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eyes in hell!
seem, not only to know nothing, but to These words present us with two wish to know nothing-a love of which points for consideration : we shall never here be enabled fully First.–The OCCASION to understand the awful magnificence BEING SPOKEN. and extent; since it is not permitted Secondly.—How FAR WE us, during our temporary abiding in SAID TO RESEMBLE the flesh, to descend for one brief THE JEWS IN THIS PARTICULAR. moment into hell, to learn some- These, therefore, shall be subject thing of the eternal miseries from of our discourse : ard in application which it redeems us, nor suffered of it, we will endeavour to derive to catch one glimpse of the untiring some useful bints for our instruction joys of heaven to which it woos us. in the appropriate celebration of this No; ours is a dispensation in which season of joy-always remembering it is given us to walk by faith and the important truth, that no indulnot by sight: and unless we now gences can be harmless, which are believe all the terrors and anguish of not pleasing in the sight of God. the former, and all the joy and blessed- First.–The OCCASION ness of the latter, it will be too late WORDS BEING SPOKEN. to seek that faith, when we lift up our The chapter from which the text is
taken, seems to stand unconnected There is no period in the year, with that which precedes, and that perhaps, in which the sinner is more which follows it. The subject is called upon to the exercise of re- nearly the same, as the first chapter; ligious meditation than the present, and it has been most appropriately the period of Christ's first manifesta- selected by the devout framers of our tion in the flesh. But, alas! there is Liturgy, to be read in continuation of no season more assiduously devoted that chapter on two following Sundays to the revellings, the vanities, the in Advent. It comprehends a genefollies, and the vices of the world, ral reproof to the Jews for their rethan that which brings, as it were, to bellion and wicked apostacy, and a the threshold of our hearts, that pure severe declaration of God's Almighty and Holy Being who came down from vengeance; and it may be said to exHeaven, to set aside the very things ceed the first chapter, in force, sevewe, at this time, follow after with the rity, and variety-adding the threat of most intense desire; who came to the Babylonish invasion. abolish all we most love and en- Under the very beautiful image of courage. Truly, while wandering a vineyard—so frequently adopted in through the streets of our cities, at Scripture, the Lord, by the mouth of the period of the nativity of our his prophet, sets forth Christ's love Saviour-regarding as we go, the for his church. “My beloved hath a pursuits of those who dwell in palaces, vineyard in a very fruitful hill, and and those by whom the vulgar houses be fenced it, and gathered out the ofintemperance and vice are thronged; stones thereof, and planted it with the truly, may we say with the Prophet, choicest vine." And that every thing “ the harp and the viol, the tabret and might be in perfect order and readipipe, and wine are in our feasts :" | ness for the due culture of this vineand too readily will our observation yard," he built a tower in the midst lead us to add, that“ we regard not of it,” to contain the implements for the work of the Lord, neither con- making the wine ; and then, with no sider the operation of his hands." little anxiety, awaited the period of
the vintage, "looking that it should are the noxious grapes of the vinebring forth grapes.” In this parable, yard in this parable, than fallen man we see the Christian Church as esta-in his sinful, rebellious and unregeblished by the Almighty, in his be- nerate nature--sold under sin—a folloved Son. The Messiah came; and lower of his own wicked lusts and in toil, labour, sorrow, and persecu- pleasures, rather than a follower of tion, he planted his vine in the country Christ! Are you not wild? since you of the east: and when he had chosen run to any carnal and wicked desire, those whom he knew would the best any “cunningly devised fables,” to fulfil the office of husbandmen, and escape from the Spirit of God, and to whom, he, therefore, feared not to the scrutinizing examination of your commit the care of his vineyard, he hearts, which he ever and anon sugdeparted again to the Father. The gests. Are you not dry from the sap vine has spread—the root has enlarged of evangelical life and truth? since --the branches have become strong there is nothing you follow with more enough to bear much fruit; the towers reluctance than the self-denying gosare built, where, sabbath after sabbath, pel of Christ! Are you not barren and the culture of the holy grape is taught, unprofitable? since the faith you proand the good master is watching from fess in the atonement of a Redeemer's above with affectionate interest, for a blood, brings forth none of those fruits plentiful produce. He is watching of holiness which are its characteristic uk, brethren: and may his Holy Spirit and evidence! Where is the man, be now and ever with his commission- let me ask, who is not wandering from ed ministers and his chosen people, to Christ, and requires not the sanctifyguide our labours and sanctify our ing power of the Holy Ghost to bring work!
him back again? Where is the man But, alas! after all this care-all who follows not the world and the this love, all this watchfulness, all flesh-his own passions and corrupt this pouring out of his own blood upon desires, more than he follows the cointhe soil, lo! there are gathered to mandments of God? Where is the bim none but“ wild grapes:" poison- man, who, when he has to balance Gus and noxious weeds, unfit for the between the service of the Saviour, wine press, and only worthy of being and the service of sin, does not make cast aside for the burning !
