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PARABLES XXXVI, XXXVII, XXXVIII.
And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? and he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? and he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He chat is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much, and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.' -Luke xvi, 1-14.
OUR blessed Lord delivered the foregoing discourse to his disciples in hearing of the Pharisees, to whom he had been discoursing in the preceding chapter. And it appears evident that he intended to delineate the real character of the Pharisees and scribes, standing in the Jewish religion, as he had, for the sake of a query, granted them a more favorable character than they merited, in the former chapter. The reader will
do well to take into consideration the general thread of discourse, connecting the parables in the preceding chapter, and the succeeding parables in this, with the one under consideration, by which the following notes will appear just:
1. The great Lawgiver who descended upon Mount Sinai, and gave forth the tables of the first covenant from thence to Israel, is represented in the parable by a lord who had a steward.
2. The house of Israel, to whom the law was given, and all the oracles under the legal dispensation communicated, is meant by the steward.
3. The failure of the Jews in not keeping the law, is intended by the steward's wasting his lord's money; and the allegation which lay against them for making the law void by their traditions, is signified by the steward being accused to his lord.
4. The rejecting of the Jews, and the taking of the law from them, in respect to dispensation, is meant by the steward being turned out of his stewardship.
5. Christ shows that, in natural things, an unjust steward, who provided for himself, by bestowing his lord's property on his debtors, did more wisely than the Jews, particularly the Pharisees, whom he calls the children of light, did in things of God and religion as they were about to be turned out of their stewardship; in respect to the law and ordinances thereof, and yet rejected their Messiah and his gospel, the only means of their future safety and enjoy
6. Christ represents the legal dispensation and the works thereof, by the mammon of unrighteousness; showing that the ritual righteousness of the law stood in comparison with that of the gospel of everlasting life,
as things temporal, to things eternal. And under this representation, he exhorts the people to make unto themselves friends, by improving the law and its ordinances, so as to introduce themselves, as in the case of the virgins, to the everlasting habitation of the bridegroom.
7. If they were perverse enough to make void the law, by adopting traditions contrary thereto, (which is meant by their being unjust in that which was least, and unfaithful in the unrighteous mammon, and in the things of another,) they would not be disposed to make any better use of the gospel and the privileges thereof; but would, in violation of its divine purity, substitute their own mysterious traditions, giving them the sanction of divine authority, and make the gospel a trade, as they had made the law, (as many people have done to whom the gospel has been preached) which is meant by their being unjust in much ; which deprived them of the privilege of the true riches which were verily their own. This circumstance is very similar to that described in the parable of the one ⚫ talent; where it is shown, that by the servant not improving that which was another's, he was deprived of any further privilege of that which was committed to his care, and failed of that promotion which he would have obtained had he been faithful.
8. Christ represents the spirit and flesh, by two masters, God and mammɔn; and tells them that they could not serve both; that is, while they professed to serve the law only in the letter, under an apprehension of justification thereby, they were not in the service of God; and the righteousness acquired thereby, would not be acceptable. Therefore the Pharisees, who 'heard all these things,' being full of spiritual pride
and covetousness, 'derided him.' But Christ replies, concerning their highly esteemed justification, and declared it to be abomination in the sight of God.
Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery; and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband, committeth adultery.'-Luke xvi, 18.
These words are here evidently used parabolically; by which the propriety of the preceding parable is shown, and the succeeding one introduced. In verses 16 and 17, Christ continuing his reply to the Phariseees, says,The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass than one tittle of the law to fail.' It is evident that the general thread of discourse is continued, which has for its subject the putting away of the law, and the introduction of the gospel, and the consequences arising to the Jews on their rejecting the Saviour, agreeably to which the following notes are written.
1. As a man's putting away his wife and marrying another, was considered adultery; so to put away the law dispensation, and marry to the gospel, before the law was every tittle fulfilled, blending law and gospel, in point of dispensation, is considered spiritual adultery; an adultery of which, it is to be feared, multitudes of professed christians are guilty, by endeavoring to connect the law of works with the law of faith; and not being experimentally dead to the law by the body of Christ, they commit the above mentioned adultery by professing to be married to him who rose from the dead.
2. As it was counted adultery, for a man to put away his wife, and marry another; so for a man to marry a woman, who had been put away from her husband, was considered adultery. By which we learn that after the law was fulfilled, and, as a dispensation, put away, for the Jews still to marry to the law, would be spiritual adultery; an adultery of which the Jews are guilty even to this day.
I now come to the third and last parable in this chapter, by which the particular subject on which I have been writing, seems to be closed. In order for the reader to make no mistake in this parable, an attention must be paid to the adultery last described.
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom the rich man also died, and was buried. And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried, and said Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And, besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come unto this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham, but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.'-Luke xvi, 19—31.
THE reader, by observing those precautions recommended in the introduction of the above parable, will see the propriety of the following notes: