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money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and
n Chap. xxiv. 47; ver. 34, 46; Luke xii. 44, xxii. 29, 30. o Heb. xii. 2; 2 Tim. ii. 12; 1 Pet. i. 8. p Ver. 21. q Chap. xiii. 12;
This parable of the talents was spoken still farther to illustrate the manner in which he would deal with men at his return to judgment. The design of the parable is, to teach that those who improve their talents or faculties in the cause of religion-who improve them to their own salvation, and in doing good to others-shall be proportionally rewarded. But they who neglect their talents, and neither secure their own salvation nor do good to others, will be punished. The kingdom of heaven is like such a man; that is, God deals with men in his government as such a man did
Their master delivered to them his goods. We have an account of the different management and improvement of this trust, ver. 16-18. Two of the servants did well. They were diligent and faithful; they went and traded; they put the money they were entrusted with to the use for which it was intended-laid it out in goods, and made returns of it. As soon as their master was gone, they applied themselves to their business. Those that have so much work to do, as every Christian has, need to set about it quickly, and lose no time. They were successful-they doubled their stock. He that had five talents soon made them other five. Trading with our talents is not always successful with others; but, however, it shall be so to ourselves. Isa. xlix. 4. The hand of the diligent makes rich in graces, and comforts, and treasures of good works. There is a great deal to be got by industry in religion. The returns were in, proportion to the receivings. From those to whom God hath given five talents, he expects the improvement of five, and to reap plentifully where he sows plentifully. The greater gifts any have, the more pains they ought to take, as those must that have a large stock to manage. From those to whom he has given but two talents, he expects only the improvement of two-which may encourage those who are placed in a lower and narrower sphere of usefulness: if they lay themselves out to do good according to the best of their capacity and opportunity, they shall be accepted, though they do not so much good as others.
The third servant did ill (ver. 18).—He that had received one talent, went and hid his lord's money. Though the parable represents but one in three unfaithful, yet in a history that answers
this parable, we find the disproportion quite the other way: when ten lepers were cleansed, nine of the ten hid the talent, and only one returned to give thanks. Luke xvii. 17, 18.
Those who have least to do for God, frequently do least of what they have to do. Some make it an excuse for their laziness, that they have not the opportunities of serving God that others have ; and because they have not wherewithal to do what they say they would, they will not do what we are sure they can, and so sit down and do nothing. It is really an aggravation of their sloth, that when they have but one talent to take care about, they neglect that one.
He digged in the earth, and hid the talent, for fear it should be stolen. He did not mispend or misemploy it did not embezzle it, or squander it away-but he hid it. Money is like manure (so Lord Bacon used to say), good for nothing in the heap, but it must be spread; yet it is an evil which we have often seen under the sun-treasure heaped together (James v. 3; Eccles. vi. 1, 2), which does good to nobody; and so it is in spiritual gifts-many have them, and make no use of them for the end for which they were given. Those that have estates, and do not lay them out in works of piety and charity-that have power and interest, and do not with it promote religion in the places where they live; ministers that have capacities and opportunities of doing good, but do not stir up the gift that is in them; are those slothful servants that seek their own things more than Christ's.
When their master returned, the faithful servants had a good account to give (vers. 20, 22),— Lord, thou deliveredst to me five talents-and to me two; I have gained five talents-and I two talents more. They received his commendation-Well done, good and faithful servant. The diligence and integrity of those who approve themselves the good and faithful servants of Jesus Christ, will certainly be found to praise, and honour, and glory, at his appearing. 1 Pet. i. 7. Those that own and honour God now, he will own and honour shortly. The faithful servants of Christ shall not be put off with bare commendation; all their work and labour of love shall be rewarded— Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. It is usual in the courts of princes, and families of great men, to advance those to higher offices that have been faithful in lower. Christ is a Master that will prefer his servants who acquit themselves well. Christ has honour in store for those that honour him-a crown (2 Tim. iv. 8), a throne (Rev. iii. 21), a kingdom (chap. xxv. 34).
