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covered and restored to a spiritual and Divine Life.
There are others of our Saviour's Parables that bear a near Affinity to these last mentioned, and have the same general Design: Such is that which he proposeth to the Pharisee who was fecretly offended at him for suffering a Woman that was à Sinner, and who stood weeping behind him, as be sat at Meat, to wash bis Feet with her Tears, and anoint them with Ointment, which she had brought in an Alabaster-Box for that Purpose: There was, faith he, a certain Creditor, which had two Debtors ; the one owed him five hundred Pence, and the other fifty. And, when they had Nothing to pay, be frankly forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of these will love him most? Luke vii. 40, 41, 42, 43. And upon the Pharisee's Answering, I suppose that he to whom most is forgiven, he applies this to the Case of that Woman, and declares, Ver. 47, Her Sins, which are many, are forgiven her ; for she loved much. But. to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. The Parable is well chosen to lignify the free Grace and Mercy of God towards those that had been
Offenders, and who return to him by a true Repentance; and that such Persons, when really converted, often have a more strong and
lively Sense of their Obligations to the Divine Goodness, than thofe that think they have only few, or small, Sins to be forgiven.
To this may be added the remarkable Parable of the Pharisee and Publican, Luke xviii. 9-14, which the Evangelist introduceth with observing, that Jesus Spake this Parable unto certain which trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, and despised others: Two Men went up into the Temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, the other a Publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with bimself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other Men are, Extortioners, Unjust, Adulterers, or even as this Publican. I fast twice in the Week, I give Tithes of all that I poless. And the Publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his Eyes unto Heaven, but fmote ироп bis Breast, saying, God be merciful to me a Sinner. I tell you, This Man went down to his House justified rather than the other; for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that bumbleth himself fall be exalted. Nothing could more aptly shew the Mercy of God to the humble and sincere Penitent, and how much better he is pleased with one of this Character, than with the proud Self- Justiciary, puffed up with
a vain Conceit of his own Righteousness and Merits.
But, though our Saviour maketh the most encouraging Declarations of the Divine Grace and Mercy towards true Penitents, yet he takes Care to guard Men against an Abuse of the Divine Mercy, by representing to them that they could not hope for the Favour of God, if they continued to allow themselves in a Course of presumptuous Sin and Disobedience.
This leads me to observe, Fourthly, That some of his Parables are particularly designed to shew the Insufficiency of bare external Profeffions or Privileges, when not accompanied with the Fruits of Piety and Righteousness, and the Obedience of an holy Life. This is fignified by that parabolical Representation, Luke xii.
When once the Master of the House is risen up, and bath fout too the Door, and ye begin to stand without, and ta knock at the Door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence you are. Jall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drank in thy Presence, and thou hast taught in our Streets. But he fall say, I tell Jou I know you not whence you are; depart from me, yè Workers of Iniquity. This is one Thing also signified in the Parable of the ten Virgins, as I may havé Occasion to observe afterwards. The Parable of the Fig-tree, Luke xiii. 6, 7, 8, 9, is
you are. Then
applicable to the Case of particular Professors of Religion, as well as to that of the Jewish Nation in general; and representeth, in a very lively Manner, the Punishment that shall be inflicted upon those who continue unfruitful under great Advantages and Means of Grace and Improvement : A certain Man had a Fig-Tree in his Vineyard; and he came and sought Fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the Dreser of bis Vineyard, Behold, these three Years I came seeking Fruit on this Fig-Tree, and find none : Cut it down; why cumberetb it the Ground? And be, answering, said unto him, Lord, let it alone this Year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it; and, if it bear Fruit, well ; and, if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. And the same feems to have been the principal Design of that symbolical Action of his, the Curfing the Fig-Tree that had Leaves and no Fruit : It was not for it's own Sake, but to convey an ufeful Instruction (as the Prophets were sometimes wont to instruct by Actions as well as Words) to make Men sensible, that mere outward Professions, how specious soever, like the Leaves upon that Tree, which made a very fair and promising Appearance, if not accompanied with suitable
Fruits, would be of no Avail to their Acceptance with God, but rather expose thein to his just Displeasure.
Fifthly, Others of our Saviour's Parables feem particularly designed to engage us to a persevering Affiduity and Earnestiness in Prayer. Prayer is a necessary and important Part of Divine Worship; the due Exercise of which is greatly conducive to the keeping up a Sense of Religion in the World, and of our continual Dependence. upon God, for all the Blessings we stand in Need of; and, when rightly performed, it hath a manifest Tendency to exercise and improve holy and devout Affections in our Hearts : But Men are very apt to degenerate into a cold Formality in Prayer, and to content themselves with some lifeless spiritless Petitions offered up in a careless negligent Way ; and to faint and grow weary, if they think their Petitions are not immediately answered. Our blessed Saviour therefore, who took great Care to urge and inforce this Duty of Prayer upon us, both by his Precept, and by his own Example, hath recommended it to us to be earnest and importunate in this facred Exercise. This importunity doth not confist in our using many Words, and vain Repetitions, as if we were to be beard for our much Speaking, which is what he expreslly warneth us