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mentioned by his biographers, in which, when the payment of a certain tax was demanded of him, he unhesitatingly yielded to the exaction, although he was aware, that so far as respected himself, it was illegal. So proper did he deem it to avoid any thing which might even look like a departure from rectitude.

Brethren, we would not omit this opportunity of stating, in the most explicit manner, that every kind of fraud and injustice is repugnant to the precepts and the spirit of the sacred Scriptures. The servant who pilfers the groceries or the sweetmeats of her mistress—the apprentice who keeps himself in pocket-money from his master's drawer—the tradesman who asks an unreasonable profit on his goods—the bankrupt who lays by for his own use any portion of his property--may rest assured, that their conduct is minutely observed, and will be severely punished by the God whose law is promulged in this holy volume. Even the Old Testament, which, for reasons that might be given, exhibits a less elevated standard of morality than the New, is not without passages which represent dishonesty in all its forms, as a sin peculiarly offensive to the divine Being. Hear, for example, what is written in the book of Deuteronomy: 6 “ Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. Thou shalt not have in thy house divers measures, a great and a small. But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight; a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

It is now time to meet the very natural inquiry, What was the object of the Saviour in the delivery of the parable under consideration? We answer, that his object was to exhibit the foresight of the steward in providing for his temporal interests, as a pattern worthy of our imitation in providing for our spiritual interests. The force of our Lord's argument is briefly this: If prudence in a matter of comparatively little moment, and even when united with injustice, be commendable, how much more deserving of commendation is prudence in the great business of re

ligion ?

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Such is the true moral of the parable; and in enforcing this moral on his disciples, Jesus added, “ And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail,” (or, “when ye are discharged from your stewardship”) “they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” The expression, “ mammon of unrighteousness," is in the Hebrew idiom, and may be translated, “the unrighteous mammon," that is false or deceitful riches. Now, we are not to imagine, that the Saviour here sanctions the notion, that wealth may purchase eternal happiness. He does not intend to convey the impression, that riches, whether acquired by dishonest or by honest means, may be so employed by their possessors as to entitle them, in the strict sense of the term, to the favour of God, and the joys of heaven. His language, in this place, must be understood in accordance with the leading idea of the parable, and must, therefore, be interpreted as a general direction to render all the temporal blessings of providence subservient to the advancement of our spiritual interests. Do we possess wealth? We are required to use it in a manner calculated to promote the glory of God, and the welfare of man. By so doing we shall confer the highest and most lasting benefit on our own souls. We shall make to ourselves many friends in this world, and, what is of infinitely greater consequence, we shall secure a Friend in heaven,

who, when the term of our stewardship on earth shall have expired, will receive us into the everlasting habitations above. Although there is nothing intrinsically meritorious to the view of Deity in the purest and most self-denying exercises of human benevolence, yet such exercises, being at once the fruit and the evidence of piety, may be considered, in an humble sense, as the instruments by which the divine approbation is procured. The final salvation of an individual is the reward, not, indeed, of debt, but of grace. Still, however, it is truly a reward,

We have said, that the prominent truth inculcated in this parable, is the importance of a wise and diligent attention to our spiritual and eternal interests. The sagacity of the unjust steward deserves our imitation in the transaction of a business which admits of no injustice. When the blessings of religion form the grand object of our pursuit, we may copy his prudence without the least danger of being induced to copy his fraudulent conduct. The concerns of the soul are of such a description, that he who would manage them to any useful purpose, not only may, but must combine all the wisdom of the serpent with all the harmlessness of the dove.

And here let us think, just for a moment, of the sagacity and industry, which men exhibit in their various secular avocations. First, behold the merchant. With what zeal and assiduity does he devote himself to the accumulation of wealth! And with what penetration does he frequently anticipate the never-ceasing fluctuations of trade-the constant rise and fall in the prices of merchandize! Next look at the politician. With what intense and irresistible energy does he grasp at the gilded shadows of ambition! Mark the intuitive glance with which he developes the stratagems of faction—the prophetic spirit with which he reads the distant future, and accommodates his plans to events which he knows that the revolutions of time must bring to pass. Contemplate also the votary of science, and candidate for literary distinction. See him consecrating the hours which others consume in sleep, or employ in inferior occupations, to the acquisition of knowledge. Observe the anxious and untiring ardour with which he prosecutes the one absorbing object of his thoughts, his desires, and his hopes. The setting sun leaves him at his task, and the morning star witnesses the renewal of his toil.

Thus it is, that men “labour for the meat that perisheth." They rise early, sit up late, and eat the bread of sorrows,” in order to secure the precarious wealth, the fading honours, and the unsatisfying pleasures of earth. Would to God that they manifested the same sagacity and zeal and perseverance, in attending to the momentous concerns of religion! But alas ! “the children of this

6 world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”

We shall not undertake, on this occasion, to enforce the practical lesson of the text, by showing, that the business of our salvation is infinitely the most important in which we can embark. But we must not conclude, without observing--and we shall do so in a single word --that there is a certainty of success connected with wise and strenuous efforts in this business, which attends the prosecution of no other pursuit. The merchant, the politician and the scholar are subject to disappointments from various sources. Bankruptcy may befall the first, and loss of popularity the second, while a broken constitution is the frequent lot of the third. But in sincere

and unremitting endeavours to advance our spiritual interests, there can be no failure. Such endeavours must and will prevail. There has never been an instance, in which they proved ineffectual. As surely as God is true, the man who seeks shall find, and to him that knocks the door of heaven shall be opened.

No apology, dear hearers, is requisite for the subject to which your attention has now been directed. We are all—believers as well as unbelievers—too much disposed to remissness and indolence with regard to the concerns of our souls. Our consciences testify, that we need to be often admonished of our awful delinquency and infatuation in this matter. If a heathen nation deemed it expedient always to place a human skeleton at the festive board, to prevent the guests from forgetting that they must dieif a heathen monarch caused a herald to exclaim three times a day in his ears, “Philip of Macedon, thou art mortal!"-how useful must it be to inculcate a similar lesson frequently and earnestly upon Christians! They cannot be too constantly reminded, in the midst of business and of pleasure, of that injunction from the lips of their Saviour: “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto

you."

And here, brethren, permit us affectionately to ask you, whether it is not most unwise to manifest so much ardour in temporal concerns, while you are comparatively neglectful of your spiritual interests? What a great-what a ruinous—delusion! Have you yet to learn, that it will profit a man nothing to gain the whole world and lose his own soul! Can you need to be informed, that religion is the only effectual support under the inflictions of lifethe only real source of serenity and joy in the crisis of

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