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and what efforts are making by Christian missionaries for the conversion of the Jews! and I must say, that this is a call from God to us, and that it is no less our privilege, than it is our duty, to obey it.]
2. The stir which prevails amongst the Jews themselves
[This also obtains to a degree unprecedented since the early ages of Christianity. · Verily, there is a stir amongst the dry bones throughout the whole valley of visionk.” Great numbers of Jews, upon the continent especially, and to a certain extent at home also, begin to think that Christianity may be true; and that that Jesus, whom their fathers crucified, may be the Messiah: and, if they did but know how, in the event of their embracing Christianity, they might support themselves and their families, great multitudes, I doubt not, would prosecute their inquiries, till they had attained the true knowledge of their Messiah and of his salvation. Let me then ask, Whence is this? Is not this the work of God? And is it not an encouragement to us to exert ourselves for their entire conversion ? Methinks “they are saying to us, Come over to Macedonia, and help us ;” and we ought, one and all of us, according to our ability, to obey the call.]
3. The earnests which God has given us in the actual conversion of some to the faith of Christ
[If we cannot speak of Pentecostal days, we can declare, that God has accompanied his word with power to the hearts of some; and that “ one of a city and two of a tribe” have already, as God has given us reason to expect', been brought to the saving knowledge of their Messiah. Of those who have embraced “ the truth as it is in Jesus," some have attained to a real eminence in the divine life, and are at this moment not inferior to the most exalted characters in the Christian world. This shews that God is about to rebuild his temple: and surely it does not become us " to dwell in our ceiled houses" at easem, when he is so plainly calling upon us to co-operate with him: we should rather strengthen the hands of those who are labouring in this good work," and, like Cyrus, afford every possible facility for the accomplishment of this vast and glorious undertakingWe should endeavour to improve "this acceptable time°;" removing to the utmost of our power all obstacles to their conversione; and labouring, if by any means we may be God's honoured instruments, to bring them home to him, and to present them as an offering in a clean vessel to the Lord."] k Ezek. xxxvii. 7, 8. Isai. xvii. 6. m Hagg. i. 4. n Ezra i.5,6,7. o Isai. xlix. 8. p Isai. lxii. 10. 9 Isai. lxvi. 19, 20.
4. The general voice of prophecy
[Prophecy begins to be better understood amongst us: and it is the united conviction of all who have studied the prophecies, that the time for the restoration and conversion of the Jews is nigh at hand. The twelve hundred and sixty years spoken of by Daniel, as the period fixed in the divine counsels for the establishment of the Redeemer's kingdom among them, are, on any computation, nearly expired. Ought we not then, like Daniel, to put forth our prayers to God for the consummation of this great event, and by all possible means to help it forward?
I think, that, putting all these circumstances together-the concern of Christians, the stir among the Jews, the real converts from among them, and the unquestionable ground which is given us in prophecy to expect their speedy conversionwe may regard it all as a call from God, scarcely less powerful than that given to the Moabites and Ammonites of old, to
come to the help of the Lord,” and to labour with all our might for their salvation. In truth, if we do not act thus, we can expect nothing but “the curse of God"," and the most lasting tokens of his displeasure.]
1. You will say, perhaps, that You have no connexion with the Jews, and therefore may well be excused from all concern about them
But what had the Ammonites and Moabites to do with the Jews? They were descended, not from Abraham, but from Lot, and had never had any intercourse with them. But this was no excuse for their neglect: nor can any similar excuse avail for us.
2. You will reply, that it is God's work, and that it should be left to him to accomplish it in his own time and waya
[And might not the Ammonites and Moabites say the same? God not only could, but did, supply their wants by miracle: but this was no justification of those who refused to them the proper offices of love. Nor will this be any justification of our neglect.] Permit me, in conclusion, to bring two things to your
remembrance: 1. That the Ammonites and Moabites had an excuse which you have not--
[They might have said, These Israelites are going to extirpate the seven nations of Canaan: and we will not concur
I Judg. v. 23.
in such a work as this. But, in converting the Jews to Christ, we adopt the readiest and most certain way for the salvation of the whole world. If they, then, were excluded from the congregation of the Lord, even to the tenth generation, for their inhumanity, judge what tokens of God's displeasure await you for yours.)
