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When we read the parable we may detect a feeling of surprise creeping over our minds, that the Lord, who had the whole world and its history before him whence to select his examples, should have chosen a specimen of worldly wisdom, damaged by an admixture of downright falsehood, in order to stimulate thereby the spiritual zeal of his own disciples. The three following observations will, in my judgment, explain and completely remove the difficulty: (1.) The Holy One, precisely because he is perfectly holy, can come closer to the unholy than we who are infected with sin and susceptible of injury from contact with impurity. Jesus talked with the Samaritan at the well, and permitted the sinner to wash his feet with tears in Simon's house. His own disciples and the Pharisees wondered by turns why he came so close to the unclean; but if they had been free from sin as he was, they could have handled it freely when in their ordinary ministry it crossed their path. Inflammable matter must be kept far from fire; whereas matter that is incombustible may, when a necessary cause occurs, safely pass through the midst of the flame. (2.) A shorter parable in another place presents and explains the same difficulty: "Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." Serpents are proposed to the disciples as examples to be imitated; but it is the wisdom only and not the hurtfulness of the serpent that their Master enjoins them to imitate. Foresight and dishonesty are not more closely or inseparably united in the character of the cunning steward than wisdom and hurtfulness in the nature of the serpent. In both alike the Master meant that one quality which is commendable should be selected for imitation, and the other quality which is vile should be cast away with loathing. (3.) The key-note of the parable is expressed in verse