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shall tend to recommend the gospel: God, even our own God,shall God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear
Once more: As peace among men will be followed with a blessing on the earth, so peace among Christians will be followed with a blessing on the means of grace. The depravity which has hitherto prevailed in the world has, in too great a measure, extended to the church, and wrought much in a way of destroying its fruitfulness. Corruptions have produced divisions, envies, jealousies, and almost every evil work. Hence the blessing o God has been, in a great measure, withheld. We read of great things among the apostles and primitive Christians, and, now and then, hear of a minister and a people, who, approaching somewhat near to their doctrine and spirit, are honoured with a portion of their success: but, in general, we are as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grape-gleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat, though our souls desire the first-ripe fruit. Now, as the carnal notions, envies, and petty discords of the apostles ceased from the time of their Lord's resurrection, and as the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul, so will it be with the whole church of Christ, when the Spirit shall be poured out from on high. And then, the earth shall yield her increase, in a still higher sense. Not only every nation and city, but every town, if not every village, will furnish a church of Christ, walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Then will God, even their own God, bless them, and all the ends of the earth shall fear him. The people of God will be of good comfort, will be of one mind, will live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with them!
From the whole we may conclude,
1. It becomes Christians to set their hearts much on the spread of the gospel; to pray for it; labour for it; contribute of their substance for it; and to rest all their hopes of the amelioration of the state of mankind upon it. Political men may place their hopes on political changes; but Christians should always remember, that peace on earth and good will to men connect with glory to God in
the highest; and that they are reserved to grace the triumphs of the Prince of Peace.
2. It is of infinite importance for us to repent, and believe the gospel. So long as any of us are unbelievers, we are under the curse; and the whole career of our life tends to draw down the curse of Heaven upon us, and upon the earth on which we dwell. We have heard much of the conversion of the Jews and heathens; but of what account will either be to us, if we ourselves be not converted? All the great and good things which the Lord has promised, either in this world or that which is to come, will, if we be unbelievers, only aggravate our misery.
3. Sinners, even the greatest of sinners, have every encouragement to repent, and believe in Jesus. The invitation of Moses to Hobab is the same, for substance, as Christ's servants are now warranted to address to every one they meet: We are journeying to the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel.
THE RECEPTION OF CHRIST THE TURNING POINT
JOHN i. 10-12.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as power to become the sons of God,
many as received him, to them gave he even to them that believe on his name.
ANONG the numerous self-deceiving notions which are cherished in the minds of men, is that of their being willing to return to God at any time, provided they had opportunity, and the means of doing so. In accounting for their own impenitence and perseverance in sin, they will impute it to their situation, their temptations, their callings, their connexions, or to any thing but their evil hearts. Some have even learned to speak evil of their hearts, while it is manifest, that they mean to include, under that term, nothing pertaining to intention, desire, or design, but something that exists and operates in them against their inclination. Hence, you will often hear them acknowledge themselves to be unconverted, and, at the same time, express how willing and desirous they are of being converted, if it would but please God to put forth his power in their favour. The word of God, however,
speaks a different language; while it ascribes all that is good to grace only, it lays the evil at the sinner's own door.
A great number of instances might be alledged from the scriptures, in proof of this truth; but the greatest proof of all is the manner in which Christ himself was treated, when he appeared upon earth. The Evangelist, having introduced him to his reader in all the glory of divinity, describes, in plaintive language, the neglect and contempt he met with, both from the world in general, and from his own nation in particular. Let us examine these complaints.
He was in the world. It has often been objected,' If the religion of Christ has a claim on the world, why has not the world had more of an opportunity to hear it?' It might be the design of the Evangelist to obviate this objection. His being in the world does not seem to refer so much to his personal presence among men in the days of his flesh, as to those manifestations of him, which, from the beginning of the world, had furnished them with the means of knowing him, and which, therefore, rendered their ignorance inexcusable. He had been revealed, at the outset of the world, as the Woman's Seed, who should bruise the head of the serpent. Sacrifices were appointed to prefigure his atonement; which, though perverted, were never discontinued, even among the heathen. The selection of the seed of Abraham, and their miraculous settlement in Canaan, must have attracted uni versal attention; and, as the Messiah was a prominent feature of their religion, he was in a manner, proclaimed through every nation. The effect produced on the mariners, when Jonah told them that he was a Hebrew and feared JEHOVAH, the God of heav en, who made the sea and the dry land, shows very plainly, that the displays of omnipotence, in behalf of Israel, were not unknown to the surrounding nations. That also, which was soon after produced on the Ninevites, when they learned that he was a Hebrew prophet, sent of God, evinces the same thing. And, if they were not ignorant of God's judgments, they were not destitute of the means of enquiring after the true religion. Nay, more, the expectation of the promised Messiah was, for a long time before he appeared, very general among the nations. Had
they, therefore, possessed any portion of a right spirit, or any sire after the true God, they would have been as inquisitive as were the wise men of the east, and as desirous as they were of paying him homage.
Not only was he in the world, so as to render their ignorance of him inexcusable, but the world itself was made by him. Though, as to the state of their minds, they were far from him, yet he was not far from every one of them; for in him they lived and moved and had their being. When he became incarnate, it was nothing less than their Creator in every deed dwelling with them upon the earth. Such an event ought to have excited universal inquiry, and to have induced all men every where to repent.
But, though he was in the world, and the world was made by him, yet the world knew him not! Full of their own schemes and pursuits, they thought nothing of him. The Roman Governors, in hearing the accusations of the Jews against Paul, and his defences, had great opportunities of knowing the truth; but the ignorance and contempt expressed by Festus, in his report of the matter to Agrippa, show the inefficacy of all means, unless accompa nied with the mighty power of God. The Jews brought none accusation of such things as he supposed; but had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive!
But this is not the heaviest complaint: He came unto his own, and his own received him not. How appropriate are the terms here used! He was in the world, and, therefore, within the reach of inquiry. But to the seed of Abraham he came, knocking as it were, at their door for admission; but they received him not. The world are accused of ignorance; but they of unbelief: for receiving him not, though a merely negative form of speech, yet is expressive of a positive refusal of him. Instead of welcoming the heavenly visitant, they drove him from their door, and even banished him from the earth. Who would have supposed, that a people whose believing ancestors had been earnestly expecting the Messiah for a succession of ages, would have rejected him, when he came among them? Yet so it was: and if Jews or Deists of the present day ask, How could these things