be the true Messias. The most eminent, and almost only Predictions of our Lord, which could serve as Signs of this Nature to the Jews of that Age, were the Mission of the Holy Ghost, the Resurrection of himself after Three Days Imprisonment in the Grave, and the final Destruction of Jerusalem, before that Generation should pass away.
The first was happily accomplished upon this Day; when the Gifts of the Holy Ghost were poured out upon the Apostles, in fo illustrious a Manner, as the Jews could not but take Notice of the exact Completion of his Promise, of sending the Comforter not many Days after his Ascension; in such a
Manner, as drew the Eyes of all the Inhabitants of Jerusalem, both Jews and Strangers upon them, and tended no lefs to demonstrate the Power, than the Truth of Christ. The second Prediction indeed, that of his Resurrection, was fulfilled Fifty Days before, but became not an Argument of Conviction to the Jews till now; as being not till now publickly attested by the Apostles, who were the Witnesses of it. The Report of his Resurrection had been indeed rumoured in Jerusalem; which
the San. hedrim upon that shameful Device of corrupting the Soldiers who guarded his Sepul. chre; but the certain and publick Knowledge of it was not delivered, till the Apostles were enabled and enboldened to pro. claim and testify it to the whole World by those Gifts which they received upon this Day.
After the exact Completion of these Prophecies, and the authentick Attestation of chem, no Excuse remained to the Jews, whereby to extenuate their Unbelief; according to the Rules laid down by Moses, they were now obliged to acknowledge Christ to have been a true Prophet, and the true Messias; and were convinced of their heinous Sin before committed by them, in the Rejection of his Doctrine, and Crucifixion of his Person; the Horror of which Sin might induce them the more readily to believe in Christ, and lay hold of his Merits; that fo they might obtain Remission of it. Otherwise they were to expect the most fevere Execution of Divine Vengeance for their wilful Obftinacy and Disbelief; as Mofès had assured them in the same Place, Deut. xviii. 19. And it mall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. This Sentence, and therein the Prophecy of Christ, was in à most eminent Manner, executed and ful. filled in the Destruction, and entire Defolation of the whole Nation of the Jews, about Forty Years after the Afcenfion of our Lord; whereby the Apostles and Disciples of our Lord then alive, acted by the Holy Ghost, were farther enabled invincibly to plead his Cause, against the Opposition of the unbelieving World, both Jews and Gentiles.
For however the Mission of the Holy Ghost, and the Confequences of it, did more especially convince of Sin the Jews who were then alive, and had been guilty either of rejecting the Preaching, or contriving the Death of our Lord; yet it contributed no less effectually to manifest the Unreasonableness of all, both Jews and Gentiles, who either in that, or in all Ages to come, should reject the Faith of Christ, when proposed to them. For the Belief of him was to be proposed to all Creatures un der Heaven. and confirmed by Arguments drawn from hence; which were fo rational and convictive, so clear and demonstrative, that they could not be rejected without the most extreme Perverseness; and if rejected, the Holy Ghost should hereby plead the Cause of Christ against them, and convince the whole world, and their own Consciences also, if rightly judging, that in rejecting the Gospel they had sinned against their own Souls; and that nothing remained to them, but a certain fearful Expectation of the fiery Judgment, to be most just. ly inflicted on them.
The second Point, of which the Comforter was to reprove or convince the World, was of Righteousness; the Reason of which is assigned in the roth Verse, Be- , cause I go to my Father; and ye see me no
The Justice of God had to the Eyes of Men been clouded; when he permitted his only begotten Son to be delivered
up, and crucified by wicked Men; when he abandoned him to the Rage of his Enemies, and rescued him not from the Insults of the Jews by an extraordinary Interposition from Heaven. The Majesty of the Deity seemed then to be Eclipsed, and suffer Diminution; when subjected to the Contradiction and Affronts of unreasonable Men. Men naturally expect that God should, even in this World, declare in Behalf of oppressed Innocence; either by rescuing it from the Malice of its Enemies, or taking a severe