2. That they were condemned for not coming forth, as volunteers, to “ meet Israel with bread and water"
[What shall you then be, who are thus entreated and solicited to concur with Jehovah in this good work, if you still refuse your aid, or give it with such indifference, as to shew that
your heart does not go forth with your hands in the service of the Lord? You remember, that when Nabal said, “Shall I take my bread and my water, and give them to those whom I know not whence they be?" it well nigh cost him his life ; yea, it actually did cost him his lifes. And I tremble to think what judgments await you, if ye resist our importunity, and refuse to co-operate with God in the work proposed. But “I hope better things of you, my Brethren, though I thus speak;” and I hope and trust that you will henceforth, each according to his ability, be workers together with God for the salvation of God's ancient people, and through them for the salvation of the whole world. And let me not be misunderstood: I am far from intending to say that all who have neglected this sacred cause are equally obnoxious to God's displeasure ; for it is but lately that the attention of the Christian world has been called to it: but I think you will agree with me, that it is now high time to exert ourselves for God, and to redeem, as far as possible, the time we have lost. The cause well deserves our most assiduous efforts : and we may be sure, that God, who so indignantly resented the supineness of the Ammonites, will richly repay all that we can do for the furtherance of his gracious designs: for he has said, “ Blessed is he that blesseth thee; and cursed is he that curseth thee."]
8 1 Sam. xxv. 11, 21, 22, 37, 38.
GOD'S CARE FOR HIS PEOPLE. Deut. xxiii. 5. The Lord thy God would not hearken unto
Balaam : for the Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the Lord thy God loved thee.
TO those who are ignorant of the way of salvation, we preach Christ crucified : for “there is no other name under heaven but his, whereby any man can be saved." But to those who are well instructed in the fundamental truths of our holy religion, we bring forward rather what relates to the life of godliness: having laid the foundation, we endeavour to build upon it a suitable superstructure. Now, a realizing sense of God's care and love, such a sense of his goodness as leads us to live altogether by faith upon him, is one of the sublimest attainments that can be made in this world. And to assist you in this, will be my endeavour at this time.
Let us notice, then, from the words before us, I. God's love to his ancient people
This appeared in bringing them forth out of Egypt, and in preserving them throughout their wanderings in the wilderness; and especially, also, in the instance that is here specified, the counteracting of the designs of Balaam, and “the turning of his curse into a blessing unto them." See the account given us by Moses
[To enter fully into this, the whole history of the transaction, the 22d, 23d, and 24th chapters of the Book of Numbers should be attentively perused. Instigated by a desire to obtain "the wages
of unrighteousness,” yet conscious that he was under a restraint from the Most High God, Balaam madly pursued his object, even after he was rebuked for his iniquity by the beast on which he rode, and which was enabled to utter the reproof in language used by mana. He constantly confesses his inability to go beyond what Jehovah should see fit to permit; yet as constantly sought to evade or change the divine counsels, and to execute the project for which he was hired. Every distinct prophecy which he utters, rises in force and grandeur: and when complained of by Balak for pouring forth blessings upon them, instead of denouncing curses against them, he confesses, “I have received commandment to bless : and God hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it b.” At last, finding how vain it was to seek by enchantments to alter the divine purpose, he forbore to offer any more of his sacrifices, and yielded to the impulse within him to foretell the certain successes of those whom he had sought to destroy. And, having thus provoked the king of Moab to dismiss him without
a 2 Pet. ii. 15, 16.
b Numb. xxiii. 20.
c Numb. xxiv. 149.
the promised rewards a, he resumed his prophetic strains, and declared, not only that this people should triumph over Moab, but that from them should One arise, who should establish an universal empire, and have dominion over the whole world e.
All this, Joshua brought to the remembrance of Israel, long after they had been established in the land of Canaan; saying, “ Balak the son of Zippor arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you: but I would not hearken unto Balaam ; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand?."]
Now all this was the fruit of God's unchanging love
God had chosen them to himself in Abraham, and had ordained that they should be to him a peculiar people above all others
the face of the whole earth. In this choice of them he had been influenced, not by any foreseen worthiness in them; for he knew, from the beginning, what a stiff-necked people they would prove; but solely by his own sovereign will and pleasure: "He loved them because he would love them." To them, also, had he promised the land of Canaan: and therefore, when the time was come for their possession of it, no enemy could stand before them, nor could any conspiracies which could be formed prevail against them. Hence, in despite of all the efforts which Balaam made to curse them, he was constrained to “ bless them still."]
From the whole of God's kindness to them, we may be led to contemplate, II. His love to his Israel at this day
His people are now redeemed, even as they were of old, only from infinitely sorer bondage, a bondage to sin and Satan, to death and hell. They are brought also through a dreary wilderness, towards the heavenly Canaan. They have enemies also to contend with. True it is, they have not to dispossess any of their land; nor do they, by invading the property of others, provoke hostility : but they have enemies notwithstanding, yea, and enemies who are bent upon their destruction : but from all of them God will surely deliver his redeemed people.
d Numb. xxiv. 104-14. f Josh, xxiv. 9, 10.
e Numb. xxiv. 15--19. g Deut. vii. 6-9.