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inclined, let us remember the story we have just heard—what ignominy, disgrace, and suffering, will certainly await us! All this distrefs might have been avoided, if we had observed the paths of duty.—Let us then always consider the prote&tion of our heavenly Father as our only true home-as the great source of all our comfortour only refuge in every distress; and if we ever do wander from it, (as who is there who does not often get wrong?) let us take the earliest opportunity to retreat. But if we are ever fo unfortunate as entirely to leave it, let us in time, like the prodigal before us, think of returning, before the door is shut aginst us.--What encouragement has the sinner to draw him to repentance! His conversion, we are told, occasions joy even among the blessed inhabitants of heaven. His gracious Father, embracing him with the arms of mercy, receives him with those kind expressions: This my fon was dead, and is alive again. While holy angels, taking up the strain, unite in harmony: This our brother was dead, and is alive again; he was loft, and is found.
SE R M ON XI.
MAT. XX. 8.
SO WHEN EVEN WAS COME, THE LORD OF THE
VINEYARD SAITH UNTO HIS STEWARD, CALL
AND GIVE THEM THEIR
HIRE; BEGINNING FROM THE LAST UNTO THE FIRST. AND WHEN THEY CAME WHO
a late discourse * I endeavoured to explain
the case of the thief on the cross, which hath induced many,
it may be feared, to trust in a death-bed repentance. I shall now consider another passage of scripture—the parable of the labourers hired into the vineyard ; which may, perhaps, be misapplied in the same inischievous way. .
* See Vol. II. Serm. XXXV.
The general substance of the parable, you will recollect, is this :
A householder went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. Such as he found, he agreed with by the day, at the price of the country *
Some hours afterwards he went out again, and finding others unemployed, he sent them also into his vineyard; and even, at a very late hour, finding others who could get no work, he hired them also. In the evening he paid all his workmen; and gave such as had wrought only one hour, the fame wages which he gave to those who had laboured through the day.
“ Now from this passage (fays the man who wishes to find a cover for his fins) it is evident we are not tied up so strictly, as many suppose, to the duties of religion: tlie gospel is more liberal. The labourers hired into their master's vineyard, we find, entered at different times, but
* The penny was a Roman coin, current among the Jews: it was worth about 7d. or 8d. of our money, and was the price of a day's labour in Judea. The good Şamaritan therefore paid the host about one shilling and fourpence in value; and as that sum would purchase much more than the same sum now, it was sufficient for the purpose.
all received an equal reward. There is no difference made between him who laboured from an early hour, and him who laboured from a late one. And what can be meant by this, except that some men repent sooner, and some later; but that a inerciful God is as well inclined to accept the late penitent as the early one? Since this is the case," he cries, “ we may safely defer our repentance till the eleventh hour, or later if need be; and if we then enter the vineyard--if we then repent, we may expect, from our Saviour's own promise, an equal reward with them who have laboured through the day.”
A man's falvation is in a very deplorable state, when he begins thus to tamper with the terms of salvation; and, instead of making his practice agree with his religion, fets his wits at work to make his religion agree with his practice. I hope none of you, my brethren, are in fo dangerous a state. However, as the least fallacy in this point is in a high degree dangerous, I shall, in the following discourse, endeavour to shew you, first, the meaning of the parable ; from which it will appear
that it furnishes no argument for a late repentance; and shall, secondly, shew you
what kind of repentance alone is available in the light of God.
As to the meaning of the parable, it does not relate to christians, but to heathens-not to those who wilfully defer repentance, but to those who were before ignorant of the truth of religion ; to those who were idle-not because they would not work, but because no man had hired them.
The Jews had long been God's peculiar people; but when our Saviour came into the world, that distinction was to be lost, and the gospel to be preached to all mankind. This great truth, however, which was fo displeasing to the Jews, our blessed Lord opened by degrees. He endeavoured to loosen the prejudices of men, sometimes by leaving them to conjecture from obfcure hints, and sometimes by giving them plainer fimilitudes.
Among other discourses of this tendency he here instructs the Jews, under the similitude of a master who went out at different hours to hire labourers, that God intended to call other labourers into the christian church besides them, at different periods of time, as their conversion