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master; the house was munificently supplied, and the service required was honourable, just, and easy; goodness and liberality were conspicuous in this first arrangement. Still, however, there were rules to be observed in the family, and previous intimation was given, that a violation of these would be punished. These rules were, alas! violated, and punishment followed; by which it was manifested, that the Lord was true to his word. When he threatened, calmness and truth were essentially in what he said; and none could trifle or disobey with impunity. But again, the Lord admitted of a respite, and a mediatorial interference, by which his mercy is shewn. Power, goodness, justice, truth, and mercy, then, are manifestly characteristics of the great Lord. Alas! that the hearts of wicked servants should so often, it is to be feared, conceive of him as weak, unkind, unjust, untrue, and cruel.
The human family is but a small part of the great Lord's vast domain; but still he exercises constant regard to it, and superintendence over it. He has, in every age, manifested himself to chosen servants, and communicated messages of mercy, and of judgment, by patriarchs and by prophets; and in every land, has often rewarded the humble who sought to know and do his will; and has punished the wicked and rebellious, and those who maltreated their fellow servants. In the fulness of time, He himself appeared, and perfected the great mediatorial work. Since which time he is strikingly likened to "a man taking a far journey," who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye, therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock crowing, or in the morning; lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you, adds the Saviour himself, I say unto all-Watch," (St. Mark xiii. 34.) Observe, the command to watch is universal; whether rich or poor, or young or old, all are enjoined to watch; for although absent, his return is certain; but when, is uncertain; therefore watch. We have before proved, from
the records of the family, that all his words are spoken in truth and righteousness; faithful is he when he promises, It is possible, should he permit, that heaven and earth may pass away; but his word shall never fail. In Providence he comes to call nations and churches to an account for their privileges. He comes also to judge the rulers of the family, emperors, and kings, and great captains; and judges, and magistrates, and ecclesiastical dignitaries; bishops and priests, pastors and deacons, and parents and teachers; as well as the great multitude of human beings who belong to the household. But the time of his occasional coming, as well as of his final coming, is uncertain; therefore, it is the duty and interest of all to watch, This brings me to the
Second leading idea proposed, viz. man's obligation to watchfulness. The original word, employed by the Sacred Penman for watching, denotes keeping awake, in contradistinction from sleeping; to be awake to what is about one, or concerns one, like a person alive, in opposition to the inactive state of death; and it denotes a being vigilant, heedful, attentive not to omit any duty, or commit any error; and a being on the look out to prevent the approach of any evil or calamity. The Lord, who has gone on a long journey, has left to every man his work; let every man, therefore, be careful and attentive to do it. The Lord hath forewarned the evil servant, who shall say in his heart, "My Lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken." That the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of; and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites, in a place where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, arising from the terrible agony and hopeless condition of a lost spirit.
We are not called to preach to the great ones of the earth, kings and conquerors, and statesmen and judges; not yet to popes and cardinals, and archimandrites or archbishops; otherwise we could read them a lecture on the awful responsibility which rests upon their souls; and
the terrible account which some of them must give for the abuse of power, and the neglect of duty, when the great Lord of the human family shall suddenly appear. We shall not, therefore, dwell on what is peculiar to those in high stations, lest, by so doing, we should omit what is more generally applicable and useful to ourselves.
I would say then to all, watch against neglecting proper means to know the Lord's will. Some persons are satisfied with being ignorant of religion; and some even prefer ignorance to knowledge, hoping that ignorance will be an excuse for the omission of duty. And our Lord's saying may seem to justify this presumption, when he remarked, that those who disobeyed, notwithstanding their knowledge, should be beaten with many stripes; whereas, those who disobeyed, being ignorant of their Lord's will, should be beaten with few stripes. But this remark can apply only to unavoidable ignorance, not to wilful ignorance. For wilful ignorance is wilful disobedience: acquaint thyself with God and be at peace. Search the Scriptures, for they testify of Christ, the Saviour. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; get wisdom, get understanding; wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom. Neglect not the means of understanding your relation to God as a creature and as a sinner; and the heaven-revealed way of obtaining, through faith in the Saviour, the pardon of sin. Many, alas! are satisfied with the self-righteous notions which are common to human nature in all countries, instead of searching the Scriptures, and receiving the divine instruction contained therein, concerning the mediatorial arrangement, made by the great Lord himself, planned so as to maintain his own honour, and to secure the pardon of the penitent.
