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wish to see how little the Christian is saved from toil by his being saved from “ the burden and heat of the day ?” consider the Epistle for this Sunday, and the whole chapter of which it is part. It is one of those passages in which St. Paul speaks of himself and his brother labourers in the vineyard; and from this instance you will be able to decide how little Christ has saved those whom He loves from toil and trouble. Christ, we know, is the second Adam, and has restored us to a better paradise. He, for that river which divided into four heads and watered the garden, has given us
a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb;" and for “every tree of the garden ” of which Adam might eat freely, has He given “the tree of life, which beareth twelve manner of fruits, and yieldeth her fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." Yet compare the state of Adam in the second chapter of Genesis with that of St. Paul in the ninth chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians, and it will be plain that our blessedness under the Gospel is not the removal of labour, but the gift of strength; that the original paradise is not yet restored to us with its repose and security, and that our duties still are not those of Adam innocent, but of Adam fallen.
Adam, for instance, was surrounded by his subject brutes, but had no duties towards them; he was lord of the creation, and they ministered to him. God Almighty brought them to him, and he gave them names; and he was free to accept their homage, or to dispense
1 Rev. xxii. 1, 2.
with it, as pleased him, ranging through the trees of the garden at his will. But what says the blessed Apostle? He makes himself one of those who are even like the brute ox that treadeth out the corn, and only claims that their mouths be not muzzled, but their hire secured to them. He speaks of himself as an Apostle, or one sent unto his brethren; as ministering about holy things; as having necessity laid upon him; and as making himself “servant unto all, that he might gain the more.” “And unto the Jews," he says, “I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, ... that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” And Adam, though in a state of quiet and contemplation, was not solitary; for when there was no help meet for him," the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.” But St. Paul tells us that he reversed in his own case this ordinance of God.
- Mine answer to them which do examine me is this, Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other Apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas ?" He might have been as Adam, and he would not be. And Adam's task was to dress the garden, no heavy labour in Eden;
to subdue the ground, which needed not much discipline, but obeyed without effort. But what was St. Paul's culture? what was the ground on which he worked ? and did he treat it gently, or was he severe with it, to bring it into subjection ? Did he indulge in its flowers and fruits, or did he watch against thorns and thistles, and subjugate it in the sweat of his brow? Hear his own account of it: Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things: now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection : lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." It cannot be said, then, because we have not to bear the burden and the heat of the day, that therefore we have returned to paradise. It is not that our work is lighter, but our strength is greater.
Nor, secondly, can we argue that our work is shorter from the labourers' complaint, “These have wrought but one hour.” For we are called, as is evident, in the world's evening, not in our own. We are called in our own morning, we are called from infancy. By the eleventh hour is not meant that Christians have little to do, but that the time is short; that it is the last time; that there is a "present distress ;" that they have much to do in a little time; that “the night cometh when no man can work ;” that their Lord is at hand, and that they have to wait for Him. “This I say, brethren,” says St. Paul, “the time is short; it remaineth that both they that have wives be as though they had none;
and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it, for the fashion of this world passeth away!.” It was otherwise with the Jews; they had a grant of this world; they entered the vineyard in the morning; they had time before them; they might reckon on the future. They were bid “go their way, eat their bread with joy, and drink their wine with . a merry heart, and let their garments be always white, and let their head lack no ointment, and live joyfully with the wife whom they loved all the days of the life of their vanity: . . . for that was their portion in this life, , and in their labour which they took under the sun”.” But it is otherwise with us. Earth and sky are ever failing; Christ is ever coming; Christians are ever lifting up their heads and looking out, and therefore it is the evening. We may not set our hearts on things present; we may not say to our soul, “ Thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry • " and therefore it is the evening. We may not think of bome, or brethren, or sister, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or land; and therefore it is the evening. The evening is long and the day was short; for the first shall be last, and the last first. What seems vigorous perishes; what seems ever expiring is carried on; and this last age, though ever-failing, has lasted longer than the ages before it, and Christians have more time for a greater work than if they had been hired in the morning. 11 Cor. vii. 29–31. 2 Eccles. ix. 7-9. 3 Luke xü. 19.
4 Mark x. 29
O may we ever bear in mind that we are not sent into this world to stand all the day idle, but to go forth to our work and to our labour until the evening! Until the evening, not in the evening only of life, but serving God from our youth, and not waiting till our years fail us. Until the evening, not in the day-time only, lest we begin to run well, but fall away before our course is ended. Let us "give glory to the Lord our God, before He cause darkness, and before our feet stumble upon the dark mountains ";" and, having turned to Him, let us see that our goodness be not " as the morning cloud, and as the early dew which passeth away." The end is the proof of the matter. When the sun shines, this earth pleases; but let us look towards that eventide and the cool of the day, when the Lord of the vineyard will walk amid the trees of His garden, and say unto His steward, “Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.” That evening will be the trial: when the heat, and fever, and noise of the noontide are over, and the light fades, and the prospect saddens, and the shades lengthen, and the busy world is still, and “the door shall be shut in the streets, and the daughters of music shall be brought low, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond-tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail,” and “the pitcher shall be broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern ;" then, when it is
vanity of vanities, all is vanity," and the Lord shall come, “who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the
1 Jer. xiii. 16.