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will be rewarded as good and faithful servants, who not only knew your Master's will, but also diligently performed it. And let me seriously entreat you all, of every rank and denomination, to consider the goodness of God in sending, from time to time, labourers into his Gospel harvest; how abundantly you are supplied with the means of grace; and how continually you are invited to the practice of virtue and piety, by the blessed hope of glory, The lines have fallen to you in pleasant places; yea, you have a goodly heritage. The word of the Lord runs, and is glorified; and, with the strictest propriety it may be demanded-"What "more could have been done for the vineyard of the "Lord of hosts, that hath not been done for it?" Let it ever be impressed upon your minds, that the servant who knows his master's will, and does it not, will be beaten with many stripes. Brethren, by devout attention to every Christian duty, give all diligence to make your calling and election sure; so shall an entrance be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

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The Repentant Sinner.

LUKE xv. 8, 9, 10.

Either what woman, having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

THIS familiar, yet instructive parable, is a part of the Gospel for the last Sunday. It was delivered by our Lord, in order to correct the asperity of the Pharisees and scribes, who murmured against him, because, when the publicans and sinners drew near unto him for to hear him, he had kindly received and tenderly instructed them. For the more perfect comprehension of this passage of sacred Scripture, it may not be unnecessary to give you a concise account of the charac-ters which are here introduced.

Not long before the coming of our Lord, the Jews had been entirely subjugated by the Romans, and had

become tributary to them. They, who in the Gospel are denominated publicans, were the persons employed to levy the taxes. This employment was attended with great temptations. It was in itself an odious business to the Jews, who with great reluctance submitted to the smallest impositions of a foreign power; and the publicans rendered it still more disagreeable by the manner in which they executed their office. They too often pushed matters to extremities; were rigorous in the discharge of their duty; frequently exacted more than was due; and enriched themselves by the spoils of the people. Hence, this class of men became the objects of universal hatred; and hence, they were commonly ranked with the vilest sinners. But, although they were in general bad men, some among them were of a different character. Zaccheus was a person of great probity, charity, and piety; and, we may suppose, that Matthew the Evangelist resembled him, who was sitting as a publican at the receipt of custom, when he was called by Jesus to become one of his disciples. The Pharisees, you know, were a sect of the Jews, zealous of the traditions of the elders, extremely attentive to the ceremonial parts of the law, conspicuous for their outward austerity; but, at the same time, were corrupt in their manners, hypocritical, covetous, and proud.

By the term scribes, the Evangelists do not mean to designate any particular sect; but they were called so from their original office, which was to transcribe the sacred Scriptures. When Ezra, after the Babylonish captivity, made his famous reformation in religion, and settled the canon of Scripture, he was assisted by a number of writers; and he ordered matters. so, that

they and their successors were thenceforth employed in multiplying the copies of the sacred volume. From being thus conversant with the Holy Scriptures, they acquired a singular knowledge of them, expounded them to the people, obtained the title of teachers, and were consulted on all difficult points of faith. Hence, they are said by our Lord, to sit in the chair of Moses; and hence also, an able minister of the New Testament is called a scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven. It is probable, that some of them were attached to one sect, and some to another. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read of the "scribes that were of the sect of "the Pharisees," hence we have reason to conclude, that some of them belonged to that of the Sadducees also. Their vices are reproved by our Lord with great severity, in many of his discourses to the people. What effect his discourse, delivered at this time, had on them, we are not informed. But, surely, we cannot attend to the conclusion of it, without experiencing an elevation of soul to the blessed abodes of angels; an union of sentiment with those benevolent and exalted spirits. See the merciful Saviour of sinners seeking by his admonitions and precepts, and saving by his meritorious death and passion those who were lost. Hear him affectionately declaring to us, that our salvation is a matter in which all the hosts of heaven are concerned; that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over even one sinner that repenteth. And can we forbear to exclaim with holy wonder and gratitude" Ye benevolent spirits who encircle the "throne of the Most Highest, dwelling in the perfec"tion of felicity and glory; are ye thus tenderly "concerned for the welfare of man? Does the re

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covery of a sinful mortal from the error of his ways, "heighten the joy, and give new life to the rapture even "of heaven itself? In what an important point of view "does this consideration place the human race! How "speedily ought every sinner to turn unto God by "sincere repentance! How emulous ought all Chris"tians to be of this unbounded benevolence of the "angelic host, by endeavouring to promote the virtue, "and by rejoicing in the happiness of each other!"

The sacred Scriptures afford us the most sublime representations of the power and majesty of God. He sits enthroned amidst myriads of intelligent creatures, who all adore him as the universal Parent; as their common Creator and Lord. Some are admitted to a nearer view of his ineffable greatness and glory; and some at a greater distance confess his wisdom and goodness. Even in this remote situation, in this little portion of the universe, to man also it is given to know God; and his voice must join the universal chorus of rational beings, in ascribing unto him who sitteth on the throne, glory and honour, majesty and dominion. This honourable employment is more particularly the business of us Christians. We are said to have come to an innumerable company of angels, by virtue of our high calling in Christ Jesus; and of him the whole family in heaven and earth is named. The angels, we are taught, rejoice in our repentance, goodness, and felicity; and we are commanded to emulate their purity, and zeal, and activity; to do the will of God on earth, as it is done by them in heaven.

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In order to apprehend the full force of the words of the text, it will be necessary to consider the occasion on which they were delivered. In the beginning of VOL. II.


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