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shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea. Yet, in a limited sense, all nations have experienced the truth of this prophecy already
1. They are reconciled to God through him
[Christ died not for one nation only; he was a propitiation for the sins of the whole world. Many of all nations have already believed in his name, and rejoiced in his salvation: and in every place they who believe in him shall find acceptance with their God."]
2. They are united in one body in him
[He has broken down the middle wall of partition that divided the Jewish and Gentile world, and, having reconciled both unto God in one body by the cross, he has slain the enmity thereby. All mankind are now brought into one family, and are taught to regard each other as brethren: and in proportion as the religion of Jesus gains the ascendant over our hearts, we are united in love to every member of his mystical body.]
3. They are blessed with all spiritual blessings
[There is not any thing that can conduce to our present or future happiness which Jesus will not bestow on his believing people. Adoption into his family, peace in our consciences, holiness in our hearts, and an eternity of glory in the Father's presence, are the certain portion of all his faithful followers. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile; all are admitted to the same privileges, and all shall participate the same enjoyments.]
1. The antiquity of the gospel
[The sum and substance of the gospel is, that Christ is the only source of all spiritual and eternal blessings. Wherever this truth is strongly urged, men are ready to cry out against it as a new doctrine. But we can trace it, not only to the reformers of our church, but to the apostles, yea to Abraham also: for St. Paul declares, that when God spake the words to Abraham, he "preached the gospel to him," even that very gospel, whereby he and all the nations of the earth must be saved. Let this truth then no longer be reviled as novel, but be received as the one ground of all our hopes.]
2. The importance of faith
[Abraham's faith in this gospel was imputed to him for righteousness; and by believing the same divine record we also must be justified. No doctrine whatever is more ex
e Col. i. 20-22. f Gal. iii. 6.
Eph, ii. 14-16.
* Ib. 7, 9.
e Gal. iii. 8.
plicitly declared in scripture than this. Let us then acknowledge the necessity of faith, and look to the Lord Jesus Christ as that promised seed, through whom alone the blessings of Abraham can flow down upon us.]
3. The connexion between faith and works
[Faith was that principle which produced in Abraham such exemplary obedience:h and the same root will bear similar fruits wheresoever it exists. Indeed the pardon of past sins would be utterly insufficient to make us happy, if it were not accompanied with the renovation of our natures. To this effect St. Peter expounded, as it were, the very words of the text, declaring to the Jews, that conversion from sin was one of the first blessings which the Lord Jesus was sent to bestow.< Let us then not consider faith and works as opposed to each other, but as possessing distinct offices, the one to justify our souls, the other to honour God, and to manifest the sincerity of our faith.]
h Heb. xi. 17.
i Acts xv. 9.
Acts iii. 25, 26.
CXLIX. CHRIST THE TRUE SHILOH.
Gen. xlix. 10. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come: and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
THERE was a series of predictions relative to the Messiah from the very beginning of the world; and, as the time for the accomplishment of the prophecies drew near, the predictions concerning him were more particular and minute. About seventeen hundred years before his appearance, the time of his coming was fixed with great accuracy and precision. At the very first moment that the sons of Jacob were made heads of many different tribes, it was foretold, that the continuance of Judah's power should extend beyond that of the tribes, and that the Messiah should arrive before its expiration. In explaining this prophecy we shall of necessity be led to speak of
I. The time of his advent
This, according to the text, was to precede the departure of Judah's sceptre
[Judah is here represented as a lion gorged with his prey, VOL. II.
and couching in his den with a sceptre between his feet; a sceptre, which none should ever wrest from him, until he should come, whose right it was. "The sceptre" does not import dominion over the other tribes, but only the same kind of separate and independent jurisdiction, which was vested in Dan, and in all the other tribes. Nor does the term "lawgiver” mean a person who should enact laws; but rather, one who should execute and enforce them. Moses was the only lawgiver of the Jews; and even the kings were required to write a copy of his law, and to obey it in all things. Now it was here foretold, that this particular power should remain with Judah after that the other tribes should have been deprived of theirs; and that it should continue vested in persons belonging to that tribe till the Messiah should come. The precise import of the term "Shiloh" is not certainly known; but it is thought by most to mean, The Peace-maker. All however are agreed that it is a name for the Messiah, whose advent was to precede the dissolution of the Jewish polity.]
