Page images

Laftly; let us confider the very happy state of all fuch as are dead in peace, and in the favour of God; and let the constant expectation of that happy day that shall let us into paradife, and a faith and hope full of immortality, fweeten all the troubles of this mortal life, and raise our sense and value for the joys of heaven fo high, that we may no longer doat upon the short appearances of happiness we meet with here.

O Thou, who haft redeemed us with thy precious blood, make us fo to behave ourselves here, that we may be numbered with thy faints in glory everlasting!

Now to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.


[ocr errors]




MARK iv. 28.



'HOUGH this parable is not particularly explained, and applied by Chrift himself, as many of his parables are; yet we easily gather what the defign of it is, from other places of fcripture: He that foweth the feed is the Son of Man: the ground is the world: the harvef is the end of the world: the reapers are the angels. Thus much is plain from St. Matthew xii. 37, &c. Therefore the meaning of these words is this:

The Son of man, who is alfo the Son of God, having planted the gospel in the world, and declared it to be the way of falvation; having caused it to increase, and established it by ways extraordinary, and far exceeding the powers of art, or nature, or any power but that of God; he did afterwards leave it to fubfift, to increase, to profper, to come to perfection, by the ordinary means he had appointed,


[ocr errors]

and by the ordinary affiftance of his grace and providence. For fo did the husbandman in the parable:-After he had manured and wrought his ground; after he had sown it, and done his part, he leaves it in the hand of Providence, not doubting but he shall (in God's good time) fee the fruit of his labour. In the mean time, he follows his other bufinefs, he fleeps and rifes night and day, and still he observes an orderly increafe; first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the year,

It is true, all this is done he knows not how; but done he finds it to his comfort. And though weeds and tares in abundance spring up amongst the corn, to his great trouble and discouragement, yet when the harvest shall ccme, it will be found that his labour was not in vain.

Now this parable, thus explained, furnisheth us with several useful obfervations fuitable to the occafion for which I have chofen them. Such are these following:

ift. That the promoting the kingdom of God, or the fetting forward the defign of the gospel, is very confiftent with the ordinary bufinefs of life. When the husbandman has caft his feed into the ground, he finds himself obliged to take care of a great many things befides; and yet his crop profpers as much as if he minded nothing else but that.

2dly. That in promoting the kingdom of God, we ought to be fatisfied with the ordinances of


Christ, and not be ever and anon looking for and depending upon extraordinary appearances in our favour. When the corn is fown, it is left to the ordinary providence and blessing of God, who gives an increase according to the goodness of the ground, and the means made ufe of to improve it.

3dly. That fuch as are any way engaged in promoting the kingdom of God, ought not to be difcouraged because they do not immediately fee the fruit of their labours.-The feed fprings and grows up we know not how; and fo does the kingdom of God.

Laftly; A time will come, when we shall certainly reap where we have fown.-There will be an harvest, and then we shall find that our labour has not been in vain in the Lord.

I. To begin with the first of these observations;-That the promoting the kingdom of God is very confiftent with the ordinary bufinefs of life.

A man may, besides the ordinary duties of christianity, do a great deal towards promoting the glory of God, and the falvation of men, and yet his worldly affairs need not fuffer by his being fo employed.

There are two great mistakes, which people are apt to run into, and which ought to be rectified.

Some are ready to conclude, that all the time which is not spent in devotion (though to the hindrance of their neceffary worldly concerns) is in a manner loft. It is this which


fills the monafteries in the church of Rome; people vainly imagining, that it is more meritorious to spend the greatest part of their time in holy exercises, of prayers and praises to God, than to labour for and to relieve the poor; to ftrive with, and to overcome the temptations of an evil world, (which is one great part of our business in it:)—And yet our bleffed Lord affures us, that the fentence at the last day will, in a more efpecial manner, proceed upon fuch queftions as thefe: Whom have you vifited in their affliction? Whom have you fed, and clothed, and comforted? How they that retire out of the world, and get out of the fight of these miferable objects -how they can answer fuch queftions to their comfort, cannot well be imagined.

But there are others who run into a quite contrary mistake; who fancy, that religion, and special acts of piety, belong to the Clergy only; that it would be the very ruin of people of business, to be exact in their devotions, to be folicitous for the wants and neceffities of the poor, to be concerned to have the ignorant inftructed, or the wicked reclaimed.

Now, both thefe are much in the wrong. All people are plainly under an obligation to pray to God, and to praise him for his mercies; all people are bound, by their religion, to be helpful to their fellow-creatures that are in want, or mifery; and lastly, all people are bound in duty to provide for themfelves and families.

« PreviousContinue »