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IV.

rendered subservient. The parable in-SERM. forms us that, in the end, they are to be gathered together and burnt. In this life only they have their good things. But their prosperity is transitory. They are brought into desolation in a moment, and utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh, fo, o God, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image*. When we consider their unhappy state, it becomes us to behold them with the eye of pity. Let us remember that, in the midst of their errors, they are by nature still our brethren. Let us not behave to them in the spirit of bitterness. Insult not their follies. Pride not yourselves on superior virtue. Remember that, as bad men are mixed with the good, fo, in the best men, vices are at present mixed with virtues. Yourown character, good as you may esteem it, is not free from every evil taint; and in the characters of

· F2 . . those

* Psalm. lxxiii. 19, 20.

SERM. those whom you reprobate as vitious,

w there are always some good qualities mix

ed with the bad ones. Study, as far as you can, to reclaim and amend them ; and if, in any degree, you have been profited by their failings, endeavour, in return, to profit them, by good counsel and advice; by advice, not administered with officious zeal, or self-conceited superiority, but with the tenderness of compassion and real friendship.

In the third place, in whatever proportion the admixture of vice may seem to take place in the world, let us never despair of the prevalence of virtue on the whole. Let us not exaggerate, beyond measure the quantity of vice that is found in the mixture. It is proper to observe, that in the parable now before us, after the owner of the field had sown his good seed, no reason is given us to think, that the good seed was entirely choked up by tares. On the contrary, we are told that theblade sprung up, and brought forth fruit;

and,

and, though the tares also arose, yet, in SER M. the end there was a harvest, when the wheat was reaped and gathered into the barn. In the most corrupted times, God never leaves himfelf without many witnesses on earth. He is always attentive to the cause of goodness; and frequently supports and advances it by means which we are unable to trace. He nourishes much piety and virtue in hearts that are unknown to us; and beholds repentance ready to spring up among many whom we consider as reprobates.-I know that it has always been common for persons to represent the age in which they live as the worst that everappeared; and religion and virtue as juft on the point of vanishing from among men, This is the language sometimes of the serious; often of the hypocritical, or of the narrow-minded. But true religion gives'no fanction to such severe cenfures, or such gloomy views. Though thetares must beat all times springing up, there is no reason for believing that they hall

IV.

SER M. ever overspread the whole field. The s nature of the weeds that spring up may

vary, according to the nature of the soil. Different modes of iniquity may distinguilh different ages of the world; while the sum of corruption is nearly the same. Let not our judgments of men, and of the times in which we live, be hafty and presumptuous. Let us trust in the grace of God; and hope the best of mankind,

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In the fourth and last place, let us keep oureyes ever fixed on that important period, which is alluded to in the text, as the conclusion of all. Let both grow together until the harvest. The great spiritual year is to be closed by a harvest, when the householder is to gather the wheat into his barn ; when, at the end of the world, the final distinction of men and characters is to take place. Theconfused mixtureof goodandevil, which now prevails, is only a temporary dispensation of Providence, accommodated to man’s fallen and imperfect state. Let it not tempt

us

JI

us for a moment to distrust the reality S E RM. of the divine government; or to entertain the remotest suspicion that moral good and evil are to be on the same terms for ever. The frailties of our nature fitted us for no more at present than the enjoyment of a very mixed and imperfect fociety. But when our nature purified and refined, shall become ripe for higher advancement, then shall the spirits of the just, disengaged from any polluted mixture, undisturbed by fin or by finners, be united in one divine assembly, and rejoice for ever in the presence of him who made them. Looking forward to this glorious issue with stedfast faith, let no cross appearances ever discomfit our hopes, or lead us to suspect that we have been serving God in vain. If we continue faithful to the death, we may rest assured, that in due time we shall receive the crown of life.

SERMON

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