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DELIVERED BY THE REV. R. ROBINSON, BA.
AT THE COLLEGIATE CHURCH, WOLVERHAMPTON, SUNDAY, FEB. 13, 1831.
Luke, xvi. 2.—“Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest be no longer
I need not inform this congregation | riches of his goodness which call forth that the words which I have this day the warm returns and the acceptable selected for my text form a very in-service of love to God—those talents teresting portion of one of the beauti- of health and strength committed to ful and edifying parables of Jesus our trust, and for which we must ere Christ, which appear in the volume of long render an account. To us has God's holy word, as heavenly lumi- the glorious work and plan of redempnaries to guide mankind through the tion—the offering of the Son of God mazes of ignorance and of doubt to the for the salvation of souls-appeared in knowledge of Gospel truth, and the all the splendour of divine love, the glorious and soul-reviving prospects of embracing or not embracing of which eternity. Seasonable and salutary as will seal our everlasting destiny at the were these parables which our Lord approaching day of judgment. To us delivered sometimes to the proud and the word of God has shone—the invi. haughty and high-minded Pharisee, tations of mercy been sent—the saand sometimes to the careless and craments and ordinances of grace mersceptical Sadducee, there is not one cifully vouchsafed, and time for makwhich conveys to us more useful, yet ing our peace with God, and for workawful, instruction than that of the un- | ing out our eternal salvation granted, for just steward. In this parable it is the all of which the hour is speedily ap. merciful and manifest design and in- proaching when we must render an tention of the great Redeemer of souls account. to excite and arouse a negligent and Now, although all and each of us sleeping world to a sense of their alarm- are in a great measure identified with ing danger from the all-powerful mo- the character of the steward described tive and consideration of a judgment in the text, yet of some much more to come :-to point out to mankind than of others will be the account rethe responsibility of their situation, quired of the responsibility attached and their dependance upon God as ac- to them, and the appropriation of the countable creatures, and to persuade talents committed to their care : “for them to “flee from the wrath to come," of him to whom much is given, much —from the ruin of their immortal souls. will be required.” When I think of
We, my hearers, are all stewards. the position in which the minister and Man, in every situation of life, no ambassador of Christ is placed-he matter how circumstanced—no matter who stands mid-way between God where born-man is a responsible and his people-he who enters the agent. We all have received, and are sanctuary and ministers by the altar daily receiving, from the great author of his God-he who is entrusted with of our existence, those blessings which the office of that priesthood of which render that existence dear to us those Christ is the great High Priest, and who exhorts and pleads and intercedes we give an "account of our stewardfor immortal souls at the throne of ship,” every wilful disregard of the divine grace :—when I reflect on the mercies of God—every violation of his momentous importance of his god-like sabbaths and ordinances—the means charge, and think of the possibility of of grace despised—his promises and his endangering the salvation of his threatenings reviled shall then be own soul, I turn to the awful misgiv- brought to light. And if there be one ings of the Apostle Paul, and think in this assembly, who has treated "the with alarm, "that after he has preached blood of the covenant as an unholy to others he himself may be a cast thing, and trampled under foot the Son away.”
of God”-that Saviour will be no SaBlessed, too, my hearers, as you all are viour to him—that blood will sink him this day, with the glorious privilege of deeper in eternal condemnation. drawing near to Christ ;-blessed with There is a solemn and an affecting a revelation that speaks of heaven and warning suggested to us all in the of heavenly things, and that points latter part of my text—"thou mayest to the glories of immortality ;-assem- be no longer steward." Whatever bled as you are this moment, within are the blessings and the privileges we the walls of God's temple, and per- now enjoy—and however we may immitted, nay, solicited, to pour out prove or despise the mercies of God, your supplications to the great God of the time is coming when they must all heaven and earth for divine aid and have an end. In whatever situation spiritual assistance, and, moreover, we may be placed, whether as Minispromised that aid and that assistance, ters of the Gospel of Christ, or as hearif your petitions are directed to God ers of the word of God, the Almighty through the all-prevailing atonement will shortly say to us all individually, of Christ, is there one amongst you as the rich man in the parable said to that can say—that dare to say, that his steward, “give an account of thy for all these things he is not account. stewardship, for thou mayest be no able to God? “When God so loved the longer steward.” When the exulting world that he gave his only begotten tyrant of the tomb, that has slain Son, that whosoever believeth on him his thousands and tens of thousands, should not perish but have everlasting shall have dragged us in his iron grasp life ;"—when the Son of God descend to the grave, the stewardship of every ed from his father's throne, and left one of us will be over for ever. The the glory and splendour of heaven- grave cultivates no talent-improves when his love for sinful man was so no virtue-reforms no vice-yet how great, and when nothing but his