« ÎnapoiContinuă »
friends, who might assist him in the distress which was likely to follow and overwhelm him. The means, by which he effected this, are little to the purpose. They are not proposed as models for our imitation; but because there is an analogy (that is, a sort of resemblance) between our situation, and that of the unjust steward.
We too, like this criminal and crafty servant, we too, have all our respective stewardships to answer for. We too, I fear, have all neglected, and wasted them; all of us, like him, are liable to a severe examination, and, without some interposition, to a most certain and terrible punishment. Are we then prepared for our examination? We cannot plead the want of warning. God awakens our attention by a thousand different visitations. In prosperity, the very mercies of God call us to repentance. In danger, [and who can hope to live free from danger?] He calls on us with a voice of thunder: while, in the moments of solitude and repose, we hear the still small voice of conscience, more piercing, perhaps, and terrible than the loudest thunder and storms. The sicknesses, which we ourselves endure; - the accidents, which befal our acquaintance; every death-bell, which we hear, and every funeral which passes by us, all these speak to us in a language which we surely cannot
mistake: "Be ready, O man, to give an account of thy doings; thy time is short; and the days of reckoning are at hand; give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest be no longer steward."
Is the warning for so distant a period, that we are tempted to disregard it? Alas! my friends, the time of this account will be certainly speedy; — to some of us, perhaps, immediate. This very night, this very hour that I speak, our souls may be perhaps required at our hands. And is it possible to be careless or indifferent, or can we, under such circumstances, delay to seek for help, while it may be found; to employ our few remaining hours, in appeasing the wrath of Heaven; and in obtaining for ourselves an advocate at the throne of Grace? Which of you, where merely your temporal interests were concerned, where life or livelihood, where mere worldly prosperity was at stake, would not exert every faculty, and fear the delay of every moment; lest he should be too late to secure so important an object? And thus it is, that the children of this world are wiser, in their generation, than the children of light. Not that their object is wiser; not that they are wiser, in following the cares, and riches, and pleasures, of this life; those pleasures, which endure for a moment, rather than those heavenly delights,
which eye hath not seen; nor ear heard which are at the right hand of God, for evermore; and that fulness of joy, which is in His presence. No comparison can be made, between these different objects of pursuit: to compare them would be both wicked and foolish.
Still, however, in their generation, the children of this world are the wisest: they follow their object, such as it is, with greater diligence and greater prudence, than we do, who strive after an eternal kingdom. The disgraced steward, who was in danger of starving for want, was not long in making up his resolution; he was not slow, in taking his measures. His time was very short; he knew, that it was both short and precious; and while he yet retained the power of making a friend, he seized the opportunity of shunning the approach of ruin; and caught, like a drowning man, at the first branch which offered. We, too, are in an equal danger; we, too, are in fear of suffering, not the anger of a human master, but the punishment of a Heavenly Judge; not a life of poverty, but an eternity of torment. This is our danger are we really
anxious to escape it?
In this point, it will be clearly seen, that the force of the comparison lies: and a parable, I need scarcely add, is nothing but a comparison,
thrown into the form of a story. On this comparison, the moral depends; and with the other parts of it we have little or no concern. The dishonesty of the wicked man, in this parable; his folly, in labouring solely for the meat, which perisheth; -with these, we have nothing to do: they are not held up for our imitation. Such is, indeed, the case in every parable or similitude. When Solomon sends us to learn diligence of the pismire; or when the apostle bids us, be wise as serpents; we never can suppose, that they mean us to crawl in the dust;-to be sly, or venomous, or double-tongued. Be assured, my friends, the Spirit of God can never so trifle with us; but these poor animals, these unfortunate and wicked men, are set before our eyes, in order to make us ashamed of our own idleness, and folly. When, indeed, we see them so wise and diligent in the pursuit of their mean and short-lived comforts, we may well blush for ourselves, that we are such careless followers of an Eternal Kingdom, and of life and joy without end. "The ox knoweth his owner; and the ass, his master's crib: but Israel doth not know; my people doth not consider." O consider this, ye that forget God; consider it, while you have a moment left for thought: or you will too late repent your carelessness; when the publicans and sinners deride you; and the very
beasts of the field arise against you, in judge
There may be an objection made, [I scarcely believe there will, but it is, however, as well to mention it,] there may be an objection made by some, that they do not perceive, wherein they resemble the steward in the parable: they have no charge, to misapply; no entrusted property, to waste; they have but little; that little is their own; and what can be expected from them? My friends, what do the poorest, what do the richest, of us possess, which we can truly call our own? Our property, however acquired, our wives, and children, our own bodies, and minds, are all intended as so many instruments of God's glory. We are all God's labourers, all, in our several stations, at work in His vineyard: and all our power and riches, our bodily strength, and strength of mind, are but so many tools to labour with; - tools which He lends us for the day; and which at night He takes again. That day is already far spent; that night is fast approaching; and which of us is prepared to give an account of his labour? Which of us can say in his heart, that he has done his whole duty; and is at peace with God? The steward, in the parable, had gotten himself friends, wicked ones, no doubt, and wickedly gotten: but still they were friends, and defenders against the coming storm; but what