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But let us not circumscribe the talent which we possess, nor the power of doing good, with which we are invested, to the mere distribution of riches, or to casual acts of almsgiving. To relieve the distresses of others, is at all times an amiable and essential duty of Christianity. This we assuredly ought to do; but there are many other things that must not be "left undone :" the more so, as almsgiving to any great extent is only in the power of a few, while other virtues are practicable to all. Thus, we shall doubtless be considered as unjust Stewards for the misapplication and abuse of our means of doing good; -for giving from improper motives, or to avoid trouble; and thus subjecting ourselves to the folly and condemnation of "wasting the goods" that are at our disposal; or of" casting pearls before swine."
We shall incur the censure of unjust Stewards, also, for a sinful waste of time ;-for slumbering in indolence, when we should watch with vigilance;-for not avoiding temptation, and not "abstaining even from the appearance of evil:"— for not rendering unto all their dues ;-for exhibiting a bad example, instead of being what we should endeavour to be," a light unto the world;"
and, in short, for the transgression and omission of every duty, which it is incumbent on us to practise," in that state of life, unto which it has pleased God to call us."
Let the serious impression, and awful respon. sibility, of our being Stewards, in this general sense, pass through the whole circle of human duties, and attend us in every relation of life. Let it make us wise, provident, and affectionate as parents; grateful, dutiful, and obedient as children. Let it render masters kind, considerate, and forbearing; servants faithful, sober, industrious, and obliging. Let it teach the rich and powerful to be merciful and generous, and abounding in good works; and let it instruct the poor to be humble, temperate, and sober, honest, industrious, and contented.
Farther, let us carefully guard against one species of distress, which threatened the foolish Steward in the Parable, on being turned out of his office. "He could not dig, to beg he was ashamed." In other words, he could not work, and he could not endure to receive a subsistence from the charity of others. He therefore must have perished. Unhappy man he had been nursed in the lap of plenty; and, freely admitted
to the rich man's store, he had been more than liberal to others, and had rioted in the indulgence. of every appetite and passion himself. Idleness and pride had corrupted his mind, pleasure and intemperance had enfeebled his body. On a reverse of fortune, therefore, he would have become the most dependent, helpless being, that imagination can conceive. And how many are there in the world, who, in this respect, would resemble the poor Steward in the Gospel! Bred up in every indulgence, courting pleasure in every varied and fantastic form, plunging into every mode of dissipation, to banish thought, kill time, and drive away the sense of duty;→→ their wishes anticipated, and even their imaginary wants supplied, almost before they are distinctly felt, or known, they pass through no scenes of fortitude and self-denial, of patience and forbearance: so that the grand purposes of life to them are, as it were, prevented; and, instead of being a warfare, a school of discipline and scene of trial, it is, at least for a time, a sumptuous banquet, a gay illusion, or an intoxicating feast. Hence it is, that many are as incapable of supporting, as they ought, the vicissitudes of fortune, or of administering to their own wants, as the animals of the earth, sea,
and air, are of changing their respective ele
Yet they should reflect that the world is at best but a shifting scene, and never "continueth in one stay." Parents may die, or from misfortunes may become poor, and no longer able to indulge their children in idleness, extravagance, and pride. Whatever treasures, indeed, we ourselves possess, whether riches, power, or honors, it should be remembered that "we carry them in earthen vessels." Such are the strange revolutions in worldly affairs, such is our weakness and error, and such is often the oppression of others, that what we call our own might be easily taken from us; and, unless we have previously cultivated those virtues, which, in a great measure, secure independence, in every situation, we shall be left in the lamentable state of the poor Steward in the text.
There are many who would exclaim, on the approach even of trifling calamities, "I cannot dig, to beg I am ashamed." One might suppose that Providence, in taking from them the "mammon of unrighteousness," or the superfluities of life, had benumbed their faculties, and deprived them of all their strength and powers. A foolish and preposterous pride, indeed, al
ways grows up with self-indulgence and luxury; -pride, that scorns dependence, and yet cannot support itself-pride, that is supposed to indicate a certain greatness of soul; but is in reality the child of weakness, ignorance, and error. Hence, we frequently see poor bewildered men, instead of passing through the needful, but severe discipline, which adversity affords, with fortitude and resignation, become useless from their despondency, lapse into the most sordid vices, or embrace the desperate resolution of destroying their miserable existence.
If we wish, therefore, to secure as much independence as is compatible with our present situation, (for absolute independence is a chimæra)-if we would possess as much power as possible to benefit others, as well as ourselves, let us not "build our house upon the sand." Let us not trust merely to riches, or to the emoluments of those offices which are delegated from others; but let us cultivate that independence of the mind, which results from true religion, and which shall remain with us entire, when "all things fail." He whose consequence, whose happiness and power depend merely on the world, or on the estimation of men, is but a splendid slave at best-a sort of state-prisoner, pleased with