« ForrigeFortsæt »
bim to life everlasting ? Take then the comfort and encouragement thus provided, thus intended for you. - Believe in Cbrist to life everlasting.” Flee to him for deliverance from the wrath to come. Rely on his promises of forgiveness. Plead nothing but his merits in your favour. Put your soul into his hands; and doubt not but that you shall find his mercy greater than your largest wishes.
But before I conclude this subject;. Det me endeavour to guard it from abuse. There is a sad propensity in man to wrest the Scriptures to bis own destiuction, and to turn the sweet and wholesome food, which they provide, into the most deadly poison. Some of you may be tempted to make the pattern set before us in the text, an occasion of greater sin. You may perversely argue, that because the Lord was long-suffering to Paul, while he continued in his sins, be will therefore be long-suffering to you, while you continue in your sins. •Paul,' you may say, 'obtained mercy, and so shall we. As
he long remained a sinner, and found forgiveness; so "we, though we long remain sinners, shall find forgive
ness too.' But beware, my brethren, how you indulge such an impious, such a dangerous thought.Paul indeed obtained mercy, but he did not sin on the presumptuous hope that he should obtain it. In this respect your case and his would be utterly unlike. His sins were totally without excuse ; but yet, in the very act of committing them, he had a zeal, bowever mistaken, for God; and verily thought with himself that he ought to do many things “ contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth,” Can you say this of yourselves ?..
While you are wilfully continuing in the commission of
which St. Paul obtained, gives no encouragement to a continuance in sin. Far otherwise : it calls you to repentance. The long-suftering of God should lead you to repentance. The thought that God has borne so long with your offensive provocations; that he has held his hand, while you have dared him to huri destruction on your head ; that he has daily nourished, protected, blessed you, while you have daily abused his gifts and despised bis mercies : that, notwithstanding your past rebellions, He is still. ready to pardon all your sins, and to take you into favour. This thought should break the heart of stone, and cause the: waters of godly. sorrow to flow down. God grant that it may be so ! That each of you smiting on your breastý may say, “ God be. merciful to me a. ginner
THE CHILDREN OF THIS WORLD WISER THAN
THE CHILDREN OF LIGHT.
LUKE, XVI. 8.
For the children of this world are in their generation,
wiser than the children of light. THESE words were spoken by our Lord Jesus
Christ, on the following occasion : He had been telling those who were present, of a certain steward, who for negligence and dishonesty had incurred his master's dis.. pleasure, and:was about to be put out of his stewardship. The man had no sooner heard that be was to lose his place, than he began to think with himself how he should escape the distress and want to which this calamity would expose him. He was tou proud to beg, and eilber unable.or unwilling to work. At last he resolved on the following expedient; by which he hoped to secure to himself a livelihood, when his present means of support should fail. He called his master's debtors to him, and made-such an alteration in their several accounts, as would give the appearance of their ow:ing far less than was the real amount of their debts. By this artful project, bis master; indeed, would be greatly defrauded ; but his own interest would be effectually served ; for the debtors, being thus favoured by him, would not only be disposed to favour and assist VOL. II.
biin in return, but also, being made partners in his dishonesty, they would afterwards, from fear of detection, be unable to resist any demands which lie might make upon them. Such was bis dishonest, but politic design. It was not, however, so well concealed, but that it Teached his master's ears ; who, when he heard of it, "commended the unjust steward because he had done wisely." He doubtless strongly disapproved, and severely condemned the iniquity of the proceeding; but at the same time, he could not but express an admiration of its wisdom and policy. And this was the occasion which gave rise to the observation in the text. The sagacity and cleverness of this unprincipled man, in providing against the evils which tbreatened him, called forth from our Lord this pointed remark, that - the Children of this world are in their generation wiser than the Children of light.” In discoursing on these words, i shall endeavour,
1. To slew more distinctly the Meaning of the Remark contained in them.
11. To point out in some particular instances its. Truth and Propriety.
1. In endeavouring to shew more distinctly the Meaning of the Remark in the text, I would first direct your notice to the persons, whom our Lord here inentions and compares together; "The Children of this world, and the Children of light." The expression bere used, is one very cominon in Scripture. We read of the * Children of disobedience," "s ihe Children of wrath," ibe Children of wisdom.” Nor is there
difficulty in understanding these phrases. By the Children of
disobedience,” are clearly meant the disobedient ; tliose who are living in disobedience to God's command, ments. The “ Children of wrath,” are such, that by sin, have incurred the wrath of God. " The Children of wisdom," are those who value and seek after true wisdom. In like manner then, by " the Children of this world,” we are to understand worldly persons; those who make this world their God; who are devoted to the cares, the pleasures, or the pursuits of the present life; who mind earthly things, have their treasure here, and desire no better portion than this world can yield: whie,
on the other hand, by “ the Children of light," are meant religious persons; those who having been “sametine in darkness, are now light in the Lord :" whose understandings have been enlightened to see the truth as it is in Jesus, who no longer walking after the course of this wopld, profess to be seeking a better country, that is, a beavenly one. the persons of wbom our Lord. here speaks, and concerning whom he remarks, that "the Children of this world. are in their generation wiser than the Children of light.” Now it is clear, that this Remark cannot be understood in a full and an unqualified sense. Our Lord can never be supposed. absoluiely to say that worldly irreligious persons are wiser than religious people: for to say this would be to contradict the whole tenour of his own discourses, and the universal testimony of Scripture. In the Word of God, Religion is constantly represented as Wisdom, and Irreligion as folly. It can therefore be only in respect to some particular point, and not in a general view, that our Lord makes