Page images

Other passages of scripture clearly designate this event. I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. It is a light thing that thou shouldst be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayst be my salvation to the end of the earth. From the rising of the sun, even to the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every place incense shall be offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts.*

Conformably to these prophecies, the Messiah was styled The desire of all nations. That he was actually expected, about the time of his appearance, by nations far remote from Judea, appears from the journey of the Eastern Sages to Jerusalem, to inquire for him, and to offer him homage. The angel,

who announced to the shepherds the birth of Christ, declared it as an event interesting to the world : Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. The exclamation of the aged and pious Simeon, on taking the child Jesus in his arms, is very remarkable: Lord! now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people: a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

* Psalm ii. 8. Isaiah, xlix. 6. Mal. i. 11.

The time therefore will come, when the name of Christ shall be propagated among all those nations, which are now immersed in the thick darkness of paganism; and when all nations of the earth shall call him blessed. After the conversion of the Gentiles, the Jews shall be brought to acknowledge Jesus Christ to be the true Messiah, shall cordially embrace his religion, and partake in his great salvation. Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved.-Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to this most auspicious period of the church. But go thou thy way till the end be, and stand in thy lot. Be thou faithful unto death, and though thou shouldst not have witnessed the fulfilment of these predicted truths, thou shalt find them demonstrated, when thy own voice shall join with the voices of all the saints in that new song of praise to the Lamb: Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

Hence, my brethren, we perceive THE INESTIMABLE PRIVILEGE OF THE GOSPEL. To this we are indebted for the knowledge of those great truths and duties, which are essential to our present improvement and happiness, as individuals and communities. By this alone are we taught to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent; knowledge, so essential to our future and everlasting well being, as to be styled by an apostle, life eternal Look at the heathen nations. See them offering the most


stupid services to the most senseless deities; the most impure, to the most licentious; and the most cruel, to the most vindictive. On one altar see female virtue sacrificed; on another, the fruit of the body, for the sin of the soul. Behold the people of one country inflicting on themselves the most horrid penances, to purify the soul, or to propitiate their offended deities; those of another, for the same religious purposes, sacrificing human victims.(d) Do ye ask the cause of these impious idolatries, and absurd superstitions? Behold, the darkness covers those parts of the earth, and gross darkness those people. The light of the Gospel has never shone upon them. Have we been taught to worship God, who is a Spirit, in spirit and in truth? Do we know that there is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus? Through faith in his name do we hope for the forgiveness of sin, and life everlasting? Who maketh us thus to differ? HE, who hath made of one blood all nations of men, to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation. Had the every way over the Gentiles? tages have we over the Jews! in seeing the light, and our ears in hearing the sound, of the Gospel; for many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which we see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which we hear, and have not heard them. Even so, Father,

Jews much advantage
What obvious advan-

Blessed are our eyes

for so it hath seemed good in thy sight.

Hence also we perceive THE DUTY OF PROPAGATING THE GOSPEL. Has it brought to us the good news, the glad tidings, of salvation? Has it proclaimed to us the name of the Prince of peace; instructed us in the things pertaining to his kingdom; disclosed to us the blessings of his subjects; and invited us to partake of those blessings without money and without price? It is surely then incumbent on us to extend the knowledge of it as widely as possible. Is the Gospel the power of God to our salvation? Has it been the instrument and means of begetting us again to a lively hope; a hope, that maketh not ashamed; a hope, that is an anchor to the soul both sure and stedfast? It is therefore our duty to communicate it, if possible, to all nations, to every creature under heaven; that every perishing sinner may obtain like precious faith and hope with us, and partake in the common salvation.

Hence, finally, we perceive WHAT ENCOUR


GOSPEL. The character and government of Christ, with the express predictions and promises concerning the perpetuity and extent of his kingdom, are an everlasting pledge and security of success in this sacred, this divine enterprise. Is the existence of Christ perpetual? Is he head over all things to the church? Is the church to be continued forever; and is his government of it to be interminable? With such assurances, and under such auspices, who does not feel the highest possible encouragement to exert

himself in diffusing the knowledge of the everlasting Gospel?

In the execution of this great design, there are indeed many difficulties to be met; many obstacles to be surmounted; many dangers to be braved; many hardships to be endured; and, not unfrequently, many enemies to be encountered. None of these things, however, should move us. Has the single consideration, that "great is the power of truth and it will prevail," always encouraged good men to maintain the cause of truth and virtue? What inconceivably greater encouragement have Christians to animate them in propagating the Gospel, while, in addition to all the advantage of truth in general, to favour its prevalence, they have divine assurances, that it shall finally triumph over all error, and that HE, who is THE TRUTH, the Author and Finisher of our faith, will always accompany the defenders and propagators of it, and make them more than conquerors! They are confident, that He, who hath begun this good work, will perform it. They do not however expect that he will perform it by miracles, but by natural means. What means, but such as are derived from the knowledge, the talents, the wealth, the benevolence, the zeal, and the activity, of his friends? When they employ these means with all good fidelity, they may justly expect his benediction. Then may they look for the fulfilment of that divine promise: As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither,

« PreviousContinue »