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the loss of a temporary office, such as this SERM, stewardship in the parable was, and the loss of our promised inheritance in Heaven, honor, and glory, and happiness eternal? What a shame must it be, to see the children of this world, labouring without ceasing after worldly possessions; not dejected or discouraged by difficulties and dangers; not turned aside by any impediment or hinderance; not baffled by any stratagem or artifice; and all this to possess themselves of frail, perishable, and transitory goods, and yet the children of light; with the hopes of Heaven, and the fears of Hell before them, using no diligence, but rather deterred by every trifling circumstance, from pursuing the important objects held forth to them; it is almost incredible that men should be so infatuated, and yet the case is so common that we cease to wonder at it. Such a stewardship as the prodigal in the parable held, might be continued to him, according as he himself should have care and management enough, either to fulfil the duties of it punctually, or to cover over and conceal

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SERM. any misdoings by artifice and deception.

But the stewardship we hold, in regard to the supreme God, is of no tenure that depends on our own discretion; we may be called to account to-day, to-morrow, or any moment within the whole coinpass of our life, whether we shall have administered our trust faithfully, or wasted our talents neglectfully. If put out of our stewardship with disgrace and ignominy, that is, if we die without having repented of our sins, and having made light of the redemption purchased for us by Jesus Christ, there is no alternative left. There is no digging, no begging, that can repair our loss; we shall be cast out from the eternal habitations of heaven, and sent into utter darkness. And shall the children of this world be wiser in their way, and prepare for all sorts of accidents, so that if one endeavour fail, another may succeed, , and no provision be made against that great and irrevocable day of account, when every man is to receive his final doom, and be recompensed for ever according to that which he hath done in the flesh. Re


present to yourselves the two states I have SERM. thus brought into comparison. The situ- XVIII, ation of the unjust steward was surely bad enough; he had wasted his Lord's goods, and no doubt therefore all his own : he was not fitted to struggle with hard fortune; to dig he had not learnt; to beg he was ashamed; and yet he was in danger of being dismissed with heavy reproaches from his stewardship : but still there were many

chances before him. If the virtuous and the good should shun him, yet there might be sinners enough like himself, who would supply him with common necessaries, and even receive him into their houses. Prudence therefore, and a little management only, might secure him many comforts even after the forfeiture of his stew ardship. But with mankind in general, the day of reckoning is in its consequences final and decisive,

Of all the blessings bestowed upon us here below, whether natural, as reason, free-will, health, and offspring; or else worldly endowments, as riches, splendor,


SERM. learning, or authority, we shall be called to XVIII. give a strict and scrupulous account. If

we have made no provision, and conciliated no friends, before this awful day of retribution, we shall be shut out from the kingdom of heaven, and other habitations there will be none to receive us. God Almighty seeth all things, and has left nothing intermediate between heaven and heil; so that when once cast out from our stewardship by the eternal Father, no subterfuge will save us, no being whatsoever can have a place of refuge to open to us. Is it not shocking to think, that with such a risk and hazard before us, so much misery awaiting the negligent, and such exalted blessings held forth to the vigilant and careful, we can yet bring ourselves to be more watchful over our worldly concerns, than over such as must affect our eternal happiness hereafter! Yet so it is beyond all doubt. Sensible things make a sure impression, invisible things have not half the weight. We take thought daily what we shall eat and what we shall drink, and wherewithal we shall be clothed, for hun



ger and thirst and nakedness are evils that sERM. sensibly afflict us, but we, all the while, XVIII. neglect to seek after the kingdom of God, where no such wants can ever beset us. The instruction which the parable is meant to convey, might almost be confined to what I have said above, and yet I cannot help thinking it admits of being extended very much further, and too much instruction we cannot derive from it. It does not signify, in fact, whether we get at the exact interpretation of the mammon of unrighteousness, because, let it signify what it will, if other things bear to us a similar relation, it may as well stand as a general expression for all of the same complection. It is generally held to signify riches, which being frail and uncertain, liable to administer to our worst desires, and seldom accumulated to any great amount without some injustice or other, may well deserve such a title of reproach. To make to ourselves friends therefore of the mammon of unrighteousness, taken in this sense, would seem of course to signify that we should use riches worthily and properly, in relieving


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