« AnteriorContinuar »
7. Do not leave it to them to throw away. If you have good reason to believe they would waste what is now in your possession, in gratifying, and thereby increasing, the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life; at the peril of theirs and your own soul, do not set these traps in their way. Do not offer your sons or your daughters unto Belial, any more than unto Moloch. Have pity upon them, and remove out of their way what you may casily foresee would increase their sins, and consequently plunge them deeper into everlasting perdition! How amazing then is the infatuation of those parents, who think they can never leave their children enough! What! cannot you leave them enough of arrows, firebrands, and death ? Not enough of foolish and hurtful desires ? Not enough of pride, lust, ambition, vanity ? Not enough of everlasting burnings ? Poor wretch! Thou fearest where no fear is. Surely both thou and they, when ye are lifting up your eyes in hell, will have enough both of the worm that never dieth,” and of “ the fire that never shall be quenched!”
8. “What then would you do, if you was in my case? TE you had a considerable fortune to leave ?! Whether I would do it or no, I know what I ought to do : This will admit of no reasonable question. If I had one child, elder or younger, who knew the value of money, one who, I believed, would put it to the true usc, I should think it my absolute, indispeusable duty, to leave that child the bulk of my fortune; and to the rest just so much as would enable them to live in the manner they had been accustomed to do.
"But what if all your children were cqually ignorant of the true use of money?' I ought then, (hard saying! who can hear it?) to give each what would keep him above want; and to bestow all the rest in such a manner as 1 judged would be most for the glory of God.
III. 1. But let not any man imagine that he has done any thing, barely by going thus far, by “ gaining and saving all be can, if he were to stop here. All this is nothing, if a man go not forward, if he does not point all this at a farther end. Nor, indeed, can a man properly be said to save any thing, if he only lays it up. You may as well throw your money into the sea, as bury it in the earth. And you may as well bury it in the earth, as in your chest, or in the Bank of England. Not to use, is effectually to throw it away. If, therefore, you would indeed “make yourselves friends of the mammon of unright
eousness," add the Third rule to the two preceding. Having first gained all you can, and secondly saved all you can, then • Give all you can.'
2. In order to see the ground and reason of this, consider, When the Possessor of heaven and earth brought you into being, and placed you in this world, he placed you here not as a proprietor, but a steward : As such he entrusted you for a season with goods of various kinds : But the sole properly of these still rests in Him, nor can ever be alienated from him. As you yourself are not your own, but His, such is, likeivise, all that you enjoy. Such is your soul and your body, not your own, but God's. And so is your substance in particular. And he has told you in the most clear and express terms, how you are to employ it for him, in such a manner, that it may be all an holy sacrifice, acceptable through Christ Jesus. And this light, easy service, he hath promised to reward with an eternal weight of glory.
3. The directions which God has given us, touching the use of our worldly substance, may be comprised in the following particulars. If you desire to be a faithful and a wise steward, out of that portion of your Lord's goods, which he has for the present lodged in your hands, but with the right of resuming whenever it pleases him, first, Provide things needful for yourself; food to eat, raiment to put on, whatever nature moderately requires for preserving the body in health and strength. Secondly, Provide these for your wife, your children, your servants, or any others who pertain to your household. If, when this is done, there be an overplus left, then “do good to them that are of the household of faith.” If there be an overplus still, “ as you have opportunity, do good unto all men.” In so doing, you give all you can; nay, in a sound sense, all you have : for all that is laid out in this manner, is really given to God. You “ render unto God the things that are God's," not only by what you give to the poor, but also by that which you expend in providing things needful for yourself and your household.
4. If then a doubt should at any time arise in your mind, concerning what you are going to expend, either on yourself or any part of your family, you have an easy way to remove it. Calmly and seriously inquire, (1.) In expending this, am I acting according to my Character ? Am I acting herein, not as a proprietor, but as a steward of my Lord's goods ? (2.) Am I doing this in obedience to his Word? In what Scripture does he require mc so to do? (3.) Can I offer up this action, this expense, as a sacrifice to God through Jesus Christ? (4.) Hare I reason to believe, that for this very work I shall have a reward at the resurrection of the just ? You will seldom need any thing more to remove any doubt which arises on this head; but, by this four-fold consideration, you will receive clear light as to the way wherein you should go.
