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shining light in the sight of all the nations, and every people would know that there was a God in Israel. On the contrary, if, as was unfortunately the case, they rebelled against his commandments, and ran after strange gods, the punishments inflicted on them, and especially their dispersions, would be a striking example, and a standing monument of God's righteous and just government over them, for when the question is asked, Wherefore has the Lord dealt thus with this people? the only answer that can be returned is, Because they have rebelled against the voice of the Lord their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them, therefore is the wrath of their God kindled against them, and his fury poured out upon them.
Whoever reads the prophecies of the Old Testament cannot avoid seeing how deeply impressed the Prophets were with the prospect of the future kingdom of the Messiah. In a former chapter I have produced many predictions of the advent of the Messiah, and of the circumstances relating to his life and death. In the present chapter I have quoted a few prophecies which foretel the great mystery of the
calling in of the Gentiles, and allude to that blessed time, spoken of both by our Lord and his Apostles, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall be come in, and when all Israel shall be saved.
It is not necessary, therefore, to accumulate quotations from the rest of the Prophets, tending to the same object, and I shall pass on to the next chapter.
PROPHECIES OF CHRIST FORETELLING THE CALLING OF THE GENTILES.
THE time and manner of the coming of the Messiah into the world were in perfect agreement with the plan of Divine Providence relative to the introduction of religion, of which I have given a brief sketch in a former chapter. The Messiah was sent in person to preach only to the Jews; had he divulged the extensive nature of his commission-that its object was to call in the Gentiles, and to make them fellow heirs and partakers of God's promises with his chosen people, the whole nation would have rejected him with one accord. Accordingly, our Lord said expressly, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel ;"*
* Matt. xv. 24.
and although, at the same time that he made this declaration, he yielded to the importunity of the woman of Canaan, and healed her daughter, saying, "Great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt;"* and, notwithstanding he complied with the request of the Centurion, who was also a Gentile, that he would heal his servant; these were but particular instances, and did not excite the jealousy of the Jews, who were unable even to imagine that the Gentiles, whom they despised, and to whom they gave the name of dogs, were about to be brought into fellowship with them, or, rather, that they were to be rejected from the vineyard of the Great Husbandman, and the Gentiles planted in their stead.
All must allow that the time when the MesIsiah was sent into the world was favourable to the promulgation of the glorious gospel of salvation which he came to establish. The Greeks were a polished nation, boasting of their wisdom; the Romans, a powerful and understanding people, by degrees extending their government throughout the then known world. That
Matt. xv. 28.
these nations were at that time fitted to receive our holy religion is proved by the result. The great cities where the Apostles preached soon after their Lord's death-Athens, Ephesus, Corinth, and others-joyfully received the message which they brought, and gloried in the name of Christians. That the gospel not only prevailed at Rome, and in the Roman provinces, but that it soon shook the idolatrous and superstitious worship of the heathen to its foundation, is placed beyond dispute by the letter of Pliny to the Roman Emperor Trajan, stating and lamenting the fact; and we know that the new religion so steadily and regularly increased, that in the beginning of the fourth century the Emperor, and the whole Roman nation, became Christian.
At the birth of Jesus, "the angel of the Lord appeared unto the shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night, and the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."*
* Luke ii. 8-11.