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tive of the traitor, and in his stead to submit to degradation, to sufferings and to death. Suppose the son of his own accord to offer to become the sacrifice. Suppose the father to assent to the offer. Suppose the sacrifice to have taken place. Now fix your eyes on the object of these stupendous mercies. How do you behold him? Is he dissolved in tears? Is he rent by agonizing remorse? Is he fervently devoting in the sincerity of his foul the remainder of his life, the whole of his exertions, of his faculties, of his heart to the service of his matchless benefactor? Behold him, if you are able to fprm tp yourself the picture, continuing unmoved, devoid of gratitude, with enmity unmitigated, rejecting the offered pardon and all its consequent blessings with carelessness and contempt. Behold an emblem, a most inadequate emblem, of your own madness, of your own guilt, if you disregard the salvation offered through the blood of the Son of God 1
II. Advert in the next place to the excuses, which are stated as having been advanced by some of those who rejected the invitation of the Lord of the feast. The spirit of the excuses alleged by the rest, for all the excuses flowed from the fame principle in the heart may be inferred from those which are speci
** been mentioned; we are continually pressed "by others no less difficult to be avoided of "postponed. Family connections, numerous ** acquaintance and friends, the ordinary re** ciprocation of civilities and visits, the stated ** recurrence at home and abroad of innocent K diverlions, bring the day to a close almost "as soon as we perceive it to have begun. ** Man was born for society. // is not good "for man to he alone. The social intercourse ** of life must be maintained by the requisite "observance of that courtesy, which an apos"tie has enjoined on all men. Harmless "amusements, essential to mental refreshment "and alacrity of spirits, cannot but be ap** proved by a religion which exhorts to cheer." fulness and joy. And, however absurd may "have been the disputations of ignorant men; "we are for our parts satisfied that friend"ship is inculcated by Christianity. At any "rate," it is sinally observed, " be it business ** or some lighter occupation which has ** swallowed up our time; and even if it be "acknowledged that with livelier vigilance we ** might have snatched somewhat more fre* "quent and somewhat longer intervals for re** ligious meditation: we trust that our inat"tention has not been such as to expose us "to any extravagant censure. We have al
"-ways professed our belief in religion. We "have occasionally been present at its ordi*l nances. We have been indulgent husbands, "careful parents, kind neighbours, useful raem** bers of society. And we are universally re"garded as having regulated our conduct by "the nicest principle of honour."
Vain and empty sophistry,to disguise the unsubdued enmity ofthccarnalmindagainfl God(a)!
III. Farther: with respect to the excuses described in the parable, there are two remarks, which I would recommed to your serious consideration. First: all the employments and engagements, which the persons who were invited pleaded in apology for their absence, were in themselves perfectly lawful. To purchase a piece of ground and to go to inspect it was a circumstance in its own nature untinctured with guilt. The cultivation of the earth, and industry in our proper callings, are duties which we are repeatedly commanded to practise. Neither is there any thing naturally blameable in purchasing five yoke of oxen and going to prove them. Then with respect to marriage; we know that it is the appointment of God, and is declared in the Scriptures to be honourable for all. Yet ob
(a) Rom. viii. 7.
serve, secondly, that the persons who made these excuses were every one of them condemned. / fay unto you that none of those men which 'were bidden shall tas e of my supper. If these men were thus condemned; how much more dreadful would have been their punishment, if they had excused themselves for the purpose of prosecuting some sinful enterprize: if instead of lawful industry they had meditated some dishonest undertaking j if, instead of honourable marriage, some plan of criminal indulgence had been in view! But, though their pursuits were all lawful; every one of the persons was condemned. Why was it thus? Because every one of the persons was worldly-minded. His heart was not fixed upon promoting the glory of God and proving by faith and holy obedience his love and gratitude to his Maker and Redeemer. His first object was not to be religious; but to be wealthy, or to prosecute his own pleasure. The man that purchased the land, and the other that bought the oxen, were immersed in solicitude concerning their property and possessions. 'The cares of this worId, and the dcceitfulnefs of riches, choked the "word; and it became unfruitful (b). Land and oxen, and the profit which land and oxen
[b) Matt- xiii. zz.
were were to produce, were their idols. God and his laws, Christ and the wonderful mercies which had been offered at his hand, . had little if any share of their thoughts. The man who had married a wife, had contracted an irreligious marriage, or was ensnared by the consequences of his marriage into impiety. He had shewn, we may conclude, in that transaction the unconcern respecting. religion which pervadedhis character. He had selected his consort merely for her personal appearance; or because she had. an ample fortune; or because her relations were able to push him into lucrative business; or for some other worldly reason. He had not made it his first and great study to learn before-hand whether she was a truly pious woman, a faithful servant of the Almighty ; whether she would be a partner likely to help him forward in the way of salvation, and by instruction and example to train up a family in holiness. Or subsequently to his marriage he had permitted attention to his wife to supersede that which was due to his God. Each therefore of the persons invited, having preferred things temporal to things eternal, was justly condemned. They that are after the flejh do mind the things of the flesh: but they that are after the Spirits Vol. I. P the