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Such is the only advice by which the minister or the pious friend is able to comfort the dying man. My faith, he says, I cannot give you; that grace which alone can make it effectual to renew your heart, is not mine to give. But go ye rather to Him, who gave himself for you as well as for me, who gave himself a ransom for all who turn to him in faith. Go and buy for yourselves: procure by your repentance, your prayers, and your contrition, that interest in the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, which is freely offered "to all who truly turn to him." 3

The conclusion of the parable warns us to be wise in time, and not to trust to any such late repentance.

10. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

11. Afterwards came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

12. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

13. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

This parable gives indeed a strong reason why all should watch, and be habitually prepared. And the words in which the unrighteous are excluded, point out what habitual preparation is. Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Those then, who, are really heirs of salvation, must be known to their Lord by certain signs. They must have been known to him by their faith, leading them to give up other 3 Communion Service.

grounds of confidence. They must have been known to him by their practice, as setting their affections on things above; as living to him who died for them; as denying themselves the lusts of the flesh, and the vanities of the world, as far as they are inconsistent with the commands of God. In this manner our Lord himself tells us, that he knows them that are his. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish.” These, he assures us, shall enter with him to the marriage. Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." 5

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Watch therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of man cometh. Think no labour, no self-denial, no means of grace within your reach too much; that when you are summoned, you may be found ready; "your loins girded, and your lights burning, and yourselves like men that are waiting for their Lord."

4 John x. 27.

5 Ch. x. 33.



MATT. XXV. 14-30.

14. For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

15. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

In this parable is explained to us the condition of Christians in the world, as the servants of God; his own servants in an especial manner, as bound to him by the obligations of their baptism; as those to whom he has appointed duties, and whom he makes accountable for the discharge of those duties.

He delivers to them his goods. Not to all in an uniform portion; but a portion to all; and to every man according to his several ability. We have


gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us." "There are diversities of gifts," both in the ministers of the church and the world at large. For the talents here distributed, represent the various powers and opportunities which each individual enjoys, both of doing good and of receiving good; represent abilities, whether of education, or of natural

1 Rom. xii. 6.

understanding; represent the advantages of health, of time, of fortune, of influence. Men possess them in very different degrees; but all possess some of them, and may use them as they pass through life, either to no purpose, or to a bad purpose, or to a good purpose; may employ them to further the object for which they were intended, that of serving God; or for their own objects, with no regard to God's will at all; or, still worse, even to oppose his will and violate his commands.

16. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

This describes the conduct of those who use rightly the opportunities and powers bestowed on them. It describes those who use their knowledge to inform and instruct; as Paul, whilst waiting at Athens, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. "Therefore disputed he with the Jews, and in the synagogues, and with the devout persons, and in the markets daily with them that met with him.” 2 Had he remained silent, though sent with no especial commission to Athens, he would have hidden the talent entrusted to him.

Those also are trading with their talents, who use their power and influence to restrain evil and promote the glory of God: like those kings of Israel who corrected the prevailing idolatry; as Hezekiah, when he removed the high places and brake the images, and cut down the groves:" or as Joshua,

2 See Acts xvii. 17.


32 Kings xviii. 4, &c.

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who declared, in his character as leader of the nation, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."


Those also are trading with their talents, who make use of the scriptures to live by; like the Bereans, whose praise it was that "they searched the scriptures daily, to see whether the things were so as Paul affirmed: 5 like all those who labour to "work out their salvation," remembering that "the time is short;" who use their wealth to promote the useful works of industry, and the needful duties of charity, and so "lay up a good foundation against the time to come."

What a different world would ours be, if all so used their leisure, and their knowledge, and their money, and their influence! For many neglect this altogether, and live only to themselves. These are described in what follows.

18. But he that had received one, went and digged in the earth, and hid his Lord's money.

There is little need to explain what it is, to hide the Lord's money. It is, when the scriptures are in our hands, to neglect and despise them. It is, when we have the means of instructing the young and ignorant, or of guiding those dependant on us, to leave them untaught, not noticed, not cared for. It is to consume time in idle amusements, and money in selfish luxury. This is to hide our Lord's talent. And it is the nature of that state of moral trial in which we are placed on earth, that every man, in

4 Josh. xxiv. 15.

5 Acts xvii. 11.

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