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SERM. their transgressions, and receive them III. again to his favour and affection. And
again, while the case of the Elder Son is an image of the Pharisees and Scribes, who murmured at his conduct in receiving sinners and eating with them, it equally extends a caution to all such Christians as have hitherto walked in the better way, that they neither presume on their own merits, nor look with want of charity on others, who may seem to be inferior to themselves either in the knowledge or the practice of religion.
Even those. parables, which appear to be more closely restricted to the Jews, may be converted into lessons of comprehensive use. Thus the parable of the Lord, who planted a vineyard and let it out to Husbandmen, expressly represents the economy of God. in establishing a church and consigning it to the care of the House of Israel, Therein we see pourtrayed his indulgence to the chosen race, his frequent claims upon them for the fruits of their services, their ingratitude and guilt in their treatment of his Prophets, the
Matt. xxi. 33, 8cc.
completion of their iniquities in the serm. death of his dear Son, and that aveng- III.
justice which would afterwards overwhelm them in the destruction of Jerusalem and the total overthrow of their establishment as a nation. Now though the interpretation is limited to the Jews, it extends this exemplary caution to all the Gentiles, who are admitted on their default and rejection into the Covenant of grace, as they would avert the wrath and indignation of Almighty God, that they respect his calls in his Word and by his Ministers, and render him in season the fruịts of their service.
Considered in this point of view the parables will be found to comprehend an extensive range of instruction in the various conditions and relations of human life. We therefore cannot study them to greater advantage, than by applying them carefully to the regulation of our faith, and the correction and improvement of our practice.
For it deserves our notice, that the parables have a regard at once to the doctrines and to the duties of a Christian. While they inforin us in the principles of divine econoiny in assign
SERM. ing to different men different measures
III. and degrees of talents and endowments, w they instruct us to improve our respec
tive portions to the glory of God, the benefit of mankind, and the salvation of our own souls. While they display the mercies of God to the penitent and contrite, and his favour to the faithful and obedient, they encourage us to repentance of our sins, and to perseverance in a faithful service. While they represent that strict account, which God will hereafter make, and that certain recompence, which he will render to all according to their works, they inculcate on our hearts a continual preparation for that aweful day, by forsaking all our sins and by observing all his commandments. .
Thus the Parables, in common with all other scriptures, are able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus: and thus are they profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works 9.
1 2 Tim. ij. 15, &c.
If therefore we would either hear sERM. or read them to any good and useful III. purpose, let us study to bring them home, not merely to our understandings, but also to our hearts and lives: let us cordially embrace the doctrines they impart, and vigorously put in practice the duties they recommend. So shall we receive them as spoken, not only to the Disciples, but even unto all; and so shall we comply with the spirit of our Lord's adınonition, Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.