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It is here to be noted that Mammon S ERM. in the figurative language of the Jews XI. was the Genius or Demon of worldly wealth. Hence in the gospel it stands either for riches in themselves, or an inordinate love of riches in the hearts of men.
Now riches in this place are stiled the Mammon of unrighteousness, either because they are too often procured by unrighteous means and
applied to an unrighteous use, or rather, what is the intention in this place, because they are both precarious in their tenure and deceitful in their promises of good. Thus in the following text the unrighteous Mammon is opposed to the true riches; that is, the precarious and deceitful riches of this world are opposed to the certain and never failing riches of the world to come ?.
a It may be proper to notice in this place that the term (Oixovomov tas goixas) which our Translation renders, the Unjust Steward, is rendered in this discourse, the Steward of Unrighteousness; not merely because it is more agreeable to the Letter of the Origia nal, but because in reality it expresses another sense. Though the Steward was evidently unjust, yet it is not so much his injustice, as his worldly policy, which is proposed for our consideration. The character here given is not intended for the Steward, but for the property committed to his Stewardship; which
Thus from an instance of worldly XI. policy, though dishonest in itself, our
Saviour draws a truly valuable lesson of religious wisdom. A Steward wise to the present generation is proposed for a pattern to us to be wise for the generation that is to come. As he applied the, wealth committed to his trust to conciliate friends on earth, who on his failure in his temporal charge might receive him into their houses and supply him with a maintenance for this transitory life; so the Disciples of Christ are instructed to apply the Talents, which God hath imparted to them for a time, to conciliate a Friend in heaven, who when they fail in their temporal inheritance, and are removed by death out of the tabernacle of the body, may supply them with an enduring substance, may receive them into a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens.
In pursuance of the same argument our Lord proceeds to say: He, that is
is agreeable to the Phrase that occurs in the following text (Mayuwva mns adxias). As the Maminon of Unrighteousness means precarious and deceitful wealth, so the Steward of Unrighteousness is the Steward of precarious and deceitful wealth.
faithful in that which is least,' is faithful SERM. also in much; and he, that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much. He, who is faithful to his Lord in the inferior trust of worldly goods, gives an earnest therein, that he will be also faithful in the superior trust of spiritual goods : and he, that is unfaithful in a worldly trust, therein gives a token, that he will be unfaithful also in a spiritual trust. If
therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous Mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? If
you are unfaithful in the charge of those precarious and transitory riches which belong to this life, can you hope that God will commit to your charge the substantial and durable riches of the life to come ?
And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own ? And if you are not faithful in the use of those transitory riches, which God has not given you, but only lent you for a season, how can you expect, that he will impart to your use those unalienable riches, which are given to the faithful on a certain and irrevocable tenure?
In all this discourse our Lord reconiXI. mends an application of worldly wealth
to the improvement of our eternal interest. Thus also he directs his Hearers, whenever there is a competition of interest between temporal and spiritual concerns, to pay the first regard to the most important claims. No man can serve two Masters; that is, two Masters of opposite dispositions and characters: For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. Men cannot give a close and intent application at the same time to the service of God and the service of the world. If they are too intent on, the cares of the world, the service of God will most probably be forgotten: and therefore it is incumbent on them to give their first and chief concern to God.
The Gospel in this place reports, that the Pharisees who were covetous heard all these things.
And by recording this feature of their character on the present occasion it implies a design in our Lord to reprehend their inordinate love of worldly goods. In this respect they were the Children of this world, not
323 withstanding their pretensions to a no- SERM. bler parentage; and they shewed in XI. their conduct, that they were wiser in their generation than the Children of light. But though he meant to inculcate a wisdom of a purer kind, they despised his instructions, and derided him.
Such appears to be the special and immediate aim of our Lord's instructions to his Hearers in the
parable of the Steward of unrighteousness.If they were despised and derided by the Pharisees, let us, who profess ourselves his Disciples, accept them with greater reverence, and apply them to a better use.
To improve the doctrine which is here conveyed let me first offer some reflexions on that assertion of our Lord; For the Children of this world are wiser in their generation than the Children of light.
If we compare the situations of these two characters of men, we shall see the ground on which this assertion rests. The Children of the world are stationed in that world to which they are attached. The goods of the world are con