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does not encourage such a state of things: and therefore it is not reasonable to expect it should be brought in by extraordinary interpositions of Providence, under the dispensation of the Messiah.
Should they sacrifice again, as in times past? The law of Moses is no longer in force, and the sacrifices appointed therein are below the dignity of the gospel institution.
Moreover our Lord plainly declared, that all distinctions of places should cease under the gospel : and that worship would no longer be peculiarly acceptable at Jerusalem, or any other city.
The continued subsistence of a large body of the Jewish people in several parts of the world, and the present desolation of their country, or the small number of inhabitants therein, are thought by some to amount to a strong argument that they shall themselves return thither, and take possession of it again. But from what has been now said it appears that the fore-mentioned state of things answers very valuable ends and purposes: though the Jewish people should never be reinstated in their ancient inheritance.
It is likely therefore, that whenever there is a general conversion of the Jews to the faith of Jesus, they will become christians indeed, and their fondness for the rites of the Mosaic law will cease: that they and the Gentiles may become one people, and one sheepfold under Christ, the universal Lord of the church, the Saviour, and the Bishop of souls. Such an event we have good reason to wish and pray
for, that the fulness of the Gentiles may be brought in, and that then the blindness, which in part has long happened to the Jewish people, may be entirely removed.
In the mean time we should both labour for the conversion of ignorant Gentiles, and do what lies in our power to provoke the people of the Jews to jealousy by the simplicity of our worship, the purity of our faith, and the goodness of our lives.
5. We must be hence induced to admire the exceeding riches of the wisdom and goodness of God, who has gra
# I have not denied that there will be a general conversion of the Jewish people. Nor would I be understood to be positive, that they shall never return to the land of Canaan : though I have mentioned some difficulties attending the supposition. And if indeed they are some time not only to be converted, but also restored ; I am persuaded that their restoration will be accomplished in a manner becoming the divine majesty, and that all people will rejoice therein. I am moreover of opinion, that if ever this be brought about, their worship thenceforward will be entirely spiritual and evangelical.
ciously afforded mankind in all ages, helps for knowing the great truths of religion.
God ever spoke to all in the voice of reason. When that was not duly attended to, and the danger of universal ignorance became great, he separated a family, that of Abraham, from the rest of the world: and of a part of it he made a great nation, to whom he gave a law : who thereby were set up as a lamp upon a hill, to ligbten the world around them: and among them, by frequent interpositions of his wise and powerful providence, religion was maintained, and they were kept a distinct nation, enjoying many privileges, until the Messiah came, and religion was spread far and wide in the nations of the earth, according to promises made long before. And then, the Jews generally rejecting that blessing, God cast them off from being his people, as they had been, and poured down upon them tokens of his displeasure: yet not destroying them utterly, and making use of them, even under afflictions, to support the truth of his Son's mission and authority, whom they had crucified.
Nor is there herein any injustice or unkindness, as has been often observed in these discourses : for still they are provoked to jealousy by those who are taken in their room: and in this respect they now enjoy an advantage, with regard to religion, beyond what the Gentiles had formerly. For then it was the nation of the Jews only to whom God was known, and
of the nations of the earth were remote from them. But the unbelieving Jews for the most part live among, or near the followers of Jesus, and have better opportunities to inform themselves of the principles of their religion, than the Gentiles had of old to know that of the Israelites.
And the wisdom of Divine Providence in the former and the latter dispensation is admirable, though above our full comprehension: as the apostle observes at the end of this chapter, addressing himself to Gentile christians : " For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet now have obtained mercy through their unbelief: even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they may obtain mercy : for God has concluded all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor? or who has given unto him, and it shall be recompensed to him again ? For of him, and through
him, and to him, are all things. To whom be glory for ever.”
6. We may hence conclude, that “ known unto God are all his works from the beginning,” Acts xv. 18. It is an observation of St. James at the council of Jerusalem.
We may infer from the event that God foresaw from the beginning the general apostasy of mankind. And when he called Abraham, and separated him to himself from the rest of the world, he foresaw all the consequences of that gracious purpose and choice; that religion would be in some measure upheld in the world till the Messiah came: and that when he was come, after the space
many ages from the time of the first promise concerning him, the various ordinances of positive appointment, delivered to the Jews by Moses, which had been of use to preserve them in the land of Judea from mixing with their idolatrous neighbours, till he came, would likewise serve to keep them a separate people, wherever they lived, for a long succession of ages, to bear testimony to his ancient covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and themselves : whilst still they would have opportunities of knowing the religion of the Messiah, and whenever their hearts should be touched, they might be again received, and partake in all the blessings of his kingdom.