a too ready sacrifice of the blessedHere let me pause and ask you a ness of the former, to revel in the corquestion : may the Spirit ask it you ruptions of the latter; and does not more searchingly. Is there one, in willingly abandon his Bible for his this congregation, who can look deeply vices and his pleasures? Oh! brethren, and attentively into his heart, and af- this man is not hard to find : he meets ter a careful and minúte examination, us in every path—he dwells with us even of its best impulses and affec-1-in ourselves and all near and dear tions, fail to apply this párable to his to us!—But God will not be mocked! own individual case? To the church By the mouth of his holy prophet he collectively, we know and pronounce enquires: “what could have been done it to be most unequivocably applica- more to my vineyard, that have not ble; and every sincere and earnest done in it? wherefore, when I looked inquirer after “ the truth as it is in that it should bring forth grapes, Jesus," will go with me in declaring, brought it forth wild grapes ?" " and that not more wild, not more free from now, go to,” he adds ; “I will tell you sap, not more barren of unprofitable what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it | God and his righteousness? Are we shall be caten up; and break down " denying ungodliness and worldly the walls thereof and it shall be trod- lusts, and living soberly and righteden down: and I will lay it waste: ously in the present world?” Are we it shall not be pruned nor digged; glorying in the cross of Christ, and but there shall come up briers and praying and striving that we may have thorns: I will also command the clouds no other less profitable glory? Do we that they rain no rain upon it.” And, feel that we are placing all our hopes then, to drop the allegory, he ex- and our love so immoveably on our claims, “ for the vineyard of the Lord adorable Redeemer, that we are enof Hosts is the house of Israel, and abled to experience an inward and the men of Judah, his pleasant plant: comfortable assurance that, whatever and he looked for judgment, but be temptations may allure us, either the hold, oppression ; for righteousness, deceitful riches of the world, or the but behold a cry."
fascinating pleasure of sin, there is Such were the care and affection nothing, “neither life, nor death, nor displayed by the Almighty towards angels, nor principalities, nor powers, his people Israel, and such was the northings present, nor things to come;" return their disobedience and corrup- neither the height of earthly aggrantions and abominations yielded him ! disement, nor the depths of the most To the accomplishment of the de- sordid poverty, “nor any other created nounced wrath, we are no strangers ; thing, shall be able to separate us from and the Jews, to this day, are in their the love of God, which is in our Lord wandering and expatriated condition, Jesus Christ?" If this be our faith, an added evidence to the eternal truth, our desire, our prayer, let us “ go on that our God is a God who cannot in our way rejoicing;" let us “ ride lie!
forward, because of the word of truth, Such is the execution of God's meekness, and righteousness.” But vengeance on Israel. What our state if, on the contrary, we have abandoned may be, if like them we “ wander this faith, this desire, and this prayerfrom the paths of understanding, and if we have yielded our heart and its remain in the congregation of the best affections servants to sin and the dead” in trespasses and sins, let their world, --if we have been principally history assure us.
careful and anxious about the things This leads me to the Second point of time, and so neglectful of the things for our consideration : HOW FAR WE of eternity,—then let the same words MAY BE SAID TO RESEMBLE the dis- which the prophet addressed to the OBEDIENT Jews.
Jews ring in our ears, arouse our It is true, that we have received deadened understanding, and send us Christ, as it were, into our land, and in a hasty flight from the wrath to even publicly and externally acknow- come.--"Woe unto them that join ledge ourselves to be christians. So house to house, that lay field to field, did many churches, who, having since till there be no place, that they may deserted him, are now forgotten, and be placed alone in the midst of the the place which knew them once,knows earth!" If we have loved “to eat and them no more. But, are we followers drink with the drunken,”—to follow of Him and his holy gospel, really the perilous and ensnaring allurements and in every respect, both in our faith, of the wine-cup, — only awakening and in its fruits, our practice? Is it from our debaucheries to say, “I will our chief care to seek the kingdom of seek it yet again:" if we have given our time and our hearts to revels, feasting, by day, resisting his spirit, and turnchambering, wantonness, and pollu- ing the “ savour of life” into the tion,--more ready to enter the house savour of death ?" and do we not of drunkenness and blasphemy than tremble lest the sudden wrath prothe sanctuary of God-let us listen mised and fulfilled upon the Jews, once more to the words from the come with an augmented force upon same mouth : “woe unto them that ourselves? Therefore, as the fire rise up early in the morning that they devoureth the stubble, and the flame may follow strong drink ; that con- consumeth the chaff, so their root (the tinge until night, till wine inflamed root of the vine) shall be as rottenthem: and the harp, and the viol, and ness, and their blossom shall go up as the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in dust, because they have cast away the their feasts ; but they regard not the law of the Lord of Hosts, and despised work of the Lord, neither consider the word of the Holy one of Israel. the operation of his hands.” If we | Therefore is the anger of the Lord have been drawn by the strong hand kindled against his people, and he of sin, into the vain and frivolous hath stretched forth his hand against pursuits of fashion and folly, to the them, and hath smitten them. And neglect of our immortal souls, and the hills did tremble, and their carthus called down the mighty arm of an casses were torn in the midst of the oatraged Deity upon us—let us again streets. For all this his anger is not listen: “woe unto them that draw ini- turned away, but his hand is stretched quity with the cords of vanity and sin, out still.” as it were with a cart rope.” If we Oh! brethren, when we read these have been justifying ourselves in the terrible things, truly, truly, may we sight of God, and deceiving ourselves tremble for our immortal souls ; for by the wicked boast,“ that we have even thus are we abusing the gifts no sin,"—that we are following God, and graces of God. It is not denied while, on the contrary, we are the that we are surrounded by many tryservants of Satan ; let us not forget ing temptations—both from an that our Maker has said : woe unto ticing and ensnaring world, without, them that call evil good, and good and a corrupt and deceitful nature, eril; that put darkness for light and within, which are constantly leading light for darkness; that put bitter us to the commission of open and for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe heinous sin: and when we remember unto them that are wise in their that not only are these hateful. in the own eyes, and prudent in their own sight of God, but, that the impure sight.”
