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such as meekness and humility, temperance and chastity, justice and honesty, charity and brotherly love, moderation of our passions, and the rest of those admirable virtues which concern ourselves and our neighbour; and a heart full of love and gratitude and devotion to that blessed God, to whose undeserved bounty we are indebted for all our present comforts, and to whose boundless mercy for all our future hopes. What can be more kind and good, as well as just and fitting, than for the Lord of the vineyard to require such fruit as this ? and how thankful should we be to those, and love and honour them, who by his commission continually put us in mind of this our duty, which tends so directly to our happiness, and shall have such a recompense of reward?

And yet this is the very reason (for there can be no other) why both our great Master and his ministers have so little of men's affection and reverence, and so much of their hate and contempt. It is because' we require good fruit of them, and will not suffer them to go quietly on in their fatal barrenness.

It is because we disturb them in their vicious courses, and awaken their consciences by our reproofs, and dash their sinful pleasures with gall and wormwood, by telling them of death and a judgment to come, when the wicked shall be thrown into hell, and infinite misery be their portion who forgot God here; and that nothing can procure us mercy then, but a life of holiness and virtue now: it is this makes us such thorns in men's sides; for these are such cruel damps to the jollities of vice, and the greedy pursuit of riches, and the towering projects

of the ambitious, as flesh and blood cannot bear; and therefore must endeavour, by their discountenancing and ill usage of those messengers of ill news, (as they esteem them,) to get rid of as soon as they

can.

The name of a Christian they are willing enough to bear, and like very well to be told of going to heaven when they die; and were this all that our Lord and his servants talked of, they could be content to hear of it sometimes, and pay some regard to those who preach to them nothing but happiness and glory: but when we shew them the way that must lead to it, and tell them how constantly they must insist in that way, which appears so rugged and unpromising to men of their inclinations and course of life, this they cannot relish at all, this it is that makes them so uneasy, and so much our enemies.

But if we say nothing more than the truth; and it is a truth of such infinite consequence, and the very same that Christ and his apostles have often said before us, and commanded us to declare impartially to all men; it is strange that for so good an office we should be so ill thought of, and so unkindly treated!

Should we gloze and flatter, and soothe men up in their dangerous wanderings, what character should we deserve from them then? for a little while perhaps we might have their good word, and a kind look; (and it may be not neither; it being so well known what we ought to insist upon, that our treacherous neglect of doing it will be turned to our just reproach ;) however, the time will come, when they will curse our unfaithfulness in so great a trust, and gnash upon us with their teeth in bitterest anguish, for not importunately urging them to bring forth those fruits of righteousness, which they then will find were absolutely necessary to their salvation.

If therefore the world hate us, we know that it hated our blessed Master before it hated us. If we were of the world, the world would love his own; but because we are not of the world, but he hath chosen us out of the world, therefore the world hateth us y; and all for this cause only, because we tell it the truth. O base ingratitude !

But let the world take notice of these remarkable words of our Lord to the seventy disciples, whom he sent out to preach his gospel: He that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me a. Let it take notice, that all the ill usage and indignities offered to Christ's ministers through them strike at their Master, and terminate upon God at last, from whom their authority is originally derived. And what can be expected from such provoking behaviour but utter ruin?

Upon the whole then, when the servants of the great Lord of the vineyard come to urge us to render him the fruits in their seasons, let us receive them as becomes those that have so near a relation to him, and comply with their exhortations to the best of our ability: and since, in infinite condescension, he was pleased to send his Son in these last days to us, upon so gracious a message as to offer pardon to a vile rebellious world, upon condition of their rendering him better fruits of obedience for

y John xv. 18, 19.

z Gal. iv, 16.

a Luke x. 16.

the future; even that divine Son of his, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, and is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person b; shall we say, with the wicked husbandmen in the parable, This is the heir ; come, let us kill him ; let us crucify him afresh by our impieties, and put him to an open shame? Now God forbid ! No, let us shew him all possible reverence, and express it by a cheerful observance of all his blessed will; and so shall we be coheirs with him, and then his inheritance will indeed be ours. Amen, blessed Lord, Amen!

THE PRAYER.

I.

Eternal God, thou great and good Father of the universe, who in all ages hast shewn thy tender care of the happiness of mankind, and by various revelations to the patriarchs, to Moses, and the prophets, didst enlighten their minds in the knowledge of thee, and taughtest them how to please thee, and in the fulness of time didst purchase to thyself an universal church by the precious blood of thy dear Son, proclaiming to all the world, that whosoever would believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life: for ever blessed and praised be this thy wondrous love to thy poor, unworthy creatures ! and may it so deeply affect us all, as to produce the highest resentments of gratitude, and a return of love unfeigned, and most constant duty! May we, particularly of this part of thy church, which thou hast distinguished with such peculiar marks of thy favour, consider seriously what extraordinary obligations we lie under to an exemplary piety, and abundant fruitfulness in every grace of the Spirit! For what could have been done more to this branch of thy vineyard, that thou hast not already done in itd? O let it not therefore turn a degenerate plant; and when thou justly lookest that it should bring forth grapes of excellency suitable to the noble stock and fruitful soil, and all the care and culture used about it, О may it not bring forth wild and sour fruit, and provoke thee to lay it waste, and blast it with the breath of thy displeasure !

b Heb. i. 2, 3.

c Mark xii. 7.

II.

We confess, O Lord, with shame and confusion of face, that we have too much deserved the fierceness of thy anger, and it is of thy infinite compassions that we are not already consumed; O do thou still in wrath remember mercy, and let thy continual pity cleanse and defend that church, which hitherto thou hast covered with the wings of thy providence, and protected from all her enemies round about. We know it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, so many crying, Down with it even to the ground; preserve it therefore evermore by thy help and goodness; and grant that all the members of it, from the highest to the lowest, in their several stations, may make it their sincere endeavour to pluck up every root of bitterness, both in themselves and others, and cast out every poisonous, hurtful thing that hinders its abounding in full clusters of accept

d Isa. v. 4; Jer. ii. 21.

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