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bow themselves, and those that look out at the windows are darkened, and desire fails, because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets." when “the silver cord is loosed, and the golden bowl is broken, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns unto God wbo gave it." In the evening man returns to God, and his works, whether good or whether evil,“ do follow him.”
This solemn truth, that we are sent here to do a work, is in various ways set before us in the Service appointed for this day. First, we read, in the beginning of Genesis, of Almighty God's work in the creation of the world, which is the archetype of all works which His creatures are able to do through His grace unto His glory. Then we read of Adam, placed in Paradise, the garden in Eden, “to dress it and to keep it." Soon, alas, did he fall, and become subject to heavier toil, the earth being cursed for his sake, and bringing forth unto him thorns and thistles. God, however, in His mercy, did not desert him; and, accordingly, we read in the Gospel of the householder going out from morning till evening “ to hire labourers into His vineyard'.” He went out early, and then about the third hour, and about the sixth and ninth, nor stopped till the eleventh. Such were His dealings with the race of man till the fulness of time was come, and in the last days, even at the eleventh hour, He sent His Son to gather together labourers for His work from all parts of the earth. And the history of those fresh Gospel labourers is presented to us in to-day's Epistle, in the pattern of St. Paul, who “went a war
i Eccles. xji. 3–7.
: Gen ii. 15.
8 Matt. xx. 1.
fare”;" who planted a vineyard; who ploughed, and thrashed, and trod out the corn; for necessity was laid upon him, and it was woe unto him if he preached not the Gospel. Nay, moreover, who kept under his body, and brought it into subjection, lest after he had preached to others, the end should come, and he should be a castaway.
Thus the Service for this day carries us from the creation of all things to the judgment, and that with this one thought-the work which is put upon us to do. Adam had to dress paradise ; fallen man to "eat bread” from the blighted ground “in the sweat of his face ;" the labourers worked in the vineyard, some through the “heat of the day," others in the eventide ; and the Apostles and their followers ploughed, and sowed, and planted, in a different field, but still in their Master's service, as it was at the beginning. Thus the lesson put before us to-day contrasts with that of the Epiphany. We have ended the feast of grace, and are now come to the work-days, and therefore we read of man going forth to his work and to his labour from sun-rising unto the evening. Or we may connect these two seasons with Lent, which is to follow; and whereas our Lord, in His Sermon on the Mount, speaks of three great duties of religion, prayer, almsgiving, and fasting-our duties towards God, our neighbour, and ourselves—we may consider the Epiphany to remind us of worship in the temple, Septuagesima of good works, and Lent of self, denial and self-discipline. Now the lesson set before us to-day needs insisting on,
11 Cor. ix. 7.
because in these latter times men have arisen, speaking heresy, making much of the free grace of the Gospel, but denying that it enjoined a work, as well as conferred a blessing; or, rather, that it gave grace in order that it might enjoin a work. Christmas comes first, and Septuagesima afterwards : we must have grace before we work, in order to work; but as surely as grace is conferred on us, so surely is a work enjoined. It has been pretended by these teachers that works were only required under the Law, and grace comes instead under the Gospel : but the true account of the matter is this, that the Law enjoined works, and the grace of the Gospel fulfils them; the Law commanded, but gave no power; the Gospel bestows the power. Thus the Gospel is the counterpart of the Law. Christ says, “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” The Gospel does not abrogate works, but provides for them. “Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour” from the morning of the world to its evening. All dispensations are one and the same here. Adam in paradise, Adam fallen, Noah in the morning, Abraham at the third hour, the chosen people at the sixth and ninth, and Christians at the eleventh-all, so far as the duty of work, have one religion.
And thus, says St. Paul, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid. Yea, we establish the law.” Again, he tells us, “that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so grace reigns " through righteousness," not without righteousness, “unto eternal life.” And again, “The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
i Rom. iii. 81.
And to the Ephesians, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works'." And to the Philippians, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do, of His good pleasure."
But here an objection may be drawn from the parable of the labourers which requires notice. It may be said that the labourers, who represent the Jews, complain that those who were called in the evening, that is, Christians, had worked but a short time, and in the cool of the day. “They murmured against the good-man of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and Thou hast made them equal unto us which have borne the burden and heat of the day.” Hence it may be argued, that Christians have no irksome or continued toil, but are saved, without their trouble, by grace. Now it is true, we are of those who have been called when the day was drawing to an end; but this neither proves that we have a slight task to do, nor a short time to labour, as a few words will show.
For what is meant by “the burden and heat of the day”? I have explained it already. It means that religion pressed heavily on the Jews as a burden, because they were unequal to it; and it was as the midday heat, overpowering them with its intensity, because they had no protection against it. “The sun," says the Psalmist, “goeth forth from the uttermost part of the heaven, and runneth about unto the end of it again, and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof." And I Eph. ii. 10.
2 Phil. ii. 12, 13.
he continues, " The law of the Lord is an undefiled law, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, and giveth wisdom unto the simple ?." What is so bright and glorious as the sun ? yet what so overpowering to the feeble? What so pure and keen as the law of the Lord ? yet what so searching and awful to the sinner? “ The word of God," says the Apostle, “is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword ;" and therefore it did but probe and wound those who were unprepared for it, and they could but cry out, “O, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?" This was the burden and heat of the day : to have a perfect law, and an unregenerate heart; the thunders of Sinai, yet the sovereignty of the flesh; Moses with the tables of stone, and the people setting up the golden calf. At best they could but confess, “The law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin ; for that which I do, 1 allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” But for us, on the other hand, Christ hath redeemed us from the burden and heat, and the curse of the law, by being made a curse for us; and we henceforth may say, with the Apostle, “ What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ; . . . not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
1 Ps. xix. 6, 7.
2 Heb. iv. 12.
s Rom. vii. 14–24.
• Phil. iii. 7-14.