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and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. The same observation may be made with regard to this excuse. Both of these concerns

might better have been deferred to the following morning; when the purchasers would have had the day before them to ascertain the value of their respective bargains. The pursuits, however, which were alleged in excuse for not complying with the invitation sent, were lawful employments, the proper occupations of those who alleged them. As husbandmen, their ground, and their oxen properly required their attention. But this was no reason why they should break the promise which they had made in the first instance, when they signified that they would gladly partake of the supper at the time that it should be prepared.

And may it not be asked, How many are there who make their lawful occupations in life an excuse for neglecting the concerns of their immortal souls? They were dedicated to the service of God in baptism. They afterwards acknowledged themselves bound to believe and to do the things that were then promised for them. But when invited to come and partake of the blessings of Christ, they plead the pressure of their worldly concerns as an excuse for neglecting to attend to what is of infinitely greater importance to every man than any of the concerns of this world. One is employed about

his farm, or in agricultural pursuits; another about his merchandise, or in commercial concerns; and the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.& How frivolous will all such excuses appear, when death and judgment shall come! Time enough is found by people in general, for attending to every thing else but to the one thing needful. Thus Satan, the god of this world, blindeth the minds of them that believe not,85 and deludes them to their eternal undoing. Beware that you do not make your worldly business a plea, or excuse for the neglect of What shall your souls. it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?86 If you could become ever so rich, your loss would be incalculably great. Yet may it not be said of numbers, that their success in the world has been the means of taking off their attention from the concerns of their souls? The things of this life have so engrossed their hearts and minds, that they have made shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, or have given over the profession which they had before assumed. Their worldly prosperity has thus endangered their salvation. And when the importance of Divine things is pressed upon them, they excuse them

84 Mark iv. 19. 85 2 Corinthians iv. 4. 86 Mark viii. 36.

selves by a pretence that their worldly business requires all their time and attention. How awful! Let us beware of being cheated out of heaven by means of the things of this life.

There are, however, others who presume to go even further than these persons in the broad road to destruction. They give a flat denial to the gracious invitations of the gospel of Christ; and they call this honesty. They say that they are no hypocrites. They boldly declare that their desires after worldly pleasure must be gratified, and that they cannot and will not attend to any thing else. Another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. Here lawful enjoyments were cited as the reason why the invitation was refused. And to how many are these things a snare? The pleasures of the world are the ruin of some, its cares are the ruin of others. Let us take heed lest the comforts which God has graciously provided for us, and bestowed upon us, should be made a plea for ingratitude to the Giver of all good. Is it not to be feared that many persons make their domestic comforts, as well as their general worldly avocations, a plea for neglecting religion, and the concerns of their souls? Instead of ruling their houses in the fear of God, and making their arrangements in such a manner that all may be subordinate to the worship of God, every trifling occurrence affords a ready excuse for the neglect of His

worship; in His house on the Lord's day, and in their families, and in secret, day by day.

When the frivolous excuses of those who had been bidden as guests to the great supper, and who had in the first instance professed a readiness to comply with the invitation, were reported to the lord of the feast; when the servant came, and showed his lord these things: then the master of the house was angry, as well he might be, at the affront done to him by such behaviour. And so it may be said, that the neglect of His worship, and His ordinances, and His gospel, calls down the indignation of Almighty God upon those who thus disobey His commands, and slight His grace. As the men of business and of pleasure would not partake of the supper, which had been provided for them at so great a cost; the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. These came readily to receive the bounty of which they were invited to partake. The poor were unable to procure such provision for themselves, and were therefore glad to be admitted to enjoy this great feast. The others might have excused themselves from going to it with some appearance of reason. The lame could not walk. The maimed could not help themselves. The blind could not see

the way to the house, or the nature of the provision that was made. But these circumstances formed no objection in their minds. They were glad to have the opportunity of enjoying such unexpected bounty. All who were found in the streets and lanes of the city, gladly came to share in the beneficence of the master of the house.

This points out to us the character of the persons who are truly willing to receive life and salvation from the Lord Jesus Christ; who come to Him at His bidding, to partake of the gifts of His bounty, and are really thankful for the gracious provision which He has made for the supply of their necessities. They are those who are sensible of their spiritual diseases. They see what injury sin has done to them. They feel its effects both in body and soul. It has impoverished them, so that they are destitute of all spiritual blessings. It has maimed them in all their faculties. They are lamed by it, so that they cannot walk with God in His holy ways. They have been blinded by it, so that they were unconscious of their own spiritual state and interests. Sin makes them miserable. But when they hear the gospel of Christ announcing a cure for these evils, they become anxious to partake of the remedy. They therefore come to Him for the healing of their souls. They are willing to receive with thankfulness

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