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object, and having fixed judiciously on the means for attaining it, they proceed forthwith, with all eagerness. They grudge no labour. They rise early, and sit up late, and they eat the bread of carefulness. Dangers do not deter them, difficulties do not discourage them, amusements do not materially divert them, from their purpose. When they have taken a side in philosophy, or politics, they are not ashamed of their opinions, but confess them openly, and contend for them strenuously, and use all means in their power to bring others over to their way of thinking. How eagerly did the steward inquire with himself, "What shall I do!" how decided was he in his purpose, "I am resolved what to do!" and, with what promptness and eagerness did he carry it into effect, sending for the debtors, and saying to the first, "Sit down quickly!" Though such energetic conduct may fail, it is generally successful; and, therefore, it is very wise, for the end for which it is followed. But, is there as much earnestness generally manifested by be. lievers, in the pursuit of their noblest of all ends? By no means. Sincerity is, indeed, essential to the very being of true religion; but, men are frequently sincere in religion, without being very zealous and decided. What want of earnestness, for example, often in prayer and other religious exercises! and how frequently does the Christian require the exhortation, "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God!" And then, what want of courage often in defending the truth, when it is attacked; and what want of zeal in exertion for its spread!

Once more, the children of this world are, in their generation, wiser than the children of light, as they prosecute their objects with greater perseverance. They are not soon discouraged from the pursuit of their favourite object. If they fail in their first attempts, they do not give up, but they renew their efforts with greater vigour than before, and go on for a long time; they persevere till they succeed, nay, often till they attain a high eminence of wealth, power, and honour. But, Christians are by no means, in general, so persevering in their spiritual work. No child of light, it is true and blessed be God for it!—ever relapses into total darkness, or gives up the struggle so as to be finally lost. But it is not unusual for believers to become weary in duty, to be disheartened by trials, to cease, in a great measure at least, from cultivating certain graces, because they have not

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hitherto succeeded in them to their wish, and thus to fall far short of that degree of eminence in the divine life here, and of course in heavenly happiness hereafter, to which they would have attained, had they uniformly persevered with the same diligence which they exercised at certain stages of their progress.

In such respects, then, as these, "the children of this world are, in their generation," or, in their manner of acting in the affairs of this life, "wiser than the children of light" in their way of acting in the affairs of their souls and of eternity. And, to what is the deficiency on the part of believers owing, but to the remaining partial blindness and depravity of their hearts? Had they continued in the unmitigated ignorance and depravity of nature, they could not have put forth any wisdom or energy at all in the prosecution of salvation. As it is, their depravity, though struck at the root, and fading, is not yet altogether eradicated; the old man in them, though mortally wounded, is not yet dead: and therefore, there is a constant struggle between the two principles of fallen nature and grace, the former of which, though it shall never prevail entirely over the latter, but, at last, be annihilated before it, in the meantime annoys them much, and prevents them from acting with all that wise decision to which the new man, or, their renovated nature, if left to its own undisturbed tendencies, would, under God, certainly and constantly lead

them.

In the farther improvement of this parable, it may be proper,

1. To put in a caution against all fraudulent and wicked policy in our dealings with our fellow-creatures. Our Lord here condemns everything of this kind, in branding this steward with the epithet of "The unjust." This caution is especially to be attended to by those who occupy confidential places, as servants under earthly masters. They should conscientiously avoid injuring their employers by dishonesty, or neglect, or mismanagement, or extravagance. Let them be exhorted to be "obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again, not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things." But, the caution should be attended to by persons in all classes of life. Let all beware of violating the rules of honesty and integrity. "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not

inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived;" "neither thieves, nor covetous, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." If any have offended in this way, let them forthwith make restitution, as far as they can, and betake themselves to the Lord for his pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace. Let none reckon themselves secure in iniquity because of their ingenuity. Nor, let any think of being guilty of additional frauds, in order to conceal, or to prevent, the consequence of former ones. Let all be on their guard against chicane, disingenuousness, and crooked policy of every kind, whether in relation to property, or in relation to other concerns. Let them rest assured, that all such wisdom will prove consummate folly at last. Let them shudder at the thought of belonging to the class thus described by Jeremiah,* "They are wise to do evil; but to do good they have no knowledge." Let none be proud of misapplied abilities, for who so subtle as that old serpent the devil? "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool," let him acknowledge his own ignorance," that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; for it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." Let us study to preserve this "testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world."

