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ST. MATTHEW, xx. i.
For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard.
WE have now come, in the course of these lectures, to our Lord's parable of the householder: and in explaining it to you, I shall by the way acquaint you what the Christian religion consists of. Now this religion, in the first place, means all that belief which you have, when you say, each of you, I believe in Jesus Christ. And it also means all that you have to do in consequence of your believing in Christ. Every one, who has been baptized, has promised
to believe in Jesus Christ. And he has also promised to do all that Jesus Christ orders all believers in him to do. So that the Christian religion is made up of faith, and what is called works, good works. You all know by this time, what faith is. You know what it is to believe in any body; to believe what he says, and to believe what he promises. When you believe in this way in Jesus Christ, you have what is called faith. And the Bible tells us, that faith will save us from hell.
But faith alone
It must be folAnd so it will be, Thus, you believe
and by itself will not do. lowed by good works. if it be a right faith. that Jesus Christ came down from heaven, being sent by God Almighty to save the world, that is, all the people in it. These people were, and still are, all of them, sin ners. And sin must be punished. You know very well, that if any one breaks the laws of man, he is punished for it. And so must he be who breaks the laws of God. Now, every body that is born unto the
world, breaks the laws of God in one instance or other. And therefore, every body deserves to be punished by God. But God is so merciful, that he is willing to forgive every body. We are taught, however, that so pure and just is his nature, it will not let him forgive, unless some satisfaction is made to him. And as nobody on earth could make satisfaction to God, Jesus Christ undertook to do so. He could do so, because he was the Son of God, and had no sins for God to be angry with him. The Son can obtain forgiveness for you, when the stranger cannot. And therefore he came down from heaven, and gave himself up to be crucified and put to death, In this way he made satisfaction God, for his sake, is
ready to forgive us. But you know very well, that, amongst men, one person is not forgiven by another, though a friend begs for him, unless he is sorry for what he has done, and tries sincerely never to offend again. Now, this sorrow, this act of being 7
sorry for what we have done amiss, is called in the Bible repentance, and this trying not to offend again, but to be as good as possible, is called good works.
Recollect now what I have said to you. The Christian religion is the religion of Christ. You profess this religion, as soon as you are baptized. And this religion is made up of faith, repentance, and good works. You must endeavour to remember this. I think I have made it as plain as I can but if you do not understand it, you must ask me or some body else who can tell you about it, and we will endeavour to talk with you in such a manner as to make you understand it. For you must endeavour to understand your religion, and you must pray to God to enable you to understand it. God will take pleasure in you, when he finds you anxious to learn in order to be good and happy, and he will help you. We are told in the Bible, "that the secret of the Lord is among them
that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant." If I know any thing of the Bible, I know, that if a poor slave is willing to learn what is necessary to salvation, and seeks knowledge from them who can impart it to him (praying to God all the while) God will give him a heart to understand.
Now all this I have said to you, before I have spoken to you about the parable of the householder. This parable was spoken by our Saviour. And it is a parable, which gives an account of the Christian religion being preached to different nations of people at different times to one after another. It will require a very careful explanation, and will take up more lectures than one. And as I think it will enable you to understand it better, and will also, at this time of your religious course, be on many accounts extremely useful to you, I shall take this opportunity of instructing you in the early part of the Bible. I must