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stand nothing of these things! They go and pray God to make us ten thoucannot comprehend them. The carnal sand times more in earnest. In mind is enmity against God; it does earnest! Are not angels in earnest ? not know these things—it cannot know In earnest! Are not the very devils them; they are to be spiritually dis- in earnest ? And what I pray you is cerned.
their object? To ruin, to destroy You often wonder why we press the souls of men—to lay their baitz these things so much. Now then I and their plots, and their schemes, will give you our apology why we press and their stratagems, and their tempthem so much, while I turn in the tations to allure you—to catch you, to third place, TO THE ARDOUR, OR TO destroy you, to damn you. In earnest? THE EARNESTNESS OF THIS LABOURER Is not Christ in earnest ? What did he IN HIS WORK. “Whereunto I also do? He left the throne of his Father labour, striving according to his work--he came down to sojourn upon ing, which worketh in me mightily." earth—he tabernacled among menThe apostle did not stand up to preach he wept—he talked-he bled—he sufa sermon as one who did not care a fered—and he died. Was he not then straw what effect it would produce; in earnest? Ah, my brethren, and he did not stand up to preach a ser- would you have us not be in earnest ? mon that persons might go away and Then we have no business here—we admire his learning and his talents have no business to mount the Chrisand his power; but he preached many tian pulpit, if we are not in earnest. a sermon which God Almighty madeWe mean what we say, when we talk “a word in season," by which the of that horrible, that dreadful word, careless sinner was affected, the damnation. We do not do it lightlymourner comforted, the believer edified, we do not do it because we think that and the people of the Lord strengthened word means nothing—we do not do it and sanctified. No wonder he was in to frighten you—we do not bring it earnest-he had learned something of forth as a bugbear to alarm; we bring the value of the soul, for he had felt it forth as the truth of God, and we the value of his own. No man is fit know that God meant something when to preach to others, till he knows the he used it, and we know you will find value of his own soul. And woe be in the fearful reality of agonizing exto that man who undertakes to do it ; | perience, if you die in your sins, that it had been better for him that he had it does comprehend something infinitely never been born. Our church requires more tremendous than the emptiness that a man should be moved by the of a name. “Whereunto I also labour, Holy Ghost to take upon him the striving according to his working, office of minister; and if he dares to which worketh in me mightily.” tell an egregious lie, and say he is This leads me to the fourth and last moved when he knows he has not ex-point. We see the labourer the blessed perienced that influence, it shall cause Apostle St. Paul-once a bigoted Jew, the sin to cry out, and the curse of a bloody and bitter persecutor, and damnation shall be on his own head. who thought he ought to oppose the Oh, my brethren, do not be offended Gospel, and did oppose it with all his with us; if we had more of the apos- soul-converted, however, by the tolic spirit, we should have more powers of the Holy Ghost, he beof the apostolic fire. Look at St. comes an Apostle--a martyr, suffering Paul labouring as in agony, with all for his blessed Redeemer, and not his heart, with all his soul, as a only counting all things but loss for wrestler in the Grecian gamesmas one the excellency of the knowledge of who was putting forth all the energies Jesus Christ, but sealing his testiof body and soul, and all he had, and mony with his blood. We have seen that for one grand object. For what? the object the Apostle had in view : To save souls—to bring sinners to God it was not to render himself great, por -to edify the church-to build up a to secure the honours and pleasures of people prepared for the Lord. Now the world-he turned all these behind some of you are offended with us; him, and kept his eye stedfastly fixed you know you are ; and that because on the conversion of sinners, and the we are in earnest. Instead of this, edification, and sanctification, and salvation of the Church of God. We describes ; but I do declare before have further seen how earnest he was God, I long to be such. My brethren, in all this, “Whereunto I also la- see what the clergy ought to be boured :" not bringing these thingsas labouring, striving as men in an agony so many cold, dead things to the —for what? After earthly preferpeople, but as words of fire, and words ment? Shame upon us if we do. After of power, which, while they certainly any thing that earth can give us ? No; influenced his own heart, caused him but after souls. We ask not yours to go and preach with all his apostolic but you-longing to bring you to the earnestness to others. Now, what is knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ THE SECRET CAUSE OF ALL THIS? | our Lord. The text tells you. “ According to LASTLY, If your ministers are to be his working, which worketh in me so earnest about the salvation of your mightily.” The Lord Jesus by the souls, it becomes you to be in earnest for power of his Spirit wrought mightily them. If we are thus to labour to in the heart of the Apostle, and made strive as in agony, and to persevere as him in earnest for others.
