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tressed; and that it will be necessary to establish retributions in the future world in order to make up for these apparent imperfections of divine Providence in this, will find no countenance in this parable. The sinner is represented as suffering exceedingly in his sins, and his sufferings induced his return to his father's house. As many contend that men have lost the image of God by their transgressions, it is proper to inquire whether the prodigal lost the image of his father during his absence ? No, the father saw him a great way off, and knew him, and rushed out to meet him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. The father saw his image in the child-it was not lost. We sometimes hear, that it was necessary for Christ to die, in order to make God compassionate, and open a way whereby he could be just, and forgive sinners. Does Jesus give any countenance to this doctrine, in the parable before us? What victim bled to create compassion in the father's heart? None, the father never was destitute of compassion. He loved his son before he went astray, he loved him while he was astray, and, when he saw him a great way off, he had compassion upon him, and demonstrated that compassion by the strongest evidences. It has been declared frequently, that mankind, while in a state of sin, are not the children of God. This notion is certainly contradicted by the parable. The prodigal was a son while afar off, and he recollected that he had a father, and this recollection induced his return to his father's house. "I will arise, and go to MY FATHER." It was not necessary to threaten him with any greater misery than that which he actually suffered, to create in him the resolution to return. It is not reasonable to suppose he would have returned at all, had he be

lieved his father was his enemy, and that it would be necessary for his brother to die in order to appease his father's wrath. The conversion of this prodigal was not a change of nature; it was merely a change of purpose, and inclinations, and this not by any special agency of God's spirit, but by the influence of the circumstances by which he felt himself controlled. He was made wiser by experience; this wisdom induced a wiser course of conduct; and such was his conversion. These are some of the reflections which naturally occur in reading the parable.

We cannot fail to remark, that every thing in this parable is calculated to have an excellent influence on morals-every thing encourages virtue, and discountenances vice; and so we may say of our Lord's parables in general. On all occasions, wherever he was, whether speaking in figure, or without, the direct tendency of his instructions was to induce love to God and man-to foster tender emotions, pity, compassion, charity-to beget humility and meekness in the heart-and to discountenance pride, ostentation, hypocrisy, arrogance and hatred. In fine, on such a moral teacher as Jesus, the world will never look again. For his knowledge of the human heart, for his wisdom in difficult circumstances, for the simplicity and true sublimity of his parables; for his power to expose wickedness before the eyes of those who practised it, for the influence of his instructions, and above all of his life itself, our Lord stands, and ever must stand unrivalled, throughout all the world.

Parable of the Unjust Steward.

LUKE XVI. 1-8.

“And he said also unto 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, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship: for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away 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 lord's debtors unto him. and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, A hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to anoth er, And how much owest thou? And he said, A hundred measures of wheat, And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write four-score. 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.”

This parable is a part of the chain of parables, which extends from the beginning of the fifteenth to the end of the sixteenth chapter of Luke. These all seem to have been drawn from the Saviour by the objections brought against him by the Pharisees, that he received sinners, and ate with them. The principal design of the parable of the prodigal son, was to shew in how high an estimation the Jews, particularly the Pharisees, regarded themselves; and that from this vain conceit of their own abilities and righteousness, sprung up their hatred of the common people, and of the Gentile nations.

The parable of the unjust steward was designed to correct this opinion, and to shew them, that how much soever they thought of their own wisdom in religious things, they were not in fact so wise about those things, as people of the world generatly are about temporal concerns.

A certain man had a steward, and he was accused unto him of wasting his goods. For this reason he was called to render in an account of his stewardship, as he was about to be removed from his office. He had nothing to reply to the charge brought against him, and therefore considered what he should do for himself when he was discarded. "What shall I do," saith he, "for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship? I cannot dig, to beg I am ashamed." As he was not yet put out of office, he resolved to make use of the power with which he was entrusted to secure a retreat among his master's tenants, when dismissed from his service. "I am resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they (his master's tenants) may receive me into their houses." The plan he proposed, was to confer some essential advantages on the tenants, that he might thereby lay them under obligations to him, which neither from motives of gratitude or interest, they would desire to violate. The accounts he had kept for his master he had in his possession, and he called on the debtors to bring in their accounts. He said unto the first, "how much owest thou unto my lord?" The debtor replies, "a hundred measures of oil." These tenants it appears were to pay their rents, not in money, but in wheat and oil, and the other products of the lands they hired. The steward directed him to alter his account, or lease perhaps, and say fifty; by which expedient it appeared, that it was originally designed he should pay fifty only.

He said to another, "how much owest thou?" He answered, "a hundred measures of wheat." He directed him to take his bill, account, or lease, whichsoever it might be-for the Greek phrase to gramma signified any writing whatsoever-and write fourscore. These certainly were no small favors that he showed the tenants, and might well dispose them to receive the steward afterwards into their houses. The parable closes with the observation, that the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely."

Before we proceed to fix and illustrate the application of the parable, we wish to take notice of what we regard as a wrong interpretation of it, and clear the Saviour of a charge which has rashly been brought against him, of designing to countenance immorality. Some have infered, that God commended the conduct of the steward in defrauding his master, and recommended mankind to imitate him. But this is altogether an unjustifiable inference. In the first place, the lord who commended the steward was his earthly master, the same spoken of in verses 3 and 5. Second, the idea kept up throughout the parable, is that the steward was actually unjust, and he is expressly said to be so, ver. 8. No attempt is made to hide or extenuate his fault. Third, this servant was not commended for his injustice, but for his prudence in making arrangements for his maintenance after he was dismissed from his master's employ. He is said to have done wisely, not in the particular of his injustice-such a construction would be truly absurd

but in the eircumstance of his foresight, and his calculations in regard to the future. He took the future into consideration, and made preparation for it; and so far he was wise, and was commended; but not for his injustice.

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