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If you fee no beauty in Christ, why you should defire him, it is because the god of this world hath blinded your minds.
Alluring the Hearts of Men to come to CHRIST, by a fourth Motive contained in another Title of CHRIST.
HAGGAI ii, 7. And the defire of all nations shall come,
HE former chapter is mainly spent, in reproving the negligence of the Jews, who, being difcouraged, from timę to time, had delayed the rebuilding the temple; and, in the mean time, employed their care and coft in building and adorning their own houfes: but, at laft, being perfuaded to fet about the work, they meet with this discouragement, that fuch was the poverty of the prefent time, that the fecond ftructure would no way anfwer the magnificence and fplendor of the first. In Solomon's days the nation was wealthy, now drained; fo that there would be no proportion betwixt the fecond and the firft. To this grand difcouragement, the prophet applies this relief; that whatsoever should be wanting in external pomp and glory, should be more than recompenfed by the prefence of Jefus Chrift in this fecond temple. For Chrift," the defire of all nations," faith he, fhall come into it. Which, by the way, may give us this useful note; That the prefence of Jefus Chrift gives a more real and excellent glory to the places of his worship, than any external beauty, or outward ornaments, whatfoever, can beftow upon them. Our eyes, like the difciples, are apt to be dazzled with the goodly ftones of the temple, and, in the mean time, to neglect and overlook that which gives it the greatest honour and beauty.
But to return. In thefe words we have both the defcription of Chrift, and an index pointing at the time of his incarnation: he is called, "the defire of all nations ;" and the time of his coming, in the flesh, is plainly intimated to be whilft the fecond temple should be standing. Where, by the way, we find just caule to admire at, and bemoan the blindnefs that is happened to the Jews; who owning the truth of this prophecy, and not able to deny the deftruction of the fecond temple, many hundred years paft, will not yet be brought to acknowledge the incarna tion of the true Meffiah, notwithstanding.
But to the point. The character, or defcription of Chrift, filed the defire of all nations, who was to come into the world in the time of the fecond temple, Mal. iii. 12. and that, after grievous concuffions, and fhakings of the world, which were to make way for his coming; for fo our prophet here fpeaks, "I will shake all nations, and the defire of all nations fhall come," to which the apoftle alludes, in Heb, xii. 26. apply. ing this prophecy to Jefus Chrift, here called the " defire of all "nations:" putting the act for the object, defire for the thing. defired; as in Ezek. xxiv. 16. “"The defire of thine eyes," that is, the defirable wife of thy bofom; fo here, the "defire of "all nations," that is, Chrift, the object of the defires of God's elect, in all nations of the world: a Saviour infinitely desirable in himself, and actually defired by all the people of God, difperfed among all kindreds, tongues, and nations of the world. From whence this note is,
Doct. That the defires of God's Elect, in all kingdoms, and among all people of the earth, are, and shall be drawn out after, and fixed upon the Lord Jefus Chrift.
The merciful God beholding the univerfal ruins, of the world by fin, hath provided an univerfal remedy for his own elect, in every part of the earth. Chrift is not impropriated to any one kingdom, or nation in the world; but intended to be God's falvation to the ends of the earth; and accordingly, fpeaks the apostle, Col. ii. 11. "There is neither Greek, nor "Jew, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but Christ is all and in all." In the explication of this point, two things muft be enquired into.
1. Why Chrift is called the defire of all nations.
2. Upon what account the people of God, in all nations, defire him.
First, Why he is called the defire of all nations; and what that phrafe may import: and there are divers things that are fuppofed, or included in it,
First, That God the Father hath appointed him as a common remedy, for the fins and miseries of his people, in all parts and quarters of the world. So in the covenant of redemption, betwixt the Father and the Son, the Lord expreffeth himself, Ifa, xlix. 6. and he said, " It is a light thing that thou shouldest be "my fervant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the
preferved of Ifrael: I will alfo give thee for a light to the "Gentiles, that thou mayeft be my falvation unto the end of
SERM. XIII. "the earth." Suitable whereunto, is that prophecy, Ifa. lii 15." He shall sprinkle many nations." If God had not appointed him for, he could not be defired by all nations.
And, indeed, herein the grace of God doth admirably shine forth in the freeness of it, that even the most barbarous nations are not excluded from the benefit of redemption by Christ. This is what the apofle admires, that Chrift should be preached to the Gentiles, Tim. iii. 16. a people that seemed to be loft in the darkness of idolatry; yet even for them, Chrift was giv en by the Father, " Ask of me (faith he) and I will give thee the "Heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermoft parts of the "earth for thy poffeffion."
Secondly, Chrift, the defire of all nations, plainly notes the fufficiency that is in him, to fupply the wants of the whole world: as the fun in the heavens fuffices all nations, for light, and influence, fo doth the Sun of righteoufnefs fuffice for the redempti on, juftification, fanctification, and falvation of the people of God, all over the world; Ifa. xlv. 22. “Look unto me, and be GL ye faved, all ye ends of the earth.”
