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you pass by this very moment, it is possible that every subsequent time, when attention the concerns of your soul may be urged upon you, your resolution will be less powerful than it is now.
Meantime habits are every day acquired and strengthened ; time is wearing away; a thousand accidents may deprive you of your pleasures ; or your last sickness may come ; delirium, with the necessary care of the sickening body, may come, and leave you no leisure to prepare for that awful eternity into which you are hurrying.
Do not then, my beloved friends, delay another inoment. Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation. O, if you knew what blessings were in reserve for you, if you did now only change your case. Give up your backwardness and indecision; and give yourselves up with all your heart and soul, a reasonable service to your Maker through Christ. O, if you would count the cost, consider what you are, and what you have given up; you would find that, in making a choice which would secure your happiness for eternity, you would not have made a bad choice for life. Look around you : do but observe any one who is an honest and habitual servant of God, and see whether there is not a joyousness in him, a superiority to the trials of life, and a blessed anticipation of immortality.
What I would counsel every one, then, is, that you would now earnestly set about your
salvation. Set your heart upon being saved. Go to the Word of God to learn every step you must take. Depend exclusively on the merits of the Redeemer for your acceptance with God, and for the supplies of spiritual strength and courage which you need. Seek at the throne of grace for that assistance. Cast yourself at once on the boundless mercy of Jehovah. Never distrust him: you honour him most, when you trust him most. Believe, that though he cannot and will not dishonour himself, he waits to be gracious and delights to save. Bless him that you are not at this time in hell. Never despair, but give yourselves into the hands of that sovereign Lord and Father who will inake you eternally happy among his children.
And you, my dear friends, who are parents, remember it is essential to your own welfare, that you should endeavour to be useful to your children. May nothing appear to you, in this world, comparable to their eternal well-being Bring them to Him who is so ready to hold them in his arms, and protect them from every harın. And then, whenever the summons comes to you, you shall not leave them friendless in the desert world; for the everlasting arms will be under them; and they shall meet you in glory.
Christian friends, considering the awful end of those who die unrighteous, let me entreat you that you would look on all around you hurrying into eternity, exposed to the indignation of God; and to do what lies in you to pluck them from their danger. Never despair of success : never forget that they may be sared with the grace that has saved you. Pity them; pray for them ; lore them, though they may repel your kindness; and continually solicit at the throne of grace, that you may be successful as instruments to their everlasting glory. If your own crown is secured, you may in heaven look on those who would have been lost souls, but are brought to glory through your instrumentality. This will give greater weight to that welcome, which, I trust, many of you will receive : “ Well done good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful in a few things ; I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
THE REPEATED INVITATIONS OF THE GOSPRL.
RBV. A. REED, D.D.,
Then said he to his servants, the wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not
worthy. Go ye, therefore, into the highways, and, as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all, as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests."
MATTHEW, xxii. 8–10. "So that servant came and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house,
being angry, said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the Lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”—Lrke, xiv. 21–23.
The greatest act of mercy with which we are acquainted on the part of the Lord is, that he has condescended to present to us the way of our redemption. The declaration and expression of his mercy in reference to this manifestation of his grace is, that he not only reveals our salvation as matter of record and of truth, but that he connects with that revelation of his mercy, a gracious and manifold invitation to come and be with him. The highest and most remarkable proof of his mercy is to be found, not merely in the proposition of mercy to sinners, as such: not merely in the circumstance of its being presented to us by manifold invitations ; but yet more, in the circumstance, that after the invitations have been given, and after they have been perversely refused, they are still repeated, still renewed, and still pressed on our serious attention.
The Scriptures abound, also, in these instances of the divine mercy; and they are all a paraphrase upon that one declaration, with which God has indulged us, that he has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but rather that he should be converted, and turned from the error of his way, and live; that his delight is in mercy ; that his delight is in presenting that mercy to us, in its manifold and touching forms; and in calling up and awakening our attention, if by any means we may enter into the rest which he has prepared for his people.
