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was committed, and which ought to be still applied to himself by every one of us; for, we are all stewards, or trusted servants, in some sense. "Who then is that faithful and wise steward"-such a faithful and watchful servant, as was just before described-" whom his Lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat* in due season?" Jesus then repeats the assertion of the happiness of such a servant when his lord shall find him thus employed, and describes the reward which will be bestowed on him, thus, "Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath." That is, he will advance him to a higher place; for, whereas before he was only domestic steward, having charge of the servants of his family, and the internal affairs of his house, he will now give him charge of his whole estate, of all his affairs, both within and without.

But, as the reward of such an officer will be great, if he be faithful; so, his punishment will be great, if he be negligent. "But if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming"-if, in the foolish presumption that his lord's arrival will be far distant, if he ever come at all, he become insolent, oppressive, extravagant, and intemperate-if he "shall begin to beat the men-servants and maidens, and to eat and drink," in a riotous manner, " and to be drunken;" then, whatever he may have been foolishly imagining to the contrary, "the lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder," or, hew him in pieces as Samuel did Agag, "and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers”—with unfaithful servants. Here, however, cur Lord's expressions become so strong, as plainly and irresistibly to lead on the mind from the literal meaning to the spiritual application, referring to the punishment of all the unbelieving and unfaithful at the coming of Christ in death and judgment. In the similar passage, Matt. xxiv. 51, the words are, "And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." To the same effect are these alarming words in the Revelation: "But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and

* Το σιτομετριον. Μετα δε ταυτα σιτομέτρησας εἰς τριακονθ' ήμερας την δυναμιν ἐκ του περικαταλειφθεντος σιτου. "After these things, having measured out an allowance of corn to the army for thirty days, out of the corn which remained," &c.—Polybius, iv. 63.

whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part," or portion, " in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

Our Lord closes what he says on this subject, by teaching that not only gross offences, but neglect of duty, shall be punished, and that while every servant who shall be found unprepared and unfaithful, at his lord's coming, shall be severely punished, the punishment shall be increased according to the degree of guilt in each case. The servant "who knew his master's will," who was distinctly informed of it by express instruction, and yet did not keep himself prepared, nor do accordingly, "shall be beaten with many stripes, "* shall have the heaviest punishment inflicted on him. "But he that knew not" his will by express information, and, in these circumstances, did commit offences which his own reason, and the light he had, should have enabled him to avoid, and which are, therefore, "worthy of stripes, shall be beaten" also, but with "few stripes:" For, it is a maxim, and a just maxim, among men, and also the rule with God, that "unto whomsoever much is given" in talents, light, opportunities, and advantages of any kind, "of him shall be much required." According to the Jewish law, Deut. xxv. 2, to which there is here, probably, an allusion, the number of stripes inflicted on criminals was limited and proportioned to their offences. "And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee."

Let us carefully mark and improve this view of the different degrees of guilt and consequent punishment. We here learn to be on our guard against sins of ignorance, and to apply for their forgiveness. An atonement was appointed for such, by the ceremonial law; and they still need to be forgiven through the blood of Christ. Though ignorance may, in some degree, extenuate guilt, surely none can plead ignorance as an excuse for offences in such a country as



Δαρήσεται πολλας πληγας being understood. So in Xenoph. de Exped. lib. iv.: Τουτον μεν ἀνεκραγον παντες ὡς ὀλίγας παίσειεν. They all cried out that the man had been beaten with few;"-that is, with too few stripes-that he had not been beaten sufficiently, or, so much as he deserved.

ours. Here, men ought to be instructed, and their very ignorance is a crime. Let them, then, beware lest they be destroyed for lack of knowledge. At the same time, we ought to remember that our accountableness increases with our means and our light. This is a very serious thought for those who are in high offices, as stewards, either civil or religious, and, indeed, for all who have been peculiarly well instructed in early life, and enjoy, in peculiar abundance and faithfulness, the means of grace. God grant that we may duly improve our advantages, and may never have to reflect with anguish on what are now our distinguishing privileges. Surely, if we are disobedient, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah, for the most wicked heathens, than for us. Those who are living in sin should also hence learn that the more they abandon themselves to their evil ways, the heavier their doom will become, and that they ought therefore to stop in their downward career; and yet, it would be poor consolation for them not to be consigned to a deeper hell, when every part of hell is intolerable. Let them bethink themselves thoroughly-let them turn completely round-let them begin to direct their faces towards Zion, and let them, in the strength of God, and by the faith of the gospel, not only escape from the heaviest doom, but escape from condemnation altogether, and lay hold on eternal life.

