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body of Christians combined, could not produce such a change in the world, and gain such a victory over Satan, as has been described. The opposing power, were they to contend alone, would swallow them up quick. God, therefore, hath taken the work into his own hands. The Son-and it becometh a son to ask favors of a Father+-the Son is to ask the Father, who heareth him always, and giveth to him whatsoever he desireth, and the gift promised, great and splendid as it is, and difficult as it may be to obtain it, shall be bestowed on him. Nothing is too hard, or too great, for God to accomplish. He who made the world, and all its inhabitants, whose is the earth and the fulness thereof, can surely change and mould his own work at his pleasure, and give it to whomsoever he pleaseth. At the appointed time, there can be no doubt, that the Father will fulfil his promise to his Son; not arbitrarily, at once, by some great and miraculous exertion of his power; but gradually, in the course which has ordinarily been pursued in effecting smaller changes of this kind, in time past; that is, in the use of means, by the agency of men, raised up in succession, and qualified to be co-workers together with God, in preparing this inheritance for his Son.
A condition of the promise in the text, is, that the Son should ask his Father for the inheritance specified. This asking of the Son is not to preclude our asking for the same thing. We are commanded to do this; to pray that the whole world may be converted to CHRIST. God hath declared, that he will be enquired of by his people to do these things. The church, as a body, will ask in union with Christ, that this promise may be fulfilled. The Father will hear, and grant the petiother suitable means necessary, to effect his purpose. Bút on these topics I may have occasion to enlarge in another part of this discourse. Such as has now been given, I conceive, is the meaning of the text, 'If so, we perceive its obvious and natural application to the occasion on which we are assembled. We have before us, my brethren, for our present consideration, a clear and distinct prophecy of great and good things to come, of the conversion of the whole world to CHRist, and of the manner in which this most desirable event is to be accomplished. These constitute the very business in which we are engaged, the very subject for which we are associated, and now convened. We are praying through, and with, the one Mediator,and engaged as fellow labourers with God, that the heathen may become the inheritance and possession of Christ. . The enquiries suggested by our subject, thus opened, which I shall endeavor to answer in the sequel of this discourse, are, - I. When may we look for the mighty change in the state of the world, which is to fulfil the promise in our text, and what indications of it are we to expect? II. What will be the probable means of effecting it? . . . . . . . I. The prophecy under consideration, already, in the days of the Apostles, and subsequently, has had a partial, or, if I may so call it, a preliminary fulfilment, which may be considered as a pattern of the more comlete fulfiment of it, which is still future. I am aware that some men deny, that there is any such thing as a
doubléaccomplishmentofany of the prophecies. Without entering into a discussion of this subject, or under. taking a formal windication of the opinion I espouse." - would simply observe, that I can perceive in it no inconsistency, nothing, which tends to render uncertain the interpretation of$cripture; and there are certainly many facts, and much evidence, to supportit . ... If we look back to the period of the preliminary accomplishment of ; this prophecy in the first age of Christianity, and mark the state of the world, and the operations of divine, providence, during that period, in reference; to the event foretold in the text, we may learn inăch concerning the course which we may Expect that Gopin his providence will pursue, in
bringing about its 'ultimate and complete fulfilment. Like causes ever produce like effects. God never errs in the choice of the best means to effect his purposes. His plans, and his means of executing them, unlike human plans and means, admit of no improvement. What has been, in his operations to effect certain of his purposes, will, in like circumstances, bé again. On this ground we may safely reason from the past, concerning the future, since the object to be accomplished, in both cases, if we judge correctly, is precisely the sameo. What then was the state of the world, and what events and operations of divine providence, distinguished the times, when the prophecy in the text received its preliminary, and incomplete fulfilment? So far as the state of the world, and eyents and operations of divine providence in the presentage, are analagous to those of the first age of Christianity, and the first general propagation of the Gospel, so farshall we be able to decide, whether or not we are soon to expect that the Son of Godwill have given to himsby his Father, in the full sense of the words, “the heaths en for his inheritance, and the littermost parts of the earth for his possession.” or, i.a. 9 on: . . . . . , “God, who at sundry times; and in divers manners; spake in time past unto the fathers,” the ancient Jews, “by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken untá us by his Son.”—“to perform the mercy promised to the fathers, and to remember his holy, covenant.” These “last days;” as the phrase is here used, include the whole period of time, from the comingofourSaviour, to the end of the world. It was in the reign of the Roman Emperor, Augustus; that these last days commenced. Then, it was that this great Ambassaw dor from God to man, his own beloved Son, made his appearance on earth, for the purpose of procuring and proclaiming salvation, first to the Jews; in performance of the mercy promised to their fathers, showing them. that God's holy covenant with them was re. membered; and then to the Gentiles, in fulfilment df the promise in our text. To effect all this, a mighty revolution in the state of the world was necessary. Such a revolution was actually effected by the preaching of the Gospel by the Apostles and their fellow laborers “to all nations,” “every where,” and “to every creature,” according to these universal terms, expressed in their commission. Foreseeing this revolution in his perfect plan, God, in his infinite wisdom, had prepared every thing requisite to its accomplishment. The means which he provided were admirably suited to his purpose, while yet no man, not even the actors themselves, knew their ultimate design or tendency.
1. The world, with the exception of small portions, of it, were brought to the use of but two lan. guages, the Greek and the Latin, thus wonderfully fas cilitating the communication of the holy, truths of the Gospel, which a great diversity of languages must have rendered extremely difficult. We are aware that the Apostles, by special gift of the Holy Ghost, could speak all languages; and, of course, diversity of tongues would be no hindrance to their preaching; yet we have no reason to suppose, that this miraculous gift was bestowed on the numerous body of preachers and missionaries, who must have been employed to assist the Apostles in accomplishing the great work of:coni verting the world; and by them, of course, this facili: , ty would be needed and felt, ... . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. Nearly the whole world was embraced, at this time, under the Roman Empire; and it is easy to perceive from this fact, what must have been the comparative advantages enjoyed for spreading the knowledge of the Gospel among the nations in this state, over those which would have been enjoyed, had these nar tions remained divided, as they had been, under many different governments. Add to this, that the Roman Empire had now reached the height of its literary eminence, power, and splendor; all its parts were united under one constitution, and one head. ... The whole world too was in peace; the temple of Janus was shut; and thus a way was opened for free and uninterrupted intercourse with every part of the empire, and of the world. These circumstances were all peculiar. ly favourable to the subjection of the world to the
dominion of CHRIST.