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living God is called, as her chiefest and noblest work; it is on the promise itself and other promises like unto it, and upon the whole tenor of Scripture in all its parts being in harmony with it, that the hope, yea, the assurance of ultimate success in this enterprise depends. It is in the progress of this work that the Lord seeth of the travail of His soul and is satisfied ; it is to the complete accomplishment of it that He looks forward as His completed joy.
I. Our first remark with special reference to the text is, that from the connection in which it occurs, the first clause does not seem to us to decide, in one way or another, the questions that have been often put as to the future destiny of the Jews. Regarded as a prophecy, it undoubtedly foretells their rejection, during the time of our Lord's earthly ministry, of the blessings which He put within their reach ; and we know that the consequence of their unbelief was the forfeiture of the privileges which they had so long enjoyed as a nation in covenant with God. While we cannot believe that they are ever to enjoy these privileges again, yet the very fact that they have been, in ways most marvellous, and almost miraculous, kept as a distinct people, while all other nations, apparently so much better circumstanced for preserving their nationality, have again and again lost their separate existence, and have been mingled and intermingled with one another,—this fact itself would intimate that they are still preserved to accomplish some great and important purpose in God's providential arrangements; while there are undoubtedly many passages, both in the Old Testament and the New, which point to a national, or at least a very wide-spread repentance among them, and a general grafting of them into their own olive-tree. We think it quite possible to over-estimate the comparative importance of Jewish and Gentile Missions, but it is impossible to over-estimate positively the obligation that lies upon the Gentile Church to do all that can be done on behalf of those“ of whom are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came,” and whose ultimate effectual calling is destined, by the appointment of God, to be accompanied with such signal blessings, that it shall be as life from the dead. With such high and sacred motives to impel her, with such noble hopes, founded on the sure word of prophecy, to cheer and encourage her, we can have no doubt that the Church ought to do far more than she has ever done, far more than in any of her branches she is doing now, on behalf of the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But then she ought to do far more also on behalf of the Gentiles who as yet know not God. Most cordially do we advocate the claims of missions to the Jews upon the liberality and prayers of the Church. Most heartily do we sympathise with the noble, self-devoted men, who are spending and being spent in abundant labours in behalf of the scattered remnant; and when we urge upon the Church that far more should be done for the Gentiles than is being done, it is not to the disparagement or postponement of the claims of the Jews; but always with the understanding that, unless in an altogether diseased and unhealthy condition of the Church, they will advance together, and the good of one will be the good of all.
Still, it ought always to be borne in mind,-and this our text fully warrants us to assert—that even the acceptance of the Gospel by the Jews as a nation, or by the great body of the people, were comparatively a small matter, if it were placed instead of the diffusion of the Gospel all over the world, and the gathering of the elect out of every kindred, and tribe, and people, and language. The two are ever to be viewed as great and important parts of a greater and more important whole, and they are so joined together by the appointment of God, that the one could not be effected were the other neglected. The times of the fulness of the Gentiles are appointed to be the times of Israel's gathering. What, then, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. We wish no man to love the Jews less or to do less for them, but we desire all to love the Gentiles more, and to do more for them.
II. Our next remark upon our text is, that although both in it, and in other passages of Scripture, it seems to be represented as if God had made the offer of the Gospel to the Gentiles conditional upon its rejection by the Jews, this must certainly be understood as spoken after the manner of men, and not as if God had made the evangelization of the world depend upon a contingency. It is not unusual in Scripture to describe the actings of God as if they depended upon such views and feelings as would induce men, in their measure, to act in similar ways. And probably this is the only way in which it was possible for God to give us any idea or apprehension of His ways and workings. But, in point of fact, we are certain that elect Gentiles were included in the bonds of the covenant of grace. To Abra
ham, the promise. was, that all the families of the earth should be blessed in his seed. The prophecy of Jacob respecting the Shiloh was, that to Him should the gathering of the peoples be. And such was the expectation of the people of Israel themselves, in the days when the Spirit was poured out upon their prophets and their kings. Although a spirit of narrow-minded bigotry and exclusiveness had invaded the people under the teaching of the scribes and rabbis in the days of our Lord, and had taken so firm hold of them that it was difficult to root it out, even from the minds of the disciples, yet such a spirit was unknown to the prophets. Their writings are as thoroughly catholic as are the epistles of Paul himself; so much so, that when we are in quest of a text for a missionary sermon, we are never at a loss to find one in the Book of Psalms, or, as now, in the prophecies of Isaiah. It were useless, then, to inquire what would have been the result with respect to the Gentiles, had the Jews, as a nation, acknowledged Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, and embraced the truth which He taught in the love of it. In fact, in a very important sense, the rejection of Christ by the Jews was not only a necessary precedent of the offer of His Gospel to the Gentiles, but it was an essential condition of His being the Saviour either of Jews or Gentiles. Had they known Him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory, and had He not died the accursed death, He had been no Saviour for sinful men. All was therefore comprehended in the fore-knowledge and the decree of God; and when Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, conspired together against the Lord and His Anointed, it was, albeit they knew it not, to do what the hand and counsel of God determined before to be done.