There is no proportion between the work and the reward. There are but few things in which the saints are serviceable to the glory of God, but there are many things wherein they shall be glorified with God. What charge we receive from God, what work we do for God in this world, is but little, compared with the joy set before us. Put together all our services, all our sufferings, all our improvements, all the good we do to others, all we get to ourselves, and they are but a few things, next to nothing-not worthy to be compared, not fit to be named, the same day with the glory to be revealed. Whilst it is thus with the faithful servants, it shall be very different with the slothful one. He comes to the account with much assurance, relying on the plea he had to put in-that he was able to say, Lo, there thou hast that is thine; if I have not made it more, as others have done, yet this I can say, I have not made it less. This, he thinks, may serve to bring him off, if not with praise, yet with safety. Many a one goes very securely to judgment, presuming upon the validity of a plea that will be overruled as vain and frivolous. Slothful professors, that are afraid of doing too much for God, yet hope to come off as well as those that take so much pains in religion. Thus the sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason. Prov. xxvi. 16. This servant thought that his account would pass well enough, because he could say, There thou hust that is thine. "Lord, I was no spendthrift of my estate, no prodigal of my time, no profaner of my Sabbaths, no opposer of good ministers and good preaching; Lord, I never ridiculed my Bible, nor set myself to work to mock religion, nor abused my power to persecute any good man; I never drowned my parts, nor wasted God's good creatures in drunkenness and gluttony, nor ever to my knowledge did I injury to any body." Many that are called Christians, build great hopes for heaven upon their being able to make such an account; yet all this amounts to no more than There thou hast that is thine; as if no more were required, or could be expected.
He owns the burying of his talent-1 hid thy talent in the earth. He speaks as if that were no great fault; nay, as if he deserved praise for his prudence in putting it in a safe place, and running no hazards with it. As an excuse, he says, I knew that thou wert a hard man, and I was afraid. Good thoughts of God would beget love, and that love would make us diligent and faithful; but hard thoughts of God beget fear, and that fear makes us slothful and unfaithful.
His plea will stand him in no stead, it is overruled, nay, it is made to turn against him, and he is struck speechless with it; for here we have his conviction and his condemnation. His conviction, vers. 26, 27. Two things he is convicted of :-Slothfulness-Thou wicked and slothful servant.
He that is careless in God's work, is near akin to him that is busy in the devil's work. To do no good, is to incur very serious blame. And of self-contradiction, vers. 26, 27,-Thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not: thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers. The hard thoughts which sinners have of God, though false and unjust, will be so far from justifying their wickedness and slothfulness, that they will rather aggravate and add to their guilt. Three ways this may be taken:-1. “ Suppose I had been so hard a master, shouldest not thou therefore have been the more diligent and careful to please me-if not for love, yet for fear; and for that reason oughtest not thou to have minded thy work?" If our God be a consuming fire, in consideration of that let us study how to serve him. Or thus,-2. "If thou didst think me to be a hard master, and therefore durst not trade with the money thyself, for fear of losing by it, and being made to stand to the lose, yet thou mightest have put it into the hands of the exchangers." The exchangers were persons who were in the habit of borrowing money, or receiving it on deposit at a low rate of interest, to be loaned to others at higher interest. They commonly sat by tables in the temple, with money ready to exchange or loan. See Matt. xxii. 12. This money was left with the servant, not to exchange, nor to increase it by any such idle means, but by honest industry and merchandise ; but since he was too indolent for that, he ought at least to have loaned it to the exchangers, that his master might have received it back with interest, increase, or gain. The word usury, in our language, has a bad signification, meaning unlawful or exorbitant interest. In the original it means gain, increase, or lawful interest. Or thus,-3. "Suppose I did reap where I sowed not, yet that is nothing to thee; for I had sowed to thee, and the talent was my money, which thou wast entrusted with, not only to keep, but to improve." In the day of account, wicked and slothful servants will be left quite without excuse. Frivolous pleas will be overruled, and every mouth will be stopped; and those who now stand so much upon their own justification will not have one word to say for themselves.
His condemnation is according to his crime,-Take therefore the talent from him. The talents were first disposed of by the master, as an absolute owner, but this was now disposed of by him as a judge he takes it from the unfaithful servant, to punish him, and he gives it to him that was eminently faithful, to reward him. And the meaning of this part of the parable we have in the reason of the sentence (ver. 29),- To every one that hath shall be given. This may be applied, 1. To the blessings of this life-worldly wealth and possessions. These we are entrusted with, to be used for the glory of God and the good of those about us. Now, he that hath these things, and useth them for these ends, he shall have abundance; perhaps abundance of the things themselves, at least, abundance of comfort in them, and of better things. 2. We may apply it to the means of grace. They who are diligent in improving the opportunities they have, God will enlarge them, will set before them an open door (Rev. iii. 8); but they who know not the day of their visitation, shall have the things that belong to their peace hid from their eyes. 3. We may apply it to the common gifts of the Spirit. He that hath these, and doeth good with them, shall have abundance. These gifts improve by exercise, and brighten by being used: the more we do, the more we may do, in religion. But those who stir not up the gift that is in them, who do not exert themselves according to their capacity, their gifts rust and decay, and go out like a neglected fire.
