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effect." "For the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed: not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the Father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations) before him whom he believed, even God who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not, as though they were," Gal. iii. 17. Rom. iv. 13,' 16, 17. After a careful perusal of the apostle's argument, can any one candidly say, the fulfilment of this promise is on the condition of faith? It is to be accomplished by faith, but the confirmation of the covenant, must put all conditions out of the question. Should one ask, "what if some men do not believe?" In our turn we ask, "Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?" St. Paul answers, "God forbid : yea, let God be true, but every man a liar," Rom. iii.4.
Interpretation of Parables. No. 1.
The unjust Steward commended. LUKE XVi. 1—13. "And he said also to his disciples, There was a certain rich man which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him," &c.
As parables are a kind of comparison for the more pungent application of the doctrine taught by them, much depends in explaining them,on the connexion,in which they are found. The reader is therefore, solicited to suspend his decision, in favour, or against, this interpretation of the above parable, until suitable attention has been paid to that point. Nor will it be lost time ⚫to consider that the circumstance which is chosen as
a similitude, was supposed to be well understood by those to whom it was delivered, as well as those, who were both reprimanded and instructed by hearing it. The more accurate knowledge they had of the subject introduced as a comparison, the more likely they would be, to discover the analogy between that and the thing by it exemplified. At least, we may infer that, if they were ignorant of the former, they could not thereby have an illustration of the latter. And likewise, in that case, two explanations would have been necessary; the one, to explain the circumstance introduced, and the other, to exhibit the analogy in the comparison. By the ready application which the Pharisees made of the parable under consideration, it is evident they needed no assistance in understanding either of the foregoing particulars; but rightly apprehended the divine Teacher's meaning. Though the address was directed to the disciples, doubtless its principal design was, to reprove the Pharisees and opposers of Jesus, for their covetousness and illiberality.
As they were unfaithful and ungenerous in the earthly mammon, it evinced the impropriety of their being put in possesion of the heavenly riches. And since no man can serve two masters, at the same time, to make them the faithful servants of Christ, till they were discharged from their slavery to the world, was impossible. To render this interpretation the more easily understood, we shall descend to particulars.
1. The Saviour represented himself by the rich nan, who had a steward. His wealth consisted of what in the parable is denominated the true riches.— He sustains about the same character as in Matt. ch. xxv. 14th verse, where he is represented by the "man travelling into a far country, who called to him his servants, and delivered to them his goods." The scriptures frequently mention this kind of affluence, in distinction from that of the world. "God who is rich in mercy-though Jesus was rich-the unsear
chable riches of Christ,” and much more to the same import.
2. His disciples are represented by the steward who was accused of injustice. A steward is a person employed in the service of a superior, to whom he is accountable for à faithful discharge of his duty; those, in an especial manner, who are intrusted with the provision for a Lord's household, to deal to every one a portion of meat in due season, are called stewards. "And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over all his household, to give each a portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing," Leke xii. 42, 43. Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. "Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful," 1 Cor. iv. 1, 2. Faithfulness in the distribution of the master's goods, according to his directions, is the first trait in the conduct of a just steward. "Use hospitality towards one another without grudging.As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." 1 Pet. iv. 9. 10. As the servant of a lord, who had been exalted in point of privileges, would be liable to be called to an account for the manner in which he had provided for his fellow servants, and on that account ought to maintain a habitual faithfulness, so should the disciples of the Lord consider themselves as under alike accountability to their great Lord and master; and so much the more as they were surrounded by the most crafty and eagle-eyed adversaries. They were to manifest a liberal heart in the bestowment of such as they had. For if they were "unfaithful in the unrighteous mammon, who would commit to them the true riches ?"
3. The Scribes and Pharisees are represented as bringing an accusation against Christ's servants for having wasted his goods. If it should appear on ex
amination, that the charge is well supported, the servant will undoubtedly meet with a proper chastisement. He who said, "gather up the fragments that nothing be wasted or lost." will not countenance the alleged conduct. Behold the result. The Lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely."But did he not retract on mature reflection, and become less profuse in the use of his lord's goods? Did he not restrain his generosity, deafen bis ear to the cries of the needy, and shut his eyes on the widow and her weeping, breadless family? Above all, was he not unusually strict and severe in collecting his lord's debts; bringing every one to immediate settlement, and payment? Let us listen to his adjustment of accounts, for a moment, that we may not be mistaken.
Here comes one of his lord's debtors. Hear his question; "How much owest thou unto my lord ?" The poor man gravely answers, "An hundred measures of oil." Then said the steward, "Take thy bill and sit down quickly and write fifty." Thus you see, dear reader, that so far from diminishing his charities, or becoming more prudent in the use of his lord's goods, the steward extended his liberality to an unusual degree. Even where a debt was justly due, he abated one half, one fifth, or any other part, according to the condition of the debtors. And even in this profusion of beneficent conferments, he received the most cordial approbation of his master. The inference is, that he was wrongfully accused. The charge was by no means supported; so far from it, a distribution of favors, copious in comparison with what they called wastefulness, was highly approved. Pharisaic illiberality ascribes every act to wastefulness which is compatible with real. heaven-born charity. It attributes the opprobrium of injustice to all characters who do not conform to the miser's notion of prudence. The Pharisee says in his heart. "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortion
ers, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican" or steward. His charity consists in fasting, paying tithes, and making long prayers. That spirit which influenced the opposers of Jesus to watch him with a vulture's eye, and strive to poison his character with satanic venom, could readily descry waste, injustice and crime in his followers. But the accusation is proved to be a calumny, not only by the commendation given the steward by the lord, but also, by his persuasive exhortation to his fellow to endeavor to maintain a character analogous to that in the parable. As the steward, represented unjust, gave proof of his faithfulness, by a liberal distribution to the needy, so should they make to themselves friends of the mam mon of this world, that when other means should fail, they might be received into durable habitations. The Pharisees, who considered themselves "children of the light," were not so wise as this steward, and the children of this world, by him represented.
4. The parable under consideration was intended as a reprimand on the opposers of our Lord; and he who knows man, and what is in him, spake not in vain. They acknowledged themselves intended. And well they might, since they were guilty in a two-fold sense. First, as it respected temporal riches of which they possessed much; and, secondly, in relation to the riches and blessings of the legal dispensation, which they parsimoniously claimed to themselves, unwilling that others should participate its benefits. As they had proved themselves unfaithful in that which was another's temporal, worldly riches, how could they expect to come in possession of the real spiritual riches of the promises, which they called their own, having them bequeathed by Moses?
To prevent all confusion, the Saviour stated distinctly that no man can serve two masters, or God and mammon, at the same time. The Pharisees, instead of using their riches in a prudent and rational manner, rendering them serviceable to themselves