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is our conduct very clearly stamped. Our rejection of Christ is not sudden or occasional, but constant and uniform Nor is it peculiar to any one description of persons, but is found in all of every rank and every age. Nor is there any
other thing under heaven which so kindles the wrath of men, or instigates them to such implacable animosity, as this; "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake," and "whosoever killeth you, shall think he doeth God service"- -]
The recompence awarded to them by him, shews what all the enemies of Christ must expect at his hands
[He said to his attendants," Bring hither those that were mine enemies, and would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before med." So when our blessed Lord shall come to judge the world, will he say to his attendant angels. He bore long with the Jews before he destroyed them and so he may do with us. But he inflicted on them at last a judgment heavier far than ever befell any nation under heaven. And on us also at last, when the day of grace has terminated, shall wrath come to the very uttermost. Now every repenting sinner shall be spared and made partaker of his mercy but then no pity shall be shewn to any impenitent transgressor; but all without exception shall have the cup of God's indignation put into their hands, and shall drink of it to all eternity. If the sword that smites his rebellious subjects were to put an end to their existence, it were well: but the death which it inflicts will be attended with an agony of which no conception can be formed, and of which there shall be no mitigation or end so long as God himself shall endure.]
And now let me make my APPEAL to you:
1. Has not this been your conduct?
[The kingdom of Christ has been set up amongst you, and you have all been repeatedly called upon to submit to his sceptre. But who amongst you have thrown away the weapons of your rebellion? Who have renounced "the lords which have hitherto had dominion over them, and determined henceforth to make no mention of any other name than that of Christe?" Who account "his yoke light and easy," and desire to have every thought of their hearts subjected to the obedience of Christ? You cannot but know that from your very earliest days, your own will, rather than his, has been the rule of your action; and that, instead of humbling yourselves before him, and seeking mercy through his atoning blood, you have maintained. a stoutness of heart, most of you, at least, even to the present e Isai. xxvi. 13.
d ver. 27.
hour. I am well aware, that all have not equally avowed their independence on him, or proceeded to the same extremities in their rebellion against him: but whether you have rejected him with Pharisaic pride or with Sadducean indifference, the effect has been the same; you have equally in your hearts said, "Who is Lord over us? "I know not the Lord, neither will I obey his voice." I warn you then, that though he has with astonishing patience and long-suffering borne with you hitherto, the time is shortly coming when he will call you to account; and when, if you persist in your rebellion, he will say, Bring hither those that were mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me."]
2. Is not this your desert?
[We are apt to wonder at the Jews, that they could treat with such envenomed hostility a man like our blessed Saviour, so mild, so benevolent, so blameless. But their guilt is not to be compared with ours, whose views of his character are incomparably more enlarged. They saw him but as a man. We know him to be God as well as man, even "Emmanuel, God with us." They knew not the true end of his coming into the world: we know that he came 66 to give his life a ransom for us," and by his own obedience unto death to make reconciliation for us with our offended God. We even profess to believe in him, and to be his obedient followers: and yet, in our conduct, we shew ourselves "enemies to him in our minds by wicked works," even as they. What then can we expect but that the sword of vengeance shall be drawn forth against us, and that, when we shall stand before him in the last day, he will bid us to "depart accursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." Dear brethren, I pray God you may not, by persisting in your rebellion, reduce yourselves to this awful condition. Now, if you will submit yourselves to him, he will be gracious and merciful unto you, and will "blot out your iniquities as a morning cloud;" but if you suffer this day of grace and salvation to pass unimproved, you will deplore it to all eternity: for "how can ye escape, if ye neglect so great salvation?"]
TALENTS LOST, IF NOT IMPROVED.
Luke xix. 26. I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away.
