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On the Admission of Two elderly Persons.
MATTHEW XX. 6, 7.
And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found
others standing idle; and he saith 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 shall ye receive.
And is this after the manner of men, O Lord God? Do we hire labourers in the evening, and then pay them for the work of the day? Do we take those into our service who have abused our former kindness, and have basely insulted and injured us? Do we, from mere generosity, employ labourers when we do not immediately need them ; yea, and go out to look for them, to keep them from idleness and want? Do we pay them so much for one short day's labour; and take them into our family, and make them our heirs ? O! my friends, most heartily do I congratulate you, that he who sent you into his vineyard, is God, and not man. I may surely produce you as proofs to all the world, that he is merciful and gracious; long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. What a long time had you continued idle, as to the concerns of your souls; but
busy enough in the service of Satan! Every day you toiled in that vilest of servitudes ; in which the employment is sin, and the wages is death. But, with respect to the work which God had given you to do, you had been all your life-time idle; and many precious seasons of grace
had passed away, serious and lasting impression.
The householder went out early in the morning, to hire labourers into his vineyard. But this part of your life was wasted in tritling, without any attempt, or any thought, about working. He went out again, about the third hour, on the same gracious érrand. Many young persons, some of them, perhaps, your particular acquaintance and companions, were at that time taken into the service of God; and remembered their Creator in the days of their youth. They de dicated the prime of life to religion; and bravely exposed themselves to the burden and heat of the day in the vineyard. But you rejoiced in your youth, and let your hearts cheer you in the days of
your youth ; and you walked in the
your heart, and the sight of your eyes ; not considering, that for all these things, God will bring you into judgment. So the third hour passed, and found and left you idle. The sixth hour also came, the middle, and usually a busy part of life ; when you were in full health and vigour, and might have done great service, if you had been rightly employed. But do you not blush to think how idly that precious time was all wasted? Day after day, week after week, year after year, passed away; and not a single moment was seriously employed for your souls and eternity. The language of your lips was profaneness, and your con
duct was rebellion : and though some at that time went to work in God's vineyard, you remained still in the market-place. At length the ninth hour came, wlien you ought to have been alarmed at approaching night; and whatsoever your hands found to do, have done it with all your might. Yet even this infinitely important period was suffered to pass without any improvement. And then, who that thought about you, did not consider you as lost? Who could have imagined, that, after such idleness, you should have any inclination or ability to work? Who could have supposed, that, after the best of your days had been spent in sin, God would have accepted, much less have asked for, your service ? Yet so it was : for at the eleventh hour, the all-gracious householder went out; and, as if wondering to see any idle, kindly said to you, Why stand ye here all the day idle ?”
The men in the parable could say, ". Because no man has hired us.” They never had the gospel preached to them before: but
you all your days within the sound of salvation ; though, like the deaf adder, you have stopped your ears to prevent your hearing it. The light has shone; but your darkened minds comprehended it not. Jesus would often have gathered you, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings; but ye would not. Yet, by a miracle of grace, he came to you again at the eleventh hour, and renewed his gracious invitation. “Go ye (also said he,) into the vineyard ; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.” You are come hither this day to enter your names in the list of God's servants; and to lay your humble claim to the privileges of his house, and the provisions of his
table. In the name of this church, I receive and acknowledge you as our fellow-labourers in the Lord; and pray that we may be helpers of the faith and joy of each other; and from this day forward, I regard you as the devoted servants of God.
Your privileges are unquestionably great. But remember, my dear brethren, that so also are your duties. God will suffer no man to be idle in his vineyard. Your hearts will furnish you with constant employment; and, like the field of the slothful, it will cost much trouble to bring such a desolated plat into order. Content not yourselves with cutting off the tops of the thorns and nettles, which overspread it; but pluck them up by the roots, or they will never be destroyed. As, in spite of all your care, some noxious roots will be left behind, and will often spring up, and trouble you, “ keep your hearts with all diligence; for out of them are the issues of life.”
But I choose rather, at this time, to remind you of your duty as members of a church, which may be particularly considered as a vineyard of the Lord. As a minister of Christ, and a steward of the mysteries of God, (though unworthy,) I expect your diligent attendance upon the word, and all other ordinances divinely appointed. I am far from wishing to lord it over God's heritage. I would rather obey, in my temper and conduct, that precept of my divine Master, is Whosoever would be chief among you, let him be a servant of all.” But this was the Apostle's advice; " Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves ; for they watch for your souls, as those that must give account; that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofit
able for you.” As Christ himself, and all his faithful ministers in every age, have been opposed, and hated, and frequently persecuted, it is your duty to stand by your minister in every trial. You are to afford him all the countenance, assistance, and encouragement, in your power; and carefully to avoid every thing that would weaken his hands, or be a hinderance or discouragement in the discharge of his duty, But with particular earnestness I wish to exhort you to pray for your minister. You are not aware with what difficulties he has to contend. These arise partly from himself; his unskilfulness, or unfaithfulness ; his carelessness, or cowardice. They originate partly with the people among whom he labours ; their inattention, if not their opposition, to the most important and well-intended exhortations; the unevenness of their tempers, and the irregularity of their con. duct. They are partly occasioned too, by that enemy of all that is good, that wicked one, who frequents all our assemblies, to prevent our improvement. When the sower goes forth to sow, this enemy comes, and catches away that which was sown in the heart; or he scatters tares among it so thickly, that they choke the word, and render it unfruitful; and the ninister, after all his pains, has the unhappiness of finding that he has laboured in vain. Therefore, “ Brethren, pray for me, that utterance may be given me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel ;" that the pleasure of the Lord may prosper in my hands; and that he that soweth, and they that reap, may rejoice together.
With regard to your fellow members, cherish brotherly love. Look upon them as children of the same