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tiort to your punishment, that you will be conscious it has proceeded from yourselves.
But the rules of conduct laid down in the gospel are not the only assistances which our blessed LORD affords to those, who long for salvation through him. He has promised us his grace. It is unnecessary for me to point out to you why we require this assistance, or what the advantages are which it will confer on those who properly apply for it. Every man's experience of his own weakness, and of the strength of the Devil's temptations, must convince him, tbat he is unable to stand alone and unsupported, in the midst of the many and great dangers by which he is surrounded ; for “ we wrestle not against flesh and blood, “ but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this “ world, against spiritual wickedness in
high places." If, therefore, our own strength were our only defence, we must soon“ perish, and come to a fearful end." But “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" will give us firmness to resist all attacks; power to support all assaults; and " at the “ last, bring us off from the battle more than
conquerors.” Let us, then, my brethren, seek this grace in humble prayer; purify our hearts from all filth and wickedness, that
they may be a fit abiding-place for it; and having obtained it, let us endeavour to deserve its continuance with us, by working together with it in the furtherance of our salvation. It is ever ready to be bestowed upon us ; and we cannot petition for ability to apply it effectually, in better words, than those of the Collect for the day.
“ O God, whose blessed Son was mani. “ fested, that he might destroy the works “ of the devil, and make us the sons of God, " and heirs of eternal life; Grant us, we “ beseech thee, that having this hope, we
may purify ourselves, even as he is pure; 6 that when he shall appear again with
power and great glory, we may be made « like unto him in his eternal and glorious
kingdom, where with thee, O Father, " and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and “ reigneth ever one God, world without “ end." Amen.
[For Septuagesima Sunday.7
MATTHEW XX. l.
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that
is an householder, which went out early in the : morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
UST before our blessed Lord delivered
this parable to his hearers, he had made this striking observation, which you will find at the conclusion of the nineteenth chapter ; " but many that are first shall be last, and the “ last shall be first;" and it was to explain more fully this saying, that he uttered the parable which will form the subject of the following discourse. It refers, in general, to the different dispensations, or revelations of his will, which God has made to mankind in different ages of the world ; and to his equity in giving the same rewards to those who have had later revelations of this will, as to those who had been favoured with the earlier ones, provided they are equally careful to do the work of God," and to act up to the religious knowledge which has been granted to them. « An householder “ went out early in the morning to hire “ labourers into his vineyard." In the first age
of the world, God revealed his will to mankind, in the person of Adam. He gave him a law, by the keeping of which he was to inherit immortality and happiness, and by disobedience to which he would bring death and misery upon himself and his posterity. “ He agreed with his labourers for a penny
a day; and sent them into his vineyard. The ALMIGHTY gave to the man whom he had made every thing that was necessary for his happiness, and placed him in Paradise to enjoy and to obey. The Devil, however, envious of man's felicity, deceived and ruined him; and, consequently, this first dispensation, which was graciously intended to preserve human nature in innocence, and to give to man the inheritance of heaven, without his passing through the gate of suffering and death, was now at an end. God, notwithstanding, did not desert the creature He had made; but at the moment when He took away the privileges from him, which he hitherto enjoyed, instead of " leaving him 66 comfortless," He cheered him with the promise of a great deliverer, who should be born of woman in after times, and who would revenge upon the serpent, by crushing his head, (or destroying the power of the devil) the dreadful ruin which he had brought upon mankind.
“And he went out about the third hour, “and saw others standing idle in the mar« ket-place, and said unto them, Go ye also « into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right “ I will give you. And they went their way. In process of time, after the fall of Adam, men multiplied upon the face of the earth; and as they increased, so they corrupted themselves, till at length, in the days of Noah, “ the whole earth was corrupt before " God, and the earth was filled with vio“ lence." But notwithstanding this general wickedness, God, who is a being of infinite compassion, and “not willing that any “ should perish,” gave men an opportunity of repenting and turning to Him, by the preaching of Noah; who, “while the ark " was preparing,” was commissioned to exhort the perverse generation to repent, and turn to the LORD, and do works meet for repentance.
“ He seemed, however, as one 6 that mocked unto them;" mankind continued in their sins; and the flood came and destroyed them all, except the family of