« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
ceive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” At both these solemn periods, the faithful servant of Chrilt, whatever his character and station in life may have been, shall be received with a “ Well done, thou good and faithful fervant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
There are two things in these words that particularly deserve our notice. The character of those who shall meet with the approbation of their Lord, in the great day of final awards; they have been good and faithful fervants. And the reward such shall receive, on that fo. lemn occasion, from the judge of quick and dead--They shall be each one received with a “ Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Agreeably to this view of my text, I shall,
I. Briefly consider the character of the good and faithful servant of Christ. .
II. The nature of that reward here promised to all such, in the great day of the Lord. Let us enquire,
1. What is the character of the good and faithful servant . of Christ ?
I have already said this may be applied either to the disciples of Chrilt in general of whatever nation, denomination, or character in life they may be; or to the ministers of the Gospel in particular. I lhall consider the phrase as including both. And it implies,
1. Love to Christ and his service.--A good feryant always loves a good master. But it is necessary to observe here, that this love to Christ and his service is not found in the heart of depraved man, in his natural state. We are by nature alienated from God: destitute of every principle of love to him and his son Christ, in their true character. The apostolic description of depraved human nature is, “ having the understanding darkened, being ali. enated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is
in thenı, because of the blindness of their hearts.”a Hence arises the necessity of being “ renewed in the spirit of our mind; and of putting on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”'b But one of the principal constituents of this new man is, love to God and his son Christ Jesus. Love to God for his own divine excellence, as well as for the beneficence of his hand, to us—and love to Christ, as being the “ brightness of his father's glory, and the express image of his person.” The fincere servant of Christ loves both his person and his character. His soul is pleased with him, as he is exhibited in the oracles of truth. “He is the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely” in his esteem.d He loves also his service : He esteems his law's to be altogether equal and just. This is the native effect of his love to his person and his government: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous."e The love we bear to the person of Christ, in proportion to its prevalence, will not only induce us to obedience, but render that obedience easy and delightful We delight to oblige those whom we love.
2. The good and faithful servant of Christ loves his fel. low servants—He considers them as children of the same common father with himself: and we read, that every one that loveth him who begat, loveth him also who is begotten of him.f He considers them as redeemed by the fame precious blood of Christ ; and as the subjects of the same fanctifying and comforting influences of the spirit of grace, which are the common privilege of every true Christian; for “ If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.". He considers them as engaged in the fame common cause with himself; the advancement of the kingdom of Christ, and the illustration of the honor of God in our world. These are the great ends the good and faithful servants of Christ have in view, however they may differ in fonie of the modes of pursuing them. Yet this difference does not forfeit their love, or destroy their cha.
a Eph. iv. 18. b ver. 23, 24. c Heb. i. 3. d Song. v. 10, 16.
er John v. 3. f 1 John v, 1. & Rom. viii. 9.
rity for each other. If the person whose character I describe, cannot agree to agree with his brethren, in denomi. nation, or mode of worship, he will agree to differ with them--He will agree they should think and act for themfelves, in matters of such infinite concern; a privilege he juftly clainis to himself. And in how many things foever the disciples of Christ may differ in matters of leser mo. ment, they will all agree in loving their Master, his honor, his truth, and his service-They will agree in adorning their profession in all godliness of conversation.
Again—The good and faithful servant confiders his fellow-disciples as in the same vale of tears, and in the same state of imperfection and trial with himself; and, therefore, that both they and he itand in need of mutual sympathy, charity, and forbearance, one towards another. In a word, he considers them as heirs of the same future glory with himself; as travelling to the same “ city, which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God;" and that, therefore, they ought not to differ by the way.
Of such importance is this brotherly love, in the esti. mation of our Lord, that he not only enjoins it upon his disciples as their duty, but as their distinguishing and characteristic duty ; that duty which more strongly marks their character as his disciples than almost any other; and that by which they are especially to distinguish themselves from the men of the world. You, therefore, hear him say, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another ; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."a.
3. Diligence in his Lord's work, is another ingredient in the character of the good and faithful servant. You will easily perceive the absurdity of a good, and at the same tiine a slothful servant, in common life; and it is still more so in the case before us. We all have our work in life alligned us, in the course of a wise Providence: and this is two fold, our general business as men and Chris. tians, and the special business of our respective stations.
a John xiii. 34, 35.
Both these are fruitful of a variety of duties, too numerous to be recited in this place. They embrace the whole compass of duty, both moral and positive, that we owe to our God, our neighbour, or ourselves. Nor is there a Begle cliaracter we futiain, or relation we bear, in either of ibose views, but what is the source of important duties. And if you consider the variety and multiplicity of these relations and connexions, you will readily perceive these duties mull be numerous, as well as important. But all there are so many claims on the diligence of the servants of Christ; so many obligations on them to be “ not flothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”a We must be diligent too, that one duty may not interfere with another, for every thing is beautiful in its feason.
Again-Diligence is implied in the idea of faithfulmuss ; for the servant cannot be faithful who is not diligent, No man ever employed a servant to run idle ; nor can any thing be more contrary to the design for which Heaven has made us, than a life of sloth and idleness, un. less it be a life of open and undisguised prophaneness. The author of our lives has sufficiently marked the great end for which he made us, upon the active powers with which he has endowed us--And this diligence is to be particularly employed in the discharge of the duties of our feveral stations in life. This is one way, among others, by which we are to bring forth fruit to the honor of our Lord. " And herein,” saith our Saviour, “ is my father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so thall ye be my disciples."b
4. The good and faithful servant has a sincere regard to bis master's honor. This is the end at which he wishes and studies to aim in all his actions : agreeably to the Divine command, “ Whether ye eat or drink, or whatso. ever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”c And in this the fervant of Christ accords with his master : the great end of whole incarnation, atonement, and intercession, on the behalf of sinners, was, the illustration of God's declarative glory, lle undertook the vindication of the character and government of God, from the contempt sin had cast upon
a R mans xii. 11. b John xv. 8. ci Cor. x. 31,
them; and in this he fully fucceeded, and appeals to his father, that so he had done—“ I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”a You will perceive, then, that to aim at the honor of God, as the highest end of all our actions, is, in a capi. tal instance, to have the “ same mind in us, which was also in Christ Jesus, our Lord.''b The true servant of Christ regards the honor both of his character and of his person. By the honor of Christ's character, I mean his honor as mediator; particularly as the great atonement for sin, and as our intercessor at his father's right hand. But to honor Christ under this character, in a proper manner, is not only to profess our firm faith in these doctrines, but to accept him as the Lord our righteousness; it is to trust in the merit of his atonement, as the sole ground of our acceptance in the sight of God-Thus the good and faithful servant of Christ puts the highest honor in his power upon him, in the character of a Saviour. He practically risks his very salvation on his ability, suitableness, and willing. ness to save him.
I shall mention but one ingredient more in the charac. ter I am at present illustrating, and that is,
5. Faithfulness in the discharge of the duties of life. The character under which our text represents the servants of Christ, is that of stowards, with whom their Lord had entrusted his goods; to some he gave more, and to others less, to trade withall. But the Apostle tells us, “ That it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." And you will please to observe, our text expressly stiles the true disciple of Christ, “ a good and faithful servant.”
This faithfulness consists, principally, in a conscientious sincerity and diligence in filling up the duties of our seve. ral stations and characters in life. and the great rule by which we are to act, is the will of our Lord and Master.
Thus much for the character of the good and faithful servant.
Let us now proceed to enquire,
a John xvii. 4. 6 Phil. ii. 5. c 1 Cor. iv. 2.