Imatges de pÓgina

in his infinite mercy would admit them into his hea venly kingdom. Instead, therefore, of wishing to increase their worldly possessions, 'they might safely sell ail they had, and distribute the produce of it in alms, rather than neglect their ministry to manage their tem-' poral affairs. Their first and only concern ought to be to promote the glory of GoD, and the good of mankind, aud to secure an eternal inheritance for themselves..

Our LORD's reply to Peter's question shews, that what he said concerning watchfulness, was intended for all Christians, as well as for the Apostles. What he added, seems to have been principally designed for ministers of the Gospel, and the first teachers in particular.

As a covetous desire of the enjoyments of this world is so apt to raise contentions, and engage men in pursuits that may prove fatal to their souls, let us accustom ourselves to reflect on the uncertainty of human possessions, and moderate our wishes by the rules of the Gos pel. And since a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things that he possesseth, let us live like those who are in search of treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal, and where there is no danger of our souls being required of us.

Human life is very uncertain; we should therefore follow our Saviour's admonition, and keep in a state of constant watchfulness, dreading the loss of heavenly joys much more than any earthly disappointments. Though our LORD has left this world for a season, his commands remain in full force; and he will certainly return and reckon with every servant according to his deeds. How soon he may summon each individual to leave the world, no one can foresee; it is, therefore, very dangerous to defer doing our LORD's will to a future time,


Let us, then, with all diligence, discharge the duties of our several callings, that we may, like good servants who have every thing in readiness for their master's reception, welcome our blessed REDEEMER with joy, and be received by him with approbation.



From Luke, Chap. xiii.

THERE were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

And JESUS answering, said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Gali leans, because they suffered such things?

I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners. above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem ?

I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

He spake also this parable: A certain man had a figtree planted in his vineyard, and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig. tree, and find none: cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?

And he 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 he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.

And when JEsUs saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her; and imme. diately she was made straight, and glorified God.

And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indig. nation, because that JESUS had healed on the sabbathday, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath-day.

The LORD then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to wa tering?

And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath-day?

And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.


The Galileans mentioned in this section are supposed to have been the followers of Judas Gaulonites: he was the head of a sect who refused to submit to the Roman power, and asserted God to be their only sovereign; they accounted it unlawful to pay tribute to Cæsar, and would endure the severest tortures rather than give any man the title of Lord. These, it seems, Pilate had

[ocr errors]


caused to be slain when they came to worship in the temple at a public festival. Perhaps the Jews mentioned the Galileans to CHRIST, in order to hear whether he would justify them, and condemn the cruelty of the Roman governor. Instead of giving a direct answer, our LORD, with his usual wisdom and piety, made some useful reflections on the event, and mentioned another unhappy affair that had lately happened; telling them, that they would judge very rashly, if they supposed every one who was involved in temporal calamities to be a notorious sinner; instead of thus dealing out the judgements of GoD, it would be much better to reform their own hearts, as he assured them they were all deserving of divine vengeance, and would certainly feel the effects of it, if they continued in the same state of obduracy and impenitence. In order more effectually to awaken their attention, our LORD delivered the parable of the barren fig-tree, which agrees with the following passage of Isaiah's prophecy.

My beloved had a vineyard on a high and fruitful' bill.

And he fenced it round, and he cleared it from the stones, and he planted it with the vine of Sorak; and he built a tower in the midst of it, and he hewed out also a lake therein, and be expected that it should bring forth grapes; but it brought forth poisonous berries.

And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and ye men of Judah, judge, I pray you, between me and my vineyard.

What could have been done more to my vineyard, than I have done unto it? Why, when I expected that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth poisonous berries?

But come now, and I will make known unto you what I purpose to do to my vineyard: to remove its hedge, and it


shall be devoured; to destroy its fence, and it shall be trod den down.

And I will make it a desolation: it shall not be pruned, neither shall it be digged; but the briar and the thorn shall spring up in it; and I will command the clouds, that they shed no rain upon it.

Verily the vineyard of JEHOVAH, God of hosts, is the house of Israel; and the men of Judah the plant of his delight: and he looked for judgment, but behold tyranny; and for righteousness, but behold the cry of the oppressed*, *.

This prophecy illustrates the parable; the design of both was to intimate to the Jews, that, though they had hitherto been spared, yet if they continued unfruitful they should certainly be cut off. Our LORD farther hinted, that it was owing to his intercession that they had not been destroyed before. Both the parable and the prophecy are equally applicable to Christians. We have been planted into the vineyard of CHRIST, and cultivated by divine grace. Our LORD had spared us from year to year, though few of us have availed ourselves of his mercy, but we must not expect that he will spare us for ever: we ought, therefore, carefully to regulate our lives by the precepts of Christianity, and take advantage of the present opportunity. Perhaps we may now be in the last year, month, or even day of our probation; let us then apply to ourselves our LORD'S admonition to the Jews, Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

The poor impotent woman had great piety, or in her unhappy condition she would not have attended public worship. Though it is said that she had a spirit of infrmity, it does not appear that she was possessed by a

* Bishop Lowth's translation.

« AnteriorContinua »