Page images

ple: wherefore, your gratitude to him, and im provement of such mercies, should bear some kind of proportion to the favours by which you are so happily distinguished. As an inducement to these exercises, allow yourselves to reflect on many ChriNians, in foreign parts, as well as in our neighbouring church, whose circumstances, respecting their spiritual teachers and rulers, are so different

from yours.

It has, with justice, been allowed, by strangers themselves, that, all things considered, no such body of professors, through the whole Christian world, are so much privileged as those in our owa church. We pretend not to say, that our church is faultless, or her office-bearers unblameable ; and though we should say it, you would ly under no obligation to believe us : but we may venture to affirm, that the particulars, wherein church offi: cers may sometimes be obliged to differ from you must not always be considered as characteristical of troublers of the church ; nor, therefore, as grounds upon which you may lawfully wish and pray for their excision : for, might Christians warrantably proceed upon such Aimfy pretences, the real fervants of Christ would soon drink deeper in the cup of sufferings, through the mistaken zeal of their hearers, than the hearers can probably ever do, through the zeal or imaginary mismanagement of their rulers. As long, my brethren, as pastors and people both are in a flate of immaturity, their views and judgments cannot, in all things, be supposed to coincide; which is a maxim fo evident, on the principles of reason and revelation, that the neceffity of forbearance,-nay, of manifold allowances, on each hand, is as demonstrable, as any thing of the kind is capable of.- If you imagine that officebearers, in the church of Christ, are any more than


men of like passions with ourselves ; you will be as grossly mistaken, as we would be, did we expect that even holy persons amongst you, fhould know and act, as the angels in heaven. ---Are we often obliged, in judging of your characters, to admit, that the gold may be real, 'though mingled with much dross ? and have we not a claim, upon you, for the same candøur in judging of ours ?

By all this we mean not to infinuate, that troublers of the church may not fometimes be found, in one or another corner amongst ourselves; nor that, if they are such, in the scripkure views of the character, you may not wish and pray for their excision : we only intend to caution you against forming your judgments of minifters and elders, upon the opinions of others, especially, if of a different communion from them; upon the prejudice of education ; upon such sentiments of your own minds, as may only be raw and indigefied; or upon any other rule of judging, whatever, than the written, the unerring, word of God. If that standard was judiciously applied, to every individual, we doubt not, that, in some instances, your former apprehensions might be found jus; at the same time, it is a thousand to one, but some likewise, most dandled on the popular kaee, and thereby least exposed to the lash of your censurcs, might be found greatly, perhaps grossly, wanting. For, hath not he, who spake as never man did, assured us, that “ma

ny who are first shall be laft, and the last first? Matth. xix. 30.


[blocks in formation]

I L L U S T R A T E D *.

MATTH. viii. 11.

I say unto you, That many fball come from the

east and west, and sball fit down with Abraham, and Ifaac, and facub, in the kingdom of Heaven.


[ocr errors]

JOTHING 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 gospel, 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 fuch generous endeavours, as well as to pray for a blefling 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 faith of a Roman officer, to inform the world, what vast designs of grace his heavenly Father had in reserve toward Gentile fin. Ders; 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 flelh; than either of which views, nothing can be more expreslive of the obligations we are under, by a believing de pendence, to give him the glory of his faithfulness. Doth the Prince of the kings of the earth speak? And shall we not hear ! Doth wisdom lift up her voice? And shall we pot regard !

What we propose, through divine aid, is, " To illustrate the designs of Grace upon Gen

tile fingers, 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," 1 Tim. ii. 4. are nevertheless to be used. And though faving conversion is effected exclusively by himself, we are, in a way

of duty, to be “ workers together with him," 2 Cor, vi. 1. That God had defigas of grace upon Gentile finners, while they made no part of his church, and were not called by his name, appears froma their being brought, once and again, into the line which terminated in the Messiah, and thereby becoming such necessary 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 Sy. rian, Matth. i. 3. Rachab a Canaanite, Matth. i. 5. and Ruth a Moabite, Matth. i. 5. all Gentiles, to whom originally pertained neither the adoption nor the glory, numbered among the ancestors of Joseph *,


The designs of Grace under consideration are ftill more evident from many express attestations of fcripture. “I will give thee (said the Father to “ his Anointed) the heathen for thinc inheritance, “ and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy poss fellion," Plal. ii. 8. “ The abundance of the « sea (hall be converted unto thee; the forces of *s the Gentiles shall come unto thee,” If. Ix. 5, And, “ From the rising of the sun, even unto the

going down of the fame, my name (faith the " Lord) shall be great among the Gentiles,” Mal.

When, therefore, the time was fulfilled, Paul said to the Jews at Rome,“ The falvation of r God is sent unto the Gentiles, and they will " hear it,” Acts xxviii. 28.

The comınislion which our Lord first gave to his apostles contained, indeed, a clause which seemed unfavourable for the nations: “Go not (said he) : “ into the way of the Gentiles; and into any city “ of the Samaritans enter ye not,” Matth. X. 5.


i. 11.

* These Gentiles are no less among the ancestors of Mary; for, from Abraham to David, the line is the fame as to both.

« PreviousContinue »