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...3. The dispersion of the Jews extensively among many. nations, which took place at this eventsul period, and, who carried with them some knowledge of the true God, was one great mean employed, in divine providence, for the conversion of the Gentiles to the faith of the Gospel. A circumstance in their history, also, which contributed to this event, was, that the minds of the Jews every where, and of many of the heathen also, at this time, were awakened to lively expectation of the coming of the Messiah. The pe. riod of his expected appearance, according to their prophecies, was now arrived, No sooner, therefore, was his birth announced by the wise men of the East, than the fame of it was spread wherever the Jews, their proselytes, or others acquainted with the prophecies of the Old Testament, resided. . These proselytes of the Gate, as they were styled, it is pertinent here to observe, had become numerous about the time of the coming of our Saviour, Though they were not Jews, they had ceased to be heathen. They had renounced idolatry; were present every Sabbath at the reading of Moses and the prophets; and had a distinct place allotted them in the synagogues. Among these proselytes, we are told, were “devout men, who feared God.” Cornelius was of this number. It was not difficult for men in this situation, to renounce paganism. They had, indeed, already done it. They were not embarrassed by Judaism, having never adopted it as their religion. There existed, therefore, no obstacle to their embracing Christianity. Of these proselytes among the Gentiles, thus prepared, was the great body of the first Christians.
14 3-4. The translation of the Scriptures into the Greek £anguage, in which they were extensively, read by intelligent heathen, was another important prepara. * tián in providence for the spread of the Gospel, and the preliminary “accomplishment of the prophecy in Gürtext.” o “ , ” . . . . . . oth only add, in this connection, that just before the birth of Christ, in the Augustan age of the world, - 1éarning and philosophy had spread their influence, in o, a greater or less degree, to a very considerable ex. tentagong the nations, had enlarged, refined, and thus * pse *. ared the minds of men, in an important sense, to - investigaté, to understand, and to embrace the sublime truths of the Gospel. The devotees of idolatry every where, and in a manner.very remarkable, had become entirely dissatisfied with their religion; had been brought to treat with contempt, to reject, and destroy their idol gods; their priests had lost their reputation and influence; their temples were first deserted, then demolished; the oracles of their demons were silenced; and all the world seemed pre pared, and were sighing for a change.” * - . . . . With this preparation for their work, the Apostles, in pursuance of their commission, in less than forty years after the ascension of Christ, had successfully extended their labors nearly through the whole world, converting its inhabitants every where to the faith of the Gospel, thus fulfilling the prediction of our Lord, “The Gospel of this kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end, (i. e. the end of the Jewish state.) come.”
* See Jurieu's Preface to the Accomplishment of Prophecies; and Millar's Hist. of the Propagation of the Gospel.
said, that Christ had “the heathen for his inheritance; and the uttermost parts of the earth for his posses: sion.” - - , so - . . . ; - - - - f
... But it is evident that this was not) accomplete fulfils ment of this promise to the Son. His possession of the heathen, and of the uttermost parts of the earth, was not entire, nor of long continuance. It was soori wrested from him by “the god of this world,” and
has ever since continued, with the exception of “a lit. .
tle flock,” under his control. A more complete subjugation of the heathen to CHRIST, than the world has yet witnessed, is therefore to be expected. As this is a future event, the precise time when it will be brought about, cannot be foreseen. We can only compare, in reference to it, the state of the world now; with its state immediately preceding the preliminary fulfilment of the promise in our text; and in this way form our opinion on this subject. If we will deliberately institute' this comparison, with existing facts before us, we shall find, that the “signs of the present times” obviously indicate, that a great change in the state of the world, favorable to the interests and universal dominion of the Redeemer over the heathen, is now in actual progress, and that we may thence infer, that this change, which is ultimately to put the heathen, and uttermost parts of the earth, into complete and permanent possession of CHRIST, will, seeing that God is the operator, soon be accomplished. The time will allow me only to hint at the facts and events, to which I allude, and to leave them for enlargement to your own reflections.
-- * . -** of. The world seems to be fast tending to a state correspondent; assar as is requisite, to that which existed previous to the first spread of the Gospel, when the great body of the human family were reduced to the use of the Greek and Roman languages. By means of commercial, literary, and especially Chris. tiano and missionary enterprise, mankind are rapidly becoming known to each other; intercourse among the different nations is constantly extending, and with it a knowledge in each nation, of the languages of all the others. By far the largest portion of this enterprize exists in those parts of the world, in which the English language is vernacular. The importance of a knowledge of this language is beginning every, where to be felt, and especially in regions occupied by missionaries. Commercial men will probably transact their business, and carry on their correspondence, more generally in this, than in any other language, because the balance of eommerce is already on the side of those who use the English language, and this balance is continually increasing. It is probable that the sciences and literature will be more generally taught in this language, than in any other; because there are more books on these subjects, original, or in translations, in this, than in any other language. The great body of missionaries, spread among the populous heathen territories on the Eastern Continent, on the islands of the everal great Oceans, and among the Indian tribes of our own country, speak the English language. Their converts, and a multitude of others in their schools, will, of course, be taught this language, and in all nations, who have no written language, their vernacular tongue will gradually give place to the English, and /*
ow." . . . . *: ... ". . . .” “... ioninosia heart onew violios fight offit; and when he is doing this everyday befootour eyes?-Yes, Gos can give the blessing of a Hoheart to a wild Indian, to a Hindoo, a Turk, a :gró, a Hottent&tas easily as to the most enlight- eiled, polished, and běst educated, in civilized nations. He has done it in instances abundantly sufficient to establishithe fact.' Now a new heart invariably produces a new character, and always the same charador whether possessed by Jew or Gentle, Indian, furk, Hindoojor Hottentot. If then God, for the purpose of fulfilling his promise to his Son, shall give a ‘. new heart to assofevery nation, which he can dö with infinitéase, the work will be done, and the world will thesiobe in the state desired, in the full possession bf·CHRIST. 9 **** o - - -- o . . . . .” -2. it is objected by others, that all our men and ineans are needed at home, to supply the wants of the destitute among ourselves, and the heathen on our own borders; where we may reasonably hope for suc&ess; put that we have neither men nor money to send abroad among far distant foreign nations, where the prospect of doing good is doubtful, if not altogether hopeless.” In reply to this objection, I would ask those who make it, in the first place, how long this conviction of our own wants, and the wants of the heathem on our own borders, has been felt by them 2 Whether they felt it before foreign missions were projected? Whether this very measure has not awakened their attention to the subject, and produced this conviction? If so, they must admit that foreign missions have been instrumental of producing important good effects, if not on the heathen, yet on themselves;