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Reflections on the faithful and unfaithful servant.

585

IMPROVEMENT. VIAY our souls be awakened by these awful truths ! and may sect. we be engaged to gird up the loins of our mind, to be sober, and cxiv. Watch to the end! (1 Peter i. 13.)

Ver. Great are our encouragements to diligence, on the one hand ; 35, 36 and, on the other, dreadful will be the punishment of our neglect. The time of our Lord's appearance is uncertain ; let us therefore 40 always be ready; solicitous that, when he coines, he may find us 80 doing, as he has required ; living not to ourselves, but to him, and employing ourselves about that particular thing, whatsoever 43 it may be, which, all circumstances considered, we are verily persuaded, may most promote the great ends of life, and the important purposes of his glorr.

How glorious are the rewards promised to such! How justly 42, 44 may they awaken our emulation! He will prefer thein to stations of more honourable and important service. He will set them down 37 at his table, and minister (as it were) himself to their delight, bringing forth the choicest dainties of heaven, and spreading before them an eternal banquet. Lord, may we, through thy grace, be found worthy to taste of that supper! May the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne feed us, and guide us to fountains of living water! (Rev, vii. 17.)

On the other hand, let us seriously consider the punishments to 45 be inflicted on the unfaithful servant. Let ministers, if such there are, who abandon themselves to a life of idleness and luxury; who stain their sacred character by intemperance ; who proudly censuré their brethren, and either call, or wish, for the secular arm to smite their felloze-servants, perhaps more faithful than themselves; let such hear and trenible. Their Lord may come in a very un- 46 expected hour ; (as indeed, when do such expect him ?) and what are the stripes they have given others, when compared with those which they shall themselves receive stripes which shall cut them asunder, and pierce deep into their very souls! How much more tolerable will it be, even for the worst of Gentile sinners, than for such!

Let all who are in any measure distinguished by the gifts of the Divine bounty to them, or by their stations, whether in civil or sacred offices, attentively dwell on this great truth, so solemnly repeated again and again; let them consider it with a view to their own account: To whomsoever much is given, of him will much be required. May Divine Grace so impress it on their 48 hearts, that they may be distinguished by present fidelity, and future rewards, in proportion to the difference, which Providence has already made in their favour! And may they never have reason to reflect with confusion and anguish on what is now their honour and their joy!

SECT.

586

The gospel would occasion violent contentions ;

SECT. CXV.

Christ observes the evils which would be occasioned by his coming,

yet declares his desire to complete his work, and warns the Jees of the great danger of neglecting the short remainder of their time of trial. Luke XII. 49, to the end.

SECT.
CXV.

Luke

LUKE XII. 49.

LUKE XII. 49.
OUR
UR Lord farther added in his discourse to I AM come to seed

fire on the earth; bis disciples and the multitude: After all and what will I, if it that I have said to promote humanity and cha- be already kindled! XII. 49. rity, yet it will in fact appear, that I am come to

send fire on the earth ; so opposite is my doctrine
to the prejudices and the lusts of men, and such
are the violent contentions that my gospel will
occasion, through the wickedness of those among
whom it is preached : and yet what do I wish
that the gospel might be suppressed ? nay, but I
rather say, Oh that this fire, fierce as it shall be,
were already kindled by the universal propaga-
tion of a religion, whose blessings so abundantly

counterbalance all the accidental evils which
50 can attend it! But I have indeed, in the 50 Bot hare :

mean time, a most dreadful baptism to be baptized baptism to be baptised
with, and know that I shall shortly be bathed, stratened till it be 28
as it were, in blood, and plunged in the most complished!
overwhelming distress : yet, far from drawing
back on that account, how inexpressibly am I
strætened and uneasy through the earnestness of
my desire, till, terrible as it is, it be fully com-
pleted, and the glorious birth produced, what-

ever agonies may lie in the way to it!
51

But these benefits are to be secured in a very 51 Suppose ye that different manner from what some of you, my disciples, imagine: for do you now suppose that

