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order to bring home the subject more particularly to our own consciences as individuals. The text contains the inference drawn from it by our blessed Saviour. So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many be called, but few chosen. Let us apply these words to ourselves, for our own admonition.
The conduct of the labourers who were hired early in the morning may be considered as descriptive of those who having been admitted to the enjoyment of the outward privileges of the visible church of Christ on earth from their infancy, and having led sober and moral lives, imagine themselves to be more deserving of the reward promised by the righteous Judge to His believing people, than other persons are, who have been called at a later period of life to the knowledge and belief of the gospel of Christ. It is a very common thing for people to value themselves and others upon their birth-right privileges; not considering that these always bring along with them a responsibility corresponding to the advantages which they confer. This was the case with the Jews. They valued themselves on being the descendants of Abraham, and the disciples of Moses ; while they kept not the covenant which God made with Abraham, and transgressed the law which Moses had delivered to them; and thus forfeited the blessings connected with these privileges of which they boasted. And do not many among ourselves, in like manner, think highly of themselves because they were baptised in their infancy, and confirmed in their youth ; and it may be, have attended on the worship and ordinances of the house of God in their more mature age ? These things, however, have great responsibility attached to them. We are thereby laid under obligation to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ, to believe in His name, and to live in obedience to His holy will and commandments. And unless this end be answered, our outward privileges will turn to our greater condemnation. These are advantages then of which we have no cause to be proud; but we have every reason to be humbled, that, while we enjoy them, we fall so far short of what is required of us. These privileges were granted us as means of salvation; may it be our concern to receive the blessing which they were designed to convey to us. Otherwise, notwithstanding that we have possessed the highest privileges, we shall fall short of obtaining the blessedness to which they lead those who use them aright. And let us not be envious of others obtaining greater blessings than we ourselves enjoy. The true Christian spirit is to rejoice in the good and prosperity of others, as well as in our own. If we have a right sense of our own unworthiness, we shall be thankful for every gift of Divine bounty that is
bestowed upon us; and we shall esteem others more highly than ourselves, and not murmur or be displeased at their greater happiness. The Apostle Paul acknowledged, By the grace of God I am what I am,9° and called himself, the chief of sinners,91 and less than the least of all saints.92 It will always be found that before honour is humility : and he who is last and least in his own opinion shall be first in the kingdom of God; while those who are first in their own conceit, will be last in the estimation of those around them, and will lose the benefit to which their religious privileges were intended to lead them.
Our blessed Saviour shows us how it comes to pass that the first and the last change places in the manner that He had spoken of. The reason assigned is, for many are called, but few chosen. Many hear the invitations of Divine mercy, but few in comparison earnestly seek to obtain the blessing. Those only are the chosen people of God who really seek the rich blessings of His grace. Not the persons who make the greatest boast of their religious privileges, but those who live in the most humble obedience to the word and will of God, shall obtain His blessing. These He has chosen for Himself, to be unto Him a peculiar people, zealous of good works, 93
90 I Cor. xv. 10. 91 1 Tim. i. 15. 92 Ephes. iii. 8. 93 Titus ii. 14.
and to show forth His praises, who hath called them out of darkness into His marvellous light. These are called, and chosen, and faithful, and these He will delight to honour in that day when He maketh up His jewels.
It becomes us then to inquire, in conclusion, What is our character in this respect?
Are we among the chosen, the peculiar people of God, whom He has chosen for Himself, to show forth His praise ?
Or, Are we only among those who have been called to partake of the blessings of the salvation of Christ, but who have not obeyed the call of the gospel, have not believed its report; and to whom the arm of the Lord hath not been revealed, as their Deliverer from the dominion of sin and Satan? It is most important that we should ascertain our real character in the sight of God; whether we are among the many who are called, or the few who are chosen. Let us not deceive ourselves in a matter of such vast importance. Let us examine ourselves whether we be in the faith, and pray that we may be numbered among them that believe to the saving of the soul, that our outward privileges may turn to our everlasting welfare; and when the great day of God shall arrive, we may hear the joyful salutation of the Judge of all the earth, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
SUNDAY CALLED SEXAGESIMA.
THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER.
Luke viii. 8.
AND WHEN HE HAD SAID THESE THINGS,
HE CRIED, HE THAT HATH EARS TO HEAR,
LET HIM HEAR.
The great importance of the truths contained in the parable which our Saviour closed in this emphatical and earnest manner, must, we should suppose, have deeply impressed the minds of the people to whom it was delivered. It was addressed to a large audience. The Evangelist relates in the Gospel for this day, that when much people were gathered together, and were come to Him out of every city, He spake by a parable. The other Evangelists mention that He was by the sea side ; and that to avoid the pressure of the crowd, which thronged around Him, He