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Lord's disciples. To Cornelius, a private messenger was dispatched from heaven, that he and his household might be brought into the fold of the Redeemer. On the other hand, those Jews who had been scattered abroad throughout every nation under heaven, and who consequently had no opportunity of hearing Christ's voice in those unenlightened countries, yet being among the number of his sheep, they were providentially brought up to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Penticost, and were there converted by the powerful preaching of St. Peter, seconded by the wonderful works of God. And so it was, so it is, and so it will be, in every age. herd of Israel is constantly carrying on that plan, devised from the beginning, for bringing all whom the Father has given him to a knowledge of himself. The objects, the time and the means are all fixed in his mind, and forin a part of one great chain, no link of which shall be broken. But they are necessarily unknown to us.
We cannot tell who are the sheep of Jesus. No human foresight, observing even with the greatest care the signs of the times, can ascertain when or how the light of the glorious gospel shall shine either to na
tions or individuals. That book, which contains the catalogue of Christ's chosen ones, no man in heaven, nor in earth, nor under the earth is able to open or to read. In this inquiry, therefore, we presume not to determine the objects of the divine favour, or to fix upon the times and the seasons which God hath reserved in his own power.
But from the declarations made in other passages of scripture; from the general tenour of the gospel, and from the analogy of providence, to illustrate the meaning of our Saviour, when he says, “other sheep I have, which are not of this “ fold; them also I must bring, and they shall “hear my voice.”
1. By the expression, this fold, it is evident that the Jewish nation, was primarily intended by our Lord ; and by his other sheep the Gentile nations. The Jews were particularly distinguished by the title of God's flock. They i had been chosen by the Almighty, outof all the nations of the earth. To them alone a revelation was granted ; to them were committed the oracles of the living God. These instances of the divine favour, however, were not occasioned by any merit on their part; but were designed by God in order to make with
them a deposit of his revealed will, to preserve alive in the earth the knowledge of himself, and by degrees to prepare the world more effectually for that grand dispensation which was not to be confined to one nation or country, but to be published to the whole race of man. That the revelation intrusted to them might not be lost or corrupted, by any intercourse or union with the professors of heathenism it was ordained, that, no strangers or foreigners should be admitted into the bosom of their church.
If any who resided among them were willing to embrace their religion, they were admitted no farther than the outer court. The Jews were farther distinguished from all other nations of the earth by peculiar rites and ceremonies. They were forbidden to intermarry, or even to eat or to drink with strangers. In short, every method was adopted which policy could suggest to preserve them a separate and distinct people. A wall was erected between the Jew and the Gentile, which was the parent of many odious distinctions and of many mistaken opinions, highly injurious to the character of the Supreme Being. In the days of our Saviour, the most extravagant national pride, joined to an unjustifiable con
tempt of all other nations, religious bigotry, self-conceit, the meanest and most illiberal prejudices, formed the prominent features in the Jewish character. Puffed up with a sense of their supposed superiority over others, their constant boast was, that, they were born of the circumcision, that they were Abraham's seed, and Moses's disciples. Ignorant of the true intention of the Almighty in selecting them from the rest of the world, they foolishly im. agined that God was a local deity, confined to the Jewish nation, and to the land of Judea. In their opinion there was no salvation to the Gentiles; they of the uncircumcision who knew not the law were accursed. And though, in the days of the Messiah, they expected that Tarshish and the Isles should acknowledge his sway, they were far from supposing that they would be admitted to equal privileges with their own favoured nation, but, that they would be nothing else than subjects and tributaries to the Jews.
How different from all this were the general spirit and declared intention of Christianity. Within its wide embrace it comprehended both Jew and Gentile, Greek and barbarian, Roman and Scythian, bond and free. Chris
tianity does not require us to worship God, at any stated season or in any particular place, but allows us to worship when and where and how we please, provided we worship him in spirit and in truth. The perfection of the Christian service consists not in the strict observance of outward rites and ceremonies, but in that which every man has it in his power to attain, the due regulation of his heart and conduct. The rites it prescribes are few and simple, the forms it requires are plain and easy to be observed. It's maxims and precepts are not adapted to the taste of any particular age or nation ; but are of that general, universal and immutable nature which is calculated for all ranks and professions, for all ages and nations, and for
mode of government and every state of society. Jesus was not the teacher and lawgiver of the Jewish nation alone, but of the whole human race. He broke down the middle wall of partition which separated the Jews from the Gentiles, and united them in one body by his cross. He abolished the law of ordinances, which was obligatory only on one people, and delivered a new commandment which all nations were required to obey. He threw open the door of that fold which