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As sweetness ef temper and obliging behaviour reader a person beloved, and will answer many valuable purposes to society, they should be cultivated by Christians: and they must not stop here, but endeavour to make themselves acceptable to God, which can only be effected by becoming the true disciples of his blessed Son.
Since riches have so many temptations, no Christian should be solicitous to accumulate them; but if wealth is a portion allotted us by Divine Providence, we should remember from whence it comes, and the use we are required to make of it; and then, instead of being a snare and obstruction to our entrance into the kingdom of heaven, it will prove a real blessing, and be a means of procuring us a more glorious station in those blessed regions. ''
THE PAR ABLE OF THE LABOURERS IN THE VINEYARD.
.' From Matt. Chap. xix, xx.
But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an housholder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market.place, and said unto them, Go je also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
Again he went out about the sixth ar. l ninth hour, and did likewiie.
.And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saiih unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right, that bhall ye receive.
So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more, and ihey likewise received every man a penny. '• . .
And when they had received it, they murmured against the good man of the house,
Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
, But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong; didst thou not agree with me for a penny?
Take that thine is, and go thy way; I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? is thine eye evil, because I am good?
So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
.Our Lord having in the last section promised his Apostles that they should sit upon twelve thrones in heaven, judgingtthe twelve tribes of Israel, proceeded to obviate a mistake into which he knew some would fall,
that that those who were first called to the knowledge of Christ should have the pre-eminence in glory; and intimated God's rejection of the Jews, to whom the Gospel was first preached, and his acceptance of the Gentiles, by declaring, that many who were first in respect to advantages would be the last to improve themi whilst others, from whom it would be the least expected, would embrace the Gospel, and be received as members of his kingdom. To illustrate this, our Lord spake the parable of the labourers in tha vineyard; the principal intent of which was to shew, that the Gentiles, though newly called, should enjoy as great privileges . as the Jews, who had so long been distinguished as the peculiar people of God. If we reflect on the history of the Jews, we shall be ready to allow, that it was perfectly consistent with the justice of God to put the Gentiles on a level with them. This his infinite goodness has completely effected; for the descendants of Jewish and Gentile converts are so blended, that all distinction is lost between them, and they are now fellow-labourers in the vineyard of God, under the name of Christians. It no longer remains a question who is first or last amongst them in respect to birthright, but who shall have the preference with God Om account of their diligence in improving the means of saltation, \
The work required of all who bear the name of Christians, is the cultivation of their own minds in religious attainments, in order to glorify God, and an attention to the good of their fellow-creatures. If those to whom the Gospel has been made known are idle and remiss, they have not the same excuse as the heathen formerly had; but as it frequently happens that per. sons, through a neglected education #.nd bad connections, remain in ignorance of their duty, till they are
far • far advanced In life, such, when they sincerely resolve to live a Christian life, may derive encouragement from our Lord's assurance, that " manywha are last shall be first." Whilst others, who have, from their very infancy, enjoyed every advantage, may learn to improve them, in order that they may appear among the happy number of those who are not only called but chosen.
We must not infer from this parable, that an equal reward awaits all who profess Christianity without any regard to their character or improvements, or that we may safely defer the reformation of our lives to ad. vanced age. There can be no excuse for neglect of duty, but unavoidable ignorance of it. It has pleased God to set a reward before us, though we can claim nothing from him as our due, but through his infinite goodness; which may be compared, as in the foregoing parable, to the benevolence of a man of independent fortune, who employs poor people merely to keep them from idleness, and then pays them for working for themselves. Who, in such a case, would not exert his utmost industry with thankfulness of heart? Surely, then, Christians ought to be equally vigilant, and acknowledge with the deepest gratitude the unmerited kindness of the Supreme Being, submitting to all his dispensations, without repining at the superior advantages which others may seem to enjoy, since each has much more than he has any natural right to expect.
The Roman penny was equal to seven pence half, penny of our money, which is~supposed to have been at that time the usual price for day-labourers. The third hour was about nine o'clock in the morning, the sixth twelve at noon, the ninth three in the afternoon, the eleventh five in the evening. %
SECTION SECTION XCIV.
JESUS RAISETH LAZARUS FROM THE DEAD.
From Jehu, Chap. xi.
Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
Therefore his sisters sent unt© him, saying, Lor», behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not un)to death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus, When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
Then after that, saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again.
His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
These things said he: and after that, he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus s'.eepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that ke had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.