own often, even in this world, do we see blood could atone for man's trans- the talents committed to our fellowgression, that he veiled himself in hu- creatures suddenly withdrawn from man form, and lived in the world mi- them. We have seen reason, the best serable and afflicted, and died upon of natural gifts from God to man, the cross, "the just for the unjust,” quitting in a moment its accustomed and that “we might be reconciled residence and consigning its victim to unto God,” is there one amongst you a life of idiotic simplicity and childish that can say he is deserving of such indifference, or leaving him a maniac unbounded love? Oh! my hearers, dancing in his chains. We have seen the account betwixt God and man is that health, in which so many exultimmeasurably great! At that day, which has promised to its possessors when our probation being ended, and many years of happiness and of pleasure, suddenly removed, and the pale solicited, earnestly solicited, to engage and sickly hue come there in its stead. in the salvation of your souls, and exBut if these talents should still be con- | horted to come to Christ that ye may tinued to us, I repeat again, that our have life. And how have you profited stewardship ends at death ; " for there by this long-suffering forbearance of is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, God? How, think you, stands the nor wisdom, in the grave, whither settlement betwixt God and you? If thou goest.” Death comes upon the there be in the whole compass of the soul often with the rapidity of light- mind's conception one question which ning! and oh! it is a fearful thing to more than another requires our serigo down to the grave unprepared—to ous attention, it is what will be the be arrested by the hand of death in account which each of us, as stewards the midst of worldly care and worldly of the covenanted mercies of God, shall enjoyment-to be stricken down even present to the great judge of quick and at the moment of exulting in health dead? There cannot rest a doubt upon and strength, and rejoicing in life in the mind of man, that not only the ts follies and its vices—to be smitten whole human race collectively, but as with a thunderbolt, and to have that each person individually, must every limb and every sinew paralized give an account of the works done in for ever—and thus unsuspecting and the body—the use or the abuse of unprepared to appear at the bar of God's important trust. The text plainGod to give in the dreadful final ac- | ly suggests, that such is the wise decount! Once passed the barrier of the termination in the counsels of heaven, grave-once launched into the unseen and St. Paul himself expressly states, and unknown world of spirits, no more in his epistle to the Romans, that such the light of redemption shines upon will be the case. “ So then every one the benighted soul-no more the voice of us shall give account of himself to of intercession is heard pleading for God." Yet when we take an accurate man. There no more time is allowed survey of the world, and perceive thoufor redeeming a misspent life, and sands of our fellow-creatures, whose making peace with an offended God: every act is stamped with responsibility, - there no means of grace remain-no living as if there were no God in the sacraments—no ordinances-no minis- world, can we for a moment imagine, tering voice to sooth the anguish of an that these persons really believe in a agonized and troubled mind :-“ As the judgment to come? When we see God's tree falls so it must lie.” Locked in the sabbaths polluted—his name derided jaws of the grave sleeps many a one, -his ordinances reviled—the means whose soul, alarmed and distracted at of grace despised—the blood of the covethe unprofitable use of talents com- nant treated with scorn, and everlast. mitted to its care, would give a world ing salvation set at naught, can there such as ours for this one hour which be amongt these one serious, persuayou are passing (perhaps in careless- sive thought that they must render an ness) in the house of God, in order to account of their stewardship? It is settle some awful account betwixt God most awfully true, that the all-imand itself. And here we are all as- portant fact of a reckoning to come is, sembled-here many of you have from by nine-tenths of God's creatures, year to year, through the mercy of lightly regarded, and the provision God, been allowed to come up to the necessary for such a scrutiny totally temple of the Lord, invited to partake neglected. It is not only true, that of his holy and refreshing ordinances, the whole world lieth in wickedness,” but there seems to be a preva- | the world in righteousness by that man lent disposition, if not determination, whom he hath ordained; whereof he that it shall remain so. Or else why hath given assurance unto all men, in is it that men are become so totally in- | that he hath raised him from the dead.” different about heaven and heavenly To the faithful followers of Christ is things ;-why is it that we, as a na- there one declaration in holy writ imtion, are even in this world judged parting such consolation to the mind and scourged, and what mean those as the one I have just quoted ? To find prayers that are offered up from every at the last great day when “ the setemple in the land to the throne of crets of all hearts shall be disclosed,” grace, if not to prove that we are a —that he in whom we have believed, backsliding nation, and that God's —that he “who was wounded for our judgments are hanging over us? But transgressions and bruised for our ini. above all, why is it that in the coun- quities,” shall appear as our Lord and sels of a mighty empire, one day of Judge, must raise the desponding soul penitence and of prayer cannot be ex- and give it humble confidence in the clusively appropriated to the services day of