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AT THE COLLEGIATE CHURCH, WOLVERHAMPTON, ON SUNDAY, MARCH 27, 1831.
Matthew, xxi. 29.—" He answered and said, I will not; but afterwards he repented,
and went." Whoever attentively peruses the book | vah, the dawning of the Gospel disof God's holy word, and accurately pensation, the glorious appearance of investigates the thoughts of his own salvation, and of reconciliation bemind, can never be at a loss to dis-tween man and his offended GOD, cover that the "carnal mind is at en- burst upon a benighted world. The mity with God,” and that the “hu- | long foretold blessings of redemption, man heart is deceitful above all things and the hallowed visions of prophecy and desperately wicked.” Through the were realised in all their fulness, and whole and unbroken chain of Scrip- exhibited in all their power. The ture history, from the expulsion of boundless love of God to sinful man Adam and Eve out of the garden of shone out in meridian splendour, and Paradise, down through the long and the offering of his only begotten Son, countless ages of prophecy, to the ap- the immense price of the soul's repearance of Christ and his Apostles, demption filled all the courts of heaven one uniform spirit of rebellion seems with admiration, and carried into the to have pervaded the whole human
recesses of hell the feeling of wonder race. The lives even of patriarchs and and astonishment. The laws of the of prophets, of those who are pecu- eternal God had been wantonly broliarly described as the servants of God ken, his ordinances violated, and himand the favourites of the Most High, self despised and set at nought, when are stained with blemishes, and ex- as the last grand resource of reclaimhibit to our view the evident traces of ing a disobedient and sin-loving people, inherited sin. The transgression of and that the issues of eternal life or Adam descended to all his posterity, and eternal death might for ever depend the polluted waters of sin had deluged upon it, he sent forth the Son of his and corrupted the whole earth, bring- love “that whosoever should believe ing down upon a degenerate world the
on him might not perish, but have wrath and vengeance of an insulted everlasting life.” Thus, then, was the God. The mists of ignorance and Saviour of the world earnestly and superstition enveloped the land, and mercifully occupied in the performance the sin of rebellion was stamped in of his stupendous mission, and actively legible characters on the countenance engaged in the salvation of souls, by of apostate man. In the midst of drawing the attention of the human doubts and perplexities—in the awful mind to the Gospel dispensation, when upbraidings of a guilty conscience, he addressed the words of my text to and the alarming consideration of a those who surrounded him. lost and desperate and helpless state- With these preliminary remarks, I in the thought of the utter impossibi- shall now proceed to point out, so far lity of escaping eternal punishment, as I am able, the meaning and the vast and of appeasing the wrath of Jeho- importance of this portion of Holy Writ.
The evident intention of all the of that piety which may bring forth the parables of Christ was to illustrate in fruits of righteousness. We find eve a way familiar to the understandings of in the prophetic times, in the writings his hearers the doctrine which he taught, of Isaiah, that the same earnest desire the duties and precepts which were to for the happiness of his creatures—the be practised, and the grand and all- same excessive love to the souls of his important object of the Gospel dis- people, dwelt in the great and eternal pensation. And in the parable now God who inhabiteth eternity. We under consideration, the blessed Re- hear him, in the fifth chapter of the deemer produces to the chief priests book of the evangelical prophet, afand elders a doctrine of a novel and fectionately expostulating with them on peculiar character, when he holds out the neglect of the means of grace and to the vilest of sinners, who repented opportunities which they possessed, and believed at the preaching of the and pointing out to them the dignified Baptist, acceptance with God, and situation in which they were placed, lightly regards the conduct of those and the interest he had taken for their who honour God with their lips, whilst happiness :-“What could have been their hearts are far from him.” The done more to my vineyard, that I have whole scope and design of these words not done in it? Wherefore, when I of Christ is, to point out to mankind looked that it should bring forth grapes, the nature and efficacy of the Gospel brought it forth wild grapes ?” dispensation; to exhibit to their view By the two sons mentioned in the the vast importance and distinction parable, our Saviour evidently wishes between vital and outward religion- to represent two different and distinct between the religion of the heart and classes of people who lived in those the mere profession of it.
days, and which are by no means un“A certain man had two sons; and common in the present generation, he came to the first and said, Son, The former of these, as described by go work to-day in my vineyard : he Christ, are they who have been totally answered and said, I will not; but indifferent about their immortal souls, afterwards he repented, and went. reckless of a future state, and who And he came to the second and said have desperately plunged into almost likewise; and he answered and said, every vice, and deeply stained themI go, sir; and went not.”
