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hath been incidentally touched or largely opened in this discourse, I do entreat you not to cast it to the winds, but to weigh it and to ponder it. Oh, receive it into the soil of a good and honest heart, that it may bring forth, some thirty, some sixty, some an hundred fold.
Such is the holy truth, and most important lesson of this passage of Scripture, dear brethren, which I do commend to every one of you; for I am greatly deceived if every congregation of baptized persons, if every church of communicants, doth not contain many of these fair, but false professors. Oh, brethren, I tremble for myself; (why should I not tremble for you also ?) lest I should have only this joyful experience of the word, and be thin of soil to hold it fast and ripen all its fruits ? I fear there be a thousand forms of trial which would make me shrink worse than ever did Simon Peter. Among which, what do you think is that I fear the most ! Not the sufferings of the flesh, which even nature can set at nought in a brave and loyal cause. Not the loss of property, of which I never had, nor ever cared to have any: nor the loss of worldly fame, which may blow its blast into any bosom for aught I care, except that I pity the fair garden on which it blows, like the east-wind, to nip its most hopeful buds and blight its fairest blossoms : but I fear you, -you whom God hath committed to my ministerial and pastoral care. I fear your smiles, and I fear your frowns: there is my snare; from which may the Lord deliver me without putting me to the proof; and if it be his holy will, perfect me without drinking of this cup: yet, not my will, O heavenly Father, but thine be done! And why fear I this so much? Because of the worldly intermixture which I perceive amongst us, and in the best of us; the abominable branch of our evil nature living still, out of which many a root of bitterness may grow to trouble our peace.
Oh then, my brethren, as the husbandman taketh the use and service of winter to trench and pulverise the soil of his field, and catcheth the first approach of spring to sow it, and destroyeth every weed which he can come at without rooting up the plant also; I do entreat you, that we should employ this fair weather of opportunity, this sweet season of peace which we enjoy in our church, this morning of instruction, to give heed to our condition, to prune, to dress, to weed, to shelter, and do whatever offices we can by one another for our mutual peace and edification in godliness. And by the blessing of God, I will do my part in preaching searching doctrine, and applying it to your conscience, which you must take in good part, suffering the exhortation, suffering the rebuke: for why, my beloved brethren, may we not grow up in love and mutual ministry of helpfulness to the full stature of the perfection of Christ; a body wherein every one hath his place appointed him of the Spirit, like the various joints of the body, articulated into one another, and giving activity and strength to the whole ? Such let us be to one another, full of gravity, full of deep feeling and penetrating truth, avoiding flatteries, complimentary speeches, foolish words, expedient measures, every man speaking the truth with his neighbour, as the elect of God.
And what I have spoken to my own people I speak to the whole church of Christ, that they should be looking to their armour, which these times of peaceful flattery have rusted ; and try its several pieces and burnish them for the battle, and close the rivets in their armour up; above all, looking to their shield of faith, whether it be arrow-proof, proof against the fiery darts of the devil. For I greatly err if they will not find the rust of formality, and the eating rust of expediency, to have consumed the massy pieces with which heretofore the Reformers of this land were clothed for battle in the times of old. There are no tests of the true men from the false. The soul-searching discourse hath ceased, experimental religion is a thing dug for amongst the sermons of a former age: preaching is itself a taste, a pleasure, an entertainment, a relish of doctrine; not a meal of meat to the hungry, or a slaking draught to the thirsty. There is no discussion, there is no handling of the matter, there is a dearth of things old, and a want of things new. The old wine contained in the bottles of our standards is diluted with a thousand measures of water, until its very taste and colour, and surely all its strength, are gone; and the new wine of the kingdom to come is entertained only by a few, and disgusts the taste of the many; and the church is a miserable gathering of meagre men, the best of whom is but as the shadow of the warriors which have been in the days of old.
THE SEED WHICH FELL AMONG THORNS, AND WAS
CHOKED BEFORE IT COULD BRING FORTH FRUIT.
LUKE viii. 7, 14. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up
with it, and choked it. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
HAVING, in our former discourses upon this parable, been led to study it carefully, we have been mightily impressed with the deep wisdom which is contained in it, concerning the threefold varieties of human character and human temptation, and the exact correspondence of the effects which the history of preaching in every age of the church hath revealed; namely, first, the proud and high-minded, who reject it hastily, through their much communion with Satan, that prince of all knowledge where God is not known, of all power where God is not acknowledged, and bright archangel of the natural man; who is now revealing himself in his angelic glories of natural knowledge, natural beauty, natural wisdom, natural freedom, and natural humanity, and mightily prevailing in these lands and in this city against us the ministers of the poor and humbled Jesus;
almightiness by which he is to be cast out of the whole. Seest thou not that this sanctification of thyself is the pledge and earnest of the whole ?
Satan therefore must first be cast out of thyself, and the world in thyself must be destroyed; thine eye veiled to its gaudiness, and opened to discern its worthlessness; thy mind taught to perceive its ignorance of God, and of Christ Jesus whom he hath sent; thy conscience quickened to feel its welldisguised deceptions; thy will renewed, so as to contend with its desires and overcome them; and, in general, the law of the Spirit of life stirred up within thy mind, in opposition to the law of sin and death which is in thy members. It is a vain thing to expect that old Adam in thee will ever do better than love and desire this world which fell with him, and in his fall remaineth fallen. The new man-child of the Second Adam, by the regeneration of the Holy Ghost, must be born in thee, and brought up in thee by the ministry of the bread of life and water of salvation; that child whose communion is with the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, of whom also he is the offspring, as is set forth in the mystery of baptism. This new creature hath no congeniality with the world, is separate from the world, desireth the destruction of the world in its present state, and groaneth for its redemption into a better; and he intercedeth for the righteous men that are in it; but forasmuch as he loveth the Father, the love of the world is not in him. The old man of nature is his enemy, whom he bringeth under; the world is the field of battle in which he contends with him. He fights Satan on his own ground: he meets him in the wilderness which he