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On Proneness to difparage Religious
LUKE, Vii. 31.
And the Lord faid; Whereunto then shall I
might reasonably have been anticipated; the father looks around for others, if not more able than the former, yet fo far differing from them in peculiarity of disposition and deportment as to be adapted to make, under exifting circumftances, an impreffion on the understanding and the heart. If the floth and perverfeness of the pupil obstinately resist, neither fubdued by principle, nor fhaken by argument, nor awed by ftrictness, nor won by conciliation; the ends of his education are defeated: but let him not charge his ruin on his parent.
The Lord of earth and heaven permits men to call Him Father. He deals with them as his children. In the fucceffive dispensations by which he revealed himself to Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to the people of Ifrael, he adapted his communications to the actual state of the human race. In his fuperintending intercourse with the twelve rebellious tribes, we behold him fending forth meffengers diftinguished from each other, and recommended to the people, by every leading variety of qualification fuited to command or to allure attention. The fublimity of Ifaiah, the fimplicity of Haggai, the vehemence of Ezekiel, the pathos of Jeremiah, the fententious abrupt
nefs of Hofea, the allegorical imagery of Joel, are equally employed to convey the voice of the Moft High, to awaken the confcience of regardless and apostate man. Hear, O Heavens! Give ear, O Earth! What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it?
In an earlier part of the chapter to which the text has guided our thoughts, our Saviour had enlarged in the highest terms of commendation concerning the character of John the Baptift: and at the fame time had reminded the Jews, that the most signal of the marks of honour by which John had been diftinguished from above was his commiffion to prepare the way of the Meffiah, His difcourfe he concluded with the following expoftulation.
Whereunto then fhall I liken the men of this generation? And to what are they like? They are like unto children fitting in the market-place, and calling one to another, and faying, We have piped unto you, and ye bave not danced: we have mourned unto you and ye have not wept. For John the Baptift came neither eating bread nor drinking wine and ye fay, "He hath a Devil." The Son of man is come eating and drinking: and ye fay, "Behold a gluttonous man and a winebibber,
"winebibber, a friend of publicans and "finners." But wisdom is juftified of all her children.
I design, in the first place, to explain this paffage, and afterwards to apply it to our own improvement.
I. Whereunto fhall I liken the men of this generation? And to what are they like? It was the cuftom of our Lord to exemplify his meaning, and to render his inftructions impreffive, by pertinent and familiar. comparisons. He now represented himself as in pursuit of a fimilitude proper to illuftrate the conduct of the Jews. Immediately he produces an exact resemblance. The men of this generation are like unto children fitting in the market-place, and calling one to the other, and saying; We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced: we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. As though he had faid: "Have you never ob"ferved in the streets diffatisfied and obfti
nate children fetting themselves against "the idea of being pleafed by their "playmates, and turning their backs on
every sport propofed to them? When "their companions offered fome mirthful "amufement; have you not feen the
"others fullenly refufing to join in it? "And when to engage their fancies and meet their humours, the fictitious repre"fentation of fome forrowful circumstance was begun; have you not marked the unconquerable perverfenefs with which 66 they withheld their attention? Thus dif
fatisfied, thus obftinate, thus unconquer"ably perverfe, have you proved your"felves in your proceedings with respect to John the Baptift and myself. God, foli"citous that you fhould be converted and "live, has preffed upon your acceptance "the only method of falvation, salvation "through my blood, the blood of the Lamb "of God which taketh away the fins of "the world, by two meffengers, widely
differing each from the other in appearance and in habits of life. John the Baptift came neither eating bread, nor drinking "wine. He came not in foft clothing, and living delicately. He difclaimed not "merely regal manfions, but the customary "abodes of men. His raiment was fack"cloth, of camels' hair: his meat locufts and "wild honey: from his birth he tasted not "wine nor ftrong drink. His dwelling "was in the wilderness: and in the wilder"S nefs he fhewed himself to Ifrael under "the