Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

* keep thy statutes !” “I delight in the law of « God after the inward man."

The effects of these views will be such as follow. A heart-felt sorrow upon remembrance of former violations of duty, even though they be supposed to be forgiven: shame and self-loathing on considering the opposition which hath subsisted, and doth still subsist in so great degree, betwixt this perfect rule, and his conduct, character, and disposition; hence proceeds a broken and contrite heart; which of all things the hypocrite fails most in counterfeiting; though nothing be more essential to, and distinguishing of, a true believer : a cordial approbation of the honour done the divine law in the obedience and death of the incarnate Son of God; with a sincere application to him, and an undivided dependence upon him, as “the end of the law for

righteousness unto every one that believeth :" This will, in this case, be at the same time accompanied with a tenderness of conscience, renewed grief and shame upon every renewed transgression, and a dissatisfaction with every present attainment in holiness; because so far beneath that admired and beloved standard. In this person's mind the ideas of perfect holiness and perfect felicity will be habitually associated : sin will be groaned under as the greatest burden, and dreaded and prayed against as the greatest evil; chastenings will be welcomed (upon reflection) when they restrain from sin, or conduce to holi

VOL, IV.

ness; and however the man values and longs for comfort, yet he especially hungers and thirsts after righteousness. The law is not only treasured in his head, but " written in his heart;" and the correspondent dispositions there created, will produce repentance, faith, and holiness, of a nature totally distinct from, and in their smallest degree vastly superior to, the most splendid attainments of hypocrites.

N. B. I would recommend the character and conversation of Talkative, and Faithful's discourse with him, in “ The Pilgrim's Progress,” to the reader's careful perusal, as full to the purpose. .

Remarks on the Parable of the unjust Steward.

The several replies made to Indagator's question on our Lord's inference from the parable of the unjust steward, though very pertinent and useful, seemn not to have exhausted the subject, or to have precluded the propriety of making some further observations upon it.

“ The Lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely.” The injustice of his expedient was glaring, but the policy of it was admirable; and his conduct in this particular was proposed by Christ; to his professed disciples, as

66

worthy of their imitation : and indeed the conduct of worldly men, “in their generation,” may commonly suggest useful instruction and reproof to the children of light in their most important pursuits. The steward, perceiving that his trust was expiring, and distress about to seize on him, formed a plan, at his lord's expence, to secure to himself a maintenance, when deprived of other resources. We are all stewards; all we have and are, as the rational creatures and subjects of God, is entrusted to us, and an account will shortly be required of the use to which we have applied it. We have all wasted our Lord's goods, and death will speedily deprive us of our stewardship; and if we die under the condemnation which we have merited, the doom of the richi man, mentioned in the subsequent part of the chapter, will be ours. But we live under a dispensation of mercy through our divine Mediator; in whom, when we believe, we are freely “ justified by faith,” “ made the righteousness of " God in him,” and “heirs according to the hope “ of eternal life.” This justifying faith, however, is an active principle, and influences proportionably our whole conduct. When we first believe the testimony of God concerning the wrath to come, and the refuge provided for us; faith principally works by fear, desire, and hope, . When our views become more distinct, and we possess an habitual confidence that " Jesus

“ hath delivered from the wrath to come, by bear'ing our sins in his own body on the tree;" faith principally “ works by love;" by admiration of the excellencies of Christ; longings after near and intimate fellowship with him; gratitude for inexpressible obligations received from him; zeal for his glory; love of his cause and people; and a cordial desire that all around us, and all men every where, if it might be, should know, love, honour, and be blessed in him and his salvation. The same principle of living faith overcomes the world and purifies 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 “glo

rying in the cross of Christ, by whom the world '" is crucified to us, and we to the world;" then we are proportionably brought under the constraining influence of love to Him “ who died for

and rose again,” and induced to imitate him, who, " though he were rich, for our sakes became ' poor, that we, through his poverty, might be “ be made rich!” And under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, whose in-dwelling 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 ada

US

vantage, 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 abundantly; but from him that hath not “shall be taken away, even that which he seemeth

to have.” This indeed will in no sense 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 recompences 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 ex. amine the scripture in question-" The mammon “ of unrighteousness” denotes those riches in the getting, hoarding, and spending of which so 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

« AnteriorContinuar »