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Thus the Service for this day carries us from the creation of all things to the judgment, and that with this one thought—the work which is put upon us to do. Adam had to dress paradise; fallen man to “ eat bread” from the blighted ground " in the sweat of his face;” the labourers worked in the vineyard, some through the “heat of the day,” others in the eventide; and the Apostles and their followers ploughed, and sowed, and planted, in a different field, but still in their Master's service, as it was at the beginning. Thus the lesson put before us to-day contrasts with that of the Epiphany. We have ended the feast of grace, and are now come to the work days, and therefore we read of man going forth to his work and to his labour from sun-rising unto the evening. Or we may connect these two seasons with Lent, which is to follow; and whereas our Lord, in His Sermon on the Mount, speaks of three great duties of religion, prayer, alms-giving, and fastingour duties towards God, our neighbour, and ourselves,—we may consider the Epiphany to remind us of worship in the temple, Septuagesima of good works, and Lent of self-denial and self-discipline.
Now the lesson set before us to-day needs insisting on, because in these latter times men have arisen, speaking heresy, making much of the free grace of the Gospel, but denying that it enjoined a work, as well as conferred a blessing; or, rather, that it gave grace in order that it might enjoin a work. Christmas comes first, and Septuagesima afterwards : we must have grace before we work in order to work; but as surely as grace is conferred on us, so surely is a work enjoined. It has been pretended by these teachers that works were only required under the Law, and grace comes instead under the Gospel : but the true account of the matter is this, that the Law enjoined works, and the grace of the Gospel fulfils them; the Law commanded, but gave no power; the Gospel bestows the power. Thus the Gospel is the counterpart of the Law. Christ says, “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” The Gospel does not abrogate works, but provides for them. “Man goeth forth to his work and to his labour” from the inorning of the world to its evening. All dispensations are one and the same here. Adam in paradise, Adam fallen, Noah in the morning, Abraham at the third hour, the chosen people at the sixth and ninth, and Christians at the eleventh-all, so far as this, have one religion.
And thus, says St. Paul, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid. Yea, we establish the law."* Again, he tells us “ that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so” grace reigns “through righteousness," not without righteousness, “unto eternal life.” And again, “The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” And to the Ephesians, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.”+ And to the Philippians, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure."}
But here an objection may be drawn from the parable of the labourers, which requires notice. It may be said that the labourers, who represent the Jews, complain that those who were called in the evening, that is, Christians, had worked but a short time, and in the cool of the day. “They murmured against the good man of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and Thou hast made them equal unto us which have borne the burden and heat of the day.” Hence it may be argued, that Christians have no irksome or continued toil, but are saved, without their trouble, by grace. Now it is true, we are of those who have been called when the day was drawing to a close; but this neither proves that we have a slight task to do, nor a short time to labour, as a few words will show
* Rom. iii. 31. Eph. ii. 10. Phil. ii. 12, 13.
For what is meant by “ the burden and heat of the day?" I have explained it already. It means that religion pressed heavily on the Jews as a burden, because they were unequal to it; and it was as the mid-day heat, overpowering tliem with its intensity, because they had no protection against it. “The sun," says the Psalmist, “ goeth forth from the uttermost part of the heaven, and runneth about unto the end of it again, and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof." And he continues, “ The law of the Lord is an undefiled law, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, and giveth wisdom unto the simple.""* What is so bright and glorious as the sun ? yet what so overpowering to the feeble? What so pure and keen as the Law of the Lord ? yet what so searching and awful to the sinner? “ The word of God,” says the Apostle, “is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword;””+ and therefore it did but probe and wound those who were unprepared for it, and they could but cry out, “ O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death !”?+ This was the burden and heat of the day : to have a perfect law, and an unregenerate heart; the thunders of Sinai, yet the sovereignty of the flesh ; Moses with the tables of stone, and the people setting up the golden calf. At best they could but confess, “ The law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin; for that which I do, I allow not : for what I would, that do I not : but what I hate, that do I.”' But for us, on the other hand, Christ hath redeemed us from the burden and heat, and the curse of the law, by being made a curse for us ; and we henceforth may say, with the Apostle, “What things were gain to me, those I counted less for Christ; . . . not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto
* Psalm xix. 6, 7.
| Heb. iv. 12.
Rom. vii. 14-24.
those things which are before, I press towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."*
Do you wish to see how little the Christian is saved from toil by his being saved from “the burden and heat of the day ?” consider the Epistle for this Sunday, and the whole chapter of which it is part. It is one of those passages in which St. Paul speaks of himself and his brother labourers in the vineyard; and from this instance you will be able to decide how little Christ has saved those whom He loves from toil and trouble. Christ, we know, is the second Adam, and has restored us to a better paradise. Ile, for that river which divided into four heads and watered the garden, has given us “ a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb ;” and for “every tree of the garden” of which Adam might eat freely, has He given “ the tree of life, which beareth twelve manner of fruits, and yieldeth her fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”+ Yet compare the state of Adam in the second chapter of Genesis with that of St. Paul in the ninth chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians, and it will be plain that our blessedness under the Gospel, is not the removal of labour, but the gift of strength; that the original paradise is not yet restored to us with its repose and security, and that our duties still are not those of Adam innocent, but of Adam fallen.
Adam, for instance, was surrounded by his subject brutes, but had no duties towards them; he was lord of the creation, and they ministered to him. God Almighty brought them to him, and he gave them names; and he was free to accept their homage, or to dispense with it, as pleased him, ranging through the trees of the garden at his will. But what says the blessed Apostle? He makes himself one of those who are even like the brute ox that treadeth out the
* Phil, iii7-14.
.Rev. xxii. 1, 2.
corn, and only claims that their mouths be not muzzled, but their hire secured to them. He speaks of himself as an Apostle, or one sent unto his brethren; as ministering about. holy things; as having necessity laid upon 'him; and as making himself “servant unto all, that he might gain the more.” “And unto the Jews,” he says, “I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, . . that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak : I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." And Adam, though in a state of quiet and contemplation, was not solitary : for when there was no help meet for him, “the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.” But St. Paul tells us, that he reversed in his own case this ordinance of God. “Mine answer to them which do examine me is this, Have we not power to eat and to drink ? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other Apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas ?” He might have been as Adam, and he would not be. And Adam's task was to dress the garden, no heavy labour in Eden ; to subdue the ground, which needed not much discipline, but obeyed without effort. But what was St. Paul's culture? what was the ground on which he worked ? and did he treat it gently, or was he severe with it, to bring it into subjection ? Did he indulge in its flowers and fruits, or did he watch against thorns and thistles, and subjugate it in the sweat of his brow? Hear his own account of it. “Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things; now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as