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and the best interests of our species! And if, in the prosecution of this design, he hath been led into a more particular analysis of the Sciences than some may judge needful in a discourse of this kind, he hopes the circumstances of the case will be his plea. It may also be some apology, that it was delivered before a learned body of Clergy.
He cannot conclude without taking this opportunity of expressing his gratitude to the venerable Society, for propagating the Gospel, for the honour done him by having elected him into their body; and to sundry illustrious members in particular for the countenance and protection they have always shewn him, in carrying on the sundry concerns committed to him, in the distant parts of the earth, for the advancement of Science and Religion. More especially, he owes most humble thanks to that truly learned Prelate,* who having himself written so excellently on the accomplishment of the Prophecies, condescended to peruse and make some corrections in this discourse, respecting the explanation of some passages of Prophecy, before the present edition was committed to the press.
• Bishop Newton.
PSALM ii. 8.
Ask of me and I shall give thee the Heathen for thine inheritance,
and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
would make the soul of man great and good (says a sublime* writer) give her large and extensive prospects of the immensity of God's works, and of his inexhausted Wisdom and Goodness.”
Now, those divine attributes of Wisdom and Goodness are nowhere more gloriously displayed than in the Gospel-dispensation; and in thosc marvellous revolutions and workings of Providence, which the Almighty has performed, and will yet perform, for the Salvation of mankind, and the final extension of his Son's kingdom to the ends of the earth.
Welcome, therefore, thrice welcome the holy Scriptures, those living oracles of God, which can lend a clue to our meditations, and conduct them, by divine grace, through these awfully improving subjects. Here is the “ Mystery which was hid from ages and from generations, but which God at length manifested to his Saints, with a promise that the riches of the glory thereof should be made known among the Gentiles.”+
This latter part of the Gospeldispensation, which relates to the final conversion of the Gentiles, even
• Dr. Burnet in his Theory.
† Colossians i, 26.
to the uttermost parts of the earth,” is that which, by the words of my text, and the present occasion of our meeting, I am more immediately led to consider. And, in doing this, I shall, by divine assistance, pursue the following method.
First, I shall endeavour to shew, from the general voice of prophecy-That it is the gracious purpose of God, in his own good time, to bring the Heathen around us to the knowledge of his blessed Gospel, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, I shall make some remarks on the
present situation of things on this continent with respect to the Gospel-economy, and the probability of a speedy accomplishment of the prophecies which relate to the final conversion of the nations.
Lastly, from this view of things, I shall offer an humble address to you, my Brethren, who are employed as instruments in the hand of God for carrying on this great work of conversion, by the preaching of the Gospel in these distant regions, to which its joyful sound hath so lately reached.
You see here, what a large field is opened; and would to God that I were endued with gifts and powers sufficient to acquit myself therein agreeably to your expectations. But I know the vast, the glorious importance of the subjects proposed; and I feel my own weakness. I beseech you, therefore, to send forth your prayers for me to the throne of grace, that these subjects may not suffer in my hands; and that 1 may be enabled to speak as becomes one called to the present office.
I am, in the first place, then, to consider the general voice of prophecy, with respect to the conversion of the Heathen around us. And among many other illustrious predictions of this event, the words of my text, and the verses preceding it, are full and strong
· Why do the Heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?-Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.—Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the Heathen for thine inheritance, and the utter. most parts of the earth for thy possession.” The meaning of which is, according to all the commentators
Thou art my son Jesus! This day have I anointed thee king over all the world, which thou hast purposed to redeem. Go on; complete the great eternal scheme, and thereby establish for thyself a kingdom of everlasting holiness. In vain shall the nations rage. In vain shall their proud leaders, Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Pharisees and rulers of Israel, combine themselves against thee. In vain shall they seek to dethrone thee, to cut thee off from the earth, and to crush thy kingdom in its birth. My eternal purposes are fixed. The right hand of my power shall be thy strength and guide. It shall defeat all the machinations of thy enemies, and raise thee even from the habitations of the dead, to thine inheritance in the mansions of glory. There shalt thou dwell forever, and whatever thou shalt ask of me thou shalt receive, till the Heathen become thine inheritance, and the very ends of the earth thy possession.
Herein we see a most striking prediction concerning the propagation and final extension of Christ's kingdom to the very remotest nations of the world. And indeed there is a beautiful harmony among all the prophetic writers, relative to the same event.
The venerable Patriarch Jacob, in blessing his son Judah, gives an early intimation thereof; and tells him that the sceptre should not depart from his family till the immortal Shiloh should come, who was to erect an everlasting kingdom, unto “whom the gathering of the people was to be."*
But of all the prophetic writers, the sublime Isaiah seems to have been favoured with the fullest view of the Gospel-state, from the very birth of the Messiah to that glorious period, whereof we are now speaking, when the “ kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.” For this reason he has been called the Evangelical prophet, and has delivered many noble predictions concerning the extension of the Gospel, and the final conversion of the nations.
“ The + earth, says he, in a language peculiarly striking and emphatical, shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious.”
And again the spirit of God, speaking by the same prophet concerning the Messiah, says—“ It is a light thing, [or a small part of thy undertaking]
Cenesis xlix. 10.
† Isaiah xi. 9, 10.
I Chapter xlix. 6.