selves with crime. Nevertheless, on Under the beautiful emblem of a the preaching and ministry of John the man and his two sons, our blessed Baptist-when the glad tidings of salLord represents the great Father of the vation by the Gospel sounded in their universe, and the creatures of his own ears—when an admission into the hands—the whole human race. God heavenly Jerusalem, and an inheritAlmighty is here described as pater- ance among the saints in light was nally interested in the glorious work proclaimed “by a new and more perof the blessed Gospel, and wishful fect way,” these repented, and joyfully above all things for the salvation of all embraced the Gospel terms. his children. He desires them to com- And, again, the other class of permence in the important business of the sons are the Scribes, the Pharisees, soul's welfareto cultivate the truths and the self-righteous, who were of religion—to root out the destructive scrupulously exact in all the outward habits of sin, and to cherish and en- forms and ordinances of religion—who courage in the human mind the growth punctually and rigidly observed the
rites and ceremonies of the Jewish should come to repentance.” He still church, but who neglected “the waits that you may be saved. He still weightier matters of the law-judg- longs for your salvation. He still ex. ment, mercy, and faith.” To the un- horts you to work in his vineyard. derstandings of these was the voice of How comes it to pass, when a neg. the Baptist likewise directed. In vain lect of this all-important work—when did he warn them to flee from the a refusal to comply with this earnest wrath to come ; in vain did he unfurl entreaty is dangerous to the soul's the banner of reconciliation between eternal welfare-how comes it to pass, God and man; in vain did he call their that many who acknowledge the Deattention to the long-wished-for coming cessity of the work, promise to “go, of the Messiah, and declare unto them yet go not.” There seems to be a the glorious plan of Gospel redemption. charm in the world that lulls to sleep Blind to their eternal interests, and the thoughts of heaven and heavenly clinging to the law and the prophets- things ;—there seems to be a mighty proud in their self-righteousness, and invisible power actively engaged in boasting in their paltry deeds of alms, deadly and deep-rooted enmity against they spurned the Lord of glory—dis- the souls of men, and leading them on, dained the covenant of mercy, and, in secret defiance against the power of therefore (they are the words of Christ God, to eternal destruction. The soul himself), “the publicans and harlots even sleeps on the very brink of ruin. go into the kingdom of heaven before The latent flame of religion that burns them.”
dimly in the recesses of the human To all of us, my hearers, as well as heart, is often quenched by the world, to those to whom it was originally and the power of the Prince of the spoken, is this parable of our Lord ad- World. Oh! my hearers, it is the dressed for our individual benefit and world, and nothing but the worldinstruction. Often and repeatedly to the power of the world—the influence every one, in this congregation, has of the world—the occupations of the the Holy Spirit of God, in accents of world, that chain down the soul in a love and mercy for your souls, en base and servile subjection to time and treated you to come to the Lord Jesus the things of time :-that for ever clog Christ—to enter into the vineyard of and impede its progress to the vinethe Lord of Hosts, the Gospel dis- yard of the Lord—that for ever inpensation, and to “work out your own duces it to postpone the only work of salvation with fear and trembling.” importance to itself. It is the world And is there one amongst you all so that would bury religion, that would desperately insensible to his own fallen keep man from his Maker, and while state—so alarmingly blind to the weak- it persuades him to defer the work of ness and corruption of the human mind, spiritual reformation, would destroy as to see no efficacy in a saving hand him in endless perdition. The business -to feel no necessity of a redeeming of the world is followed with breathpower? The obnoxious guilt of man less anxiety-its occupations engage daily and hourly calls down upon us every nerve and stretch every sinewthe direful vengeance of a consuming its cares and perplexities are encounterGod. We all are debtors to a fearful ed and surmounted, and there seems to amount: and yet the Lord God is be but one work neglected and disgracious and merciful, and "not will.. regarded, and that work is religion's ing that any should perish, but that all work. You see men toiling in their
daily avocations-following their tem “ that God so loved the world that he poral pursuits—bustling on this mortal gave his only begotten Son,” that you stage of existence with an energy that might have the means of salvation surprises, and a perseverance that through him? astonishes : there is no loitering here Again, I would ask, where is your --there is no postponing here ; and yet wisdom in such a refusal ? That all have when requested to come to Christ only sinned is a truth which none can deny, that they may have life, they hesitate, and that every sabbath you come within they falter, they turn away.
