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“ unfruitful.” The characters already described are those of the inattentive and the irresolute. There is still another large description of men who both seem attentive to the principles of rectitude, and are not naturally deficient in energy and perseverance, but who are so immersed in the business and the pleasures of the world, that the occupations suited to them as moral and religious beings, are sunk entirely, or but slightly fulfilled, amidst the multiplicity of their other concerns. the men who are much more eager to acquire, than to make a proper use of riches : who, while they observe the forms of morality and piety, yet feel not the spirit by which these principles act upon the mind : and while they are perhaps observant of all the decencies of life, are yet much more alive to their own selfish conveniences than to the severest necessities of their brethren. These pass in the world

Such are

for wise men: often, too, for men of propriety and regularity of conduct ; but, in the language of the Gospel, their virtue is “ choked,” and, while they may seem praise-worthy in the sight of men, they are yet unfruitful towards God.

It is to be remarked, that the preceding characters are by no means the characters of those who lose their place in society in consequence of their vices, , or who sink into any great degree of disrespect. They are, on the contrary, , the characters of men whom we may meet with every day in the world: and it is therefore of the utmost moment for us to search into our own hearts, and to examine whether or no we can be classed among them. The inquiry, my brethren, is indeed one of the deepest interest ; for the happiness of men, in a future state of existence, must necessarily depend upon their acquiring certain qualifications here; and

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66 it

the salvation of the Gospel cannot be promised to those who do not esteem it worthy their exertions to cultivate its seed in their hearts. Indeed, (to use the beautiful expressions of Tillotson,) “ were unfit that so excellent and glorious “ a reward as the Gospel promises, should

stoop down, like fruit upon a full-laden

bough, to be plucked by every idle and “ wanton hand ; that Heaven should be

prostituted to the lazy desires and faint “ wishes, to the cheap and ordinary en6 deavours of slothful men. God,” he adds, “ will not so much disparage eternal “ life and happiness, as to bestow it upon 66 those who have conceived so low an “ opinion of it, as not to think it worth “ the labouring for.” *

In these circumstances, how very consolatory is the concluding verse of the parable; and how plainly does it shew

* Tillotson's sixth Sermon, Vol. I.

that the momentous concern of eternal life is yet in the power

of

every individual ; that the exertions requisite are not troublesome, nor very great, but that every thing may be accomplished by sincerity and perseverance ! “ And others “ fell on good ground, and did yield “ fruit, that sprang up and increased, and brought forth, some thirty, and some

sixty, and some an hundred. And these “ are they which are sown on good

ground, such as hear the word and re“ceive it, and bring forth fruit.” Or, as St Luke expresses it in the Gospel for this day, “that on the good ground are

they which, in an honest and good “ heart, having heard the word, keep it “and bring forth fruit with patience.”It is not in the power of human language to convey sentiments more liberal, or more evidently just. We are not here told of particular opinions in religion, or

1

of any feelings and emotions which may depend upon natural constitution. We are at once referred to the voice of Conscience, and are commissioned to listen with an attentive ear to the report which it brings. We are asked whether we give our minds to the words of instruction, and endeavour to practise the lessons which we have received. Do we keep

66 the word” which we have heard? Or, do we steadily frame our conduct on those principles which we know to be true ? Are our hearts “ honest and good ?” Do our consciences bring no accusation against us of wilful perversity and disingenuousness of conduct ? Have we humility enough to be told of our errors, and rectitude enough to amend them ? If this be the case, my brethren, if our spirits are of this docile character, we may be assured that the seed of life will find its way into

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