« AnteriorContinuar »
If you sec no beauty io Christ, why you should desire him, it is because the god of this world hath blinded your minds.
Alluring the Hearts of Men to come to Christ, by a fourth Motive contained in another Title of Christ.
Hacgai ii. 7, And the defre of all nations stall cant,
TH E former chapter is mainly spent, in repravipg the negligence of the Jews, who, being discouraged, from lime to time, had delayed the rebuilding the temple: and, in the mean time, employed their care and cost in building aqd adorning their own houses: but, at last, being persuaded to set about the work, they meet with this discouragement, that such was the poverty of the present time, that the second structure would 00 way answer the magnificence and splendor of the first. In Solomon's days the nation was wealthy, now drained; so that there would be no proportion betwixt the second and the first. To I this grand discouragement, the prophet applies this relief; that ,whatsoever should be wanting in external pomp and glory, should be more than recompensed by the presence of Jesus Christ in this second temple. For Christ, " the desire ot all nations,'' saith he, shall come into it. Which, by the way, may give us this useful note; That the presence of Jesus Christ gives a more real and excellent glory tp the places of his worship, than any external beauty, or oqtward ornaments, whatsoever, can bestow upon them.. Our eyes, like the disciples, are apt to be dazzled with the goodly stones of the temple, and, in the mean time, to neglect and overlook that which gives it the greatest honour and beauty.
But to return. In these words we have both the description of Christ, and an index pointing at the time of his incarnation: he is called, "the desire of all nations;" and the time of his coining, in the flesh, is plainly intimated te be whilst the seconJ femple should be standing. Where, by the way, we sind just cause to admirei at, and bemoan the blindness that is happened to the Jews; who owning the truth of this prophecy, and not able to deny the destruction of the second temple, many hundred years past, will not yet be brought to acknowledge the incarn*; TOS of the true Messiah, notwithstanding.
Bat to the point. The character, or description of Christ, sUied the defire of all nations, who was to come into the world, in the time of the second temple, Mai. iii. 12. and that, after grievous concussions, and sbakings of the world, which were to make way for his coming; for so our prophet here speaks, "£ "will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall f' come," to which the apostle alludes, in Heb, xii. 26. applying this prophecy to Jesus Christ, here called the " desire of all "nations s" putting the act for the object,_desire for the thing desired; as in Ezek.xxiv. 16. " The desire of thine eyes," that is, the desirable wife of thy bosom; so here, the " desire of "all nations," that is, Christ, the object of the desires of God's, elect, in all nations of the world: a Saviour infinitely desirable in himself, and actually desired by all the people of God, dispersed among all kindreds, tongues, and nations of the world. From whence this note is,
Post. That the desires of God's Eletl, in all kingdoms, and among all people of the earth, are, and shall be drawn out after, and fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
The merciful God beholding the universal ruins, of the world by sin, hath provided an universal remedy for his own elect, in every part of the earth. Christ is not impropriated to any one kingdom, or nation in the world; but intended to be God's salvation to the ends of the earth; and accordingly, speaks the apostle, Col. ii. u. " There is neither Greek, nor "Jew, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but Christ is all "and in all." In the explication of this point, two things must be enquired into.
1. Why Christ is called the desire of all nations.
2. Upon what account the people of God, in all nations, desire him.
First, Why he is called the desire of all nations; and what that phrase may import: and there are divers things that are supposed, or included in it,
First, That God the Father hath appointed him as a common, remedy, for the sins and miseries of his people, in all parts and quarters of the world. So in the covenant of redemption, betwixt the Father and the Son, the Lord expresseth himself, Isa, xlix. 6. and he said," It is a light thing that thou shouldest be "my serv.mt, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and.to restore the "preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the f Geatiles, that thou inayest be my salvation unto the end of "the earth." Suitable whcrennto, is that prophecy, Isa. lii. 15. " He shall sprinkle many nations." If God had not appointed him for, he could not be desired by all nations.
And, indeed, herein the grace of God doth admirably shine forth .in the freeness of it, that even the most barbarous nations are not excluded from the benefit of redemption by Christ. This is what the apoflle admires, that Christ should be preached to the Gentiles, 1 Tim. iii. 16. a people that seemed to he lost in the darkness of idolatry; yet even for them, Christ was given by the Father, " Ask of me (saith he) and I will give thee the "Heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the "earth for thy possession."
Secondly, Christ, the defire of all nations, plainly notes the sufficiency that is in him, to supply the wants of the whole world: as the fun in the heavens suffices all nations, for light, and influence, so doth the Sun of righteousness suffice for the redemption, justification, sanctification, and salvation of the people of God, all over the world; Isa. xlv. 22. " Look unto me, and be * ye saved, all ye ends of the earth."
