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worthy of their imitation: and indeed the conduct of worldly men, "in their generation," may commonly suggest useful instruction and reproof to the children of light in their most important pursuits. The steward, perceiving that his trust was expiring, and distress about to seize on him, formed a plan, at his lord's expence, to secure to himself a maintenance, when deprived of other resources. We are all stewards; all we have and are, as the rational creatures and subjects of God, is entrusted to us, and an account will shortly be required of the use to which we have applied it. We have all wasted our Lord's goods, and death will speedily deprive us of our stewardship; and if we die under the condemnation which we have merited, the doom of the rich man, mentioned in the subsequent part of the chapter, will be ours. But we live under a dispensation of mercy through our divine Mediator; in whom, when we believe, we are freely "justified by faith," "made the righteousness of "God in him," and "heirs according to the hope "of eternal life." This justifying faith, however, is an active principle, and influences proportionably our whole conduct. When we first believe the testimony of God concerning the wrath to come, and the refuge provided for us; faith principally works by fear, desire, and hope. When our views become more distinct, and we possess an habitual confidence that "Jesus
"hath delivered from the wrath to come, by bear'ing our sins in his own body on the tree;" faith principally" works by love;" by admiration of the excellencies of Christ; longings after near and intimate fellowship with him; gratitude for inexpressible obligations received from him; zeal for his glory; love of his cause and people; and a cordial desire that all around us, and all men every where, if it might be, should know, love, honour, and be blessed in him and his salvation. The same principle of living faith overcomes the world and purifies the heart; and when ambition, avarice, sensuality, malignant and selfish affections, are crucified, and the fears of reproach, contempt, and persecution are overcome, through our "gloFrying in the cross of Christ, by whom the world "is crucified to us, and we to the world;" then we are proportionably brought under the constraining influence of love to Him "who died for "us and rose again," and induced to imitate him, who, "though he were rich, for our sakes became
poor, that we, through his poverty, might be "be made rich!" And under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, whose in-dwelling is the seal of our justification by faith, we exercise the wisdom of using things temporal in subserviency to our eternal good, by improving them as talents to the glory of the Lord, the comfort of his people, and the good of mankind. Thus our present use of the things entrusted to us, will conduce to our ad
vantage, when death shall terminate our stewardship; for then especially the word will be fulfilled, "to him that hath shall be given, and he shall "have abundantly; but from him that hath not shall be taken away, even that which he seemeth "to have." This indeed will in no sense be the reward of any merit in our obedience: Yet it will not only evidence our faith to be living, but it will ascertain the proportion of our future felicity; for the Lord loves and recompences the fruits of his own Spirit; every vessel of mercy will certainly be full, but all will not be found equally capacious; the exercise of holy affections conduces greatly to the increase of them; and liberal love, above all other things, expands and enlarges the heart.
With these observations before us, let us examine the scripture in question-" The mammon "of unrighteousness" denotes those riches in the getting, hoarding, and spending of which so much iniquity is committed, that ungodly men seem to worship a cruel idol, while piety, truth, integrity, and mercy, their own bodies and souls, yea their children and relatives, as well as their neighbours, are laid as bleeding sacrifices on the altar of Mammon. Yet in the use of these very riches (which as the creatures of God are good in themselves) professed christians are exhorted “to make "themselves friends;" in allusion to the steward's having made himself friends by disposing of his
master's property: for that portion of a man's wealth, which from love to Christ is expended on works of piety and charity, not only supplies the wants of the saints, and excites them to praise God, but it also reminds them to pray for their benefactors in cordial love, which is one of the most desirable proofs of true friendship;' and as many persons of this description, after having received the most important good, through the liberality of their brethren, may go before them to glory; so we may conceive of them as standing ready to welcome their benefactors into everlasting mansions, when flesh and heart, and all earthly resources fail them.
Let us fix our thoughts on some one of those distinguished few, whose liberal love to man for Christ's sake, persevered in for a long course of years, among other acts of beneficence, sent the word of life to tens of thousands whom they never saw, and were thus instrumental to the salvation of numbers. May we not imagine that we see the spirits of those righteous persons, to whom the liberality of such a believer was life from the dead, waiting the moment of their benefactor's dissolution, and his last expiring groans, to welcome him into everlasting habitations, with shouts of triumphant joy, and fervent thanksgiving, whilst they see him receive a full reward of "his "work of faith and labour of love, and patience "of hope in the Lord Jesus?" Nor can a more 12 Cor. ix. 10-15.
ecstatick rapturous feeling be conceived, than that which must thrill through every soul on such an occasion; except we think of the believer's beholding, face to face, that transcendantly greater Benefactor, who hath loved him and washed him from his sins in his own blood.
But turn the glass, and behold a professor of the gospel, who, possessing wealth, hath spent it in ostentation and luxury, or hoarded it in covetousness, saying to the poor disciples of Christ, Depart in peace, be ye warmed or clothed." Conceive of this man, when turned out of his stewardship-what an awful reverse! The abuse of his talents proves that his faith was dead, his hope presumption, and his profession hypocrisy. Christ's deserted cause, his neglected disciples, and his violated commandments, concur to prove that he loved the mammon of unrighteousness more than the Saviour of the world; that he resembled Judas or Ananias, more than any other of the primitive professors of the gospel; and that he copied the injustice, but not the wisdom, of the steward in the parable.
But few of Christ's disciples are rich: therefore he adds, "He that is faithful in that which "is least, is faithful also in much." Faithfulness in a christian, who considers himself as a steward, implies a practical conviction that he is bound by every tie, but most by that of love and gratitude, to employ his talent according to the