Luke 16

* The parable of the unjust steward. (1-12) Christ reproves the

hypocrisy of the covetous Pharisees. (13-18) The rich man and

Lazarus. (19-31)

1-12 Whatever we have, the property of it is God's; we have

only the use of it, according to the direction of our great

Lord, and for his honour. This steward wasted his lord's goods.

And we are all liable to the same charge; we have not made due

improvement of what God has trusted us with. The steward cannot

deny it; he must make up his accounts, and be gone. This may

teach us that death will come, and deprive us of the

opportunities we now have. The steward will make friends of his

lord's debtors or tenants, by striking off a considerable part

of their debt to his lord. The lord referred to in this parable

commended not the fraud, but the policy of the steward. In that

respect alone is it so noticed. Worldly men, in the choice of

their object, are foolish; but in their activity, and

perseverance, they are often wiser than believers. The unjust

steward is not set before us as an example in cheating his

master, or to justify any dishonesty, but to point out the

careful ways of worldly men. It would be well if the children of

light would learn wisdom from the men of the world, and would as

earnestly pursue their better object. The true riches signify

spiritual blessings; and if a man spends upon himself, or hoards

up what God has trusted to him, as to outward things, what

evidence can he have, that he is an heir of God through Christ?

The riches of this world are deceitful and uncertain. Let us be

convinced that those are truly rich, and very rich, who are rich

in faith, and rich toward God, rich in Christ, in the promises;

let us then lay up our treasure in heaven, and expect our

portion from thence.
13-18 To this parable our Lord added a solemn warning. Ye

cannot serve God and the world, so divided are the two

interests. When our Lord spoke thus, the covetous Pharisees

treated his instructions with contempt. But he warned them, that

what they contended for as the law, was a wresting of its

meaning: this our Lord showed in a case respecting divorce.

There are many covetous sticklers for the forms of godliness,

who are the bitterest enemies to its power, and try to set

others against the truth.
19-31 Here the spiritual things are represented, in a

description of the different state of good and bad, in this

world and in the other. We are not told that the rich man got

his estate by fraud, or oppression; but Christ shows, that a man

may have a great deal of the wealth, pomp, and pleasure of this

world, yet perish for ever under God's wrath and curse. The sin

of this rich man was his providing for himself only. Here is a

godly man, and one that will hereafter be happy for ever, in the

depth of adversity and distress. It is often the lot of some of

the dearest of God's saints and servants to be greatly afflicted

in this world. We are not told that the rich man did him any

harm, but we do not find that he had any care for him. Here is

the different condition of this godly poor man, and this wicked

rich man, at and after death. The rich man in hell lifted up his

eyes, being in torment. It is not probable that there are

discourses between glorified saints and damned sinners, but this

dialogue shows the hopeless misery and fruitless desires, to

which condemned spirits are brought. There is a day coming, when

those who now hate and despise the people of God, would gladly

receive kindness from them. But the damned in hell shall not

have the least abatement of their torment. Sinners are now

called upon to remember; but they do not, they will not, they

find ways to avoid it. As wicked people have good things only in

this life, and at death are for ever separated from all good, so

godly people have evil things only in this life, and at death

they are for ever put from them. In this world, blessed be God,

there is no gulf between a state of nature and grace, we may

pass from sin to God; but if we die in our sins, there is no

coming out. The rich man had five brethren, and would have them

stopped in their sinful course; their coming to that place of

torment, would make his misery the worse, who had helped to show

them the way thither. How many would now desire to recall or to

undo what they have written or done! Those who would make the

rich man's praying to Abraham justify praying to saints

departed, go far to seek for proofs, when the mistake of a

damned sinner is all they can find for an example. And surely

there is no encouragement to follow the example, when all his

prayers were made in vain. A messenger from the dead could say

no more than what is said in the Scriptures. The same strength

of corruption that breaks through the convictions of the written

word, would triumph over a witness from the dead. Let us seek to

the law and to the testimony, #Isa 8:19,20|, for that is the

sure word of prophecy, upon which we may rest, #2Pe 1:19|.

Circumstances in every age show that no terrors, or arguments,

can give true repentance without the special grace of God

renewing the sinner's heart.
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