Thirdly, It implies the reality that is in godliness. It shews you, that religion is no fancy, as the atheistical world would perfuade us; and this evidently appears, in the uniform effects of it upon the hearts of all men, in all nations of the world, that are truly religious: all their defires, like fo many needles touched by one and the fame loadstone, move towards Jefus Chrift, and all meet together in one and the fame bleffed object Christ. Were it poffible for the people of God to come out of all nati ons, kindreds, and languages in the world, into one place, and there confer, and compare the defires and workings of their hearts; though they never faw each other's faces, nor heard of each other's names; yet, as face anfwers to face in a glass, so would their defires after Christ answer to each other. All hearts work after him in the fame manner; what one faith, all say: These are my troubles and burdens, these my wants and miferies; the fame things, my defires and fears: one and the fame Spirit works in all believers throughout the world; which could never be, if religion were but a fancy, as fome call it; or a com bination, or confederacy, as others call it : fancies are as various as faces; and confederacies prefuppofe mutual acquaintance and conference.
Fourthly, Chrift, the defire of all nations, implies the vast extent his kingdom hath, and fhall have in the world, out of every nation, under heaven, fome fhall be brought to Chrift, and to heaven by him; and though the number of God's elect, com
pared with the multitudes of the ungodly in all nations, is but a remnant, a little flock; and, in that comparative fenfe, there are few that fhall be faved: yet confidered absolutely, and in themselves, they are a vaft number, which no man can number, Mat. viii. II. Many fhall come from the East, and from the "Weft, and fhall fit down with Abraham, and Ifaac, and Jacob, "in the kingdom of heaven." In order whereunto, the gospel, like the fun in the heavens, circuits the world. It arofe in the Eaft, and takes its courfe towards the western world: rifing, by degrees, upon the remote, idolatrous nations of the earth: out of all which a number is to be faved, even Ethiopia shall stretch "out her hands to God," Pfal. Ixviii. 31. And this confideration should move us to pray earnestly for the poor Heathens, who yet fit in darkness, and the fhadow of death; there is yet hope for them.
Fifthly, It holds forth this, that, when God opens the eyes of men to fee their fin and danger by it; nothing but Chrift can give them fatisfaction; it is not the amenity, fertility, riches and pleasures, the inhabitants of any kingdom of the world do enjoy, that can fatisfy the defires of their fouls: when once God touches their hearts with the fenfe of fin and mifery: then Christ, and none but Chrift, is defirable, and neceffary, in the eyes of fuch perfons. Many kingdoms of the world abound with riches and pleasures; the providence of God hath carved liberal por tions of the good things of this life to many of them, and scarce left any thing to their defires that the world can afford. Yet all this can give no fatisfaction, without Jefus Chrift, the defire of all nations, the one thing neceffary, when once they come to fee the neceffity and excellency of him: then take the world, who will, fo they may have Chrift, the defire of their fouls. Thus we fee upon what grounds, and reafons, Chrift is filed the defire of all nations.
Object. But there lies one great objection against this truth, which must be folved; viz. If Christ be the defire of all nations, how comes it to pass, that Jefus Chrift finds no entertainment in fo many nations of the world, among whom Chriftianity is hiffed at, and Christians not tolerated to live among them? Who fee no beauty in him that they should defire him.
Sol. First, We must remember, the nations of the world have their times and feafons of converfion; thofe that once embra ced Christ, have now loft him, and idols are now fet up, in the places where he once was fweetly worshipped. The fun of the gospel is gone down upon them, and now fhines in another Hemifphere; and fo the nations of the world are to have their
SERM. XIII. diftinct days, and feafons of illumination. The golpel, like the fea, gaineth in one place, what it lofeth in another; and in the times and feafons appointed by the Father, they come fucceffively to be enlightened in the knowledge of Chrift; and then fhall that promife be fulfilled, Ifa. xlix. 7. " Thus faith the "Lord, the Redeemer of Ifrael, and his holy One, to him "whom man defpifeth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, "to a fervant of rulers; kings fhall fee and arife, princes alfo "fhall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful."
Secondly, Let it alfo be remembred, that altho' Christ be rejected by the rulers and body of many nations; yet he is the defire of all the elect of God, difperfed, and fcattered among thofe nations.
In the next place, Secondly, we are to enquire, upon what account Chrift becomes the defire of all nations, (i. e.) of all thofe, in all the nations of the world, that belong to the election of grace. And the true ground, and reason thereof, is, becaufe Chrift, only, hath that in himself, which relieves their wants, and anfwers to all their need.
First, They are all, by nature under condemnation, Rom. v. 16, 18. under the curfe of the law; against which, nothing is found in heaven or earth, able to relieve their confciences, but the blood of sprinkling, the pure and perfect righteoufnefs of the Lord Jefus and hence it is, that Chrift becomes fo defirable in the eyes of poor finners, all the world over. thing in nature could be found to pacify and purge the confciences of men from guilt and fear, Christ would never be defirable in their eyes; but finding no other remedy but the blood of Jefus, to him, therefore, fhall all the ends of the earth look for righteoufnefs, and for peace.
Secondly, All nations of the world are polluted with the filth of fin, both in nature and practice, which they fhall fee, and bitterly bewail, when the light of the gospel fhall thine amongst them; and the fame light, by which this fhall be discovered, will, alfo, difcover the only remedy of this evil to lie in the fpirit of Chrift, the only fountain opened to all nations for fanctification, and clean fing: and this will make the Lord Jesus incomparably defirous in their eyes. O how welcome will he be that cometh unto them, not by blood only, but by water allo! John i. 5, 6.
Thirdly, When the light of the gospel fhall fhine upon the nations, they fhall then fee, that, by reafon of the guilt and filth of fin, they are all barred out of heaven; those doors are chained up against them, and that none but Chrift can open an