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formed that task, which I fully resolved upon,
, when I adventured upon this subject : and that was, to spend this time in raising our devotions to the contemplation of the glorious mercies of God, expressed to us in Christ's resurrection and exaltation. But because other thoughts have carried me away (even against my will) almost all this while, I shall further take leave to wrong and injure your patience, with proposing one consideration more which ought by no means to be omitted.
65. And that is, to take notice of the person, to whom we have been beholden for these unspeakable mercies; and that is Christ, Christ alone, none else mentioned or thought upon. If Bellarmine had been to advise St. Paul, if he had been privy to the writing of this Epistle, it is likely he would not have taken it ill, to have had Christ's name in the matter of our salvation ; but he would not have endured the apostle's utter silence of all helps and aids besides : yea, though himself acknowledgeth it to be the safest course, to put our whole confidence only in the mercy of God; yet, quia magis honorificum est habere aliquid ex merito, because it concerns our credit, to put in a little for merit and desert on our side; he would not have us so to disparage ourselves, as to make salvation a mere alms, proceeding merely out of courtesy.
66. Nay, but, oh thou man, what art thou that answerest against God? What art thou that justifiest thyself before him? Nay, what art thou that condemnest God, making him a liar all the Scripture over ? The whole project whereof is this, to let us know, how unable, how sick, how dead, we are of ourselves, and therefore ought most necessarily to have recourse to him for our salvation. As for us, beloved Christians, if we must needs rejoice, let us rejoice, let us rejoice in our infirmities; let our glory be our shame, and let us lift up our eyes and behold, *“Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah; this, that is glorious in his apparel, tra
; velling in the greatness of his strength ?” And Christ will say, it is “I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” But, wherefore, Lord, art thou “red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine-fat ?” He will answer, “ I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with me;" for which reason I am now crowned with glory, and honour, and immortality : I alone am mighty to save, and besides me there is none other.
67. And † “ good luck have thou with thine honour, O Lord; ride on, because of thy word of truth, of meekness, and of righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things :" terrible things for the king's enemies, for them who would not have thee to rule over them. And good luck have we “ with thine honour, O Lord; ride on, because of thy word of truth, of meekness, and of righteousness; and thy, right hand shall teach thee” gracious and comfortable things for us thy servants, and sheep of thy pasture, who dare not exalt a weak arm of Aesh against thee. Thy right hand shall mightily defend us in the midst of all our enemies. Thy right hand shall find us out, and gather us up, though lost and consumed in the grave; though scattered before the four winds of heaven : and, thy right hand shall exalt us to glory and immortality for ever with thee in thy heavenly kingdom, where all the days of our life, yea, all the days of thy glorious endless life, we shall, with angels and archangels, say, Glory, and honour, and power, and immortality, be unto him which sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb, and to the Holy Spirit, for ever and for ever. Amen.
* Isa. lxiii. 1, 2.
+ Psal. xlv.
Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you
, into everlasting habitations.”—Luke xvi. 9.
“ The children of this world (saith Christ) are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” To make which good, our Saviour, in so much of the chapter as goes before my text, brings in a story, or, as they call it, a parable of a cunning fellow, yet no great projector neither, no very subtle politician; notwithstanding, one who being in an extremity, turned out of his office for mispending his master's goods, had found out a shift, and that by mere cozenage, to procure so much as would serve to keep him, indeed not according to the port and fashion after which before he had lived; but only to maintain him in meat and drink, out of danger of starving, or, which was more fearful, because more full of trouble or dishonour, hard labour or begging.
2. Surely it had been no hard matter for our Saviour, who knew all whatsoever was in man, to have discovered more subtle projects, plots of a finer and more curious contrivance than this fellow's; but this, it seems, would serve his turn well enough for the purpose, for which he made use of it: and, to say the truth, there cannot be imagined an example more exactly suiting, more closely applicable to his intent; which was, not to discredit and dishearten his followers, first, by comparing and preferring the cunning of an ordinary fellow, a mere bailiff, or steward, before that spiritual, heavenly wisdom, to which they pretend: nor, secondly, to instruct them by indirect and unwarrantable courses to provide for themselves hereafter; but chiefly this:
3. To teach us, by objecting to our view a man, who by his own negligence and carelessness being brought to an extremity, (for there was no necessity he should be brought to these plunges; a little timely care and providence, even ordinary honesty, would easily have warranted and preserved him) had upon the sudden found out a trick of his office, namely, by proceeding in his old courses, of wasting his master's substance to the enriching of his fellow-servants, and thereby gained their good wills, that for the time following they might preserve him from perishing.
4. Our Saviour, I say, by this example, would teach us, that since God hath placed us here in this world as his stewards, has put into our hands his goods, his riches, to be dispensed for his use and advantage: and such stewards we are, who have advantages infinitely more urgent, and pressing us to an honest, faithful discharge of our office, than this man in the parable ever had : as, first, we must of necessity fail, and be cashiered of our office: all the power of heaven and earth cannot procure us a perpetuity in it: the case did not stand so with this man, for it was merely his own fault to deserve discarding; and, besides, having deserved that censure, it was his misfortune too, that his Lord should come to the knowledge of it; for it is no impossible thing, that a steward should thrive by his lord's loss, and yet never be called to an account for it: and, secondly, upon