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are specified in a corresponding passage of the gospel according to St. Luke, chap. xiii. 29. The import of the expression is obvious. It denotes the attractive influence of Christianity over men of every region under heaven, and the universal paternal care and love of Him who hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” The day of Pentecost exhibited the first-fruits of this glorious harvest. When the apostles, “ filled with the Holy Ghost, spake with other tongues as the spirit gave them utterance,” “there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now, when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed, and marvelled, saying one to another, behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? and how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, "and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and Proselytes""and the same day there was added unto them about three thousand souls.”. Since that period what have been the triumphs of the Prince of Peace! What myriads are now prostrate before Him who sitteth upon the throne, and before the Lamb, adoring the wonders of redeeming grace, looking, with angels, into the great mystery of godliness, if haply they “may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge!" And what still more glorious triumphs remain to be displayed, when w the fulness of the Gentiles shall be come in, and all Israel shall be saved," when “great voices in heaven” shall say " The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever!"
The multitudes who shall thus flock to the Saviour, as doves to their windows, from the east and from the west, from the south and from the north, as they are partakers of the faith of the patriarchs, so they shall at length be made partakers of their joy; "they shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God." What an assemblage of delicious images ! What prospects has the Gospel opened to the children of men! Those travellers into a far country have returned to their Father's house. They pursued various tracks, but all led homeward. They were strangers to each other in a strange land, but the prevailing family likeness now lets them see that they are brothers. They sometimes fell out by the way, but now there is perfect love. They had heard of the names of their venerable ancestors and respectable kindred, now they see, and know, and rejoice in them. Their pilgrimage is ended, their “ warfare is accomplished.”
“ They shall sit down." They were laid in the grave, they fell asleep, they saw corruption. Now they are children of the resurrection ; refreshed by the sleep of death, they have acquired immortal vigour, they have put on incorruption. Sitting is the posture assumed for the enjoyment of social intercourse, and that is the idea here conveyed. The family is assembled, the banquet is prepared, perfect harmony reigns. When men return to the bosom of their friends from tedious and painful journeys, from perilous voyages, from destructive warfare, affection suggests many an inquiry, many a commu- nication. Alas, how often do we fondly anticipate the communications of distant friends who are never to return! But of the expected guests, of the innumerable company invited to "the marriage of the Lamb," pot one shall be missing, no bitter recollection shall intrude, no painful apprehension shall arise. And with what subjects of conversation are they eternally supplied ! With what-enlarged views, of those subjects do they discourse! The glories
of nature are contemplated with new eyes, and excite emotions before unfelt. The mystery of Providence, once so intricate and inscrutable, is unravelled ; the mighty plan, the minute parts, the universal and the individual interest are wund in perfect unison. The wonders of redeeming love, intermingling with the glories of creation and the mystery of Providence, communicating to them all their beauty, all their importance. What a theme for the whole company of the redeemed, for interchange of personal experience, for mutual congratulation and delight! What exalted einployment, what inexhaustible source of joy for the endless days of eternity!
They shall sit down with Abraham, aná Isaac, and Jacob." There is a natural desire in man to be in the company of the eminently great, and wise, and good. But this desire is tempered by a consciousness of our owu inferiority. We shriuk from the penetrating eye of wisdom, we feel “ how awful goodness is,” we blush inwardly at the thought of our own littleness. But those ingathered outcasts from the east and west feel no uneasy apprehensions on being introduced to society so dignified, for “there is no fear in lore." They indeed feel their inferiority, but it excites no mortification. They are in their proper place, and they have their proper measure of glory. While time was they pronounced those venerable names with awe, they accounted those persons happy who could claim kindred to men so highly distinguished, admission to the court of the Gentiles terminated their ambition, birth had excluded them forever from the commonwealth of Israel. Now they find that they are the real posterity of Abraham, “ born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” If any man hath not the spirit of Abraham, he is none of his. By the spirit they are related to the father of the faithful, and he joyfully acknowledges them as his children, and heirs with bim of the promises.
