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sent from God; but from the events of common life we deduce the existence of God himself, and the operations of those attributes, to which, as previously established by natural religion, revealed always appeals. When miracles are worked, we may adore and love the being who ordains them; but if they had never existed, we might, in our observation of what God is doing for others, and in our experience of what he has done for ourselves, discover numberless and urgent reasons for reposing in him our confidence, and for honouring him with our praise.
Had you, like the Samaritan, received a cure from the Son of God, would not your hearts have glowed with gratitude and devotion? There is equal cause for gratitude and devotion when you receive any great mercy through the materials, which God has created for your preservation, and the knowledge of applying them, which he has also communicated. The instrument is different; but the first mover is the same. The stages between your cure, and him that ordained it, are more numerous ; but the preserver is the same. The method of receiving it is different; but the uses of it when received are the same. Though a cure received by a miracle might act most powerfully on our imagination, the same cure would be attended with the same conviction of God's mercy, if viewed as a part of his ordinary dispensations by your reason.
I have pursued this inquiry minutely, because the fallacy against which it is directed is not unfrequent. All that I request is, that in a case
where you are so nearly interested, you would give these considerations an impartial and diligent attention.
To dispute then is presumption-to overlook these truths is folly—and yet among those who now hear me, some I am sure are too obdurate, or too thoughtless, to honour God at all; others praise himn with their lips, while their thoughts stray far from him ; and the best of
be feared, are too apt to be satisfied with the expression of your obligations at stated periods, and in terms of mere forin. I will not trifle with you, my brethren, and I beseech you not to trifle with yourselves, on a subject of such infinite moment.
Wheresoever the flame of gratitude is not lasting as well as violent—when the sincere, habitual sense of God's mercy ceases to influence your
lives—when you can at will stifle the remembrance of the divine favours, or remember them with langour and unconcern — then the condemnation implied in my text will overtake you — then you will assuredly be ranked among those ungrateful nine, who forgot their Saviour's benefits upon earth, and their God in heaven.
From this melancholy scene you will gladly attend me to the more pleasing prospect, that the opposite can hold up to your admiration. And one of them when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God; and he fell down on his face before the feet of Jesus, and gave him thanks, and he was a Samaritan. If we cast our eyes around the world without an inclination to find it worse than it actually is, we shall discover the proportion between such as forget, and such as remember God, to be nearly similar to that which the Evangelist mentions. Ten are cleansed, of whom nine go away, and one returns to glorify his creator. But however the conviction of a gracious providence may be overwhelmed by our business, or dissipated by our amusements, the fact itself still remains indisputable-here are all cleansed. Numerous and self-sufficient as are the patrons of vice, virtue is yet justified for her children. It is true, one only gives thanks, but to the merits of that one, though he was a stranger, the Son of God has borne a most illustrious testimony-arise, go thy way; thy faith has made thee whole. Every one that hears this sentence must feel its justness; and every one, who is acquainted with the Christian terms of salvation, knows that whoever imitates the example may appropriate the commendation.
To such therefore as, like the Samaritan, have been afflicted, and comforted under affliction - to such as look back to past kindness with his zealous gratitude, and implore with his pious confidence, any farther
arguments are superfluous—to all such I may promptly and effectually address myself, in the emphatical and encouraging language of your Saviour-go, and do thou likewise.
SERMON XXV a.*
THE PARABLE OF THE MARRIAGE FEAST.
MATTHEW xxii, 14.
For many are called, but few are chosen. The detached portions of parables are frequently, and, I think, properly compared to the materials of a building, which, viewed from a just distance, and placed in that nice arrangement where the symmetry of parts gives effect to a whole, impress upon the mind the clearest and most captivating idea of beauty and order; but torn asunder retain every gross and hideous form which the most undisciplined imagination can conceive, or the most unskilful hand can execute. Thus in the parable of the marriage-feast there is a regular unity of design, to which all the circumstances enumerated in it are in various degrees subservient, and in reference to which, the words of the text have a very and consummate propriety; but, separately considered, they have been the occasion of racking disquietude, and error almost insuperable to many minds, bewildered by superstition, or involved in ig
For they have been supposed to contain
the most direct and explicit testimony in favour of predestination-so direct and explicit, that no criticism can invalidate, and no sophistry explain it away. Of you, who now hear me, it would be uncharitable and even indecorous to suppose, that any are enslaved to an absurd and pernicious doctrine, which not only shakes the fundamental proofs of natural religion, but lessens all the moral obligations of revealed. Yet, as some uneasiness and some uncertainty may dwell in the bosoms of those who, while they shrink from the general notion, are stag. gered by particular evidences adduced to uphold it, I shall set before you a plain and instructive illustration of the parable, to which these words are annexed, and then by refuting the supposed connection in which they do not, and laying open the real connexion in which they do, stand with the context, I shall endeavour to soften those harsh features of the text itself, which at first sight, I am aware, are so perplexing to the illiterate, and so alarming to the pious.
It may not be improper, however, to state two preliminary observations, which may assist us in gaining a clear and exact view of such other passages, as resemble the doctrine conveyed, or the terms employed in the parable that lies before us. Now, according to the appropriate and consistent language of scripture, the kingdom of the Father is, I think, often distinguished from the kingdom of the heavens. The one expression seems to be of Jewish, the other of Christian origin; the one points to the final state of good men, the other