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the warfare and inward contention with which the word maketh its way, and worketh its victory in the soul; but do receive it with a vain and unfounded joy, making it into a pleasant balsam, where it should be a corrosive caustic, a flattering unction of peace, where it should be a sharp knife to pierce through the joints and marrow, and a minister of present satisfaction and future blessedness, when it should be a minister of present death, and thereafter of future blessedness;--and finally having shewn you that these joyful hearers, who have no root in themselves, but merely catch the infection of hearing, and of believing, and of rejoicing, can only last while their faith harmonizeth with the worldly fellowship and good-natured enjoyment out of which it sprung, and cannot endure the ruffling of the gay element and palmy scene in which they have resolved to sojourn, but must, on the eve of persecution, give in, become treacherous, and wholly fall away ;-we do now proceed, in dependence upon the Divine blessing, to shėw you what remedy there is for persons of such a light character and slight faith : how, if they resist not the Holy Spirit, they may come to be of an honest heart," to have root in themselves, and attain unto a depth of soil sufficient to preserve the Divine seed of the word, and bring it unto fruitfulness. For I am convinced, brethren, from my own personal knowledge of Christian believers in general, and of my own flock in particular, and from the temptations which beset a great, wealthy, and prosperous city at all times, and especially in these times of vanity and ostentation, and, above all, from the suffering and loss of my own soul, that this form of character concerning which I now treat is very frequent in the church, that many are deceived by it, and that still more are kept in a low and fruitless condition; hearing much, and rejoicing in what they hear, yet unprofited in the hearing, because they hear not with faith; and unblessed with that joy, with which the world intermeddleth, because it is not the joy of the Holy Ghost, which the world cannot give, and which it cannot take away.
Now the beginning of every remedy is to know and feel assured of the dangerous condition into which the disease hath brought us: for while the patient conceiveth it is but a slight ailment, and such as may well enough consist with the enjoyment and business of life, he heedeth it but little; but when he knoweth that it is a question of life and death, he sendeth for the physician, layeth himself up in the sick-room, and giveth heed to the prescriptions which are made for his dangerous Know
ye, therefore, whosoever are of this superficial character, giving heed to the opinion of others, steering by every wind as it happeneth to blow, instead of bearing onward in the constant course of holiness and truth and honesty, that there is no remedy for you, and that the word will not root in you, sow it who will, and water it who will, it will not come to any fruitfulness: and because ye bear not fruit, ye shall be cast out and trodden under foot of men; gathered as fuel, and cast into the fire to be burned. Take observation, I pray you, of the parable, and see if, in the three classes,-of self-worshippers, who are all root in themselves; of world-worshippers, who have no root in themselves; and of the worshippers of the things of the world, who are surfeited, sunk, and drowned in cares and pleasures, - you can find the solitary exception of one in whom the word beareth fruit. Is there a single seed which the fowls of heaven, Satan's proud and soaring messengers, which the hot and scorching sun of the baneful world, or the weeds of visible things, do not succeed in making fruitless? Oh, brethren, it maketh me tremble when I read the sayings of our Lord, so clear, so naked, so unaccommodating ! clear as righteousness, naked as truth, and unaccommodating as the eternal judgment;-by whom the world of living men are divided into four classes: the inwardly self-sufficient; the outwardly self-sufficient; the worldlings; and the honest conscience-observer: and it is given as an inevitable law of the kingdom of grace, that the word of God cannot profit the three former classes; that the word of life cannot save them, and that they must inevitably die. Our Lord doth not soften the sentence with any qualifications: there is not even a word concerning the reformation, much less is there a word concerning the ceasing, of any or all of these three classes. Wherever this Gospel was to be preached, it was to be preached, as the first great lesson of it, that there were three out of four classes in the world to whom it would be preached in vain ; of whom one would spurn it hastily, another receive it superficially, a third receive it into the midst of worldly rubbish, but not one of them profit by it to the salvation of their souls. And mark ye, that this is the first lesson of the Gospel which was embodied in a parable; and, moreover, that parable constructed on very purpose to represent to the meanest capacity, that there were three out of the four quarters of the spiritual compass, in which lay nothing but spiritual desolation; from which blew no genial breeze; from which came no sweet influences of spring, or summer, or autumn,-no messengers of good, nor cargoes of spiritual treasures, nor haply at a time ever drifted any utensil or token of blessed life,-but bleak winds of the frozen north, mountains and plains of ice, wrecks of miserable voyagers, the howlings of dreadful creatures, and every thing which causeth or betokeneth spiritual death and desolation.
This irretrievable destruction of the three most numerous classes of the sons of men, which the parable teacheth, is a constant doctrine of the blessed and merciful Jesus, and of his holy Apostles. In the Sermon on the Mount, it is again and again referred to; first in the beatitudes or blessings, which are directed to none but the pure in heart, the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the peace-' maker, the mourner, the hungry and thirsty after righteousness, and the persecuted for righteousness sake; and which are intended against the proud and high spirited, the men-pleasers, the hungry and thirsty after gain and pleasure, and the much-approved, much-applauded children of this present generation. The doctrine comes in a second time, where it is said, “ Ye cannot serve God and mammon," or any two masters whatever; have a treasure on earth and in heaven too, gaining as it were both worlds; or trust in providence, and at the same time be full of cares; or have a double eye, and at the same time be full of light. Which are all laid down as the great
impossibilities, the broad contradictions, the direct contraries of the spiritual world, like being and not being at the same time. The doctrine comes in the third time, where it is said, that “ strait is the gate, and narrow is the way
which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it; whereas the gate is wide, the way is broad, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat." To which it is added, that even the prophets or preachers of the word would themselves be led astray, and lead astray the flock of Christ, and should be attested to be true messengers of God only by their fruit; that is, by bringing to perfection the seed of the word. And, further, of the multitudes which should profess his faith, none but those who did the will of his father would enter into his kingdom. And the whole Sermon on the Mount con: cludes a strain most fit to be the improvement or practical application of the doctrine contained in this parable. (Matt. vii. 24--27.) “ Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand : And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house;' and it fell; and great was the fall of it."
Now, brethren, have ye considered this, which is the true gist of the parable, that those three