these walls you not only confess that There is something very remarkable this is the case, but you acknowledge in the positive denial of the young man yourselves to be miserable sinners; and mentioned in my text, to his father's knowing, moreover, that it is declared wish and injunction, and that he should in the Book of God that “the soul afterwards repent and go. Yet in thus that sinneth it shall die,” where is your retracting his harsh refusal he was only wisdom in rejecting the Gospel of him advancing his own interest, and per- who “put away sin by the sacrifice of forming a known duty. And it is your himself?” The captive pining away in interest, no less temporal than eternal, solitude and confinement would rejoice no matter what may be your condition in being delivered from bondage and -no matter how you may have re- oppression. The prisoner long immured jected the offered mercy—it is your in- within the walls of his cell, would hail terest to embrace the terms of salva- with joy the author of his ransom and tion, and to lay hold on eternal life. deliverance, and would bless the hand It is your duty-since God Almighty that led him forth to liberty and light. has graciously condescended to be It is only the ransom of the soul-it is called the Father of such an unworthy only a rescue from sin by the glad creature as man-it is your duty to tidings of salvation, that is treated in a obey his paternal will. In the book light and indifferent manner : that is of the prophet Malachi he is heard often noticed as a matter of little mocomplaining of the disobedience of ment, when yet it is the deliverance of Israel:—"A son honoureth his father, the soul from the penalty of sin, and and a servant his master; if, then, I the opening to the eye of despondency be a father, where is mine honour the vast and unsearchable riches of the and if I be a master, where is my fear?" kingdom of heaven. If there be any in this place of worship The time is fast approaching when who have from time to time refused to the opportunities we now enjoy of enaccept and attend to the calls of the gaging in the service of God and our Gospel, and who still persist in such a own souls must draw to a close. Many refusal, I would ask, where is your a day of grace has set in darkness. gratitude ? Is it nothing to you that the time, comparatively speaking, is the Son of God left his Father's king- short betwixt us all and eternity; and dom, came into this lower world and yet, knowing, as we do, the shortness tabernacled among men—that he lived of life, the uncertainty of life, and the a life of poverty and affliction—that he awful consequence of being deprived of died
upon the cross that he might re life in an unprepared state, surely it is deem you and all mankind from the madness—it is worse than madnesspunishment and penalty of sin :- I ask, still to persist in the neglect of the work is it nothing to you that the sufferings, of the Gospel, and to live in utter carethe afflictions, and the death of Christ, lessness about the final salvation of our brought redemption to a lost world? - souls! Under circumstances so alarming,
and in the commencement of a work of the lonely desert, and it springs up as such infinite importance, the loss of a the garden of God. It tracks its way day, or even an hour, may seal your in the vaulted sky, upborne by mercy doom through the long and countless and truth, and while it showers down ages of eternity: before another day peace upon earth it echoes to the courts may come your eyes may be shut in of heaven the voice of praise and the darkness of the tomb, where the thanksgiving. It rolls along in its apangel of repentance never enters, " for pointed path, and draws, with a power there is no work, nor device, nor know- as wondrous and invisible as that of ledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither the magnet, rebellious man to his inthou goest.”
sulted God: it unbars the gates of Oh, then, my hearers, estimate the heaven, and shews to the eye of faith worth—bring home to the conviction the glory of God and the blessings of of your inmost thoughts the vast im- eternity. It illumines the monarch's portance of that Gospel which a gra- throne, and encircles the head of royalty cious Redeemer wishes to establish in with a diadem studded with the richest the hearts of men-view it in its origin gems, while it points to a crown in—view it in its progress-view it in its corruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth design, and view it in its blessed effects. not away. It visits the sequestered See a world wrapt in impenetrable ground, and enters the lonely cot, and darkness and shrouded in the shadow throws upon the poor and humble ocof eternal death ; see victim after victim cupant the mantle of love and joy, of offered up, in soul-agonizing barbarity, faith and hope. Oh! hail, then, this on the shrine of ignorance and super- heavenly luminary, prize it as the best, stition to “the unknown God.” Be as the most inestimable boon of God to hold in the far distant horizon the man. Welcome it as a pearl of great faintly and weakly glimmering of a price. Treasure it up in your hearts as strange and unusual light—it is the your glorious deliverer from sin and gospel-star-it is “the day-spring from Satan. Bring down the proud and on high;" it comes upon the world the stubborn mind in subjection to the Gosharbinger of peace, and in its progress pel of Christ. “Look unto" the blessed it gathers lustre upon lustre, till it Redeemer, “and be ye saved, all the drive from the earth the darkness in ends of the earth;" and may God grant which it was enveloped—till it ride that every individual in this congregatriumphantly in its heavenly course, tion may be received into the mansions scattering and imparting to a joyless of glory—that every voice may be tuned land the rays of light and life. It pours to the everlasting praise of God and the upon the wilderness its resplendent Lamb, and that the whole world may beams, and it flourishes as Eden-it “ see the salvation of our God.” penetrates with its rays the recesses of
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