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born people,” &c. but he chose them for the accomplishment of his own purposes ; in reality, because they were the inmediate descendants of Abraham, in whose seed ultimately he promised that all the nations of the earth were to be blessed.
The Messiah, therefore, was to proceed from the Jews; and it was expressly prophesied by the Patriarch Jacob, that he should be born of the tribe of Judah. And here is to be observed a most signal interposition of God, and another remarkable coincidence and conformity between his words and actions, which he was pleased, in a very singular manner, to exhibit to mankind.
After the ten tribes were, from their crimes and enormities, carried into captivity by Shalmaneser, we never hear any more of their return from Assyria : but though the tribe of Judah was quite as wicked as the other tribes, as is evident from its history, and for this wickedness suffers a long captivity, yet their tribe is restored to its former residence in Jerusalem. And why? not for their own sakes, or from
any peculiar merit in them, but because the promise should be exactly fulfilled which had been formerly made to Abraham, that “in his seed, and from the tribe of
“ Judah, all the nations of the earth should “ be blessed.” And such was the peculiar exactness of Providence in this respect, that each family of this tribe was expected to keep its genealogy strictly; and, on its return from Babylon, it is particularly mentioned in the second chapter of Ezra, that such as could not make out their genealogy in a clear and satisfactory manner, were inadmissible to the priesthood *.
The office of the Messiah being, therefore, not to aggrandize the Jewish nation, but that in and through him all nations of the earth should be blessed, when our Saviour and Redeemer appeared in the world to execute his ministry, he informed mankind of the particular manner in which the nations of the earth were to be blessed. Instead of giving them hopes of enjoying temporal grandeur and felicity, he told them he came from God, to inform them of the will of God, of the nature of the kingdom of God, of a mode or system of faith and conduct, which if they observed, they should then pártakė of that eternal blessing originally intended in the promise God had made obscurely to Adam,
* Vide Sherlock on Prophecy.
more plainly to Abraham, and by the prophets, but fully and clearly to the world only by himself. He told them he was come to be an offering to God for the sins of all mankind, and to bring life and immortality to light; and that, if they possessed such gratitude of heart, such love and confidence in God, as to believe in his declaration, “ that " he sent his only-begotten Son into the * world, that man should not perish, but “ have everlasting life;" and, in addition to this belief, if they would repent of their sins, be baptized into his Church, and acquire purity and holiness of character, they should then be admitted to partake of the peace of God in this life, and of everlasting happiness in the next.
But before man could be in a capacity to enjoy these blessings, it was necessary that the power of the Devil should be destroyed, and equally that the power of death should be vanquished; both which he said he was likewise sent from God to perform.
Now the very nature of the work he was professedly sent to accomplish was such as no human being can be supposed capable of accomplishing. In point of justice, no man, or any set of men, can be supposed to possess
worth of character enough to be a proper propitiation to the infinite justice of God for the sins of all mankind; neither can it be supposed that man of himself could vanquish the power of the Devil, subject as he had made himself to that power by his disobedience to the coinmands of God, and by obeying the suggestions of this evil spirit; “ for * his servants ye are to whom ye obey:" and still more impossible was it for mere man to free himself from the penalty of that death, which; by the same disobedience to the commands of God, he had brought on himself. For can the culprit reprieve himself? Certainly not.
On all these accounts, neither Moses, Aaron, nor Samuel, neither priest, prophet, nor any human being whatever, could communicate the full blessing intended by God to the human race. But reason finds no just opposition to the belief, that it is in the power of God to bless all the nations of the earth, if he pleases; on the contrary, it entertains, from the idea it has of his infinite goodness, and particularly from his express promises to man, an assured belief, that in his own good time he would do so: and our Saviour confirms this belief into certainty, by
informing mankind, that in and through him the time was actually arrived that these promises of God should be fulfilled. For can greater blessings be conferred on man than, an assurance, if he will trust and have confidence in God's mercy and goodness, believe in the divine mission of his Son, and live
a holy life, that he shall then enjoy, peace of mind on earth, and everlasting happiness hereafter in heaven?
Such as has been just mentioned was the important mission of Jesus Christ; namely, by the vanquishment of death, and by de. stroying the power of the Devil, to accomplish God's intended blessing to mankind, of enabling men to possess the peace of God on earth, and to partake hereafter of those joys which are at his own right hand in heaven.
This Christ declared it to be his own will, and that of his Father, that he should do, And we have every reason to believe, that as by his words and doctrines, to the satisfaction and conviction of millions, he has accomplished what he promised to bestow on his followers in this world; namely, that peace of mind which the world can neither give nor take away, we have from analogy the