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this climate, is the cultivation of the vineyard. In countries nearer to the sun, vines are cultivated in the fields, and employ many hands to plant and dress them, and gather their fruits. In the 5th chapter of Isaiah there is a mystical song, which considers the church of Israel as the vineyard of God, planted in a fruitful situation on the holy hill of Sion, cleared, fenced and guarded, furnished with every thing that could render it complete and keep it in its perfection. Instead of good fruit it produced wild grapes, as bad as if it had been left without cultivation. For this, its hedge was to have been taken away, and it was to be eaten up; that is, the heathens round about it were to be let in upon it to devour it, and it was to be trodden down: no rain was to fall upon it; the blessing of divine grace from heaven was to be withheld; and thorns and briars, all sorts of wicked people, under the figure of every worthless, troublesome and accursed plant, were to prevail in it.
In the 80th psalm, the spoiling of the church is lamented under the same image. It is described as a vine brought out of Egypt by the hand of God, to be rooted in Canaan; from whence the heathens were cast out to make room for it, as the ground is cleared of stones and rubbish for a new plantation. But for its unfruitfulness, the boar out of the wood laid it waste, and the wild beast of the field devoured it. Such ever was and ever will be the fate of the church : when it becomes degenerate, and unworthy of the hand that planted it, the world is let in upon it; who are as eager to plunder, lay it waste, and trample it down, as the swine to root up the ground and destroy a plantation.
In the new testament, the members of the church are considered more particularly as branches of Christ:
I am the true vine, says he, and my father is the husbandman: as the branches of the vine are dressed, so are the members of Christ under the discipline of God: correction is as necessary to them as the pruning knife to the vine; and as the branches bear no fruit but as they belong to the tree, so can no member of the church bring forth any fruit but by abiding in Christ; for without him we can do nothing. The unprofitable branch, that bears no fruit, is taken away from the tree, to be burned; and the fruitless Christian must expect to be cast forth in like manner, and then gathered up for the fire.
The offices of men are applied to the same purpose as their occupations. God is pleased to take upon himself the office of a shepherd, and his people are related to him as a flock. Two of the psalms are composed upon this plan; expressing the reliance of believers on the pastoral care of God, and their joy and thankfulness to him for admitting them to such an honourable relation: The Lord is my shepherd, therefore can I lack nothing: he shall feed me in a green pasture, and lead me forth beside the waters of comfort. Such is the language of the 23rd psalm. The 100th psalm is an invitation to a solemn act of thanksgiving, with songs and instruments of music in the temple. The people of all nations being admitted into the flock of Israel as the sheep of God's pasture, ought to assemble within the fold of his church, for the public celebration of his truth and mercy. The obligation is particular and special upon Christians, since our Lord appeared personally to men in this character; verifying that prediction of the prophet; he shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom. To every act of care and kindness proper to a shepherd did he conde
scend : he took the little children up in his arms, and blessed them; he went about seeking the lost sheep of the house of Israel ; he collected together and ordered the fold of his church; he has appointed other shepherds under him to take the charge of his flock, and is with them as the chief shepherd to the end of the world, when he shall still appear and act in the same character, separating the sheep from the goats in the day of judgment.
All the natural relations subsisting amongst mankind are applied to illustrate their spiritual interests. God is our heavenly Father, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named : the Church is the daughter of God; the spouse of Christ, and the mother of us all. Christ is the first-born, and all christians are brethren in him ; constituting together what is called the household of faith, as distinguished from the world of unbelievers. The Jew and Gentile are two brethren, the sons of their father; the Jew, the elder, the Gentile the younger, whose apostacy and repentance are both described in the history of the prodigal son.
The union betwixt Christ and the Church is considered as a marriage, signified and foreshewn by the first sacred union of Adam and Eve in paradise. The followers and friends of Christ are now waiting in expectation of being called forth to meet this bridegroom, and join in the glorious procession that shall ascend, under the conduct of a train of angels, to meet the Lord in the air, when he shall return from the wedding; with which expectation they are to keep their loins girded up, and their lights burning. Woe be unto the foolish, whose lamps shall be gone out when the cry shall be raised at midnight, behold, the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him.
As the author of our faith, Christ is our master or teacher : and that in so strict a sense, that we are to call no other by that name in comparison of him ; much less are we to receive any other form of doctrine, from those who assume a right of teaching on the authority of any other person, or by any other rule, which the fashion of the times or the prejudices of education may have established amongst us.
This relation betwixt the master and the scholar must suggest to every Christian the indispensible duty of knowing the scriptures, and following the precepts of the gospel. For, let us ask ourselves : are we the scholars of Jesus Christ, and are we ignorant of his doctrine ? Do we pay no regard to his discipline, and the rules he has given for the conduct of life? And shall we not in such a case be disowned and expelled from his society? If we know nothing of him, he will know nothing of us, and will signify the same to us upon an awful occasion-Depart from me, I know you not.
Having thus far shewn how the nature, state, works, offices, and relations of mankind are applied, and how the scripture reasons from them, as from so many parallel cases; I shall now consider what use is made of the inferior part of the animal creation. And
another as men do, the sober from the sottish, the gentle from the ravenous, the trusty from the thievish, the peaceable and obedient from the blood-thirsty and rebellious : and as the scripture expresses all things by similitudes, the properties and qualities of beasts are examples of virtues and vices amongst men. This moral difference was the ground of the distinction of beasts under the law of Moses into clean and unclean. The people of God were to eat of no un
clean creature; they were to converse with no unclean man; and so the first effect of this law was of a civil nature, to keep the Jews separate from the conversation of other nations, that they might not learn their works. They could not eat with them, and consequently could not keep company with them; and this law has the same effect to this day with the modern Jews. The second intention of it was of a moral or spiritual kind; to suggest a figurative lesson of purity, obedience, and patience, from the various instincts of animals.
Read the 11th chapter of Leviticus, and you will see how the creatures are distinguished. The gentle, tame, and profitable kinds are allowed for food : and all creatures of wild, fierce, or filthy manners, are forbidden. Thus the Israelites were reminded daily by what they ate, what manner of persons they ought to be in all holy conversation and godliness; by what was forbidden, they were taught to abhor the vices of the heathen. So saith the law itself: Ye shall not walk in the manners of the nations which I cast out
before you—I am the Lord your God, which have sepa- rated you from other people ; ye shall therefore put a
difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean--and ye shall be holy unto me; for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people that ye should be mine *. This passage puts the moral intention of the distinction of meats out of dispute, and is indeed a direct affirmation of it: the people of God were to avoid unclean meats, as a sign that he had separated them from unclean Gentiles to be holy unto himself.
But in the fulness of time, when the Gentiles were