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now feel, that of seeing a beloved child grow up in the fear of God, in dutiful obedience to his parents, and in the love and esteem of mankind.


Laftly, Let us all remember, that in the fame manner our Father which is in heaven will act to every returning finner: he will forget their former provocations, and their iniquities he will remember no more: whilst they are yet a great way off, he will draw nigh to them, and prevent them with his grace he will have compaffion on their weakness, and receive them with every mark of fatherly kindness and forgiveness: he will honour them in the fight of men and angels, and call forth all thofe expreffions of joy, which are in heaven over one finner that repenteth: laftly, his will be the affectionate language of the father in the parable, "it "was meet that we fhould make merry and "be glad; for this my fon was dead, and is "alive again; he was loft, and is found."



LUKE viii. 4,—7.


When much people were gathered together, and
were come to him out of every city, he spake
by a parable: A fower went out to fow his
feed: And as he fowed, fome fell by the
fide; and it was trodden down, and the fowls
of the air devoured it. And fome fell upon a
rock; and as foon as it was fprung up, it
withered away, because it lacked moisture.
And fome fell among thorns; and the thorns
Sprang up with it and choked it.

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HE leading characteristics of the stile of the facred writings are majefty and fimplicity: the one fuited to the dignity of their divine author and the importance of the subjects contained in them, the other adapted to the temper and understanding of Y 3


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men, of all degrees, for whose advantage and inftruction they were written.

Thefe great characteristics are no where more confpicuous, than in those parables, which were made ufe of by our Saviour, to convey to the affembled multitudes, in a more ftriking and forcible manner, the weighty and interesting truths of religion. The subject of them is lofty and fublime, becoming the lips of him, who spake as never man spake: but the ftile of them is fimple and familiar; peculiarly fitted to engage the attention and reach the hearts of those, to whom they were addreffed. We cannot, therefore, wonder, that "all the people were very attentive to hear him," or, as it is expreffed in another place, that "the com"mon people heard him gladly."


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The fhort stories too, on which our Saviour's parables are grounded, are no less engaging, than the style of them is happily pleafing and inftructive. Does he wish to represent to us the unavoidable confufion of good and evil men, in the prefent life, and the different fates which await them here


after; how naturally does he fet before our eyes the mingled tares and corn, the neceffity of fuffering both to grow together till the harvest, when the wife husbandman will order the one to be gathered into his barn, and the other to be burnt with unquenchable fire! Does he wish to defçribe to us the miraculous propagation of the Gofpel, in the hands of a few fifhermen, and under every poffible feeming disadvantage; how fitly does he compare it to a grain of mustard-seed, in appearance small and contemptible, yet soon springing up into a tree, and affording shelter to the birds of the air in its wide and umbrageous branches! Does he wish to impress upon the minds of his hearers, the rafhness and precipitancy of youth, the misery ever confequent upon fin, and the readiness of his divine father to receive returning criminals to his favour; how pathetically does he paint to us an inconfiderate youth, quitting the protection of a kind father, rushing into the fnares of ungoverned paffions, languifhing under the neceffary confequences of his vices, and, at length, on his repentance, received back by his indulgent parent with open arms, and every demonstration of fincere joy! Thus Y 4 alfo

alfo in the words of the text, under the allegory of a fower, fcattering his feed on various foils; how admirably does he reprefent the different effects, which the doctrines of christianity would produce in the world, according to the different temper and dipofition of those who heard them!


Should it be thought any objection to what has been now advanced in relation to the perfpicuity of the parables used by our Saviour, that he exprefsly describes himself as fpeaking to the Jews in parables, that seeing they might not fee, and hearing they might not perceive; I, answer, that this want of perception arofe, not from any unfitnefs in the method of inftruction, but from their own indifpofition to receive inftruction. The Scribes and Pharifees, those hearers whom Christ seems chiefly in this expression to have in view, were in the highest degree prejudiced both against his person and his doctrine, and came to hear him, not with a design of profiting by his divine leffons, but of catching fome unguarded expreffion, on which they might ground an accufation against him. It is not, therefore, furprising, that it should


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