“ They shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdum of heaven.” This implies a participation of all the privileges of saints on earth, communion and fellowship with one another, as members together of that body whereof Christ is the head, and joint fellowship with the father, and with the son Jesus Christ.” Such is the kingdom of God in this world, and such the preparation for the inheritance of saints in light, for the kingdom which cannot be moved. Let us not presume to “darken counsel by words without knowledge.” Let us not presume to draw aside the veil which separates a material world from the world of spirits, which interposes between time and eternity. Scripture itself, after exhausting every image, every idea of negative and of positive glory and felicity, as descriptive of s the kingdom of heaven,” refers us to a future revelation of that glory, Paul, "caught up to the third heaven, caught up into paradise," admitted to the intercouse of celestial beings, and sent back to earth, finds himself incapable of describing the heavenly vision. The words which he heard were unspeakable, which it is not lawful, which it is not possible for a man to utter. In this blessed, undefined, undescribed state we leave it : “ It is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
The contrast is dreadful: “But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” By "the children of the kingdom,” our Lord undoubtedly means to denote the posterity of Abraham after the flesh, the original heirs of the promises, the depositaries of the covenants, who, with all the advantages of birth, of education, of a revelation which they acknowledged to be divine, and of which they made their boast, obstinately rejected the promised Messiah, to whom all their prophets give witness; who, valuing themselves upon, and vainly restjog in a mere natural descent from illustrious ancestors, without inheriting a
particle of their spirit, wilfully excluded themselves from the kingdom of heaven. Their means of knowledge, their peculiar privileges were a horrid aggravation of their guilt, and a full justification of their tremendous punishment. The blessedness of the righteous, in the heavenly world, is, in the preceding verse, represented under the well-known and familiar image of the banquet, or marriage teast, and various passages of the gospel history throw lighi upon the allusion, particularly the parable of the ten virgins. Those solemnities were usually celebrated in the night season. The apartments destined to the entertainment of the guests were superbly illuminated. The bridegroom and his train came to the banqueting house in magnificent processiun, by lamp or torch light. The invited guests were adınitted through the wicket, to prevent promiscuous intrusion. As soon as the nuptial band bad entered the doors were shut. The careless and the tardy were of course excluded, and no after expostulation or entreaty could procure admittance; they were left in outer darkness, rendered more hideous by comparison with the splendour which reigned within ; left, in the cold and damps of the night, to their own bitter reflections, dreadfully aggravated by the idea of a felicity to them forever inaccessible. By a representation so powerfully impressive, so easily understood, so awfully alarming, were the elders of the Jews admonislied of the guilt, danger and misery of rejecting the counsel of God against themselves, of refusing the testimony which God had given to his Son Christ Jesus.
After this very solemn digression, Jesus returns to the subject which had given rise to it, the servant’s malady, and the master's marvellous faith. He bestows a present reward on the one, by instantly relieving the other. " And Jesus said unto the centurion, go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.” Here the Saviour condescends to be dictated to. He yields to the prayer of a faith so very extraordinary, he proceeds no farther on his way to the centurion's house. The petition runs, " speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed;" he speaks the word, he wills the cure, and virtue goes out of him to perform it.
Neither of the Evangelists pursue the history of the centurion farther. But we have every thing to hope, every thing to believe of a man who so eminently distinguished himself as an excellent soldier, a kind master, a moderate ruler, a pious worshipper of God, and an humble but firm believer in Jesus Christ. In his history the Christian world has to boast of another of the triumphs of the Captain of salvation, of another successful invasion of Satan's kingdom, of another display of divine perfection in the person of Jesus Christ. It is not unworthy of remark that various persons of the same rank and profession, that of centurion, stand with high marks of approbation on the sacred page. Next to this most respectable character, we find another employed on a very trying occasion. He, with the company under his command, was appointed to see the sentence of crucifixion executed, for soldiers are put upon many a painful service, and he was not an unconcerned spectaior of that awful scene. " Now when the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, truly this was the Son of God." The name of Cornelius of Cesarea, the centurion of the Italian band, is renowned in all the churches of Christ, as "a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.” He is farther honourably reported of by those of his own household, as "a just man, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews.”
