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and rulers of the Church, to whom at his departure Christ committed the care of every returning sinner : and that they may be enabled to supply all their wants, ! he hath committed to them the Holy Scriptures under the form of the two Testaments, which it is the proper business of the host to expound, enforce, and apply for the support of those who are committed to their charge. The ministers of the church are stewards of the mysteries of God; who are to keep that safe which is committed to their trust, and not to suffer their people to perish for lack of knowledge. Other duties are indeed required of them, such as mercy, charity, the administration of the sacraments, the power of absolution, in the distribution of which they are to act according to thie exigence of particular cases-therefore it is added, “ whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again I will repay thee.” Our Samaritan then, who when he had made provision for the salvation of man, and committed his Church to the care of his ministers, went into a far country, will once more travel upon the same road, and make his appearance in his Church. The heaven inust receive him till the time of the restitution of all things ; when, according to his promise, he will come again, to enquire how far the trust hath been fulfilled. In the mean time, every faithful minister of Christ hath the comfort to reflect, that he is not only a steward, but a creditor, of the Fountain of mercy and goodness; and be it soon or late, yet the time will certainly come, when what he hath laid out shall be paid him again.
On a review of the parable thus interpreted, some inferences naturally offer themselves.
1. From the condition and circumstances of the - miserable object herein described, it appears that no man hath any thing to boast of, in the great work of his salvation. This wounded man doth not find the Samaritan, but the Samaritan finds him. How sensible soever he might be of his own misery, he knew nothing of the person who was able and willing to give him relief: and had he known it ever so perfectly, he was unable to seek after him.
It is thus with every Christian : he does not find the Gospel, but the Gospel finds him. He doth not indeed so much as know his own misery, till he is told of it: nor hath he sense to seek for any relief till it is offered to him, and in some cases almost forced upon him against his will. Happy therefore and wise also is he, who submits himself with thankfulness to the mercy of God, for the saving of his own soul; even as this poor traveller committed himself to the hands of the Samaritan for the healing of his wounds.
Many there are who lie in the way of mercy, without receiving any benefit. The TRUE SAMARITAN visits them with his institutions, his Scriptures, his sacraments, and would convey them to his Church from all the perils to which they are exposed: but they remain insensible of their misery; either denying that they have any wounds, or endeavouring to bind up and heal them in their own way. There is one sect of Christians in particular, who will have neither oil nor wine from the Saviour of mankind, rejeeting both baptism and the supper of the Lord. Others, through sloth and carelessness, will lie bleeding to death, rather than be disturbed with the process of their own deliverance. A man who hath lain abroad in the field, naked and wounded, finds the benefit of an inn, and is sensible of the change: while they who are born and brought up from their childhood under the advantages of the Gospel, sink into stupidity, and become as indifferent to the means of grace, and all the mysteries
of divine mercy, as if there were no such things to be heard of upon earth.
fools, and blind! do men ever behave in this senseless manner with respect to their bodily wounds? A man will give all that he hath for the saving of his life, while he neglects to have his soul saved, though it might be saved for nothing. This corporeal pain is felt and understood : while the misery of a soul wounded by the Devil, is never felt, or never complained of.
It appears, secondly, that works of mercy are required of every follower of Christ: for nothing can be plainer than the admonition which directs us to follow the example of this Samaritan. He who refuses this upon any consideration, conducts himself as if he were no neighbour to his fellow-creatures, nor they to him; but keeps himself in a lofty abstracted state, like that hateful tribe of Pharisees and hypocrites, whose felicity seemed to consist in a contempt for other men: and he who misunderstands this great duty toward his neighbour, which comprehends one half of the divine law, will have but a partial title to the inheritance of eternal life ; like that narrow-minded teacher of the law to whom this parable was directed, and whose principles were condemned out of his own mouth.
Lastly and chiefly, we are hence to learn the motive and source from which all our works of mercy are to be derived. The faith which receives the christian redemption, and the gratitude which that faith will inspire, should lead us to the practice of goodness and mercy toward all mankind, as well as to those who are of the bousehold of faith. Christ hath here proposed his own example to us, and we are to have compassion upon others, even our very enemies, as he had
compassion upon us in the same state. Gránit, theres fore, O blessed Lord, that thy people may know how to value and imitate thy example, how meanly soever their spirit and their practice may be esteemed by a proud and mistaken world. Above all, grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries, to whom thou hast committed the inestimable means of grace in thy Church, may not pass by, like the unprofitable Priest and Levite, but carry on that great work, which thou thyself didst descend from heaven to begin amongst
As thou hast shewed thyself a neighbour to him that fell among thieves, let them go and do likewise.
END OF THE FOURTH VOLUME,
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