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tions for illustration of this doctrine, and to show its applicability to ourselves.
II. And then add what seems suitable for practical exhortation and direction.
I. And first, as to the doctrine brought before us in the text, and its applicability to ourselves. The divine saying,
"Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required,"—is one which commends itself immediately to every man's conscience, so that none will be hardy enough to dispute the justice of it. Indeed, our blessed Saviour, in delivering it, makes his appeal to the common sense of mankind themselves, and quotes their own ordinary proceedings; for he adds" and to whom men have committed much, of him will they ask the
This is universal practice. We look for returns always in proportion to our outlay: for much gratitude where we have shown much love ; for much improvement, where we have bestowed much pains in teaching ; for large pro fits, where we have advanced a large capital, and have given the person entrusted the best advantages and opportunities for trading :-and if our interests have been least regarded by those whom we have most obliged ; if we have rished and brought up children, and they have
* Luke xii. 48.
rebelled against us ;” if the best instructed have committed the grossest errors, and the best endowed have been the farthest off from giving us back" our own with usury,” our complaints are proportionably loud, and we look
ourselves as aggrieved and injured inexcusably.
Then see how the case stands between Almighty God and ourselves.
Addressing himself to Israel in the text, he says, “ You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” He delivered them out of bondage in Egypt; gave them statutes and ordinances for their special guidance ; constituted them the keepers of the lively oracles of his word; called them to be a nation of priests ; set them up for a light to the world, and looked therefore that they should “ keep themselves from idols,” live to his honour and glory, and be the means of spreading the knowledge of him among men. But “ they remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy;'* instead of being a benefit to them that sat in darkness, they were “ mingled" themselves “ among the heathen, and learned their works ;” † when the Lord " looked that his vineyard should bring forth grapes, it brought forth wild grapes.” Then what could be expected, but that they, beyond others, should be * Psalm lxxviii. 42.
+ Psalm cvi, 35.
punished for their iniquities ?-All have some light; even the heathen of that day had as much knowledge of God and their duty as should have sufficed to lead them to better practices; and therefore, saith God, “For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; but I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad.” * And the like of Gaza, and Tyrus, and Edom, and Ammon, and Moab; but much more of Judah and Israel. Of them
Behold, I am pressed under you as a cart is pressed, that is full of sheaves ;" † and accordingly, the peculiar condemnation threatened in the text came upon them to the uttermost. But is the question altered now? I
do not we stand ourselves just where God's ancient people stood ? St. Peter tells us that we do. God hath now taken from among the Gentiles a people for his name; and to us, who are that people, he says now, “ You only have I known of all the families of the earth.”-For“ ye,” he says—meaning us who have the Gospel—" ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people,” '_“ that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous lightwhich in time past were not a people, but are * Amos i. 3, 4.
+ Amos ï. 13.
pow the people of God, which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”—“Wherefore,” he proceeds : “ Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul ; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles; that by your good works which they shall bebold, they may glorify God in the day of visitation." Certainly, brethren, if God could expostulate unanswerably with Israel, saying, “What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain ?” t-much more may he say the like to us. And if it could be testified of Israel, at the giving of the law“ Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, to walk in his ways; and the Lord has avouched thee to be his peculiar people, to make thee high above all nations in praise, and in name, and in honour,” I-much more may the same be testified of ourselves at the giving of the Gospel, and at our own individual entrance upon the profession of it in baptism. If Israel had directions in duty and encouragement to repentance, and proofs of God's love to their souls, and “ exceeding great and precious promises,” it was but twilight surely to our noon-day sun.
1 Peter ii, 9–12. + Jerem. ii. 5.
I Deut. xxvi. 17, 18.
And we have besides the example of their miscarriage to cry aloud unto us—“ If the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape who neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord.”*_“ Be not highminded, but fear ; if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.” -“Behold the goodness and the severity of God: on them that fell-severity, but toward theegoodness, if thou continue in goodness : otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” |
To us surely, brethren, what the text delivers is most awfully applicable ; and if, besides this, there be any amongst us more richly endowed than others are, having more knowledge, better means of instruction, better opportunities of worship and of hearing, fuller experience of divine mercy, greater and more distinguishing personal obligations for blessings received, whether in answer to prayer or in spite of much forgetfulness of God ;—to such of us the application is still closer and more peculiar.
Then, if the Lord of the spiritual vineyard cometh year after year, seeking fruit from us and findeth none, or nothing that bears any due proportion to our privileges, can we fare better * Heb. ii. 2, 3.
+ Rom xi. 20, 22.