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authority of God for making the promise, who will enable him to accomplish it.
Rejoice, Christians, in the prospect which lies before you: nothing can be more glorious or better founded. A never-ending existence of perpetually ever-increasing happiness is a good beyond all calculation or concep tion: it is almost too great to be believed. It might be deemed presumption in such sinful and imperfect creatures as we are, to hope for it; yet is it ensured to you by the best of all securities, the promise of God, delivered by his Son and messenger, Jesus Christ; and sooner shall all nature be torn from its foundation, and God destroy the fair creation which he has formed, than any of his words be suffered to pass away, without being fulfilled.
What is ground of joy to good men is just reason of alarm to the wicked. The threatenings of Christ are built upon the same foundation as his promises, and the one are as infallible as the other. The day of final judgment will come, as well as the day of the destruction of Jerusalem, when wicked men shall be separated from the righteous, and go to a place of punishment. Let sinners hear this and tremble.
2. Let us apply to ourselves the exhortation to watchfulness which our Lord gives his disciples, respecting his coming for the destruction of Jerusalem. In many respects, our situation, in regard to a future judgment, resembles theirs, in respect to that event. We know not, any more than they, when our Lord will come, and we are liable to be deceived by the appearances of security, as well as they. The time of our removal out of life is uncertain; we see those around us indulging themselves in pleasure, and entering upon connections and pursuits, as if life were sure to last long, and death were at a distance; and we are inclined to follow their example; but neither our own security nor that of other men will delay the approach of death or of a future judgment. When we flatter ourselves that it is at a distance, it may be most near. That day, whenever it comes, will make a distinction between men, which is now little expected: it will se
parate those who are placed in the same situations in life, who exactly resemble each other in every respect, except their moral character. The one shall be taken to happiness, while the other is left for punishment. Let us take care that we be not classed with the latter, and for this purpose, always endeavour to be ready for our judge, whenever he shall come.
Matthew xxiv. 45. to the end. Matt. xxv. 1----13.
But know this, that if the good man of the house, "the master of the family," had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up, "to be broken into."
44. Therefore be ye also ready for in such an hour as you think not the son of man cometh.
Our Lord is here illustrating the propriety of watchfulness, in regard to his coming for the destruction of Jerusalem, from the rules of prudence which men prescribe to themselves in common life: for as a man who expects robbers at a particular hour would take care to be prepared for them at that time; but if he knew not the hour of their coming, would watch for them all night; so ought their conduct to be. As they knew not the time of Christ's coming, and he might appear unexpectedly, they ought to take care to be always ready. By being ready, mentioned in the last verse which I have read, and by watching, in a preceding, Christ seems to intend the sincere belief and practice of Christianity: for men of this class only would look for
his appearing, and perceive the signs of his approach, as laid down by himself, and such only would be entitled to expect the deliverance which was promised to Christians, while the Jews were destroyed. By this language, therefore, he may be considered as exhorting his followers to live in the constant belief and practice of his religion, as their only means of security from approaching danger.
In the following verses our Lord represents the advantages of watchfulness and the danger of negligence, by the treatment a servant meets with from his master upon his return, who has been entrusted with the care of the family during his absence.
45. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his houshold, "over his servants," to give them meat in due season?
46. Happy is that servant whom his. Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing.
What do ye suppose would be the conduct of a wise and faithful steward to whom has been committed the charge of providing for the servants of a large family? If he be faithful to his master, or prudent in regard to himself, he will be constant in the discharge of his duty at all times, and persevere in it, till his Lord returns: for hereby he will not only enjoy the satisfaction arising from a consciousness of having done what was right; but likewise have the advantage of those great rewards which his master will be disposed to bestow upon him.
47. Verily I say unto you, that he shall, "will," make him ruler over all his goods.
Before he entrusted him with the care of his houshold affairs; but for his unremitting fidelity in that office, he will advance him to a much higher, and commit
to him the management of all his substance. In like manner, if you believe my gospel now, practise the duties which I have enjoined upon you, and persevere in doing both, till the period of the destruction of Jerusalem, when I shall virtually, although not personally, return. You will enjoy distinguished marks of my favour, being preserved alive, while the unbelieving Jews and insincere Christians will be overwhelmed with calamity.
48. But and if that evil servant, or, "he who is an evil servant," shall say in his heart, My Lord, "my master," delayeth his coming,
49. And shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat, and drink with the drunken;
50. The master of that servant shall come, in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
51. And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.
The words here translated, "cut him asunder," may mean either cut him in two, as is said to be the practice in the east, to the present day, in regard to criminals; or, cut him off, i. e. separate him from the other servants, by sending him to prison or to some other place of punishment. Hypocrites mean hypocritical servants, who appear honest and industrious, under the eye of their master, but are idle and unfaithful, as soon as his back is turned. These are a species of hypocrites. Instead of hypocrites, Luke has unbelievers*, or, as the word
* Luke xii. 46.
might be better rendered, the unfaithful, a name which is very well suited to the character of a man who had so grossly betrayed his trust.
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
There he shall experience the greatest anguish, such as is usually expressed by the signs here mentioned. In these verses our Lord describes the ill behaviour and punishment of the wicked steward, who, imagining that his master, who had left him at home with the care of his servants, would never 1eturn, began to behave in a riotous and tyrannical manner, wasting the provisions committed to his care in gluttony and drunkenness, and beating his fellow-servants; but his master, coming home, when he least expected his return, degrades him from his office, and inflicts upon him the severest punishment, such as is usually inflicted upon those servants who are no longer faithful and sober than while they are under their master's eye.
By this parable our Lord would represent to his disciples what they had to expect, if, professing the Christian religion, and performing the duties of it during his presence with them, they should afterwards, during his absence, abandon themselves to the indulgence of their passions, and throw off all restraint, upon a presumption that he would never return, to inflict those punishments on the Jews which he had threatened. They would be punished like a wicked steward, i. e. be involved in the same calamities with the unbelieving Jews.
Matthew xxv. 1----13.
1. Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened, rather, "be like," unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
The word, then, with which this parable begins, shows that our Lord is still speaking upon the same sub