THE force of habit, irrespective of any particular influence from above, is well known. But, in addition
to that, God has annexed a blessing to the use of means, and has promised that they shall not be employed in vain. The words before us were uttered by our blessed Lord on different occasions. They seem to have been used by him as a kind of proverb. At all events, as being so repeated by him, they deserve particular attention. We may well consider them in a threefold view:
I. As a principle established
God has ordained, not only that means shall be used in order to the end, but that the very mercies he has vouchsafed to us shall be either augmented or diminished, according as we exert ourselves for the improvement of them, or suffer them to lie by us unimproved. This he has established as a principle, 1. In nature
[Every thing, in the first instance, is the gift of God. The fertility of the earth, the vegetative power of the seed, the genial influence of the sun and rain, are all of God. But still they would all be in vain without the labour of man. Adam was required to labour, even in Paradise: and so, now, man must till the ground, and use all the means which the different kinds of agriculture require, in order to ensure a crop; and, if he neglect his duty in these respects, not only will he lose the fruits which he might otherwise have obtained, but his land will sustain an injury which the labour of years will be scarcely able to repair. This is the account given us by Solomon, after beholding with his eyes the very event itself: "I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man." Through his neglect of the proper means, not only does he fail to be enriched; but he loses what he possessed; and poverty, with gradual and irresistible force, seizes hold upon him.]
2. In grace
[All the faculties which we possess are given us from above. But the understanding must be cultivated, the affections must receive a proper direction, and the conscience be a Prov. xxiv. 3
exercised as in the presence of the heart-searching God. If we will not exercise the faculties in the way which God has appointed, not only shall we suffer loss of all that we might have attained, but the understanding will become blind, the affections sensual, and the conscience seared. These were the very effects produced by the ministry of the Prophet Isaiah, amongst his hearers; as also by our blessed Lord and his Apostles, in their ministrations: so that in every age those words of Solomon have been verified, "He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh riche."
If it be said, that our entire dependence upon God for every thing may well supersede all labour on our part; I answer, that, instead of superseding our exertions, it is urged as an encouragement to us to labour with all our might: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Nothing will be added to us but in the use of means; and "whether we be righteous or wicked, the fruit of our doings, and the reward of our hands, shall be given to use."] The words of our text may be further considered, II. As a fact realized
They are realized in the experience of all, and especially amongst the people of the Lord;
1. In their gifts
[God has given to his servants somewhat of a spiritual discernment; perhaps, too, a faculty to impart the knowledge they possess, and an ability to spread their wants before the Lord in prayer. Now these, and such like gifts, are increased by use, and lessened by neglect. Let any one look back to the time when any of these gifts were bestowed upon him, and mark what measure of improvement he has made of them; and then let him compare his present state in relation to them: and I doubt not but that he will acknowledge the truth of our Lord's assertion, that, whilst a good and diligent use was made of the gifts, they were augmented to him; and that, when he became remiss in the use of them, they were proportionably diminished. Indeed, this is nothing but what we are taught expressly to expect at the hands of God: for we are told, "It is impossible for those that were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away,
b Isai. vi. 9, 10. e Prov. x. 4.
c Matt. xiii. 13-15.
d Acts xxviii. 25-27. Isai. iii. 10, 11.
to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." Here it is evident, that not only does a neglect of talents prevent the increase of them; but it causes them to be withdrawn, and brings an obduracy over the heart, and indisposes it for the reception of any further blessings.]
2. In their graces—
[On some, God has bestowed a measure of contrition, and faith, and love, and peace, and holiness: and we see, by the stony-ground hearers, what declension takes place in these graces, when the possessor of them becomes remiss in secret duties. He "leaves his first love:" and "the things which remain in him are ready to die; insomuch, that he may appear rather as one dead, than alive." Let any one call to mind those favoured seasons, when his heart was dissolved in tears of penitential sorrow, or elevated with joy under a sense of God's pardoning love: let him now say, Whether, after having lost them by neglect, he finds it an easy thing to regain them? Rather let him say, Whether he be not in danger of having that realized, in his experience, which St. Peter has so awfully declared: "If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them." A work of grace is not like the work of a statuary, which, if left for a season, will be found unchanged; but like a stone rolled up a hill, which, when the labour ceases, will descend to the bottom, and require all the work to be performed again.]
Well then, may we regard the words of our text, III. As a lesson inculcated
Surely there is much in these words,
1. For our warning
[There is not any one of us who has not some talent committed to him: and for that, whether it be more or less, we are responsible. The man who had but one talent, did wrong to hide it in a napkin: and justly was it taken from him, and he was consigned to punishment, as an unprofitable servant. We must look to ourselves, and diligently too, that we lose not the things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full rewardm." The Israelites who came out of
h Heb. vi. 4-6.
i Rev. ii. 4.
k Rev. iii. 1, 2.
1 2 Pet. ii. 20, 21.
m 2 John, ver. 8.