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ardently longed for the time of his appearance. Our blessed Lord himself, speaking in allusion to such persons, thus addresses the Jews:— Blessed are your eyes, for they see ; and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them."
Nor was Christ the desire of good men in every age and nation, only prior to his advent. Now that he has actually come, and has been preached for eighteen hundred years in many lands, he is still precious to all who believe. Much as the children of God may differ from one another in their sentiments on many points, in this they are all agreed, that Christ is the supreme object of their desires. Their unanimous declaration is, “ None but Christ ; none but Christ." Without him we were wretched, whatever else we possessed ; but having him as our portion, we have all that is worthy of desire. “ Whom have we in heaven but thee, and there is none in all the earth whom we desire besides thee.”
3. Christ may be thus named, because there was a general desire and expectation among all nations of some great deliverer, at the time of his advent. The Jews, from the period of their emancipation from Egyptian thraldom to the time of Christ's advent, had been widely scattered through the world. By means of their several captivities and flights from their persecutors, they were spread through the Assyrian, Chaldean, Persian, and other empires. Consequently, wherever they were driven, both written and traditional accounts would be carried by them of the promises and predictions made by God to their fathers concerning the Messiah. Mistaken as they were respecting the design of his mission, and the nature of the kingdom which he was to establish, they fondly cherished the hope of his appearance as the deliverer of Israel, and boastingly related the ground of their expectations wherever they went.
As might have been expected, therefore, some ideas of Christ's advent, vague and unsatisfactory though they were, existed amongst almost all nations, and had excited a general desire and expectation, both long before, and particularly at the time he appeared. Socrates, the wisest and the best of the heathen philosophers among the Greeks, felt the desire, and expressed the hope, that God would send an instructor from heaven to teach mankind what to ask, and how to express their prayers with acceptance. The Roman historians, Suetonius and Tacitus, both expressly mention that it was written in the Book of the Fates, that a certain personage coming out of Judea should obtain the empire of the world. And Virgil, the far-famed Roman poet, in a short piece written a few years before our Saviour's birth, expresses the
many prophecies concerning the Messiah, though in this instance grossly misapplied. His beautiful eclogue, of which we bave a more beautiful imitation in our own language by Mr. Pope, affords a sufficient proof that the heathen had an idea of some illustrious character who would shortly appear and restore peace, prosperity, and all the blessings of their imaginary golden age, to the whole world.
Besides, the Sacred Scriptures inform us, that at the time of Christ's birth, certain eminent characters came from the east to Judea, inquiring after him, with a view to present to him gifts, and to do bim homage. Says the inspired historian, Matthew—“ Now, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying—Where is he that is born King of the Jews, for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him." These Magi, or wise men, who probably had come from Persia or Arabia, and were descendants of Ishmael, the son of Abraham, gave proof that the desire and expectation of Messiah existed at that time in their native country. In fine, at the time of Christ's advent, we are explicitly told by the evangelist Luke, that
there were many in Israel who were in earnest expectation of that joyful event. Good old Simeon, and the prophetess Anna, were waiting for the consolation of Israel; and spake of him to all them,” (intimating that besides themselves there were others, perhaps many such,)“ that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” What rapturous joy did the aged saint express when he beheld the infant Saviour ! “ He took him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine
eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” 4. Christ
may be thus named, because a period shall come when he shall be desired by all nations. The knowledge of a crucified Saviour, and the participation of the blessings which flow from his death, have hitherto been greatly limited. Vast as the exertions for a number of years of late have been, and still are, to spread the glad tidings of salvation in heathen lands, many
hundreds of millions of our race are at this moment ignorant of Christ. But a period is foretold and promised, when “ all the kingdoms of this world will be the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ ;” and when men shall be blessed in Messiah, and “ all nations shall call him blessed.”. Yes! Jehovah has promised to give to his Son 6 the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.” “It is a light thing," says he,
" 6 that thou should 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
salvation to the ends of the earth."
Respecting the time when these predictions shall receive their complete fulfilment, it is perhaps impossible for any man to determine, nor ought we to be too inquisitive in prying into the times and seasons which God has not clearly disclosed. Judging, however, from the aspect of the day in which we
live, and that spirit which God bas stirred up among his own children, in almost every country where they dwell, in forming Bible Societies, and in sending forth Christian missionaries, we are inclined to hope that the glorious era is not far distante
Never since Christianity commenced its career, if we except the apostolic age, were such general and efficient exertions made to communicate to heathen nations the word of eternal life. The work is obviously the Lord's, and already he bas crowned it with a considerable share of success. Many lands which but a few years back sat in darkness, and in the region and shadow of death, now enjoy the light of life. The Sun of Righteousness has arisen upon them with healing under bis wings, and now they exult in bim as “ the desire of all nations.” And we trust in God that this work, with accelerated progress, shall go onwards, till he literally shall be “the desire of all nations.”
When this event shall take place, the moral condition of our world shall be greatly altered, and rendered superior to what it ever has been since the fall of man. The golden age, 80 much celebrated in the fables of the poets, shall then be realized. The blood-stained arm of persecution, which so often has been lifted against the saints of God, shall fall broken, to rise no more. Haggard and ruthless war, so long glutted with the carnage of millions, shall be banished from the abodes of men. They shall beat their swords into ploughsbares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn the art of war any more.” The Church of Christ, so long marred in its beauty, and annoyed in its peace by party distinctions and hostile divisions, shall be one in denomination, and one in spirit and love. Casting behind them every thing which does not immediately concern their relation to Christ and his glory, his professing followers shall unite hand and heart in serving him, and in promoting each other's comfort, under
the common but eminently honourable designation of Christians. 66 The watchmen on Zion's towers shall see eye to eye."
."_Jew and Gentile shall become one in Christ."* There shall be one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.” Then in testimony that Christ is “ the desire of all nations," the song universally shall be heard“ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing."
II. Let us now attend to the wonderful effects which should accompany Christ's advent. This is emphatically called, in the prophetic language of my text,—“ The shaking of all nations.” Or, as it is still more fully expressed in the verse immediately preceding the text,—Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land."
This part of the prophecy, in some measure, received a literal fulfilment. God once again performed for his Church, what he did when he brought her out of Egypt. Then he shook the heavens, and the earth, and the sea. With thunder, and lightnings, and earthquakes, he shook the sea and the dry land, when he made a path through the channel of the mighty deep for his chosen, and brought streams out of the rock for their refreshment in the wilderness. Once again, when a greater deliverance was wrought for his Church, by Messiah, he shook the heavens and the earth. At his birth a new star appeared. At his death the sun mantled his face in midnight darkness—the earth quaked—the rocks rentthe graves were opened—and many of the dead arose.
But the prediction ought rather to be understood in a figurative acceptation. The language of prophecy is highly symbolical. The sun and moon, the heavens and earth, the sea and the dry land, often signify nations and people, reli