Imatges de pÓgina
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once to die

and if we die under the charge and guilt of having wafted our Lord's goods, and have not answered the end of our stewardship, there is no returning to rectify any thing wherein we have failed.

O how awful a thing is it to die, we being to do this but once: upon which our state of trial ends, and a fixed unchangeable state of happiness or misery begins. When death comes, our negligences and mifmanagement are fatal. When told we are to be ftewards no longer, could all the world be offered for a little refpite, to put our accounts in better order, it is not to be obtained: We must be gone and come back no more. When once dead, we are to be always fo, as to the prefent world and state.

He that dies in fin, finks ftraitway into hell, from whence there is no redemption. Death tranfmits every one to judgment, where he is fixed for happiness or mifery, without poffibility of change.

This leads to the

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IIId Thing obferved, namely, That upon our ceafing to be ftewards, an account of our stewardship will be required: Give an account of thy Stewardship: for thou mayst be no longer Steward.

Here it is natural to enquire,

1. Who must give an account?
2. To whom he must give it?
3. For what?

4. When?

5. What is carried in this?

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1. Who

1. Who must give an account? I answer, every one that lives and is here a fteward. All that have goods entrusted with them, are to be brought to a reckoning, Rom. xiv. 12. So then every one of us fhall give account of himself to God.

2. To whom? And this is to God; To God by Chrift, to whom all judgment is committed. God hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given affurance unto all men, in that he hath raifed him from the dead, Acts xvii. 31. We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Chrift, and give an account to him, who is to determine concerning all, and appoint them their everlasting state of reward or punishment, according as they have been faithful, or unfaithful fervants.

3. Of what will an account be demanded? The text fays, of our stewardship, i. e. How we have acted in it while it lafted: What talents we received, and what we did with them; whether they were employed, or hid, improved, or wafted: Whether we acted according to our character, and as expecting to be called to an account, and daily prepared for it; or, whether we lived on earth as mindlefs of God, our fouls and the world to come, as if we had been to have lived always here; or if not, yet were to live no more after our natural deaths. Ecclef. xii. 14. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every fecret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

When

4.

4.

When will fuch an account be demanded?
The fcripture tells us,

(1.) Immediately upon every one's going out of his ftewardship. Upon the diffolution of foul and body, our stewardship is at an end: upon which we are affured, that then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit fhall return unto God who gave it, Ecclefiafles xii. 7.

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(2.) Moft folemnly at the laft day, when all must appear before the judgment-feat of Chrift, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad, 2 Cor. v. 10.

Thus an account will be demanded, and is to be given up.

5. What is carried in the expreffion, Give an account of thy stewardship?

This plainly denotes,

(1.) That God will deal with every one in particular. O man, O woman, fuch and such talents thou hast been intrufted with; what haft thou done with them? Give an account of thy Stewardship. And, as he will be particular as to perfons; fo as to every one's account, enquiring into the feveral articles that make it up.

(2.) Give an account, &c. This farther implies, that notice is taken, and records kept of what every one now does, and this in order to a future judgment, when all is to be produced, and fentence publickly paffed. We read, Rev. xx. 12. that the books were opened, and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. The book of the fcripture fhall be opened, with refpect to thofe to

whom

whom it was vouchfafed, fhewing what was the will of God, and fo, what they were to have done and the book of confcience, witneffing for, or against us, according to our actings during our state of trial, fhall be opened.

(3.) Every one's account called for to be given, shall be according to the talents wherewith he was intrusted. God knows the privileges every one has enjoyed; with whom they have been greater, with whom lefs: and with an eye to thefe, will fay to every one, Give an account of thy stewardship, and as that account shall be found, thou shalt receive thy doom. Thou mayft be no longer fteward, that part is over, but the fruits of it follow, in which thou art to be happy or miserable for ever.

APPLICATION.

1. Is every one in the prefent life to be confidered as a steward of all that he enjoys? How unreasonable is pride in those who have the largest fhare of their Lord's goods; as they have nothing but what they have received, and the more their talents, the greater the truft. Where much is given, the more is expected, and will be required. As we are ftewards, we ftand related to the Moft High, as our Lord; have every one to do with him, and must be called before him, to answer fuch enquiries as fhall be made concerning our management of what was given us in truft.

God has not fo committed any thing to our truft, as to relinquish his own intereft in it, or concern about it. We are to act under him according to his appointment and direction, regarding his authority, and endeavouring to answer his expecta

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expectation, in the ufe and improvement of the talents received; of which we are not Lords, but stewards.

It is God that intrufteth us with all the advantages we enjoy, and we hold them in a dependance upon him. Our reafon, our time, our health and ftrength, our external accommodations, and the helps we have for our fouls under the means of grace, are intirely in his power; which we are to own with an humility that becomes ftewards.

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2. What caufe of ferious concern have all that live under the gefpel, left, as ftewards of the manifold grace of God, they should receive it in vain, and have their future condemnation aggravated by their prefent advantages, as neglected, or abused?

3. Will the time of our stewardship have an end? What a regard does this challenge to it? What a value should we put upon it, as a season in which we are to act for eternity; and at the clofe of which we are to go out of our stewardship into endless joy, or mifery?

4. The believer has no reafon to faint under the difficulties of his ftewardship; feeing it will have an end, a moft defirable one: and, neither the fervices, nor fufferings of the prefent time, are worthy to be compared to the glory to be revealed.

5. When our stewardship ends muft an account be given up? It is hence evident, that the foul furvives the body, and is capable of acting, and of being dealt with in a way of wrath, or mer

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