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66 Not

the children of this world are thus represented to be wiser in their generation than the children of light. They are wiser only in their generation ; wiser in acting as it would be wisdom to act, if their views and principles were just. But those views and principles being altogether erroneous and illusive, their conduct, notwithstanding this seeming wisdom, is in truth but folly. The children of light, if they be truly such and act accordingly, are alone to be esteemed really wise. They alone have an assurance that can never fail. They alone are “wise “unto salvation.” They alone have the “joy” that “no man taketh from them b.” “ as the world giveth,” said our blessed Lord to his disciples, “ give I unto you.” The world may promise largely, and hold out fascinating expectations : but there is no real wisdom, goodness, or happiness, in opposition to the will of God.

Yet, lest it should be hence inferred that we must renounce all intercourse with the world, and regard its possessions as altogether incompatible with religious conduct, we are, secondly, admonished both of the possibility and the duty of rendering such possessions instrumental to the acquisition of better and b Jobn xvi. 22.

c John xiv. 27.

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more lasting treasures in the world to come;“ Make to yourselves friends of the mammon “ of unrighteousness, that, when ye fail, they

may receive you into everlasting habita6 tions."

No truth is more indisputable, than that every thing we possess in this world originates in the free and spontaneous bounty of Almighty God. “Every good gift and

every perfect gift is from above, and cometh “ down from the Father of lights d;” and this is equally true of temporal as of spiritual blessings. With respect to all these, we are stewards only, entrusted with them for wise and beneficent purposes, and responsible for their use or abuse to their great Author and Giver. Strictly speaking, we are hardly warranted in calling any temporal possessions our own. Most certainly, they are not so with respect to the Supreme Being, subject to whose will every one must of necessity hold them. Neither are they so far our own, even with respect to our fellow-creatures, as to justify us in withholding good from others when it is in our power to bestow it, or in making our own personal interest the sole rule of our conduct.

None of us,” says St. Paul, “ liveth unto himself.”

66 Let no

d James i. 17.

e Rom. xiv. 7.

“ man seek his own, but every man another's “ wealth.” To misapply the gifts and talents we have received, to divert them to other purposes than those for which they were bestowed, to neglect the improvement and cultivation of them to the honour of God and the good of mankind, is to incur the guilt of unjust stewardship, forfeiting the Divine favour, and rendering ourselves chargeable with the twofold offence of ingratitude and disobedience. This indeed constitutes one essential difference between the children of this world and the children of light, that the former consider not from Whom they have received what they possess, or to Whom they are responsible for its application ; the latter bear in mind the trust committed to them, and remember that they must“ give ac“ count of their stewardship,” and of the care and fidelity with which it has been discharged

All are alike interested in this view of the parable before us. All are hereby admonished that if they use their talents or possessions unworthily, they are liable to be accused, as the unjust steward was, of “ wasting their “ Lord's goods.” Other admonitions from the same heavenly Teacher speak to the same effect. The parable of the Talents holds out a warning, that even the unprofitable servant shall not escape condemnation. That of the Rich Man and Lazarus teaches the danger of abusing our possessions to the purposes of luxury, vanity, and ostentation, without regard to a future state of retribution. That of the Rich Fool, who doted upon

f 1 Cor. x. 24.

his wealth, saying, “Soul, thou hast much goods “ laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat,

drink, and be merry,” fearfully reminds us that God may cut short such boasting and self-confidence by a momentary summons to appear at his dread tribunal: “So,” adds our blessed Saviour, " is he that layeth up trea“ sure for himself, and is not rich towards “ God 8.” The instruction to be drawn from all these parables coincides with the lesson our Lord deduces from that of the unjust steward, as to the spiritual use to be made of our temporal possessions, and the account that must be rendered of them hereafter.

How earnestly our blessed Saviour inculcated these truths upon his hearers in general, as well as upon the Pharisees in particular, is sufficiently evident from his depicting the evils of a worldly spirit in such a variety of affecting representations. Still more expressly is this declared, in that exhortation, 6 Take heed and beware of covetousness : for “ a man's life consisteth not in the abundance “ of the things which he possesseth 5.

8 Luke xii. 19, 20, 21.

They that will be rich,” says St. Paul, “ fall “ into temptation and a snare, and into many “ foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men “ in destruction and perdition':” and the same view of the too frequently pernicious influence of wealth upon the heart led our Lord to say, “ How hardly shall they that “ have riches enter into the kingdom of “ Godk!” Not that wealth necessarily hardens the heart against the calls of religion, or blinds the understanding to its truths ; but that when pursued without reference to the deep responsibility that attaches to its possessor, it has a direct tendency to absorb the affections, and to alienate the mind from higher and nobler objects. And this, let it be observed, is equally the case, whatever be the disposition of its possessor in other respects. Covetousness, in its largest and most comprehensive signification, applies not only to the sordid accumulation of wealth for its own sake, and without any view to further gratification ; but also to the eager desire of those who would add to their possessions for

Luke xii. 15. il Tim. vi. 9. k Mark x. 23.

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