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they are disordered, though they exercise themselves aright about other things. They can acquire the knowledge of languages and sciences; but, alas ! they have no disposition to know God, and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent. They understand how to trade, and carry on schemes for this world; but they will not act wisely for eternity. They have sense enough not to run into the fire, or to drink poison; but they will run on in the ways of sin to everlasting misery. They will ask the way

when they have lost themselves; but how hard is it to bring them to inquire, What shall I do to be saved? They will ask help for their bodies from their fellow-creatures, but how hard is it to bring them in the posture of earnest petitioners to ask immortal blessings for their souls from God! In short, they can contrive with prudence, and act with vigour, courage, and perseverance, in the affairs of time; but in the concerns of religion and eternity they are ignorant, stupid, languid, and careless. And how can we account for this, but by supposing that they are degenerate creatures, and that their nature has suffered a dreadful shock by the first fall, which has deprived them of their senses? Alas! this is a truth too evident to be denied !

SERMON XXXIX.

REJECTION OF CHRIST A COMMON, BUT MOST UNREASON

ABLE INIQUITY.

MARK XII. 6.Having yet therefore one son, his well-be

loved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.

THERE is no sin more common or more pernicious in the Christian world, than an unsuitable reception of Jesus Christ and the gospel. It is not only the sin of professed unbelievers and profane scoffers, but it often hides itself under the cloak of religion, and a profession of faith. It is of so subtile a nature, that it is often unsuspected, even by those who are destroyed by it: and it is of so deadly a nature, that nothing can save a soul under the power of it. A soul that has the offer of Christ and the gospel, and yet neglects him, is certainly in a perishing condition, whatever good works, whatever amiable qualities or appearances of virtue it may be adorned with.

“If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost. He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” 2 Cor. iv. 3; John iii. 18.

This was the sin of the Jews in Christ's time, and this brought temporal and eternal ruin upon them. To represent this sin in a convictive light, is the primary design of this parable.

The blessed God had chosen the Jews, out of the world,

to be his peculiar people, and distinguished them with the gracious privileges of his church. Hence they are represented as his vineyard, enclosed from the wilderness of the world, and furnished with every thing necessary to render it fruitful. And hence God is represented as expecting fruit from them, as a man expects it from his vineyard; which intimates the reasonableness of their obedience; it is what any one would expect, who would judge by what is due and reasonable. But it does not intimate that God does properly look for or expect what will never come to pass; for the certainty and universality of his fore-knowledge excludes all possibility of a disappointment. It is speaking to us in our own language, which we are most likely to understand; but it must be explained agreeably to the perfection of the nature of God, and not according to the imperfection of ours. The Scribes and Pharisees, the priests and rulers of the Jews, who were intrusted with the management of their church and state, are represented by the husbandmen, to whom this vineyard was leased or rented, and they were obliged to make annual payments of a part of the fruit. The succession of servants sent to demand the income of fruit in its season, signifies the prophets and other messengers of God sent to the Jews to call them to bring forth the fruits of holiness. But, instead of obeying the call, they treated them abusively, persecuted, and killed them, and refused that return of duty which God demanded, and which his distinguishing mercies towards them rendered so due upon the footing of gratitude. After repeated trials, to no purpose, by these servants, the great God resolves to make one trial more, and that by his own Son, his only Son, his beloved Son. Him he will send to these rebellious husbandmen. And he presumes that, bad as they are, they would at least reverence his Son, and count themselves

highly donoured in having such a messenger sent to them. He might justly have sent his army to destroy them, who had murdered his former servants; but instead of this, he sends his Son with proposals of peace once more.

He presumes such clemency will melt down the rebels, and make them ashamed of their former conduct. They will reverence my Son ; as if he should say, “ Though they have wickedly abused and slain my servants, surely they will not dare to treat my Son in the same manner. Surely the very sight of him, must command awe and reverence. This will also make them ashamed of their base ingratitude and cruelty to my former messengers.

When the omniscient God represents himself as presuming or expecting that they would receive his Son in a friendly manner, it does not intimate, as I just observed in a similar case, that he is defective in knowledge as to things future, or liable to disappointment; but it only expresses, in the strongest manner, the reasonableness of the thing expected. It is so reasonable, that any one who judges only according to the reasonableness of the thing, and has no view of futurity, would certainly look for it. It is so reasonable, that God himself would expect it, were he not omniscient, and incapable of being deceived by the most plausible appearances. In this view God expected, (that is, he looked upon it as infinitely reasonable) that the Jewish rulers should reverence his Son. But, alas! when they saw him, they were raised to a still higher pitch of rebellion and cruelty. They seized the Son himself, cast him out of his own vineyard, and with wicked hands crucified and slew him. On this account the vineyard was taken from them, and let out to others, who should pay

* The word évepérouar, signifies to be flushed with shame, as well as to reverence : and so it may be rendered here, “ They will be struck with shame at my Son;" that is, at “ the sight of him."

the great Proprietor his fruit in its season ; that is, they were cast out of the church, and the Gentiles received in their stead, who would make a better use of their privileges.

This is the primary sense of the parable, as referring to the Jews of that age. But it will admit of a more extensive application. It reaches us in these ends of the earth, and all the nations of the world, to whom the gospel has been proposed: and in this latitude I would consider the text.

The world had gone on for four thousand years in wickedness, in spite of all the means used for its reformation by lawgivers, prophets, and philosophers, and by the providence of God. Persuasions, warnings, chastisements, mercies, and whatever had a tendency to bring them to repentance, had been used with them. Philosophers had often reasoned; legislators had prescribed; prophets had carefully instructed, allured with promises, and deterred with threatenings, and carried their heavenly credentials in their hands; angels had appeared and conversed with men upon extraordinary occasions; Jesus, the great angel of the covenant, had given frequent preludes of his incarnation; nay, Jehovah himself had ascended, and published his law with Godlike pomp in the ears of his subjects on Mount Sinai. But all this would not do; the world sinned on still, impenitent and incorrigible. And what shall be done in such a desperate case ? What expedient remains to be tried ? After so many messengers abused, persecuted, and killed, who will go upon so dangerous a message again ? There is indeed the Son of God, the great co-equal of the Supreme Divinity; if he would undertake it, perhaps something might be done! But oh! who can dare to hope for such condescension from one so high! Who can expect such a favour for rebels ripe for vengeance! Who

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