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* And zehat do I wish? Or that it were easy to him ; compare 2 Cor. v. 14-Mr. already kindled! ] I think Sir Norton Locke understands it of a kind of embarrasse Knatchbull has abundantly established this ment which Christ was under to know, version. Dr. Whitby (who here, as in ma- how faithfully to fulfil his ministry without ny other places, transcribes from Grotius) giving such umbrage to the Roman power secms fully to have proved that a sometimes as would have drawn persecution and death has this force. Compare Luke xix. 42, and upon him before the appointed time; (see Numb. xxii. 29; Josh. vii. 7 ; Psal. lxxxi. Mr. Locke's Reasonableness of Christianity, 13, Septuag. (Perhaps we may add Luke p. 134): but this seems to me a very xxii. 42.) See Grotius, in loc.

foreign and unnatural sense.--That, which b How am I struitened and uneasy till it I take it in, is also favoured by Luke xxii

. be completed!] The word ouyexomas scems 15, sect. 168 : but if Grotius, whose sense to import an ardour of mind, with which a I have hinted in the paraphrase, judge person is so borne on towards the object of rightly of the particular force and beauty his atfection and pursuit, that the necessary of the word cuvex

guer, it may be illustrated impediments, which lie in his way, are una by John xvi. 21, sect. clxxviii.

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Luke

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Reflections on the regard we should shew to the gospel. 589 he hale thee to the on the way ; lest he force thee before the judge, Sect. judge, and the judge and the judge, having found thee to be indeed cer, and the officer cast accountable, deliver thee to the custody of the thee into prison. serjeant, and the serjeant throw thee into prison. XII. 58.

59 I tell thee, thou It will not then be in thy power to compound 59 shalt not depart thence till thou hast paid the the matter upon gentler terms, or to get free very last mite. from thy confinement; but I tell thee that, when

he has thee at such an advantage, thou shalt not
be able to come out from thence till thou hast paid
the very last mite of the debt thou owest ".
And thus if you are regardless of the proposals
of God's mercy while the day of life and grace
is continued, nothing is to be expected from the
tribunal of his justice, but a severe sentence,
which will end in everlasting confinement and
punishment.

IMPROVEMENT.

To what a lamentable degree is human nature corrupted, that Ver. so noble a remedy as the gospel, so well adapted to the cure of a 49 malevolent and contentious disposition, should in so many instances only irritate the disease! and that a scheme so full of love and goodness, and so well suited to promote peace and harmony in those, who cordially embrace it, should be opposed with all the violence of persecution, and be the means of introducing strife and division !

How monstrous is it, that any should hate their neighbours, 51, 53 yea, and their nearest relatives, for that disinterested piety, and regard to conscience, which might recommend strangers to their esteem and affection! Yet let not those, who meet with such injurious treatment, be discouraged ; knowing they have a Father and a Saviour in heaven, whose love is ten thousand times more than all: nor let others be offended, as if Christianity had been the occasion of more evil than good; for such is the nature of eternity, that the salvation of one immortal soul will be more than an equivalent for the greatest and most lasting temporal evils, which the greatest number of persons can suffer for conscience sake.

Let this awaken our zeal to save souls, however great and ter- 50 rible the sufferings are, to which it may expose us, in proportion

· to

h The very last mite of the debt thou part of the as, or acomploy, or of the larger
owest.] The mite [astlov,) was the least farthing, mentioned Mat. x. 29. and Luke
valuable of their coins (see Mark xii. 42), xii. 6; so that the mite was but little more
containing no more than half of their least than the third part of an English farthing,
kind of farthing, or of their xodpaylns, or and a sparrow was reckoned worth four of
quadrans; which was itself but the fourth them.
VOL. VI,

4 C

CXV.

590 Reflections on the regard we should shew to the gospel. SECT. to the rage, with which the enemy is endeavouring their destruc

tion. May we be animated in it by the example of the blessed Luke Jesus, who, with a view to this, even longed for those sufferings, XII. 50. which innocent nature could not but regard as the object of strong

a version ! 54, 56

May we at all times be so wise as to discern the evidences, and to comply with the purposes, of the gospel, else our knowledge in natural things, should it extend not only to the most common, but the most curious appearances on the face of the earth or the heavens, will turn to no other account but to shame and con

demn us! 58 If we have any reason to fear that, through obstinate impeni

tence, the blessed God is still an adversary to us, let us make it our first and greatest care, that, by an humble submission of soul to him in the methods of his gospel grace, that strict scrutiny of his justice may be prevented, and that sentence of his wrath averted, which would otherwise plunge us into endless ruin and misery; for when could we pretend to have paid the last farthing of the debt of ten thousand talents, which we have been daily contracting, and which is charged to our account in the book of his remembrance.

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