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"been mentioned; we are continually preffed by others no lefs difficult to be avoided or poftponed. Family connections, numerous "acquaintance and friends, the ordinary re"ciprocation of civilities and vifits, the ftated, 66 recurrence at home and abroad of innocent 'diverfions, bring the day to a clofe almoft as foon as we perceive it to have begun. "Man was born for fociety. It is not good 66 for man to be alone. The focial intercourse "of life muft be maintained by the requifite "obfervance of that courtesy, which an apof"tle has enjoined on all men. Harmless "amufements, effential to mental refreshment "and alacrity of fpirits, cannot but be approved by a religion which exhorts to cheer"fulnefs and joy. And, however abfurd may "have been the difputations of ignorant men;
we are for our parts fatisfied that friendfhip is inculcated by Christianity. At any rate," it is finally obferved, " be it business "or fome lighter occupation which has fwallowed up our time; and even if it be ac"knowledged that with livelier vigilance we might have fnatched fomewhat more frequent, and fomewhat longer intervals for re
ligious meditation: we truft that our inat"tention has not been fuch as to expofe us "to any extravagant cenfure. We have al
ways profeffed our belief in religion. We "have occafionally been prefent at its ordinances. We have been indulgent husbands, "careful parents, kind neighbours, useful mem"bers of society. And we are universally re"garded as having regulated our conduct by "the nicest principle of honour."
Vain and empty fophiftry, to disguise the unfubdued enmity of the carnal mind against God (a)!
III. Farther: with refpect to the excufes defcribed in the parable, there are two remarks, which I would recommend to your ferious confideration. Firft; all the employments and engagements, which the perfons who were invited pleaded in apology for their absence, were in themselves perfectly lawful. To purchase a piece of ground and to go to fee it was a circumftance in its own nature untinctured with guilt. The cultivation of the earth, and induftry in our proper callings, are duties which we are commanded to practise. Neither was there any thing naturally blamable in purchafing five yoke of oxen and going to prove them. Then with refpect to marriage; we know that it is the appointment of God, and is declared in the Scriptures to be honourable for all. Yet ob(a) Rom. viii. 7.
ferve, fecondly, that the perfons who made thefe excufes were every one of them condemned. I fay unto you that none of thofe men which were bidden shall taste of my fupper. If these men were thus condemned ; how much more dreadful would have been their punishment, if they had excufed themselves for the purpose of profecuting fome finful enterprize: if instead of lawful industry they had meditated fome difhoneft undertaking; if, inftead of honourable marriage, fome plan of criminal indulgence had been in view! But, though their purfuits were all lawful; every one of the perfons was condemned. Why was this? Because every one of the perfons was worldly-minded. His heart was not fixed upon promoting the glory of God, and proving by faith and holy obedience his love and gratitude to his Maker and Redeemer. His firft object was not to be religious; but to be wealthy, or to profecute his own pleasure. The man that purchased the land, and the other that bought the oxen, were immerfed in folicitude concerning their property and poffeffions. The cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choked the word; and it became unfruitful (b). Land and oxen, and the profit which land and oxen.
(6) Matt. xiii. 22.
were to produce, were their idols. God and his laws, Chrift and the wonderful mercies which had been offered at his hand, had little if any fhare of their thoughts. The man who had married a wife, had contracted an irreligious marriage. He had fhewn, we may conclude, in that tranfaction the unconcern refpecting religion which pervaded his character. He had fe lected his confort merely for her personal appearance; or because she had an ample fortune; or because her relations were able to push him into lucrative business; or for fome other worldly reason. He had not made it his first and great ftudy to learn before-hand whether she was a truly pious woman, a faithful fervant of the Almighty; whether she would be a partner likely to help him forward in the way of falvation, and by instruction and example to train up a family in holiness. Each therefore of the perfons invited, having preferred things temporal to things eternal, was justly condemned. They that are after the flefb do mind the things of the flesh: but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. To be fpiritually-minded is life and peace: to be carnally-minded is death (c).
My brethren! the parable which has been explained, while it affords an exact picture of the present state of multitudes who profess themselves to be Chriftians, holds forth a folemn warning to all perfons, who are at this day endeavouring to make excuses for denying to religion the empire of their hearts. If in tempers or in conduct you are an open tranfgreffor of the gofpel; as furely as the word of God is true, you are in a state of damnation. The gulf of deftruction ftares you in the face; and unless you repent and become a new man, will clofe upon you for ever. But this parable, in eonformity to many other paffages in the New Testament teaches you the no lefs aweful leffon; that you will be condemned at the day of judge.ment, if you fuffer any one of the lawful occupations or lawful pleasures of this life to be the principal object of your purfuit. Yet how frequently do we fee people refigning themselves to fuch idols; and find every argument ineffectual to convince them that they are in the direct road to eternal ruin. With fome, wealth is the idol. They rife up early, and go late to reft, and eat the bread of carefulnefs, day after day, and year after year. Their minds are filled with plans for the improvement