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for the Goods Thad entrusted thee withal? If thou hast any thing to say for thy felf, if thou halt any colour or prerence for thy base ungrateful Behaviour, let me hear it. But I know thou canst plead nothing to any purpose in thine own Vindication, and therefore prepare thy self, To give an account of thy Stewardship, for thou mayst be no longer Steward. The time of thy Service is now expired, and I am resolved to keep thee no longer in thy place. Thou hast had time and Opportunity enough in my Service to enrich thy self sufficiently. If thou hadít been a good and provident Steward of my Goods thou hast done well for thy self, thou hast wanted nothing hitherto, nor shalt want any thing hereafter ; but if ic be true that I have heard of thee, that thou hast vainly wasted my Goods, shift for thy self as well as thou canst, for thou hast lost thy Opportunity, and my Favour. Bring in therefore thy Accounts, and let us see how things ftand between us, and accordingly expect either Reward or Punishment. The loss of thy Stewardship will be no loss ať all to thee, if thou hast been faithful; for I have provided a better place for thee. And if thou hast been unfaithful, and canst not bring in a good account, the loss of thy Stewardship is the least part of thy Punishment, I will make thee an Example to all unjust Stewards, and ler them fee in thee what they are like to get in the end by their unfaithful Dealings. Thus will God deal with every one of us, that goes on wafting his Goods, if we repent not, and make not our Accounts ready in good time,
In this .Verse then we learn these four things for our Instruction.
1. That 1. That there will be an end of our Siew. ardship, when we must be no longer Stewards.
2. That God will call us to a Reckoning, and to give an Account of our Stewardship.
3. That it concerns us to consider well how we are able to answer God, saying, How is it that I hear this of you?
4. That God is not wanting to mind us of this Concern, but calls upon us to prepare our Accounts.
I. There will be an end of our Stewardship, when we must be no longer Stewards. We are to continue in our respective Offices, and have the Husbanding of the several Portions of Goods com. mitted to us here, only for a time, and either for a longer or shorter term of Years or Days, as our great Master God Almighty pleaseth. Our times are in God's Hand. Psal. 31. 15. Our Stewardship iş ar longest for a Term of Life, and how long, or how short that will be, not one of us can tell. Neither how long before that short term end, some part of our Stewardship may be taken from us. Our Condition in this world is always uncertain to us, and changeable as it pleafech God to make it. Sometimes we have more, and sometimes a less Portion of his Goods in our Hands; he giveth, and taketh away as he will, and it is fic he should do fo, seeing he alone knoweth what in every moment of our Life is fitreft for us. “However our condition may change, and pur charge thereby be less or greater, we are still
God's God's Stewards for all we have so long as we live, and that will not be long. For what is our Life? It is even a Vapour, which appeareth for a little övhile, and then vanisheth away. Jam. 3. 14. A very Shadow which fleetb away, and continueth not. Job
14.2. Psal. 144. 4: A time of sojourning at moft, *** i Per. 1. 17. Is there not an appointed time to Max
upon Earth? Are not his Days also like the Days of an Hireling? Job 7. 1. He accomplisheth as an Hireling his Day. Job 14. 6. This Day is a Day of Labour and Trouble, when we are every one to work, as our Place and Station requireth, it will have it's Night when no Man can work.
Let us then behave our felves diligently and wisely in our Stewardship while it lasts, and al. ways remember, that it will shortly end. The reason why we are generally so negligent in our Office, is, because we presume too much of our long continuance in it, and of time enough yet behind to do what is yet undone. Whereas not one of us knows what shall be on the Morrow. Fam. 3.14. Or what a Day may bring forth. Why then stand we here all the Day idle? Why are we not about our Master's Business, whilst we have time and strength to go about it? Both these will fail us e'er we be aware of it. It is driven off by too many of us from Youth to Manhood, and from Manhood to Old Age, and in Old Age from Day to Day till Death surprize us. Thus, I say, we drive off our Work, but the Term of our Stewardship is every day nearer than other, how unready soever we are for it. And how near it is we know nor. Only this we know, that the less of our Business is done, and the more negligent we have bitherto been; the more Work
chave have we made our felves, and for ought we know a great deal too much for the short time that is behind. Moreover, our LORD hath told us, that he will come as a Thief in tbe Night, that is, he will come suddenly when we lealt ihink of it to call us to give an account, and in what confusion shall we be when he comes to call for our Accounts, if we have them not then in readiness?
If we behave our selves as we should do during the time of our Service, what difficulties or troubles foever we may meet with in it, this should encourage us to struggle through them all, that the time is but short, and then all our troubles will be at an end with it. And as soon as our Steward. ship is at an end, we enter into the possession of a glorious Inheritance, the Reward is ready as soon as the Work is done. In due time we shall reap if we faint not, and therefore let us not be weary of welldoing. Gal. 6.9. Behold (faith Christ) I come quickly, and my Reward is with me, to give to every Man according as his Work Shall be. Rev. 22. 12.
II. God will call us to a Reckoning, and to give an Account of our Stewardship. There shall certainly be an Account called for. God, tho' he be a most liberal and bountiful, and in e.. very respect a good and gracious Master, yet is no prodigal and regardless Disposer of his Goods. He gives them for good uses, and expects chat good use should be made of them, and will call upon every one of his Servants to shew what good use he hath made of so much as he had the management of. Where he giveth Talents to Trade withal, he cometh at his own time to reckon
with those Servants to whom he delivered them: Matr. 25:19. All shall give Account to bim who is ready to judge the Quick, and the Dead. 1 Pet. 4. 5. That is, we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ. 2 Cor. 5. 10. Where we must give account even for every idle Word. Mar. 12. 36. And every Man must account for his own Stewardship, whatsoever it hath been, and answer for his Abuse of every thing or Person that was committed to his care and charge. Every one of us fall give account of himself to God. Rom. 14. 2. This is a thing so plainly taught us in the holy Scripture, chat no more needs to be said to convince us of it.
Let us therefore, as we desire to be acquitted when that Day of Account comes, shake off chat gross supiness and security wherein most of us seem even to bury our felves alive, as tho'we were past all danger of ever being brought into question for what we do. Because Sentence against an evil Work is not Speedily executed; therefore the Heart of the Sons of Men is fully set in them to do evil. Eccl. 8.11. Because God in much patience a long time haih forborn us, we are too apt to flatter our selves with a vain hope that he will do so still. But the longer we are here spared, and the flow: er God is to punish us, and by taking vengeance on us to vindicate his abused patience, the heavier will his Wrath fall upon us in the great Day of Accounts. Tho' he cherefore may suffer us to live long, and to thrive by our ill Behaviour as long as we live, yet are we assured of this, That it is appointed for Men once to die, and after that the Judgment. Heb. 9. 27. So that Judgment is as súre as Deach, and this most Men chink themselves too sure of.