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suffered such things : or that his punishment extended beyond death. Rather let us think of him as one of those whom God punishes severely in this world, that their souls may be saved in the next.
For, brethren, remember this present pain and loss, yea, even the loss of dear life itself, though it be a mark of God's chastisement, is also very frequently the mark of His love-For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth !
Do not wish to be without that scourging. Do not desire, either for yourselves or for your friends, to pass all your time untroubled. There is in afflictions, the bitterest that can happen to us, a sweet and healing virtue --if so be we view them as of God's sending-sent for this end, to correct and amend what He sees to be amiss
To be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, for such creatures as we are, is no proof of acceptance with God-rather it is a proof to the contrary—a proof that we are not really His sons. The old prophet of Bethel, as far as we know, was without chastisement to the last. With his brother's blood upon him, he remained unmolested in his home, and died in a good old age, and was buried in the grave he had desired.
But for all that, we cannot count him happy-we cannot but think of him as of one whose sin has followed him after!
May it not so be with any of us, brethren! Better far that we should be purged, through whatever fire, in this life present, so that at length, “our sins done away, and our pardon sealed," we are admitted into our Father's
kingdom, through the merits and mediation of His Son our Lord-than that, untouched by any suffering here, unvisited by any calamity, no notice at all taken of our sins, no stroke of punishment inflicted on us, we stand in the latter day, as it were for the first time, in judgment : and there receive what we have treasured up, the due reward of our deeds—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, the appointed meed for every soul of man that doeth evil, and dieth with that evil still upon him!
NINTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
PARABLE OF THE UNJUST STEWARD.
St. LUKE XVI. 8.
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.
It is a very great and instructive parable which comes before us in the Gospel for this Sunday. It is one, too, that differs from most of our Lord's parables, in that it is less easy of interpretation. There are things in it which have given rise to much controversy, and which, even at this day, are disputed of. Still the main teaching of the parable is clear. We may all readily master so much of it, as to carry away from its perusal a most needful and wholesome warning. We may all feel the justice of the rebuke which our Lord administers to us when He holds
holds up, by way of contrast to our slackness, and want of diligence in religion, the keenness, and quickness, the promptitude and the vigour, the going straight to their end, which appears in the conduct of
the worldly wise—The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.
That is the lesson, the plain and excellent lesson of this parable. Let us notice the striking manner in which it is enforced-and afterwards let us consider what further light our own experience throws upon the same subject.
And first, notice the words of the parable—There was a certain rich man which had a steward, and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. How much is there to dwell upon in these opening words ! a rich man and his steward-and the same accused of wasting his master's goods! That, no doubt, is a lively image of God's position towards us, and our position towards God. He is the rich man—the Lord. and Owner of all things. We every one of us are His stewards. None of us are so poor, but what we have some gift entrusted to us, which forms our stewardship; which we have to manage for God—to manage so that fle may receive of His own with usury.
The same figure is often found in the New Testament —both in the Gospels and in the Epistles. Thus our Lord, in St. Luke xii. 42, speaks of a faithful and wise steward, the prudent manager of his master's property, whom that Master, when He cometh, will promote to highest honour. St. Paul gives the title of stewards generally to Christ's ministers, to mark their responsibility (1 Cor. iv. 1), while, in his letter to Titus, he uses the word to designate the chief minister-A Bishop must be blameless as the steward of God (Titus i. 7). In 1 St. Peter iv. 10, we have the term extended to all Chris. tians—good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Yes, brethren, we are all God's stewards, and a time will come when we shall all have to give an account of our stewardship. God grant, when that day arrives, we be not accused before Him of having wasted His goods ! of having taken and squandered on our own selves, what was given us for another end-to advance God's glory and the good of mankind !
But to proceed with the parable.—The wasteful steward was summoned before his master to the reckoning, and told that after what had passed he could not hope to retain his office-Thou mayest be no longer steward.
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. I am resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lords debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said an hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill and sit down quickly and write fifty. (Thereby cheating his master out of fifty measures to curry favour with the debtor.) Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said an hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill and write fourscore, - lessening the real amount by twenty.
That was the ready and ingenious plan by which this dishonest steward sought to secure for himself a refuge against the storm—he helped his lord's debtors to defraud their master, and he reckoned on thus obtaining shelter in their houses when his stewardship was taken away from him.