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Through the gospel also we obtain peace in our consciences
Who can declare the value of this to a heavy-laden soul?-
The gospel does not enrich us merely like other estate samo We can hold earthly things no longer than this present life
But the benefits of the gospel continue with us for ever
We have a more ample possession of them in the next world
Then we shall have a glorious, and incorruptible inheri. tance, of which earthly crowns and kingdoms convey a very faint ideas
What is spoken of the Christian's present portion may still more properly be spoken of that which he will hereafter enjoye
Well therefore might St. Paul represent the gospel in such exalted terms ]
The gospel kingdom may also be compared to a pearl as ADORNING
[Pearls are considered as ornamental to the bodyBut infinitely more does the gospel adorn the soulIt changes the life
[Even the most abandoned of men have yielded to its power
And that figurative representation has been realized by them.] It purifies the heart
[The most inveterate corruptions have been mortified by ith
And the most heavenly dispositions implanted in their stead-]
It transforms into the divine image . [It finds men altogether “ alienated from the life of God'
And bearing the character of Satan's childrenk
And with what propriety may the Christian exult with the prophet!_]
With such views of the gospel we can be at no loss to determine II. How it will be regarded by those who know its value
It is not possible for them to regard it with indifference1. They will seek it with diligence
[Merchants spare no pains in the pursuit of gain Much less will they who know the value of the gospelThey will study that book wherein it is contained
seek instruction from those who are best qualified
to explain its mysteries-- cry to God for the teaching of his Spirit Nor will they be satisfied with obtaining a superficial knowledge of the truth
They will follow the direction of Solomon
And account its blessings a rich compensation for their trouble-]
2. They will part with all for it. Their carnal enjoyments
[It calls them to sacrifice their dearest interests And to give up their nearest relatives for Christ's saker Nor will they exclaim against this as “an hard saying”— They will not act like the rich youth who forsook Christ
They will rather part with any thing, however precious, or however necessary -] Their self-righteous hopes
[There is nothing which men are more averse to renounce than their own righteousness .
But a discovery of the gospel will humble them
[The love of life is inherent in us allBut the gospel teaches us to overcome it
It requires us even to hate our lives in comparison of Christ
A view of it will enable us to do thism · And will cause us to say like the holy apostley-]
o Isai. Ixi. 10.
p Prov. ii. 4.
Matt. v. 29, 30. x Luke xiv. 26.
9 Matt. X. 37.
Isai. Ixiv. 6. y Acts xx. 24.
[Are we seeking knowledge, wealth, pleasure, honour, &c.' or the establishment of this kingdom in our hearts?
Let us fear lest we never should obtain this invaluable pearl
And let us follow the direction of our blessed Lord ] 2. What have we parted with for the gospel's sake?
(We are not persecuted now as in former agesBut every man is called to make some sacrifices What then have we forfeited for the sake of Christ?
If we were suffered to retain only one thing, what should that one thing be?
Remember, God requires a single eye, and an undivided hearta-] . 3. If you have purchased this pearl, what are you doing with it?
[It is not to be locked up, as it were, in a cabinet You must indeed keep it carefully as a rich treasure But you must also wear it about you as an ornament
It should have the effect on you, that converse with God produced on Moses
In this way you will commend it to the world
And will most acceptably comply with our Lord's direction ]
Matt. xii. 47-50. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net.
that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew ta shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shalt it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just; and cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
MEN are forcibly impressed by similes taken from things with which they are well acquainted. Hence the various parables are suited to those classes of the community, who are conversant in the occupations to which
they relate. The greater part of them refer to the different employments of husbandry, because our Lord so. journed chiefly among persons engaged in agricultural pursuits. But he was also frequently called to instruct fishermen; to whose more immediate use he adapted the parable before us.
In order to elucidate the text we observe that I. A great variety of persons are gathered by the gospel
into the visible church The gospel is preached promiscuously to all
[When a net is cast into the sea, the fisherman knows not what success he shall have: he may toil all the night and catch nothing; or may inclose a number that can with difficulty be drawn to shore. However skilful he may be in his trade, he is dependent wholly on the good providence of God.
Thus the gospel is published to all without any respect of persons. Nor can the preachers of it command success: if Paul or Apollos labour, it is God alone that can render their endeavours effectual to the salvation of men.b]
There are however many, for the most part, brought by means of it to a profession of religion
[Where nothing but morality is preached, the people all remain stupid and unconcerned about their souls: but where CHRIST is truly exalted, some will feel the constraining influence of the word, and be drawn out of the vain world to an attendance on the duties of religion. But of these there will be various kinds: some will go no further than the mere form of godliness. Others will seem to enjoy somewhat of its life and power, while in reality they have no stability in the ways of God, or, though they persevere in their profession of religion, they do not walk worthy of their high calling -There will be others, however, who are truly upright before God, and who " adorn the gospel of God our Saviour in all things”
All these persons will be collected into a visible church: all will profess an attachment to the gospel: and all will feel some kind of confidence respecting their final acceptance before God.]
II. Of those that are gathered, there will be an awful
separation in the day of judgment
a Luke v. 5, 6.
bi Cor. iii. 7.
c Jer. xxiii. 22. f Ver. 22.
Fishermen will not encumber themselves with fishes that are worthless; nor will God receive to himself all that are gathered by the gospel.
There will be a separation made in the day of judgment . .
, [God makes use of men to collect persons into the visible church; but he will employ 6 angels” as his agents to “separate the bad from the good.” Nor will they, when acting under the direction of the Most High, be liable to the smallest error. No fisherman can distinguish between the most different sorts of fish more clearly than the angels will, between the weakest of the saints, and the most refined of hypocrites. Not one that is truly good, shall be cast away; nor one that is really bad, be preserved-] . That separation will be inexpressibly awful
[Here the parable was inadequate to convey the truth; and therefore our Lord added a further explanation of it. Fishes that are cast away suffer no otherwise than in meeting death a little sooner than those that are reserved in vessels. But it is not thus with souls that are cast away; for they shall be “ cast into a furnace of fire, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth for ever”---O fearful end! how in-, conceivably different from that of those who shall be treasured up in vessels as “meet for their Master's use!"---] INFER
1. How diligently should we attend the ordinances of the gospel!
(Ministers are made " fishers of men;" and their one employment is to "catch men.". Now it is in the ordinances that they go forth to cast their net: and if persons do not attend the ordinances, there is no probability of their ever being drawn to God.h Let not any trifling matters then be suffered to detain us froin the house of God: for we cannot tell the precise time at which God has designed to inclose us in his net. And what a loss should we sustain, if through absence we deprived ourselves of that benefit! Let us then not only come to the house of God, but beg him to instruct his servants how to cast the net in the most advantageous manner, for our benefit, and for his glory.]
2. How careful should we be not to rest in an unsound profession of religion!
[It is not every one that is gathered by the gospel, that shall enjoy its saving benefits. Many there are who approve of the truth, and take pleasure in hearing it proclaimed,k who