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him; Lo, here thm haji whatis thine; but for not improving it, as his other Servants had done: He was an unprofitable Servant, who had brought no advantage to his Master. And thus it is plain Men judge of Servants: He is a very wicked Steward indeed, who embezels his Master's Goods, but he is an unprofitable Servant who makes no Improvements: And thus God will judge of us, as we think it reasonable to judge of our Servants.
And good GOD! when we consider how many Talents we are entrusted with, it should make us tremble to think what little Improvements v/e make of them: Every thing that is improveable to the Service and Glory of Gody is a Talent; and if we do not improve it to God's Glory, and to do good in the 'World, it is a Talent hid in a Napkin, or buried in the Earth. As to give fome short Hints and Intimations of this; for a just Discourse about this Matter would be too long a Digreflion:
'Power must be allowed to be a Talent, and a very improveable Talent for every degree of Power gives Men great opportunities of doing good: Some Men move in a high Sphere, and can give Laws to those below; their very Examples, their Smiles or Frowns are Laws, and can do more to the reforming of the 'World, than the wisest Instructions, the most convincing Arguments, the most pathatical Exhortations of meaner Men.
But though few Men have such a Power as this, yet most Men have some degree of Power; to be sure every Father and Master of a Family has^ his Authority reaches his Children proved, it would soon reform the World: But how few are there who improve this Talent? who use their Power to make those who are under their Authority obedient to God, which is the true Use and Improvement of Power. *
. Riches, I suppose, will be allowed to be another very Improveable Talent; for what Good may not a Rich Man do, if he have a heart to do it? He may be Eyes to the Blind, and Feet to the Lame; a Father to the Fatherless, and a Husband to the Widow •% Tutelar Angel, and even a God to Men. And Riches are a Trust and a Stewardship, of which we must give an Account, To spend them upon our Lusts, in Rioting, Luxury, and Wantonness, this is to waste our Master's Goods: And to keep them safe,, without doing any good with them, is to hide them in the:Ea,rth, as the unprofitable Servant did his Talent: And if we must be judged and condemned for not improving our Talent, for not putting cur Lord's Money to the Exchangers, that when he comes he
tells us; rich Men ought to examine their Accounts, and fee what Encrease they have made of their Talent not how they have multiplied their Gold and Silver, but what good they have done with it. «.
Once more, Wisdom and Knowledge, especially the Knowledge of God and of Religion, is a very improveable Talent; for there is nothing whereby we can more advance the Glory of God, or do. more good to Men:, To in
struct the Ignorant:^ to confirm the Doubtful, to vindicate the Being and Providence of God, to shame and bafHe Atheism and Infidelity, to expound the Doctrines and Laws of our Saviour, and rescue them from perverse Glosses and Comments; this makes the Glory of God more visible to the 'World, and serves Mankind in their greatest and dearest Interests; it feeds their Souls with Knowledge and Understanding, directs them in the Way to Heaven, and minds them to take care of their Eternal State.
This indeed is the peculiar Care and Charge; of the Ministers of Religion; they are the Stewards of the Mysteries of G O D; those whom our Lord has made Rulers ever his Houjhold3 to / give them Meat in due season, 24 Matth. 2 J. And St. Paul tells US, It is required of these Steivardsj that they be found faithful. But this is a Talent which those may have in great perfection , who are not by Office the Guides of Souls; and where-ever it is, it must be improved, and must be accounted for: We may many times do more service to God, and more good to Men, by giving wise and wholesome Instructions, than by giving an Alms: This every Man who knows enough to take care of his own Soul, can do in some measure; and this he must and ought to do, as well as he can: But so few Men think of this, or charge themselves with it as belonging to their Account, that it is fit to mind you of it.;
IV. We shall be judged not only for our own personal Sins, but, in many cases, for
the the Sins of other Men, which we have made our own: There are a great many ways whereby we may bringthe Guilt of other Mens Sins upon our selves; when we tempt and provoke Men to sin, by our Authority, Counsels, Examples; when we perswade, intice, threaten, or shame Men into Sin; when we neglect our Duty to those who are under our Government; do not instruct them better, do not forewarn them of the Danger they are in of being miserable in this World, and in the next; when we do not restrain them, when we can, nor punish them for their Sins; when we are Partners with them in their Wickedness, or the Instruments of it; when we corrupt and debauch their Understandings with the Principles . of Atheism, Infidelity, or Scepticism; whatever Wickedness Men are drawn into by these means, is chargeable upon our selves, and must be added to our Account, as in reason it ought to be; for if we are the Cause of other Mens sins, we must bear the Guilt of them too.
And if this be so, what a terrible Account have some Men to make, which they never think of? How many have they corrupted by their Examples, or Counsels, or some other way? And how will this aggravate their own Condemnation,. when they carry a long Train and Retinue of undone Souls to Hell with them? That if Men will not be good themselves, they ought to take care how they make others wicked: This they get nothing by, but a double Damnation, and they will find it enough to be
V. We shall be judged also for our secret Sins: Thus Solomon tells us, God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil, 12 Eccl. 14. And St. Paul tells us. That God shall judge the Secrets of men by Jesus. Christ, according to the Gospel, 2 Rom. 16. And therefore David prays to God, Cleanse thou me from secret Faults, 19 Psal. 12.
There is no reason to think it should be otherwise, since our most secret Sins are visible to God: All things are naked and op en Unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do, 4 Heb. 15. And when God knows our most secret Sins, why should he not judge Us for them ? Humane Judicatures will punish those sins which are molt secretly committed, when they happen" to' be discovered; for the sin is never the less, nor does it less deserve to be punished, for being secret: And therefore though such sins may escape the Judgment of Men by being concealed, they cannot escape God's Judgment, who fees and knows them. ...
I grant, that to commit sin openly in the Face of the Sun, argues greater Impudence in sinning, does more publick Dishonour to God, and gives greater Scandal to the World; but secret sins put as great a Contempt on God, as open Impieties do; for it is a plain proof, that such sinners have a greater Reverence for Men, than they have for God; though they profess to believe that God is present every where, and sees all they do, yet they securely commit the greatest Villanies under his. Eye, when no body else sees them, which they