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How insipid are the beasted pleasures of the world, when compared with those soul-reviving delights, which a God of mercy hath provided for the entertainment of Christian pilgrims.
Blessed Jesus! fill my soul with thy presence, and then I shall never want a stream of pure delight, whilst journeying through this barren wilderness to the heavenly Canaan. Let no cares disturb my peace -no riches inveigle my affections—no pleasures enchain my heart. Like the wise husbandman, do thou in mercy eradicate every noxious thorn, and prepare me by thy Spirit to receive and cherish the good word of thy grace, that I may bring forth fruit a hundred-fold to the glory of thy holy name.
Touch'd hy a sense of love divine,
Thy goodness, Lord, I feel;
Of endless joys the seal.
Though round my path a thousand snares
Are laid by Satan's art;
Those traitors of the heart :
Yet still, dear Lord, beneath thy smiles,
A heaven of joy appears;
And hope the prospect cheers.
If through affliction's darksome vale,
I downward bend my way ;
To shed their cheering ray.
Or should I mount the dang'rcus steep
Where earthly honours shine;
Shall part my lore from thine.
Whate'er I be, or rich, or poor,
I'll trust thy saving name;
To all who love the Lamb.
O! let me taste thy goodness more,
Each moment as it flies;
Where glory never dies ;
I see my Saviour face to face,
Without a veil between;
Who sav'd my soul from sin.
LI. ON THE PARABLE OF THE RICH MAN AND
The Parables of our Saviour are full of wisdom and beauty. They are intended to convey some great truth, to which the various appendages are in general to be considered, rather as natural accompaniments, than as each requiring a forced or fanciful interpretation. We should therefore endeavour to ascertain what was the primary object which our Lord had in view, when he delivered these exquisitely beautiful lessons on divine truth; that we may derive that instruction which is inculcated by them.
The parables of the net, containing good and bad fishes ;—of the ten virgins, five of whom were wise and five foolish ;-of the marriage feast, where one guest was found without a wedding garment; of the tares which sprang up amongst the wheat ; of the vine, with fruitful and barren branches; are all designed to shew that in the visible church, the righteous and the wicked will live together, until the general separation at the day of judgment.
The parables of the seed springing up in perceptibly ;-of the grain of mustard seed, growing from the smallest seed, to a great tree ;-of the leaven, secretly working till the whole lump is leavened : beautifully point out the progress of the Gospel throughout the earth.
The parables of the lost sheep; of the lost piece of money; and of the prodigal son ; reveal to us in the most affecting manner, the great love of God in coming to seek and to save that which was lost ; the readiness with which he receives returning sinners ; and the joy which angels feel at the salvation of men.
The parables of the great supper, and of the husbandman in the vineyard, most strikingly shew how men in general, and the Jews in particular, to whom our Lord then addressed himself, despise the offers of divine mercy, and persecute the faithful servants of God who speak to them in his name.
The parables of the treasure in the field, and of the pearl of great price, call upon us, from the common feeling of worldly prudence, like the wise merchantman, to part with a smaller possession, for one of superior value; to give up the trifles of time for the glories of eternity.
The parables of the ten pounds, of the talents, and of the sheep and goats, speak directly to the heart; and are calculated to produce the deepest concern respecting that strict account, which we must render of every talent committed to our trust.
The parable of the barren fig-tree exemplifies the divine forbearance through the intercession of Jesus.
The good Samaritan beautifully enforces the extensive duty of loving our neighbour as ourselves.
The unmerciful servant is a faithful picture of the divine compassion, and of man's hard-heartedness and ingratitude.
The unjust judge, by way of contrast, conveys
consolation to the suffering church under all her protracted trials. If this judge, so unjust, avenged the poor widow because she wearied him, shall not a God of justice much more avenge his own elect, though he bear long with them?
The pharisee and the publican gives us a striking view of spiritual pride, and spiritual humility.
The labourers in the vineyard is full of comfort to the gentile world ; who shall be called by the Gospel, even though it be at the eleventh hour, into the church of God.
The two sons very pertinently shews the vast difference between saying and doing.
The two debtors, spoken to Simon the Pharisee, and which, from its simplicity, drew from him the confession, that he would love the most, to whom the most was forgiven ; proves how pardoning mercy melts the heart into love.
The sower, by its beauty, and perfect adaptation to the human heart, is calculated to enlighten every mind in quest of truth, respecting those hindrances which prevent our profitable hearing of the word of God.
The servant waiting for his Lord shews us in what posture every believer should be; not sleeping, not rioting, but diligently waiting to meet his Lord at his coming.
The rich fool, addressed to the man who so unseasonably interrupted our Saviour in his discourse, manifests the folly of heaping up treasure to ourselves, instead of labouring to be rich towards God.
So in like manner the parable of the rich man and Lazarus contains much valuable instruction, on a subject which men in general treat with awful indifference-the realities of a future world.
This very impressive parable teaches us :
of God's favour or displeasure. His enemies often abound in temporal mercies ; his friends in temporal affliction. (19, 20, 21 verses.) His enemies grow harder under the beams of prosperity. His friends are softened and melted in the furnace of adversity. Hence the latter pant more ardently after heaven. The former cleave more closely to the earth.
2. That death is making steady advances towards all, both rich and poor. (22 verse.) The rich man's wealth could not bribe death, nor avert his blow. The
poverty did not cause him to be overlooked as too insignificant for the notice of this general destroyer.
3. That our state in the next world has no connexion with our outward condition in this. (23 verse.) Here the rich man fared sumptuously every day; there he was destitute of a drop of water to cool his tongue. Here Lazarus was hungry and wretched; there he was blessed and happy in Abraham's bosom. 4. That there is no mitigation of pain in hell
. (24 and 25 verses.) Not one drop of water could be allowed by inexorable justice to alleviate his sufferings, or allay the intensity of the flame.
5. That the torments of hell are eternal. (26 v.) A great gulph is fixed, which for ever prevents escape from hell, or relief from heaven. O! wretched state of unutterable woe!
6. That the soul in hell is in a state of consciousness. (27, 28. v.) The rich man looked back and remembered his former life and connexions. He had five brethren. He dreaded their coming into the same place of torment; knowing probably, that his example had helped forwards their impiety. He anticipated only five additional tormentors.
7. That the appearance of a spirit would not convert a soul. (29 to 31. v.) Conversion is the work of