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power and

same effect. These considerations seem to strengthen the probability of some extraordinary prevalence of these demoniacal possessions at that particular juncture, when the plenitude of the

of the adversary may be supposed to have been put forth, in the struggle which he endeavoured to maintain with the great Captain of our salvation. The result was in every respect glorious to the Redeemer. His sovereignty was established by this proof of his command over the invisible as well as the visible creation. His justice was displayed in thus overpowering the malice of the evil one. His mercy and goodness were signalized, not only in releasing men from these bodily torments, but also in thereby giving a pledge and assurance that he would extricate them from their spiritual bondage to the great enemy of their souls. It betokened also that the time was approaching when all the lying vanities of Paganism, its magic and sorcery, its oracles and divinations, its idolatrous rites and its cruel and unnatural abominations, (the longcontinued work of Him who was “the father “ of lies,” and “a murderer from the begin“ ning',"') should experience a fatal overthrow, and be brought to “a perpetual shames.” r John viii. 44.

rage

s Jeremiah xxiii, 40.

Thus were men prepared for those great events which speedily followed the preaching of the Gospel ; when Gentiles, as well as Jews, were called to participate in its blessings, when multitudes of them obeyed the call, “ cast their idols to the moles and to the “ bats,” and pressed with eagerness to be admitted into the kingdom of God.

Hence too we are taught on Whom to rely for help and strength, to deliver us from our spiritual enemies; even on Him who gave these convincing testimonies that he was “mighty to save,” as well as irresistible in punishment. We are taught also, not only to“ praise the Lord for his goodness, " and to declare the wonders that he doeth 66 for the children of men ";" but to reflect, that as He thus “ led captivity captive,” and destroyed the

power of the Destroyer over the bodies of men ; so should it be our constant desire and endeavour, by that heavenly aid which He hath purchased for us, to subdue those evil lusts and passions

66 which war against the soul,and which“ bring us into

captivity to the law of sin.” Warned by these admonitions and fortified with these encouragements, nothing can be wanting to ensure success, but a readiness on our part to Isaiah ii. 20.

u Psalm cvii. 8.

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avail ourselves of the proffered help. For though we are “ set in the midst of so many “ and great dangers, that, by reason of the

frailty of our nature, we cannot always “ stand upright;" yet have we the promise of “ such strength and protection as will sup

port us in all dangers, and carry us through “ all temptations.” For this, let us make our constant supplications to the throne of grace; knowing that “ He is faithful who hath

promised, and that what He hath promised “ He is able also to perform *.”

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* Rom. iv. 21.

SERMON VII.

MATTHEW xx. 16.

So the last shall be first, and the first last : for

many be called, but few chosen.

ALTHOUGH the parables delivered by our blessed Saviour are among the most generally edifying portions of holy writ; yet in the application of them to other times than those in which they were delivered, or to the spiritual concerns of individual Christians, great caution is sometimes requisite. For the most part, they had an immediate reference to the Jews, to whom they were addressed ; and unless this reference be kept in view, erroneous conceptions may be formed of their intent. Some of them also appear to have arisen out of occasional and personal occurrences; without attention to which they are no less liable to be misapprehended.

The parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard, to which the words of the text relate, has, from such misapprehensions, been variously interpreted. It has been pressed as an argument for relying on the efficacy of sudden conversions, or of a death-bed repentance. It has been applied to uphold the Calvinistic tenet of arbitrary election to eternal life. Some conceive it to have reference to the several dispensations of revealed religion before the coming of Christ. Others consider it as referring to different ages of the Christian church; and endeavour to point out certain periods of ecclesiastical history, to which the several hours of the day may be made to correspond. Some again confine it to the ministers of God's word; others extend it to the whole body of the church ; some make it significant of the external privileges of the faithful; others, of the internal. According to these different views of the scope and design of the parable, different expositions have been given of it; oftentimes rather fanciful than solid, and adopted for the purpose of supporting a favourite system or hypothesis.

Without entering into a discussion of these various interpretations, it may sufficiently appear how far any of them are well or illfounded, if we attentively consider the occasion on which the parable was delivered, and

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