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works to all that did not obstinately shut their eyes to all conviction; and of thy infinite mercy didst endow the first planters of thy holy gospel with such miraculous powers as should demonstrate the religion they taught to be from God; whereby all nations came to the knowledge of that salvation which thou didst purchase for them with thy most precious blood : for ever adored and magnified be the unsearchable riches of thy power, thy wisdom, and thy goodness, which are infinitely exalted above all blessing and praise; and may the glory of thy name be spread still more and more through every dark corner of the earth, and every human creature with joy and wonder embrace the faith of Jesus, and entirely submit to thy heavenly government here, and partake of the happiness of thy heavenly kingdom above!
O thou righteous Branch', under thy healthful shadow we shall be safe defended from the intolerable scorchings of thy Father's wrath, and from all the rage and fury of the spirits of darkness; O grant that we may always fly to thee for refuge, and lodge securely under thy protection, and make sure of thy favour, which is better than life itself, by an unfeigned faith, obedience, and love! And may thy heavenly doctrine and instructions have such a powerful influence upon my soul, that my understanding being thoroughly enlightened by thy truth, and giving an entire assent to all thy revelations, may guide my will to the choice, and my, affections to the hearty pursuit of my true interest and chief good : that so, no longer living to myself, but to
c Jer. xxiii. 5.
thee, who hast so loved me as to give thyself for me, a sacrifice and atonement for my sins, to satisfy the just anger of my offended God, I may not only sit under thy shadow with great delight, but thy fruit likewise may be sweet unto my tasted; and I may make it the great pleasure of my life to tread in thy blessed holy steps, and grow in grace, and the knowledge and love of thee my most compassionate Redeemer: till at length my weak, infirm mortality shall be swallowed up of endless bliss and glory; through thy merits and mediation, 0 most blessed and eternal Jesus! Amen, Amen.
d Cant. ii. 3.
Of a man that went to hire labourers into his
Matt. xx. 1–16. For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an
housholder, which went out early in the morning to hire
labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a
day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others stand
ing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their
way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did
likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others
standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here
all the day idle ? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He
saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and what
soever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto
his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire,
beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour,
they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have
received more; and they likewise received every man a
penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the
goodman of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee
no wrong, didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this
last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is
thine eye evil, because I am good ? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be
called, but few chosen.
DUR Lord, when he spoke this parable, seems to intend to obviate the objection he foresaw would be made by the Jews against the Gentiles being hereafter received by him to an equal share with them in the blessings and privileges and rewards of that new kingdom of God, which he came to establish in the world : for they having borne the burden and heat of the day, in a long observance of the ceremonial law of Moses, (which was a yoke so heavy and so galling, that St. Peter could say, Neither we nor our fathers were able to bear it a,) he knew would think much that at last the Gentiles should be made equal to them, whom they used to look upon with contempt, as strangers and foreigners to the commonwealth of Israel, and whose very conversation was esteemed a defilement. This he foresaw they would by no means digest, but murmur at it, as a thing very unreasonable and unjust; and therefore, to justify his proceeding in that manner, and furnish his apostles with a sufficient answer when any thing of this nature should be objected to them, he represents the case fully and clearly in the parable above recited; after having introduced it by saying, (as a key to open the meaning of it,) that many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first b. a Acts xy. 10.
b Matt. xix. ult.
For the kingdom of heaven, says he, (by which, in this place, may probably be signified, not the gospel state only, but the whole state of the true religion from the first,) is like unto a man that is a housholder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. By which may be meant either the first revelation that God was pleased to make of his will to Adam in paradise, (which was the early dawn of the world,) thereby to engage him betimes to his service, and prevent his being led away by the great deceiver, to his ruin; and his promising him, the better to encourage and secure his obedience, such a reward at present as should fully compensate the sincerest duty he could pay him C; (and we need not question but he gave him hopes too of a nobler recompense hereafter.) Or it may signify the great goodness of God to our first parent and his wretched offspring, after the fall; who was pleased to commiserate their sad condition, and by little and little made known his will to them anew; and in the days of Abraham and the patriarchs expressly agreed with them for a penny a day, upon condition of their faithful obedience to him, assuring them that the best service they could perform should be abundantly rewarded, in a most rich and fruitful countryd, which he would shew them, and fix them in possession of, and which for the pleasantness and plenty of it should be a second paradise. And when he went out upon this gracious design to gather to himself a church, (which he often styled his vineyardė, to signify how much he delighted in it, and the care he took that it should thrive and flourish,) and to employ labourers in the
c Gen. i. 26, &c. ii. 8, &c. d Gen. ii. 12. e Isaiah v.