if we had all at stake, are we only to Now, my brethren, as our time be in earnest? Are we to preach as with hastens, take these three ideas by way eternity before us—as if we saw the of conclusion. First of all, learn the Judge on his awful throne, and the supreme magnitude and importance of great books of judgment unfolded ; and the work of the ministry. We do not the dead, small and great, standing wish to magnif yourselves—not at all ; | before God-and are we only to be but we do wish to magnify our office. in earnest? There are some of you that My brethren, we are but sinful dust never have been at all in earnest about and ashes, like yourselves; poor sinful religion. Why do you come to church? men. Know it; we wish you to know Why come you hither time after time? it; we wish never to appear before I reproach you not-Ithank God when you in stealth. We wish you to know I see you. It would not be proper to that we are men of like passions with come to names-were it proper 1 yourselves—men encompassed with in- could come to names, and I could say, firmities—men who need your prayers. There is one for whom I have often But you cannot think too highly of prayed—there is another over whom our office. God only knows what that I have sometimes wept—there are office can do for you. It can, if God many of whom I stand in doubt-there pleases, save you to a man-it can are all whom I long to bless and bring make all to leap for joy that ever you to God. Go then, and if we are to be in heard the name of Jesus Christ our earnest, go and pray that you may be Lord. Though it be true that we are in earnest too. With this I conclude : earthen vessels, and you cannot think your ministers will only be in good too lowly of the earthen vessel; yet earnest as the Lord Jesus Christ is God knows it is no earthen treasure. pleased to carry on his work in their No, no, it is no earthen treasure; and own hearts , and, therefore, how much if through his grace you embrace the do we need your prayers : how much truth as it is in Jesus, you may have do we need that we may be able to to bless God, and shall have to bless feed the flock of God with knowledge God eternally, that ever you heard the and discretion. Go then and pray for message of a Christian Minister. us; go and pray for yourselves : and
Learn a SECOND idea, and it is this : | may that God who heareth prayer See what sort of men the clergy ought to answer the prayers both for the one be. I began by telling you that I do not and the other. profess to be what the Apostle here
AT ST. JOHN'S CHAPEL, BEDFORD ROW, AUGUST 8, 1830.
Luke, xvi. 8, 9.-“ And the Lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done
wisely : for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations."
These words form the conclusion of semble that of the steward in the paraone of our Saviour's parables, together ble; and, then, SECONDLY, wherein with the special lesson which he men, the children of light, are to meant to derive from it. In opening imitate the steward's conduct. this parable, as well as others, it is of There are three points in which the consequence to us to notice, that there CONDITION OF ALL MEN RESEMBLES are some especial truths which our THAT OF THE STEWARD IN THE TEXT. Saviour generally by this parable First, that all men are stewards to the means to inculcate ; and it will lead Almighty. Secondly, that their stewus into mistake and exaggeration to ardship is of short duration. And endeavour to strain the parallel which | Thirdly, when their stewardship is is drawn in this parable between dif- closed, they must give an account of it. ferent persons, beyond those special As this man was put in trust of his points of application which our Lord master's property, so all men, whatintended. We shall have occasion to ever be their various conditions, are use this remark in applying the parable stewards to God. They are his stewbefore us.
