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King of his Church, we are of necessity taught to look to him for the illumination of our minds, the pardon of our sins, the subjugation of all our spiritual enemies. We are taught to "live altogether by faith in him, who has loved us, and given himself for us". -]
3. The Holy Spirit, and his operations
[If we can come to God only through the Son, so neither have we any access to him but by the Spirit". Hence, in desiring his gracious influences, we should seek to have the whole work of grace wrought within us, and to be "transformed into the divine image," and be "made meet for our eternal inheritance"
4. The Gospel, with all its promises and precepts
[Nothing of this is to be contemplated as a mere matter of speculation; but the whole Gospel is to be embraced as a remedy, as a remedy suited to our wants and sufficient for our necessities. Every promise of it is to be embraced as a ground of hope; and every precept in it is to be obeyed as an evidence of our faith and love- -]
5. The realities of the eternal world
[No one ever came from heaven or from hell to inform us what those states were, or what was the full import of those terms under which those states are displayed. Nor is it of importance to us to know more of them in this world. We already know enough to call forth into activity our hopes and our fears and our wisdom, is so to improve our knowledge of them, as to "flee from the wrath to come," and to "lay hold on eternal life".
In a word, "whatsoever is revealed belongs to us and to our children for ever, that in all succeeding ages we should do all the words of God's Law," and approve ourselves to him as a faithful and obedient people.]
Hence, then, we may see
1. What answer we should make to the proud objector
[Persons will sit in judgment upon God and his revealed will, as if they were capable of determining, by their own wisdom, what was fitting for him to reveal or do; and they will decide with confidence on all which they either see or hear, precisely as if they were competent to weigh in a balance all the mysteries of divine wisdom. With what impious boldness will many revile the mystery of a Trinity of Persons in the
d Eph. ii. 18.
Godhead; the incarnation of Christ, and his atoning sacrifice; and the influences of the Holy Spirit. But to all such proud objectors I will say, with St. Paul, "Nay but, O man! who art thou that repliest against Gode?" Thou mistakest utterly the province of reason, if thou thinkest that she is to sit in judgment upon such mysteries as these. She is to judge whether the book which we call the Bible, be of divine inspiration: but when that is once admitted, then she must give way to faith, whose office it is to embrace all that God has revealed, and to make use of it for the ends and purposes for which he has revealed it. And if thou wilt 66 presume to reprove God, thou shalt surely answer for it?:" for "he giveth not account to man of any of his matters"."]
2. What direction we should give to the humble inquirer
[There may be many things brought to your ears which are above your comprehension, and which you may find it difficult to receive. But there is a standard to which every sentiment may be referred, and a touchstone by which every doctrine may be tried. Our blessed Lord said to those who doubted the propriety of his instructions, "Search the Scriptures: for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of meh." And the Prophet Isaiah told his hearers to bring every thing to this test: "To the Law, and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no truth in them." All that is needful for you to know, is contained in God's word. Whatever agrees with that, is true: whatever is contrary to it, is false: and whatever cannot be determined by it, may well be left among those "secret things which belong to God alone."]
3. What encouragement we are to afford to the true believer—
["The secret of the Lord," we are told, "is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant." this is indeed a most encouraging truth. Not that we are to suppose that God will give any new revelation to his people: we have no reason whatever to expect that: but he will shine upon his revealed truth, so that they shall have a perception of it which others have not. I need not tell you how much clearer any thing is discerned when the sun shines upon it; or how much more accurately it is seen when the eye is fixed more intently on it: or how things most minute or distant are rendered distinctly visible by glasses suited to our organs of
e Rom. ix. 20.
f Job xl. 2.
8 Job xxxiii. 13.
sight. Now, in all these ways will God discover his secrets to the believing soul. He will, by his Spirit, cast a flood of light upon the word; and make the soul most eager to apprehend his truth; and by the medium of faith bring that truth directly upon the tablet of the mind; and thus fulfil that promise, “ All thy people shall be taught of God'." Yes, "the meek he will guide in judgment; the meek he will teach his waym."]
THE RESTORATION AND CONVERSION OF THE JEWS.