7. It may be reasonably supposed, that it will be delightful in the heavenly state to know and observe the various methods of Divine Providence, relating to his creatures, in the world where we have lived : particularly to observe the manifold designs of wisdom and goodness with regard to the concerns of religion.
A wise and discerning person has now great delight and profitable entertainment in reviewing these works of Divine Providence, as recorded in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament: but the discoveries in a future state may be much more full and complete, and consequently more delightful. We may then see the overspreading deluge of ignorance in some places and ages, the wonderful steps by which light was restored, and all the virtue of the instruments raised up by God, and employed by him; the faithful and disinterested zeal with which they served God, and promoted the welfare of their fellow-creatures; and how even afflictive events subserved beneficial designs.
But this review of things will not be pleasing and comfortable, except in a state of ease and happiness : for supposing any such extensive knowledge in regions of despair and misery, it could not alleviate, but must aggravate the distress. It would not be satisfaction, but vexation for any one, finally and justly rejected of God, to look back on the long space and numerous periods of time, and observe the kind provisions made by the Divine Being for the illumination and salvation of men. For such an one, I say, to survey the scenes of Divine Providence, in several ages,
and observe the time and place where he was fixed, having many advantages afforded him, and more in his power; but all abused, or neglected; whilst some others, less privileged, acted discreetly, honoured God, and laid the foundation of future happiness : to such an one this knowledge would be tormenting and vexatious.
But though such extensive knowledge should not be the portion of those who are finally separated from God, there will be remembrance of things past; what men have done, or neglected to do, what means of knowledge were afforded them in this world, what convictions they had of duty, what helps they enjoyed for securing a virtuous conduct, and strengthening them against tenptations; and how they failed to improve those many advantages,
. How piercing must it be in the place of torment for a descendant of Abraham, who lived in the time of our Lord, to recollect the gracious words he heard from his mouth : that though Jesus taught in the streets of his city, and in the most winning manner promised everlasting life to such as believed in him, and obeyed him: and though he performed numerous miracles, healing and beneficial, suited to the goodness of his doctrine, and tokens of inexpressible mildness and benevolence: yet he despised and abused this amiable person! And though he knew the prophets had spoken of a great deliverer to arise among them; and it was the prevailing opinion that was the very time prefixed for his coming; he would not hearken to him, nor regard him, because of some groundless prejudices, and too strong an affection for worldly possessions and enjoyments.
In like manner, for certain, to others also the recollection of religious privileges, not improved, will be matter of torment and vexation.
Children of pious parents, who “ set at nought all their counsel, and will none of their reproof !” Prov. i. 25, 30.
Servants who are averse to the order and restraint of religious families, and offended at daily devotions, and frequent readings of the scriptures, or books of piety; and choose the habitations of the wicked, where there is not so much as a form of godliness, or an appearance of religion ; and prefer the company and manners of the dissolute, who are a reproach to human nature !
A christian, partaking in all the ordinances of the gospel, yet acting contrary to the obligations he is under!
A minister in God's house, showing to others the way of salvation, but not walking in it himself!
How grievous must the recollection of such advantages be hereafter, if finally abused and disregarded! No consolation can be giveu to men then. The sad reflection on their own folly will be unavoidable and incurable.
May we therefore be wise to know and mind the things of our peace now, in this our day. Let us secure time for serious reflections on our conduct and our advantages : let us compare our light and knowledge with our actions and purposes: for between these there ought to be an agreement: where much is given, much may be expected : “ And the servant, who knew his Lord's will, and did it not, will be beaten with many stripes.” Luke xii. 47.
These are certain truths: and these things will some time afford a pleasing and comfortable, or an afflictive and sorrowful recollection and remembrance. It is an awful and awakening observation of our Lord : “ This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world : and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John iii. 19. If any of us should perish, bave we not reason to dread this aggravated condemnation? For we must be sensible we have had sufficient instruction to assure us, that things above are preferable to things on this earth : and that nothing ought so to divert or engage us, as to prevent our laying up to ourselves treasures in heaven, Col. iïi. 2, and that we ought so to order all our present concerns, and the whole of our conversation, as may best promote our most important interest, the everlasting salvation and happiness of our souls.