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grave—“where the Lord lay.” We may go back to those ancient prophecies in the same spirit, and according to that invitation, see where Christ in ancient times was revealed to the Fathers. And we cannot open a single prophet without seeing God's mercy constantly promising, God's faithfulness constantly fulfilling. We have, in the glad tidings of great joy to all people, the fulfilment of a thousand promises, that sparkle like stars in the firmament in every page of God's holy Word; from the dim and distant one, “ The woman's seed shall bruise the serpent's head," to the nearer one, of the greatest magnitude and lustre, “To us a child is born, to us a son is given; the government shall be upon his shoulders; his name shall be called Wonderful, the Counsellor, the mighty God, the Prince of peace, the Father of the age to come” - or “the everlasting Father.” The Jews plainly enough expected the Messiah; their whole hearts and hopes were set and centred upon him. “Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee. It shall be said in that day, “Lo, this 18 our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us." “ Your father Abraham,” says Jesus, “rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad." Therefore the birth of Christ was the great hope of Israel. Every Jewish father looked forward to it; every Jewish mother joyfully expected it; the whole nation of Israel had their hearts, their affections, and their hopes, centred there; and as their bondage became more bitter, and their enslavement to the Roman emperor more complete, their hearts longed the more for the mighty Deliverer, of whom they should be able to sing, in songs of adoring gratitude, “ This is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us." In the second chapter of Haggai, we are told that God's people were in a state of very great distress and depression of mind; and then, as on every similar occasion, God comforted them with the hope of a Messiah to come. It is most remarkable, in reading God's dealings with his ancient people, how on every occasion the comfort that he gives them is not temporal, but eternal deliverance - not some elevation in this world, but the hope of a Saviour, who should be Christ the Lord. We can see throughout the whole of these promises that Jesus was constantly preached to God's people as their comfort, and the very hope of him as sufficient to compensate for all their sorrow, their affliction, and their trials. He was spoken of as the Saviour, Christ the Lord, as “the Desire of all nations.” In what shape can Christ be called “the Desire of all nations ?” We answer, all nations felt in their hearts wants, longings, and losses, which nothing but the presence of the Lord of glory could thoroughly and completely remove. It cannot be said that the nations knew that Christ would come, who should remove their wants, and gratify their aspirations and their hopes; but all the nations of heathendom felt in . themselves and their best and most gifted spirits
felt it most — a want, a loss, a sense of ruin, that needed reparation; and losses that needed to be removed, and hunger that this world's bread could not satisfy, and thirst that this world's fountains could not remove: and they earnestly desired one who would allay these longings, unconscious that the burden of a thousand Jewish prophecies was the only Being who could possibly meet their wants and satisfy their desires. These yearnings, and hopes, and expectations of all the Gentile nations, wandered amongst them, airy, undefined, like shadowy spectres—knocking at every door for satisfaction, drinking from every fountain, if peradventure they might be removed; and only did they find their resting-place when He came whom they knew not, but who was ever promised and pledged as the only Being that could satisfy all their longings, and remove all their anxieties. In this state of mind the heathen drew upon imagination in order to meet the demands of their hearts; they deprived the mine of its marble, they spoiled the forest of its oak, they exhausted the resources of genius, they traversed the wide world in search of what could satisfy their idea of excellence, perfection, and happiness, and endeavoured by their own strength to remove that thirst which was to be removed only by him who was "the Desire of all nations." They longed for a Saviour they never heard of; they desired the advent of a satisfaction, the tidings of whose approach they did not know. The unconscious prophecy of heathendom has been the subject of much writing; and the unconscious aspiration of heathendom after Christ, “the Desire of all nations,” is very much a corresponding companion to it.
But let us look at individual feelings, wants, and desires, and see how Christ meets them; and how far the Gentile nations, that knew not, and that now know not Christ, have those feelings.
First, Christ was “the Desire of all nations," as a Redeemer from sin. The Greeks and Romans had not those enlightened apprehensions of the nature, the misery, and the issues of moral transgression, that we have; but the very worst and the most degraded had a lingering conviction that some great moral blight had passed into the human soul — had defaced all its ancient beauty, glory, and perfection — had introduced into the world itself all its disturbance, mutilation, and distress; and they felt themselves the victims of sin — they recognised its domination as the secret of their ills. Every school in ancient Greece had its prescriptions for its removal - every philosopher some great system which, if accepted, he thought would act upon the world like a charm, or be to the world a complete relief; but there was a sense among all the heathen that moral transgression was in some way the root of all tủeir physical, their intellectual, their social, and their national distress; and that, unless the evil in man's heart could be eradicated, the sufferings in man's condition never could be laid. They did not know that Christ should come, a Redeemer from sin; but this was what they blindly desired, and he is exaotly what meets that desire ; for in him we have remission through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. And it shows the profound philosophy, if I might use the word, of this blessed Gospel, that Christ came into the world not to ameliorate, as the first thing, man's outward state, but to expel from man's heart the secret of the fever that convulses and disturbs him continually; and, by the removal of the source of the evil, to ameliorate gradually, and ultimately altogether, the evils that oppress him. The evils that afflict society are not like drift-wood or loose stones lying upon its surface, which you may sweep away with a strong arm and with tolerable diligence; but like the roots of a primeval forest-the gnarled roots of ancient oaks – that have struck deep into the heart, or intertwined with the very feelings, affections, appetites, and passions of the soul: so much so that none but He that made man can be the Physician that can cure man. And, blessed be God, just when our need was the sorest and our ruin the most intolerable, “God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law; that we might (no more be the slaves of sin, but) receive the adoption of sons." Thus, we have in Christ Jesus, as the Redeemer from sin, a response to the inmost, the deepest desire, of fallen humanity.