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MATTH. viii. II.
I fay unto you, That many fball come from the east and west, and fhall fit down with Abraham, and Ifaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of
OTHING can be more encouraging to Christians, in the performance of duty, than God's promife of fuccefs; 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 promifes annexed to them.
This fermon was preached before the fociety in Scotland, for propagating Chriftian knowlege, at their anniversary meeting, in the High Church of Edinburgh, on Friday, June 6th, 1766.
If the defign of our meeting be to recommend fuch generous endeavours, as well as to pray for a bleffing upon them, the propriety of effaying to illuftrate this paffage, will bear no difpute.
Our Lord, who improved every occurrence in providence for the inftruction of mankind, took an opportunity, from the faith of a Roman officer, to inform the world, what vaft defigns of grace his heavenly Father had in referve toward Gentile finners; and these chearing and charming news he hath tranfmitted 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 promife, in making it, he acted as God our Saviour, though dwelling in flesh; than either of which views, nothing can be more expreffive of the obligations we are under, by a believing dependence, 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 propofe, through divine aid, is,
"To illuftrate the defigns of Grace upon Gen"tile finners, expreffed in this paffage, with a view "to animate your endeavours toward the propaga❝tion of Christian knowlege among them."
Though God hath fecured the end by immutable promises, duty on our part is not the lefs incumbent. Though he "will have all men to be fav"ed," means of bringing them "to the knowlege of the truth," 1 Tim. ii. 4. are nevertheless to be ufed. And though faving conversion is effected exclufively 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
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 Meffiah, and thereby becoming fuch neceffary links in the genealogical chain from Abraham to Chrift, 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 Jofeph,
The defigns of Grace under confideration are ftill more evident from many exprefs atteftations of fcripture. "I will give thee (faid the Father to "his Anointed) the heathen for thinc inheritance, "and the uttermoft parts of the earth for thy pof"feffion," Pfal. ii, 8. "The abundance of the "fea (hall be converted unto thee; the forces of "the Gentiles fhall come unto thee," If. lx. 5. And, "From the rifing of the fun, even unto the
going down of the fame, my name (faith the "Lord) (hall be great among the Gentiles," Mal. i. 11. When, therefore, the time was fulfilled, Paul faid to the Jews at Rome, "The falvation of "God is fent unto the Gentiles, and they will "hear it," Acts xxviii. 28.
The commiffion which our Lord first gave to his apoftles contained, indeed, a claufe which feemed 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. But
*Thefe Gentiles are no lefs among the ancestors of Mary; for, from Abraham to David, the line is the fame as to both.
But then, as the head of apoftolic authority, he took fuch steps in the exercife of his perfonal miniftry, as plainly fhewed, that both Gentiles and Samaritans were eventually to partake of the com mon falvation As to the Gentiles, we are informed, by one Evangelift, that Jefus fhewed judgment unto them, and caufed them to truft in his name, Matth. xii. 18, 21. of which the converfion of the Syrophoenician woman was a ftriking inftance, Matth xv 21, &c. And, with refpect to the Samaritans, another Evangelift hath affured us, that by the interpofition of Immanuel's grace, many of them were fpeedily, but favingly, converted:" He told "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 paffage in particular. The faith, you fee, of a Gentile gave rife to the declaration before us: "I have not (faid our bleffed Lord) found fo great faith, no, "not in Ifrael," Matth. viii. 10. And the Jews are called "the children of the kingdom," Matth. viii. 12. to diftinguish them from the people who fhould come from the eaft and the weft;" and, as it is in the parallel paffage, "from the north and "fouth," Luke xiii. 29.
This very circumftance of their coming from the four cardinal points, is a corroborative evidence, that Gentile finners are particularly intended. Let the redeemed of the Lord, fays the prophet, celebrate his mercy, who "gathered them out of the
lands, from the caft and from the weft, from the north and from the fouth;" Pfal. cvii 3. plainly intimating, that finners, not only in Judea," where the pofterity of Jacob then chiefly refided;
but in all parts of the world, fhould be the fubjects of converting grace.
If they are to come from all quarters, our Lord's words intimate defigns of grace upon Gentile finners near Capernaum, where he had this interview with the centurion; which began to appear, not long after, in the converfion of Cornelius, and his friends at Cefarea to the Chriftian faith, Acts x.
They intimate defigns of Grace upon Gentile finners whole refidence was far from Galilee; for God hath faid, "I will bring thy feed from the east, and "gather thee from the weft; I will fay to the "north, Give up; and to the fouth, Keep not "back; bring my fons from far, and my daugh "ters from the ends of the earth, If. xliii. 5, 6. Accordingly, having established a connection between the mean and the end, he made provision that the former fhould be fent where ever the latter was to be effected, faying to the Apostles," Go "ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;" Mark xvi. 15. and afterwards to Paul, Depart, for I will fend thee far hence un"to the Gentiles," Acts xxii. 21.
They intimate defigns of Grace upon Gentile finners inhabiting continental countries. These, as diftinguished from the other parts of this globe, where probably in his eye, who faid, The Lord "hath made barc his holy arm in the eyes of "all nations and all the ends of the earth fhall "fee the falvation of our God,” 1. lii. 10.
And they intimate defigns of Grace upon Gentile finners who inhabit the ifles in the fea "My righ"teoufnels is near, (faith the Lord) my falvation "is gone forth, and mine arm fhall judge the people; the ifles fhall wait upon me, and o "mine arm hall they truft," If. li. 5. And again it is promifed, that mea thall worship" the