It is just in this way the portion of the parable on which we are about to observe, comes under our attention. We have seen that God has made an abundant provision for our necessities as sinful and depraved creatures we have seen that, in doing so, he designs to confer great honour upon his Son as our Saviour. These provisions, as they are abundant, so they are freely exposed to our attention; and wc are freely and repeatedly encouraged to come and to
participate. We have seen that the invitations thus presented to us in God's word and in God's name, and through the ministry of his servants, is frequently rejected. And we have seen that those who continue to trifle and to make light of the message, and to put it away from them in scorn, are at last frequently given up to their own course, to their own worldly will, to their own worldly idolatry; and they are no more addressed, and they are not saved.
We are now to observe, that notwithstanding many refuse this invitation of mercy, and make awfully light of it, that it is still repeated, and it is eventually successful in the salvation of a multitude. It is, therefore, to this renewed invitation that we are to call your attentive and prayerful regard this morning. "Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests."
Let us consider, then, in the first place, in reference to this renewed invitation of the divine mercy, the persons who are invited; the encouragement proposed to accept this invitation; and the necessity of the acceptance of it immediately and without delay.
We are to observe, as directed by the course of the parable from the lips of our Lord, in the first place, THE PERSONS WHO ARE INVITED BY THESE RENEWED INVITATIONS OF OUR LORD. They are represented as of a different class, as placed under different circumstances, and as giving to the message a different reception. And hence our Lord commands that his servants should go forth, and invite what is denominated by Luke," the maimed and the halt, the poor and the blind," to come and participate of these rich and gracious privileges. And we are then assured, in connexion with this, that they do not continue to refuse, that they thankfully accept, that they are received on accepting, and that they are encircled with the bounty of their Lord and Saviour.
The Redeemer, certainly, in this parable, has in the first instance respect to the Jews. He regards them as first invited, as in fact they were. Their's were the oracles; their's were the prophecies; and, in the order of things, their's was first the gospel testimony; for it was first presented to their attention. And when those who were pharisaicai and proud continued to reject it, the Redeemer still said, "My commission is limited to this people, although it be to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." He wandered after those who had wandered he had compassion upon those who were out of the way: and he endeavoured to continue to win those people to the last to their interests, and their visitation. And the invitation which is thus renewed, and renewed to other persons, is ultimately meant to apply itself to the Gentiles: these are represented as "poor" and "halt," as "lame" and as "blind," and as those in the highways, in the streets and lanes; they were not in circumstances like those of Israel, not privileged like the people of Israel were; far from the covenant of peace, they were ignorant of the way of salvation. And, if it had been propounded that mercy was to come to any, it would have been said at once that that mercy was not to visit the Gentiles, as they then lay wrapped in ignorance, in darkness, and in idolatry.
Now, our Lord here intimates, that, by renewed invitations, what the unbelieving Jew rejected, the Gentile shall be disposed to receive. He shall gather into himself a family, a rast family, and make them all participants of the grace of life.
The subject accommodates itself to our present circumstances, and to our profitable meditation. The persons who are thus addressed, are those who are out of the way; those who are ignorant ; those who are helpless; and those who feel themselves unworthy. These were not the persons addressed by the first invitation: but these are the persons now comprehended in the larger inritation of divine grace. Those who were worthy, we have explained, as being such persons as by their profession, by their privileges, and by their education, might seem most favourable to the Gospel when it should come, and most disposed to accept it. It was, therefore, in the first instance, presented to them; but they rejected it: and our Lord says, by this rejection they were not worthy : that is, the messag was not treated worthily; the message was not honoured ; they did not bow to the authority which sanctioned it; they did not see the necessity of the provision made by it; they were not grateful for the provision made for them; but they passed by, with scorn and contempt, all that God had done for their benefit. They were in this sense not worthy: and they were therefore separated from the hope of their calling, and were appointed unto suffering and punishment.
Those who are now addressed are described as of a different class : and the description, as in the former case, certainly bears on the circumstances of the party, and also upon their disposition.
