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city, the awful destruction of which he foretold and denounced, might, one would have supposed, have forever silenced christians from charging the opinions of their brethren, respecting the lost condition either of their neighbours, or the heathen, on the want of charity; and ascribing the opposite sentiment to an excess of benevolence and candour! Yet we risk nothing in avowing, that, not only do almost all exertions to promote the gospel originate with such as hold the uncharitable sentiment, and owe their principal support to them; but that they do far more than their pro. portion, according to their ability, in relieving the temporal distresses of mankind!
Whatever we may hope or fear, the heathen either are “ perishing for lack of knowledge,” or they are not: and it is very strange, that love should in this instance lead men to that very conduct, which, if adopt. ed by a parent towards a child, when supposed to be in urgent danger, would be ascribed to brutal selfish. ness, and want of natural affection! And that malevo. lence should dictate those anxious fears, and expensive self-denying exertions, which in any case, immediately affecting the health or temporal safety of others, would be looked upon as indubitable proofs of strong affection and tender solicitude! These hints premised, I proceed to shew
I. The judgment of the apostle concerning the state of the heathen, as it may be gathered from the text; with illustrations of the subject, and remarks upon it.
II. To consider the duties incumbent on us in this respect, and to enquire how far we have criminally neglected them.
III. To suggest some hints, respecting the performance of these duties. And
IV. To conclude with a few particulars respect. ing this Society. 1. Then, I would shew the judgment of the apostle concerning the state of the heathen, as it may be ga. thered from the text; with illustrations of the subject; and remarks upon it.
In the preceding part of the chapter, the apostle shews the character and condition of unconverted sin. ners in general. “ You hath he quickened, who were “ dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye “ walked, according to the course of this world, ac“ cording to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit “ that now worketh in the children of disobedience. “ Among whom also we all had our conversation in “ times past, in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the deF6 sires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature " the children of wrath, even as others.” In this pas. sage he evidently includes both Jews and Gentiles, and the whole body of the Christian church, as considered in themselves, before that “God, who is rich in mer. "cy, for his great love wherewith he loved them, even “ when dead in sin, had “ quickened them together “ with Christ.” But he asterwards thus addresses, in particular, the converts made from among the heathen “ Wherefore remember, that ye, being in time passed “ Gentiles in the flesh, who are called the uncircum• cision, by that which is called the circumcision in “ the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were " without Christ, being aliens from the common. “ wealth of Israel, and strangers from the cover ants “ of promise, having no hope and without God in the < world.” They had been, in their external situation, under vastly greater disadvantages, and at a much farther distance from God and salvation, than the Jews. “ But now in Christ Jesus, ye who were sometime “ far off are made nigh by the blood of Jesus.” And it is evident, that a similar difference subsists at this day, between professed Christians, and those who have not the external means.of grace and şalvation.
The Messiah had been promised from the very first entrance of sin, as “the Seed of the woman, who " should bruise the serpent's head:” but this promise, at least in its spiritual meaning, was little known, except among the remnant that adhered to the worship of the true God; and in a short time after the deluge, idolatry became almost universal. To check in some degree its destructive progress, God was pleased to call Abraham, and to enter into covenant with him and his posterity by Isaac and Jacob; especially in respect of the promised Saviour, in whom all nations were at length to be blessed: but the rest of the hu. man race, with but few exceptions, seem very soon to have lost, almost entirely, even that traditional re. collection of the promise concerning him, which they might have derived from Adam and Noah: for that confused expectation of a Messiah, which prevailed near the time of his coming, evidently appears to have been gathered from the Jewish Scriptures, that had been translated into the Greek language some time before, and widely disseminated in the adjacent coun. tries; which, by the way, was evidently designed in Providence to facilitate the propagation of the Gospel, and proved no inconsiderable advantage to the
apostles and evangelists.--The ceremonial law of Moses-was a shadow of good things to come, and its ordinances were means of grace by which many be. lieved and were saved. The oracles of God, entrusted to Israel, and all the prophets sent among them, shewed the coming of Christ, his sufferings and the glory that should follow. The Lord ratified his covenants with them; the Sinai-covenant with the people in general; the Abrahamick covenant, as relating to the blessings of salvation, with all believers; the covenant of the priesthood with Aaron's family; and that of the kingdom with David and his family, to be fulfilled at length in that of the Messiah as descended from him.
But all this time the Gentiles were " aliens from “ the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the “ covenants of promise.” Especially they were with out Christ, or in all respects separated from him. No explicit promises or revelation concerning him had ever reached their ears; and as faith must rest on di. vine revelation, they had no ground for believing in him. They had no ordinances administered among them, as prefiguring the salvation, and the way of the sinner's access to God, through his atoning blood and intercession; or representing the sanctification of the heart by his Holy Spirit. No prophets were sent to instruct them: no covenant was made with them: and in general, they knew nothing, and had little opportu. nity of learning any thing, concerning the inestimable • benefit of redemption by Christ;' they were favoured with no 'means of grace,' and were therefore with. out the hope of glory,'—And does not every one
perceive, that all these particulars are equally true, concerning the nations which still remain strangers to christianity?
According to the apostle, the Gentiles “ had no « hope.” When the woman of Samaria enquired of our Lord, whether the Jews or the Samaritans wor. shipped God aright, he answered, “ Ye worship ye • know not what, we know what we worship; for sal“ vation is of the Jews.” If then, by the express tesa timony of Christ himself, the Samaritans, who were not gross idolaters, “knew not what they worship- ped,” because they did not adhere to those ritual appointments, which represented Jehovah as a just God and a Saviour, through the promised Messiah, and his redemption; it must follow that the Gentiles, being without Christ, have likewise no hope. With whatever speculations some few philosophical men amused themselves and others, concerning the Deity. and the immortality of the soul; or whatever expecta. tions they formed of happiness after death; it is evi. dent that they had nothing worthy to be called hope. In general they had no fixed belief of that future state, about which they speculated; they knew scarcely any thing concerning the happiness or misery which there, awaits every human being; or what preparation of heart was requisite, even, to the enjoyment of happio ness, could they have been admitted into the regions of the blessed. Uncertainty rested on all their reasonings, which had no abiding good effect on their practice. The love of this present world was the main spring of all their actions; their confidence of the di. vime favour was the result of ignorance and proud self