the Lord of all, and for the due improvement of which we shall have to give account. The parable divides into two parts. Two histories are here:-Our present state of probation, and the future retribution. Not every man receives the same talents, or the same amount. Each has as much as he can manage. In the parable we have three samples. Two, who received different amounts, each doubled the sum intrusted to him. Each, we may suppose, did his best, and each receives the same commendation. The third, almost in words we have heard before, in the kindred parable of The Pounds, excuses himself for having done nothing. Like all slothful servants, he lays the blame on any rather than on himself, even on his Master. He is not only slothful, but wicked. It is a consciously false excuse.



THE SAME SUBJECT-—continued.

St. Matthew xxv. 26-30.

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: thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 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. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

is a proof of the manner in which it 1 “ The natural gifts are as the bas wrought itself into the thoughts vessel, which may be large, or may be and language of men. True is it that small, and which receives according we have now come to use the word to its capacity.”Id. oftentimes with an entire forgetfulness

2 St. Luke xix. 12–26. of the solemn truth to which it bears 3 “ The foolish virgins failed from witness . . . yet not the less is such thinking their part too easy the witness implicitly contained in it.”- wicked servant fails from thinking Abp. Trench.

his too hard."--Alford.

The slothful servant thinks wickedly that his lord is even such an one as himself; but he will reprove him, and set before him the things that he has done. Had it even been

? so, admitting for the sake of argument that his Master were as he had misrepresented him,-one who reaps what another has sown, and gathers what another has winnowed,2 – this so far from excusing his slothfulness should have stimulated his activity. Had he really been afraid, had he realized that he had an account to render to one who would look for a return of interest as well as capital, he would at least have placed his lord's money with those who would have returned the capital with the usual rate of interest. Self-excuse is here self-accusation,5 This wicked and slothful servant even takes credit to himself for his care, and speaks as though anything beyond the capital would not have been his lord's but his. As if the capacity for trading at all had not come, as the good and faithful servants acknowledge, from their lord.” So will Christ deal with men when He comes to judgment. The talent unimproved is taken from the slothful and added to the faithful. From him that hath not anything gained, shall be taken away even that which was originally bestowed. Those who fail to get better, get worse. The



1 Ps. 1. 21.

word for interest. From the excessive ? Such formulæ, or proverbial say

rate of interest required by too many ings, were probably in use among capitalists, it came to bave its present ancient agriculturists and others.

bad sense. 3 " Those timid natures which are • It was a saying of the Duke of not suited to independent labour in Wellington, “I never knew a man the Kingdom of God, are here coun- who was good at an excuse to be selled at least to attach themselves to good at anything else." other stronger characters, under whose

6 V. 25. leading they may lay out their gifts for * Vv. 20, 22. “He who uses his the service of the Church.”-Olshau- natural or supernatural talents as if sen, cited in Abp. Trench. Alford he were the author and master of compares “the machinery of religious them, is an usurper of the goods which and charitable societies in our day," belong to God.”-Quesnel. adding however a caution to the sub- $ “It is the case even in nature : scribers to these.

a limb used is strengthened; disused * Usury, from usus, the lawful use becomes weak.”-Alford. of capital, was originally but another



faithful servants enter into the joy of their Lord. He gives a feast on his return. They are admitted to his table (which was in the East a sign of manumission, or setting free from a state of slavery) in the brilliantly-lighted presence-chamber. The unprofitable servant is driven into the darkness without. There he weeps with unavailing sorrow, and gnashes his teeth with disappointment and vexation. If this is the doom of those who fail to improve, what shall be said of those who dissipate their Lord's money; wasting the talents, the time, the means of getting good and doing good, which He has lent them, and for which they will have one day to give account?



St. Matthew xxv. 31-40.

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: 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: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 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 : for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink : I was a stranger, and


took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto

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1 Ps. xvi. 11.
2 St. Luke xii. 37; St. John xv.

15; Rev. iii. 20.

3 Ps. xxxvi. 9.

them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto

I one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.


Hitherto the Lord has spoken of His second coming in the guise of Parable, but in this crowning description of the final Judgment it is presented to us as a matter of fact. He anticipates the history of the great Assize."! Still He speaks of Himself as the Son of Man. He who appears in great humility, shall come in His proper glory. He who is despised and rejected of men, shall be attended by all the holy Angels. He who is about to be exposed upon the Cross, shall sit upon the Throne of His glory. All the nations,” Gentiles as well as Jews, shall be gathered before Him; though these latter imagined that the former would have no part in the resurrection. The Lord compares His conduct in that day of separation to what they might any day witness in the case of the shepherds in those parts with their mixed flocks. However much in this world the evil may be mingled with the good, He will distinguish as easily as a shepherd between cattle and cattle. In the Jewish Council, to which the Lord here seems to allude, those who were acquitted were placed on the right hand, the condemned on the left. Now He claims to Himself the title of Kings “ The Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” In His Father's name He bids them enter upon the inheritance prepared from the foundation of the world for all that love and fear Him. They are “ heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ." By their conduct they have proved their spiritual lineage. “Everyone that doeth righteousness, is born of Him.”8 These are corporal works of mercy which prove that they are partakers of the Spirit of God. Another proof we have in their humility, disclaiming the honour put upon them. What they did, they did for pity's sake, without a thought of self; as one who should succour a seeming beggar who should turn out to be a prince in disguise. The Lord, who may be ministered to in the persons of His poor, informs these diffident or modest ones that it is even so. What is done to any of the least of those whom He is not ashamed to call His brethren, He reckons as done to Himself. “He that hath pity on the poor, lendeth unto the Lord.”

1 The title of a famous sermon by allusion to the blessings and the John Wesley.

curses severally on Mount Gerizim 2 So in the original.

and on Mount Ebal. 3 Rom. ii. 6-10.

6 St. John xviii. 36, 37. * Eze. xxxiv. 17.

? Order for the Burial of the Dead. s Drusius. Some see in this an & 1 St. John ii. 29; iii. 7.




St. Matthew xxv. 41-46.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels : for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat : I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink : I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Very dreadful is the other side of the picture. The punishment spoken of under this figure of fire was not originally prepared for man;4 only for the devil, and those who have degenerated, and become like him, in having no

1 “This sentence of St. Jerome, be the test in that day of decision. Christo in pauperibus,' is inscribed It does not of course do away with over the Hospital at Berne.”—Mac. that which is a motive and spring of bride.


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action greater than any other, the re? Heb. ii. 11, 12; St. Matt. x. 40, ligion of Christ; which produces these 42 ; St. Mark ix. 41. This mention fruits beyond all other ; which, duly of brethren seems adverse to the inter- embraced, cannot but produce them, pretation of those who regard the 3 The figure may be taken from present passage as referring solely to that Valley of Hinnom where a fire to virtuous heathen. It would seem as consume the carcases cast into it was though it refers to all who in every burning continually. See Lect.cccu. nation fear God and work righteous- * See Jer. Taylor, Doomsday Book,

See Rev, xxii. 12. This shall


part iii.

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