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THE DISHONEST STEWARD.

LUKE XVI. 1-12.

“And he said also unto his disciples, There was a cer

tain 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 acconnt 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 that 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 ?” This is perhaps the most difficult of all the Parables. And yet, when we come to look closely into it, I believe that most of the difficulties will disappear. It is one of those passages of Scripture, which quite repay us for giving our whole attention to them.

Only St. Luke relates the Parable. And we can find no particular circumstance which led to its being spoken, as we have found in many others; for it follows close upon the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Let us then turn to the words themselves, and see if we can discover any one verse, which will serve as a key to the whole. In verse 8

we have, I think, exactly what we want. This verse at once tells us what was our Lord's object. It was to show that the children of God may learn a lesson of spiritual wisdom even from the bad conduct of worldly menor, to put it in another way, that men are far keener and more alive to their worldly interests, than they are to those important matters which concern their souls. “The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Let us keep this key-verse in mind, and it will greatly help us to understand the Parable.

And now for the Parable itself. The chief Person who is brought before us is a Steward, who managed the estate of a certain rich man. An accusation is brought against him of having betrayed his trust, and wasted his lord's property, employing it for his own selfish ends, and not for his master's benefit.

The man's guilt being clearly proved, he is desired to make up his accounts, and resign his stewardship. This is a heavy blow to him; and he begins immediately to turn over in his mind how he can provide for his future maintenance, when he shall be dismissed from his office. He has never been used to day labour; and to beg his bread would be a disgrace. His mind is soon made up. He hits upon a plan, which, though a most dishonest one, certainly shews that he is fully alive to his own interests. He determines to make friends with all those who owed anything to his master, so that he may reckon on their receiving him under their roof when he is dismissed.

Upon this, he calls together all who owed any rent or money to his lord, and makes his proposal to each in turn. He asks the first how his account stands—“How much owest thou unto my lord?” He replies, “An hundred measures of oil.” Then says the Steward, “Call it fifty-Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.” You will observe it was the custom to pay in kind, and not in money, as we do. He then calls another, “And how much owest thou ?” He answers, “ An hundred measures of wheat.” He proposes to him to strike off twenty measures, reducing the debt to eighty—“Take thy bill, and write fourscore.” And so with

the rest. You see, he lowered the sums due to his employer, in order to secure for himself the good services of those who were to be gainers by this dishonest transaction.

Now, an act of dishonesty is generally found out. It was so in this case. It soon came to the master's ears. And though of course he was greatly shocked by his steward's conduct, and though he was much grieved at his dishonesty, he could not help giving him credit for his worldly wisdom and shrewdness. “ The lord commended the unjust steward”not because he had done rightlybut “because he had done wisely." And then Jesus adds His own remark upon it—"The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” · So far, I trust, all is now pretty clear to you as regards the actual Parable. But there are a few things connected with it, which require some consideration.

The first stone that people generally stumble at is the expression, “ The lord commended the unjust steward.” They imagine that it is our Lord Himself who commends him. This

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