| ards, because by creating them he acThe policy of this steward's conduct quired a right to all they have. They just previous to the loss of his situation were his sole gift; and inasmuch as he is obvious : by his making the various preserves those he has created, each debtors send in a bill greatly inferior moment renewing, as it were, the gift to that which they ought to have seat of creation, men are bound to consein, by which he made them his debt-crate to him all that they possess. ors instead of being the debtors of the Those who live under the sound of the lord, he lessened the obligation to the Gospel are his stewards by a further lord, trusting the deceit would not be claim, because he has sent his Son to discovered; and they, thereby being redeem them; and therefore, by the obliged to pay much less than was due, obligation of redeeming love itself they would owe to him an obligation which are bound to render to God what they they would afterwards have to repay. possess. Nay, as the Apostle teaches. His policy consisted in securing to us, not only what they have, but what himself, just as he was about to lose they are, is God's " Ye are not your the more important favour of his mas- own, but ye are bought with the ter, the favour of those unworthy price." If men are themselves God's persons, who by his means,were willing property, surely they are bound to to defraud their creditor of one portion render to God all that he has bestowed. of that which was his due. The All, therefore, men possess is to be wisdom of this conduct is evident, be- used according to the ends for which cause being an unworthy man without he gave it, and in the manner which virtue, and therefore without the es- he has intended; the chief of those teem of others, he would have secured ends being, the glory of the Giver. no friendship and no favour for him. When the King of Babylon was about self, except by thus laying others under to be destroyed for his iniquity, the obligation,
charge which the prophet brought Let us consider, First, those points, against him was mainly this;-—"God wherein the condition of all men re- in whose hand thy breath is, and
whose are all thy ways, hast thou not render, extends over the whole period glorified.” And when the Apostle in of time during which we have had the Romans would bring in the whole possession of active reason. We have world guilty before God, and close heard persons, in other respects emi. their mouths so that they might have nently and deservedly esteemed for nothing to say in justification, he de- | their intellectual powers, who though clares, “ All have sinned, and come they profess an acquaintance with the short of the glory of God;" this being Bible, were not ashamed to ridicule the principal end for which he has put the idea, in no measured terms, that men in stewardship, and allowed them God would regard trifles. But trifles to possess any of the gifts of nature or in our thoughts and words God perhaps Providence.
esteems otherwise. He has told us, The second point in which the con and we will take his word beyond all dition of all men resembles that of the other speculation, that not a cup of Steward is, that it is of short duration. cold water (there could not be a less The parable commences with the pe- gift than that), which shall be given riod of the stewardship when the man to a disciple of Jesus in the name of a was about to be dismissed. In this disciple, shall lose its reward ; all rewe all resemble him, that whatever gistered in that grateful memory which period may be allotted to our natural shall never suffer any thing to be oblilife, that period is of short duration. terated from it that his people have If you will ask an aged man what he done to serve him. But if our services thinks of the years of human life, he to God, which have in them no inwill tell you they seem but a day. If trinsic merit, shall fail, how shall we you ask a young man, he will tell you conclude that our least transgressions, they seem almost interminable. But which have in them vast demerit, shall which of these is imaginative, and be overlooked in judgment? It cannot which is right? The aged man sees be. Our Lord himself determined in life as it is : the young man sees life the twelfth chapter of Matthew, that as he fancies it. All aged men have for every idle word that men speak, discovered how short the longest pe- that is, for every word that has in riod of human life is; therefore their it the least degree of moral evil, men estimate, and not that of youth, is to shall account at the day of judgment. be taken. We are in fact stewards, “ For by thy words thou shalt be jusand in a very short period our steward-tified, and by thy words thou shalt be ship must close. Death to the eye of condemned.” Where, then, have they reflection seems at the very door. Ten learnt their divinity, their ideas of reyears or twenty years may still remain, ligious truth, who can say that God is or perhaps a far less period, and that too great to regard the trifles of man's will be again short; and we perhaps conduct ? who are now busied in ten thousand Besides, my brethren, let us retrifles will find they are all vain; and member, that that which is brought nothing is of importance, then, but the into judgment at the last day is the manner in which we discharge our character of men. Small acts, though stewardship
