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And her daughter was made whole from that very hour." The conversion of this woman and that of the centurion were probably designed, as earnests or tokens of the future triumphs of the grace of Christ among the Gentiles; but this divine Teacher was careful to signify that he was particularly sent to the Jews, and that his ministry was to be spent among them.
No sooner had the Jews made it fully manifest, that they would not reverence the Son of God, which they did by maliciously crucifying him, than they were, as a nation, rejected. The door was then opened for the gospel to be proclaimed among the Gentiles. The following prediction of Isaiah was remarkably accomplished; "I am sought of them, that asked not for me; I am found of them, that sought me not. I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation, that was not called by my name." This scripture was opened and explained to the apostles; particularly after Peter's call to go to the house of Cornelius, who was a Gentile. cordingly, when Paul and Barnabas received a mission to go to the Gentiles, having witnessed the envy and blasphemies of the Jews, they "waxed bold, and said, it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but, seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth." From this time it appeared, that there was the greatest harvest of
souls among the nations, which had not known God.
The door being opened, by the rejection of the Jews, for the word of life to be preached to the Gentiles, the Holy Ghost descended, and great numbers of the elect were called into the kingdom from among them.
It is important to be observed, that there was a remnant of Jews in the church, after their nation in general had rejected Christ, and were themselves rejected by him. Among the descendants of Abraham God had an elect number, and by the power of his Spirit he was continually calling them into the kingdom of his Son. The apostle Paul signified that it was in his day, as it was in the days of Elijah; God had not left himself without faithful witnesses among the Jews. He urged, with great force of argument, that, though the rejection of Israel was general, according to their own prophecies, and attended with astonishing blindness and hardness, yet it was not total; there being still a happy number of believers among them. "I say, then, hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people, which he foreknew. not, what the scripture saith of Elias? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image
of Baal. Even so, then, at this present time also there is a remnant, according to the election of grace." Again he saith, "Israel (meaning the nation of Israel) hath not obtained that, which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." In another place he saith, "blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." Under the preaching of the gospel the first harvest of souls was among the Jews. The three thousand, who were converted on the memorable day of Pentecost, were descendants of Abraham. Probably there has been a small remnant of believers among the Jews from Christ's time to the present day. Among the religious intelligence, communicated to the public, in the periodical works of our own time, we may notice, as highly interesting to the friends of Zion, accounts of some hopeful conversions to the Christian faith among the descendants of Abraham. We are warranted to believe, from respectable authority, that considerable numbers of this people, especially of the younger class, are inclined to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Intelligence of this kind presages something important; that God is on his way, and that the scriptures are fulfilling.
In consequence of God's regard for faithful Abraham, and of promises, which he was pleased to make to him, the Jews, as a nation, will be recovered, and converted to Christianity. This great event will astonish the world; and in view of it infidelity will hide its head. In the language of the apostle Paul we
may say, "if the casting away of them were the reconciling of the world; what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" We have an explicit warrant to indulge the animating thought, that the Jews will be grafted again into their own olive tree; not into another, but into their own, into the same, in which they once stood; and will again partake of its root and fatness. "Blindness in part is happened to Israel," and for a particular time, "until the fulness of the "Gentiles be come in." The time is fast approaching,
when the whole of the twelve tribes of Israel will be gathered from their present dispersed state. They all will be again fixed in a state of covenant favour with God. Unhappy as is their present situation, they are represented as being beloved for the fathers' sakes. The glorious event of their return is to take place in consequence of God's gracious regard to the memory of their pious ancestors, and in fulfilment of particular promises, which he made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In consequence of God's faithful regard to these promises, he remembered them, when they groaned under their heavy bondage in Egypt; when they were captives in Babylon; and when the plot was laid to destroy them by wicked Haman. His faithful and sacred regard to the same promises will lead him to remember them in their present scattered state. In his own time he will gather them from among all nations, tongues, and languages; and he will be their God, and they shall be his people.
Many prophecies clearly favour the idea, that the Jews will be conducted to their own land, the land given to Abraham's seed by promise; and the remarkable preservation of them, as a distinct people, for so many centuries of years, renders such an event very probable.
The return of the Jews, and their being grafted again into their own olive tree, will unquestionably establish the important truth, that God's church has ever been one and the same; that "there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all." It may now be remarked, and to all pious minds the remark cannot fail of appearing weighty, that the conversion of the Jews is an event, for which we ought fervently to pray, when we draw near the Father of mercies. They are the natural branches, and their return will be connected with great good to the Gentile world, yea, far greater than was their rejection. If, therefore, we love the prosperity of Zion, we shall think of the seed of Abraham in our public prayers, and in our more private addresses to the throne of grace.
SURVEY OF NEW ENGLAND CHURCHES.
Continued from page 359. IT is the design of this number to suggest a few remarks on experimental religion. The subject is at all times very important to Christians, both as it respects their own spiritual interest, and their treatment of oth
ers. At the present day it is peculiarly important, as there is no subject on which both the learned and the unlearned entertain greater and more pernicious errors.
By experimental religion is here meant the whole internal exercise of Christian holiness, in connexion with the efficiency of divine grace. It implies the gradual acquaintance with divine things, which the penitent attain; their knowledge of themselves as sinners, and of Jesus Christ as a Saviour; their repentance, faith, love, hope, and joy; their constant struggle with indwelling sin, and their progressive improvement in Christian vir. tue. When pious persons and evangelical writers speak of exper imental religion, they generally have a special reference to the Holy Spirit, as the cause of all true goodness, and to the usual method, in which that Spirit operates in renewing and comforting the people of God.
