« הקודםהמשך »
vices of their ancestors. Certainly, the Romans were instructed in Christianity by Paul and other Jews; and, in the first century, the Roman legions, and the standard of the gospel of Christ, were planted on Albion's coast.
The Jews, though scattered and persecuted, are not destroyed ; they are preserved monuments of the divine veracity. O, may we take warning from their awful fate! “ Because of unbelief they were broken off, and we stand by faith.” “ Let us not be highminded, but fear; for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed, lest he spare not us. Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell, severity ; but, towards us, goodness, if we continue in his goodness: otherwise, we also shall be cut off.” It will avail us little to confess Jesus as the Messiah, if we are unconcerned to know and practise the doctrines he has taught. But may we
serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” “ Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.” “ Blessed are all they that put their trust in him," for his word is fate; immutability seals, and eternity executes, whatever he decrees.
And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.- Isaiah xlix. 6.
The descendants of Abraham, the friend of God, were treated as the Lord's peculiar people; singled out from other nations as the favourites of heaven, the Lord was their lawgiver and king. No other nation had God “so nigh unto them in all things that they called upon him for,” as the people of Israel, To benefit them, the laws of nature were reversed, and nations destroyed. They were employed by Jehovah to punish the idolatrous people for their crimes.* They were selected to maintain the knowledge and worship of the true God,t and to convey his pure and holy law to remote generations. Thus favoured and blessed, the Jews were accustomed contemptuously to regard all other nations, as common and unclean; they could not endure to have one stone thrown down of the partition wall, which had so long separated them from the Gentiles. They proudly
t Isaiah xliii. 20, 21.
* Deuteronomy xviii. 9, 12.
John iv. 9.
enough appropriated to themselves all the blessings connected with the appearance of the Messiah. But it would be a light thing that Christ should become Jehovah's servant, endure pain and scorn, merely to “ raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel ;” that nation which he knew would so long despise and reject him. But Messiah was given for “a light to the Gentiles," and Jehovah's .“ salvation unto the ends of the earth.” He has asked, and received “ the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.”
Yea, all nations shall be blessed in him ;" for the root of Jesse shall stand for “ an ensign of the people, and to him shall the Gentiles seek:” to his glorious rest shall all nations flow. He shall have “ dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” “ They that dwell in the wilderness, shall bow before him; and his enemies lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the Isles shall bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba, shall offer gifts: yea, all kings shall fall down before him, all nations shall serve him. For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth ; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall redeem their soul from violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight. He shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Seba: prayer also shall be inade for him continually; and daily shall he be praised. His name shall endure for ever, his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him : all nations shall call him blessed. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.” Yes, Christ is Jehovah's servant, in whom his soul delights; he has “put his spirit upon him, he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles;” “ he has given him for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.” Numerous are the prophecies which refer to the call of the heathen world, and Jesus who declares himself the Messiah, is described in the New Testament as “a light to lighten the Gentiles," as well as “the glory of his people Israel.” He preached himself in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim," and Samaria: † the parting command he gave his disciples was, that they should “ go forth into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” He endowed them with the gift of tongues, to enable them to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Gentiles. And they went forth and preached every where, “the Lord working with them, and confirming
the word with signs following." «-The word of the Lord went forth from Jerusalem;" it rapidly spread through Jewry, Samaria, and Galilee. Distant cities soon heard the glad tidings. Within thirty years after their Lord's ascension, the faithful disciples had preached the doctrines of the gospel at Cæsarea, Damascus, Joppa, Antioch, Phrygia, Galatia, Derbe, Corinth, Iconium, Ephesus, Macedonia, Cyprus, Syria, Cilicia, Athens, Alexandria, at Rome, and numerous other places.
The Christian faith was contrary to all existing opinions, religions, and habits; and decidedly opposed to the natural propensities of the human heart. Its teachers were Jewish fishermen, tent-makers, and tax-gatherers, poor and illiterate men, unskilled in artifice. They preached not merely amongst men as simple as themselves, they taught at Athens and Rome, the very seats of learning and philosophy; they had to contend with men skilled in science, and were opposed by long-established customs and habits. The disciples had no eloquence to convince, no power to awe, no wealth to bribe; they were opposed by Jewish pride, Grecian philosophy, and worldly power;. yet the gospel flourished rapidly over all opposition and
* Acts iv, 13.