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able fruit. That so, making a due and grateful return for thy uncommon favours, thou mayest be graciously inclined still to continue them to us, and at last admit us into the church triumphant above. Through the merits and mediation of Jesus the righteous, thy beloved Son our Lord. Amen.
Of a man taking a far journey.
MARK xiii. 34–37.
The Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left
his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to
every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of
the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock
crowing, or in the morning : Lest coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. OUR blessed Lord being at Jerusalem not long before his bitter sufferings and death, upon his disciples beholding with admiration the magnificent buildings of the temple, and vast bigness of the stones that were made use of, took occasion to tell them of the destruction of that temple, that one stone should not be left upon another, that should not be thrown down a And upon the further inquiry of Peter, James, John, and Andrew, who desired him to tell them when those things should be, and what should be the sign when all those things (which he had formerly foretold should come upon that wicked city for rejecting him) should be fulfilled, he was pleased to give them a more particular account of that dreadful destruction, and the forerunners of it; not so much to gratify their curiosity, as to confirm the faith of believers, that in
a Mark xiii. 1, 2.
severe time of trial, when they should see all things come to pass so exactly according to his prediction so many years before; and likewise as a kind warning to them, when they saw those signs, to make the best provision they could for their safety by a timely flight from that unhappy city b, which was so irremediably devoted to misery and ruin C.
As for the time of that destruction, he told them in general, that that generation should not pass, until all these things were doned; but of the day and hour, knew no man, no, not the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Fathere. And then he advises them to be upon their constant guard, and to walk with great caution and circumspection, and to be very frequent in the exercises of devotion ; Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is'. And to give them the quicker sense, and more lively apprehension of what he said, he represents it in the parable above written, and draws the same conclusion from it, Watch ye therefore, &c. lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
So that this parable, and those others to the same purpose in the 24th of St. Matthew and 21st of St. Luke, were in our Lord's primary intention designed to forewarn his disciples of the sad times that were coming upon Jerusalem, and engage them in a watchful preparation for them ; but that destruction of the obstinate Jews, being by all looked upon as a type of God's just vengeance upon irreclaimable sinners at the final judgment, and our Lord seeming to lead us to do so, by making an immediate transition
h Mark xiii. 14.
c. Ver. 31.
d Ver. 30.
e Ver. 32.
in St. Matthew's Gospel, from discoursing upon that terrible judgment upon the Jewish nation, ch. xxiv, &c. to a description of the judgment of the last great day upon all the world, ver. 31 of ch. xxv; and the same preparation being necessary for the one as the other, and the same cautions being given by our Saviour relating to both 8; we may improve the parable to very good purpose, by considering it with respect to that tremendous day which God hath appointed, when he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, even Jesus his eternal Son, our ever blessed Redeemer.
But first we shall give a brief explication of the parable in order to it. By the Son of Man's taking a far journey and leaving his house is signified our Lord's ascension into heaven after he had finished the glorious work of our redemption by his death and resurrection; and leaving his church, which is his great family or household, to the management of those he thought fit to intrust in his absence. And he gave authority to his servants, the chief ministers of his kingdom, the apostles, and their successors the bishops, and the civil powers too, when they became Christian, to take care of the good government of it; and to every man, every particular member from the highest to the lowest, he assigned his proper work and duty in his station, of which he would require an account at his return; and commanded the porter to watch : that is, gave a strict charge to the clergy, those that by their office are to watch for the souls of their brethren, and have the power of the keys committed to them, to admit into and to shut out of the church, to be very vigilant for the good of the holy society in general, and of every soul in particular under their inspection, and to preserve them, as much as in them lay, in a good condition for their great Lord's return: wakeful and circumspect, diligent and industrious in their several places, that all things might be in a good readiness for him, lest coming suddenly he should find them sleeping, idle, careless, and negligent, which would be of the worst consequence, and bring upon them the severest punishment. And because the time of his coming was so uncertain, both as to the day and the hour, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, whether at even, or at midnight, at the cockcrowing, or in the morning; therefore it became every one to be ready, and that he might be so, to watch. And what I say unto you, says our Lord, meaning his apostles, I say unto all, Watch.
g Matt. XXV. 13.
This may be sufficient by way of explication of what is so plain in itself. I shall therefore proceed to consider this parable with respect to the great day of judgment, and endeavour so to represent the terrors that will attend it, as to make them an argument to persuade us to provide for that dreadful time by a life of all holy conversation and godliness: that so we may not be surprised by it in an ill condition to appear before the tribunal of Jesus, nor be ashamed before him at his coming, whenever it shall be, or whenever death shall put an end to our probation here, and as it were bind us over to that great assize; but having our accounts ready, and ourselves in some measure prepared, we may give them in with joy and not with grief.
And in order to this I shall do three things :