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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 drofs ? and have we not a claim, upon you, for the same candour in judging of ours?: · By all this we mean not to insinuate, that trou. blers of the church may not-fometimes be found, in one or another corocr amongst ourselves; nor that, if they are such, in the scripture views of the character, you may not wish and pray for their excision : we only intend to caution you against forming your judgments of ministers and elders, upon the opinions of others, especially, if of a different communion from them; upon the prejudice of edu- . cation ; upon such sentiments of your own minds, as may only be raw and indigested; 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 just; at the same time, it is a thousand to one, but some likewise, most dandled on the popular knee, and thereby least exposed to the lash of your censures, might be found greatly, perhaps grossly, wanting. For, hath not be, who spaķe as never man did, assured us, that “ma“ uy who are first shall be last, and the last first?" Matth. xix. 30.
SE R M O N
T H E CON VERSION
оғ тНЕ GENTILES ILLUSTRATED
MATTH. viii. 11. I say unto you, That many foall come from the
coft and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of Heaven.
TOTHING can be more encouraging to I Christians, in the perforinance 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 ao 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 finners; and thefe 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 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 not regard ! . What we propose, through divine aid, is,
• To illustrate the designs of Grace upon Gen..." tile finners, expressed in this passage, with a view
a 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 fav. "ed," means of bringing them " to the knowlege of the truth;" 1 Tim. ît. 4. are Devertheless to be used. And though saving 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 designs of grace upon Gentile finners, while they made no part of his 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 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 Syrian, Matth. i. 3. Rachab a Canaanite, Matth. i. s. and Ruth a Moabite, Matth. i. s. all Gentiles, to whom originally pertained neither the adoption nor the glory, numbered among the ancestors of Jofeph *
The designs of Grace under consideration are still more evident from many express attestations of scripture. “I will give thee (faid the Father to " his Anointed) the heathen for thinc inheritance, “ and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy pof. «s fellion,” Pfal. ii. 8. “ The abundance of the “ sea shall be converted unto thee; the force of " the Gentiles shall come unto thee,” If. lx. 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. i. 11. When, therefore, the time was fulfilled, Paul said to the Jews at Rome, “ The salvation of 6 God is sent unto the Gentiles, and they will " hear it,” Acts xxviii. 28.
The cominission which our Lord first gave to his apostles contained, indeed, a clause which seemed unfavourable for the nations : “Go not (faid he) “ into the way of the Gentiles; and into any city “ of the Samaritans enter ye not," Matth. x. 5.
i '. But
* These Gentiles are no less among the ancestors of Mary; for, from Abraham to David, the line is the fame as to both,
sles illufratele authority' mic
the Gentiles illustrated. 103 But then, as the head of apoftolic authority, he took such steps in the exercise of his personal ministry, as plainly shewed, that both Gentiles and
Samaritans were even tually to partake of the com. :- mon falvation. As to the Gentiles, we are inform
ed, by one Evangelift, that Jesus shewed judgment unto them, and caused them to trust in his name, Marth. xii. 18, 21. of which the conversion of the Syrophoenician woman was a striking instance, Matth xv 21, &C. And, with respect 10 the Samari. tans, another Evangelift hath assured us, that by the interposition of Immanuel's grace, many of them were speedily, hut savingly, converted : " He told as me (faid one) all things that ever I did ;” and, " We believe, (faid numbers) for we have heard “him ourselves,” John iv. 29, 42.
Nor is this only the doctrine of fcripture in gene. ral, but, undoubtedly, the meaning of this passage in particular. The faith, you fee, of a Gentile
gave rise to the declaration before us: “I have not . (faid our blessed Lord) found so great faith, no,
“ oot in Ifrael," Matth. viii. io. And the Jews are called " the children of the kingdom," Marth. viii. 12. to distinguish them from the people who Should " come from the east and the wet;" and, as it is in the parallel passage, “ from the north and « fourh," Luke xiii. 29.
This very circumstance of their coming from the four cardinal points, is a corroborative evidence, that Guniile finners are particularly intended. Let the redeemed of the Lord, says the prophet, cele. brate his mercy, who “gathered them out of the " lands, fro:n the cast and from the west, from “ the north and from the south ;" Plal. cvii 3. plainly intimating, that finners, not only in Judea, where the posterity of Jacob then chiefly resided,