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24. When the people, therefore, faw “ that Jesus was not there, neither his dif- .
ciples, they also took shipping and came
25. And when they had found him
unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou 6 hither?
“ 26. Jesus answered them and said,
me, not because ye saw the miracles,
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which en
dureth unto everlasting life, which the “ Son of man shall give unto you: for him “ hath God the Father sealed.”
Had a right motive been the cause of their following Jesus, how commendable would their zeal have appeared! In their conduct, we may see our own, when we take undue pains and spend too much time and labor for the perishable things
of this life. From the rebuke given to them by our Saviour, it is plain that their object was merely selfish. We are not, however, to understand from the last verse, that it is improper to provide for the necessaries of this life: on the contrary, it is enjoined us, as a duty, to labor not only for our own support, but for the support of those whom the Almighty has intrusted in a particular manner to our care : all that seems to be meant is, that we are not to pursue worldly matters with fuch earnestness, as to make us neglect our superior duties. In their anxiety for the things of this world, to the total forgetfulness of the other, they acted like the unjuft steward represented by our Lord in the fixteenth chapter of St. Luke's Gospel; a parable which contains so much instruction on the subject now before us, that I shall
go a little aside to make a few remarks upon it.
Our Saviour describes this steward as in the service of a rich man to whom he had been accused of dishonesty in the ma
nagement of the affairs intrusted to him ; in consequence of which, his master calls upon him to make up his accounts and quit his stewardship. Under these circumstances, being in great distress as to the means of his future support, for “ he could not dig, and to beg he was ashamed," he determined, after some deliberation, to make friends of his master's debtors, by allowing them to defraud him likewise in the settlement of their accounts, and so to secure to himself an asylum when difmissed from his stewardship. The scheme was well laid, and carried with it every probability of success : and, it is added, that his Lord commended him ; that is, that he gave him credit for his ingenuity, care, and foresight, in endeavoring to procure for himself a retreat. In pursuing the subject, our Saviour contrasts the eagerness with which we are too. apt to pursue worldly advantages, with our indifference and lukewarmness to heavenly blessings. Though his plan did not answer his purpose, detection being the con
sequence (the possibility of which in his great anxiety he had overlooked), yet it was evident that this world was his only object, and therefore that he kept up to his character, never losing sight of what he supposed his own interest. In this sense it is, that “the children of this world “ are in their generation wiser than the “ children of light.” The persons here described, are such as this steward; men who, disregarding eternity and their immortal souls, place their whole felicity on this world ; to secure the goods of which, they will undergo more pains than would insure them heaven. Let us, however, profit by the example, and shew ourselves equally active to attain our object-an eternal mansion of bliss ; let us not suffer ourselves to be shamefully outdone, in a race where the prize is so infinitely in our favor. We know that Heaven is ready to receive us, but we know also that none can enter there, but such as fulfil the conditions required for their admission.
Let this parable stir us up to make it the chief business of our lives to procure a permanent home, when we are called upon to give up our stewardship. That we Christians are stewards to the Al. mighty, and that we must give an account of our stewardship, we shall scarcely deny. Let us not, then, because we may have so acted as to escape the censure of human laws, make ourselves too confident that we may not come under the appellation of unjuft, when tried by the divine law.
It is not justice alone, but charity, generosity, and benevolence, which will be required from those whom the Almighty has blessed with the
That gratitude must be due from those who have such conftant blessings bestowed upon them, even the light of nature would teach us. The Christian must be liberal, as far as it is in his power, of his time, as well as his fortune; and those who are blessed with superior knowledge of their duty, are equally bound to communicate it to the ignorant and unlearned, as to relieve the bodily dif