« PreviousContinue »
his chains, because they are gilt, though liable every hour to be hurried to execution, or condemned to despair.
But the true dignity of man arises from virtue, and greatness of soul. The fortitude and self-denial, the humility, contentment, and resignation of a Christian must give these; and the best means of obtaining such divine gifts, is to consider ourselves, in every situation of life, as Stewards, acting in the presence of God, the Supreme Lord of all. Every consideration, which the discipline of his good providence might suggest, in the whole course of our lives, should be subordinate to this grand end. If called on to exhibit rare and exemplary proofs of patience and forbearance, contentment, selfdenial, or any other duty, we should consider ourselves as filling a post of honor, and resolve to discharge our duty faithfully as good soldiers of Christ.
We are told of our great Creator, that "whom he loveth he chasteneth ;" and there is no doubt but that his chastening hand, oftentimes severe in mercy, if not resisted, or contemned, will form the creature of his wisdom and his mercy, to virtue, and to happiness. And if to gain the favor of their fellow-creatures, men submit to
hardships, privations, and disappointment;-if to acquire the perishable riches of this world, they often humbly yield to the capricious authority of men,-nay, sometimes flatter their foibles, and administer to their vices and pleasures; surely we shall stand without excuse, if we cannot prove faithful to our heavenly Father, who is "the God of mercy and of power, and in whose hands are the issues of eternal life and death."
The grand and obvious truths of religion are, that the soul of man is immortal ;-that the present life is short-and that, after death, we must all "give account before the judgment-seat of Christ of the things done in the body." Thousands have passed through this land of shadows before us, and are gone-we too are hastening unto the place of our appointed rest, and making room for others. A few years in their quick, but silent progress, will bring us all to the grave; where the favor of the great, the pride of birth, the distinctions of fortune, and the applause of men will affect us no more. There they reach us not, and are as though they had never been. Immortality will be all our concern-the ground of all our hope, and all our dread. Let us, then, remember, that it
is only by serving the Lord of Life faithfully, as good Stewards here, we can hope for his divine favor, when called to account at the awful day of judgment; and, after "all things on earth shall fail," we may humbly trust that we shall be received, through the merits and mediation of Christ our Saviour, into everlasting habitations of happiness and glory.
ON THE PARABLE OF THE TWO SONS.
MATT. XXI. 29.
He answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented and went.
THE short Parable from which the text is taken is as follows:-" A certain man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to-day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not; but afterward, he repented and went. And he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir; and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first."
Were a person of judgment and taste to read the holy Gospel, as recorded by the evangelists, for the first time, he would be particularly struck with the beauty and simplicity, the va
riety, and perfect originality of our blessed Lord's Parables. Taken collectively, they form a summary of the most important doctrines and duties of Christianity. They inculcate those doctrines and duties in the most efficacious manner; and they convey the precepts of divine wisdom in the most pleasing and instructive form. In addition to their being admirably calculated to repel the insidious attacks of Scribes and Pharisees, they were intended to be the vehicles of the most salutary admonitions to "all that have ears to hear," in every country, and in every successive age of the world.
Adapted to the frailties and imperfections of man, the Parables seem to have been graciously meant to whisper to the conscience, and to reprove him in silence-to teach him his duties, or to point out his errors, without alarming his pride, and to lay the heart bare without inflicting a wound.
The Parable on which I am at present discoursing was intended, perhaps, to reproach the backwardness of some, and the forward, but insincere professions of others, on hearing the glad tidings, which the heavenly Messiah announced to the world. The Jews, we may suppose, and particularly the Pharisees, were