I would earnestly exhort the young to watch against the imbibing of false opinions concerning the situation in which they stand as creatures; supposing, as too many do, that they are not responsible; as if he who placed them in his household was not their rightful Lord; or, perhaps, deeming his dominion unjust, his superintendance vague and lax, or his coming uncertain; saying, in the rebellion
Alas how mean does it appear in the disciples and servants of the Saviour to say, when His cause, the propagation of the blessed Gospel for the salvation of immortal souls, requires their absence from home, I cannot quit my houses or my lands, or my father or mother, or my brother or my sister, or my wife or my children. Does not such conduct shew more love to these than love to Christ? Our Society does not now require everlasting separation from kindred; and therefore, those who may and should, but will not go, are left without excuse.`
I shall now close with one idea, on which I feel still more confident, viz. that it is the duty of every disciple of Jesus to subordinate his personal and his domestic affairs to the cause of God his Saviour; for as the knowledge of Christ is of supreme value and importance to himself, so the communication of that knowledge to the whole of mankind is an object, which with him ought to rank higher than any other. We are convinced this will really be the case with him who, in the language of our text, counts all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.
But, my Brethren, can we say that in this Christian land, this supreme regard to Christian knowledge is the prevailing feeling of the disciples, even those of them who are accounted most sincere. We fear not. Oh, how active and zealous and laborious are we for the purposes of individual and family aggrandizement! How much trust in our own exertions; how little faith in the Divine promises! Laying up treasures on earth, providing a competence for old age, accumulating fortunes for our children-for these things the different classes of men in our nation, the literary, the mercantile, the civilians, the clergy, are all anxiously labouring. I decry not industry, but I do decry the making of these things] our supreme object: I do decry placing these things higher in our estimation, and nearer to our hearts, than the things which concern Messiah's reign, and a world's salvation. The precept which commands us to seek first the kingdom of God, and promises that all other necessary things shall be added to us, is applicable here as well as in our individual case. There is a
On the one hand has arisen the selfish diabolical thought, that "man is not his brother's keeper," as wicked Cain so long ago asserted; and on the other, there may have existed such a degree of self-indulgence, as either unfitted for the Lord's work, or made you careless about executing it. According to the allegorical representation of our Lord, there was, in one case, a neglect of those talents committed to the care of the parties; and there was, in another case, a mal-treatment and tyrannical ill-usage of fellow servants; some considering the Lord as a hard master, and others imagining a long protracted absence would secure impunity; but in all the different cases, there was either disaffection, unfaithfulness, or unbelief. Hast thou but one talent, my brother, and does disaffection to the Lord, and a spirit of pride, prevent thy employing it? Hast thou authority or influence, arising either from station or circumstances, and dost thou abuse these gifts, and render them noxious instead of beneficial, to the church and the world? There is a striking resemblance between the facts of the great subject which we are now discussing, and the common-place case of a domestic servant. An affectionate, faithful, willing servant, will never want an opportunity of exercising his capabilities, whether great or small, in behalf of his Lord; whereas a disaffected, unfaithful, unwilling servant, finds perpetual excuses for being ille, and doing nothing.
These remarks, my brethren, are certainly applicable to all the members of the great household, but they are more especially pointed to those whose duty it is to feed the household; the stewards of the divine mysteries--the officebearers in the church-those who, instead of being instant in season, and out of season, to exhort and console, to teach, to instruct, and to preach the things concerning their Lord's kingdom, are either sleeping, or feasting, or tyrannising over their fellow servants. For such unfaithful stewards, such wicked servants, there is an especial woe prepared. The hypocrite's portion is theirs, weeping and gnashing of teeth, in the state of future and endless despair.
It appears to me, that the warning, and the command