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She raifed up to him an apparition, which he believed to be the ghost of Samuel the prophet. The apparition affured him that his kingdom was departing from him, and that he had only one day longer to live. What effect had this upon the king? Did he repent of his fins? At first he was fore afraid, and was melancholy; but through the perfuafion of his attendants, he foon refumed his joy; and, on the morrow after the battle was loft, in order to fulfil the prophecy of the devil, he proceeded to commit the most deliberate crime that can be perpetrated by man: he raised impious hands against his life, and plunged his fword in his own breast.

The fact is, my brethren, mankind are not always in a mood to be convinced. In fpite of fpeculative opinion, men act from their paffions, and bad paffions will always produce bad actions, to the end of the world. The reluctance of mankind to affent to evidence, when it makes against their preconceived opinion, is remarkably apparent in the reception the Jews gave to our Saviour. All the prophecies concerning the Meffiah were fulfilled in him. He appeared in the world in the precife time predicted for the coming of the Meffiah; he was defcended of the lineage of David; he was born in the city of Bethlehem. A prophet went before him in the fpirit and power of Elias. He performed miracles and mighty works, which no man could perform. But after all these proofs, after all these miracles, the Jews, who expected their Messiah to be a temporal Prince, ftill demanded more evidence. "Show us," faid they, a fign from heaven." A fign from heaven they obtained. Now, in the prefence of multitudes,

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a voice came from heaven, the voice of the Eternal, piercing the clouds, and proclaiming aloud, "This " is my beloved Son!" Were they then convinced? No: they perfecuted him with reproaches in his life, and at last brought him to an ignominious death. And when they had nailed him to the accurfed tree, they still affirmed they would believe on him on proper evidence. "Let him come down from the crofs, " and we will believe on him." If he had come down from the crofs, the redemption of mankind would have been defeated, as it was to be accomplished by his death; but he did more than come down from the crofs. He rose from the dead. Did they then believe on him? No: they charged the foldiers who brought them the news of his refurrection, to give out that his disciples ftole him away while they flept. Well then may we adopt the maxim of the Patriarch Abraham, and affirm, That if ye believe not Mofes and the Prophets; if ye believe not Chrift and his Apostles; ye will not be perfuaded though one rofe from the dead.

LECTURE

IV.

MATTHEW XXV. I-10.

1 Then fball the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

2 And five of them were wife, and five were foolish.

3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them :

4 But the wife took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and flept.

6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

7 Then all thofe virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

8 And the foolish faid unto the wife, Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out.

9 But the wife anfwered, faying, Not fo; left there be not enough for us and you but go ye rather to them that fell, and buy for yourselves.

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready, went in with him to the marriage; and the door was shut.

IN a former lecture, I explained to you the nature, the origin, and the use of parables. They were the common vehicles of instruction among the oriental nations. The wisdom of the east loved to go adorned with flowers and with figures, and by means of the imagination to make its way to the heart. This mode of inftruction was frequently honored by our Lord's adopting it. Accommodating himself to the practice of the eaft, and to the manners of the Jews, he wrapt up his wisdom in this veil, and delivered his doctrines to the people in parables. As men are much under the guidance of the external fenfes, and strongly impreffed by the material objects. around them, he who knew what was in man, and who

laid hold of every avenue to the human heart, frequently addreffed himself to this part of our frame. He fpiritualizes the whole system of nature, he turns the moft common and familiar occurrences of life into vehicles of Divine truth, and in the gentleft and moft infinuating manner, leads us from earth to heaven.

In the parable which I have now read, the kingdom of Heaven, or difpenfation of the Gofpel, is likened to a marriage folemnity. On fuch occafions it was a custom among the Jews, that the bridegroom, in company with his friends, came late in the night to the houfe of the bride, where, upon a fignal given, the and her bridemaids went out in proceffion to light him into the house, with great ceremony and splendour. It is faid that five of these virgins were wife, and that five of them were foolish. I explained to you, on a former occafion, that, in a parable, we are not to apply particular expreffions, but to consider the intention and design upon the whole. If we understood and applied this expreffion literally, we fhould be led to conclude that, under the New Teftament, the number of the good and of the bad was equal. But to fettle this point, to afcertain the number of those who are to be faved, and of thofe who are to be damned, was not the intention of our Lord in the parable. For, by the fame way of arguing, we might infer from the parable of the talents, which immediately follows this, that the number of the good was double the number of the wicked, as there were two faithful fervants who improved the talents committed to them, for one flothful fervant who wrapt up his in a napkin; and in the parable of the marriage fupper, in the foregoing chapter,

amongst all the number of the guests who were called to the feast, there was only one who wanted the wedding garment: only from this general scheme of thought which runs through all our Lord's parables, from their being always framed with a view to the charitable fide, we may fafely draw two conclufions. In the first place, Let us always form a favourable judgment concerning the character and state of those who are externally decent, whether they agree or differ from us in opinion; and, if we do err, let us err on the fide of charity. There are a fet of men to be found in the world, who are remarkably fond of paffing fentence and judgment upon the external state of their neighbours, and in paffing this judgment, they attend not fo much to the general tenor of life, and integrity of conduct, as to the system of doctrines which a man believes, and the fect or party in which he arranges himself. Unless you believe in every point precisely as they do, down you go in their efti

mation.

Rafh and profane mortal, who gave thee a commiffion to fix the mark of election and reprobation upon men? Did Almighty God depute thee to draw the line betwixt the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light, to fill the heavens, and to people hell? We are aftonifhed, and ftand aghaft at the boldness and impiety of the Roman Pontiff, who pretends to open and to shut the gate of mercy, and who arrogates to himself the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And yet thou who accufeft him, art thyfelf equally guilty. Thou rufheft unto the throne of the Eternal, and dareft to direct the thunders of the Divine vengeance. Thou prefcribest bounds to the

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