wish and the wicked thought, have Were not these the sins of fallen the same black and damning characIsrael? and are they not such as we ter, as the avowed and shameless too freely follow and too largely share? guilt, O, well may the troubled soul And may we not be said, moreover, shudder at the hell to which it is proto exceed their depravity and guilt, gressing. But when the sinner cries since we have sinned in open violation out, “0, wretched man that I am, of the declared precepts of Christ who shall deliver me from the body himself? Even with the holy gospel of this death?” a still small voice open before us have we not rejected comes, and the hollow echo which it,--trodden the Saviour under foot, conscience has awakened in his heart, and counted the blood of his covenant rises from its deepest cavern, and an unholy thing? Are we not, day bids him look to Christ Jesus——“ to
strive to enter in at the straight gate?" | shall be gathering about your deathand then, as if to give extra power to bed, and, that shall be the most und the energies to be used, it reminds willing to be shaken off, and to quit him that many seek to enter, but are you, is sin! But if “Christ be in not able! Oh, brethren, let me be- you, the hope of glory," you shall seech you to try your hearts by the have the promised power of his grace, standard of the gospel, and you will which shall vanquish and destroy it, confess (confess it or not, God knows and you shall be enabled to resist, it) that as yet you have, some scarcely, with him on your side, the rudest blast and many not at all, begun to seek of temptation, and to prevail against even. And yet are you not professed every assault of the devil, the world, followers of Jesus ? His followers! and the flesh! There need then, no alas ! who to look on this beautiful, exile from your allotted stage in life, but benighted world, wandering about, no flying to the lonely cell, or the as we are in ungodliness and sin, dreary wilderness: to live for Christ would imagine that we could be the in yourselves and families, and to objects of that divine love and com- convert many to righteousness, will passion which nailed the Lord of life be your highest aim and your highest and death to the tree of ignominy, glory; and you will mix with the and required his blood, ere the dearly world, not to sink within its alluring purchased blessings could extend snares and devices, but to unmask themselves to us? O, how immeasur-and condemn the hideousness, which ably distant does sin, natural, inborn lies beneath its specious beauty-the sin, keep us from the paths he wan- whited sepulchre of its deceitful forin! dered in and the labours he endured! But “ who is sufficient for these May we not sometimes cease to things?” Not he, alas ! who thinks to wonder, that, surrounded by the se- do aught by his own powers and fanductions and temptations of a fallen, cied righteousness-—his landed talents polluted world, many should have and high-prized wealth ; but he who retired in terror for their souls, to sits at the feet of Jesus, and takes the the arid desert, or the silent wood yoke, and learns the doctrines and the —to the lonely den and the fret- ways of him who is meek and lowly ted cloister ; till they have lived to of heart. Oh! would to God, brethren, learn, by a careful examination into that you had all “ so learned Christ," their own distempered nature, that it that he lived more in your hearts, is not so much the sinner they have to that he could see you learning to hate shun, as sin ; 'tis not the adulterer and sin, as committed against a good and blasphemer, and drunkard and scos- holy God; that he had made you yet fer, and unbeliever, that they have to to feel that evil is ever present with anathemize, to scorn and to deplore, you, that what you are doing is the but the united image of every sin and sin that you would not do, and that, stain, written in the dark characters what you most labour and struggle to of Eden's curse upon man's naturally perform, is the good, which though depraved and sinful heart! Believe you desire, you are still unable of me, brethren, wherever you may flee, yourselves to do. Remember that you will carry with you your ruined the kingdom of Heaven is not gained nature ; and the last companion that with ease, and quiet, and idle waiting : shall cling round your hearts, even on the contrary, it suffereth violence, in the solitude of your devotions, aye, and the violent take it by storm : and even when the damp chill of death if you have prayed and are still pray