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persons as live in a customary practice of sin, so that the tenor of their lives is wicked, and who are therefore to be called to that repentance which consists in the change of their lives, from the service of sin to holiness, from slavery to Satan to the fear of God; and therefore, by the righteous who need no repentance, we are not to understand those who are entirely free from sin; for so, there is not a just man upon earth, nor any man who is not a sinner (k); but those who are truly and sincerely righteous, have truly reformed their lives, who carefully endeavour to abstain from all known sins, and set themselves sincerely to the performance of their whole duty both to God and man, and so are righteous and acceptable in the sight of God; in which sense Job was righteous and eschewed evil; Zacharias and Elizabeth were righteous, walking in all the commandments of the Lord (1); and Simeon (m); and so they needed not that repentance which consists in the change of the life from a course of sinning to a living unto God.” By the word ”righteous" then, in this and several other passages of Scripture, we are to understand those who are comparatively righteous, which is fully
sufficient (k) Job, c. 9. v. 2. Eccl. c. 9. v. 20. 1 Kings, c. 8. V. 46. Jas. c. 3. v. 2. 1 John, c. I. v. 8.
(1) Luke, c. 1, v. 6. (m) Luke, c. 2. V. 25.
sufficient for our doctrine ; men who had some sense of moral and religious obligation, and endeavoured to act in conformity to it: such persons did not want Metávod, a complete change of mind, an entire abandonment of old habits. Persons of this character are expressly acknowledged in the New Testament, “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance (n).”
Let us next consider the Parable of the Sower, and particularly the explanation of that seed which fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit; “ that on the good ground,” says Christ, “ are they which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience (o):" here we have again our Saviour's authority for saying, that there is some honesty, some goodness of heart in the human race; and that different men possess these virtuous qualities in different degrees, since of the seed which fell upon good ground, some brought forth “an hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty (p)." And surely the admonition which follows this Parable, “ Take heed therefore how ye hear (9),” implies, that the impression,
which (n) Luke, c. 15. v. 7. (o) Luke, c. 8. v. 15. W) Matt. c. 13. v. 23. (9) Luke, c. 8. v. 18.
which the truths of the Gospel make upon the minds of men, depends upon the manner in which they attend to them, that is, upon the exercise of their own reason and free-will. To what purpose would this advice be given, if men had not the power of resisting the wiles of the devil, of supporting the trials of persecution, and of withstanding the temptations of the riches and pleasures of this world, the three causes to which our Saviour ascribes the failure of religious instruction ?
Christ said to his disciples, “ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth ; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened (r).” These commands to ask, to seek, and to knock, prove, that our Saviour required some voluntary steps to be still taken by those who were already persuaded of the divine origin of the doctrines which he taught: and his assurance that every one that asketh, receiveth; that he that seeketh, findeth ; and that it shall be
(r) Matt. c. 9. v. &8. We find a similar doctrine in the Old Testament, “ The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you ; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.” 2 Chron. c. 15. v. 2.
. I. opened to him that knocketh, imply, that if men do not ask, they will not receive ; if they do not seek, they will not find; and if they do not knock, it will not be opened to them : that is, they will in vain hope that their “heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them (s)," if they do not by their prayers and exertions endeavour to obtain his favour and assistance.
Our Saviour represents the “man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods," as saying, upon his return, to each of those servants, who by trading had gained other talents besides those which were entrusted to them, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord (t):" Does not this part of the parable shew the power of exertion, and the certainty of reward? And does not the casting of the unprofitable servant, who had hidden his talent in the earth, into outer darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, prove, that those who are slothful and inactive, who do not by their own diligence improve the gifts which they receive in this life, will be severely punished in the world to come ?
“No (s) Luke, c. 11. V. 13. (t) Matt. c. 25. V. 14,&c,
“ No man,” says Christ, “ can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw bim; and I will raise him up at the last day ... Every man that hath heard, and hath learned, of the Father, cometh unto me...He that believeth on me, hath everlasting life (u):” our Saviour is here speaking of those, who, in consequence of embracing his religion, shall inherit eternal happiness; and he declares that no one can attain this saving faith, without the directing influence of the Holy Spirit; and that every one who has had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the evidences of the Gospel, and has duly profited by the instruction and assistance which his heavenly Father has afforded him, will partake of a blessed resurrection. Let it however be remembered, in the words of Dr. Doddridge's note upon this verse, that “ the truth is, God's drawing does not exclude our consent to follow, and our activity in doing it; but it always includes a divine agency." The words to “ come" and to "learn” imply the exercise of the human will; and the words “ except the Father draw him," prove the agency of God with respect to the persons here spoken of, namely, those who shall be saved. (x.)
(u) John, c. 6. v. 44, &c. : (x) The following is the comment of Bishop Hooper, one of our Reformers and Martyrs, upon this text: “No
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