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confirmed state of holiness and glory is not secured to them by trust or dependance on Christ, may be a reasonable enquiry; for all things in heaven and earth are said to be gathered together, and reconciled in him; Eph. i. 10. Col. i. 20. But this we are sure of, that not one of all the race of Adam hath been restored to the love of God, or raised to heaven, by their own works but all by faith. It is sovereign and glorious grace that has saved them all, and that by the gospel too, in the various editions of it, from the promise in Eden, till the full discovery of grace at the day of pentecost after the ascension of Christ.
O it is a pleasing entertainment of soul to send our thoughts forward to the last great day, or to send them upward to the courts of heaven and glory, and to hear how the millions of redeemed sinners shout and sing to the honour of divine grace? How all that happy world of believers assist the melody, and dwell upon the delightful sound. “ Not unto us, O God our Father, not unto us, but to thine own name, and to thy mercy be all our honours paid through the ages of eternity. We were a race of guilty and perishing rebels, who had sinned against thy majesty, and ruined our own souls : We lay upon the borders of death and hell without help, and without hope : We could do nothing to procure thy love, nor merit any thing by the best of our works: But thou hast called us to believe thy gospel, to trust in thy grace, and to lay down the arms of our rebellion, and to receive the blessings of salvation by faith : We have nothing to boast of, for we are mere receivers : Thou hast put forth thine almighty arm, and hast made thy gospel the instrument of thy power to save us ; and while we feel and taste the complete salvation, thy power and thy mercy shall have all the praise.
Not unto us, O Lord Jesus our Saviour, not unto us is any honour duc; but to thy condescending love; to thy compassion and death shall our honours be paid, and our acknowledgments made for help. We saw ourselves helpless, and were directed to thee for ever: We trusted in thee, and ihou hast saved us : it is thy sufferings that have procured our pardon; it is by faith in thy blood we find an atonement; it is through thy righteousness that we are justified and accepted of God, and made partakers of these heavenly glories that shine all around us. All our sacred comforts, our excellencies, and our joys are thine. Pride is hidden from our eyes for ever, and boasting is banished from all our tongues : It is thou hast fulfilled the law : it is thou hast suffered the curse ; it is thou hast purchased, and promised, and bestowed the blessing. We believed thy word, we received thy grace, and behold, we, dying sinners, are raised to life, and advanced to glory. There is not a soul of us but delights to join in these sublime anthems of worship; IVorthy is the Lamb that was slain to
receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing: Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be to him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever.” Amen.
NOT by the laws of innocence Lord, I believe thy heavenly word,
None Excluded from Hope.
Rom. i. 16. The Gospel of Christ,-it is the power of God unto salvation
to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. We have seen the gospel of Christ vindicated in the former discourses on this text, and the glorious doctrines of it guarded against the various reproaches of an unbelieving world : We have heard what a powerful instrument it is in the hand of God for the salvation of perishing sinners. We have been taught the way to partake of this salvation, and that is by believing; and we have learned what influence our faith has in this sacred concernment. I proceed now to the last thing which I proposed, and that is to shew the wide extent of this blessing of the gospel; for it brings salvation to every one that believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Where the word Greek is used in opposition to the Barbarian, as it is in the fourteenth verse before my text, it signifies the learned part of mankind, as distinguished from those that are unlearned; the Greeks being the most famous among the nations for wisdom, knowledge, or learning in that day : But when this same word stands in opposition to the Jew, as it does here in my text, then it includes all the heathen world, so that when the apostle says, the gospel brings salvation both to the Jew and the Greek, he shews the extent of this benefit to all mankind that hear and receive it.
It may be worth our while to spend a few hints upon the order in which the apostle représents the communication of this blessing, viz. to the Jew first, and then to the Greek or Gentile.
When he describes, in the second chapter of this epistle, the terms or conditions of the covenant of works, he sets mankind in the same order; he pronounces indignation and wrath upon every soul that doth evil
, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile. So when he declares the blessings of the covenant of grace or the gospel, he brings the salvation first upon the Jews, and then upon the Gentile nations: And one reason of it may be this, that the Jews having been favoured with an earlier and more express discovery of the nature and will of God than the heathens, they seem to stand fairest for the participation of divine blessings and that, even by the law of works, if life and righteousness could have been obtained by it, as welí as by the covenant of grace, or law of faith. But if they abuse their knowledge, and their sacred advantages, to the neglect of God and godliness, faith and works, they justly fall under a more severe condemnation every way, because their guilt is greater.
