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to God and charity to their fellow-crea- SERM. tures.
III. The design, which he thus pursued in all his discourse to the different characters and orders of his Hearers, is most conspicuous in his Parables, According to the opinion which he formed of their several dispositions has he chosen to represent their several characters in his imaginary narratives.' For it cannot escape our observation, that in the several parables, which place in opposition men of many talents and men of few, men of great endowments and men of small, whether in station, fortune, or understanding, the advartage in the spiritual life is usually given to those, who seem to be favoured least in external qualities and endowments.
A Pharisee and a Publican go up into the temple to pray. The Pharisee recounts all his self-imputed virtues, and presumptuously thanks God that he is not as other men are, or even as that Publican: while the Publican standing afar off would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smites upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a Sinner! Yet our Saviour tells us, This
SERM. man went down to his house justified rather III. than the other i
A Priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan encounter severally on the road with a way-faring man, who had been stript and wounded and left half-dead by thieves. The Priest and the Levite after looking on him pass by on the other side: but the Samaritan no sooner saw him than he had compassion on him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. While these two Ministers of God are tacitly disapproved, this charitable Alien is pro
posed for an example even to a Teacher .. of the law; Go and do thou likewise k.
A Rich man is clothed in purple and fine linen and fareth sumptuously every day: while a Poor man is laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fall from the Rich man's table. Yet their destinies in another world are thus reported by the Patriarch Abraham in his answer to the suit of the Rich man; Son, remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy
Luke xviii. 10, &c.
Luke x. 30, &c.
good things, and likewise Lazarus his evil SERM. things; but now he is comforted and thou III. ' art tormented'.
Our reason might incline us to expect from those of superior endows ments this principle of justice; this testimony of gratitude towards the divine Donor, that the more they have received, the more they be solicitous to return. But a slight experience in the ways of men will suffice to teach us, that their justice and gratitude seldom rise in proportion to the benefits conferred upon them. Our Lord, who knew what was in man, appears to have looked with most complacence on those, who occupied the lowest rank in station, fortune, or understanding. And in his imaginary narratives he has placed the least endowed in the most advantageous point of view. .
But lest we should suppose that he shewed a greater favour to the poor and humbler ranks of men on any other account, than as they were better disposed for the reception and cultivation of religious truth, we are supplied with one case altogether opposite in the pa
Luke xvi. 19, &c,
SERM, rable of the Talents which a certain :'III. Householder committed to his Servants; had the result of which was this, that they, who
had received a larger stock of Talents, or were more liberally gifted with the endowments of Providence, made a due improvement of their several gifts, and accordingly received a proportionate reward; while he, who had received only one Talent, or was but slenderly gifted, with the endowments of Providence, neglected altogether to turn it to any use, and was therefore condemned as a faithless and unprofitable Servant m. i
Such is the special application of our Saviour's parables. They have a direct and immediate reference to the people to whom he spoke and to the age in which he came into the world.
But we must not rest in this limited application as the full and final purpose, for which they were delivered. The providence of God, by committing them to record in his written word, has undoubtedly designed them for lessons of universal and perpetual use.
While therefore they point at particular serM. characters and distinctions of men in a III. certain country or a certain age, they may also be accepted and applied as lessons of practical instruction in every country and in every age.
To take an example from the parable of the Sower": while in its primary sense it represents the Author of our holy faith disseminating the word of God among the people of Israel, it also in a more general and comprehensive acceptation represents every diligent Minister of the Gospel in the Church of Christ dispensing the same word in the sphere of his respective ministry.
To take another instance from the parable of the Father who had two Sons of opposite dispositions and characters°: while the case of the Younger Son in the primary design is an image of the Publicans and Sinners, who drew near for to hear him ; it extends this encouragement and consolation to all other Sinners, that if they will forsake their evil ways and turn unto the Lord in contrition and penitence, he will accept them as children, will pardon