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What now, we may inquire, was the object of Jesus in ultering this parable? Ans. to shew the Scribes and Pharisees, whose character he had faithfully drawn in the parable of the prodigal, that although they felt proud of their moral attainments, and were generally regarded as the "children of light," yet in fact they were not so wise and prudent, as men generally are, in the management of their secular concerns. The unjust steward showed more wisdom in the provision he had made for the future, than they ever manifested. "The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light." They are here called the children of light for the same reason they are called the "children of the kingdom," Matt. viii. 12. The Saviour then adds, "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." Here he directed those who listened to him, to follow the example of the unjust steward. It would have been better for the steward if he had done his duty faithfully, and retained his stewardship; but when he found he must loose it, he did the next best thing he could. So Jesus proposed to those to whom he was speaking the steward's example. If they were determined not to do what they ought, then let them do the next best thing. If they would not embrace the gospel, then let them "make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness," or uncertain riches,' as Kenrick renders the expression. Let them avail themselves of the law of Moses, and make a good use of that, which was well represented by uncertain riches' when compared with the durable riches' of the gospel. And if they would make a wise and prudent use of the uncertain riches' of the law, and do as
God and Moses commanded them in that institution, they would be received into age-lasting tabernacles, for this is certainly the better rendering of tas aionious skenas-they would enjoy to the full all the comfort and shelter, if we may so speak, that the law could afford. This they never yet had done-they had made void the law of God by their traditions and corrupted the institutions of Moses; and the benefit their law otherwise would have confered upon them, they had not enjoyed. This was the reason they did not receive the gospel, to which a right improvement of the law would naturally have led them. "He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much." Ver. 10. They had not been faithful in that which was least. "If, therefore, ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon (uncertain riches) who will commit to your trust the true riches?" Ver. 11. If you have not been faithful in your use of the law, you cannot receive the true and durable riches of the gospel. "If ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" Ver. 12. If you have resembled the unjust steward, who was unfaithful to his master, how can you expect to receive the gospel, which was specially designed for you, and proclaimed to you before any other people upon the face of all the earth? It was their pride and avarice that prevented them from rendering due obedience to the law of Moses, as well as to the gospel of Jesus Christ; and it was to this the Saviour refered, when he said, "ye cannot serve God and mammon." These two masters no man can serve, "for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." Ver. 13. The Pharisees listened to these
things with deep attention, and felt themselves severely rebuked by this reference to their covetous spirit; and the consequence was that they derided Christ, ver. 14. To their hypocrisy, and disposition to justify themselves, Jesus refers in ver. 15, "ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts; for that which is (sometimes) highly esteemed among men, is abomination in the sight of God;" as though he had said, ye deceive men by your pretences, and your external show of godliness; and by these means you gain their esteem; but God looks on the heart; him you cannot deceive and your pretended righteousness which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. From this Jesus returns immediately to the main theme of his discourse, viz. the rejection of the gospel by the Jews. He labors to shew, that the time had come for men to abandon the law of Moses, and embrace the gospel, or, in other words, enter the kingdom of Jesus Christ. See ver. 16. "The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it." The. Pharisees still maintained their adhesion to the law; but God designed that the law should not continue beyond the days of John, since which time the gospel was preached, and men eagerly embraced it. Not one jot or tittle of this law should fail, ver. 17. It was designed to be fulfilled, and done away; and when the time arrived for its abrogation, it was easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than that it should longer remain. In ver. 18, we come to a striking but short parable, in which Jesus sets forth the sin of those who still adhered to the law. "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery:
and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband, committeth adultery." If the Jews had put away the law before the time for its abrogation had arrived, they would have been guilty of a sin, like that of the man who should put away his wife, and marry another; but they committed the same offence by adhering to the law after the days of John, since which time the kingdom of God was preached; for they were like the man who married her that was put away by her husband; they remained attached to a dispensation which God had determined should come to an end, and this too notwithstanding they had been urged to receive the gospel, both by Jesus and his apostles. Their glory however was about to depart. The poor Gentiles, whom they had despised, were to be received into the kingdom of the gospel, and they were to be cast into outer darkness. This great change in their circumstances, as well as the conversion of the Gentiles to the faith of Abraham, are beautifully figured in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, to which the attention of the reader will, in the next place, be directed.
Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
LUKE XVI. 19—31.
"There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazaras, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which el! from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom : the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried, and said, father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, son, remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that they who would pass from hence to you cannot : neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, Father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house : For I have five brethren: that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, they have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them And he said, nay, father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."
We propose, in considering this parable, to show,
1st. That allowing the passage to be a literal account and not a parable, it fails altogether of substan