Thirdly, It implies the reality that is in godliness. It shews you, that religion is no sancy, as the atheistical world would persuade us; and this evidently appears, in the uniform effects of it upon the hearts of all men, in all nations of the world, that are truly religious: all their desires, like so many needles touched by one and the same loadstone, move towards Jesus Christ, and all meet together in one and the same blessed object Christ. "Were it possible for the people of God to come out of all nations, kindreds, and languages in the world, info one place, and there confer, and compare the desires and workings of their hearts; though they never saw each other's saces, nor heard of each other's names; yet, as sace answers to sace in a glass, so would their desires after Christ answer to each other. All hearts work after him in the same manner; what one faith, all say: These are my troubles and burdens, these my wants and miseries; the same things, my desires and fears: one and the same Spirit works in all believers throughout the world; which could never be, if religion were but a sancy, as some call it; or a combination, or confederacy, as others call it: sancies areas various as saces; and confederacies presuppose mutual acquaintance and conference. »
Fourthly, Christ, the desire of all nations, implies the vast extent his kingdom hath, and (hall have in the world, out of every nation, under heaven, some shall be brought to Christ, an4 to heaven by him: and though the aumbtr of God's elect, compared with the multitudes of the ungodly in all nations, is but a remnant, a little flock; and, in that comparative fense, there are few that shall be saved : yet considered absolutely, and in, themselves, they are a vast number, which no man can number, Mat. viii. 11. "Many shall come from the East, and from the "West, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, "in the kingdom of heaven." In order whereunto, the gospel, like the sun in the heavens, circuits the world. It arose in the East, and takes its course towards the western -world: rising, by degrees, upon the remote, idolatrous nations of the earth: out of all which a number is to be saved, even " Ethiopia shall stretch "out her hands to God," Psal. lxviii. 31. And this consideration should move us \o pray earnestly for the poor Heathens, who yet sit in darkness, and the shadow of death; there is yet hope for them.
Fifthly, It holds forth this, that when God opens the eyes of men to fee their sin and danger by it; nothing but Christ can give them satissaction; it is not the amenity, fertility, riches and pleasures, the inhabitants of any kingdom of the world da enjoy, that can satisfy the desires of their fouls: when once God touches their hearts with the fense of sin and misery: then Christ, and none but Christ, Is desirable, and necessary, in the eyes of such persons. Many kingdoms of the world abound with riches and pleasures; the providence of God hath carved liberal por^ dons of the good things of this life to many of them, and scarce left any thing to their desires that the world can afford. Yet all this can give no satissaction, without Jesus Christ, the desire of all nations, the one thing necefTiry, when once they come'to fee the necessity and eKcellency of him: then take the world, who will, so they may have Christ, the desire of their fouls. Thus we fee upon what grounds, and reasons, Christis stiled the defire of all nations.
Object. But there lies one great objection against this truth, which must be solved ; viz. if Christ be the desire of all nations, how comes it to pass, that Jesus Christ finds no entertainment in so many nations of the world, among whom Christianity is hissed at, and Christians not tolerated to live among them? Who lee no beauty in him that they should desire him.
Sol. First, We must remember, the nations of the world have their times and sealons of conversion; those that once embraced Christ, have now lost him, and idols are now set up, in ths places where he once was sweetly worshipped. The sun of the gospel is gone down upon them, and now shines in another Hemisphere: aud so the nations of the world are to have their distinct days, and seasons of illumination. The gospel, like the sea, gaineth in one place, what it loseth in another; and in the times and seasons appointed by the Father, they come successively to be enlightened in the knowledge of Christ; and then shall that promise be fulfilled, Isa. xlix. 7. " Thus saith the "Lord, the Redeemer of llrael, and his holy One, to him "whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, ** to a servant of rulers; kings shall fee and arise, princes also "shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful."
Secondly, Let it also be remembred, that altho* Christ be rejected by the rulers and body of many nations; yet he is the desire of all the elect of God, dispersed, and scattered among those nations.
In the next place, Secondly, we are to enquire, upon what account Christ becomes the desire of all nations, (i. e.) of all those, in all the nations of the world, that belong to the election of grace. And the true ground, afrd reason thereof, is, because Christ, only, hath that in himself, which relieves their wants, and answers to all their need., As,
First, They are all, by nature under condemnation, Rom. v. 16, 18. under the curse of the law; against which, nothing is found in heaven or earth, able to relieve their consciences, but the blood of sprinkling, the pure and perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus: and hence it is, that Christ becomes so desirable in the eyes of poor sinners, all the world over. If any thing in nature could be found to pacify and purge the consciences of men from guilt and fear, Christ would never be desirable in their eyes; but sinding no other remedy but the blood of Jesus, to him, therefore, shall all the ends of the earth lodk for righteousness, and for peace.
Secondly, All nations of the world are polluted with the filth of sin, both in nature and practice, which they shall see, and bitterly bewail, when the light of the gospel shall shine amongst them; and the same light, by which this shall be discovered, will, also, discover the only remedy of this evil to lie in the spirit of Christ, the only fountain opened to all nations for sanctification, and cleansing: and this will make the Lord Jesus incomparably desirous in their eyes. O how welcome will he be that cometh unto them, not by blood only, but by wateT also! John i. 5, 6.
Thirdly, When the light of the gospel shall shine upon the nations, they shall then see, that, by reason of the guilt and tilth of sin, they are all barred out of heaven; those doors are chained up against them, and that none but Christ can opeaan