Unto one he gave five talents - to every man according to his several ability - The duties men are called to perform are suited to their situations, and the talents they receive. The good that any man has he has received from God, as also the ability to improve that good. God' s graces and temporal mercies are suited to the power which a man has of improving them. To give eminent gifts to persons incapable of properly improving them, would be only to lead into a snare. The talent which each man has suits his own state best; and it is only pride and insanity which lead him to desire and envy the graces and talents of another. Five talents would be too much for some men: one talent would be too little. He who receives much, must make proportionate improvement; and, from him who has received little, the improvement only of that little will be required. As five talents, in one case, are sufficient to answer the purpose for which they were given; so also are two and one.
The man who improves the grace he has received, however small, will as surely get to the kingdom of God, as he who has received most from his master, and improved all.
There is a parable something like this in Sohar Chadash, fol. 47: "A certain king gave a deposit to three of his servants: the first kept it; the second lost it; the third spoiled one part of it, and gave the rest to another to keep. After some time, the king came and demanded the deposit. Him who had preserved it, the king praised, and made him governor of his house. Him who had lost it, he delivered to utter destruction, so that both his name and his possessions were blotted out. To the third, who had spoiled a part and given the rest to another to keep, the king said, Keep him, and let him not go out of my house, till we see what the other shall do to whom he has entrusted a part: if he shall make a proper use of it, this man shall be restored to liberty; if not, he also shall be punished." See Schoettgen. I have had already occasion to remark how greatly every Jewish parable is improved that comes through the hands of Christ.
In this parable of our Lord, four things may be considered: -
I.The master who distributes the talents.
II.The servants who improved their talents.
III.The servant who buried his talent. And
I.The master who distributes the talents.
1.The master' s kindness. The servants had nothing - deserved nothing - had no claim on their master, yet he, in his Kindness, delivers unto them his goods, not for his advantage, but for their comfort and salvation.
2.The master distributes these goods diversely; - giving to one five, to another, two, and to another one. No person can complain that he has been forgotten; the master gives to each. None can complain of the diversity of the gifts; it is the master who has done it. The master has an absolute right over his own goods, and the servants cannot find fault with the distribution. He who has little should not envy him who has received much, for he has the greater labor, and the greater account to give. He who has much should not despise him who has little, for the sovereign master has made the distinction; and his little, suited to the ability which God has given him, and fitted to the place in which God' s providence has fixed him, is sufficiently calculated to answer the purpose of the master, in the salvation of the servant' s soul.
3.The master distributes his talents with Wisdom. He gave to each according to his several ability, i.e. to the power he had to improve what was given. It would not be just to make a servant responsible for what he is naturally incapable of managing; and it would not be proper to give more than could be improved. The powers which men have, God has given; and as he best knows the extent of these powers, so he suits his graces and blessings to them in the most wise, and effectual way. Though he may make one vessel for honor, (i.e. a more honorable place or office), and another for dishonor, (a less honorable office), yet both are for the master' s use - both are appointed and capacitated to show forth his glory.
II.The servants who improved their talents.
These persons are termed , slaves, such as were the property of the master, who might dispose of them as he pleased. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded, Matthew 25:16.
1.The work was speedily begun - as soon as the master gave the talents and departed, so soon they began to labor. There is not a moment to be lost - every moment has its grace, and every grace has its employment, and every thing is to be done for eternity.
2.The work was perseveringly carried on; after a long time the lord of those servants cometh, Matthew 25:19. The master was long before he returned, but they did not relax. The longer time, the greater improvement. God gives every man just time enough to live, in this world, to glorify his Maker, and to get his soul saved. Many begin well, and continue faithful for a time - but how few persevere to the end! Are there none who seem to have outlived their glory, their character, their usefulness?
3.Their work was crowned with success. They doubled the sum which they had received. Every grace of God is capable of great improvement. Jesus himself, the pure, immaculate Jesus, grew in wisdom and favor with God, Luke 2:52.
4.They were ready to give in a joyful account when their master came and called for them.
1st. They come without delay: they expected his coming; and it was with an eye to this that they continued their labor - they endured as seeing him who is invisible.
2dly. They come without fear; the master before whom they appear has always loved them, and given them the fullest proofs of his affection for them: his love to them has begotten in them love to him; and their obedience to his orders sprung from the love they bore to him. He that loveth me, says Jesus, will keep my words.
