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Our church has appointed the text to be read among other passages of Scripture before the administration of the holy Communion, as suitable for our meditation on that solemn occasion. Let us meditate upon it in connexion with that holy ordinance; seeking grace to enable us, while we call Him, Lord, Lord, as by our Christian profession we are bound to do, to follow also His holy will in all our conduct, that we may be blameless and harmless, the children of God without rebuke, shining as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life, that we may rejoice in the day of Christ, that we have not run in vain,87 or made an empty profession of faith in Him, but have been enabled by His grace to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in our life and conversation. May our souls be strengthened and refreshed by the use of this means of grace which our blessed Saviour has commanded His disciples to make use of, that we may run with patience the race that is set before us, and may reach the goal, and obtain the prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus; that when we have fought the good fight of faith,
under the banners of the
Captain of our salvation, and shall have finished our course, we may receive the crown of righteousness, which the Lord shall give unto all them that love His appearing.9o
87 Philip.ii. 15,16.iii. 14 88 Tit. ii. 10. 891Tim.vi.12. 902 Tim.iv.7,8.
THE NINTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
THE UNJUST STEWARD.
Luke xvi. 9.
MAKE TO YOURSELVES FRIENDS OF THE MAM
MON OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS; THAT, WHEN YE FAIL, THEY MAY RECEIVE YOU INTO EVERLASTING HABITATIONS.
Ar the beginning of the chapter which precedes that from which the Gospel for this day has been taken, we are informed that the hearers of our Lord Jesus Christ consisted of persons of very different descriptions and characters; of publicans and sinners, who were desirous of hearing the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth; and of Pharisees and scribes who murmured at His conduct, and who, it is afterwards said, derided Him. The parables in the pre
ceding chapter were spoken for the encouragement of the former, or to call sinners to repentance.91 Those in this chapter were delivered for the admonition of the latter; to show the Pharisees that the worldly possessions which they coveted, and their riches on which they prided themselves, would not profit them in the day of wrath ;92 and that if they disregarded Moses and the prophets, whose writings were in their hands; if they despised and rejected the word of God, which was given them to be the means of their salvation, they would lament their folly throughout eternity.
The parable which is appointed as the Gospel for this day, was spoken for the purpose of convicting the scribes and Pharisees of unfaithfulness to the trust which God had committed to them. They had been appointed stewards of God's heritage; as our Saviour told the people, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat; all therefore whatsoever they hid you observe, that observe and do;93 but they had acted unfaithfully in their office. They had made the commandment of God of none effect by their tradition; teaching for doctrines of God the commandments of men. They pretended, indeed, great zeal for the honour of God; but instead of promoting His glory, which was the object they ought to have had in view
91 Luke v. 32. 92 Prov. xi. 4. 93 Matt. xxiii. 2,3. 94 Matt. xv. 6, 9.
in the station to which they had been advanced, their own aggrandisement, and the gratification of their own pride, were the objects they aimed at. Our Saviour said of them, All their works they do for to be seen of men. They make broad their phylacteries;95 which were scrolls of parchment, that had texts of Scripture written upon them. These they professed to wear, because Moses had said to the Israelites, These words which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart, and thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes,96 expressions which referred to the regard that was due to the law of God, and the obedience that was required to all its precepts. But these people desired to attract admiration by their religious profession; and therefore preferred an outward exhibition of it, as an ornament to their dress, rather than that the words or commandments of God should be in their hearts; or be received by them with pure affection, and be the rule of their conduct. They also enlarged the borders of their garments.95 On this subject they were thus directed in the law of Moses, Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture wherewith thou coverest thyself. And the reason given for the injunction was, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of
95 Matt. xxiii. 5. 96 Deuteronomy vi. 6, 8. 97 Deuter. xxii. 12.
the Lord, and do them; and be holy unto your God.98 These fringes the Pharisees made exceedingly large; and added to them very broad phylacteries, as if holiness consisted in the size of these appendages to their dress, and not in humble obedience to the law of God. And in consequence of wearing these outward marks of distinction, we find them saying to others, Stand by thyself, come not near to me, for I am holier
In the parable before us, our blessed Lord intimated to these persons, that they would soon be called to render an account of their stewardship, and would then be dismissed from it. He said unto His disciples, There was a certain rich which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. The steward having been unfaithful to the trust reposed in him, having squandered the property of his lord, seems to have advanced the rental of his master's estate to the highest pitch, in order to screen his misconduct. Complaint, however, was made of his lavish expenditure, before he had derived any benefit from the measures which he had taken to conceal it. His lord therefore called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
98 Numbers xv. 39, 40.
99 Isaiah lxv. 5.