Deut. xxx. 4-6. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: and the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
IN interpreting the Holy Scriptures, it is common with many to dwell almost exclusively upon the literal or historical sense of them, and to confine their meaning to the persons to whom the different parts were immediately addressed, or of whom they spake. But this limits the use of the sacred volume in such a manner, as to render it of little service to us. By supposing that it related only to other persons and other times, we get rid of its authority, destroy its power over our conscience, and learn to set aside every doctrine which we are not willing to receive, and every precept which we do not choose to practise. But there is an opposite error, against which also we ought to be on our guard. Some are so intent on the spiritual sense of Scripture, as almost entirely to overlook the literal. But the primary meaning is often as replete with instruction as any that can be affixed to the words, and incomparably more satisfactory to a well-informed mind. For instance, if we should take occasion from our text to speak of the nature and effects of true conversion,
in bringing us to God and renovating our souls, we might speak what was good and useful; but the primary sense of the passage leads us to another subject, which ought to be of equal importance in our eyes, namely, The Restoration and Conversion of the Jews.
In discoursing then on the words before us, we shall notice,
I. The events to which they relate :
That which first demands our attention, is, The restoration of the Jews
[Very much is spoken in the prophets on this subject: and though a great part of their declarations respecting it may be considered as having received their accomplishment in the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, there are some which evidently refer to a period yet future. The Prophet Ezekiel associates it with their acknowledgment of one Prince, whom he calls David. But there was not any prince after the captivity to whom that name can with any propriety be applied in such a view; whereas the Lord Jesus Christ is often spoken of under that name: and therefore it is reasonable to conclude, that the restoration spoken of must take place after the establishment of Christianity in the world. Indeed so strong are the declarations of Scripture upon this subject, that an expectation of the event universally obtains throughout the Christian world. What the precise time will be, we cannot absolutely fix: but we believe that they will be gathered from all quarters of the earth, and possess again their own land, agreeably to the literal expressions of our text: and it is highly probable, that the time is not far distant. As for the objections arising from the difficulty of carrying such a measure into execution, or from the barrenness of the land of Canaan, they vanish the very moment we open the Scriptures, and see what God did for them in former times. If God has ordained it, every mountain will become a plain.]
Nearly connected with this is their conversion to Christianity
[If we suppose a doubt to arise respecting the former, there exists not even a shadow of a doubt respecting this. The Apostle Paul represents it as assuredly determined in the divine counsels, and infallibly to be accomplished in due season. The people of God in every age may be regarded as one tree, of which Abraham may be considered as the root. The Jews after
a Ezek. xxxvii. 21-25.
a time were broken off, as fruitless branches; and the Gentiles were grafted on their stock: and, when the appointed season shall arrive, God will again engraft the Jews upon their own stock, and make both Jews and Gentiles one tree, that shall fill the whole earth. It is by this latter measure that God's designs of love and mercy to the Gentiles also shall be perfected: for the conversion of the Jews will awaken the attention of the unconverted Gentiles, and be the means of bringing in the fulness of the Gentiles b.
The change that will be wrought upon them will not be merely outward, or consisting in speculative opinions; it will reach to their inmost souls; it will produce in them a circumcision of the heart, an utter abhorrence of all sin, and a fervent love to God, as their reconciled God in Christ Jesus: they will "love him," I say, "with all their heart, and with all their soul." True indeed it is that they are very far from this state of mind at present: but so were the murderers of the Lord Jesus on the day of Pentecost; and yet in one hour were converted unto God. So shall it be in the day of God's power; a nation shall be born in a day;" a little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: the Lord will hasten it in his time."]
Such being the prophetic import of the words, let us proceed to notice,
II. The reflections which they naturally suggestThe present dispersed state of the Jews from which they are in due time to be recovered, is a most instructive subject. We cannot but see,
1. What witnesses they are for God
[The very person who brought them out of Egypt was inspired to foretell both their present dispersion, and their future restoration. The event has come to pass; and now for nearly eighteen hundred years have this people been scattered over the face of the whole earth, and are preserved a distinct people in every place. The treatment they should meet with was most circumstantially foretold: the hardships they should undergo, the oppression they should endured, the contempt in which they should be held, the conviction which they themselves, in common with all mankind, should feel, that their sufferings were inflicted by God himself on account of their iniquities; all, I say, was foretold; and all is come to pass: and they are
b Rom. xi. 12, 15, 23-29.
d Deut. xxviii. 29.
f Deut. xxix. 21-28.
c Deut. xxviii. 53-57. e Deut. xxviii. 37.