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CHRIST THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS.
BY THE REV. JOHN BARR, GLASGOW. *
HAGGAI ii. and 7.
" And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come;
and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts.”
The return of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon was to them a joyful and important event. In the seventieth year after they had been carried thither by Nebuchadnezzar to sojourn among idolaters, by an edict of Cyrus, king of Persia, they were permitted to return to their own country. Though many of them who had obtained agreeable settlements, chose to remain in Babylon, yet a vast multitude joyfully embraced the opportunity to go to the beloved, but then desolate and ruinous, city and temple of Jerusalem.
No secular interest could induce them to continue longer among the avowed despisers of the God of Israel, and to forego the advantages of his pure worship in the land of their fathers—the land to which he had promised again to restore them.
Immediately after their return they began to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, and the temple of the Lord. In this work they met with many discouragements, both from friends and foes. They were disturbed by the crafty artifices and
* It'is proper to mention that this sermon appears without any revision from the author-the state of whose health has for a long time prevented him from writing or preaching.
malignant stratagems of their enemies, who so far prevailed as to compel them for a season to desist from their undertaking ; and even among themselves the conduct of some tended not a little to dishearten the workmen. When the foundation of this temple was laid, the joy of the young men, who never had seen the former, and who ardently desired to behold the solemn worship of Jehovah restored, was damped by the grief of the old men, who remembered the magnificence of the first temple, and who could not refrain from weeping aloud, to think how far short of it the second would come. Indeed, so mingled were the emotions of the multitude, as Ezra informs us, “ That the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of weeping.” In these circumstances the prophets Haggai and Zechariah were sent by God to encourage them to proceed with their work, till the sacred edifice was completed, by assuring them that however inferior it might be to that built by Solomon, in point of architectural grandeur and magnificence, it should far exceed it in real glory; for Messiah himself, the desire of all nations, should adorn it with his personal presence,—" And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts.”
In the subsequent illustration of these words, by the help of God, I shall endeavour plainly to set before you the following things ;-1. The character here given to Christ6 the desire of all nations.” II. The wonderful events which should accompany his advent—"the shaking of all nations." III. The pre-eminent glory with which the second temple was then to be filled, and by which it was to be rendered superior to the first.
Following this method, I am-1. To consider the character here given to Christ—" the desire of all nations.” Our Redeemer may, with propriety, be so denominated; because he is infinitely worthy of being desired by all nations ; because the people of God in every nation have earnestly de
sired him; because there was a general desire and expectation among all nations of some great personage at the time of his advent; and because a period will come when he shall be desired by all nations.
1. Christ may thus be denominated, because he is infinitely worthy of being desired by all nations. The whole human race are guilty before God. They need a Saviour ; and a Saviour possessed of such qualifications as belong to none but Christ. In Christ every possible excellency is combined. Whether we view him in his Divine, his human, or his mediatorial character, he is infinitely worthy of being desired with the whole heart of every son of Adam. In his Divine. character he is possessed of all the perfections and glory of Deity. Eternal existence, omniscience, omnipotence, and immutability, are the declared attributes of his nature. “ He is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person.”
66 In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." “ By him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers ; all things were created by him and for him ; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”. Consequently he is an Almighty Redeemer—“ able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him.” No
enemy is too crafty or powerful for him to subdue-no wants too great for him to supply—no guilt too great for him to pardon—no bliss too great for him to bestow.
In his human nature he is nearly allied to us—our kinsman and brother-bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. “Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he himself likewise took part of the same.” In his nature therefore, he is fully qualified to sympathise with us under all our afflictions and sorrows. He learned, by experience, what it is to endure hunger and thirst, watching and fatigue, pain and sorrow, reproach and persecution, satanic tempta
tion, and Divine desertion. He therefore can enter into the feelings of his people and all their trialş, and adapt the remedies which he applies with unerring skill to their every case. “We have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted, like as we are, yet without sin.” 6 For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted."
In his mediatorial character we behold Divine perfection and human excellency united, and co-operating in the execution of the stupendous scheme of redemption. We behold in Immanuel's one person a nature capable of obeying, suffering, and dying in our room, and for accomplishing our salvation; and a nature capable of communicating to his substitutionary obedience, sufferings, and death, infinite worth and efficacy. We behold in Messiah one who, though he was infinitely exalted above us, absolutely independent of us, and under no obligation to serve us, yet generously bound himself to bear the punishment which was due to us, by dying in our stead; and thus to bring us from a state of guilt and misery, and exposure to everlasting perdition, to the enjoyment of pardon and peace and eternal felicity in the kingdom of heaven! How well worthy, therefore, is Christ of being desired by all nations ? Did the whole world but know his worth, they would esteem bim the pearl of great price, and gladly part with all for his sake. Like Paul, they would account “all things but as loss and dross, that they might win Christ, and be found in him.” Were their eyes opened to see him as he is, he would indeed be “the desire of all nations !”
2. Christ may be thus denominated, because the people of God in every nation have earnestly desired him. The advent of Messiah was very early foretold. Immediately after our first parents had violated the Divine commandment, Jehovah graciously promised that “ the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent;" and thus directed their faith and hope to our Redeemer, who in a peculiar sense was the seed of the woman, and who was manifested for this purpose, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Doubtless, therefore, our original progenitors looked forward with earnest desire to the consummation of the promise. Their pious son too, righteous Abel, when by faith he offered to God an acceptable sacrifice of the firstlings of his flock, unquestionably did so not only in obedience to his command, bút as a typical representation of the Lamb of God, who, by the sacrifice of himself, was to take away the sin of the world. With earnest desire, therefore, he would anticipate this allimportant event.
In every succeeding age of the world, the advent of Christ was more fully and clearly predicted, and consequently the desires of the people of God, for its fulfilment, excited and increased. By a beautiful progression, resembling the light of day, which, from the faint dawn of the morning, gradually brightens till the sun himself appears above our horizon, arrayed in all his majestic effulgence, the promises and prophecies concerning Christ became more numerous and explicit, till he himself, the glorious Sun of Righteousness, arose on our benighted world, diffusing the light of gospel day. To Abraham he was promised as one of his descendants in respect of his human nature, in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed; and he looked forward to his advent with joyful and longing desire. Christ himself declared to the Jews, “ Your father, Abraham, rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad.” To his son Isaac, and to his grandson Jacob, the same promise was renewed; and they, too, without doubt, earnestly desired its fulfilment, and rejoiced in the assurance of a Saviour to come. But time would fail me to tell of Job, and Moses, and David, and Isaiah, and Daniel, and all the prophets and righteous men, of whom it is recorded that they had believing views of the promised Messiah, and