The event exactly corresponded with the prediction
[The ten tribes were spoiled of their power when they were carried captive to Assyria. But the tribe of Judah retained both their e clesiastical and civil polity even in Babylon. If they did not exercise it to the same extent as before, they had by no means wholly lost it. As they had possessed it in Egypt, and retained it the whole time of their Egyptian bondage, so they still nominated their priests and elders, yea and appointed fasts and feasts, while they were oppressed with the Chaldæan yoke. Their bondage in Babylon was indeed, on the whole, exceeding heavy; but many of them were suffered to build houses and plant gardens, and to live rather as a colony than as slaves. On their return from Babylon, their own chiefs and elders were appointed to superintend the execution of Cyrus' decree;f and, after that period, they continued to enjoy their privileges till the time of our Lord's advent. Soon after that, they were reduced to the state of a Roman province; but still exercised the same powers, only in a more limited manner. But, forty years after the death of Christ, when his gospel had been fully preached, and people of all nations had been gathered to him, their city and temple were utterly destroyed; and they themselves were dispersed into all lands. From that time their sceptre has utterly departed from them;
b Ver. 16.
a Ver. 9.
e Jer. xxix. 5, 7.
f Ezra i. 5, 8.
* Compare John xviii. 3, and 31.
c Exod. xxxiv. 31, 32.
nor can the smallest vestige of their former power be traced. They are therefore living proofs throughout the whole world that their Messiah is indeed come.]
The time of Christ's advent being thus clearly ascertained, let us consider
II. The consequences of it
The last clause of the text is by some applied to Judah, to whom the tribe of Benjamin was attached, and the few of the other ten tribes, who returned after their dispersion by the Assyrians, were gathered." But the sense of that clause is both more clear, and infinitely more important, as applied to Shiloh. And, if it be understood, as it may well be, as a further limitation of the time beyond which Judah should not retain this power, it will mark, with most astonishing accuracy, the precise period at which his sceptre was to depart.
But, taking it according to its general acceptation, it declares the calling of the Gentiles to the knowledge of Christ.
[The scriptures speak much upon this glorious subject. Without noticing the innumerable passages that declare God's intention to convert the Gentiles, we will confine our attention to two or three that speak of it almost in the very same terms as those in the text. Isaiah, representing Christ as standing for an ensign to the people, says," to him shall the Gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious." There was a remarkable prophecy to the same effect unwittingly uttered by Caiaphas the high-priest. While he designed nothing more than to instigate the Jews to destroy Jesus, God overruled his mind to declare that Jesus should die for the whole world, and should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Our Lord himself also foretelling the same glorious event, said," I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." Nor is only the mere circumstance of their conversion declared in the text; the manner also of their coining to him is strongly intimated. They "shall be a willing people in the day of God's power," and as the prophet describes at large, shall fly to him. as a cloud, or as doves to their windows.m]
- 1 Chron. ix. 3. John xii. 32.
This part of the prediction also has received, and is daily receiving, its accomplishment
[No sooner had our Lord given up the ghost, than the Centurion, the first fruits of the Gentiles, was led to acknowledge him as the Son of God. Presently, not Judea only, but the whole Roman empire, was filled with those who were gathered unto him. And, at this moment, "all who are taught of God come unto him" as the one foundation of all their hopes, and the only fountain of all their blessings. There is a period still future, when this prophecy shall be fulfilled in its utmost extent; when "all kings shall bow down before him, and all nations shall serve him." Blessed period! may "God hasten it in its time!" may his "gospel run and be glorified," and "his glory fill the earth!"]
Let us now ADDRESS a few words
1. To those who are yet dispersed, and at a distance from the Lord
[How many are there even in this Christian land, who have no more fellowship with Jesus than if he had never come into the world! But what account will they give to him when they shall stand at his tribunal in the last day? Are not the words of our text a direction, as well as a prophecy? Are they not equivalent to an express command? Has not Christ himself enforced this command by repeated invitations and promises, "Look unto me, and be ye saved;" "Come unto me, and ye shall find rest unto your souls?" Has he not even sworn that all shall come to him, or perish for their neglect?" Why then should we not all gather ourselves around him as in the days of his flesh? Why should not the blind, the lame, the leprous, the possessed, come to him for deliverance? Why should not the poor trembling sinner press through the crowd, and "touch the hem of his garment?" Surely none should find it in vain to come unto him; 66 Virtue should go forth from him to heal them all." O let the prophecy then receive a fresh accomplishment this day; and may God so "draw us by his Spirit that we may run after him," and abide with him for ever!]
2. Those who through grace, have been gathered to him
[The sceptre is now passed into the hands of Jesus. He is the true lion of the tribe of Judah, to whom all power in heaven and in earth has been committed. What then have ye to fear, who are under his protection? Who shall ever pluck you from his hands?P When, or to whom shall his sceptre ever be transferred? His mediatorial kingdom will indeed be
n Isai. xlv. 22-25
• Rev. v. 5.
P John. x. 28.