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Hence we learn, that though thou hast often testified thy displeasure against the wickedness of men by extraordinary judgments, as in the case of the old world, and Sodom, and the rebellious Israelites in the wilderness; yet are we not warranted from this to conclude that all who suffer uncommon calamities, or are suddenly destroyed, are greater sinners than their neighbours. Many of the Jews, it would seem, were as great or greater sinners than those who were so suddenly cut off; and were therefore warned by thee, that, except they repented, they should all perish in like manner; which was sadly accomplished at the siege of Jerusalem. Keep us, Lord, when we see any cut off by an unexpected stroke, from judging that this befals them because they are greater sinners than others. If we know them not to be guilty by their visible fruits, let us not dare to judge it by what they suffer in this life. But if they have been guilty of heaven-daring crimes before the world; if there appears an evident resemblance betwixt their crimes and their punishment; what shall we think in such a case? Lord, teach us. We look to thee to guide us. Grant that we may never lean to harsh or rash judging; but may be ready to judge and condemn ourselves, as we have good reason to do. Let us not think ill of any, merely because they meet with uncommon calamities; many of thy dear saints having met with these; nor because they are suddenly cut off by some unexpected disaster. And when we see men who are openly wicked meeting with these things, let us not think that even they are greater sinners than others who are spared. But may we conclude that all transgressors of thy law must, except they repent, perish in a similar way; which, upon the whole, will be as dreadful.

6. He spake also this para- tree planted in his vineyard; ble: A certain man had a fig- and he came and sought fruit

thereon, and found none. 7. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years 1 come seeking fruit ́on this fig-tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? 8. And he an

swering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: 9. And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

Lord, help us to hearken to the parable of the fig-tree. We have long been spared, though, if not barren, yet very unfruitful; year after year we have been spared. May we not hope, O Lord Jesus, that thou hast interceded for our preservation. If we continue barren, the time of cutting down must soon come, now.

Oh, make us to bring forth fruit. Lord, it is from thee alone we can derive sap and nourishment. We beseech thee, unite us to thee. Oh, cause us to bring forth fruit; and purify us, that we may bring forth more fruit.

SECT. LIV.

Jesus heals a Woman on the Sabbath, and vindicates himself.

10. And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath: 11. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. 12. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13. And he laid his hands on her and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. 14. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath-day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men

15.

ought to work in them there-
fore come and be healed, `and
not on the sabbath-day.
The Lord then answered him,
and said, Thou hypocrite! doth
not each one of you on the
sabbath loose his ox or his ass
from the stall, and lead him
away to watering? 16. And
ought not this woman, being a
daughter of Abraham, whom
Satan hath bound, lo these
eighteen years, be loosed from
this bond on the sabbath-day?
17. And when he had said these
things, all his adversaries were
ashamed: and all the people
rejoiced for all the glorious
things that were done by him.

Lord, thou knowest the diseases of our souls, by which we have been bowed together, many of us, more

than twice that time. Blest be thy name for any degree of healing or liberty. Oh, look upon us with pity, and call us to thee, and say, "Man, woman, thou art loosed "from thy disease:" lay thy hands on us, and immediately we shall be made straight, and shall glorify thee. Do it now, Lord; just now; thou who wouldst not send away the diseased without healing them on the sabbath. Ó compassionate Saviour, heal our souls; and deliver them from every bond of Satan from this day forth.

SECT. LV.

The Parable of the Mustard-seed.

18. Then said he, Unto what | air lodged in the branches of

it. 20. And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? 21. It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was

is the kingdom of God like?
and whereunto shall I resemble
it? 19. It is like a grain of
mustard-seed, which a man
took, and cast into his garden;
and it grew, and waxed a great
tree;
and the fowls of the leavened.

[See the Reflections on Matt. XIII. v. 31-35. p. 64.]

SECT. LVI.

Jesus exhorts his Followers to persevere.

:

22. And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying towards Jerusalem. 23. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24. Strive to enter in at the strait gate for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 25. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall an

swer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are : 26. Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. 27. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 28. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust 29. And they shall come

out.

from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.

30. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.

Thy answer does not satisfy curiosity, but it directs conscience. Let us not meddle with things that are too high for us, and which we are not called to inquire into; but let our great concern be, that we, and all in whom we have any interest, or of whom we have any knowledge, may obtain thy salvation. And those whom we can no otherwise serve in this great work, may we pray for them. Lord, give us by thy Spirit to strive as in an agony to enter in at the strait gate. Let us not be among those who now seek carelessly and by fits to enter in, and who shall seek in vain after the door is shut. But may we seek with that earnestness, importunity, and perseverance, to which thou hast graciously promised success. Let us not, O our Saviour, think it enough that we eat and drink in thy presence, and enjoy thy teachings; but save us from working iniquity. O, let no miquity have dominion over us, or be regarded in our hearts. Son of God, set us free from it, and make us workers of righteousness. It seems it will be a part of the punishment of the wicked to see thy saints in thy kingdom, and themselves thrust out by their unbelief and impenitence; and that some who appeared to be first in their external privileges and profession, shall be last as to their admission into heaven; while many who seemed to be last, shall come as it were from a great distance, and be readily admitted, and highly advanced there. Lord, help us rightly to improve these truths. Deliver us from all these wicked dispositions that hindered the Pharisees and the other unbelieving Jews from entering into thy kingdom. We would come to thee (Lord, help us) as poor sinners of the Gentiles; blind, ignorant, guilty, polluted, diseased, enslaved, bound by sin and Satan. Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon us.

SECT. LVII.

Jesus laments the impending destruction of Jerusalem.

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O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gather ed thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! 35. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of 34. the Lord.

31. The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. 32. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. 33. Nevertheless I must walk to-day, and tomorrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.

When we compare this passage with thy answer to thy disciples on another occasion, when they said, "Master, "the Jews of late sought to stone thee, and goest thou "to Judea again;" and to Peter, when he would have dissuaded thee from suffering; we see that thou wouldst not be hindered either by the entreaties of dearest friends, or the threats of powerful, cunning, and malicious foes, from prosecuting thy glorious work; and that thou knewest the time in which it was to be finished, which it was not in the power of earth or hell to prevent. We see thou didst not fear what the Pharisees and Herod both could do against thee; though they might be provoked by thy publishing, on this and other occasions, the baseness and falsehood of their hearts. To cast out devils, and to do cures, was to be thy compassionate and beneficent employment, till the time should come of thy being perfected through thy last sufferings, which it was determined should be at Jerusalem, where thy servants the prophets had formerly suffered.

Lord, give us grace rightly to improve all these things. Give us to know the work which thou wouldst have us to do, and the proper season of it; and with diligence and steadiness to pursue it, unmoved by the fear of man.

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