It were manifestly out of place here to enter upon a discussion as to the reconcileableness of God's foreknowledge and decree with man's responsibility. It is enough for us to know that God sent His Son into the world with the full knowledge and the full purpose that He should be put to a shameful and painful death ; and that He came into the world with the full knowledge that a baptism of blood and such a death awaited Him; and that none the less was His death, as inflicted by men, an awful and fearful crime. Thus has God made all things for Himself, even the wicked for the day of evil.
III. We call you next to observe the terms in which Christ's offer to the Gentiles, and the diffusion of His Gospel amongst
them, are described. He is to be a light to them, and salvation to them. Now, this implies their condition without Christ as one of darkness, and one of perdition.
1. Of darkness. In attempting to describe the intellectual, and moral, and spiritual darkness of the Gentile world, it is difficult to know where to begin, and more difficult, having begun, to know how to stop. If we took you to the old heathen nations, the Greeks and Romans, we might show how little even they had of intellectual or moral light. We might show what foul vices raged unchecked amongst them; how uncleanness, in forms of which it were a shame even to speak, and violence, and inhumanity, such as are unknown in Christian lands, were not the exception but the rule. We might describe to you the vileness of luxurious Corinth, or picture to you the brutality of a Roman circus; or we might tell of the degradation that was the necessary consequence of the worship of gods, all whose histories were legends of lust and crime, and of whom there was recorded nothing that would not have been discreditable to a man of ordinary respectability. Or we might come down to modern times, and take you to the islands of the south sea, where, in the midst of the loveliest scenes on earth, "all but the spirit of man is divine "-"where every prospect pleases, and only man is vile." We might tell you of the bloody wars, the revolting cannibalism, the utter perversion of conscience, the almost total prostration of intellect, the absence of all hope in reference to the world to
But this we know only from hearsay, although the testimony is most varied and unimpeachable. We prefer to speak of that we do know, and testify of that we have seen.
It has been our lot, then, to come into contact with heathenism in its two most opposite forms. We have seen it among the Caffres and Hottentots of South Africa, scarcely advanced in intellect above the beasts of the field, yet possessing undoubtedly some of the savage virtues of the beast that we are accustomed to regard as the noblest. And we have seen it among the Hindus, many of whom have minds not uncultivated, and adhere to their standards of morality with wonderful, we mght say, admirable tenacity; but whose mental cultivation is of that sophistry which enables them to be subtle in the maintenance of falsehood, whose morality requires of them abstinence from multitudes of imaginary, but allows almost unlimited indulgence in every real evil. We know that it is very common to regard all missionaries as untrustworthy witnesses on this point, because of the prejudices
they are supposed to entertain. If prejudice means superior knowledge, the result of more prolonged and more varied observation ; if it means the coming in contact with the people as they are, when they cast off the disguises which they almost always assume in the presence of Europeans holding official stations ; if it means the convictions formed independently by multitudes of men spread over the whole country, and holding intercourse with all clases of the people,-then, of course, we and other missionaries are prejudiced ; and we conscientiously believe that it is under the influence of no other prejudice than this, that we declare our conviction, that, apart from the incipient influence of the Gospel, which has already diffused a considerable amount of intellectual and moral light, the condition of the people of India is immeasurably below what almost any one who has never known them could conceive it to be, and far below what multitudes who have had but little intercourse with them imagine it to be. It is quite true that they are not so absolutely ignorant as the people of some other countries; they have amongst them both a literature and a science which are known to the Brahman Pandits, and which are peculiarly interesting to the student of the different developments of the human mind. But these are as little known to the people generally as are the literature and the science of Europe ; while even those to whom they are known are so mentally enslaved, that it is a simple impossibility that science and literature can produce their legitimate effects upon their minds.
Then, with respect to moral light, we scruple not to say that the distinction between moral good and evil is practically abolished in all their minds. For proof of this, we do not need to appeal to the inhuman rites of their religion, which have been suppressed by the law of their conquerors,—the burning of widows, the sacrifice of children, the mad self-sacrifices perpetrated under the crushing wheel of the car of Jagarnath. These are, by the good providence of God, well-nigh, if not wholly extinct, throughout all those vast provinces which are subject to British rule.
But with respect to the ordinary duties that fall to be daily and hourly discharged between man and man,—the duties of truth, and mercy, and justice, — they are, as duties, utterly unknown and unpractised. Amongst the Bengalis, at all events, it is universally acknowledged by themselves that no man ever speaks the truth, if he can gain anything by speaking a lie. We have again and again, in conversation with men in