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he should not, for many days, receive the comfortable hope of forgiveness, which God's Spirit will, at length, bestow; seeing that David, who sinned like him, was suffered to continue, for a certain time, little less than hopeless. And he, who is now tempted to sin, may be terrified from every guilty indulgence, by the knowledge, that, though he may, like David, obtain a pardon; he must seek for it, like David, with agonies unutterable; and with a bitterness of sorrow, which death itself can scarcely equal.
Lastly, it is worthy of notice, that, though this sin of David was, in consequence of this severe repentance, put away by God; and though, so far as the other world was concerned, his transgression was fully pardoned; - yet did not this pardon extend to the punishment, which God had determined to inflict, in this life, on him, and on his family. So far otherwise, that, even when the pardon of his soul was pronounced, an additional burthen was laid on him and not only death was denounced against those sons, who had been previously threatened; but against the infant in the cradle; by whom he doubtless hoped, in failure of his elder progeny, that his line would be lengthened on the throne; and that the Messiah would, according to the flesh, descend from him. God had before said, that the sword should not depart from his house;
and He now tells him, "The child also, that is born unto thee, shall surely die." And this observation is important; first as proving the greatness of God's indignation against sin; and that David did not, in fact, escape so freely, as some persons have been apt to imagine; and secondly, that it behoves us, when God has graciously assured us of pardon in the other world, to bear, not only with patience, but with thankfulness, whatever punishment His wisdom thinks fit to inflict on us, in the present transitory life. Such punishments are, indeed, the mark of God's displeasure: but they are, at the same time, the mark of God's fatherly affection towards us; who, even when displeased, will not destroy us utterly, but chastises us, in order that we may amend.
From the example, then, of David's sin, his pardon, and his punishment, we may learn caution, purity, repentance, and patience. And that we may thus profit by what we hear, and read, may God of His mercy grant, for the sake, and through the sufferings, of His Son, the Son of David, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be everlasting praise and glory.
SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
ST. LUKE, xvi. 2.
Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
I HAVE selected, as has been often my custom, the subject of my discourse for this day, from that portion of St. Luke's Gospel, which you heard read in the Second Lesson for this ' morning's service. This choice I have been induced to make; partly, because the parable itself is still fresh in your memories; partly, because it contains some seeming difficulties, which it is best to explain, by considering the occasion, on which it was spoken, and the conversation, which passed before and after it.
You will perceive, by a reference to the preceding chapter, that Christ had just been relating the beautiful story of the prodigal son. In this, under the character of a spendthrift, who had gone into far country, and forgotten
his duty to an indulgent father, he expressed, by a very simple and pleasing allegory, the lamentable state of the different nations of the world; who had lost the worship of the true and only God, and had fallen, by their own blindness, into a state of barbarous and brutish ignorance and idolatry. Their return to the true religion, and the jealousy of the Jews, (the elder brother, who had remained in the father's house), is then foretold; and the uncharitable temper of this people, sharply and justly reproved.
In the parable now before us, our Saviour, still addressing the Jews [for all this took place in the same conversation], considers them in the character of stewards of the mysteries of the kingdom of God. He tells them, that, as they had been wasteful and unprofitable guardians of those precious truths, committed to their care, that care was now at an end;—that charge was taken from them; and they were to give an account of their deeds, as they were no longer stewards. All these judgements were then hanging over their heads; and our Lord exhorts them, by the example of the crafty servant, who made himself friends against that evil day, not to envy the benefits of religion then extended to the Heathen, but to busy themselves in preaching the Gospel; to impart with a good will their spiritual gifts to the rest of the world; that, when their own city and temple should be
destroyed; when their nation should be carried into captivity, and scattered over the face of the whole earth; they might find favour from those, who ruled over them, and be kindly received into the bosom of the Christian churches.
Well had it been for these miserable people, had they followed His gracious advice; but their hearts were too hard and too envious to allow, that a heathen could be saved. Their stewardship was taken from them their city and temple were burnt with fire: they had no friend, no refuge to receive them; and, at this very day, too proud to beg, too idle to dig, they most of them earn a precarious subsistence, miserable wanderers, without a spot in the wide world, which they can properly call their home.
Such was the fate of them to whom this parable was originally addressed: but we must remember that, in all the parables, besides their application to those, who were then immediately present, there is a wider and more general application, which concerns all mankind; and from which we ourselves are bound to draw an equal instruction and advantage. We have here the story of a very wicked person; who, -to save himself from the vengeance of an injured master, employed himself, [in the few remaining hours, during which his office was to continue in his hands,] in making