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may be applied to Christians in general; for we are all . God’s servants, and are bound to do what we can for his honour and glory. There is a variety of work uppointed for us to do; we must therefore endeavour to discharge the duties which our heavenly Master requires of us, with diligence and integrity; yet, after all, we must acknowledge ourselves to be unprofitable serwants, because no advantage can arise to GoD from what we do: he has no need of us, nor can our best services add either to his perfection or happiness; but what he requires of us is for our own benefit, and the good of our fellow-creatures. The Parable of the unjust judge seems to have been principally designed as an encouragement to his disciples under the hardships they would meet with from the malice of their enemies; that they might pray with faith and perseverance, and not faint under their trials; but it is of general application. If a judge, who was an entire stranger to goodness, was at length overcome by importunity”, what may not be expected from a God whe is infinite in goodness, ever bountiful to his creatures, delighting to do them good, even without their seeking or desiring it, and who is constantly able to supply all their wants Such a Being certainly will attend to the earnest prayers of his creatures, especially of those who, by their Christian profession, are become his elect or chosen people, and will grant them such supplies as they stand in need of." But then we must remember, that men ought always to pray and not faint. The meaning of which is, that we should be always in a disposition for praying; that is, we should keep alive in our minds a firm belief of God and his Providence, a lively sense of our own sinfulness, and weakness, and
*See an excellent sermon on this Subject by Arthbishop Sharpe. 6 - - an
an humble dependence upon his goodness for the supply of our wants. It also imports, that we should, on all solemn occasions, actually address ourselves to God ; seeking help from him in all difficulties; acknowledging every striking instance of his goodness; imploring his protection, his guidance, his blessing upon us, in every work of moment we go about. It also implies, that we should, at least twice in a day, either in public or private, offer up the sacrifice of prayer and praise in a solemn manner unto God, as other daily sacrifices are abolished. To pray always and not faint, imports also continuance and perseverance in prayer ; not to pray by fits and starts, and then intermit our devotions, but constantly to keep up the fervour of our minds towards Gop, whether we have a return to our prayers imme. diately or not. Not that the Almighty has need of our remonstrances, or can be moved by our pleadings: but he has made it our duty, and it is inconsistent with his justice to grant mercy unless we ask for it. Our SA v I ou R assured his disciples, that his FATH pr would certainly vindicate their cause at length by the sudden destruction of their persecutors, if they continued to supplicate his aid; though he might, to exercise their patience, and give their enemies opportunity to repent, leave them exposed for a time to the malice of the Jews. The ALMIGHTY is not, like the most judge, backward to relieve, but constantly ready to be. stow his mercies when we are properly disposed to receive them. The expression, When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith in the earth P is by some understood to mean, that there would be none who professed the faith of CHR 1st remaining in the land of Judea, when that terrible destruction he had foretold should fall upon it: others explain it as signifying, that the severity of the persecu.
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tion would almost bear down the faith of God's people. By having Faith as a grain of mustard seed, signifies having an increasing Faith, producing an attention to the various duties of Christianity, as the small seed of the mustard-tree alluded to sprang up in the earth and produced branches and leaves.
It is easy to perceive, that the Parable of the two men who went into the temple to pray, was particularly designed to mortify the Pharisees, and encourage the Publicans, and those who were stigmatized as sinners by the Jews; but it will admit of general application.
The Pharisees imagined that they were as holy as they had need to be, and much more righteous than other men. Proud of their strict observance of the ceremonial law, they supposed that they had a right to claim God’s peculiar favour as a debt due to them. But it is unnecessary to say any more of this self-justifying sect, as our Lord has so fully described them in the parable before us. The behaviour proper for a true penitent is also so well exemplified in the Publican, that it is superfluous to attempt a farther illustration of it. As we all stand in need of divine mercy, we should supplicate for it with the same humility as he did, and not trust in our own righteousness, like the proud Pharisee; for, in the sight of God, no man living is justified or reckoned just by his own works, since all have sinned and stand in need of forgiveness. How gracious then is the D1 v 1 NE BEING, to promise that he who humbleth himself shall, through his infinite mercy, be exalted 2
SECTION LXXXV. . . .
chr 1st RE BUkes THE INTEMPERATE ze:AL of JAMEs AND John, AND HEALs TEN Lorens-—our Lord warns the pharisees of THE Approaching NATIONAL DESTRUCTION. -
From Luke, Chap. ix. xii. • * AND it came to pass that as he went to Jerusalem, he passed through the midst of Samaria; - And sent messengers before his face : and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. o And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. o And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elías did But he turned and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 'y For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. * *. - And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy upon us. - * And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go she yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass that as they went they were cleansed. And one of them when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks : and he was a Samaritan. R 3 And
And Jesus answering, said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. Neither shall they say, Lo here, or, lo there: for behold, the kingdom of God is within you. And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, See here, or see there : go not after them, nor follow them. , For as the lightning that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. And as it was in the days of No AH, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark: and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot, they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded : - : But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all : Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the house top, and