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SERMON I.

PREACHED FEBRUARY 3, 1771.

St. Matth. xiii. 51, 52.

Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood

all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure ühings new and old.

If there be any difficulty in these words, it will be removed by considering the manners of that time, in which Jesus lived, and the ideas of those persons, to whom he addressed himself.

YOL. VI.

The Israelites were a plain, frugal people; abundantly supplied with all things needful to the convenient support of life, but very sparingly with such as come under the notion of ornaments or superfluities. They drew their means of subsistence chiefly from pasturage, agriculture, and other rural occupations. Gold and Silver was scarce among the ancient Jews; and the less necessary to them, as they had little traffic among themselves, and still less with their pagan neighbours; the wisdom of their Law having purposely restrained, and, upon the matter, prohibited, all the gainful ways of commerce.

Now, to a people, thus circumstanced, unfurnished, in a good degree, with arts and manufactures, and but slenderly provided with the means of exchange for the commodities they produce ; management, thrift, and what we call good husbandry, must have been a capital virtue. Householders were especially concerned to hoard up, and keep by them, in readiness, all such things as might be requisite either to cloath or feed their respective families. And therefore, as they were continually making fresh additions to their stock, so they carefully preserved what things they had, provided they were of a nature to be preserved, although time and use had impaired the grace, or diminished the value, of them. Thus, they had things new and old laid up in their store-house, or treasury (for these provisions were indeed their treasure), which, as the text says, they could bring forth, on any emergency that called for them.

And to this Jewish Householder, thus furnished and prepared for all occasions, our Lord compares the scribe, instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, in other words, the minister, or preacher of the Gospel. Every such scribe was to be suitably provided with what might be serviceable to those committed to his charge: And the Text delivers it, as a general inference from the example of Christ himself (who, from a variety of topics, some new, some old, had been instructing his disciples in this chapter), that we, the teachers of his religion, should likewise have in store a variety of knowledge for the supply of his church, and that we should not be backward or sparing, as we see occasion, in the use of it. THEREFORE, says he, that is, for this end that your respective charges may be well and perfectly instructed by you, as you have been by me, every scribe, which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

a Sa Toto-referring to the good effect of this way of teaching on the disciples, whom it had enabled, as they confessed, to understand the things, which Jesus had taught them.

a

It is true, if this instruction of our Lord and Master had concerned only the preachers of the word, I might have found a fitter place and occasion for a discourse upon it. But the case is much otherwise, and it concerns all the faithful to understand what the duty of those is, who are intrusted to dispense the word of life, lest they take offence at the ministry, without cause, and so deprive themselves of the fruit which they might otherwise reap from it.

Let me therefore lay before you some plain considerations on the aphorism in the text; and submit it to yourselves how far they may deserve the notice of all Christians.

It would be ridiculous, no doubt, to torture a meer figure of speech ; and to pursue a metaphor through all the minute applications, which an ordinary imagination might find or invent for it. But I shall not be suspected of trifling in this sort, when I only conclude, from the comparison of a Christian Scribe to the Jewish Householder;

I. That all the treasures of knowledge, which the MINISTER OF THE Gospel may have laid up in his mind, are destined, not to the purposes of vanity, but to the use of his charge ; for such must have been the intention of a reasonable Householder, in the stock of provisions he had so carefully collected :

II. That such use must be estimated from the apparent wants of those, to whom this knowledge is dispensed ; for so the frugal householder expends his provisions on those who evidently stand in need of them: And

III. Lastly, That among these wants, some, at certain conjunctures, may be more general, or more pressing, than ordinary; and then his first care must be to relieve these, though other real, and perhaps considerable wants, be, for the present, neglected by him : just, again, as the discreet householder is anxious to provide against an uncommon distress that befalls his whole family, or the greater part of it, or that threatens the immediate destruction of those whom it befalls, though he sus

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