The doom of the unfaithful servant is, to be cast into outer darkness. Here, as in what was said to the faithful servants, our Saviour slides insensibly out of the parable into the thing intended by it, and it serves as a key to the whole; for, outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, is, in Christ's discourses, the common periphrasis of the miseries of the damned in hell.
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. 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 hungred, and ye gave me meat I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: "I was a stranger, and ye
s Zech. xiv. 5; chap. xvi. 27. xix. 28; Mark viii. 38; Acts i. 11; 1 Thess. iv. 16; 2 Thess i. 7; Jude 14; Rev. i. 7. Rom. xiv. 10; 2 Cor. v. 10; Rev. xx. 12. u Ezek. xx. 38, xxxiv. 17, 20; chap. xiii. 49. ≈ Rom. viii. 17; 1 Pet. i. 4, 9, iii. 9; Rev. xxi. 7. y Chap. xx. 23; Mark &. 40; 1 Cor. ii. 9; Heb. xi. 16. ≈ Isa. viii, 7; Ezek. xviii. 7; James i. 27. a Heb. xiii. 2; 3 John 5.
took me in 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and
b James ii. 15, 16. vii. 23; Luke xiii. 27.
i Dan. xii. 2; John v. 29;
c 2 Tim. i. 16. d Prov. xiv. 31. xix. 17; chap. x. 42; Mark ix. 41; Heb. vi. 10. e Psal. vi. 8; chap. f Chap. xiii. 40, 42. g 2 Pet. ii. 4; Jude 6. h Prov. xiv. 31, xvii. 5; Zech. ii. 8; Acts ix. 5. Rom. ii. 7.
We have here a description of the process of the last judgment, in the great day. There are some passages in it that are parabolical; as the separating between the sheep and the goats, and the dialogues between the judge and the persons judged: but there is no thread of similitude carried through the discourse, and therefore it is rather to be called a draught or delineation of the final judgment, than a parable; it is, as it were, the explanation of the former parables.
When the Son of man shall come, ver. 31. There is a judgment to come, in which every man shall be sentenced to a state of everlasting happiness or misery, in the world of recompense or retribution, according to what he did in this world of trial and probation; which is to be judged of by the rule of the everlasting gospel.
The administration of the judgment of the great day is committed to the Son of man; for by him God will judge the world (Acts xvii. 31), and to him all judgment is committed, and therefore the judgment of that day, which is the centre of all. He will then sit upon the throne of his glory. He is now set down with the Father upon his throne; and it is a throne of grace, to which we may come boldly; it is a throne of government, the throne of his father David; he is a priest upon that throne: but then he will sit upon the throne of glory, the throne of judgment.
Before him shall be gathered all nations, ver. 32. The judgment of the great day shall be a general judgment. All must be summoned before Christ's tribunal; all of every age of the world, from the beginning to the end of time; all from every place on earth, even from the remotest corners of the world, most obscure, and distant from each other; all nations, all those nations of men that are made of one blood, to dwell on all the face of the earth.
He shall separate them one from another, as the tares and wheat are separated at the harvest, the good fish and the bad at the shore, the corn and chaff in the floor. Wicked and godly here dwell together in the same kingdoms, cities, churches, families, and are not certainly distinguishable one from another, such are the infirmities of saints, such are the hypocrisies of sinners, and one event happens to both; but in that day they will be separated, and parted for ever. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked. Mal. iii. 18.
The cause of the godly comes first. Christ shall pronounce them blessed; and his saying they are blessed, makes them so. The law curses them for their many discontinuances; but Christ having redeemed them from the curse of the law, and purchased a blessing for them, commands a blessing on them. We now come boldly to the throne of grace, but we shall then come boldly to the throne of glory. Now, the Spirit saith, Come, in the Word; and the Bride saith, Come, in prayer;
and the result hereof is a sweet communion: but the perfection of bliss will be, when the King shall say, Come.