3d. They render up their accounts without confusion: he who received five brought five others; and he who had received two brought two more: nothing was to be done when their master called; all their business was fully prepared.
4th. They gave up every thing to their master, without attempting to appropriate any thing. Their ability was his, the talents his, and the continued power to improve them, his. All is of God, and all must be returned to him.
5.Their recompense from their gracious master.
1st. They receive praise. Well done, good and faithful servants, Matthew 25:21. What a glorious thing to have the approbation of God, and the testimony of a good conscience! They were good, pure and upright within - faithful, using to God' s glory the blessings he had given.
2d. They receive gracious promises. Ye have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much. These promises refer not only to a future glory, but to an increase of God' s grace and mercy here; for the more faithfully a man improves what God has already given him, the more he shall have from his gracious Master: for he giveth more grace, till he fills the faithful soul with his own fullness.
3d. They receive Glory. Enter into the joy of your Lord. As ye were partakers of my nature on earth, be ye sharers of my glory in heaven. The joy, the happiness wherewith I am happy, shall be your eternal portion! O, what is all we can do, all we can suffer, even the most lingering and cruel martyrdom, in comparison of this unbounded, eternal joy!
III.Of the servant who buried his talent.
He that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his Lord' s money, Matthew 25:18.
1.See the ingratitude of this servant. His master gave him a talent, capable of being improved to his own present and eternal advantage; but he slights the mercy of his lord.
2.See his idleness. Rather than exert himself to improve what he has received, he goes and hides it.
3.See his gross error. He Digs to hide it - puts himself to more trouble to render the mercy of God to him of none effect, than he would have had in combating and conquering the world, the devil, and the flesh.
4.See his injustice. He takes his master' s money, and neither improves nor designs to improve it, even while he is living on and consuming that bounty which would have been sufficient for a faithful servant. How much of this useless lumber is to be found in the Church of Christ! But suppose the man be a preacher - what a terrible account will he have to give to God - consuming the provision made for a faithful pastor, and so burying, or misusing his talent, as to do no good, to immortal souls!
5.Hear the absurdity of his reasoning. Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard (or avaricious) man, reaping where thou hast not sown, etc., Matthew 25:24. See this meaning of proved by Kypke. The wicked excuse of this faithless servant confuted itself and condemned him. Nevertheless it is on this very model that sinners in general seek to justify themselves; and the conclusion turns always against them. I knew thee to be a hard man. How awfully deceived and deeply depraved must that person be, who not only attempts to excuse his follies, but to charge his crimes on God himself!
I was afraid - Why? Because thou wert an enemy to thy soul, and to thy God. - I was afraid - of what? that he would require more than he did give. How could this be? Did he not give thee the talent freely, to show thee his benevolence? And did he not suit it to thy ability, that he might show thee his wisdom, justice, and goodness, in not making thee responsible for more than thou couldst improve?
IV.Behold the awful punishment of this faithless servant.
1.He is reproached. Thou wicked and slothful servant! Wicked - in thy heart: slothful - in thy work. Thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not. Thou art condemned by thy own mouth - whose is the unemployed talent? Did I not give thee this? And did I require the improvement of two when I gave thee but one? - Thou knowest I did not.
2.He is stripped of what he possessed. Take - the talent from him. O terrible word! - Remove the candlestick from that slothful, worldly-minded Church: take away the inspirations of the Holy Spirit from that lukewarm, Christless Christian, who only lives to resist them and render them of none effect. Dispossess that base, man-pleasing minister of his ministerial gifts; let his silver become brass, and his fine gold, dross. He loved the present world more than the eternal world, and the praise of men more than the approbation of God. Take away the talent from him!
3.He is punished with an everlasting separation from God and the glory of his power. Cast forth the unprofitable servant, Matthew 25:30. Let him have nothing but darkness, who refused to walk in the light: let him have nothing but misery - weeping and gnashing of teeth, who has refused the happiness which God provided for him.
Reader, if the careless virgin, and the unprofitable servant, against whom no flagrant iniquity is charged, be punished with an outer darkness, with a hell of fire: of what sorer punishment must he be judged worthy, who is a murderer, an adulterer, a fornicator, a blasphemer, a thief, a liar, or in any respect an open violater of the laws of God? The careless virgins, and the unprofitable servants, were saints in comparison of millions, who are, notwithstanding, dreaming of an endless heaven, when fitted only for an endless hell!
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