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And this way of reading the text fays, I think, four things.
(1.) That the gathering of the people to Shiloh, is a certain evidence that the sceptre is departed froni Judah; for the sceptre was not to depart from them, till Shiloh should come, and gather the people to him. Now, the sceptre is departed from Judah ; therefore Shiloh is come, and the gathering of the people is to him.
(2.) That the coming of Shiloh, and the gathering of the people to him, was of equal certainty by the counfel of heaven : the gathering of the people to Christ was as certainly foreseen, as it was certainly foreseen that he was to come ; and that according to the counsel of God, the gathering of the people hath been and shall be to Chrilt, is as fure and certain, as it is sure that he is come already; for thus they ftand connected, namely, the coming of Shiloh, and the gathering of the people to him.
(3.) It says, that the coming of Shiloh, and gathering of the people to him, was to take place together; and indeed the gathering of the Gentiles took its remarkable accomplishment with his coming. Whenever he was born in Bethlehem, behold there came wife men from the east, enquiring after him : we are sure they were Gentiles, and belonged not to the commonwealth of Israel; and the respect they paid to Christ, the' King of the Jews, was a happy presage of what would follow, when there that were afar off should be made nigh by Christ. It is true, they were magicians; but fome take it in a good sense, for the Magi among the Persians were their philosophers and their priests : but though we take it in the worst fense, it was an early instance of Christ's victory over the devil; whatever fort of wise-men they were before, now they be. gin to be wise-men indeed, when they set themselves to enquire after Christ. In this there were fome early trophies erected of Christ's victory over Satan's territories, abstract from the Gentiles that were religious profelytes of old; herein commenced the gathering of the people to him.
(4.) This reading says, that as upon the coming of Shiloh, the gathering of the people thould be no more delayed; fu, upon his coming, their gathering should be no more discontinued ; but that the gathering of the people frould continue and run parallel with the period wherein it can be said that now Shiloh is conie. The text speaks of a twofold period : the first is the time before Christ's coming, wherein it could be laid, Shiloh is not come; and, so long as that could be said, the sceptre was to remain with Judah. The second is the time of Christ's coming, and after it, wherein it can be faid, that Shiloh is now come, and the gathering of the people to him : therefore fu long as that period remains, so long must the gathering be.
In a word, this reading of the words imports, that while the scene is now so far altered, that it can be said, The sceptre is departed from Judah, which will be to the end of the world; fo long we have ground to expect, that the gathering of the people shall be to Shiloh, who is now coine. The sceptre is dcparted from the Jews, and the Saviour is come to the Gentiles : whatever way we read it then, it stands established for a firm certainty, that to Shiloh shall the gathering of the people be.
Now, omitting many observations that might be drawn from the words, I confine myself to that which especially concerns ourselves, namely,
Obsery. That it is established in the council of beaven, concerning Jesus Chrift, ibe Mefias, ibat to bim shall the gathering of the people be.
Now, that this is established in the council of heaven, is plain from the facred records of that council, which you have in your hand.
hand. I need not cite all the fcriptures that speak of the conversion of the nations to him ; I will but name two or three. Pfaim ii. 8. where God is declaring the decree concerning our Meffias; he says to him, “ Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the carth for thy posseffion.” Afk of me; what shall I give thee in consideration of that noble undertaking of thine, which I am so well pleased with, and so much glorified by? Why, might Christ say, all that I ask is, that I may have a feed to serve and glorify thee and me; that I may have my friends among the loft heathen pagan world ; let me see in them, as well as in others, the travel of my foul, and be satisfied:Well, says the Father, it is granted; “ I give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy pofleflion.” . See Isa. xi. 10. 12. Ifa. xliii. 5, 6. Ifa. lvi. 8. and lx. 4,---9.
The method we would propose for illustrating this propofition, through divine aid, shall be the following:
1. To offer fonie Remarks with respect to the nature
of this gathering, and the qualities of it. II. Who are the people of whom it is said this gather
ing shall be. III. To whom this gathering of the people shall be,
and in what refpect it is to Christ. IV. The manner of this gathering ; by what means,
and in what method it shall be. V. When are the special times and seasons wherein
this gathering to Chriit does, or shall take place. VI. Why, or for what reasons this gathering shall be
to him; why the people, and why to Shiloh. And
then, VII. Shut up all with fome Inferences from the whole.
