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miserable-except what the gospel of Christ reveals. His name is the only one by which you can be saved. And in him there is complete and final salvation. It matters not what may be the nature or the number of your transgressions. The blood of God's Son can cleanse from all sin. There is no human being on this side of eternity, who need apprehend that his offences are too numerous and aggravated to be forgiven—that the stains of moral defilement are too deeply wrought into his soul, to be washed out. O no! The fountain spoken of in our text, has efficacy enough to purify every sinner that repairs to its streams. Its current springs from those heights of benevolence and glory, on which the Deity bimself sits enthroned, and comes down to earth with an impetus, a fulness, and a power, sufficient to overflow the loftiest mountains of , human guilt and depravity. Here, then, ye prisoners of hope, is your encouragement. Banish every thing like despair from your bosoms. The voice of love and mercy this morning sounds to cheer and to invite you. Listen to its heaven-born accents :-“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wbite as snow, and though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
LUKE XVI. 1-9.
"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 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 re. ceive 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, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty. 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. 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. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everl asting habitations.”
The generality of infidel writers have admitted, that the morality of the gospel is pure and unexceptionable. And yet there have not been wanting those, who bave assumed a different and bolder ground. The Bible has been openly characterized by one who was himself the pollution and disgrace of every community in which he moved, as “the most immoral book in the world.” This extravagant and blasphemous language was used by its author principally in reference to the Old Testament. But even the New Testament has not entirely escaped detraction. The very instructions that fell from the lips of the Son of God have been objected to, as not uniformly in accordance with the principles of rectitude.
Thus the parable which we have just read to you, has been condemned on the ground that it is calculated to encourage fraud, by the terms of approbation in which it relates the conduct of a dishonest steward. We can readily conceive, that to the casual reader, there may be a semblance of plausibility in this objection. We have, therefore, thought, that it might not be uninteresting nor unprofitable to attempt a correct exposition of a passage of Scripture, which is liable to misapprehension, but which, when rightly understood, will be found bigbly instructive in its scope and tendency.
6. There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and the same was accused unto him, that he had wasted bis goods."
This verse accurately and strikingly delineates the relation which we all sustain to God. We may be considered as his stewards, because every thing that we possess belongs in reality to him. We are his property in the most unrestricted sense of the term. Our existence was derived from him in the first instance. His eyes beheld our substance yet being imperfect; and in his book all our members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. He clothed us with skin and flesh, and fenced us with bones and sinews. He endued us with the thinking and feeling principle, whatever it is, which animates and ennobles our material frame. By his kind and untiring providence too, we have ever since been preserved in being. To his bounty we owe every corporeal comfort, and every intellectual enjoyment. The food that we eat, and the raiment that we wear-the lands and the houses that we are accustomed to call our own-the gold and silver that we have laid up in our coffers—the knowledge that we have acquired the reputation and honours that we have won
-the children around whom our tenderest affections and fondest hopes revolve—these are all the gifts of Jehovah.
. Human arithmetic would fail to enumerate the various obligations under which his benignity has brought us. We have not a single possession, for which we are not indebted to the Creator and sovereign Proprietor of the universe.
Again, the steward in the parable was accused of squandering the goods of his employer. And, brethren, may not a similar accusation be preferred against each one of us? As the stewards of God, we are bound to take care of the various talents with which he has entrusted us. Any misuse of these talents must render us obnoxious to his displeasure. He has been pleased to confide them to our safe keeping, and, of course, the waste or neglect of them must be viewed and punished by him as a breach of trust. In short, our Maker has a most equitable and cogent claim to the highest services that we can render; he is fairly entitled to put in requisition for his own pleasure, and the promotion of bis own glory, all the faculties of body and of mind, which he has bestowed upon us. Now is it not a fact, that we are exceedingly prone to deny—if not with our lips, at least by our conduct—that he is our rightful Master? How frequently do we act without the least reference to his will! How proudly does the feeling of independence arise in our bosoms! And how arrogantly does the general tenour of our deportment say, “What is the Almighty that we should serve him ? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?” Yes, we all waste, in a greater or less degree, the blessings which a bountiful providence has conferred upon us. What noble endowments of the mind and heart, not to speak of inferior advantages, have been ruined and destroyed by intemperance! Can you conceive
of a more profligate and disgracefulexpenditure of Heaven's favours, than may be laid to the charge of those, who, in the expressive language of Solomon, “tarry long at the wine?” 0! how should the thought, that they are the stewards of God, dash from their lips the intoxicating goblet, and drive them humble, broken-hearted penitents from the scene of dissipation! There are also those who prostitute the best gifts of Jehovah to the purposes of an inordinate ambition, sacrificing the favour of the Creator to the applause and admiration of his creatures. There are others who frustrate the benevolent designs of the Almighty by hoarding up for the gratification of avarice, that wealth which he placed at their disposal, in order that they might have the opportunity of augmenting their own happiness by contributing to the happiness of others. We might likewise refer to the conduct of those whose career is a round of frivolous occupations and amusements, styled in most appropriate phraseology, so many modes of killing time.” But it would be no easy task to enumerate all the different ways in which men waste the mercies of heaven. In general it may be observed that the promotion of the Divine glory is the great end of our being, and that thus, so far as we act without a due reference to this end, are we chargeable with the guilt of dissipating the property of Him, whose we are, and whom we are bound to serve.
We are not, however, to imagine, that nothing more is required of us, as the stewards of God, than merely that we should not waste or neglect the talents which he has put into our possession. This is a part of our duty. But it is not all our duty. More, much more is demanded by our Master in heaven. He calls for the judicious and assiduous improvement of his talents. And here we may refer, in illustration and support of this position, to