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1.

SERM.equal request among the Jews: for we

find it frequently assumed through the Old Testament by the Statesman, the Psalmist, and the Prophet, in their several functions and capacities.

In still more abundant measure was it employed by the author of our holy faith. Were we to enumerate under this description all those images from material objects, which our Saviour uses under the several forms of metaphor, comparison, and allusion, it may truly be affirmed that he continually spoke in parable.

To take some examples from the Sermon on the Mount: He calls his disciples the salt of the earth: for as it is the property of salt to purify and preserve any corporal substance, so it was their office to purify and preserve the soul. He calls them the light of the zorld: for as it is the property of the heavenly bodies to illuminate the face of nature, so it was their function to illuminate the minds of men. pares them to a city set on a hill, which cannot be hid: being placed in a distinguished point of view as the teachers of a new religion, they were exposed to the public notice of the world; and

there

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I.

therefore it was incumbent on them to SERM.
let their light shine before men.

All these kinds of images may be con-
sidered under the name of parable:
and thus they are sometimes mentioned
in the Gospel. But the term in its or-
dinary sense is confined to those simili-
tudes, which come under the fuller form
of a continued narrative. This kind of
similitude he did not professedly em-
ploy, till the time, when he preached
from a ship on the coast of the sea of
Galilee to the multitude who stood on
the shore. And from this time it is ob-
servable that he constantly employed
this method of instruction, whenever
he discoursed to a mixed assembly of
hearers. All these things spake Jesus
unto the multitude in parables: and with-
out a parable spake he not into them.

Our Saviour's. parables have this common character, that they are closely adapted to the senses or faculties of those who heard them,

1. For in the first place, they are drawn from tlie more familiar scenes of nature, and commonly from suchas might be then in view. Thus when he de

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c Matt. v. 13, &c.

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livered

!

1.

SERM. livered his Sermon on the Mount, it

appears to have been the season of
spring, when the extensive scenery be-
fore him was full of cheerfulness and
harmony and verdure. Hence he ad-
dresses his allusions to the present ob-
servation of those who stood around
him. To repress all inordinate anxiety
for the necessaries of life, and to re-
commend a pious trust in the providen-
tial care of Heaven, he refers them for
a lesson to the animal and the vege-
table world. Were they fretfully soli-
citous what they should eat or what they
should drink, Behold, says he, the fowls
of the air, for they sow not, neither do
they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your
heavenly Father feedeth them.
not much better than they? Or did they
take an immoderate thought for raiment,
Consider, says he, the lilies of the field.
how they grow; they toil not, neither do
they spin: and yet I say unto you, that
even Solomon in all his glory was not ar-
rayed like one of these. Wherefore if
God so clothe the grass of the field, which
to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the
oven, shall he not much more clothe you,
O ye of little faithd?
d Matt, vi. 25, &c.

2. They

Are ye

I.

2. They are drawn from the common SERM. relations of human life.

To impress upon his hearers this important truth, that for their conduct here they will be called to an account hereafter, he frequently represents the Lord of all the earth under the similitude of a master of a household, who appoints his servants their respective tasks, and after a long time calls upon them to give an account of their respective performances: . When according to impartial justice he commends and rewards his good and faithful servants, and condemns and punishes the faithless and unprofitable. And again, to encourage all those, who have hitherto been deficient in their duty, or have wandered into the ways of irreligion, that they redeem the time, and return into the ways of righteousness, he also represents the Creator of the world under the similitude of a father, who is gracious and kind to all his children, and especially is merciful to the prodigal, when he repents of his errors and confesses his unworthinessf.

• Matt. xxiv. 45, &c. xxv. 14, &c. Luke xii. 42, &c. xix. 11, &c.

f Luke xv. ll, &c.
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3. They

SERAI.

I.

3. They are drawn from the common occupations of men. 'As his audience usually consisted of the poorer and less enlightened orders of mankind, he seems to have purposely chosen to bring instruction home, not only to their capacities, but also to their experience. When speaking to a multitude of rural auditors, his similitudes are usually taken from the employments of rural life. Thus he repeatedly speaks of a sower going forth to sow, of a shepherd looking after his flock, of a householder planting and disposing of his vineyards.

And that he may adapt his discourse still more closely to the experience of all his hearers, he sometimes repeats the same sentiment under different images. Thus in speaking to a multitude consisting both of men and women, we find the same doctrine represented under two similitudes referring to the different employments of either sex, the one from rural, the other from domestic life. To shew the diffusive increase of his religion in the world, he

& Matthew xii. 3, &c. Luke xv. 4, &c. Matthew xxi, 33, &c.

compares

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