« VorigeDoorgaan »
They had all the favours shewn them that their hearts could desire, and so have all Christians; they were chastised when they forgat God, and so are we; they were told of, and threatened with, approaching judgments, and yet very few regarded, till they came upon them like a flood. And is not this the case with too many Christians, who have felt the punishment of their sins before they would be persuaded to believe that any such thing would ever befal them?
What now can I add more, than only to desire every one of you to consider with me, that this day of visitation, this day of grace, will have an end, and that very soon, with every one of us here present; that therefore it is our interest and concern to think of what must follow; namely, first, death; secondly, judgment; then either hell or heaven.
These are called the FOUR LAST THINGS. And the serious consideration of these I would leave upon your spirits; beseeching God of his mercy to possess all our souls with a lively sense of these important things, and with the great concern they ought to be to us; that the thoughts of death may mortify in us all pride and vanity, all covetousness and worldlymindedness, all carnal security, and fondness for this life; and oblige us to a strict watchfulness while we continue in this state of temptation and trial; that the consideration of a judgment to come may oblige us all to a strict holiness, and may make us careful of our thoughts, designs, words, and actions, which must all then come to light and be tried.
Let this oblige us, therefore, to try, to examine, and to judge ourselves, that we may not be condemned of the Lord, when he cometh to judge the world in righteousness.
And if the difficulties of an holy life affright us; if the commands of Jesus Christ, and the example he has set us, seem hard to flesh and blood; then let us seriously consider, whether is easier to serve God now, or to dwell with everlasting burnings hereafter?
Lastly; let us consider the very happy state of all such as are dead in peace, and in the favour of God; and let the constant expectation of that happy day that shall let us into paradise, and a faith and hope full of immortality, sweeten all the troubles of this mortal life, and raise our sense and value for the joys of heaven so high, that we may no longer doat upon the short appearances of happiness we meet with here.
O Thou, who hast redeemed us with thy precious blood, make us so to behave ourselves here, that we may be numbered with thy saints in glory everlasting!
Now to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
THE GREAT DUTY OF INSTRUCTING THE
MARK iv. 28.
THE EARTH BRINGETH FORTH FRUIT OF HERSELF, FIRST
HOUGH this parable is not particularly explained, and applied by Christ himself, as many of his parables are; yet we easily gather what the design of it is, from other places of scripture: He that soweth the seed is the Son of Man: the ground is the world: the harvest is the end of the world: the reapers are the angels. Thus much is plain from St. Matthew xiii. 37, &c. Therefore the meaning of these words is this:
The Son of man, who is also the Son of God, having planted the gospel in the world, and declared it to be the way of salvation; having caused it to increase, and established it by ways extraordinary, and far exceeding the powers of art, or nature, or any power but that of God; he did afterwards leave it to subsist, to increase, to prosper, to come to perfection, by the ordinary means he had appointed, and by the ordinary assistance of his grace and providence. For so did the husbandman in the parable:-After he had manured and wrought his ground; after he
had sown it, and done his part, he leaves it in the hand of Providence, not doubting but he shall (in God's good time) see the fruit of his labour. In the mean time, he follows his other business, he sleeps and rises night and day, and still he observes an orderly increase; first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.
It is true, all this is done he knows not how; but done he finds it to his comfort. And though weeds and tares in abundance spring up amongst the corn, to his great trouble and discouragement, yet when the harvest shall come, it will be found that his labour was not in vain.
Now this parable, thus explained, furnisheth us with several useful observations suitable to the occasion for which I have chosen them. Such are these following:
1st. That the promoting the kingdom of God, or the setting forward the design of the gospel, is very consistent with the ordinary business of life. When the husbandman has cast his seed into the ground, he finds himself obliged to take care of a great many things besides; and yet his crop prospers as much as if he minded nothing else but that.
2dly. That in promoting the kingdom of God, we ought to be satisfied with the ordinances of Christ, and not be ever and anon looking for and depending upon extraordinary appearances in our favour. When the corn is sown, it is left to the ordinary providence and blessing of God, who gives an increase according to the goodness of the ground, and the means made use of to improve it...
3dly. That such as are any way engaged in promoting the kingdom of God, ought not to be discouraged because they do not immediately see the fruit of their labours.-The seed springs and grows up we know not how; and so does the kingdom of God.
Lastly; A time will come, when we shall certainly reap where we have sown.-There will be an larvest, and then we shall find that our labour has not been in vain in the Lord.
I. To begin with the first of these observations;-That the promoting the kingdom of God is very consistent with the ordinary business of life.
A man may, besides the ordinary duties of Christianity, do a great deal towards promoting the glory of God, and the salvation of men, and yet his worldly affairs need not suffer by his being so employed.
There are two great mistakes which people are apt to run into, and which ought to be rectified.
Some are ready to conclude, that all the time which is not spent in devotion (though to the hindrance of their necessary worldly concerns) is in a manner lost. It is this which fills the monasteries in the church of Rome; people vainly imagining, that it is more meritorious to spend the greatest part of their time in holy exercises, of prayers and praises to God, than to labour for and to relieve the poor; to strive with, and to overcome, the temptations of an evil world, (which is one great part of our business in it:)And yet our blessed Lord assures us, that the sentence at the last day will, in a more especial manner, proceed upon such questions as these: