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As he found that he was to be dismissed immediately, not knowing how to provide for himself in future, he began to consider the means whereby he should obtain a livelihood. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship. I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. He had considered himself to be so fixed in his situation, that he had no idea of being dismissed from it, although he had acted in the most scandalous manner. He was therefore quite unprepared for the shame that awaited him; he had not formed any plan for his future maintenance and support. Two ways presented themselves to him; the first was, to employ himself in manual labour, of which he was quite incapable, not having been accustomed to any thing of the kind; the other was, to depend upon the alms which he might solicit from those who were charitably disposed. This was so humiliating to a man who had been in comfortable circumstances, that he shrunk from the very idea of it. But as this appeared to be his only resource, he thought he might be able to lay his plans in such a way as to obtain his desire, without submitting to the humiliating circumstances attending it.
He therefore said within himself, I am resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. Having formed in his own mind a likely plan to answer
his purpose, he at once put it in execution. he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, A hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to
another, And how much owest thou?
And he said, And he said unto
A hundred measures of wheat. him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. Such was the manner in which he settled the accounts of his lord's estate with those who were indebted to it; in order that he might lay these persons under obligation to himself, at his master's expence, for the favours that he had granted them, before he gave up the stewardship.
His iniquitous mode of proceeding was not, however, concealed from his lord; who, although he could not but be indignant at the wickedness of the steward, in robbing him of his property in such an unwarrantable and unprincipled manner, yet, at the same time, expressed his admiration of the man's dexterity in managing so artfully for his own interest; and altering his mode of procedure according to circumstances, in a way that was so well adapted to the end which he had in view. The lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely. He had acted with sagacity for the promotion of his own advantage; though dishonestly and wickedly with regard to his master.
Our Saviour then remarked, The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light; that is, the children of this world attend more diligently to what they conceive to be their own interest, than the children of light do. For instance: the children of light, or of God, profess that all their expectations of happiness are derived from the favour of God and the hope of salvation; that their treasure is in heaven; and yet they are not so solicitous as they ought to be that their hearts should be there also. They neglect to embrace every opportunity that circumstances will admit of, for promoting what they are persuaded is essential to their everlasting welfare. The children of this world do not act so foolishly in their concerns. They watch for, and take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to advance their worldly interests. This is their primary object. The same vigilance is here recommended to the Christian, to be exercised in advancing his spiritual welfare. And it is intimated, that if the conduct of the children of this world is found to be consistent with their principles, and meets with commendation accordingly; surely that of the children of light ought likewise to be consistent with what they profess to believe. It is thus only that they can expect to receive the commendation of their Lord: Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee
ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
This consideration of the worldly wisdom of the children of this world, led our Lord Jesus Christ to give the exhortation in the text, I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. In con
sidering these words, let us
First, Notice some of the expressions here made use of; which will prepare us,
Secondly, To ascertain the meaning of the exhortation.
And may we, by Divine grace, be led so to lay to heart the admonition here given, that we may seek above all things to have our everlasting habitations among the blessed in the world to
The first inquiry that presents itself to us, relates to the mammon of unrighteousness. What is meant by this expression appears from our Saviour's subsequent observation in the eleventh verse: If ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches. As it is opposed to the true riches, it evidently means the riches of this world. This name appears to be given to worldly riches, on account of the bad use to which they are too frequently applied, even to the promotion of unrighteousness; which is further intimated
in our Saviour's declaration, Ye cannot serve God But it is found, that people who
and mammon. have little or no expectation of obtaining worldly wealth often think and say, what good use they would make of their property, if they were rich. When, however, such persons have obtained their desire, it has frequently been seen that their ideas have changed with their circumstances; and that the gratification of their own pride, and self-indulgence, have been the objects in which their wealth has been expended. It was the prayer of a wise man, Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: lest I be full and deny Thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. And an Apostle has said, Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. He therefore exhorted Timothy, Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy. They who possess the good things of
1 Proverbs xxx. 8, 9. 21 Timothy vi. 8-10, 17.