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· They have sought for mercy through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus
- And have shewn the truth of their repentance by the renovation of their lives
Others there are, who have been sober and moral in their conduct-
They profess to respect all the commands of their heavenly Father
But they rest in the form, while destitute of the power of godliness”
They neglect the duties of “repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus” —
They will not be prevailed on to look to “ Christ for all their righteousness and strength”
In short, “they are whole, and see no need of a physician” ..
Hence, though amiable in themselves, they are “enemies of the cross of Christ”-] ...!.
On a comparison of the two, the latter appears decidedly the better character
[The former manifested indeed at first the greatest impiety* And might justly have been dismissed for ever from his father's house
But his subsequent repentance altogether altered his character
And his obedience arising from it proved him to have attained a becoming sense of his duty
-3. On the other hand, the latter was an hypocrite in heart”— ... His fair promises only added to the guilt of his disobedi
ence iii ;
And his continued violation of them constituted him a most worthless character
Our Lord referred it to the Pharisees themselves to decide their comparative merits
They instantly gave their testimony in favour of the former
Nor could prejudice itself withhold its assent in so clear a casem]
Having determined this point, we shall proceed, in imitation of our Lord, to II. Make some observations resulting from that compa.
rison . . . . . . The Pharisees did not immediately see for what end our Lord put to them that question1. But, by their answer to that, many important truths are established i
1. It is not always the most specious character that is most likely to go to heaven
[Far be it from us to plead for wickedness of any kind It is certainly better to be moral and sober, than immoral and profane
It is better to be a decent Pharisee than to be numbered with “ publicans and harlots”—
But it is no less certain that moral persons are apt to pride themselves in their virtue .
They cannot endure to be told that they deserve the divine displeasure
And, that they must be as much indebted to divine grace as the very vilest of mankind
They think they may place some dependence at least on their own works
Nor will they submit to the painful necessity of making “ Christ their all”
But more notorious sinners are more easily convinced of sin
Thus it was with the different hearers of John the Baptist-
Let us then endeavour to bear in mind that caution of Solomone
And thankfully accept mercy on the terms offered to us in the gospel-]
2. The characters of men will not be determined by their words but by their actions
[In some sense indeel, it is true, that “ by our words we shall be condemned or justified”?
But God will not be deceived by any fair promises or transient intentions
We may say, I go, Sir; but he will enquire, Whether we. really go ,
Nor will he regard our professions of love and service, if in works we deny him
It is the penitent and obedient, not the hypocritical and deceitful son, that he will accept
Let none then rest in confessions of faith or promises of obes dience
Let every one enquire, Am I now working for God in his appointed way?
c Luke vii. 29, 30, and Matt. xxi. 32...d Rom. ix. 30–32. e Prov. xxx. 12.
f Matt. xii. 37.
Let us not ask, Am I doing as much as others? but “What do I more than others?"
Am I more humble, more meek, more dead to the world, more exercised in spiritual things, &c.?
This is the test by which God will judge us in the last day
Let us then try ourselves by this rule, that we may know our true character
Nor let us think ourselves right because we once appeared earnest in doing the Lord's will . .
Let us remember the plain declarations of God concerning us
And let us expect reward or punishment according to the verdict of his word and our own conscienceh]
3. The most daring rebel, if he duly repent, shall be accepted of God
(This is a most delightful and encouraging truth to a sin-' cere penitent
It is ascertained beyond a doubt from the parable before us
It has been exemplified in numberless, and authentic, instances.com
And it shall be realized at this hour to those who truly desire it
However open, heinous, or deliberate our offences have been, they shall be forgivenk
The vineyard is yet open, and the command of God is, Go work in it
Let publicans and harlots hear the voice of our common Father
Let them be assured, that their past iniquities shall be no more remembered.
And that every thing they do for God shall be accepted of him
If only they believe in Christ, and engage in his service, they need not fear
While unbelieving Pharisees shall be cast out, they shall find favour in God's sight
O that these blessed tidings may be welcomed as they deserve!
Let not any say, To-MORROW I will regard my Father's command
His voice to every one is, Go, work TO-Day in my vineyard
None of us can tell what may be on the morrow, ..
& Matt. vii. 21. Ezek. xviii. 21, 22, 24. * 1 John iii. 20, 21. i Manasseh, 2 Chron. xxxiü. 12, 13. Luke vii. 47. * Tsai. I. 18.
Heb. viii. 12.
Let none then presume to defer this necessary work
To every one of you therefore do we address the apostle's exhortation"
And we pray God that ye may not only say, Lord, Lord, but do his will -]
m Heb. ii. 13, 15.
A 2 Cor. vi. 2.
THE WICKED HUSBANDMEN.
Luke xx. 15. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed
him. What therefore shall the Lord of the vineyard do unte them?
WHEN the inind is unbiassed, it can easily discern between truth and error, especially where the grounds of judgment are clear and strong. But where persons are under the influence of prejudice or worldly interest, they are blind to the inost obvious conclusions, and obstinately tenacious of the most absurd opinions. Hence our Lord spake so much in parables, because his adversaries, not aware of their drifi at first, were easily brought to acknowledge things, which, if more plainly delivered, would have excited the most inveterate opposition. In this man. ner he gained their assent to the equity of God in executing the heaviest judgments on themselves and their whole nation'..
This was the scope of the parable before us; in open. ing which, we shall shew I. In whom it is accomplished
It was manifestly fulfilled in those to whom it was
[God had planted his church among the Jews, and had cultivated it with peculiar care,a From it he expected a re- , venue of honour and glory: and when the people were forgetful to pay it, he sent his prophets to remind them of their duty, and to stir them up to the performance of it. But they abused his messengers in every successive age, and beat them, and sent them away empty. He, however, averse to punish
them as they deserved, sent, last of all, his Son, in hopes that, when they should see his exalted dignity, his clear credentials, and his unbounded benevolence, they would reverence and obey him. But, they, wishing to retain undisturbed possession of their lusts, determined to cast him out and kill him. And though, when warned that they would do so, they exclaimed, God forbid that we should treat the Messiah thus, they actually fulfilled the parable within the space of three days, and put to death God's only begotten Son.] : But it is also accomplished in us
[It is true that we cannot crucify him as the Jews did, because he is not within our reach: but nevertheless we cast him out with as much indignity as ever they did. He is here, as he was among them, “ the man whom the nation abhors:” he is “ despised and rejected of men.” How is he treated by the ungudly and profane? When he comes to them in the ministry of the word, and demands their hearts for God, do they not thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? We will not have this man to reign over us?d And how do the self-righteous moralists regard him? When he calls them to build on him as the only foundation of their hopes, do they not make him a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence ?e Do they not persist in going about to establish their own righteousness, instead of thankfully submitting to his?f Among his very followers too, are there not many self-deceiving professors, who acknowledge him in words, but in works deny him?! If others crucify him more openly, these, like Judas, betray him with a kiss. Lastly, what shall be said of vile apostates, who having once embraced his cause, decline from his ways, and go back unto the world? Are we not expressly told, that they crucify him afresh, and " tread him under foot?” By all of these then is Jesus cast out of the vineyard, as much as ever he was by the Jews of old.]
Let us then consider attentively
The Jews, as our Lord foretold, were visited with the heaviest calamities
[They, when interrogated by our Lord, confessed what such labourers must expect at the hands of there lord. And behold, it happened to them according to their word. That generation was not passed away, before, their city was burnt