« AnteriorContinuar »
“ been mentioned; we are continually pressed
by others no less difficult to be avoided or
postponed. Family connections, numerous “acquaintance and friends, the ordinary re
ciprocation of civilities and visits, the stated recurrence at home and abroad of innocent diversions, bring the day to a close almost
as soon as we perceive it to have begun. “ Man was born for society. It is not good for man to be alone. The social intercourse “ of life must be maintained by the requisite “ observance of that courtesy, which an apos6 tle has enjoined on all men. Harmless “amusements, essential to mental refreshment " and alacrity of spirits, cannot but be ap'proved by a religion which exhorts to cheer“fulnefs and joy. And, however absurd may “have been the disputations of ignorant men;
we are for our parts satisfied that friendship is inculcated by Christianity. At any
rate,” it is finally observed, “ be it business " or some lighter occupation which has fwal
lowed up our timę; and even if it be ac
knowledged that with livelier vigilance we “ might have snatched somewhat more fre
quent, and somewhat longer intervals for re“ ligious meditation : we trust that our inat“tention has not been such as to expofe us to any extravagant çensure. We have al
ways professed our belief in religion. We “have occasionally been present at its ordi
nances. We have been indulgent husbands, “careful parents, kind neighbours, useful mem“ bers. of society. And we are universally re
garded as having regulated our conduct by “the nicest principle of honour.”
Vain and empty sophistry, to disguise the unsubduedenmity of the carnal mind against God(a)!
III. Farther : with respect to the excuses • described in the parable, there are two remarks, which I would recommend to your serious consideration. First; all the employments and engagements, which the
persons who were invited pleaded in apology for their absence, were in themselves perfectly lawful. To purchase a piece of ground and to go to see it was a circumstance in its own nature untinctured with guilt. The cultivation of the earth, and industry in our proper callings, are duties which we are commanded to practise. Neither was there any thing naturally blamable in purchasing five yoke of oxen and going to prove them. Then with respect to marriage ; we know that it is the appointment of God, and is declared in the Scriptures to be honourable for all. Yet ob(a) Rom. viii. 7.
ferve, secondly, that the persons who made these excuses were every one of them condemned. I say unto you that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my fupper. If these men were thus condemned; how much more dreadful would have been their punishment, if they had excufęd themselves for the purpose of profecuting some sinful enterprize: if instead of lawful industry they had meditated some dishonest undertaking ; if, instead of honourable marriage, some plan of criminal indulgence had been in view! But, though their pursuits were all lawful ; every one of the persons was condemned. Why was this? Because every one of the persons was worldly, minded. His heart was not fixed upon promoting the glory of God, and proving by faith and holy obedience his love and gratitude to his Maker and Redeemer. His first object was not to be religious; but to be wealthy, or to prosecute his own pleasure. The man that purchased the land, and the other that bought the oxen, were immersed in solicitude concerning their property and poffeffions. The cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choked the word; and it became unfruitful (6). Land and oxen, and the profit which land and oxen.
(6) Matt. xii. 22.
were to produce, were their idols. God and his laws, Christ and the wonderful mercies which had been offered at his hand, had little if any share of their thoughts. The man who had married a wife, had contracted an irreligious marriage. He had shewn, we may conclude, in that transaction the unconcern respecting religion which pervaded his character. He had see lected his consort merely for her personal appearance ; or because she had an ample fortune; or because her relations were able to push him into lucrative business; or for some other worldly reason. He had not made it his first and great study to learn before-hand whether she was a truly pious woman, a faithful servant of the Almighty ; whether she would be a partner likely to help him forward in the
way of salvation, and by instruction and example to train up a family in holiness. Each therefore of the persons invited, having preferred things temporal to things eternal, was justly condemned. They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh: but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. To be spiritually-minded is life and peace : to be carnally-minded is death (c).
(c) Rom. viii. 6, 7.
My My brethren! the parable which has been explained, while it affords an exact picture of the present state of multitudes who profess themselves to be Christians, holds forth a solemn warning to all persons, who are at this day endeavouring to make excuses for denying to religion the empire of their hearts. If in tempers or in conduct you are an open transgressor of the gospel ; as surely as the word of God is true, you are in a state of damnation. The gulf of destruction Atares you in the face ; and unless you repent and become a new man, will close
upon you for ever. But this parable, in eonformity to inany other passages in the New Testament teaches you the no less aweful lesson; that you
will be condemned at the day of judge.ment, if you suffer
any one of the lawful occupations or lawful pleasures of this life to be the principal object of your pursuit. Yet how frequently do we see people resigning themselves to such idols; and find every argument ineffeâual to convince then that they are in the direct road to eternal ruin. With some, wealth is the idol. They rise up early, and
go late to rest, and eat the bread of carefulness, day after day, and year after minds are filled with plans for the improvement