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thy former insincerity and disobedience, and to take all possible care that it be so no more for ever.
And as for those that are so happy as not to be guilty in this matter, and their consciences clear them from this charge, and bear them witness that in simplicity and godly sincerity they have had their conversation in the world; let them give God the praise, and go on in their good way, and be always upon their guard, lest at any time they be surprised by the subtle tempter, and fall from their integrity and steadfastness; for in due time they shall reap, if they faint not.
And thou, most holy God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires and designs are known, and from whom no secrets are hid; who requirest truth in the inner parts, and to whom sincere obedience is more acceptable than the most costly sacrifice, and all the solemnities of outward worship; create in me a clean, an honest and good heart, and renew a right spirit within me! And may I never rest in a specious profession of religion, and satisfy myself with empty pretences and a fair appearance; but make it my great endeavour to recommend myself to thy favour by a constant performance of all Christian duty. I have the greatest reason to be sensible, that without thy gracious assistance I can neither believe nor do aright; O therefore do thou so enliven and increase my faith, that it may influence my affections, and work by love! that it may enable me to overcorne the world, and resist all its
BRAGGE, VOL. III.
temptations and allurements with constancy and courage; and with unwearied diligence to press on in my Christian course with patience, and firm hope of endless rest and joy in thy eternal kingdoin!
II. For ever preserve me, I beseech thee, from the impious mockery of a dissembled reverence in thy service, and counterfeit devotion; and grant that all my addresses to thee, whether in public or in private, may be animated with true piety of heart. That every petition and act of praise may flow from a soul entirely devoted to thee, and full of holy love and humble expectation of all needful blessings from thy inexhaustible goodness. That so, these sacred duties being never polluted by vainglory, or any worldly aim, but purely designed for thy honour and the relief of my own necessities and wants, they may be graciously accepted by thee, and answered as thy infinite wisdom shall see most expedient for me!
And may I so deeply and so earnestly repent of what I have hitherto been guilty of upon this account, as immediately, and with the utmost seriousness and application, to endeavour after the power of godliness for the time to come! That so thou mayest be inclined to pity and to pardon me, and receive me again to thy favour, through the merits and intercession of thy divine Son, my ever blessed Saviour, Jesus! Amen, Amen.
Of the wicked husbandmen.
MATT. xxi. 33–41. There was a certain housholder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his ser
vants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the
fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and
killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they
did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will
reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among
themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and
let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard,
and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will
he do unto those husbandmen ? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked
men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
UUR Lord's design in this parable was to convince the scribes and Pharisees, and chief rulers of the Jews, of the base and most provoking returns they and their predecessors for a long time had made to God, for those many extraordinary blessings and favours he had vouchsafed to that church and na
tion above all other people in the world, and to reprove them for it in such a manner, as to make them condemn themselves, as they did, ver. 41, and with their own mouths confess the justice of the severest punishments that God should think fit to lay upon them, for such intolerable wickedness and ingratitude. And in discoursing upon it, we will,
First, briefly explain the several parts of it, and apply it to ourselves; and then,
Secondly, make some more particular improvement of the 37th verse, Last of all he sent unto them his son. And
First, for the explication of the parable.
There was a certain housholder, he tells them, which planted a vineyard; by which he meant God's making choice of the posterity of Abraham for his peculiar people, and forming them into a church and nation, which should be under his particular care and direction; and to whom he himself gave laws both relating to the good government of the state, as being their king, and to his own worship, as their God. And those laws were so excellent, (as they must needs be, being framed by the only wise God,) that Moses might well say as he does, What nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day a ?
After he had thus planted his vineyard, to secure it from injuries he hedged it round about : that is, his watchful providence did in an extraordinary mannerdefend and guard that people from their enemies, whom he had driven out before them by his almighty power; and by the same power kept them in
a Deut. iv. 8.
quiet possession of that good land, that fruitful hill b, as Isaiah calls it, which he won for them by his outstretched arm; and which, without a miraculous restraint upon the neighbouring nations, must have fallen again into their hands, when thrice a year all their males, by the command of God, appeared before him at Jerusalem ', and consequently their country was left naked and exposed to every aggressor. But to prevent their fears, and encourage their obedience, and give them a sensible demonstration of his peculiar protection, he assured them that no man should then so much as desire their land , and the event shewed it to be amazingly true for many years.
Having thus planted, and wonderfully provided for the security of his vineyard, he digged a winepress in it, and built a tower. By the former is meant God's furnishing them with whatever was requisite to their full instruction in his blessed will, and to urge it home upon them, and move them effectually to observe and do it; that so, if they were unfruitful, or their fruit did not come to perfection, and they did not enjoy the cheering effects of obedience in their own consciences, and the favour and blessing of God upon them for it, the blame must be wholly their own. And as for the tower that was built in it, it may signify either literally the city of Jerusalem e, where was placed the chief throne of judgment, and the magnificent temple there, to which all the tribes of Israel were to resort, to perform their most solemn religious worship, as in the place of God's more especial presence; whereby both a
b Isa. y. I.
d Ver. 24.
• Exod. xxxiv. 23.