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culous, were they not somewhat blasphemous. But when men arise in this land who believe truly in an ever-present God of order, revealed in his Son Jesus Christ; when men shall arise in this land, who will believe that faith with their whole hearts, and will live and die for it and by it; acting as if they really believed that in God we live, and move, and have our being ; as if they really believed that they were in the kingdom and rule of Christ—a rule of awful severity, and yet of perfect love-a rule, meanwhile, which men can understand, and are meant to understand, that they may not only obey the laws of God, but know the mind of God, and copy the dealings of God, and do the will of God; and when men arise in this land, who have that holy faith in their hearts, and courage to act upon it, then cholera will vanish away, and the physical and moral causes of a hundred other evils which torment poor human beings through no anger of God, but simply through their own folly, and greediness, and ignorance.
All these shall vanish away, in the day when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the
land, and men shall say, in spirit and in truth, as Christ their Lord has said before— Sacrifice
and burnt offering thou wouldest not. Then, ' said I, Lo, I come. In the volume of the book it is written of me, that I should do the will of God.' And in those days shall be fulfilled once more, the text which says—That the ' people glorified God, saying, A great prophet, 'even Christ the Lord himself, hath risen up • among us, and God hath visited his people.'
THE WICKED SERVANT.
St. MATTHEW XVIII. 23.
The kingdom of heaven is likened to a certain king, which
would take account of his servants.
MHIS parable, which you heard in the Gospel
for this day, you all know. And I doubt not that all you who know it, understand it well enough. It is so human and so humane; it is told with such simplicity, and yet with such force and brilliancy that—if one dare praise our Lord's words as we praise the words of men—all must see its meaning at once, though it speaks of a state of society different from anything which we have ever seen, or, thank God, ever shall see.
The Eastern despotic king who has no law but his own will ; who puts his servant, literally his slave, into a post of such trust and honour, that the slave can misappropriate and make away with the enormous sum of ten thousand talents ; who commands, not only him, but his wife and children to be sold to pay the debt; who then forgives him all out of a sudden burst of pity, and again, when the wretched man has shown himself base and cruel, unworthy of that pity, revokes his pardon, and delivers him to the tormentors till he shall pay all—all this is a state of things impossible in a free country, though it is possible enough still in many countries of the East, which are governed in this very despotic fashion; and justice, and very often injustice likewise, is done in this rough uncertain way, by the will of the king alone.
But however different the circumstances, yet there is a lesson in this story which is universal and eternal, true for all men, and true for ever. The same human nature, for good and for evil, is in us, as was in that Eastern king and his slave. The same kingdom of heaven is over us, as was over them, its laws punishing sinners by their own sins; the same Spirit of God which strove with their hearts, is striving with ours. If it was not so, the parable would mean nothing to us. It would be a story of men who belonged to another moral world, and were under another moral law, not to be judged by our rules of right and wrong; and therefore, a story of men whom we need not copy.
But it is not so. If the parable be--as I take for granted it is-a true story; then it was Christ, the Light who lights every man who cometh into the world, who put into that king's heart the divine feeling of mercy, and inspired him to forgive, freely and utterly, the wretched slave who worshipped him, kneeling with his forehead to the ground, and promising in his terror what he probably knew he could not perform—Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.'
And it was Christ, the Light of men, who inspired that king with the feeling, not of mere revenge, but of just retribution; who taught him that, when the slave was unworthy of his mercy, he had a right, in a noble and divine indignation, to withdraw his mercy; and