There is a class of men at this day, not contemptible in point of number or talents, who doubt the existence, or at least deny the necessity of what Christians have denominated experimental religion, and sometimes treat all pretensions to it as weakness and enthusiasm. Persons, stamped with this extravagance of error and impiety, would deserve less notice in this Survey, were they not frequently found within the pale of the church. This circumstance gives them increased influence, and renders their opin ions more dangerous. Without enlarging on this branch of the subject, I would ask, what the scripture means by representing believers, as the subjects of such
powerful divine operations, and personal religion, as consisting in such deep and tender impressions, such clear, spiritual views, and such lively, cordial exercises? Set aside experimental religion, and you set aside that which is supported by the most perspicuous and forcible expressions, as well as by the general tenor of God's word, and by the uniform testimony of the most enlightened Christians in all ages, and which agrees with every correct view of the nature of the human mind, and of divine objects. When rational, accountable creatures, who have been blind to the glory of God, inattentive to the everlasting interest of their souls, estranged from a life of piety, and immersed in the concerns of the world, at length open their eyes upon their own debasement and guilt, upon the divine glory, the work of the Saviour, and the judgment to come; we should naturally expect such a train of impressions and feelings, as constitute what we call experimental religion. You will, therefore, consider, brethren, that those, who reject experimental religion, not only reject the work of God's Spirit in dictating the scriptures and sanctifying the heart, but manifest great ignorance of man's intellectual and moral nature. Carefully avoid all such, especially if invested with the sacred office. A minister of this description is sufficient to blast the growth of religion in a whole church.
But your greatest danger arises not from those, who openly deny or oppose experimental religion, but from men who profess to be its zealous friends, and to
be earnestly engaged in promot. ing it. In our land there are multitudes who answer this description, who yet entertain very inadequate and erroneous, and, in some instances, the most wild and extravagant ideas of the nature and fruits of religion. Such men are doubly dangerous. They are wolves in sheep's clothing. While their high pro fessions and their appearance of pious zeal impose upon undiscerning minds, and steal the confidence of many real Christians; the errors of their faith, and the irregularities of their conduct, render their influence baleful to the cause of religion. The ex posure of the church from this quarter is great, and calls upon her watchmen and friends to plant a safeguard around her. In compliance with this call, I shall briefly mention a few marks of true experimental religion, by a faithful consideration of which error and delusion may be discovered, and fatal danger avert ed. The task is arduous and momentous. He, who undertakes it, should remember his responsibility, and keep close to the infallible standard.
Let it, then, be observed in general, that experimental relig ion must agree with the Christian scriptures. The Bible teaches that religion, which is pleasing to God, and profitable to men. While attending to this subject, it is a maxim of serious consequence, that the Holy Spirit, operating in the hearts of men, always produces a religion conformed to that sacred book which he inspired. The Spirit of God is not bound by rules of human invention; but he cannot contradict himself.
His work in re
newing sinners must accord with his work in the affair of inspiration. Here, then, is the grand, comprehensive rule, by which our religion must be examined before the tribunal of conscience now, and before the tribunal of Christ at the judgment day. What is conformed to God's word will be as gold, silver, and precious stones in the building of the church. But that which is not conformed to God's word, whatever else it may have to recommend it, will be as hay, wood, and stubble, which are consumed by the fire.
But in order to guard against the various forms of error, it is necessary that this subject be more minutely and thoroughly analized.
The first remark, which oecurs, is, that in experimental religion we must find a conformity to evangelical truth. In consequence of renewing grace, sinners receive the truth in love. Their affections harmonize with the doctrines of inspiration, Does the Bible teach, that God is a holy, just, and sovereign God, who has chosen the wisest and most benevolent plan of operation, and does all things after the counsel of his own will and to his own eternal honour? With such a God they are pleased. In such a government they confide. They rejoice that the dominion of God is without limits, his agency without control, his justice inflexible, and all his perfections the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Does revelation teach that all the posterity of Adam are by nature children of disobedience, wholly degenerate, voluntary slaves of sin, and heirs of perdition? They ac
knowledge the description just, and, in view of it, are willing to be humbled before God. Does the gospel teach the necessity of regeneration by the Holy Spirit, the justification of believers by grace through the righteousness of Christ, their entire dependence on God, and their certain perseverance in holiness? In these and other congenial doctrines believers feel a cordial complacency. Those evil passions, by which their minds were once benighted, and which always resisted the light of the gospel, when it began to dawn upon them, are now subdued, and a heart is given them, which operates in unison with the holy scheme of evangelical truth.
It is fact, not only that experimental godliness corresponds with gospel doctrines, but also that those doctrines have an im portant instrumentul concern in producing the first exercise and the subsequent growth of all true religion. Christians are born of the word of God. They are sanctified through the truth. Their religious character is formed under the influence of the peculiar principles of Christianity. The motives which actuate them, the moral springs of all their pious affections, are found in that scheme of doctrine, of which Christ crucified is the foundation, the sum, and the glory. Here, Christians, is a criterion, by which to judge of experimental religion in ourselves and others. Does it harmonize with the obvious sense of revela tion ?
Does it coalesce with the doctrines of grace? Does it exist, and operate, and advance toward perfection under their influence? If persons deny the doc