they may not have in them the same This brings us to the third point of malignity as larger ones, may someresemblance, which is, the account times serve to show as plainly the which at that period is to be given. characters of men ; they come from This account is to be given of all the the very self same fountain of evil as trusts. The language applied in the the most plain and atrocious acts of parable to the steward is applicable to rebellion against God. Our Saviour us all-" Give an account of thy has led us to infer this, from the verse stewardship." It is not any part, it I which immediately follows our text: is not the last month of thy steward." He that is faithful in that which is ship, or the last year. “Give an ac- | least is faithful also in much; and he count of thy stewardship’-give an ac. I that is unjust in the least 15. unjust count of all that property which since I also in much.” And it is very plain our first acquaintance has been trusted l that the servant who can resar a bio to thy care. The account of the Master's property, and will regard it. stewardship which each of us has to l on small occasions, being reariul to
defraud him of the least which is his will, were it not for other consideradue, will much more guard all the tions, carry him to universal disobegreater occasions when his honesty is dience. called for; and will be afraid to de- ! It follows, then, that disobedience in fraud of a larger sum when even a little matters may show a corrupt and smaller is regarded. He that can be depraved character, as truly as the faithful to his Master's interest on most glaring offences. These are the smaller occasions, will not surely be proper materials for judgment at the unfaithful to them on greater : and the last. Our whole stewardship will be converse is exactly true-he that is called into account; every gift of naunjust in the least, is unjust also in ture and Providence, every opportunity much. Men, I was going to say al- of doing good, every means that men most universally, men certainly in have received from God, whereby they numbers, overlook this : they think might acquire virtue or exercise it, all that if unjust only in those things will be enumerated at the last day : it which are not commonly observed and will then be brought out how men animadverted on in the world, they acted on all these various occasions. may not fail in character, and are not Through the whole period of time essentially unjust. But it is very plain, during which they were accountable that the servant who can disregard his creatures, men's stewardship will be master's interest in little things, if he called in question. “Give an account regard his master's interest in things of thy stewardship”-a very solemn that are great, does it from some other consideration, since it is true of all consideration, it may be from some men, that “ if thou shouldst be strict, sort of fear : but he certainly is not O Lord, to mark inquity, we could just, he is not strictly just; for if he not answer thee one charge in a thouhas violated the principles of justice sand.” In these three points, men in in one instance-he would if he dare- general as the creatures of God, and he would if considerations did not pre men in particular as under the dispenvent, violate it also in greater.
sation of the Gospel, are likened to These truths are equally plain when this unjust steward. they are applied to religion. He who In the second place, let us consider regards the authority of God in little
WHEREIN MEN IN GENERAL, AND ESthings, will regard it also in great; for PECIALLY THE CHILDREN OF LIGHT, the same reason much more power- | TO WHOM OUR TEXT REFERS, ARE fully will compel him. It is true, CALLED ON TO IMITATE THIS STEWalso, that he who can be unjust in the ARD'S CONDUCT. To observe this more stewardship of God entrusted to him clearly let us notice the three principal in little things, violates God's autho- points in his conduct. First, his inrity, prefers his own interest and his justice. Secondly, the design by which own will, to the honour and will of he meant to avert its consequences. God; and did no other considera- Thirdly, the wisdom he showed in protions divert him from the same viola- secuting that design. tion in greater matters, he would be We have first to notice his injustice. unjust throughout. For it is obvious He had all through his stewardship, if he can violate the obligation in one or at least as soon as the temptation instance, he would violate it in all, if occurred, wasted his Lord's goods ; the only thing that kept him from and when the natural consequences of violation was regard to God's autho- this waste were discovered, he resolved rity. It is true that many other se- on a bolder transgression of his duty, condary considerations may lead men a bolder fraud on his master's proto the profession of religion ; but he perty: and by one grand act of disthat has not at heart a conscientious honesty he hoped to secure himself integrity in following the will of God against the consequences of his past in little things, does in truth not follow misconduct. In consequence of this it at all. So St. James declares dishonesty he lost his situation. Dis“ He that keeps the whole law, and honesty, though for a while it may yet offends in one point, he is guilty of secure lesser advantages, generally, all:"-he has within him, if he can even in this world, is followed by deliberately do it, a principle which greater disadvantages: and had this