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have, and were fav'd the faine way, even by Faith in Christ, as we now are for where the Seals and Sacraments of the Covenant are the same, there the Covenant must be the fame also.

2. From the many Plagues and Punishments that befel the Israelites for their Ingratitude and Breach of this covenant, we may learn to fear and expect the same upon the like Disobedience: for if every Transgression and Disobedience of Moses's Law receizi'd á just Recompence of Reward, how mall we escape if we neglect so great Salvation Heb. 2. 2, 3.

3. From the Caution here given against Presumption, let us learn to suspect our felves, and not be too confident of our standing, but look narrowly to our Ways, ' to prevent our falling; taking the Apostle's Advice, to walk circumspectly, not as Fools, &c. but as Wise.

Lastly, from God's finding a way to deliver us under the greatest Trials, let us learn at all tinies to put our Trust in him, and in the Use of good Means to rely upon his Providence; fo shall we be secure in all Dangers, and safe from all our Enemies: Which God grant, oci

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Vol. IV. Part 2.

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The GOSPEL for the Ninth Sunday after

Trinity.

St. Luke x.vi. I-10. Jesus said unto his Disciples, There was a certain rich Man, who had i Steward, and the same was accused unto him, tliat 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 the Stewardship, for thou may be no longer Steward. Then the Steward said within himself, &c.

I

N this Gospel for the Day we are presented with the
Parable of the Master and the unjust Steward ; in which

are figuratively represented to us,
ist, The great Bounty and Goodness of God in dispensing
his Bleflings.

2dly, The great Injustice and Unfaithfulness of Men in wafting and abusing of theni.

3dly, The great Danger and Difficulties that ensue upon fo doing. And,

4thly, The best Means to prevent these Evils, and to turn the good things to a better account. These things are contain’d in this Parable, and comprize the whole of this Day's Gospel. The Parable was deliver'd by Jesus unto his Disciples, and begins thus :

There was a certain rich Man who had a Steward. Where, by the certain rich Man, we are to understand God Almighty, the great Landlord and Proprietor of the World; whose is the Earth, and the Fulness thereof. By the Steward is meant all Mankind, with whom he hath intrusted his Goods and Talents; for the Earth he hath given to the Children of Men, with all the Fruits and Product thereof, to some more, and to some less, but to all fome, expecting an Account and Improvement from them all according to

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their proportion ; for he hath not made them Owners or Proprietors, but only Stewards and Dispensers of his Bleffings, to be dispos'd of according to his Will and Direction. Which thews us from whence all our Gifts come, namely, from God the great Lord and Donor of all things; for every good Gift, and every perfect Gift (faith St. James) is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights: Jam. I. 17. And likewise the Ends for which they are given, to wit, for the Honour of our Master, and the Benefit of our félves and one another. Now 'tis required of Stewards (faith the Apostle) that they be found faithful, in managing aright what is committed to them.

But the Steward here in the Parable was found unfaithe ful; for he was accused to his Lord, that he had wasted his Goods : instead of employing them to his Master's Use, he had mispent them in Riot and Prodigality, and so wrong'd his Master without any Benefit to himself; as Prodigals are wont to do other Men harm, and themselves no good. This improvident and unfaithful Behaviour coming to his Master's Knowledg, as Unthrift and Prodigality seldom escape Discovery, the Master call'd him to him, and said, How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy Stewardship, for thou mayst be no longer Steward. Every Mafter may, and much more our great Master in Heaven, call his Servants and Stewards to an account for embezleing his Goods, and discharge them too of their Office for the unfaithful Discharge of it: so he did with this unjuft Steward, and so he will do with all wicked and unprofitable Servants; which should teach us Fidelity in the Trust committed to us, and in any Place or Office whereunto we are callid, left we be brought to a Reckoning, and with Shame and Mifery be discarded from it.

