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tongue so, that it may indeed be, as it is in scripture called, our glory. (Psalm xvi. 9, xxx. 12.)
For that purpose, let it be our great care to lay up a good treasure of Christian knowledge and experience in our hearts; that while too many are poisoning those that are round about them with erroneous principles and vicious discourses, the opening of our lips may be of righteous things; and we may still be ready, upon all proper occasions, with freedom, variety, and spirit, to bring forth good and profitable things from the good treasure of our hearts; which may be edifying unto those that hear us, and may go from one heart to another. So will the Lord himself hearken with pleasure unto what we speak, and exactly record it in the book of remembrance that is written before him; and producing it at last to our public honour, will own us for his, in the day when he makes up his jewels. (Mal. iii. 16, 17.)
Let us, to whom the revelation of the gospel is so clearly made, fear, lest these dreadful things should come upon us, and the abuse of our advantages should render us an easy prey to Satan, and a fit habitation for the powers of darkness. Let those particularly fear it, who, having been brought to some serious impressions and some external reformation, are tempted to relapse into former vices, which would render their latter end far worse than their beginning, (2 Peter ii. 20;) God has permitted some such awful instances to occur; and unhappy wretches, perhaps, some of them the children of religious parents too, who were once not far from the kingdom of God, have so abandoned every principle of religion, and every sentiment of wisdom and virtue, that it seems as if seven devils had possessed them, and were driving them headlong to destruction.
May we, instead of demanding further evidence of Christianity than the wisdom of God has seen fit to give us, make it our care to hear and obey and diligently improve the light we have received! May we be brought to a sincere and lasting repentance by the preaching of Christ and his apostles, lest the Ninevites rise up in judgment against us and condemn us! May we own the superior wisdom of this Divine Teacher, this better Solomon; and say, as the queen of Sheba to the Jewish prince, (1 Kings x. 8.) Happy are these thy servants, who stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom! for thou speakest as never man spake, (John vii. 46;) and in thee all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid, (Col, ii. 3.) But oh, how many are curious to know what little concerns them, and are fond of improving their own wit, and trying that of others by hard questions, while the far more obvious and important points of wisdom are neglected as beneath their regard; as if every thing were more necessary than being wise to salva
tion! We need not travel to distant climates to learn this heavenly philosophy; no, it is nigh us, even in our mouth; and we are, on that account, so much the more inexcusable, if it be not also in our heart. (Rom. x. 8.)
MATTHEW XII. 46-50. MARK III. 31—35.
WHILE he yet talked to the people, behold, there came then his mother and his brethren, and standing without, sent unto him, calling him, desiring to speak with him. And the multitude sat about him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold, my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
So may it be our care to do the will of God, that we may be thus dear to our Redeemer, who ought by so many tender bonds to be dear to us; and who, by such gracious and indulgent declarations, as these which we have now been reading, is drawing us as with the cords of a man, and with the bands of love!
Still does the light of his Divine instructions shine with the brightest lustre, and diffuse itself around us! Let us open the eyes of our mind with singleness and simplicity to receive it; and make it our care to act according to it. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord, (Hosea vi. 3,) and thus with cheerfulness shall we reap the fruit of a well informed mind and a well regulated life!
May we be delivered from all those false maxims which would darken our hearts amidst all this meridian lustre, and turn our boasted light into darkness! Would to God there were not renewed instances of this kind continually occurring among us; and that we did not daily meet with persons whose pretended wisdom teaches them to forget or despise the gospel, and so serves only to amuse their eyes, while it leads their feet to the chambers of death!
MATTHEW XIII. 1-17. MARK IV. 1-9.
THE same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea-side, and began again to teach. And great multitudes were gathered together again, and were come to him out of every city, so that he went into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
And he spake unto them, and taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, Hearken; behold, a sower went out to sow his seed. And it came to pass, as he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air came, and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth. But as soon as it sprang up, when the sun was up, it was scorched, and because it had no root, and lacked moisture, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. But other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and increased; and brought forth fruit, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred-fold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
And the disciples came and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but unto them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And
in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand: and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
Let us hear with fear and trembling these awful declarations from the lips of the compassionate Jesus himself. Here were crowds about Christ, who indulged such prejudices, and attended with such perverse dispositions, that in righteous judgment he took an obscurer method of preaching to them, and finally left many of them under darkness and impenitency to die in their sins.
Let us take heed lest the bounties of Divine providence should be thus abused by us, as a means of casting us into a stupid insensibility of the hand and voice of the blessed God: or we may otherwise have ground to fear lest he should leave us to our own delusions, and give us up to the lusts of our own hearts. And then the privilege of ordinances, and of the most awakening providential dispensations will be vain; seeing we shall see, and not perceive: and hearing we shall hear, and not understand.
It is our peculiar happiness under the gospel that we see and hear what prophets and princes and saints of old, desired to see and hear, but were not favoured with it. Let us be thankful for our privilege, and improve it well; lest a neglected gospel by the righteous judgment of God be taken away, and our abused seasons of grace, by one method of Divine displeasure or other, be brought to a speedy period. But if by grace it is given to us to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, let us learn a thankfulness in some measure proportionable to the corrupt prejudices which have been overborne, and the important blessings which are secured to us.
MATT. XIII. 24-43.
ANOTHER parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the household came and said unto him, Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them but gather the wheat into my barn.
And his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burnt in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of the Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Oh that these important instructions might, as it were, be