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the rule by which a servant is to guide himself must correspond with this principle.
Saint Paul delivers his rule in these words: “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, in singleness of heart, as unto Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with good will doing service.” Now the first quality that we find required here is, singleness of heart as unto Christ—that is, not only sincerity of heart, but the same sincerity as if they were immediately serving the Lord Christ.
This excludes all pretences, all contrivances and machinations, all affectation and 'appearance of service, which is not true and real at the bottom. The second thing laid down in the text, in the duty of a servant, is, that he do his duty, “not with eye-service as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ.” Eye-service is the service of him who works only under the eye of his master-only while he is seen and observed by him ; who is good according as he is watched, diligent so long as he is well looked after. This sort of service is condemned in the text ; and for a very plain reason : if pleasing man, if pleasing his master, was the whole and sole object of a servant's view, this might do; but it can never do with God: it can never, therefore, satisfy him who looks to God and not to man for the final recompense of his labours; it can never be his part who conducts himself, not as a man-pleaser, but according to Saint Paul's direction, as the servant of Christ; it can never be his part who considers himself, whilst he is working for his master, as doing that business, that task of life, which God Almighty has appointed him, and looks, as Saint Paul speaks, to receive of the Lord for his service. Such a one knows, that whether his earthly master be absent or present, be negligent or careful, be skilful or ignorant, be difficult to impose upon or easy to impose upon, He who is to be the ultimate rewarder of him can never be deceived-is watching him when no one else is seeth in secretrewards that fidelity and that diligence which is not to be corrupted by opportunity of negligence or dishonesty, or which forgets itself when out of sight.
Having thus stated what I take to be the mind and meaning of the Apostle, as to the duty and condition of servants, I will add, as a concluding consideration, some of the various intimations given us in Scripture how greatly our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ esteemed the character of a good servant. And this appears
from hence, that when he would set forth the merit and acceptance of a virtuous disciple, he generally does it by comparing his with that of a good servant : “ Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made a ruler over his household, to give them their meat in due season : blessed is that servant, whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing. I say unto you he will make him ruler over all his house."
Here you see the reception which a true Christian VOL. I.
may expect from God, as compared with that which a faithful servant shall meet with from his master.
“ The kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his servants and delivered unto them his goods; and unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one. After a long time the lord of these servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And he that had received five talents came in and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents, behold I have gained besides them five talents more; and the lord said unto him, Thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things : enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”—We know that this is but a parable or similitude, and that in truth Christ is representing how God will applaud and recompense those who have improved and best used the abilities and opportunities put into their power ; but what I argue is this, that Christ conveys this representation under the comparison of a just, orderly, and faithful servant; and that he would never have used this comparison, if the character of such a servant had not been what he approved, and what those who heard him were presumed to approve also. It may be observed also, what were the circumstances of this servant whom our Saviour here describes. They were circumstances, in the first place, of great trust. The master had delivered to the servant certain goods;
the behaviour of the servant was the more praiseworthy, the trial of his fidelity the greater, inasmuch as he had exerted himself so diligently and so successfully when his master was absent, “afar off on a journey;" and absent for a long time: this increases the virtue and merit of such conduct, and is mentioned by our Lord because it did increase it.
These parables admit of two applications : a good Christian sees his duty and his reward described by the fidelity and recompense of a good servant. A good servant sees how highly that character is prized and valued by Christ, when he finds that Christ makes choice of it as the type and similitude by which he delineates the qualities and virtues which he wishes to find in his disciples, and how those virtues will be accepted at the coming of their heavenly Master