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every rank, shall have the power to improve or to abuse his talents of fortune, his talents of authority, his talents of grace, his talents of education, unchecked by any voice except the voice of conscience. Men are thus proved: it is seen what is in their heart; whether they have that faith in the Son of God, which overcomes the world."

19. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

20. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

21. His Lord said unto him, 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.

22. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold I have gained two other talents beside them.

23. His lord said unto him, Well done, 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.

This is the scene which we should anticipate in our minds, whenever the way of duty appears hard. It must have its difficulties, if it is the right way; for the right way is described as narrow, and as being pursued against natural inclination, against the arts of Satan, against the course of this world. But would he cast a thought back upon difficulties which he had encountered in the faithful use of his

61 John v. 24.

talents, when he heard the sentence, Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord? He would be lost in thankfulness and gratitude. For who "made him to differ" from another? What had he, "that he had not received?" It is thus that God approves himself a God of mercy. He raises us up from the dust of the earth; he bestows upon us talents, according to our several ability; and then he rewards with eternal happiness those who have used in his service the talents which he himself bestows. Truly may we say, with the Psalmist, "Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is mer ciful."

But our sense of his goodness must not exclude our conviction of his justice. We are forcibly warned of this by the doom of that servant, who had received his one talent, and now came and confessed that he had neglected it.

24. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

25. And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

26. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed. 7

27. Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers; and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

'That is, such was thy wicked opinion. Therefore "out of thine own mouth will I judge thee." Thou oughtest to have acted according to that opinion, however mistaken.

28. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

29. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

30. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

We cannot read this, without an awful reflection on the case of those who appear to run through life with a vain confidence that no reckoning shall be made, no judgment follow. When we consider in what way many squander all the gifts of nature and of grace, of education and of fortune, might we not be disposed to say, Surely it has been revealed to these, that their lives shall never be inquired into. Conceive a stranger to our world to behold one man misusing his faculties to destroy the best and holiest feelings of his fellow-creatures; another employing the gifts of wit or eloquence to scoff at the gracious Giver;-another wasting the blessings of superior fortune in vice and extravagance;-another using his influence over the young and inexperienced to draw them into evil;-another occupying the short space allowed him in amusements probably hurtful, and at least unprofitable :-would he not ask, Can these be the talents of time, and of ability, and of wealth, and of authority, for which he who has the most entrusted to him is the most awfully responsible? How striking are the Judge's words, At my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Your advice might have turned many from their evil way; your genius might have recommended religion; your leisure might have instructed the igno

rant; your superfluous wealth might have relieved the distress of many of my afflicted servants; and thus at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

May the Spirit of God enlighten us to discern the talents which belong to our respective stations and acquirements, and the way in which it is his will that we should trade with them: that whether over many things or over few, we may be found faithful, and admitted to the joy of our Lord.



MATT. XXV. 31-46.

31. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.

32. And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

33. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

A description is here given us of that awful day, which shall assign their everlasting destiny to all

the children of Adam. A description uttered by him who is himself the arbiter of that destiny. He who will be himself judge, declares the grounds of his judgment. He who is "the door" of the heavenly kingdom, declares whom he will admit, and whom he will exclude. He to whom "all things are delivered of the Father," declares in what manner he will execute his trust. "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth :" "the Lord, even the most mighty God, hath spoken."


34. Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.

36. Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee; or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38. When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39. Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?


40. And the king shall answer and say unto them, Verily say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me

It is remarkable, that the test or proof of character here brought forward, is taken entirely from works of mercy and charity. Ye have clothed the naked, and relieved the hungry, and visited the prisoner: what is done to the least of these my breMatt. xi. 27.

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