Page images

The expression, " to all people," is a clear proof that the benefit of the gospel was to be universal. When the Virgin, after the days of her purification were accomplished, brought the child Jesus to present him to the Lord," Simeon, a man just and devout, who waited for the consolation of Israel, came by the spirit into the temple; and when his parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he 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."* "It had been revealed unto Simeon, by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord Christ." So that here is a distinct declaration from the Holy Ghost, that the great purpose of the mission of Christ was to enlighten the Gentile nations, and to shew forth his salvation, even to the ends of the earth.

In the 3d chapter of St. Matthew, where

* Luke ii. 25-32.

John the Baptist says to the Pharisees and Sadducees, "I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham," there is an evident allusion to the calling in of the Gentiles.

Whitby observes, the sense seems to be that God, who raised Adam from the earth, and children to Abraham from the dead womb of Sarah, can, from these stones, create such persons whose faith shall render them more truly and acceptably the sons of faithful Abraham than you.' The Baptist calls the Pharisees and Sadducees "a generation of vipers;" and asks, "who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come ?"‡ meaning, probably, from the destruction that God was about to bring upon the nation, for their manifold iniquities.

In the 8th chapter of St. Matthew is a narrative of the interesting conversation of Jesus with the Centurion, who besought him to heal his servant, who "lay at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented," and of this wonderful miracle, that Jesus wrought by a word only. To the Centurion's request, "Jesus saith unto

* Matt. iii. 9.

Whitby on Matt. iii. 9.

Matt. iii. 7.

him, I will come and heal him. The Centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed; for I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me; and I say to this man go, and he goeth, and to another come, and he cometh, and to my servant, do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said unto them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel. And


say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping

and gnashing of teeth.

And Jesus said unto

the Centurion, go thy way, and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the self-same hour."* Here is an express prediction by our Lord, of the rejection of the Jews, and of the calling in of the Gentiles in their stead. And this, as I have before observed of several of Christ's pro

* Matt. viii 5-13.

phecies relating to his death, and to the destruction of Jerusalem, is spoken incidentally, that is, it belongs entirely to the subject in hand. The Centurion appears to have been the first Gentile in whose behalf our Lord had exercised his miraculous power; and, being astonished at the faith and humility of his supplicant, he breaks out into the exclamation, "Verily I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel;" which naturally suggested to his mind the great purpose for which he came into the world, "that he should die, not for one nation only, (the Jews) but that also he should gather together, in one, the children of God that were scattered abroad."

It seems to have been the marked determination of our blessed Saviour, that the gospel should not be promulgated to the Gentiles. during his ministration on earth; and, in conformity with this, is his command to his Apostles, when he sent them forth to preach, "saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand," he says, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles."* I have before observed, if our Lord, or his Apos

* Matt. x: 5.

tles had preached to the Gentiles, the whole nation of the Jews would have rejected him ; but, although the nation generally was destined to destruction, yet we know that Christ's ministry was not altogether lost among them, for we learn, from the Acts of the Apostles, that great numbers of Jews, as well as Gentiles, were converted to the Christian faith.

In the 12th chapter, St. Matthew quotes the prophecy of Isaiah, relating to this subject. "Behold my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased; I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles; He shall not strive nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets; A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment into victory; And in his name shall the Gentiles trust."*

Whatever be the meaning of the sentence, "till he send forth judgment into victory," this prophecy is a confirmation of what I have before endeavoured to show-that the ancient Prophets foretold the conversion of the Gentile

* Matt. xii. 18-21.

« PreviousContinue »