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ment. Abraham faith unto him, They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them. And be faith, Nay, Father Abraham; but, if one went unto them from the Dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not. Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the Dead. Ver. 27, 28, 29, 30, 31.
Thus we see what a Variety of admirable Instructions is comprized in this short Parable; how full it is of important Leffons represented in a most lively Manner, and well fitted to strike and make a deep Impression upon the Mind !
In like Manner the Parable of the Talents, Matt. XXV. 14—30, furnisheth several Instructions of great Use. Our Lord had proposed a Parable like this, before he came to Jerusalem, Luke xix. 12—27. And then he repeateth it with some Váriations at Yerusalem, a little before his Paffion. We are there taught to regard all our Abilities, all the Advantages and Means of Improvement we enjoy, as Talents intrusted to our Care and Management by the supreme Lord, who will call us to a strict Account, whether and how far we have improved them: That, if we have been diligent and faithful in the Use and Improvent of those Talents, we shall receive from him a glorious Reward; and,
the the more diligent we have been, and the better Improvement we have made of the Advantages committed to us, the greater shall be our Reward: But that, if we suffer them to lie neglected by us, this will be charged upon us as a great Guilt, which shall be severely punished. It deserves to be remarked here, that he who is called the wicked and sothful Servant is not charged with squandering away the Talent his Lord had put into his Hands, but is represented as hiding it in the Earth, and returning it to his Lord unimproved. This is wisely designed to shew, that, though a Man be not openly profligate, yet, if he neglecteth to do Good according to his Ability, and taketh no Care to make a right Use of his Advantages and Opportunities for the Glory of God, and the Good of Mankind, this his Sloth shall be charged upon him as a Crime, and shall expose him to a just and awful Punishment. The Answer the flothful Servant makes for himfelf, in which he endeavours to lay the Blame on his Lord's unreasonable Rigour and Austerity, very well representeth how forward Sinners are to lay the Fault of their own Neg
Negligence and Misconduct upon God; though their Excuses, like that of the Nothful Servant, shall serve only to confound themselves. The Parable
concludes with that remarkable Maxim, which I had Occasion to take Notice of before, Unto every one that hath fall be given, and be shall have Abundance ; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
Another Instance of a Parable, abounding with various and admirable Instructions, is that of the Marriage-Feast. We have the Substance of it in Luke xiv. 16-24: And afterwards, when he came to YeruSalem, a little before his last Sufferings, he delivered it more fully, and with some Variations and Enlargements. Matt. xxii. 2–14. This Parašle is so contrived, that, besides the clear Intimation that is given in it, as I had Occasion to observe before, of the Rejection of the Jews, and of the Calling of the Gentiles, it contains several excellent Points of Instruction of great Use in all Ages, such as the Freedom and Universality of the Gospel Offers, and the marvellous Grace and condescending Goodness of God in inviting Sinners, even those of them that seemed to be most unworthy, to a Participation of the most glorious Benefits; the ungrateful Reception and Entertainment thefe kind Offers would meet with among the Generality of those to whom the Gospel thould be published; the true Cause of Mens' rejecting or making Light'
of the gracious Invitation, viz. their havo ing their Hearts possessed with an inordinate Love to this present World, and being immersed in it's Pleasures, Interests, or Cares; and, lastly, the utter Insufficiency of a mere outward Profession of Religion without real Holiness and a Conversation becoming the Gospel of Christ, which is fignified by the Exclusion and Punishment of that Man that is represented as fitting down to the Feast without a Wedding-Garment. All these Things are beautifully figured in this Parable, in a Manner that is very fit to make an Impression, and the Design of which is sufficiently plain to an attentive Mind.
The like Observation may be made, with Regard to the Parable of the ten Virgins, Matt. xxv. 1 13. It exhibiteth a just Representation of the State of the Church, in which there is a Mixture of fincere and unsound Profeffcrs. They all pretend to have a great Regard for their Lord, and to wait for bis Coming : But some of them content themsčlves with mere external Profeffions, without the inward abiding Principles of Grace in their Hearts, or the Virtues of an holy Life: Others of them act a more wite and consistent Part, and take Care to get their Souls furnished with those excellent Habits, those holy and vir
tuous Principles and Dispositions, which Mine forth in a well ordered Life and Conversation. All this is signified here in Allusion to the Custom that then obtained among the Jews in celebrating Marriages : When we are told, that the Kingdom of Heaven (i, e, the Gospel Dispensation, or State of the Christian Church) all be likened unto ten Virgins, which took their Lamps, and went forth to meet the Bridegroom. And five of them were wife, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their Lamps, and took no Oil with them : But the Wise took Oil in their Velsels with their Lamps. Ver. 1, 2, 3, 4. The seeming Delay of our Lord's Coming, and the Suddennefs of it at last, at a Time when he is not expected, with the Surprise which this shall occasion, is represented in a most lively Manner, Ver. 5,6,7. While the Bridegroom tarried, they all Numbered and Nept. And at Midnight there was a Cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh ; go ye out to meet him. Then all those Virgins arose, and trimmed their Lamps. The following Words set before us the Confternation that shall then seize the formal hypocritical Professors, and their ineffectual Endeavours to prepare themselves, when it is too late. Ver. 8, 9, 10. And the Foolih said unto the Wife, Give us of your Oil; for our Lamps are VOL. IV.