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value than many sparrows. Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
Let us from this discourse, which we have been reading, learn the folly of hypocrisy, as well as the wickedness of it. A lying tongue is but for a moment, (Prov. xii. 19); and the great approaching judgment-day will shew all in their true colours. May we live as those, who are then to be made manifest! May the leaven of deceit, by Divine grace, be entirely purged out of our hearts: and all our conduct be so fair and equal, that it may appear more honourable and lovely, in proportion to the accuracy with which it is examined; as the whitest garments are recommended by being seen in the strongest light!
If we would preserve such an integrity of soul, let us endeavour to get above the servile fear of man; of man, that shall die, and of the son of man, that shall be made as grass; as if the oppressor had us in his power, and were ready to destroy; and where is the fury of the oppressor? (Isa. li. 12, 13.) With what infinite ease can God restrain it; and, when it is let loose in all its violence, how little can it do to hurt his faithful servants! Let this mean passion be over-awed by the fear of that God, who has our eternal all in his hands; whose vengeance, or favour, will reach far beyond the grave, and determine our final misery or felicity, as we are the objects of the one or the other.
While we are in the world, let us labour after a firm faith in the universality of Divine Providence: from which the least of his creatures are not exempted, nor are they forgotten by it. Let us endeavour to enjoy the pleasure and comfort of such a thought; assuring ourselves. that He, who regards the life of birds and of insects, will not neglect the care and preservation of his children..
In a steady persuasion of this, let us determine cou
rageously to confess and maintain his gospel in the extremest danger; knowing that thus only we shall secure the honour of being owned by Christ, amidst all the glories of his final appearance.
And, in a word, to animate us to this holy courage, and to assist us in every other duty, let us earnestly pray for the Holy Spirit; by whose influence the apostles were instructed and supported in the discharge of their difficult and various offices; whose grace therefore must be abundantly sufficient for us, to cause us to abound in every good word and work. (2 Cor. ix. 8.)
LUKE XII. 13-21.
AND one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Most prudently did our Lord decline the invidious office of an arbitrator in civil affairs; and wisdom will require his ministers generally to avoid it likewise. It is more suitable to our office, like our blessed Master, to endeavour to draw off and disengage the minds of men from covetousness, and to
pluck up the root of those eager contentions, which so often divide even the nearest relations, and inspire them with mutual aversions, more invincible than the bars of a castle. (Prov. xviii. 19.)
And that a covetous desire of the enjoyments of the world may not create contentions, and engage us in pursuits that will be fatal to our souls, let us seriously consider the true value of things, and reflect how little riches can do to make us happy if we obtain them; and how very uncertain that life is, on the continuance of which our possession of them does so evidently depend. But, alas, how many are there, who are now as deeply engaged in their worldly schemes, as this rich fool in the parable, to whom God will, in a few weeks, or days, if not this very night, say, by the awful voice of his irresistible providence, Thy soul is required of thee! And then, what will all these treasures do to purchase life, or to allay the agonies of death? So far will they be found from being capable of this, that they will rather serve to increase and imbitter the surprise and anguish of those agonies.
Let it then be our labour and care that we may be rich towards God; rich in works of piety and charity. So shall we safely consign over our treasure to the bank of heaven, and shall be enriched by it, when we leave the world as naked as we entered upon it, and lose all but what has been so wisely and happily spent.
LUKE XII. 22-34.
AND he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens; for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have store-house nor barn; and God feedeth them: How much more are ye better than the fowls! And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the
grass, which is to-day in the field, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Are we not all conscious to ourselves, that on such topics as these, we need line upon line, and precept upon precept, as being too deficient in our regard, though God spake once, yea twice? (Job xxxiii. 14.) We see our heavenly Father crowning the earth with his goodness: to this day does he clothe the grass and the flowers with the same profusion of ornament! to this day does he feed the young ravens when they cry, (Psalm cxlvii. 9,) nor is the meanest species of insects perished. Still does he know our necessities; and still he addresses us in the same gracious language, and avows the same endearing paternal relation. The experience of his power, goodness, and fidelity, is increasing with every succeeding generation, with every revolving day. The life that he has given, is supported by his care; and the same hand that formed the body, nourishes and clothes it. Let us then cast all our care on him, as being persuaded that he careth for us. (1 Peter v. 7.) Feeble as his little flock is, it is the Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom; and we are unworthy of our share in so glorious a hope, if we cannot trust him for inferior blessings, and refer it to him to judge, in what manner our present wants are to be supplied.
Let the heathens abandon themselves to these low anxieties; but as for us, let us thank God, and take courage, opening our hearts wide to every sentiment of faith in God, and charity to men; and while we have this inexhaustible bank to draw upon, let us be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, so laying up in store for ourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that we may lay hold on eternal life! (1 Tim. vi. 18, 19,) the very hope and expecta
tion of which, if our heart be set upon it, will give us incomparably sweeter delight than the securest possessions of this empty world, and the most ample magazines of its richest stores.
LET your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, That he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the good man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? and the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the men-servants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; the lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant which knew his lord's will, and prepared not