Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

the world, but it did not go deep, it did not wash the inner man of the heart, it did not cleanse the spoiled and bad nature, nor, make the soul “ all-glorious within." This only is effected by an immediate work of grace, through the inspiration of the Spirit and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. This is a divine work, and without which all righteousness is filthy rags. This is sure and certain, if there could have been a law given which could have made men righteous, then righteousness had come by the law of Moses; but it was impossible, considering our fall and inbred sin, to have been made righteous by any law or works, or in any way but by that means which our tender and merciful Father, God, contrived before the world began, and that was by means of the blood and wounds of his Son Jesus, and by his obedience to the death of the cross. ; ; ; ; ;

It was men ignorant of this great design of the God of Abraham, and who had received the false opinion that was common in those times, of there being more righteous than others, and of being saved by works, that stumbled at seeing Jesus receive sinners, and which made them slight and blaspheme him on that account; but it is to be observed, that, to vindicate his conduct, and to unfold before the world the counsel of God and his mind to save sinners, he delivers three parables, in which the love of the blessed Trinity to lost man is described and exhibited in an uncommon manner, and of which I purpose to speak particularly to day. , Would to God all that hear me might be happily convinced, the self-righteous, that they have hitherto mistook, and now come and buy of Jesu's raiment, and be clothed indeed, and be made righteous in his sight, whose eyes try the hearts and reins; and the profane and careless, that they may leave all their old ways, and Ay to Jesus, and be saved, for “ this man receiveth sinners.”

There

- There are many thousands who (as I myself have done) make the same mistakes the Pharisees did, and place true religion in a strict life, in obeying the letter of the law, to which they add traditions and commands of men, such as praying so many times a day, fasting so often in the week, going so much to church, performing such a task of duties, &c. and with all together they make a righteousness, and when they have served it up, and made them aprons, like Adam, of these, they will not suffer the thought, that they are yet naked, but value themselves upon account of their goodness, and despise others, and think, “God, I thank thee that I am not so bad as other men.” It is for their sakes, as well as to draw poor deluded slaves of sin to him, that Jesus delivered himself in this gracious manner. O may he' speak and write his mind in this great matter on every heart! 307]

There are some things chiefly observable in these parables, and which must not be passed over unheeded. In the first parable, which is of the Shepherd and the Lost Sheep, the love and care of the Son of God is displayed ; in the second, which speaks of the woman and her piece of money, the diligence and love of the Holy Spirit is shewn; and in the third, which is of the returning child to his parent, the love and joy of the Father is expressed over a repenting sinner. All are to set forth the riches of the grace of God to mankind, and to prove, to our unspeakable joy and comfort, that: “ this Mami receiveth sinners," and rejoicethi over them that come to him, as a shepherd over a sheep that had strayed away, and which he has now found; and as a woman is glad to find a piece of money that she had lost, and as a father rejoiceth to receive his child again who had left him and was as if dead.Cu o

g da

30% Then holy Jesus, when he preached this discourse, was surrounded with sinners; all were come to hear

2 F 3

[graphic]

him,

him, the ragged thieves, the wanton harlots, the stupid drunkards, who had wasted their estates and health in a debauched and intemperate life, the usurers, the gwearers, and sabbath-breakers, crowd attentive round the Most Holy. Afar off and at a distance stand the murmuring Scribes and the righteous and prudent people, who would have liked to hear him, if such a dirty, nasty rabble were not his followers, and if but the great, the genteel and rich would go too, or if the rulers and learned but approved of him, and if he did not countenance and encourage that wicked multitude so much, or if he would but preach a little more against their sinful ways, and commend a little inore a courteous and benevolent spirit, and preach about good works and charity to his hearers, and tell ignorant people their duty,

I suppose they bebeld him with scorn, and disdained to be one of that man's disciples. As Michal, the daughter of Saul and wife of David, looked out at her window and saw her royal husband dressed in an ephod, and come dancing through the streets among a company of maidens before the ark, and despised him, saying, with a sneer, “ How glorious did the king of Israel look to day!” so did these men, who murmured because Jesus received sinners; they despised him for it with all their hearts, and were offended. They were too good to join with those who found mercy at his hands ; they were too. wise to imagine they needed repentance as much as they, or that they were upon a level in God's

with the worst of all; they were too prudent to be ever seen with him, and so went away offended. : O ask your hearts, my dear friends, Have not you been of this proud self-righteous mind ?: Have not you such a high spirit? Look upon the Redeemer with all the publicans and sinners hearing him, and think, if you should not have been ashamed to be

eyes

among

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

among them? However it has been, now blush at his feet, and pray him to forgive you your false prudence, your self-righteousness, and pride, and sit down at his feet poor in spirit, and hear the gracious words which proceeded out of bis mouth.

He begins,“ What man of you having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which he hath lost until he find it? and, when be bath found it, he layeth it upon his shoulders rejoicing; and when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost : I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance. i. This parable our Saviour seems to address to the murmuring Pharisees, but in the hearing of the sinners, that both might be edified; the one learn humility, and see how equal the Saviour's ways are; and the other, who had wandered, learn how glad their Shepherd is at their return, and so come back to him and be saved.

Jesus is the man who, of all his vast unmeasured flock, never lost one poor sheep. All the heavens and every world, visible and invisible, with all their hosts, are bis; this world, compared to the creation, is only like a drop of the bucket, or like a grain of sand in the balance, or like one sheep in comparison of an hundred. If a man should let a drop fall from the bucket, he would not think of it; and if a man had an hundred sheep, and should lose one which should be chased away by a wolf, or borne away by a lion or a bear, he might easily let it go, and think, it is better to lose it than I risque my life in search of it, or lose many days' time and spend much labour and pain in the pursuit of it, especially as he

had

had yet so many left; but our good Shepherd thought otherwise; the greatness of his kingdom, the innumerable worlds which were his, and all the inhabitants of the heavens, the angels and spirits which are beyond all number, could not make him think little of the loss of this poor world, when Satan, like a lion, entered the fold, and led astray, like a sheep; Adam and his wretched posterity;, our Shepherd saw it from on high, nor would let it pass easily; it lay from eternity upon his heart, and in due time he became their Saviour. Au bireling might have let the wandering sheep perish, and only thought of the pinety and nine who were yet in the pastures; but a good husbandman would rise up early and travel far, would leave his flocks in the fields, and seek carefully that which he had lost; he would search every hill and every valley, enquire through every plain, and spare no pains till he had met with it; and should he find it. torn by dogs, dirty with driving through the bogs and deep places, he would not therefore leave it, but would bind up the wounds, wash off the filth, and lay it upon his shoulders, and come home joy. fully; he would tell his friends and neighbours of his success, and not reflect upon all his sore labour, in seeking it, since he had now got it again safely, This is the heart of our dear Saviour; he put on the form and office of a shepherd, left all his angels, all heavenly worlds and blessed spirits, and came a thirty-years, journey into this world to seek his lost sheep. Often the " sun burnt him by day, and the frosts, consumed him by night;" often he sat down weary, and travelled through the wilderness weepiņg as he went, and when he found his sheep, it was in the hand of the enemy, in the mouth and jaws of the devouring lion;, the dragon, had seized it, and was ready to make an end of it; to redeem it, it cost him that severe conflict in the garden, when he wrestled

« PoprzedniaDalej »