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CHAPTER XXII.

JESUS TEACHING AGAIN BY PARABLES.

I THINK you have learned to love these beautiful parables. How kind it was of Jesus to teach in a way which is so easy to understand! You are now going to hear the parable of the “unjust steward.” A steward is a man who has the charge of his master's goods, and his duty is to see that a proper use is made of them.

Now, the master in the parable heard that his steward had wasted his goods. So he called him, and asked, “How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest be no longer steward.” This wicked man now thought of a plan by which he could make friends for himself. This was by cheating

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his master. He called all those who owed money to his lord, and told them they need only pay part of their debt. One owed one hundred measures of oil; to him he said,

take

your bill and write fifty instead of a hundred.” And so, you see, he made friends, who would receive him into their houses when he was turned out of his stewardship. This man showed that he was very clever, though he was very wicked and dishonest. We read, “ The lord commended him (not Jesus, but his master) for his cleverness.'

Jesus says we are to learn from his conduct how much wiser worldly people are about their concerns than God's people are in the things of God. You cannot yet understand all that is taught in this parable ; but you may learn that we are only God's stewards. All we have is His. He commits it to our care, to be used for His glory. When we come to the Parable of the Talents you will understand this

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better. You will see now, in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, what a sin it is to spend the money which God has given us in indulging our own selfish wishes and desires.

There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. Because he was rich, he chose to spend his wealth on himselfto have all he could possibly desire. He could deny himself nothing. We do not hear that he was what people would call a wicked man; but his heart was buried in his own selfish

I am sure you see that he was an unfaithful steward. No part of what God had given him was used for his glory or the good of others. A poor beggar who loved God lay from day to day at the rich man's gate, ill and half-starved. Even the dogs had pity on him, for they came and licked his sores, but this selfish man passed by him without feeling the least compassion. At last the beggar died. Oh! what a change for the poor sufferer! In one instant all his sorrows and sufferings were over, and he was at rest for ever. We do not know who took away his poor body, or how it was buried; but that was of very little

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consequence. A short time after the rich man died, He was buried with great honour ; but oh! where was his soul? Alas! in hell.

Can you wonder at this, dear children? Oh! no.

If we would go to heaven when we die, we must get ready for heaven while we live. Just think for a moment how this man had spent his time on earth. He had thought only of what he should eat and drink, and wherewithal he should be clothed. Now, how are those in heaven employed? They rest not day nor night, praising God and serving Him. Suppose, then, this man could have gone to heaven at his death, how miserable he would have been ! But it was not possible that he could enter heaven, for “without holiness

no

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can

lifted up

see the Lord.” (Heb. xii. 14.) These words are very awful, “In hell he

his

eyes, being in torments,” but oh! dear children, there is no middle place. If we are not fit for heaven, we must go to hell. We are told he saw the poor beggar happy with Abraham in heaven. This must have made him even more miserable. He begged Abraham to send Lazarus that he might dip his finger in water and cool his burning tongue. Abraham told him this was not possible, for none can pass from heaven to hell or from hell to heaven. When this wretched man found there was no hope for himself, he thought about his five brothers. He wanted Lazarus to be sent to them, to warn them lest they should come to that dreadful place. He thought if some one went to them from the dead, they would repent. "No," said Abraham ;

', “if they do not believe what they read in God's Word, they would not believe if one went to them from the dead."

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