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Christ, cannot possibly be true. It is remarkable that a doctrine directly contrary to the most plain and positive declarations of scripture should ever have gained such general consent, and become incorporated as an essential article in the christian faith. So extraordinary do I view this particular, that I consider it one of the strongest evidences of the truth of christianity. Though it may be thought a digression from our subject, I am disposed to notice, in this place, two important evidences of the truth and authenticity of divine revelation, one of which seems to have been designed for the conviction of the Gentiles, of the divinity of the prophecies of the old testament, and the other for ihe conviction of the Jews of the divinity of the
The first is the very remarkable fulfilment of the prophecies of the old testament, relating to the rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah, by the Jews. The Jews were traditionally educated to believe in a Messiah ;-their prophets frequently spake of him, and some of them pointed out the treatment which he would meet with from that very people who anxiously expected him. Such prophecies, to the coinnon judgment of mankind, must appear not a little improbable, and it is very evident that the rulers among the Jews were ignorant of the meaning of those prophecies, notwithstanding they professed to believe in them. The Gentiles might, with seeming plausibility, discredit the prophecies of a Messiah, they being so improbable. For who would expect to see these Jews, who were anxiously expecting their Messiah, fulfil that part of the prophecies which related to their rejecting him, and even putting him to death? But all these things were actually done by the
rulers, doctors, scribes and most religious people of the Jews. Here then the unexpected event took place, and the most improbable part of the prophecies was accomplished in a most signal manner. Of this circumstance the apostle of the Gentiles did not fail to make the best possible use in that memorable sermon which he delivered at Antioch, in a synagogue of the Jews, a part of which is recorded in the 13th of Acts. Paul, addressing the Jews, gives them a general sketch of God's dealings with their nation, and of his fulfilling his promise in raising up Jesus, of the seed of David, and coming in order to Christ, says, “ Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath-day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. Be it known unto fore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which
ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, least that come upon you which is spoken of in the prophets. Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which
shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto The Gentiles, on this occasion, were struck with conviction in their minds, of the truth of those prophecies which the Jews had so remarkably fulfilled, and desired to hear the word on the next sabbath. The report of Paul's preaching generally spread through the city, and almost the
whole city assembled to hear. At this the envy of the Jews was moved, and they spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and his companion boldly gave up the Jews in open assembly, to the blindness of their eyes and to the hardness of their hearts, and turned to the Gentiles with these words; “ For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” At this the Gentiles believed, and glorified the word of the Lord.
The Gentiles, in this case, had as good a proof of the truth of the prophecies as the nature of the case could admit; and it was sufficient, by the blessing of God, to open their eyes to the light of divine revelation, and to the scheme of salvation by Jesus Christ. The reader will remember that they were first called christians at Antioch.
How wonderful are the ways of God! He was pleased to hide the things of the gospel from the wise and prudent among his covenant people, that their blindness and hardness of heart might be a mean of converting the Gentiles, as that blindness and hardness of heart was necessary unto the ful filment of the prophecies.
2d. The prophecies of the new testament are as remarkable as those of the old. They appear to the common reason of mankind to wear the
ap pearance of improbability. They speak of a falla ing away from the true doctrine and worship of Christ, and of the embracing of the doctrines of devils, and the worshipping of a beast. And these things are as plainly pointed out in the new testa. ment as the crucifixion of Christ is in the old
The fulfilment of these new testament prophecies, by professing christians, is as remarkable, and as convincing of the divinity of the prophecies, as the fulfilment of the Jewish prophecies, by those who professed to understand and believe them, was of their divinity. And it seems to be evident from the scriptures, that God will make as glorious a use of the apostacy of the christian church, as he did of the apostacy of the Jewish church. The apostacy of the Jews was a mean of converting the Gentiles, and the apostacy of the christian church, and their recovery from their apostacy, will completely fulfill all the prophecies of the new testament, so far as is necessary to convince the Jews of the divinity of the new testament.
Thus we see that God communicated mercy to the Gentiles through the blindness and unbelief of the Jews; and also, we have reason to hope that through the fall and recovery of the christian church, mercy will be communicated to the Jews; so that finally of the twain, our blessed Lord will make one new man in everlasting and eternal peace.
What I have endeavored to suggest to the read er's understanding, in this digression, was very clearly labored and shown to the church at Rome by St. Paul in his epistic to that church, see chap. xi. 30, 31, 32.
in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief ; even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” The same thing is expressed in a num, ber of in this chapter. Consistently with the
6 For as ye
foregoing, I see, to my satisfaction, why the doctrine of future, eternal, unmerciful punishment has been generally credited in the christian church.. The apostacy would not have been complete without it. This doctrine is exactly the reverse of the gospel of salvation; and the character of a devour, ing beast, is exactly the reverse of the character of the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. I
may now proceed further to show that the notion, that the number, who will finally obtain salvation by Christ, will be few, is directly contrary to the testimony of scripture. See Isaiah liji. ii. " He shall see of the travel of his soul, and shall be satisfied : by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many ; for he shall bear their iniquities.” If the few mentioned in St. Matthew be all who finally obtain salvation by Christ, what will become of the many spoken of in Isaiah, who are justified by him who bore their iniquities? See Rev. vii. 9, 10. “ After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, salvation to our God, whic's sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb." If the few mentioned in St. Matthew be all who ever obtain salvation by Christ, what will become of the great multitude, which no man can purnber, of all nations, and all kindreds, and all people, and all tongues, who are permitted to stand before the throne and before the Lamb, and to be clothed with white robes, and palms, the ensigns of victory, in their hands; who cry with a