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40. “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man

cometh at an hour when ye think not. 41. “ Then Peter said unto Him, Lord, speakest thou this

parable unto us, or even to all ? 42. “ And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and

wise steward, whom his lord shall inake ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due

season? 43. “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh

shall find so doing. 44. “Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him

ruler over all that he hath. 45. “But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord

delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be

drunken; 46. “ 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, and will appoint him his por

tion with the unbelievers. 47. “ And that servant which knew his lord's will, and

prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”

In answer to Peter's inquiry, whether the injunction of watchfulness applied to all the disciples of Jesus, or was addressed more especially to His chosen apostles, our Lord's answer seems to imply, “ What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.” But what I say unto all, I say more especially unto you, and those who, like

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you, are peculiarly engaged in my service. You are as stewards, whose Lord expects to find them faithful: you are as servants, to whom the Lord's will is plainly revealed. And it is with God, as it is among men : unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required : and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the

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A general truth is here declared, which falls in with our natural expectations : men accountable for their opportunities, and will be judged according to them. “For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law: in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.”3 The caviller indeed will still say, as the cavillers of old said, “ the way of the Lord is not equal:”—

"“ reaping where He hath not sown, and gathering where He hath not strawed." 4 O house of Israel: Is not the way of God equal ? are not your ways unequal ?" For the word of God says, that " where no law is, there is no transgression :"5 but that “this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil." 6

Such, at least, will be the condemnation of those who, in a country like this, a country of 3 Rom. ii. 11-16. ^ Ezek. xviii. 25. Matt. xxv. 24.

5 Rom. iv. 15. 6 John iii. 19.

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churches, and of ministers, and of Bibles, set up the plea of ignorance. A common plea; the want of scholarship, to understand the mysteries of religion; the want of instruction in the ways of righteousness. These excuses are frequent: but they can avail only as far as they are seen to be true by Him who knows what is in the heart. Alas! that very ignorance by which many seek to justify themselves, is the aggravation of their guilt. The corrupt heart, even from early years, turns away from spiritual things; rejects whatever might restrain evil inclination. Have those who complain of ignorance, taken pains to acquire knowledge? Have they rightly employed the leisure of the sabbath, and sought not for amusement but instruction ? Even when present at the worship of God, have they felt any desire, any appetite for knowledge of the truth ? Have they used every opportunity of inquiry, and acted, in the case of religion, as they would act concerning any other subject in which they were interested, and wished to be informed ?

Those who have not done this, cannot justly plead that they know not their lord's will. They cannot expect any mitigation of the wrath to come: they cannot expect the few stripes: the least miserable condition. Theirs is the case of servants who were aware that their lord had sent a message, but refused to open it, to hearken to it: who would “not come unto the light, lest their deeds should be reproved.” This is the real cause of ignorance; a preference of it, as diminishing responsibility; an aversion from all religious inquiry. Those“ who cry after knowledge, and lift up their voice for understanding, who seek her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures; they shall understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.” But those who neglect the means which God hath put into their hands; who reckon anything better worth caring for, or seeking for, than the way of eternal life; who take that season which God has destined for the concerns of the soul, and devote it to amusement, or to sloth, or to worldly concerns ; those, indeed, must necessarily remain ignorant of their Lord's will: but let them not bring forward ignorance as an excuse for their disobedience : much has been given them, and of them shall be much required.

« Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” But the wilful, hardened heart “ knows not the time of its visitation;" and rather chooses to prove his justice in condemning, than his mercy in pardoning

“ Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom : and with all thy getting, get understanding."

7 Prov. iv. 1, 7..

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LECTURE XLVII.

PARABLE OF THE BARREN FIG TREE.

LUKE xiii. 1-9.

1. “There were present at that season some that told Him

of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with

their sacrifices. 2. “And Jesus, answering, said unto them, Suppose ye that

these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans,

because they suffered such things ? 3. “I tell you, Nay, but except ye repent, ye shall all

likewise perish. 4. “ Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam

fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners

above all them that dwelt in Jerusalem ? 5. “I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all

likewise perish." We know nothing of the circumstances mentioned in this passage, except what is here told us. In one case, the soldiers of Pilate seem to have surprised a party of Galileans, while sacrificing, and destroyed them ; in the other case, a tower had fallen, and buried eighteen persons in its ruins. This gives rise to a general remark. Suppose ye that these were persons of unusual wickedness, and therefore objects of God's vengeance? I tell you, Nay. Such judgments are no proof of this; but they are a call to every one, that they consider their ways. All calamity, all pain, all death, are testimonies of the anger

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