In the first place it affects their circumstances. They are those who are blind, and poor, and out of the way, and unworthy-feeling themselves' unworthy. These persons are now invited to come, and freely to participate. That is, the individuals who are thus addressed are persons who are ready to conclude, that the invitation, perhaps, does not comprehend them, because they have not professed religion as others; because they have not walked in the outward invitations as others; because they have not been indulged with pious, early education, as others ; because they have not felt something of " the power of the world to come," as others : therefore they are disposed to think the invitation of mercy does not extend to them. But this invitation not only includes them, but is expressly addressed to them. These persons, who had not a previous profession of religion; who had not been baptized, perhaps, into its name; who have acknowledged no obligation in former life to the truth ; nevertheless these persons, thus out of the way, thus not having professed Christ, and having very little knowledge of him, are notwithstanding invited to come, and freely to partake of the divine, fatherly bounty.
It addresses itself, therefore, to such of this congregation as may have felt themselves in these circumstances. Perhaps, under the former invitation, there inay be some of you who may be disposed to entertain these difficulties and this objection. The invitation has been presented with earnestness and fervour to the conscience. Many have rejoiced : some have submitted to it and received it: possibly you have not, to the present hour, acknowledged its authority, and yielded to its invitation. The subject addresses itself now to you; and it proposes to master, and to set aside, all the difficulties and objections, which
you have perhaps made an excuse to its acceptance. You have thought your early education has not qualified you to understand religion: that as your parental instruction has not brought you early under the means of grace, you are not in a state of readiness to accept the invitation. You have thought that, as you have maue no profession of region, you are under no constraint to do so; and may still remain at liberty to take time to consider of this, the message from on high. You have thought you wanted understanding for the subject. You felt doubts on the subject, and questions which you have on some nice points of Christian doctrine-of election, of calling, of the way of peace and reconciliation you felt that you would rather wait, and put aside, although respectfully put aside, the invitation, until these difficulties are overcome, and you have an invitation expressly accommodated to your circumstances, and your professed state of want of outward privilege.
If there is such a class of persons in this congregation, (as I believe there may be) the invitation is understood to come expressly to you. You have not had early privileges; you have not yielded yourselves to the suggestions of religion; you have not taken upon yourself the name of Christ; you have not bowed with the people of God, in the regular profession of his name and his worship. Then it is to you, who are here described as out of the way, as comparatively poor and ignorant, as altogether destitute and unworthy, and such in your own conception also-it is to you that the word of this salvation is
But as it describes circumstances, so it is evidently meant to describe dispositions. Our Lord represents to you the disposition of those who rejected and made light of his invitation. He shews that their pride of heart, that their prevailing worldliness, that their covetousness of the things of this life, have altogether prevailed against their acceptance, or even their just consideration, of his invitations. When the invitation was addressed to them, they said to themselves and to each other, "I must go and cultivate my farm;" "I must go and prove my oxen;" "I must enjoy my domestic comforts :" "I must pursue this world's good." The reigning disposition of the mind was earthly, was of this world, was bowed down to time, and to sense, and to flesh and on this account they made light of a message which had a spiritual and eternal influence.
On the other hand, our Lord means to describe not only circumstances, but dispositions, in the account which he gives of the persons accepted. They are, he says, such as were out of the way; such as were poor, and blind, and halt, and maimed. It is such as deemed themselves to be in this state, and by finding themselves in this state, found themselves unworthy, and excluded from the common invitation. They are now addressed; they are represented as specially embraced; and the dispositions of mind bestowed on them, are the very dispositions that are meant to harmonize with the invitation that is given. They are poor, they are ignorant; they are sensible of their poverty, they are sensible of their ignorance of God, of the way of salvation, of the way in which a sinner can be justified before him. They have written things against themselves; they have put themselves beyond the pale of profession; they have deemed themselves unworthy of the common privileges of the people of God. And they have made these, perhaps, too ready excuses for past neglect of the authority of the Gospel.