ON THE PARABLE OF THE UNJUST STEWARD. LUKE xvi.
Consider first, that this steward being accused to his Lord of having wasted his substance, as called upon by him, ‘to give an account of his stewardship, for that he could now be steward no longer;’ and friends among his master’s debtors, by discounting a considerable part of what they stood charged in their bills to his master, that so they might be willing to receive him into their houses, and to entertain him. In which, though he acted iniquitously with regard to his master, he did wisely according to what the world calls wisdom, with regard to the providing for himself against the evil day: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. ‘And I say to you,’ saith our Lord, ‘make to yourselves friends of the mammon of iniquity, that when you shall fail they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.’ See here, Christians, the great lesson designed for you in this parable. Your having so often wasted the goods of your great master, ought to give you a just apprehension of your being quickly called by him to an account, and deprived of your stewardship. What then must you do in order to your future support, and everlasting livelihood? O, you must make yourselves friends, by the good use of the mammon of this world; that is, by liberal alms to God’s poor servants; you must diligently exercise charity in all its branches; you must use your best endeavours to reclaim sinners from the error of their way, and by that means procure for them a discharge from their debts; and your Lord will commend you for having done wisely for yourselves; and these friends you have thus made for yourselves will, through his mercy, be qualified to receive you hereafter into his eternal mansions.
Consider 2ndly, in how many respects we are all stewards to this great Lord. All that we have is his; our very being is his; our whole soul and body; all our powers, faculties and senses; all our gifts and talents; all that we possess corporally, or spiritually, our whole time, and all our worldly substance. In regard to all these things, we are stewards of God, and accountable to him. All these are goods that have been entrusted to us, but belong to this great master. We are unjust stewards if we waste any part of these goods; and the employing of any of them otherwise than according to his holy will and his divine ordinances, will be accounted wasting of them in the eyes of him before whom we shall one day most certainly appear to give an account of our whole stewardship, and of all the years we have had his goods in our hands. O, who shall be able to stand this examination of accounts, upon the issue of which an eternity depends! O, who shall be able to answer for one article in a thousand!
Consider 3rdly, O my soul, those words in the parable, as addressed to thee this day: Give an account of thy stewardship, and see what thou couldst say for thyself, if this day were to be thy last, and thy accounts were to be immediately inspected. Thou knowest not the day nor the hour – see then what account thou couldst give, if this were to be the day. For why shouldst thou expose thyself any longer to the dreadful dangers of being called upon when unprepared, to thy eternal condemnation? Alas! has there been hitherto any part of thy life, in which thou hast acted the part of an honest and faithful steward, with relation to the goods of thy master? How little share has he had in thy thoughts, words, and actions? How little of thy time has been employed in his service? How often have all thy powers and faculties, and all thy senses, both exterior and interior, been alienated from him, and made instruments of offence? How often have his choicest gifts and talents been abused and perverted? What is become of all the graces purchased for thee by the blood of Christ? Where are all the inspirations, calls, and reproaches of conscience with which he has visited thee? Where the sacraments thou hast received? The word of God, and so many other spiritual advantages, or temporal blessings, thou hast been favoured with? How few are there of all these goods of thy master which thou hast not wasted or perverted? He has even made over in a manner to thee the passion and death of his only Son, and deposited all his merits with thee in the sacred mysteries; and what little use or advantage hast thou hitherto made of them? Ah! my poor soul, in how wretched a state indeed are all our accounts! And what have we not to apprehend from the justice of our Lord for having been such wicked stewards all our lifetime?
Conclude now at least to set thy accounts in order, to rectify all that has hitherto been amiss, and henceforward to begin anew by dedicating thy whole self and all thou hast to the love and service of him, to whom all belongs upon all manner of titles. It is a most crying injustice to waste his goods – how much more to employ them against himself by wilful sin?