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SERMON IV. J'
GENTILES ILLUSTRATED ».
M At T H. viii. 11.
/ say unto you, That many Jball come from the east and -west, and stall Jit down viith Abraham, and Isaac, and Jdcob, in the kingdom of Heaven.
NOTHING can be more encouraging to Christians, in the performance of duty, than God's promise of success; and, as no part of holy obedience is more interesting than humble endeavours toward the propagation of the golpcl, no duties have greater variety of engaging promises annexed to them.
* This sermon was preached before the society in Scotland, for propagating Christian knowlege, at their anniversary meeting, in the High Church of Edinburgh, on Friday, June 6th, 1766.
If the design of our meeting be to recommend such generous endeavours, as well as to pray for a blessing upon them, the propriety of essaying to illustrate this passage, will bear no dispute.
Our Lord, who improved every occurrence in providence for the instruction of mankind, took an opportunity, from the saith of a Roman officer, to inform the world, what vast designs of grace his heavenly Father had in reserve toward Gentile sinners; and these chearing and charming news he hath transmitted to us in the words of our text.
If the words are a prophecy, in delivering it, our Lord acted as the great Prophet of his church: but if a promise, in making it, he acted as God our Saviour, though dwelling in flesh; than either of which views, nothing can be mOre expressive of the obligations we are under, by a believing dependence, to give him the glory of his saithfulness. Doth the Prince of the kings of the earth speak? And shall we not hear! Doth wisdom lift up her voice? And shall we not regard!
'What we propose, through divine aid, is,
"To illustrate the designs of Grace upon Gen"tile sinners, expressed in this passage, with a view "to animate your endeavours toward the propaga"tion of Christian knowlege among them."
Though God hath secured the end by immutable promises, duty on our part is not the less incumbent, Though he "will have all men to be sav"ed," means of bringing them " to the knowlege of the truth," x Tim. ii. 4. are nevertheless.to be used. And though saving conversion is effected exclusively by himself, we are, in a way of ckity, to be "workers together with him," 2 Cor. vi. 1.
That God had designs of grace upon Gentile
sinners sinners, while they made no part of Ris church, and were not called by his name, appears from their being brought, once and again, into the line which terminated in the Messiah, and thereby becoming such neceflary links in the genealogical chain from Abraham to Christ, that without them, the connection would have been broken, the chain incomplete. Accordingly, we find Thamar a Syrian, Matth. i. 3. Rachaba Canaanite, Matth. i.. 5, and Ruth a Moabite, Matth. i. 5. all Gentiles, to . whom originally pertained neither the adoption nojr the glory, numbered among .the ancestprs of Joseph * \ _ The designs of Grace under consideration are still more evident from many express attestations of scripture. "I will give thee (said the Father to "his Anointed) the heathen for thine inheritance, "and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy pos"session," Psal. ii. 8. "The abundance of the "sea shall be converted unto thee.; the forces of "the Gentiles shall come unto thee," Is. Ix. 5. And, "From the rising of the sun, even unto the "going down of the iame, my name (saith the "Lord) (hall be great among the Gentiles," Mai. i. 11. 'When, therefore, the time was fulfilled, Paul said to the Jews at Rome, "The salvation qf "God is sent unto the Gentiles, and they will "hear it," Acts xxviii. 28.
fht commission which our Lord first gave to his apostles contained, indeed, a clause which seemed unsavourable for the nations: "Go no* (laid he) . "into the way of the Gentiles; and into any city '« of the Samaritans enter ye not," Matth. x. j. -.
* These Gentiles are no less among the ancestors of Mary; for, from Abraham to David, the line is tha same as to both.
lot then, as the head of apostolic authority,- he took such steps in the exercise of his personal ministry, as plainly flic wed, that both Gentiles and Samaritans were eventually to partake of the common salvation As to the Gentiles, we are informed, by one EvJfugelist, that Jesus shewed judgment unto them, and caused them to trust in his name, Matth. xii. 16, n. of which the conversion of the Syrophocnician woman was a striking instance, Matih xv 2i, ire. And, with respect 10 the Samaritan?, another Evangelist hath assured us, that by the interposition of Immanuel's grace, many of them' were speedily, hut savingly, converted: "He told"me (said one) all things that ever I did and, "We believe, (said numbers) for we have heard "him ourselves," John iv. 29, 42.
Nor is this only the doctrine of scripture in general, but, undoubtedly, the meaning of this passage ki particular. The saith, you fee, of a Gentile gave rise to the declaration before us: "I have not "(said our blessed Lord) found so great saith, no, "not in Israel," Matth. viii. to. And the Jews are called " the children of the kingdom," Matth. nii. 12. to distinguish them from the people who Cioa'.d "come from the east and the west;" and, as it is in the parallel passage, "from the north and "sooth," Luke xiii. 29.
'This very circumstance os rhtir coming from the four cardinal points, is a corroborative evidence, that Gentile sinners are particularly intended. Let the redeemed of the Lord, says the prophet, celebrate his mercy, who "gathered them out of the w -lands, from the east and from the west, from '" the north and from the south;" Psal. evii 3. plain!}' intimating, that sinners, not only in Judea,' where th; posterity of Jacob then chiefly resided, I but bur in all parts of the world, should be the subjects of converting grace.
lr they are to come from all qnarrers, our Lord's words intimate designs of grace upon Gentile sinners near Capernaum, wheie he had this interview ,with the centurion; which began to appear, not long after, in the conversion of Cornelius, and his friends ar Cesarea to the Christian saith, Acts x.
They intimate designs of Grace upon Gentile sinners whose residence was far from Galilee; for God hath said, " I will bring thy seed from the east, and "gather thee from the west; I will say to the "north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not "back; bring my sons from sar, and my daugh-. "ters from the ends of the earth, Is. xliii. 5, 6. Accordingly, having established a connection between the mean and the end, he mads provision that the former should be sent where ever the latter was to be effected, saying to the Apostles, " Go "ye into all the world, and preach the gospel lo e"very creature;" Mark xvi. 15. and arterwjids to Paul, " Depart, for 1 will send thee sar htnee ua
to the Grmiles," Acts xxii. 21.
They intimate dc-signs of Grace upon Gentile sinners inhabiting continental countries. These, as distinguished siren tht other parts of this globe, where probably in his eye, who said. The Lord
haih made bare his holy arm in the eyes of "all nations and all the ends of the earth shall "see the salvation of our God," K lii. to. , And they intimate designs of Grace upon Gentile sinners who inhabit the isles in the sea "My righ•* teousnels is near, (saith the Lord) my salvation "is gone forth, and mine arm shall judge tNe "people; the isles shall wair upon me, and 01 *' mine arm stull they trust," Is. li, 5. And attain, it is promised, that *• œea shall woiship" ths ; j » Lord,