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©f his providing for himself, much less is there here any Approbation of or Encouragement to the fraudulent or false Dealings used by him for that purpose. This was beside the Design and Intention of our Lord in this Parable, and is therefore pass'd over in silence:, and no Argument is to be taken from any incidental Circumstance, but only from the main Scope, End, and Intention of a Parable. That which the Master here commends, is not the Injustice, but the Wit and Forecast of this unjust Steward, his dextrous projecting a way for his future Subsistence, and laying a Scheme to help himself in time of Necessity ., this is that wherein he is faid to have done wifely: it being much wiser to apply the Mind to the finding out a way of living, than to starve and pine away through Negligence and Inconsideration.
The Master's commending this Steward's Wisdom, was in some measure to recommend his Example to us, not indeed as to the fame Way or Manner, but to the fame Care and Diligence in making a prudent Provision for our selves, as he did; and in the like, tho not in the fame way. So that two things are here recommended to our Imitation .., the one relating to the End, the other to the Means.
The 1st is, that as this Steward was careful for his Body, to provide a Maintenance for the preserving his natural Life^ so should we be as careful for our Soul, to seek out such spiritual Food, as may preserve and cherish it to Life everlasting. And,
2dly, As this Steward provided for himself out of his Master's Goods, by disposing them into other hands, from whence he might have some Return ., so should we lay up a Portion for our selves out of the Goods intrusted us by our Master in Heaven, transferring them into those hands, from whom we may receive them with advantage. Which we should the rather do, because he traded only in earthly, temporal, and perishing Goods- , whereas we deal in heavenly, spiritual, and more enduring Substance.
In short then, the Master's commending the Wisdom and Providence of this unjust Steward, teaches us to take the fame or greater care for our Souls, than worldly Men do for their Bodies ^ and to be as wise and diligent in providing for Eternity, as they are for a little time here in this World. The general Neglect whereof made him add, that the Children os this World arc in their Generation wiser than the Children of Light. Whero,
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By the Children of this World are meant such as addicts themselves to this World, and are immers'd in the Cares and Affairs of it, whose Affections are wholly bent upon the World, whose Converfation is conform'd to the Course and Practices of the World, and whose main Aim and Happiness is plac'd in the Riches, Honours, and Pleasures of this World ., who are generally call'd and known by the name of Worldlings.
By the Children of Light are meant the Children of God, who is stil'd the Father os Lights, the Followers of Christ, who is call'd the Light of the Worldj the Members of his Church, who being enlighten'd with the Knowledg of Divine Things, and aiming at the Inheritance of the Saints in Light, are stil'd the Children of Light. In short, our Saviour mentioning two Masters, God and Mammon, to one or other of which all Mankind belong the Servants of Mammon are the Children of this World, and the Servants of God the Children of Light.
Now our Saviour here in this Parable making a comparison between these two in point of Wisdom, gives it clearly on the Worldlings side, faying, The Children of this World are wiser in their Generation than the Children os Lighr, Not that they are absolutely and in all things so; for the Scripture makes the Fear of God the greatest Wisdom, and Solomon the wisest of Men stiles all wicked and worldly Men Fools: but they are wiser in their Generation, that is, as to the things of this Life; they shew more Wisdom in managing the temporal Concerns of this World, than many who profess themselves Christians do in greater and more heavenly Matters. The Sense and Reason whereof is, that they act more prudentially and more sutably to the End they propose to themselves, than the other do in theirs. The Worldling's End is the Happiness of this World, consisting jn the Enjoyment of earthly Goods the Christian's End is the Happiness of Heaven, consisting in the Fruition of future and eternal Blessedness. Now if we consider the Ways and Means that these two use for the attaining their several Ends; we shall find the one acting more agreeably and wisely for the compassing his End, than the other \ that is, the Children of this World shew more Prudence in the managery of their temporal Affairs to the best adr vantage for the good of their Bodies, than many Christians do in the spiritual Concerns of their Souls, and the Pursuit of everlasting Salvation, This is so manifest in Experience,
as as to need no other proof. F or do not many Men take far more pains in the Service of Mammon, than others do in the Service of God? How fugacious and subtle are they in seeking and finding out a good Bargain, and how diligent and sollicitous in the pursuit of it; and at the fame time very cold and careless in matters of far greater moment? How quick-scented are they in. smelling out Gain at a great distance, as a Vultur does the Carcase, when they have no Scent or Relish at all of spiritual good things? How cheerful and constant are they in keeping the Market, when they can scarce move over the Threshold to go to Church?
