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cy of Abel's offering; for this reafon, God had respect to it, because of his faith, and his desires to the promised seed. When Abel was cut off by his brother, the family of Seth, that household of faith and of worship, that memorable line of which Christ was to come, Enoch and the rest of the patriarchs, lived in the hope of the fame promise, and ardently longed for its accomplishment.
Noah, the father of the new world, relied on the faithsulness of God in his covenant ; and therefore he is faid, by the apostle to the Hebrews, to become heir of the righteousness which is by faith. I need scarcely mention to you Abraham, Ifaac,- and Jacob, and others of that favoured and religious family. As their discoveries concerning Christ were more clear and explicit, fo their faith and desire increased in proportion. Those holy patriarchs understood the mercy promised, That in their seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. They lived on the promise as a tree of lise; they rejoiced to fee Christ's day; they embraced it asar off, and were glad. Jacob, particularly, when his death was approaching, spoke of the Messiah that was to come, and predicted, that to him should the gathering of the people be. Remarkable words, indeed; and which, doubtless, would consirm the faith, and six the desires of his children on the Saviour of the world.
If we look forward to the times of Moses, and the Jewish œconomy, we will sind the fame desire and expectation still entertained by the people of God. For this purpose, the passover, and the various ceremonies of the Jewish law, were appointed. The tabernacle, the priesthood, and the facrisices, were all sigurative of the Messiah, and designed to raise in that people a religious desire of his appearance. Moses, it is certain, forefaw the day of Christ, and earnestly desired it. Accordingly, he 'speaks of him as a Prophet whom God would raise up among his brethren. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood; and e
steemed steemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.
In the days ot' David and the succeeding prophets^ we sind the Messiah still more and more the desire of the nations. Your time would sail me to mention the various prooss of this important sact. The psalms of David, in particular, abound in divine breathings after the expected Saviour. And, with regard to the prophets, the apostle Peter tells us, " that they in* "quired diligently, searching what, or what manner "of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them "did signify, when it testisied beforehand the suf"serings of Christ, and the glory that should fol"low (")•" And we have no reason to doubt, that, during the period from the reign of David to the appearance of Christ, the intelligent worshippers among the Jews, served the God. of their sathers, in hope of a Saviour to be asterwards revealed.
When our Lord actually appeared in the flesh, there was a vast expectation and desire of his coming in the Jewish nation. This is abundantly evident from the song of Zacharias, the inspired rapture of aged Simeon, the words of Anna, the question which the 1 Priests and Levites put to John the Baptist, and from the conversation of our Saviour with the woman of Samaria. It even appears, that the coming of the Messiah was the common talk and wish of that people; for the eagerness with which they followed any person who assumed the character, is a sufficient proof of this expectation.
Thus, from the beginning of the world, to the corning of the Messiah, through all the intervening times of the patriarchs and prophets, and aster the ceasing of the spirit of prophecy in the Jewish church, Christ was the desire of' that people and nation.
It only remains ta be added, under this particular, that Christ has been the prosessed desire of all Christian nations, from his ascension to the present times; and that sincere believers, in every age and nation, H have
(*) i Pet. i. Io, ii.
have embraced him, as all their falvation and all their desire. The love which he discovered in his incarnation, his death, and his atonement, have- pointed him out as the object ot their best afsections. His resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into heaven, have been the foundation of their faith; and the promise that he will come again in the glory of his 'Father to raise the dead, and be for- ever magnisied in them that believe, has kept alive their expectation nd warmest regard.
2. Christ is still the desire of the Christian nations. Would to God this could be faid literally, and in fact, of all the nations dwelling on the face of the earth. But many of those have never heard of the name by which alone men can be faved. Others who have heard of him continue in unbelief, and still retain their chosen idolatries. The delusions of Maho*net overspreads a considerable portion of the habitable world; and the Jews, in their state of dispersion, remain obstinate against all possible means of conviction.
But, notwithstanding the insidelity of Heathens, Mahometans, and Jews, many nations have embraced the Christian religions and of these a great multitude, 'which no man can number, have made Christ their falvation and desire. The distinguishing goodness of God is manisest, in sending the light of the'gospel to this remote and distant corner of the earth. We enjoy the ofsers of grace and mercy, while many are sitting in the region of darkness, and under the shadow of death. And though we be fadly degenerated from the piety and zeal of our fathers, yet, blefled be God, there is still a remnant among us, aud, I would hope, a very considerable number, to whom Christ is precious. In. the redeemed and faithsul at this day, is in part sulsilled (and we trust it will be more and more sulsilled) the prophecy in the teicr, and other prophecies in scripture^ which speak of Christ as a blessing to the nations, a light to tlie Gentile world, and falvation to the ends of the earth.
3. Christ 3. Christ will bt the desire of the nations to the end of the world. The importance of the gospel tomankind, together with the promises in sacred scriptare, are prooss of its continuance and increase. We look for happier times, when the blessed Redeemer iball be more the desire of the nations than he has yet been. "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of "mustard teed, which a man took and sowed in a "sield; which, indeed, is the least of all seeds; but,. "when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, "and becometh a tree: so that the birds of the air "come and lodge in the branches thereof." We look for a happy and glorious day, when the gospel snail be sent to the nations and istes asar off, which have not heard of Christ's same, nor seen his glory -r when the earth shall be sull of the knowledge of the Lord, and all the samilies of it snail call him blessed. We look for a wonderful effusion of the Spirit of light and grace from on high, and a glorious enlargement of the Church of Christ. We look, in a word,. for the sall of Antichrist, for the conversion of the. Jews, with the sulness of the Gentiles; when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.
We are altogether ignorant at what period of time this giorious stare of things shall be accomplished. An obscure vail is drawn over the times and the seasons, which the Father hath kept in his own power. But the evidence' by which this sact is supported, arising from the gradual progress of Christianity in the hearts of men, and over the world, and the express declarations of .sacred writ in behalf of the gloty of the latter days, are sufficient to convince us, that the Saviour of the world will be more and morethe desire of men, even to the consummation of all' things.
HI. We are to shew, that Christ is altogether worthy to be the desire of all nations.
Hz »• This*
I. This character, the desire of all nations, is due to the Messiah, or Christ, from the insinite excellence of his nature.
In every instance, it is becoming in the human character, to desire the affection of the benevolent and the worthy. But the most benevolent and worthy of the human race have a limited sphere of action, and, of consequence, a limited esteem. No man, either from the dignity of his character, pr the real value of his actions, is entitled to be universally the object of desire and admiration. It requires something vastly superior to any merit with which we are acquainted, to give a reasonable claim to this exalted distinction. This merit our Saviour possesses in the original persection of his- nature, as the eternal and only begotten Son of God, the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his perfon. 'We can form no idea of power, or wisdom, or goodness, existing in the Supreme Mind, which, in scripture, is not also ascribed to the Saviour of men. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, a-nd the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him, was not any thing made that was made.
This excellency of our Redeemer is persectly exclusive of every opposite quality. Every character on earth is stained with impersection. Even the best and most improved saints, amidst all the virtues that adorn them, are yet in many things weak and irregular. But the excellencies of Christ are pure and unmixed. He did no sin, neither was guile found in his lips. He was holy, harmless, undesiled, and separated from sinners. His nature was without any mixture of impersection; his character without blemish; and all his actions godlike and divine. View him in what light you please, consider him in yout most serious thoughts, and you will sind him altogether worthy to be the desire of all men. Whatever excellence is discernible among created beings, is to be found in him in an insinitely mote persect degree.