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• himself saying, What shall I do? for I have not room to store up. 18 my crop. And after some pause he said, I will do this : I will pull

down my barns and build larger; and then I will gather in all my 19 increase. And I will say to my soul, Thou hast now, r my soul,

abundance of goods laid up for many years : repose thyself; eat, 20 drink, and be merry. But God said to him, Thou fool, this night

thy soul shall be demanded of thee : and then who shall possess 21 what thou hast provided ? So is he that heaps up treasure to him

self, and is not rich with respect to God, in acts of charity and pia ety.

· REFLECTIONS. Most prudently did our Lord decline the invidious office of an arbitrator in civil affairs; and wisdom will require his ministers geneally to avoid it likewise. It is more suitable to our office, like our blessed Master, to endeavour to draw off and disengage the minds of men from covetousness, and to pluck up the root of those eager contentions which so often divide even the nearest relations, and inspire them with mutual aversions, more invincible than the bars of a castle.

And that a covetous desire of the enjoyments of the world may not create contentions, and engage us in pursuits that will be fatal to our souls, let us seriously consider the true value of things, and reflect how little riches can do to make us happy if we obtain them; and how very uncertain that life is on the continuance of which our possession of them does so evidently depend. But, alas, how many are there, who are now as deeply engaged in their worldly schemes as this rich fool in the parable, to whom God will, in a few weeks, or days, if not this very night, say, by the awful voice of his irresistible providence, Thy soul is required of thee ! And then what will all these treasures do to purchase life, or to allay the agonies of death? So far will they be found from being capable of this, that they will rather serve to increase and embitter the surprise and anguish of those agonies. Let it then be our labour and care that we may be rich towards God; rich in works of piety and charity. So shall we safely consign over our treasure to the bank of heaven, and shall be enriched by it when we leave the world as naked as we entered upon it, and lose all but what has been so wisely and happily spent.

SECTION CXIII.

Christ repeats his former cautions and arguments against an anxious

and covetous temper. LUKE xii. 22-34.

22 A ND he said to his disciples, For this cause, the great uncer.

M tainty of riches, I say unto you, be not anxious about your

life, what you shall eat; nor for the body, what you shall put on. 23 The life itself is more important than meat, and the body than 24 raiment. Consider the ravens ; for they neither sow nor reap, and

have neither store-house nor barn ; yet God feedeth them: how 25 much more are you better than the birds ? And which of you, by

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26 taking thought, can add a single cubit to his age, or stature? If

then you cannot do the least matter, why are you anxious about 27 the rest ? Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither labour

nor spin ; yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his magnifi. 28 cence was not arrayed as one of these. And if God so clothe the

grass of the field which is flourishing to day, and to-morrow is

thrown into the furnace, how much more will he clothe you, o 29 ye of little faith! Do not you then solicitously seek what ye shall

eat, or what ye shall drink ; nor be agitated with restless thoughts. 30 For the nations of the world, the heathen, seek after all these · things ; but your heavenly Father who knows that you have need 31 of these things, will provide them for you in a proper degree. But

seek.ye rather the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be 32 added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's gracious 33 pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have, when · Providence shall call you to it, and distribute it in charity ; and 80

you may provide for yourselves purses which do not grow old ; a

never-failing treasure in heaven ; where no thief approaches, nor 34 doth the moth spoil the robes of glory ; because where your treas

ure is, there will your heart be also.

REFLECTIONS. Are we not all conscious to ourselves that on such topics as these we need line upon line, and precept upon precept, as being too deficient in our regard, though God speak once, yea twice? We see our heavenly Father crowning the earth with his goodness : to this day does he clothe the grass and the flowers with the same profusion of ornament ; to this day does he feed the young ravens when they cry, nor is the meanest species of insects perished. Still does he know our necessitie8 ; and still he addresses us in the same gracious language, and avows the same endearing paternal relation. The experience of his power, goodness, and fidelity, is increasing with every succeeding generation, with every revolving day. The life that he has given is supported by his care ; and the same hand that formed the body nourishes and clothes it. Let us then cast all our càre on him, as being persuaded that he careth for us ; Feeble as his little flock is, it is the Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom ; and we are unworthy our share in so glorious a hope, if we cannot trust him for inferior blessings, and refer it to him to judge in what manner our present wants are to be supplied. · Let the heathens abandon themselves to these low anxieties; but as for us, let us thank God, and take courage, opening our hearts wide to every sentiment of faith in God, and charity to men ; and, while we have this inexhaustible bank to draw upon, let us be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, so laying up in store for ourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that we may lay hold on eternal life ; the very hope and expectation of which, if our heart be set upon it, will give us incomparably sweeter delight than the securest possessions of this empty world, and the most ample magazines of its richest stores.

SECTION CXIV.

Christ exhorts his disciples to watchfulness and fidelity, in expectation

of his coming, and of the final account. LUKE xii. 35-48.

