« AnteriorContinuar »
fies the heart; and, when ambition, avarice, sensuality, malignant and selfish affections, are crucified, and the fears of reproach, contempt, and persecution are overcome, through our“ glorying “ in the cross of Christ, by whom the world is cru“ cified to us, and we to the world;" then we are proportionably brought under the constraining influence of love to him, “who died for us and
rose again,” and induced to imitate him who,
though he was rich, for our sakes became poor, " that we, through his poverty, might be made “ rich!” And under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, whose indwelling is the seal of our justification by faith, we exercise the wisdom of using things temporal, in subserviency to our eternal good, by improving them as talents to the glory of the Lord, the comfort of his people, and the good of mankind. Thus our present use of the things entrusted to us, will conduce to our advantage, when death shall terminate our stewardship; for then especially, the word will be fulfilled, “ To him " that hath shall be given, and he shall have abun
dantly; but from him that hath not shall be “ taken away even that which he seemeth to “ have.” This indeed will in no wise be the reward of any merit in our obedience : yet it will not only evidence our faith to be living, but it will ascertain the proportion of our future felicity; for the Lord loves and recompenses the fruits of his own Spirit: every vessel of mercy will certainly be full, but all will not be found equally capacious : the exercise of holy affections conduces greatly to the increase of them; and liberal
love, above all other things, expands and enlarges the heart.
With these observations before us, let us examine the scripture in question.—“The mammon “ of unrighteousness” denotes those riches in the getting, hoarding, and spending of which só much iniquity is committed, that ungodly men seem to worship a cruel idol ; while piety, truth, integrity, and mercy, their own bodies and souls, yea their children and relatives, as well as their neighbours, are laid as bleeding sacrifices on the altar of Mammon. Yet in the use of these very riches (which as the creatures of God are good in themselves,) professed Christians are exhorted
to make themselves friends;" in allusion to the steward's having made himself friends by disposing of his master's property: for that portion of a man's wealth, which from love to Christ is expended on works of piety and charity, not only supplies the wants of the saints, and excites them to praise God, but it also reminds them to pray for their benefactors, in cordial love, which is one of the most desirable proofs of true friendship ;? and, as many persons of this description, after having received the most important good through the liberality of their brethren, may go before them to glory; so we may conceive of them as standing ready to welcome their benefactors into everlasting mansions, when flesh, and heart, and all earthly resources fail them.
Let us fix our thoughts on some one of those distinguished few, whose liberal love to man for
2 Cor. ix. 10-15.
Christ's sake, persevered in for a long course of years, among other acts of beneficence, sent the word of life to tens of thousands whom they never saw, and was thus instrumental to the salvation of numbers. May we not imagine that we see the spirits of those righteous persons, to whom the liberality of such a believer was “life “ from the dead,” waiting the moment of their benefactor's dissolution, and his last expiring groans, to welcome him“ into everlasting habi“ tations,” with shouts of triumphant joy and fervent thanksgiving, whilst they see him receive
full reward” of “his work of faith, and labour “ of love, and patience of hope in the Lord “ Jesus?” Now can a more ecstatic rapturous feeling be conceived, than that which must thrill through every soul on such an occasion ; except we think of the believer's beholding, face to face, that transcendently greater Benefactor, who hath “ loved him and washed him from his sins in his “ own blood.”
But turn the glass, and behold a professor of the gospel, who, possessing wealth, has spent it in ostentation and luxury, or hoarded it in covetousness, saying to the poor disciples of Christ,
Depart in peace, be ye warmed or clothed !" Conceive of this man, when turned out of his stewardship: what an awful reverse! The abuse of his talents proves that his faith was dead, his hope presumption, and his profession hypocrisy: Christ's deserted cause, his neglected disciples, and his violated commandments, concur to prove that he loved the mammon of unrighteousness more than the Saviour of the world ; that he resembled Judas or Ananias, more than any other of the primitive professors of the gospel ; and that he copied the injustice, but not the wisdom, of the steward in the parable.
But few. of Christ's disciples are rich: therefore he adds, “ He that is faithful in that which ~ is least is faithful also in much.” Faithfulness in a Christian, who considers himself as a steward, implies a practical conviction that he is bound by every tie, but most by that of love and gratitude, to employ his talent according to the will of his Lord, as far as he knows it. In proportion as a man acts from this principle, and by this rule, he meets with a gracious recompense for the meanest services: the widow's two mites, expressing her fervent love, are as acceptable as the most costly oblations bestowed from an equal measure of the same love, and far beyond such as spring from another source. And as all we possess is the Lord's, we rob him when we employ it contrary to his will; and this injustice, in the use of a little, shews the same bad state of the heart as when great affluence is thus abused.; Nothing we have of this world is properly our own, or given us exclusively for our own sake: nothing of this kind can make us truly rich or happy : but grace is “ our own,” and terminating in glory, constitutes “the true riches,” unalienable and sufficient for our everlasting felicity. Now on what grounds can we suppose that we partake of the grace of God, or shall at length be admitted into the mansions of the blessed, if we do not find our hearts disposed to improve our talents to the glory of God and the benefit of mankind,
from faith in Christ, and love to his name, his cause, and his people.--In short, we may either serve God or Mammon, but we cannot serve both.
Every justified believer aims to serve God in the use of his worldly substance, be it more or less : every servant of Mammon aims at some worldly advantage, even by his profession of the gospel, and his religious duties. Thus the characters of believers and unbelievers may be distinguished, and according to this distinction will be the recompense of every individual.