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ful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. When we thus render Jesus Christ sincere, supreme, and universal obedience, he becomes established in our souls-he takes complete possession of them,

And what are the blessings that proceed from this admittance of Jesus Christ into our hearts?

They are expressed in figurative language-1 will sup with him, and he with me.” The most intimate and affectionate communion subsists between Christ and the soul who thus receives him. Jesus Christ is his friend and brother-God his reconciled God and Father-his sins, however many, are forgiven-bis conscience, however agitated, is soothed to peace-his soul, however polluted by sin, is purified and established in holiness: a “spiritual feast” is prepared for him—the approving testimony of a conscience reconciled unto God-confidence in the protection of him who is able to save and to destroy, and who hath promised to make all things work together for good to those who love himjoy in the favour of him whose favour is life, whose loving-kindness is better than life-trust in that Saviour who is constantly interceding for him, who is preparing for him mansions of bliss eternal in the heavens-a foretaste of those celestial and everlasting joys reserved in heaven for the servants of God: these are the joys which Jesus Christ dispenses to those in whose souls he dwells; he nourishes them with divine truths, he strengthens them by his grace, he feeds them with the bread of life-with divine and everlasting joys.

What then shall prevent us from hearing his voice and opening unto him? He stands at the door and knocks. He solicits admission by his

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blessings and by his chastisements, by the instructions, the promises, and the threatenings of his word, by the monitions of conscience and the strivings of his Spirit, by the ministrations, the services, and the ordinances of his church-by all these powerful methods he solicits us.

But with us it rests to hear his voice, to open our hearts to him. This, through his grace, we are able to do. Jesus Christ does not force admittance, he does not by his almighty grace overpower our inclinations. He stands at the door and knocks; and his very declaration, that if we will hear his voice and open unto him, he will come in, implies, that hearing his voice and opening unto him must depend, through his grace exciting and aiding, on ourselves.

What then shall prevent us from hearing the voice of this gracious Saviour—from opening our hearts to this our compassionate and almighty Friend? Shall the world, its sinful pursuits and passions, exclude him from our souls! Ah! the world is soon to pass away-the world is to be consumed by the breath of God's displeasure—and the world we must soon leave, its enjoyments we must soon relinquish ; and if Jesus Christ has not taken possession of our souls, they will become the seats of remorse, of anguish, of never-ending misery. Yes, blessed Jesus, in excluding thee from our souls, we exclude from them the light of heaven, the light of joy~we draw over them the darkness of the place of wo, the darkness of endless despair.

Brethren, if you have any regard for the welfare , of your immortal souls, any desire for a felicity that knows no end, any terror for an anguish that never terminates, any sensibility to the tender and pressing invitations of the Saviour who died for you, who intercedes for you, who implores you to be saved, open your hearts to him, hear his voice; resist not the monitions and strivings of his Spirit; listen to his instructions, live a life of faith in him, obey his laws, attend on his ordinances, submit to his grace; he will come in and sup with you, he will enrich your souls with every virtue, he will refresh them with the present joys, he will save you from that prison of despair to which those are consigned who reject his invitation, and where no sounds are heard but weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and he will receive you into those celestial courts, where you shall join in the never-ceasing chorus of praise and joy, and shall celebrate with him the everlasting festival of love, enjoying the ineffable and ceaseless communications of his favour and his bliss through endless ages.



Mart. xxü. 3.

And he sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the

wedding: and they would not come.

Thus contemptuously was the invitation of the king rejected, who made a marriage festival for his son; in which parabolic history is conveyed much important instruction.

The mode of conveying religious and moral truths by parables, which are similitudes drawn from the objects of nature, or from civil and social institutions, was frequently practised by our blessed Lord. It is a mode of instruction founded in the reason and nature of things ; for from the peculiar character of spiritual truths, we cannot receive the full and clear knowledge of them, except by analogy with those things which are the objects of our sense and consciousness. The parabolic mode of instruction was also prompted by a regard to the genius of the people among whom our Lord dwelt, which led to the use of highly figurative language ; and at all periods, and among all people, it is gratifying to the imagination, and peculiarly calculated forcibly and permanently to impress the heart. Especially where the object is to convey reproof, or to enforce unwelcome or irritating truths, parables afford an opportunity of indirectly, yet effectually, answering these purposes, without alarming the prejudices or immediately exciting the resentment of the persons accused or opposed.

For all these reasons, but especially for the last, our Saviour so frequently spake by parables. His mission was to a disobedient and gainsaying people -a people blinded by their prejudices and enslaved by their vices. These prejudices and vices were deeply opposed to the pure and self-denying spirit of that kingdom which he came to establish; and to have combated them by direct attack would have so strongly awakened the pride of the Jews and enkindled their resentment, as not only to have precluded all hope of his instructions and reproofs making any impression on their hearts, but to have exposed him to persecution, and prematurely, « before his hour was come,"* endangered his life. Hence it became a dictate of prudence to veil his reproofs and unwelcome instructions under the pleasing garb of allegory; thus exciting the imagination and awakening the attention, and before prejudice or resentment could be roused, impressing the understanding and gaining the heart.

On one of these delicate and unpleasant occasions was the parable delivered which I mean now to set

before you.

The immediate object of our Saviour was to reprove the Jews for their incredulity, to impress on them their guilt and ingratitude in rejecting the exalted blessings of that dispensation of mercy which he came to proclaim, to denounce the awful judgments which would overtake them for their sin in rejecting him who came to save them, and for

* St. John vii, 80.

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