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To conclude: the Church of Christ, the spiritual Zion, opens wide her gates, day and night, to afford a happy asylum to distressed mortals. Let this be our place of refuge, in the midst of a wicked and miserable world. Associated with the blessed company of all faithful people, let us humbly beseech our heavenly Father, so to assist us with his grace, that it may be our chief delight to continue in that holy fellowship, and our great concern to do all such good works as he has prepared for us to walk in. Thus shall we be protected by infinite mercy and resistless power. Like the happy family that was admitted into the ark, we shall escape that vengeance of the Almighty, which will be poured upon incorrigible sinners: we shall pass in safety through the waves of this troublesome world; and, being steadfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in charity, come finally to the land of everlasting life.
On the Parable of the Sower.
MATTHEW xiii. 18,
Hear ye, therefore, the parable of the sower.
THE Evangelist informs us, in this chapter, that great multitudes were gathered unto Jesus to hear his divine word, and that he spake many things unto them in parables. In one of his figurative discourses delivered to the people, on this occasion, he represents his heavenly doctrines-the reception which they met with-and the effects which they produced in the world, under the image of a sower going forth to scatter the grain over the face of the ground; some of which was entirely lost, and some yielded a plentiful increase. The good seed fell by the way-side, and was devoured by the fowls of the air; or in stony places, where it soon sprang up, and as soon withered under the scorching heat of the sun; or among thorns, which springing up with it, immediately choked it. And some fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit with various degrees of fertility.
prudence, if their stores be not continually increasing. If they are thus faithful in the unrighteous mammon, surely they ought to be equally diligent in the use of the true riches. He who without intermission is augmenting his stores of useful knowledge; who is daily subduing the vicious propensities of his nature; who is advancing in holiness, adding to his faith, virtue; and to virtue, temperance; and to temperance, brotherly kindness and charity. He who is thus diligently engaged in attending to the means of grace and the practice of goodness, with the blessed expectation of glory, may in truth be said to have laid up much goods in store for many years to come: when death and judgment approaches, when his soul is required of him, these durable treasures will not be taken away.
Let hard-hearted politicians, and visionary philosophers, say in their hearts, there is no God: let them endeavour to banish from the minds of men all notions of a day of future retribution, when the great Lord of the universe will call unto him his servants, that he may take account of their conduct: it is our duty to pity the folly of such inconsiderate men, and to pray for their reformation. Our Lord has received the kingdom, as a reward for his great humiliation; and the steadfast expectation of his returning to judge mankind for the deeds done in the body, is the strongest, the only never-failing security for the preservation of both private and public virtue. Let this important principle of Christianity be, therefore, deeply impressed upon the hearts of men; and whatever their station in society may be, they will not be slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. When he
calleth unto him the servants to whom the money has been given, that he may know how much every man has gained by trading, what account will they be able to render of themselves? What account will the rich and luxurious give? How haye they employed the wealth of which they were appointed only the stewards? How much have they expended in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, soothing the cries and pains of the needy orphan, and causing the widow's heart to sing for joy? What proportion of their wealth have they distributed in promoting the religious instruction of the poor, and prompting them to honest industry? How much of it, which ought to have been employed in works of general utility, has been wasted in riotous living; in making the understanding dark, and the heart more and more corrupt and obdurate?
Let those who are invested with authority seriously consider: Have they exerted their power to protect the weak, and justify the injured; to diffuse the blessings of peace and unanimity through a world so easily incited to discord and confusion? Have they employed all their influence to raise modest virtue from obscurity, and to dash the bold front of iniquity, with punishment and disgrace, to the earth?
Let men who are so ready to boast of their superior knowledge reflect in time: Have their extraordinary abilities been prostituted to serve the pernicious purposes of vice; or to support the declining cause of virtue, and to spread the light and spirit of true religion among the children of men?
Let even the poor and wretched consider, with what
temper of mind they have borne the calamities with which God has been pleased to prove them: Have they exhibited a noble example of fortitude and resignation, so as to compel a giddy world to acknowledge the heavenly efficacy of pure religion? To them it has been given to suffer for the name of Christ: Have they let patience have its perfect work, from the happy expectation that the short affliction of a moment will be succeeded by an eternal weight of glory?
In a word; let us all remember this solemn truth"That much will be required of those to whom much "has been given." Favours not acknowledged, blessings unimproved, will increase the condemnation of the ungrateful and negligent: the servant who knows his master's will, and does it not, will be beaten with many stripes. But he who has been blessed with superior knowledge, and has deemed himself happy in doing what he knows, will be advanced to a higher seat of honour in the mansions of bliss; "for as one "star differeth from another star in glory, so also is "the resurrection of the dead." Let it be our endeavour, therefore, to make a due improvement of all the merciful dispensations of divine Providence. Let prosperity fill us with gratitude, and adversity cause us to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. Let the means of grace, with which we are so abundantly supplied, be diligently used to the cherishing and strengthening of the blessed hope of glory. Let every Sabbath render us more devout, every communion more holy, and every sermon more zealous in the discharge of our duty towards God and our neighbour. Thus, when our Lord comes to take