The centurion who had charge of Paul and the other prisoners, on the disastrous voyage which terminated in shipwreck on the island of Melita, paid singular at
tention to the apostle, followed his advice, and spared the rest of the prisoners that he might preserve Paul's life. And upon their arrival at Rome, when this generous officer delivered over the rest of his charge to the captain of the guard, he had sufficient credit and ability to express his friendship for our apostle, by procuring for him a greater enlargement of liberty: “ Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him."
From this interesting story let us learn,
1. To despise no man's person, feelings, opinions, profession or country. llis person is what God made it, and he makes nothing that is in itself contemptible. You are bound in equity to respect the feelings of another, for you wish that your own should not be handled rudely. It ill becomes one who has himself formed so many erroneous opinions, and veered about so frequently with the flitting gale, to prescribe a standard of opinion to other men. Unless a profession be radically, and in its own nature sinful, those who follow it ought not to be condemned in the lump: if it expose to peculiar temptations to act amiss, he who resists the temptation and overcomes himself is the more estimable. Over the place of his birth a mau had no more power than over the height of his stature, or the colour of his skin. It is an object of neither praise nor blame. The apostle Peter received a severe and just rebuke on this head by a vision from heaven. He was prepared, and he needed to be prepared, for the exercise of his ministry at Cesarea, and to the family and friends of the excellent Roman centurion already mentioned, and whom his Jewish pride had taught him to hold in contempt, by a thrice repeated mandate which he dared not to disobey: “ What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." Let us consider it as addressed to ourselves. "Why dost thou judge thy brother ? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother ? for we shall all stand before the judgement-seat of Christ."
2. The fearful doom denounced against unbelieving Jews ought to operate as a warning to still more highly privileged Christians, lest any man “fall after the same example of unbelief.” · For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward ; how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation ; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” We sometimes express contempt for the pagan world, sometimes affect to pity the blinded nations, and without hesitation presume to pass a sentence of final condemnation upon them. The unhappy tribes of Africa, in particular, Christian Europe calmly reduces to the condition of beasts of burthen in this world, with hardly an effort to ameliorate it in the next. And yet they are men, they possess many virtues which ought to put their tyrants to the blush, and which will one day rise up in judgement against them. We despise the iniserable Jews, and stigmatize them as infidels, as if all those who bear the name of Christ actually believed in him. “Boast not against the broken-off branches ;”-hou wilt say: The “ branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief, they were broken off, and thou slandest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.” I conclude with the solemn denunciation of Christ himself, respecting the men of his generation, and which is siill in equal force. “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgement with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, bebold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgement with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here."
HISTORY OF JESUS
OF JESUS CHRIST.
JOHN VI, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.
Aller these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great
multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come into him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, ihat these may eat ? (and this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.) Philip answered him, iwo hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, there is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and iwo small fishes, but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto liis disciples, gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them iogether, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.
The course of nature is a standing miracle. To be an atheist is to cease from being a man. To think of arguing with such a one is to undertake a labour as fruitless as attempting to reason the lunatic into a sound mind. A case like this ought to excite no emotion but compassion, mixed with gratitude to God that he has not reduced us to a condition so deplorable. Refinement in reasoning is, in general, both unprofitable and inconclusive. The man of plain common sense may advantageously observe and devoutly acknowledge the wisdom and goodness of the Great Supreme in the regular ebbing and flowing of the tide, though he cannot trace the process of the sun's action on the waters of the ocean; or of the wind, in conveying the fluid to the mountain's top; or of gravity, sending it down to water the plains beneath ; or the supposed influence of the moon, or of the melting of the polar ices, producing an alternate and regular flux and reflux on our shores, or in our rivers. Of what impottance is the theory of vegetation, compared to the simple but valuable labour and experience of the gardener and husbåndman ? The same observation applies to the religion of the Gospel. Here the learned have no advaritage whatever over the illiterate. It consists of a few plain, unadorned facts, authenticated by the testimony of a cloud of unsuspected witnesses; of a few simple, practical truths, level to the most ordinary capacity; and of a few precepts of self-evident importance, which it highly concerns every man to observe. Should it be alleged that these are blended with things bard to be understood, it is admitted. And here again the wise and prudent have no superiority over the vulgar, but both meet the God of grace as well as the Vol. VII.