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obedient and refractory, he will conduct us to the land of everlasting rest and felicity.
How happy is the condition of that people who thus have the Lord for their God; of whom it may be said, in the language of the text, that in every stage of their earthly pilgrimage, “ God himself is with them, and is “ their God!” In every difficulty, to him they apply for direction ; in all trials and dangers, to him they fly for consolation and support; trusting in the Lord Jehovah for ever, they have an everlasting strength; in trouble, they recollect that he chastiseth those whom he loveth; in sickness, they are preserved from the temptations of the enemy, they are blessed with patience under their affliction, and are comforted with a sense of the divine goodness; and when they pass through the valley of the shadow of death, God is still with them; he sustains them in the last trying moments; he gives them here that peace which passeth-all understanding; and at last receives them into his glory.
Let us, then, be duly sensible of these exalted privileges. Let us make this good and powerful Being our Friend and our Guide, by entering into the courts of the new Jerusalem with thanksgiving and praise; by holding fast the profession of our faith without wavering; by walking worthy of the holy vocation wherewith we are called; by maintaining peace and love with all men; and by living continually before God in pious fear, and humble obedience to his laws. Great peace and tranquillity will those persons have, who thus love and fear God. Nothing will so far offend them, as to destroy their comfort, or turn them from the performance of their duty in this life; and nothing shall deprive them of that exceeding great
reward which is laid up for them in the mansions of glory. That all who now hear me, may be found, at last, in this happy number, God of his infinite mercy grant, through the merits and mediation of the same compassionate Redeemer ; to whom be all praise, honour, and glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard.
MATTHEW XX. 8.
So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his
steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
In the parable, of which these words are a part, the Church of God is represented by our blessed Lord under the emblem of a vineyard, and particular believers under that of labourers who are engaged, at different times, by the lord of the vineyard, to perform certain services for a stipulated reward. It is said, “ The “ kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an “ householder, which went out early in the morning to
hire labourers into his vineyard.” For the same purpose, at different periods in the course of the day, he goes out; and even at the eleventh hour, or at five o'clock in the afternoon, when he found some standing idle, he saith unto them, “ Go ye also into the vineyard; “ and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.” When the evening was come, and the labours of the day were completed, the labourers are called to receive their wages. As we are too apt to overrate our own ser
vices, and to undervalue those of others, some of them murmured against the good-man of the house, because, in the distribution of their hire, their fellow-labourers were made equal unto them. He repels the charge of partiality and injustice with these unanswerable observations :-“ Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not “ 'thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine
is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last even " as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I « will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I “ I am good ?”
This is a summary of the parable now before us; and, like our Lord's other discourses of this nature, it is fraught with religious instruction: under these objects of sense, much spiritual meaning is conveyed to the attentive mind of the humble believer. And,
1st. Here we are taught to entertain a just conception of the nature of the Church of God: It is
represented under the image of a vineyard, strongly enclosed, cultivated with care, and thus made to abound with pleasant flowers and salutary fruits—with what. ever is grateful to the eye, and good for the sustenance of man.
The rude and uncultivated wilderness is a just emblem of the natural state of mankind. By the transgression of our primitive parents, misery was entailed upon all their descendants : ignorance and de. pravity overspread the earth. God did not, however, abandon his fallen creatures to utter despair and universal ruin. He never left himself entirely without a witness in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation: there was always a company of the faithful: he had always a church in this degenerate world—a vineyard in the midst of the surrounding wilderness. His
messengers were employed from age to age, to invite wandering mortals to come in, and join the happy society of true believers. Seth, and Noah, and Abraham were preachers of righteousness. Moses and the succeeding prophets were faithful advocates for the name and worship of the one living and true God. Christ and his apostles called men from darkness to light, from Gentile ignorance and Jewish superstition, to the knowledge of the glorious Gospel. Thus the householder went out at different periods at the third, and the sixth, and the ninth, and even at the eleventh hourand said to those who were regardless of their duty,
Why stand ye here all the day idle ? Go ye into the
vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye rea ceive.” And hence we are led to remark,
2dly. That in the revolutions of time, at whatever period we may enter into the service of our Lord; when he comes to take account of our conduct; when the labourers are called to receive their hire; to every man will he give in proportion to the work performed.
But here it may be objected, “ that in the transac“tion before us, this equitable rule seems to have been “ violated : they who were called early into the vine
yard, complained, and surely not without reason, that “ those who had wrought but one hour were made “ equal unto them who had borne the burden and heat “ of the day.” This objection may be obviated by observing, that more work may be performed by the industrious in a single hour, than is accomplished by the indolent in the course of a whole day; and that when the lord of the vineyard comes to reckon with his labourers, he will reward them in proportion to their industry, and not to the time in which they were employed