2. This parable should lead the children of this world, in the midst of all their fancied wisdom and security, to think of their real folly and danger. What though they are wise in their own estimation, when they are not wise according to the standard of Scripture? What though they are wise in the judgment of the world (and "men will praise those who do well for themselves"), when they are fools in the sight of God? What though they are dexterous, be it in an honest way, to increase their wealth, when they imprudently neglect the only thing absolutely necessary for their final happiness? "What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or, what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Let them "cease from their own wisdom," and "ask wisdom of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given them."

3. Let the wisdom displayed by worldly men, in the pro

* Jer. iv. 22.

secution of their temporal objects, be imitated by Christians in the prosecution of their spiritual. Attend to this, you who rank among the children of light. This will not be to be conformed to this world; on the contrary, there is no more decided way of manifesting nonconformity to the world, and protesting against it, than adopting its eagerness of action, in another and a nobler pursuit. Instead of the carnal policy which is in them, let there be holy ingenuity and prudence in you. Take a lesson from their general union in worldly schemes. When they conspire, you should associate. Union here is strength. When objects, comparatively so paltry as theirs, can command efforts so earnest and persevering, surely, that most glorious object of yours, perfect and endless holiness and happiness, should draw forth all your powers, and keep you steady to the last. "Watch, then, thereunto, with all perseverance and supplication."

Lastly, though it does not seem to have been immediately in the view of our Lord when he spoke the parable, the way in which it opens may lead us to think of God as our Master, and ourselves as stewards, and remind us of our duty and accountableness as such. There is nothing that we have which we can strictly call our own. Our life, our health, our reason, our property, our means and measure of grace, are all intrusted to us, that we may manage and improve them as stewards. As we have all been, in some degree, unfaithful, let us not have recourse to unworthy and vain expedients for extricating ourselves, but let us plead guilty, and cast ourselves at once on our Lord's mercy. For the future, let us remember that "it is required of stewards that a man be found faithful." Our Lord may soon say to any of us, “Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest be no longer steward." We shall all have to give in our account at death, and in judgment. Let us improve the means of salvation now in our power; let us keep fast hold of the divine mercy, through faith in the atonement; and let us be active in every duty. Let us daily inspect our accounts ourselves, in the way of self-examination, that we may be ready to give in our account to be inspected by our Lord at last, and to give it in with joy and not with grief. Then shall he say to each of us, "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

LECTURE LXXXV.

LUKE XVI. 9-13.

"And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. 10. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much. 11. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12. And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? 13. No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." 99

HAVING spoken the parable of the unjust steward, who manifested so much contrivance and zeal in forwarding his temporal interest, and having founded, on that parable the short, but deep, comprehensive, and instructive remark, that "the children of this world are, in their generation, wiser than the children of light" (for, however inferior their object, worldly men generally pursue that object with more ingenuity of contrivance, more union, more earnestness, and more perseverance, than believers employ in the pursuit of salvation) our Lord proceeds to apply the parable, at greater length, in the verses now read. In obvious allusion to the very improper way in which "the unjust steward," or, "the steward of unrighteousness," endeavoured to make friends of his master's debtors, that they might assist him when he should be turned out of his office, Christ now says to his disciples, "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations."

mam

The only passages of Scripture in which the word " mon" occurs, are this now under consideration, in which it is introduced thrice, and that in Matthew, 6th chapter and 24th verse. The learned are not altogether decided as to the origin of the word. Some derive it from a Hebrew word,* which signifies to trust; in this view, it may signify any thing in which men are ready to trust, and this is especially

אמן *

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