judgment. Yes, my hearers, of an offended God, and why is the there is a time coming when Christ bare mention of such a religious or- shall appear in celestial splendourdinance treated with contempt? I when he shall be seated on that know not, and I care not, what con- " throne which is for ever and ever,” struction may be put on these obser- —when he shall assume that “sceptre vations, convinced as I am in my own of his kingdom which is an everlasting mind, that any nation like the Jewish sceptre ;"—when the myriad myriads nation of old, (and the greater the pri- of intellectual beings, that have passed vileges it possesses, and the more va- the earth from the time of Adam to luable the talents committed to its care the coming resurrection morn, shall the greater is its responsibility) if it stand before him to receive their final trust in the help of man and disregard sentence: when every soul in this asthe eternal God—that nation must sembly shall be raised to the glories of sink in the scale of National import- heaven, or consigned to the miseries of ance, and its glory must depart from hell-when every soul before me shall it. Yet there was a time when our rise from pinnacle to pinnacle of emiancestors highly valued and fondly nence, and of glory in the realms of cherished that religion which is almost eternal light, or sink into the unfabecome a by-word in the present ge- thomable depths of darkness and deneration—when they pressed forward spair. I put the question to each of to the prize of their high calling in you individually, and ask you seriously Christ Jesus, and are now reaping the and affectionately, if the day of judgreward of a glorious inheritance. ment should now break upon our asto
Now since we are distinctly inform- nished sight, and Christ should appear ed by the book of God's revelation, with his holy angels and all the glories that we must render an account of the of heaven, is the account betwixt God things done in the body, whether they and you satisfactorily settled, and are be good or whether they be evil, I turn you ready to meet his coming ? This is to that book, and find in seventeenth
a question in which we are all equally chapter of the Acts of the Apostles interested, because the account we that that judgment will be committed must give, must be given each one for to Christ—" because he hath appoint- himself. In the silent midnight hour, ed a day, in the which he will judge when the shades of darkness fall heavily
around us—when the mind is abstract- an advanced old age, but there is likeed from earth and earthly things, often wise an alarming certainty that many does the warning voice of conscience will sink prematurely into the grave. tell us of a reckoning to come-often Oh! then, is it not a question of paradoes it whisper to us the joys of hea- mount importance to put to yourselves ven, and terrify the soul by the horrors frequently and seriously in the retireof hell.
ment of the closet, “ am I prepared If there be one in this congregation for such a change ;-am I in the strait who has never seriously examined the and narrow way that leadeth unto life, state of his own soul-who is careless or am I in the broad way that leadeth and indifferent as to his eternalsalvation, unto death?” To those who are in and reckless of a world to come, I tell the last stage of their mortal existence that individual that the day of the -to those who are tottering on the Lord is hastening, and that it is nigh very brink of the tomb—to those whose at hand. I tell him that thousands of talents have long been continued, yet his fellow beings have been unexpect- must shortly be withdrawn, the ceredly swept from the stage of human tainty of a judgment to come must life, and have been torn from this strike to the heart, and pierce the very world without one hope beyond the soul. A few more daysma few more grave.
I tell him to “ make haste weeks, and, it may be, a few more and escape, because of the stormy wind months, and their day of grace sets for and tempest." I exhort him to go in ever.
Are you then ready? What faith and penitence to the Lord Jesus account can you give of the talents Christ—the great Redeemer of souls: committed to you? Oh! examine your—to lay hold on the promises of the selves sincerely as those that must give Gospel, and to allow neither “ sleep an account-commune with your own to his eyes, nor slumber to his eye. hearts; and if in the solemn investilids," until he has made his peace with gation you find your conscience alarm God.
ed, and your soul misgive you, turn, I To all of us here present the solemn beseech you, to the strong hold,— fly to realities of the last great day are fast Christ the great intercessor for a ruinapproaching—the stewardship of every ed world,—the Mediator of the new one of us is drawing to a close. To covenant—the Saviour of souls. the youngest amongst you the time is, And on the heart of every one here comparatively speaking, short betwixt present the words of my text “give an you and the grave; and even that life account of thy stewardship, for thou in which you pride yourself to-day mayest be no longer steward,” should may be snatched from you to-morrow, be deeply engraven and firmly fixed. that health in which you delight, May we never forget that we are stewwhich sparkles on the countenance and ards, and that an awful responsibility brightens it with joy and gladness is attached to us all, and above all, may blooms only to decay. Many a fair we always remember“ the great and and promising sun that has arisen in solemn account which we must one majesty and splendour, even before the day give," and the awful importance noontide hour, has been overcast with of that account which will raise us to clouds and tempests. There is a pos- everlasting happiness, or sink us in sibility that many of you may reach eternal misery and woe.