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principle many systematically refrain from even intending to partake of their Redeemer's body and blood at his own sacred table ; and all these things people do on religious grounds, so they flatter themselves. But if they could be prevailed on to examine more closely and candidly into the motives which really influence them, they would find them to be near of kin to those which led the unprofitable servant in the parable to profess so boldly to his Lord, “I was afraid, and went and hid my talent in the earth." Far from that true “reverence and godly fear,” with which alone, as the apostle to the Hebrews intimates, we Christians can serve our God acceptably.”
It is also very observable here as in innumerable other places of the New Testament, how emphatically we are warned, that whatever blessings or advantages we possess are not our own, but our heavenly Master's intrusted and deposited with us now, and strictly to be accounted for in the end.
Of this the servant in the parable was fully aware ; for (says he “I was afraid, and went and hid (not my talent, but) thy talent in the earth.”
Applying this to our own case, we shall perceive that it is a very false and unholy fear indeed, which, in any case, keeps us back from employing the precious gifts of God to the honor and glory of him who bestows them.
Our whole time, the years, months, weeks, and days allotted to us in this transitory life; this our time, I say, is not in any sense our own, what we have a right to employ simply as we please. It is God's time intrusted to us, and we may not dare under the notion or plea, that it is not worth his acceptance or beneath his regard—we may not, I say, deliberately venture to waste or misspend it. It is one of our Lord and Master's most precious talents given in charge to us, and if through false fear we hide it in the earth, we can exa pect at last no other than the heavy doom of the unprofitable servant.
So, again, the blessing of a Christian education, in greater or less degrees, is a talent of great value, com.
mitted to us by our heavenly Father; that is, it is of great value to us, if we turn it to its proper use ; but if we apply our knowledge to evil purposes, or employ it not in any way to God's glory, under a notion of its inferior importance, we shall find, in the end, that we have dishonored God in one of his best gifts, and must look to be requited accordingly.
And, indeed, whatever blessing we enjoy either of nature (as it is called) or of grace, the only true way of considering them all
, is as of talents divinely intrusted to us, and for which we must give account in the day of judgment.”
This thought should make us all, whatever our station in life may be—I say, it should make even the poorest people, as well as those in middling and high stations, very serious and earnest in their religion, that is in their whole conduct. For there is no one who will not have many talents to account for; no one, too, who will not need the mercy of his Savior and Judge for his sad misapplication of them.
However, as we must not venture to stand idle in our Christian course, but must still he endeavoring to do somewhat in God's cause, however poorly and imper. fectly; it must be well for us to keep a constant guard against the two evil dispositions before referred to, which, if cherished, will, above all others, tend to make us, in this probationary world, “unprofitable servants" of our heavenly Lord, and, hereafter, outcasts from his everlasting favor and love. I need scarcely name these two dispositions, as all persons who have exerted themselves at all earnestly in pursuing the narrow way which alone leadeth unto life, will acknowledge, that the tenptations to indolence and pride, above all other the snares of our spiritual enemies, are powerful to draw us off from following our one only God with pure hearts and minds.
We must not then, through sloth, and a mean unwillingness to exert ourselves in God's cause, when fit occasion offers, and such occasions are for ever sug, gesting themselves to the sincere Christian--we must not, I say, shrink from the trouble, and go and hide our talent in the earth, be that talent in the world's opinion or our own of ever so small value.
For instance, the holy Lord's day, though by all faithful members of Christ's church, it must be made a day of rest, yet should it never be made a day of idleness. Most persons of every station of life of necessity have their thoughts and time in a good degree occupied by worldly matters through the week, and some much more than is necessary.
However on Sunday even the world will give them leave to turn their minds to higher and substantial things, to meditation on the work and will of our God and Savior; for instance, parents have a noble opportunity of instructing themselves, while they endeavor to instruct their children, and ought not to think that every thing is to be done at schools.
The Sundays of men's life are not so many as that we may afford to waste any of them. The Christian sabbath is rest, not idleness. And if we act on any notion different from this under a pretence of keeping it more strictly, we are like him who said so boldly, “I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth.”
Nor again if we are at all in earnest in our Christian profession may we venture, through any feelings of low unworthy pride or vanity, to stand back from doing what we can, be it ever so small, and (in the eye of the world) contemptible, in the cause of him who has done so much for us.
True Christian humility and self-denial would rather lead us to be employed about matters which will bring us no worldly credit, than such as we are most sure of accomplishing successfully, supposing, of course, that they both come into our line of duty. Present success is no evidence of God's favor.
Nothing then remains, but that beseeching God's Holy Spirit, that he would in all things direct and rule our hearts, would guide and support us all along our difficult path, we henceforth be so diligent as not to be self-confident, so humble as not to be indolent and slothful.
Then will that gracious Savior, who died to purchase a pardon for penitent sinners, save us from the misera. ble doom of the unprofitable servant, and in his infinite compassion, accept us as not unworthy even of "the great name wherewith we are called,"
So will those things please him, which we do at this present. The rest of our life, hereafter will be pure and holy; and at the last we shall come to his eternal joy.
THE SINNER'S WISH IN THE WORLD OF SPIRITS.
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
ST. LUKE xvi. 27, 28. e. Then he said :"I pray thee, therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my
faiher's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment."
As there are many important truths which seem to be offered to the contemplation of thoughtful minds in this remarkable part of sacred Scripture, so the one which I now desire to turn your attention to, is of a very touching nature.
For it appears to be no less than the truth, that the spirits of those who have departed this life, and who are waiting each in their state of hope or dread the final irreversible sentence of the last day—I say that these spirits of our friends, neighbors, and relations, who have gone before us through the valley of the shadow of death, have, in some mysterious way, the
power of knowing how those whom they have left behind them are going on—at all events the power to feel an anxiety for their spiritual good, a fear lest by their life and practice they should forfeit God's everlasting favor.
For you will observe that this account of the rich man and Lazarus, which is not related by three of the Evangelists, but only by St. Luke--this is not called a parable, and therefore may for anything that appears to the contrary, be a real history--the history, that is, of some particular individuals who lived in Judea, and were lately dead when our Lord thus described them.
“ There was,” he said, “a certain rich man who was