5. If any doubt still remain, you may farther examine yourself by prayer, according to those heads of inquiry. Try whether you can say to the Scarcher of Hearts, your conscience not condemping you, Lord, thou seest I am going to expend this sum, on that food, apparel, furniture. And thou knowest, I act therein with a single eye, as a steward of thy goods, expending this portion of them thus, in pursuance of the design thou hadst in entrusting me with them. Thou knowest I do this in obedience to thy word, as thou commandest, and because thou commandest it. Let this, I beseech thee, be an holy sacrifice, acceptable through Jesus Christ! And give me a witness in myself, that for this labour of love, I shall hare a recompense, when thou rewardest every man according to his works.' Now if your conscience bear you witness in the Holy Ghost, that this prayer is well-pleasing to God, then have you no reason to doubt, but that expense is right and good, and such as will never make
shamed. 6. You see, then, what it is to “make yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness," and by what means you may procure, “ that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." You see the nature and extent of truly Christian prudence, so far as it relates to the use of that great talent, Money. Gain all you can, without hurting either yourself or your nciglıbour, in soul or body, by applying hereto with unintermitted diligence, and with all the understanding which God has given you ;---Save all you can, by cutting offerery expense which serves only to indulge foolish desire ; to gratify either the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eve, or the pride of life; waste pothing, living or dying, on sin or folly, whether for yourself or your children;-and then, Give all you can, or, in other words, give all you have to God. Do not stint yourself, like a Jew rather than a Christian, to this or that proportion. Render unto God, not a tenth, not a third, not balf, but all that is God's, be it more or less; by employing all, on yourself, your household, the household of faith, and all mankiud, in such a manner that you may give it good account
of your stewardship, when ye can be no longer stewards ; in such a manner as the Oracles of God direct, both by general and particular precepts; in such a manner, that whatever ye do may be “a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour to God," and that every act may be rewarded in that day, when the Lord cometh with all his saints.
7. Brethren, can we be either wise or faithful stewards, unless we thus manage our Lord's goods? We cannot, as not only the Oracles of God, but our own conscience, beareth witness. Then why should we delay ? Why should we confer any longer with flesh and blood, or men of the world ? Our kingdom, our wisdom, is not of this world: Heathen custom is nothing to us. We follow no men any farther than they are followers of Christ. Hear ye Him : yea, to day, while it is called to day, hear and obey his voice! At this hour, and from this hour, do his will : Fulfil his word, in this and in all things ! I entreat you, in the pame of the Lord Jesus, act up to the dignity of your calling! No more sloth! Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it with your might! No more waste ! Cut off every expense which fashion, caprice, or flesh and blood demand. No more covetousness ! But employ whatever God has entrusted you with, in doing good, all possible good, in every possible kind and degree, to the household of faith, to all men ! This is no small part of "the wisdom of the just.” Give all ye have, as well as all ye are, a spiritual sacrifice to Him, who withheld not from you his Son, his only Son: So 5" laying up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that ye may attain eternal life !”
THE GOOD STEWARD.
“ Give an account of thy stewardship ; for thou mayest be no
longer steward.” Luke xvi. 2.
1. The relation which man bears to God, the creature to his Creator, is exhibited to us in the Oracles of God under various representations. Considered as a sinner, a fallen creaturc, he is there represented as a debtor to his Creator. He is also frequently represented as a servant, which indeed is essential to him as a creaturc; insomuch that this appellation is given to the Son of God when in his state of humiliation : He “took upon him the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men.”
2. But no character more exactly agrees with the present state of man, than that of a Steward. Our blessed Lord frequently represents him as such; and there is a peculiar propriety in the representation. It is only in one particular
respect, namely, as he is a sinner, that he is styled a debtor; and when he is styled a servant, the appellation is general and indeterminate : but a Steward is a servant of a particular kind; such a one as man is in all respects. This appellation is exactly expressive of his situation in the present world ; specifying what kind of servant he is to God, and what kind of service his divine Master expects from him.
It may be of use, then, to consider this point throughly, and to make our full improvement of it. In order to this, let us, First, Inquire, in what respects we are now God's Stewards. Let us, Secondly, observe, That when He requires our souls of us, we “ can be no longer Stewards.” It will then only remain, as we may, in the Third place, observe, to “Give an Account of our Stewardship.”
1. I. And, First, we are to Inquire, in what respects we are now God's Stewards. We are nowy indebted to Him for all we have : But although a debtor is obliged to return what