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in his revelations, clearly speaks of the great design of God to bring the Gentiles to his service. Thus, in the second chapter, it is prophesied: “ And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it: and many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And among
all the rest, none is more clear and express than what is recorded in Isa. xlix. There first the Messiah is represented as declaring his commission from God to go to the people of Israel : 66 The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name, and he said unto me, Thou art my servant in whom I will be glorified.” And afterwards complains of the obstinacy of the ungrateful synagogue: 6. Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent . my strength for nought, and in vain ; yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God.” And immediately after it is added, “ And now, saith thc Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest 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 my salvation unto the end of the earth." This oracle is precise and full; for it speaks of the nations, in opposition to the tribes of Israel, and directly foretells that the Jews would neglect the instructions of the Messiah, and that, upon their infidelity, God would, by the Messiah, give saving knowledge to all nations. And in the same sense he speaks in the liv. chapter : “ Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child : for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.” Who is the desolate and barren, but the Gentiles without God in the world, whilst the Jews were honoured and blessed in the mystical marriage with him ? And who are the children of the forsaken, that should be far more numerous than those of the married, but the believers of the Christian church, in opposition to the Jewish church ? And the other succeeding prophets concur in this prediction, Malachi, the last, speaks of it in such express terms, as are capable to convince any that does not wilfully renounce the use of his eyes and understanding. After God is introduced rejecting the Jews and their temple service: “I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hands.”
He adds, to signify the calling of a new church, for “ from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering : for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts." Thus
that great wonder was clearly foretold by the prophets, and as a work to be performed by the glorious power of God. And accordingly it is accomplished. For who, but God, could have inspired the apostles to undertake an enterprise so contrary to human prudence, being equally dangerous and impossible? And who else could have made it successful beyond all imagination ? When the pride of Pharaoh was humbled, and his strength broken by the most despicable creatures, even the magicians were compelled to acknowledge it to be the finger of God: but his arm was revealed, when the spiritual Pharaoh, with all his powers of darkness, were overcome by such weak instruments. What furious winds from all parts of the world, conspired to extinguish the first springing light of the Gospel! The heathen emperors destroyed innumerable persons, presuming to drown the memory of Christ in the blood of the Christians. But such were the faith and love of believers of all conditions to their crucified Redeemer, that with the same joy they ran to suffer the most terrible punishments, as if they had been to receive crowns. In vain the strongest combinations were made against the truth. For the knowledge of the only true God, and his incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, overcame impiety, with all its idols, and ignorance,
with all its numerous masters. What is become of all the heathen deities, so honoured, so feared, so obstinately defended ? their altars, their statutes, their sacrilegious priests and sacrifices ? They are buried in the ruins of their own temples, in the darkness of eternal oblivion. Where are all the sects of philosophers,
the Platonists, the Peripatetics, the Stoics, the Epicureans, and the rest, that filled Greece with their fame, and so many volumes with their fancies and errors ? · Like a torrent that rolls down with great noise from the top of a mountain, so, for a time, the speculations of their lofty minds poured along in a flood of swelling frothy eloquence; but now (and for how many ages since !) the very channel is dried up wherein they ran, so that scarcely any visible ruins remain in Athens itself of the schools where they taught. The greatest among them, Plato, adorned with the title of Divine, could never see his commonwealth, framed by him with so much study, established in one city. Whereas, if we consider the Gospel of Christ, it is hard to determine whether the doctrine be more simple, or the apostles, the first masters of it, to outward appearance; yet, without learning or human strength, in a short space they triumphed over the eloquence of the Greeks, the power of the Romans, the rage of barbarous
, nations. They abrogated laws, changed customs, and renewed the face of the world. In this the prophetic parable was fulfilled, “ The kingdom of heaven," that is, the dispensation of the Gospel, “ is like to a grain of mustard-seed;" one of the smallest grains, but of that spirit and quality that it suddenly springs up and spreads abroad.
This happy and stupendous success of the disciples of Jesus Christ, considered in itself, is an unanswerable proof that the Christian religion came from heaven. For it was only possible to the divine power. It is no wonder the religion of Mahomet extended and established its conquests in many coun
tries : for that seducer persuaded the barbarous people by force of arms, they must be his disciples or slaves.
And can the mind form a clear judgment, or the will make a free choice, when under a tyrannical necessity of compliance, or losing all the comforts of life? Can violence and cruelty produce a rational faith? That may force them to a counterfeit compliance, but cannot make men sincerely believe; it is apt to breed form without, and atheism within. Now, that a persecuted religion should live and flourish in the midst of flames, is as truly admirable, as if a little stream should pass through an · arm of the ocean, retaining its freshness and purity in the midst of salt and turbid waters. That when the minds of men were prepossessed with inveterate opinions, contrary to its supernatural mysteries, and their wills overruled by carnal affections, utterly averse to its holy precepts, the world was captivated to the belief and obedience of it, is the most noble effect of Omnipotence. For other miracles, though above the laws of nature, yet were on the lower order of creatures without life and sense; but this internal miracle was wrought on the minds and hearts of men.
To raise the dead, to calm a storm, to suspend the force of fire, to change waters into blood, is not so glorious a work as the converting rebellious souls to God, and making them a willing people to his holy laws. And if we further consider the prophecies so many ages before, concerning it, and observe the harmony betwixt the works and word of God, there results a demonstration as clear and strong as is possible. The prediction and accomplishment are equally divine.
The success jus