The ground of this is noticed (ver. 35, 36),-For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat. We cannot hence infer, that any good works of ours merit the happiness of heaven, by any intrinsic worth or excellency in them-our goodness extends not unto God; but it is plain that Jesus Christ will judge the world by the same rule by which he governs it, and therefore will reward those that have been obedient to that law; and mention will be made of their obedience, not as their title, but as their evidence of an interest in Christ, and his purchase. The union between Christ and his people is the most tender and endearing of all connections. It is represented by the closest unions of which we have knowledge. John xv. 4-6; Eph. iv. 23-32; 1 Cor. vi. 15. This is a union, not physical, but moral; a union of feelings, interests, plans; or, in other words, he and his people have similar feelings, love the same objects, share the same trials, and inherit the same blessedness. John xiv. 19; Rev. iii. 5, 21; Rom. viii. 17. Hence he considers favours shown to his people as shown to himself, and will reward them accordingly. Matt. x. 40, 42.
The good works here mentioned are such as we commonly call works of charity to the poor: not but that many will be found on the right hand who never were in a capacity to feed the hungry, or clothe the naked, but were themselves fed and clothed by the charity of others; but one instance of sincere obedience is put for all the rest; and it teaches us this in general, that faith working by love is all in all in Christianity-Show me thy faith by thy works: and nothing will abound to a good account hereafter, but the fruits of righteousness in a good conversation now.
The sentence passed upon those on the left hand, ver. 41. It was a disgrace to be set on the left hand; but that is not the worst of it-he shall say to them, Depart from me, ye cursed. Every word has terror in it, like that of the trumpet at mount Sinai, waxing louder and louder-every accent more and more doleful, and exclusive of comfort.
In this world they were often called to come to Christ, but they turned a deaf ear to his calls; justly, therefore, are they bid to depart from Christ, that would not come to him. If they must depart, and depart from Christ, might they not be dismissed with a blessing-with one kind and compassionate word, at least? No-Depart, ye cursed. They that would not come to Christ, to inherit a blessing, must depart from him under the burthen of a curse-t -that curse of the law on every one that breaks it. Gal. iii. 10.
They shall be doomed to endless misery. They served the devil while they lived, and therefore are justly sentenced to be where he is; as those that served Christ are taken to be with him where he is. The fire is said to be prepared, not primarily for the wicked, as the kingdom is prepared for the righteous; but it was originally intended for the devil and his angels. If sinners make themselves associates with Satan, by indulging their lusts, they may thank themselves if they become sharers in that misery which was prepared for him and his associates.
The wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment. The punishment of the wicked in the future state will be an everlasting punishment; for that state is an unalterable state. It can neither be thought that sinners should change their own natures, nor that God should give his grace to change them, when in this world the day of grace was mispent, the Spirit of grace resisted, and the means of grace abused and baffled. In regard to the meaning of the word everlasting in this place, it is to be observed,-1. That the literal meaning of the word expresses absolute eternity-always being. Matt. xviii. 8, xix. 16; Mark iii. 29; Rom. ii. 7; Heb. v. 9. 2. That the obvious, plain interpretation of the word demands this signification. 3. That, admitting that it was the Saviour's design ever to teach this doctrine, this would be the very word to express it; and if this does not teach it, it can not be taught. 4. That it is not taught in any plainer manner in any confession of faith on the globe; and if this may be explained away, all those may be. 5. That our Saviour knew that this would be so understood by nine-tenths of the world; and if he did not mean to teach it, he knowingly led them into error. 6. That he knew that the doctrine was calculated to produce fear and terror; and if he was benevolent, his conduct cannot be vindicated in exciting unnecessary fears. 7. That the word used here is the same in the original as that used to express the eternal life of the righteous. If one can be proved to be limited in duration, the other can, by the same arguments. The proof that the righteous will be happy for ever, is precisely the same, and no other, than that the wicked will be miserable for ever. 8. That it is confirmed by many other passages of Scripture. 2 Thess. i. 7-9; Luke xvi. 26; Rev. xiv. 11; Psal. ix. 17; Isa. xxxiii. 14; Mark xvi. 16; John iii. 36.
The righteous shall go away into life eternal. That is, they shall inherit the kingdom, ver. 34. Heaven is life, it is all happiness. The life of the soul results from its union with God by the mediation of Jesus Christ. The heavenly life consists in the vision and fruition of God, in a perfect conformity to him, and an immediate, uninterrupted communion with him. It is eternal life.