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things any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And ye, masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening knowing that your Master also is in heaven, neither is there any respect of persons with Him."
Once more, if " the Lord is at hand;" we ought surely to be on the look out for His approach. And this is the second inference I would have you draw from the knowledge of this solemn truth,-namely, the importance of watchfulness, of living as those men described in the parable, with our loins girded, and our lights burning," and ourselves like men "who wait for their Lord, that when He cometh and knocketh, we may open to Him immediately."
This indeed is one of those cautions of Holy Scripture with which no one is unacquainted; one which is very often on the lips of a minister of the Gospel. And is there not a cause for this? Does not our Lord repeat it again and again? "Watch therefore," are His words in St. Matthew," for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." And again," Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh." "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." "What I say
say unto all, watch."
And why did He thus? Why did our blessed Redeemer, who Himself warned us not to use vain repetitions; why did He so frequently urge this same caution? Why, but because He knew what was in man. He knew how frail we are, and of ourselves disinclined to vigilance: willing, if we might, to have our portion in this life, and unwilling to consider our latter end. He knew, too, the consequence of our indulging in such an indolent and earthly spirit. That it would bring on the state of dull insensibility to religious impressions, out of which to awake would be impossible; awake at least in time to mind the things that concern our peace. And so, as we have seen, He bade us watch, not once or twice, but many times, speaking the same words.
Be it our care not to neglect so often repeated, and earnest a charge. Let us watch and be sober. In the midst of our busiest days let the future often be in our minds. Let us familiarize ourselves to think of death; of its certainty; of its nearness. And let us strive to live so that we may not be afraid to die; that the summons to depart, whether it come in the first, in the second, or in the third watch, in the morning of our days, or in the prime of manhood, or in the decline of old age, -may not be unwelcome.
For this end, let us keep our hearts fixed upon
things above: let us count that our home is where our Saviour Christ is gone before. Let us look for His return from thence, not as an evil, but as a good; as the happiest thing that can befall us, if so be that our faith is sound: as the time when He will come to fetch us to Himself, "to gather His elect from the four winds, from every quarter under heaven."
That time can in no wise be long.
"Yet a little while, and He that cometh will come, and will not tarry." Blessed are they who in that awful moment shall be found expecting him. Great shall be the recompense of their reward. To them belong the prophet's triumphant words, " Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us, this is the Lord, we have waited for Him: we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation."
Hartley Wespall, 1847.
THE BARREN FIG-TREE MAY NOT STAND.
ST. LUKE xiii. 6.- "A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none."
THE parable of the barren fig-tree, is one of those portions of our blessed Redeemer's teaching with which no reader of the Gospel can be unacquainted. Neither can any one be at a loss to understand its meaning. It speaks at once to the heart and to the conscience. It proclaims clearly and distinctly these solemn truths; truths abundantly confirmed by the tenor of the whole scriptures; that God will not be satisfied with a profession of religion without the power of it; that He looks for fruit from His creatures; that the nominal Christian will not be able to stand in the day of His visitation.
These are truths which have at all times a claim
upon our attention; but at no time more so than at the present, when we are entering upon the beginning of a new year; when the line has been crossed which divides one period of our short existence from another; when we are, as it were, once again at the starting point of a fresh course; when nothing remains of the past twelvemonth, except the memory of what it brought us; the recollection of the blessings and mercies, the warnings and chastisements which we have experienced in it, and which, it may be, we have neglected to improve. Surely, my brethren, at such a season, it is right fit, and our bounden duty to take thought both for what is past, and for what is yet to come; to stand still and commune with ourselves; to review in our minds our actual condition in the sight of God; to judge ourselves that we be not judged of Him; to look well if there be in us any signs of our bearing fruit, such as He will regard; and if not, what is the hindrance to our so doing; what way of wickedness has enticed us astray from God; what is it that exposes us to the reproach of being barren and unprofitable trees in His vineyard.
To assist in promoting such serious and wholesome reflections, I have chosen for our consideration the parable of which the text forms a part. This, if rightly explained, will, I trust, have a beneficial effect upon us all; and help, by God's blessing,