Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Lord, "every one from his place; even all the "isles of the heathen," Zeph. ii. 11. a nong which the happy isles where our lot is cast was doubrlels numbered.

But if Gentile sinners are to be gathered from *' the east and west, the north and south," our Lord's words are expressive of gracious designs upon them as distinguished by whatever outward circumstances. As distinguished, for instance, by nation and language; for he who cannot lie hath said, "I will gather all nations and tongues, "and they (hall come and fee my glo;y," Is. Ixvi tH. As distinguished by features and complexion; for in the prophetical words of David, we are assured, that " Ethiopia shall soon stretch "out her hands.to God," Plal. Ixviii. 31. pointing, doubtless, at the numerous, the numberless, swarthy tribes, which inhabit different countries through Africa, Asia, and America. And distinguished by their rank, and station in the world. With respect to the inferior tribes of men, it is promised, not only that "the deaf shall hear the "words of the book, and the eyes of the blind "see out of obscurity and out of darkness;" but that *' the meek also shall increase thtir joy in ** the Lord, and the poor among men rejoice ii "the holy ONE of Israel," Is xxix. 19. And with regard to those in higher life, "Kings them"selves (says the Father to his Son, or church)

(hall come to the brightness of thy rising," If. k. 3 Though not many, according to Paul, yes, from this prediction, it appears, that some wife men after the flesh, some mighty, and Jome noble should be called, 1 Cor i. 26

Moreover, If Gentile sinners are to be gathered from the four winds, our Loid's words are an intimation, that loaae who were most uulike'y. w^o' 1 j laboured

laboured under the greatest disadvantages, and were loaded with the most enormous crimes, should eventually be the subjects of redeeming grace. Accordingly, of the converts at Corinth, we are told, that iome were " fornic.itors, idolaters, "adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with "mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, "and extortioners," t Cor. vi. 9, &c. And of the Centile conveits at Ephesus, that they "were dead "in trespasses and fins-; that they walked in them "according to the course of this world; and rhat "they 'were without Christ, aliens from the com"monweilth of Israel, strangers from the cove"nants oT promise, haling no hope, and without "God in the world," Eph. ii. 1, he.

As cur Lord, ia this passage, evidently speaks of gracious designs upon the Gentiles, so he assures us, that not one, o1 a few, but many such should reap the benefit of them. They may not be many frim each of the quaiters we have mentioned; they .may not be many in particular kingdoms or gencta'.ioas; they many not be many in oar day, at least, ?ccording to our apprehension: and they vill not be many when compited with the unholy tribes with whom ih.y are nvngled in their several 'pentratior.s: Bat, when gathered into one. when sully assembled in the realms of bliss, they shall m.ike a most rclpectable appearance, shall swell to an in.— •numerable concourse. Besides the hundred forty and {0111 thousand which were sealed, the apostle '.' beheld a great multitude wh'ch no man could "number, of all nations and kindreds, and people, "and tongues," standing "before the throne of "God, and before the Lamb," Rev vii. 9.

The argument, however, for "stimulating your "end avours toward the •propagation of Christian •" kuowltge among the Gaitiles," will appear in

, still still stronger light, when the richness of the blessing here promised is duly attended unto. "Many shall "come (said the incomparable Preacher) siom the "east and west, andJJjall Jit do-vn with Abraham, "Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom os heaven."

If, in ordinary cases, our zeal for the interest of others be greater or lesser, according to the importance of the end which we propose to accomplish by the exercise of it, in the present case, it behoved', upon that principle, to rise to the highest pitch.

If converting our fellow-men from Heathenism to Christianity, in general, or to any ou,e distinguitbing mode of religion, in particular, was all that our Lord's words encouraged us to aspire after, the argument would be greatly weakened; because such conversions may be frequent where regeneration is not known: But conversion, in-hs . largest fense, as comprehending a gracious, a scriptural, and saving change, being the privilege wrapped up in the bosom of this text, ncr zeal can be too keen, no ambition too high, no endeavours too great, in order to the accomplishment of it.

With respect to their coming from al! quarters, . we beg your attention to this general observation, That God having connected the mean and the end inseparably together, if the means of convei iioa * are not sent where the sinners comprehended in this promise reside, they shall be brought where the kingdom of God is known.

. Nothing to this purpose can be imagined more remarkable, than the repair of sinners out of all nations to Jerusalem, when the time to savour Zi. on, by the effufiorj of the holy Ghost, was*fully 'come, Acts h. 5. Had those people (whether they were Jews or Gentiles) retruinsd in their native countries, the knowlege of salvation would not thin luve reached them; bus, becaule they were to be I 3 converted converted at Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost, they were previously brought, in the providence or God, to that happy place.

The Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and others, came, from their respective countries, to dwell at Jerusalem, from secular, possibly, as well as religious views ;—but God brought them, that he might fulfil, in thousands, Acts ii. 41. at once, the good pleasure of his goodness *. If they, for instance, had the prosecution of trade in their eye, God had the more noble purpose in his, of putting the "pearl of great price" into their possession'! If they came to amass earthly riches, he brought them, that durable riches and righteousness" might be trjoyed by them ; and, if they came for the benefit of dwelling at the metropolis of Judea, God brought them, that they might become "fellow"citi2ens with the saints," and belong to " the "housttold of saith."

Eat though such Gentile sinners as are comprehended in this promise, reside where the light of the gospel shines,—if their conversion is to be effected by other means than what they have access io,— without design in them, they shall be removed to the very place where that mean shall be en- . joyed, and crowned with success.

The story of Onesimns, we take to be a striking instance of this.—In the samily of Philemon, he had near access to the means of grace: But the God of salvation, intending to convert him by ihe ministry of another, permitted that unwor

thy

* This piece of history is not quoted as an instance of God's bringing Gentile sinners to the means of conversion, because most, if not all of these might be Jews or proselites; only as a general example of the wisdom of providence in making the places of mens abode subservient to their conversion.

thy slave to leave Philemon's service, and retire to Rome, where Paul, while in bonds, was the instrument of bringing him to the saving knowlege of Jesus Christ.

Onefimus, having made this elopement, went to Rome, that he might be freed from a temporary servitude; but, God brought him there, that he might set him free from the worse than Egyptian slavery of sin. He went thither in quest of licentious liberty; but, God brought him, that he might endow him with the glorious liberty of his ouiPthildren. The wretch went to Rome, that his perfidious character, as a purloiner of his master's goods, might be concealed; but, God brought him, that he might awaken his guilty conscience, and reduce him to the blested necessity of condemning himself. And while Onefimus retired to Rome, that he might evade Philemon's search, and escape the punishment due to his crimes,—O, how rich the grace! God brought him, that he might deliver him from the wrath to come, and recommend him, a$ a fellow-Christian, to his injured master for ever. •

If, therefore, sinners take up their residence, with a view to nothing higher than conveniences and advantages of an outward nature, and their conversion take place by me.ins which they could not otherwise have had access to :—If they attend a particular ordinance with no nobler view than to amuse themselves, gratify curiosity, meet with an acquaintance, set a tryst, transact business, acquire a name, or, possibly, to appear in their best cloaths; —and God be pleased to make that very ordinance effectual to their salvation:—Or, though th'ey repair to ordinances with the pitiful view of seolFing at the preacher, making merry with the performance, or turning the seriou&ese of. others in

« AnteriorContinuar »