But to keep to the Instance here in the Parable: how provident and forecasting was this unjust Steward, to take care for his future Subsistence* when he found his Office dropping from him, and his Service like to fail? How careful was he for a moment, and how neglectful are 0thers of Eternity? And when, he spar'd no Pains, nor stuck at any means to compass a small and short Maintenance here in this World, are not too many, who would be thought better and wiser, unmindful of making any Provisionfor a future and eternal State? Must not his provident Care and Diligence shame and reproach all such Remissness and Negligence, and plainly shew that the Children of this World, or the Sons of Darkness, are, in their Generation, wiser than such who would be accounted Children of Light? Now from this Parable we are taught to be as wife for the next World, as worldly Men are for this-, and to be as careful for the Welfare of our Souls, as they are of their Bodies:, that as they rife early and sit up late, and eat the Bread of Carefulness, so we should be at the fame or like pains to work out our own Salvation. Solomon fends the Sluggard to the Ant, the Bee, and the Pismire, to learn Industry, and a provident Care for the time to come; and a greater than Solomon sends us here to the unjust Steward, to learn the Wisdom of so managing our present perishing Possessions, as to secure to us an eternal Subsistence, when that Trust shall be at an end: That as he made Friends enough by his Master's Goods, to take him into their Houses in time of Extremity, so we may make to our selves Friends out of the Substance intrusted with us, to be receiv'd into everlasting Habitations. So our Saviour infers from this Parable, I fay unto you, make to your selves Friends of the Mammon of Unrighteousness, that when ye sail j they may receive you into everlasting Habitations:
R 4 where where the Wealth and Riches of this World are call'd by an untoward Name, The Mammon of Unrighteousness ^ and that justly too, because they are many times unrighteously gotten, unjustly possess'd, un faithfully us'd, and ungodlily
By making Friends of this A lammon of Unrighteousness, is so to dispose of our Wealth or worldly Substance, as may turn to the best Account here, and befriend us in the World to come.
By receiving us into everlasting Habitations, is, after this shortLife is ended, to be admitted into Heaven, and there seated for ever in the Celestial Mansions. The Sense then of these words is, that as this Steward in the Parable so manag'd Matters by his Master's Substance, that when he was difmiss'd of the Stewardship, he had thereby made Friends enough to take him into their Houses-, so should we order and dispose of our worldly Goods in such a manner, that when we fail, we may have Interest enough by them to be receiv'd into Heaven. Here then is suppos'd,
1. That we all must and mail surely fail.
2. That there are everlasting Habitations prepar'd and reserv'd for us against that time.
3. That our well-using and dispensing os this World's Goods, will intitle us to, and instate us in those heavenly Habitations,
1. There is not a more known and certain Truth, than that we all must and shall surely fail ; The Living know that they [hall surely die, faith Solomon. Our Abode here is both short and uncertain, no Man's Riches can bribe Peath, or secure him from the Grave; yea, they rather link Men the sooner into it, than fave them from it. David said in his Prosperity, that his Mountain was made so strong, that he could never sail; God did but hide his Face from him, and his Spirits presently fail'd, and sunk him into great Sorrow and Trouble. The rich Man in the Gospel thought, that neither he or his Substance should ever fa.il, and therefore fung a Requiem to his Soul, Soul, take thine Ease, thou hast Goods laid up for many years; eat, drink, and be merry : but he too fail'd before the next morning, for that very night bis Soul was requir'd of him. Fail then we all mult, and a time i§ coming when we must bid adieu to this Woild, and all things in it, imply'd in those 'wqrds, When ye. jail.'.
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2. Here are soppos'd future and everlasting Habitations, when all these things fail and forfake us. So St. Paul assures us, 2 Cor. 5. 1. We know (faith he) when the earthly House of this Tabernacle shall he diffblv'd, we have a Building of God, an House not made with Hands, eternal in the Heavens. And elsewhere, that a Crown of Righteousness is laid up for us, when the Mammon of Unrighteousness fails. And St. Peter tells us, that an Inheritance incorruptible, undesil'd, and that sadeth not away, is reservd in Hea-r <ven for us: i Pet. j. 4. But how may this be secur'd to us? Why, that we are told is by using and dispensing our worldly Goods aright ., which is here call'd, the making Friends of the Mammon of Unrighteousness. Solomon tells us, thatWeatth maketh many Friends, Pro v. 19.4. they that abound in Wealth and Power shall be sure to have Friends enough to partake of their Plenty, and to rejoice in their Prosperity.
But these are not the Friends that our Saviour here would have us to make with our Substance ., for these commonly forfake us here in time of need, much less will they follow or stand us in any stead hereafter, for the Friendfljip of thisWorld is Enmity with Gcd.
But the Friends we are here advis'd to make, relate chiefly to another Life, at least the Returns of their Friendship are to be look'd for in the other World: And therefore we should not be desirous to be fully paid here in this Life, or carry our Recompence with us to the Grave-, for then we can expect nothing after, but rather leave it to be paid in exchange in another Country, and to have our Reward rescrv'd for us in Heaven.
But how may we thus make Friends of the Mammon of Unrighteousness, or transfer our earthly Substance into the other World? Why, that is done by laying it out in Works of Piety and Mercy ., by both which we make God our Debtor, who will repay more than a thoufand fold.
(1.) I fay, To make Friends of the Mammon of Unrighteousness, is to make God our Debtor by Works of Piety ., that is, by laying out some part of our Substance in pious Uses, such as the building, beautifying, and endowing of Churches, the advancing or supporting the Service of the Altar, and the like: what is thus laid out, is given nritoGod, and will be repaid in the other World with abundant Interest. This Solomon calls the honouring the, Lord with our Substance j and what is thus done for God's