I. The first thing proposed was, to offer fome remarks with respect to the nature of this gathering, especially these four.
1. You may remark, that there are several sorts of gatherings, that we would distinguish. There is an outward corporeal gathering, and an inward fpiritual gathering: outward gatherings are not here especially intended. It is true, that a flocking to ordinances is very pleasant, as it was to the Pfalmist, when he said, " I was glad when they said, Come let us go up to the house of the Lord:” and when that word is accomplished,
Isa. ii. 3. “ Many people shall go and say, Come let us go up to the mount of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” But many gather about a tent, and gather together to ordinances, that never are gathered to Shiloh. Some like the Athenians, gather to ordinances, to hear if the minister will tell them any news; fome, like the Pharisees, watch for a word to carp at, and play the
part of the devil in accusing of the brethren: fome, like the Jews, seek after the law, and legal duties, that they may establish their own righteousness; fome, like the Greeks, seek after wisdom and eloquence, and Aowers of rhetoric: fome gather only to gaze, and others to muse; and perhaps they muse upon their market, their journey, their dinner, their fupper, their diversion; and may be, the fermon is done before they know well where they are : fome gather to hear, but fo soon as the minister begins, they fall asleep, as though they had been brought in for dead corpses, and the minister were preaching their funeral-fermon : fome gather to ordinances and hear; but they hear, and scorn ; they hear, and mock; they hear, and despise. May we not fay with Christ, “What went ye out to the wilderness for to SEE?” rather than, Wbai went ye out to HEAR? For people remember that which they fee, but forget all that they hear; which says, that they came rather to fee than to hear. Some indeed will mind what they think to the minister's reproach, or what will afford matter for their own diversion ; but with respect to the main thing, they depart from fermons with their hearts like a bottomless purse, that can hold no money; and so they go home without gathering any fruits that fall from the tree of life, which should be the greatest design of their gathering together. Nay, as Satan pointed Adam to another tree, lest he should go to the tree of life; so he points to some other business, and to some other exercise and study : hence they go home, saying, The minister hath not an edifying gift ; fays another, I cannot profit by him ; fays another, He does not keep his text; says a fourth, He preached too long, and I cannot mind all; as if the ground should
complain of the feed, which yet will not receive the feed. Few gather to ordinances, or attend upon the word, as the star, that should lead them to Chrift; as the ladder that should mount them to heaven ; as the manna that fhould refresh their fouls. Many gatherings of the people consist only in presenting their bodies like dead carcases before the Lord;
They worship God with their mouth, and honour him with their lips; but their heart is far removed from him.” The special gatherings here intended, is an inward and spiritual gathering. The gathering of the people to Shiloh, is the gathering of fouls to Christ, a gathering of hearts, a gathering of affections to him. An outward gathering, like bodily exercise, profits little, where there is no spiritual gathering and holy approach to a God in Christ; and it is a pity, where there is a great congre. gation of people, there should be but a small aggregation to Christ; while the foul comes not along with the body to his ordinances. Othat only is a blessed gathering, when God gathers fouls to himself, and Christ gathers hearts to himself! " Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we mhall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple,” Pfal. lxv.4. And indeed there will be no gathering to Shiloh here, if God himself do not cause us to approach.-Hence as you are to distinguish betwixt a corporal and spiritual gathering, that you may not think it enough when you bring only your bodies before the Lord, while yet you leave your hearts behind you, and the desire of your soul is not to his name ; fo you are to distinguish betwixt a passive and active gathering: as a bodily-gathering is unprofitable, where there is no foul-gathering; fo active gathering to Shiloh is impoflible without a passive gathering. That there ihall be an active gathering to Christ, is as certain as the firm decree of heaven; John vi. 37.“ All that the Father hath given me, shall come to me:” but it is as certain, that there can be no active, without a palfive gathering; ver.44."No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath fent me, draw him.” Both