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our Happiness. One would therefore be apt to wonder, that there should have been Persons that have made our Saviour's making so much Use of Parables an Objection against his Way of Teaching, when it is no small PrOof of the Excellency of it. There is no Man of Taste that would wish these Parables out of the Gospel, which are far better fitted to strike the Mind, to affect the Heart, and fix upon the Memory, than if the same Things had been expressed in the common Way without any Figure at all. Whosoever impartially considereth them will find Reason to admire their Beauty and Variety, their Propriety and Justness, the useful Instructions they yield, and the easy and familiar Way in which they convey those Instructions: They are, for the most Part, plain and accommodated to common Capacities, and yet capable of instructing and delighting the most Judicious. They are not like the allegorical Fables of Plato, and some others of the Ancients, fine indeed, but, for the most Part, too abstracted and philosophical for the common People: Nor is there any Thing of that monstrous Extravagance which is to be found in many of the Jewish Fables, as delivered in their Talmuds. Instead therefore of cavilling at this Way of Instruction, we should admire the T 2 Goodness Gpodness and Condescension of our blessed Lord, who hath been pleased to stoop so low for our Benefit, and hath vouchsafed to instruct us in a Way so plain and easy, and hath represented the most sublime and excellent Things by Images drawn from such Things as are most obvious and familiar to us.
Let us therefore often consider and review the excellent Parables of our Saviour: Let us observe their admirable Tendency, and endeavour to lay them up in our Memories, and in our Hearts. Some of them exhibit illustrious Proofs of the Divine Foreknowledge of our Lord, and open to us the Nature of his Church and Kingdom, and what shall be the State of Things in it till hissecond Coming. And all of them in general are of a practical Nature and Tendency, not designed to amuse us with curious and useless Speculations, but to instruct us in Matters of the greatest Consequence. They are designed, as hath been shewn, to guard us against an inordinate Love to this present World and the Indulging a Life of Luxury and Sensuality, and to engage us to make a right Use of earthly Riches: To recommend and inculcate an universal Benevolence. towards Mankind, and the Forgiveness of Injuries, which is one eminent Branch of it: To make the
- - . mo# most amiable Representations of the rich Grace and Mercy of God towards penitent returning Sinners, and at the fame Time. to repress and rriortsfy the Pride of those who.are puffed up with a vain Conceit of their own Righteousness and Merits, and a Contempt of others: To mew the utter Insufficiency of a bare external Profession of Religion, when not accompanied with the Fruits of real Piety and Righteousness: To ;orge us to a persevering Assiduity and Eameftnejs in Prayer, and to engage us to watch.. as well as pray, and to labour to be in a-CQhtinual Readiness for the Coming of Qur rLord': To ■ put us upon improving the- Means. of Grace that are now put into oiir Hands, and the Talents that are committed to our Trust: And, finally, to impress our Hearts with a strong and affecting Sense of the great Realities of ah unseen eternal World, the unchangeable Happiness. of the..Righteous, and the Misery of the Wicked4 in a future State* Such as these are the important Lessons which Christ's Parables are intended to teach and to insorce: And let it be our Care to shew the good Effect they have upon us by reducing these excellent Documents to Practice. And how happy shall we then be! We shall then adorn the Doclrine of God pur Saviour in all Things, and (hall shew T 3 forth forth the Beauty and Glory of Christianity in our whole Life and Conversation, and shall make it manifest how much we profit under the admirable Lessons of our incomparable Divine teacher, which, with so much Condescension, and in a Way so familiar and adapted to our Capacities, he hath vouchsafed to teach us. .
I would conclude with observing, that as it is the Duty of Parents, and a Duty of great Importance, to endeavour to bring their Children into an early Acquaintance with the holy Scriptures, which are able to make us wife unto Salvation j so it may be of particular Advantage to endeavour to make them betimes acquainted with the Parables of our Saviour, and with the Design and Meaning of them j which will in an easy and familiar Manner tend to season their tender Minds with excellent Instructions, and to make Impressions upon them, which, it is to be hoped, will prove lasting, and be of great Use in their suture Conduct,
On the Example os Christ.
John xiii. 15.
I have given you an Example, that yejhould do as I have done unto you.
HAVING, in some former Discourses, laid before you sundry Observations tending to shew Christ's great Excellency as a Teacher, I propose, next, to consider him as having exhibited a bright Example for our Imitation: And indeed the guiding Men by Example, as well as Precept, necessarily entereth into the Character of a good and perfect Teacher. Both these concur in our Lord Jesus Chrijl, in the highest Degree of Eminency. As T 4 none