But there may be some special reasons given why God thought it proper, in the course of his providence, to send the notice of this salvation by Jesus Christ among the Jews, before he sent it to the Gentile world.
I. The Jews were the chosen people of God, the sons and daughters of Abraham, his friend, the first favourites of heaven, considered as a family and a nation : and as he first preached to them the purity and perfection of his law, whence they might discover their own sin and misery, so he published his gospel of grace by Jesus Christ first among them, and sent his Son with the messages of peace and forgiveness first to their nation. The great God thought it becoming his equity to publish his abounding mercy first toward them, amongst whom he first published his law, to shew them their guilt and misery through the abounding of sin : “ By the law is the knowledge of sin; and where sin has abounded, grace has much more abounded;" Rom. ii. and v.
II. The Jews had this same gospel preached to them many ages before in types and emblems, in sacred ceremonies and dark prophecies. Now it was fit, that the types and prophecies should be explained and the grace contained therein revealed first to them; for hereby the gospel obtained a great confirmation, and established its own truth, when it appeared in all the parts of it so exactly answerable to the ancient figures, and to the predictions of many hundred years. It was fit that the Messiah should appear among them first, where his character and picture had been drawn for many ages before, that so he might be known and distinguished whensoever he should visit the world. It was fit that his doctrine should be first published in plain language, where it had been long written and spoken in metaphors. Thus the gospel went forth first from Jerusalem, that it might be preached and proclaimed with more glorious evidence among the rest of the nations,
III. Jesus Christ, who is the subject and substance of the gospel, was himself a Jew, of the seed of Abraliam, of the nation of Israel. He was born, he lived, he died amongst them. All the great affairs of his birth, his life, his ministry, his death and resurrection, were transacted in their country, and in the midst of them. It was fit the benefit thereof should be first oflered to thein.
If this gospel of Christ had been first preached to the gentiles, while it was kept silent and secret amongst the Jews, there might have been reason to suspect that there was some fraud or falsehood at the bottom, and that this doctrine would not bear the light in the country where these things were done, and that it would not stand the test of examination in the land of Judea, and therefore the story was told first among strangers : And thus the gentiles might have found some difficulty to receive it, and been prejudiced against the belief of it. But now, when it is published through all the land of Israel, and the apostlos appeal to their own countrymen for the truth of these transactions ; when it has stood the test of public examination there, where the things were transacted, it goes forth to the rest of the nations with brighter evidence and glory.
IV. I might add in the last place, that it was fit it should be first published to the Jews, who seemed to have the first claim to it; that since they refused it, it might be offered to the poor gentile nations with greater justice and equity, even the Jews themselves being judges. Such are the frequent hints given by St. Paul; Acts xiii. 46. It was necessary that the word of God should have been first spoke to you ; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and they will hear it; Acts xxviii. 28.
When we think of that poor unhappy nation, the Jews, scattered abroad among all the kingdoms of the earth, banished from their own promised land for their rejection of Christ, and yet hardened in their unbelief, methinks we should send out a groan of pity for them ; for they are the sons and daughters of Abraham, the first favourites of our God. Jesus our Saviour was their Messiah, their kinsman, and their rightful king. We should send up a kind wish to heaven upon
their account, long, O Lord, how long shall Israel be cast off? How long wilt thou be angry with the children of Abraham, thy friend? When shall the day come for the opening of their eyes, that they may look on Jesus whom they pierced, and believe and mourn? When shall the veil be taken off from their hearts, that they may read the books of Moses, and trust in Jesus of Nazareth, whom their fathers crucified ?"
When we see one and another of the Jewish nation in this great city, and think of their blindness and their zeal for the idle traditions of their teachers, and observe their ignorant rage against our blessed Saviour : when we behold the vain supersti, tions of their worship, the thick darkness that hangs upon them under the brighest beams of gospel-light, and their wide distance