But let me now, without noticing further what may be considered as the incidental points in this passage, entreat you all to attend to its leading exhortation relating to preparation and watchfulness for the coming of the Son of man -for death, judgment, and eternity. "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning." Wait for your Lord. Let him find you watching, at whatever time he comes. Be ye also ready, for the Son of man cometh in an hour when ye think not. Blessed are you if he shall find you so doing. Such is the substance of the passage; and let it now be considered and improved by you.

Reflect on the immense importance of the events for which you are here called on to make preparation, and to be ready. You shall all have to retire from terrestrial objects, and to launch away into worlds unseen. This great event will usher you all into the immediate presence of your Maker and Judge. "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." When the Lord comes, by his messenger of death, to smite

you, to cut the frail thread of your life, and to pass you into the state where there remain no more opportunities of salvation, what an all-important visit will that be! What an overpowering thought! away from the body, and that instant in the blissful presence of God, or in the company of condemned and despairing spirits! As sure as you are all here present, so sure shall you all, ere long, be numbered with those who have been, and join, either the glorified or the condemned. And, as it is appointed unto you all once to die, so, after death, comes the judgment. Then the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him. Then those of you who are not ready, shall begin to call to the mountains and rocks, saying, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?"-while, on the other hand, to those of you who are prepared for it, that day will be a day of rejoicing. "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then they who are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall they ever be with the Lord." And who among you all will say that such events are not worth preparing for, or that no preparation is necessary? Acknowledge, then, the kindness which prompted the exhortation, "Be ye also ready."

Think, too, what force is given to this exhortation by the circumstance of your complete uncertainty as to the time of the Lord's coming. As to his literal and personal coming at the last day, we are told that "of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels in heaven, nor the Son," so as that it is to be made known by him, "but the Father only." And, as to that event which will be equally decisive of your fate, death, you are equally ignorant when it shall happen. Though it should not happen for years, it cannot be far off from any of you; it may happen to-morrow, it may happen this moment. How urgent, then, is the necessity for your immediate preparation!

But consider, here, what is implied in being ready for the coming of the Lord. It implies, as it is often expressed, both habitual and actual preparation. It implies habitual preparation; that is, that your state and general character be such as that you would be safe, at whatever time you

were called away. Now, this preparation just consists in what we have so often occasion to speak of; and that is, in being in a state of pardon and regeneration. How awful to think of an immortal creature hurried, with all his sins unpardoned, into the presence of an offended Judge! What but amazing infatuation can allow any one of you to feel at ease who is in such a condition? But, serene may you be, even in the prospect of dissolution, who are persuaded, on good grounds, that the Judge is your friend: and soundly may you sleep, who know that, if you were to awake in the eternal world, your iniquities, though they were sought for, would not be found. If you wish to be ready, you must obtain restoration to the divine favour. And in this pursuit, see that you mistake not the way. Remember that the gospel is a method for saving sinners; and that it is as sinners, as guilty and helpless, that you are to apply. You must renounce all trust in yourselves, and depend, by faith, solely on the merits of Christ. If, when the time comes, you presume to go to meet the Lord on any other ground, you will find yourselves miserably mistaken. The offended party has a right to dictate the way in which you are to approach him: and if you proudly and wilfully imagine that you have found a better way, he will not receive you. Happy such of you as shall then be "found in Christ, not having your own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith!" Remember, too, that habitual preparation implies that the habits of grace be inwrought into the soul by regeneration. That this is absolutely necessary is manifest from this consideration alone, that though the Lord, contrary to all his perfections, and all his declarations, were to consent to meet you without it, you could not enjoy his presence without it. Without renewed hearts and holy dispositions you could not be happy, you would be out of your element-you would be miserable in heaven. Think of this, and if you have reason to fear that you are in nature's depravity, desire that the Lord would create in you a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within you. Or, if you have obtained some measure of conformity to his image, and are, on the whole, observant of his laws, strive after a more complete resemblance and devotedness, so shall you assuredly see his face in mercy.

But there should also be what has been called actual

preparation for the coming of Christ. A person might be

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