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and the unfaithfulness of those wicked stewards of his exposed to all the world, and punished with the utmost severity, for withholding his bounty from those for whom it was designed, and thereby bringing so much misery upon their fellow-servants, and such vile aspersions upon their gracious Lord.
He then that expects to have the Judge his friend at the terrible day, when he shall be called to give an account of his stewardship, must make friends with him beforehand, by acts of charity and pity to the necessitous; he must consider the sick and needy, as the Psalmist expresses it', take their case into his serious thoughts, and contrive how he may best supply their wants, and do accordingly. He must not forget to do good and to communicate, but gladly shew mercy to the miserable, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased, and will thereby be inclined to deliver him in the time of trouble, and shew him mercy then when he wants it most: and be it little or much that we are intrusted with, we must proportion our charity accordingly. If we have much, we must give plentifully; if little, we must do our diligence gladly to give of that little, for so shall we gather to ourselves a good reward in the day of necessity : for as our Saviour says, ver. 10. of this chapter, He that is faithful in that which is least will be faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much : and where there is a true principle of fidelity and charity, whatever the degree of the man's ability is, he will do suitably to it.
If therefore, as he goes on, ver. 11, ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, or worldly
& Heb. xiii. 16.
f Psalm xli. I.
wealth, but have abused it to ends quite contrary to what your great Lord designed when he intrusted you with it, who will commit to your trust the true riches ? How can you expect God should bestow upon you the infinitely more valuable treasures of happiness and glory, which he hath laid up for his faithful servants in heaven, and which are for ever secure from all those dangers and contingencies to which every thing is liable here, which neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and which thieves cannot break through and steal ? And if, as he concludes, ver. 12, ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own ? If that in which you have no propriety, but is only put into your hands by God, to be disposed of to such and such uses, as he hath been pleased to direct, and that for the benefit of others as well as of yourselves; if this hath been embezzled by you, and wickedly made use of to quite different purposes; how can you think he will ever give you one of those everlasting mansions in his heavenly kingdom, which by his divine favour and bounty shall be so firmly settled upon their blest inhabitants, that they may truly call them their own, and depend upon the undisturbed enjoyment of them to all eter
If therefore it was wisely done of the unjust steward in the parable, to make a provision for him. self with his lord's goods committed to him, against the time when his stewardship should be taken from him; it will be our wisdom to imitate his prudent foresight, though not his fraud and injustice; and by a faithful discharge of our trust, and improvement of our great Lord's talents to his honour and
the good of our brethren, to make to ourselves friends of the mammon which is too often abused to very unrighteous purposes ; that when we fail, Jesus may look upon us with favour and mercy at the last great audit, and the blessed ministers of his kingdom may receive us into those everlasting habitations, where those that truly served him here enjoy perpetual felicity and rest.
So shall we be as wise in our generation as the children of the world are in theirs; and by approving ourselves to be indeed children of the light and of the day, and true to our blessed principles, and holy profession here below, enjoy in God's good time eternal happiness in the regions of glory above.
I. And thou, most blessed Saviour Jesus! who art all love and tenderness and bounty to thy poor, miserable creatures, till by the abuse of thy goodness, and obstinate rejection of the methods of thy mercy, they force thee to do justice; awaken, I most humbly beseech thee, my drowsy, stupid soul, that at length I may look up, and be so wise as to see, and vigorously pursue the things that belong to my eternal peace, before they be hid from my eyes! O make me thoroughly sensible, that to salvation all things else are trifles, that so I may apply myself with the utmost care and diligence to this one thing needful, and work it out with fear and trembling!
What hast thou done and suffered, O most compassionate Redeemer, for vile, rebellious me, to rescue my poor, sinful soul from hell! And shall I, like a stupid, hardened wretch, do nothing for myself?
Shall I again rush headlong into that destruction from which thou hast redeemed me with thy most precious blood ? Jesu, defend me from such fatal madness! and teach me more and more to prize, and with the utmost circumspection to secure, what thou, the King of glory, didst become a sacrifice to purchase for me! O wondrous love! O miracle of mercy and unfathomable goodness!
O may it lead me to an immediate and sincere repentance ! May I detest those vices with a perfect hatred which brought my Saviour to the cross, and would have sunk me into the bottomless abyss of misery, had he not been my kind deliverer; and will again sink me still deeper in it, if I abuse that mercy by a continued course of sin!
I know, most gracious Lord, I cannot but know, that every thing on earth is empty and unsatisfying, apt to corrupt my soul, and make me miserable; but it is thy service only that can make me happy : 0 therefore inore and more estrange me from the world! redeem me from all vain and irreligious conversation; and save me from the power as well as punishment of all my sins! and fix my thoughts and my affections so steadily above, that I may disregard the flitting, momentary things I meet with here, and pass through all the stages of this my earthly pilgrimage with all the indifference that becomes an inheritor of thy eternally glorious and blissful kingdom! And may I be so wise as to make all the varieties of this mortal life subservient to thy honour and my own salvation; and improve, like a faithful steward, whatever good things thou shalt please to intrust me with, to the gracious ends for which thou dost design them ! So shall I serve thee acceptably here; and through thy merits and mercies be admitted to share in endless joys with thee hereafter.