But what did this unjuft Steward when he was turn'd out of Service? Why, He said within himself, What fall I. do; for my Lord taketh from me the Stewardship, I cannot dig, to big I am ashamed? Sin and Wickedness deprive Men of God's Blessing; it puts them out of his Favour and Protection, and leads them into niany Straits and Difficulties. This wicked Servant liv'd in Ease and Plenty in his Master's Service, he wanted nothing but Grace to make a better use of what he vainly squander'd away, and now he liv'd to want that which he so wantonly wasted : having made no provision for this sad time, he was at his wits end what to do for a Livelihood ; to dig for it by his Labour, he could not, and to beg for it by way of Alms he was asham’d. However, something must be done, and that Speedily too, or starve: casting then awhile about him, I am resolved (faith he) what to do, that when I am put out of the Stewardship, they may receive me into their Houses: And what was that? Why, it was to ingratiate himself with his Lord's Tenants and Debtors, and to make such Abatements in their Accounts, as might oblige them to be kind to him in distress, and to harbour him upon occafion. This Project we have in the fifth, fixth and feventh Verses; where we read, that before he gave up his Accounts, He called every one of his Lord's Debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my Lord He said, An hundred Measures of Oil: Then said he unto him, Take thy Bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Where he struck off half the Sum, bidding him write it down quickly upon his Bill, that their Books may agree, and so avoid all Suspicion of Mistake or Misreckoning. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred Measures of Wheat : He said unto him, Take thy Bill, and write Fourscore. Where he struck off twenty Measures of Wheat, - every Measure containing a great Quantity, and being the fame with the Hebrew Omer, amounted to a great Sum; him too he commanded to write down in the foot of the Bill, that there might be no difference in the Account, and so no Discovery. The like he did with all the rest, niaking favourable Entries into all their Books of Account, in hopes that having gratify'd so many Persons by such large Abatements, they would remember him in time of need; and that some of them at least (tho others should prove ungrateful) would stand by him, and make some amends for his Kindness.

But how did the Master take all this? Why, the next words tell us, that the Lord commended the unjust Steward, because he had done wisely; for the Children of this World are wiser in their Generation than the Children of Light : Not that he lik’d his Dishonesty or Unfaithfulness, for he gives him the Character of an unjust Steward; but he commended his Wit in contriving a way how to help himself when he was out of Service, and providing against a time of need. And indeed this was the main Delign of the Parable, to teach Men to lay up for themselves a good Foundation, and to have a provident Care for the time to come : The Mafter seems to take little or no notice of the way or manner

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of his providing for himself, much less is there here any Approbation of or Encouragement to the fraudulent or false Dealings used by him for that purpose. This was befide the Design and Intention of our Lord in this Parable, and is therefore pass’d over in silence; and no Argument is to be taken from any incidental Circumstance, but only from the main Scope, End, and Intention of a Parable. That which the Master here commends, is not the Injustice, but the Wit and Forecast of this unjust Steward, his dextrous projecting a way for his future Subsistence, and laying a Scheme to help himself in time of Neceflity; this is that wherein he is said to have done wisely: it being much wiser to apply the Mind to the finding out a way of living, than to ftarve and pine away through Negligence and Inconsideration.

The Master's commending this Steward's Wisdom, was in some measure to recommend his Example to us, not indeed as to the same way or Manner, but to the fame Care and Diligence in making a prudent Provision for our selves, as he did; and in the like, tho not in the same way. Só that two things are here recommended to our Imitation ; the one relating to the End, the other to the Means.

The it is, that as this Steward was careful for his Body, to provide a Maintenance for the preserving his natural Life; fo should we be as careful for our Soul, to seek out such {piritual Food, as may preserve and cherish it to Life everlasting. And,

2dly, As this Steward provided for himself out of his Master's Goods, by disposing them into other hands, from. whence he might have some Return; so should we lay up a Portion for our felves out of the Goods intrusted us by our Mafter in Heaven, transferring them into those hands, from whom we may receive them with advantage. Which we should the rather do, because he traded only in earthly, temporal, and perishing Goods; whereas we deal in heavenly, spiritual, and more enduring Substance.

In short then, the Master's commending the Wisdom and Providence of this unjust Steward, teaches us to take the fame or greater care for our Souls, than worldly Men do for their Bodies; and to be as wife and diligent in providing for Eternity, as they are for a little time here in this World. The general Neglect whereof made him add, that the Children of this World arc in their Generation wiser than the Children of Light. Wheren

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