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the greater part, however, still doubted, and still disbelieved; they refused to acknowledge Chrift for the true Messiah, and in spite of all this evidence continued to look for another.
I shall conclude this discourse with draw. ing some natural inferences which result from what hath been here advanced, and which may be of service to us with regard to our own future conduct.
We cannot reflect on the amazing obstinacy, blindness, and ingratitude of the Jews, with regard to their disbelief and cruel treatment of the Messiah, without lamenting the singular fate of that unhappy people. From the chosen and elect favourites of the Almighty, to become the vessels of his wrath, and the objects of his eternal displeasure; from a well-governed and united, to become a dispersed and abandoned nation, scattered over the face of the earth; to see the prophecies of that Redeemer whom they despised, so exactly and literally fulfilled, and his blood, according to their own impious wish, still flowing upon them and upon their children; to have seen and known one Redeemer, and yet still to look for another; to be always wishing for what can never be granted, always aspiring after a happiness which can never be attained, is doubtless a scene of complicated misery and distress, which only a nation so unfortunate as theirs ever experienced, and which only guilt like theirs could ever deserve. A God of infinite goodness and mercy, it is humbly to be hoped, and it should be every Christian's prayer,
will one day foften and turn their hearts, will open their eyes to see the things which were so long hidden from them, will one day bring back these long loft sheep to the fold of Christ.
In the mean time, it will highly become us (and more especially at this folemn season) to congratulate ourselves on our much nobler and much happier lot; to reflect with pleasure that we have acknowledged a Redeemer, whom they rejected, and embraced that faith which they contemned: we are blessed with a good and gracious Messiah, and cannot need, nor wish, nor look for another. Thanks be to the Almighty giver of every good gift, we have not, like the Jews of old, any popular prejudices to combat, any national errors or pre-poffeffions to darken our minds, and prevent our belief and thorough conviction of Christ's divinity: we have not as they had, the might and authority of the civil power to contend with; we are not now to fruggle, as they did, with the princes and potentates of the earth; to suffer oppressi. on, pains, and persecution in the cause of Christ: his religion is fixed and established, and all our easy task is to do justice, to love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. do not obey the precepts, and adhere to the dictates of our holy religion; if we are not really and in fact, in word and deed, what we profess ourselves to be, we shall be far more guilty and more impious even than the Jews themselves.
To conclude then, The best proof of our belief that Christ is the true Messiah, must, after all, be given by complying with the
terms of his gospel, by living up to his doctrine. The great end of Christ's coming, and of the whole mystery of godliness, is to make mei wiser and better. Let me therefore entreat you, my brethren, not to frustrate the ultimate purpose and design of our Saviour's birth. if we are satisfied that Christ is come, let us consider why he came; doubtless not to continue us in a state of fin and misery, but to redeem us from it. Let us not therefore live and act towards this Saviour, as if we looked for another. If we have any re. gard to the truth of those prophecies which foretel the purity and integrity of men's lives, under the reign of the Messiah, let us be careful, on our parts, to answer the whole end and purpose of his divine mission, and to live as becometh a people who have been thus redeemed of the Lord.
We have finned against the Lord. TH
HE situation and circumstances of the
children of Israel, as described in that por. tion of holy writ, from which I have chosen
the words of my text, seem to carry with them such a striking and visible similitude to our own, as to point out and demand our more particular attention to, and application, of it, on the prefent folemn occasion.
The Philistines, moft avowed and invete rate enemics to God's chosen people, had alsembled together, and were encamped against Israel; when it was decreed by the almighty, that his unworthy favourites, who by their fins and abominations had so often and so gricv, ousiv offended him, should at length feel the effects of his indignation against them. The Ifraelites, who ever since the triumph of David over Goliah, had looked on the Philistines with contempt, advanced towards them with fure and certain hopes of victory. The event however, proved that their hopes were vain; for when ihey joined battle, Israel was smitten, and they fied every man into his icrit, and there was a veny great Naughter; there fell of Israel thirty thousand men, and the ark of God was taken, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, were slain. A defeat fo terrible and so unexpected must doubtless have made a strong impreffion on the minds of this proud and rebellious people; they beheld themselves on a sudden reduced to subjection by an enemy whom they had long held in derision, and forced to stoop to those who had just before bowed down be. fore them. To crown their misfortunes, the ark of the Lord, the symbol of God's presence, was wrested from them, and remained in the pos. fession of their triumphant rivals, This they
looked upon as an infallible sign of God's wrath against, and total desertion of them; this struck deeply into their hearts, and probably contributed, in a great measure, to excite in their minds that conscientious remorse, and abhorrence of their iniquities, which they afterwards expressed
The ark of the Lord, the glory of Israel, was a treasure too precious in the fight of God himself to be left in the hands of the Philiftines: the divine power therefore, in vindica. tion of his own honour, inspired the Philistines with a resolution to restore it; they sent it back themselves to Bethshemeth, from whence it was brought by the Israelites to the house of Abinadab. The restoration of so great and valuable a capture was a circumstance of too much consequence to be neglected by the wife and pious Samuel: he considered it as a manifest interposition of the supreme Law-giver in favour of his repenting people; he laid hold of the opportunity, therefore, to assemble and exhort them; to represent to them the goodness of God, who seemed, by this act of kindness towards them, to have forgotton their tranfgressions; he endeavoured, therefore, to turn them aside from their idolatrous practices. And Samuel said, Gather all Israel-to Mizpeth, and I will pray for you unto the Lord; and they gathered together to Mizpeth, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have finned against the Lord.
It is impossible to reflect on the facts above Telated, without drawing such conclusions from