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cleared, so is the heart to be prepared by repentance: whence the prophet Hosea thus calls upon the people ; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord. In the parable of the sower, the seed is the word of Godt quick and powerful with the principles of life; and the different kinds of soil denote the various dispositions with which men receive-the word of God; some few into an honest and good* heart; many more into hearts open as the common high-way to the lusts of the world and the visits of satan; and as such people understand nothing spiritual, they immediately lose what they receive. Some, whose minds are shallow, connot retain it, as not having depth enough for the word to be rooted, so as to withstand trials and temptations, signified by the scorching heat of the sun upon a stony soil. Some are so full of care and business, that the word can no more thrive, than seed among thorns and thistles.
I would propose this parable of the sower as a specimen of the excellence of that figurative mode of instruction so constantly pursued throughout the scripture. See how much doctrine, enough to fill a volume, is here comprehended in how few words; in a form striking ing to the imagination, and plain to every ca-" pacity!
Another sort of husbandry, not so familiar to us in this climate, is the cultivation of the vineyard. In countries nearer to the sun, vines are cultivated in the fields, and employ many hands to plant and dress them, and gather their fruits. In the 5th chapter of Isaiah there is a /nystical song, which considers the church of Israel as the vineyard of God, planted in a fruitful situation on the holy hill of Sion, cleared, fenced and guarded, furnished with everything that could render it complete and keep it in its perfection. Instead of good fruit it produced wild grapes, as bad as if it had been left without cultivation. For this, its hedge was to have been taken away, and it was to be eaten up; that is, the heathens round about it were to be let in upon it to devour it, and it was to be trodden down: no rain was to fall upon it; the blessing of divine grace from heaven was to be withheld ; and thorns and briars, all sorts of wicked people, under the figure of every worth-, less, troublesome and accursed plant were to prevail in it.
In the 80th psalm, the spoiling of the church is lamented under the same, image. It is described scribed as a vine brought out of Egypt by the hand of God, to be rooted in Canaan; from whence the heathens were cast out to make room for it, as the ground is cleared of stones and rubbish for a new plantation. But for its. unfruitfulness, the boar out of the wood laid it waste, and the wild beast of the field devoured it. Such ever was and ever will be the fate of the church: when it becomes degenerate, and unworthy Of the hand that planted it, the world is let in upon it; who are as eager to plunder, lay it waste, and trample it down, as the swine to root up the ground and destroy a plantation.
In the new testament, the members of the church are considered more particularly as branches of Christ: / am the true vine, says he, and my father is the husbandman: as the branches of the vine are dressed, so are the members of Christ under the discipline of God: correction is as necessary to them as the pruning knife to the vine; and as the branches bear no fruit but as they belong to the tree, so can no member of the church bring forth any fruit but by abiding in Christ; for without him we can do nothing'. The unprofitable branch, that bears no fruit, is taken away from the tree, to be burned; and the fruitless Christian must 6 expect expect to be cast forth in like manner, and then gathered up for the fire.
The offices of men are applied to the same purpose as their occupations. God is pleased to take upon himself the office of a shepherd, and his people are related to him as a flock. Two of the psalms are composed upon this plan; expressing the reliance of believers on the pastoral care of God, and their joy and thankfulness to him for admitting them to such an honourable relation: The Lord is my shepherd, therefore can I lack nothing: he shallfeed me in a green pasture, and lead me forth beside the waters of comfort. Such is the language of the 23d psalm. The 100th psalm is an invitation to a solemn act of thanksgiving, with songs and instruments of music in the temple. The people of all nations being admitted into the flock of Israel as the sheep of God's pasture, ought to assemble within the fold of his church, for the public celebration of his truth and mercy. The obligation is particular and special upon Christians, since our Lord appeared personally to men in this character; verifying that prediction of the prophet; he shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom. To every act of care and kindness
proper proper to a shepherd did he condescend: he took the little children up in his arms, and bles~ ] sed them; he went about seeking the lost sheep of the house of Israel; he collected together and ordered the fold of his church; he has appointed other shepherds under him to take the charge of his flock, and is with them as the chief shepherd to the end of the world, when he -shall still appear and act in the same character, separating the sheep from the goats in the day of judgment.
All the natural relations subsisting amongst mankind are applied to illustrate their spiritual interests. God is our heavenly Father, of whoftt the whole family in heaven and earth is named: the Church is the daughter of God; the spouse of Christ, and the mother of us all. Christ is the first-born, and all christians are brethren in him ; constituting together what is called the household of faith, as distinguished from the world of unbelievers. The Jew and Gentile are two brethren, the sons of their father; the Jew the elder, the Gentile the younger, whose apostacy and repentance are both described in the history of the prodigal son.
The union betwixt Christ and the Church is considered as a marriage, signified and foreshewn by the first sacred union of Adam and