35 I ET your loins be girded up* and your lamps be burning. And 36 L be you like men who wait for their Lord's return from a

marriage-feast, that when he comes and knocks at the door they 37 may immediately open it to him. Happy are those servants whom,

when their Lord comes, he shall find watching for him : verily I

say unto you that he will gird himself, and cause them to sit down 38 to supper, and come forth and wait upon them. And whether he

shall come early in the second watch, or come late in the third watch of the nightf, and find them thus employed, happy are those

servants.-The day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night. 39 And you know this, that if the keeper of the house I had been

aware at what hour the thief would have come, he would have

watched, and would not have permitted his house to be broke 40 open. Be you therefore also ready ; for at such a season as you

think not, the Son of man cometh. 41 Peter then said unto him, Lord dost thou speak this parable to 42 us, or also unto all ? And the Lord said, (to lead them to apply it

to themselves) Who is that faithful and prudent steward, whom his Lord shall set over the servants of his family, to deal out the stated allowance of food in its proper season ? As the guilt of such

an one will be greater than that of a common servant if he prove 43 negligent ; peculiarly happy is that servant in so eminent a station, 44 whom his Lord, at his arrival, shall find thus employed. Truly

I say to you, that he will appoint him to take the care of all that 45 he hath.But, if that servant should say in his heart, My Lord

delays his coming, and shall begin to beat the men and maid-ser46 vants, and to eat and drink and to be drunken r, the Lord of that

servant will come in a day when he does not expect him, and in

an hour which he is not aware of, and will scourge him so as to cut 47. him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the infidels. And

that servant who knew his Lord's will, by a particular declaration

of it, and did not keep himself ready, nor do according to his 48 will, shall be beaten with many stripesll. But he who did not

know, and yet committed things which deserved stripes, shall be beaten with fewer strokes. For much shall be required from every one to whom much is given ; and where much is deposited, the more will be demanded. But wilful ignorance will not excuse any.

* As the Easterns wore long garments, it was necessary in business which required agility, to gird them up close.

+ This included all the time from nine o'clock to three.
# “House-keeper" is commonly applied to an upper female serrant,

Scourging was a usual punishment for negligent servants,

· REFLECTIONS. May our souls be awakened by these awful truths ! and may we be engaged 10 gird up the loins of our mind, to be sober, and watch to the end ! Great are our encouragements to diligence, on the one hand ; and, on the other, dreadful will be the punishment of our neglect. The time of our Lord's appearance is uncertain ; let us therefore always be ready ; solicitous that when he comes he may find us so doing, as he has required ; living not to ourselves, but to him, and employing ourselves about that particular thing, whatsoever it may be, which, all circumstances considered, we are verily persuaded say most promote the great ends of life, and the important purposes of his glory.--How glorious are the rewards promised to such ! How justly may they awaken our emulation ! He will prefer them to stations of more honourable and important service. He will set them down 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 !

On the other hand, let us seriously consider the punishments to 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 censure their brethren, and either call, or wish, for the secular arm to smite their fellow-servants, perhaps more faithful than themselves; let such hear and tremble. Their Lord may come in a very unexpected 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 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!

SECTION CXV.

Christ observes the evils occasioned by his coming, and declares his desire

to complete his work notwithstanding, and warns the Jews of the great danger of neglecting the short time of their trial. LUKE xii. 49,

&c.

UR Lord further added, I am come to send fire on the V earth, such are the violent contentions that my gospel will occasion. And yet what do I wish ? Oh that it were already kindled !

since the blessing: 80 far counterbalance the evils of my religion. 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with being shortly to be bathed 51 in blood : yet how am I straitened* till it he accomplished ! Do

you suppose that I am come to give peace on the earth ? Nay, but 52 I say unto you, rather division. For such contentious heats will at

tend the publication of the gospel, that ere long five in one family 53 shall be divided ; three against two, and two against three : the

father, for instance, shall differ with the son, and the son with the father: the mother with the daughter, and the daughter with the mother: the mother-in-law with her son's wife, and the daughter

in-law with her husband's mothert. 54 And he said also to the people, who overlooked so many proofs of

the Messiah's appearance among them, When you see a cloud aris

ing out of the West, you presently say, A heavy shower is coming; 55 and it is so. And when you find the South wind blowing, you say, 56 There will be sultry heat ; and so it comes to pass. Ye hypo-.

crites, you know how to distinguish the face of the earth and of 57 the heavens, but how is it that you do not discern this time? Yea

why is it you do not even of yourselves judge what is right? 58 When you go to the magistrate with your adversary, use your en

deavour to make up the affair with him, while you are on the way, lest he force thee before the judge, and the judge, having found thee to

be accountable, deliver thee' to the serieant, and the serjeant throw 59 thee into prison. I tell thee, thou shalt not come out from thence .

till thou hast paid the very last mite of the debt. 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 sentence which will end in everlasting punishment."

REFLECTIONS. To what a lamentable degree is human nature corrupted, that so noble a remedy as the gospel, so well adapted to the cure of a maleve olent 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 cor

* The word cuvexopers seems to import an ardour of mind with which a person is so borne on towards an object that the impediments which lie in his way are uneasy to him. See 2 Cor. v. 14.

See on Matt. x. 34, 35. $76.

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