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made them other five talents; and likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one, went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time, the lord of those servants cometh and reckoneth with them 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 besides them five talents more. 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. He, also, that had received two talents, came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents, behold, I have gained two other talents besides them. 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. Then he which had received one talent came and said, Lord, I know thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed; and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth; lo, there thou hast that is thine. 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 strewed: 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 five 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."
I refer to the observations offered on the parable of the pounds. The general purport of the two parables is the same. It regards the ministers and stewards of the manifold gifts of God: they are called "the Lord's own servants," or "his household slaves :" they are put in trust with some things to manage for his interest -with
their Lord's goods; and in this parable, as in that of the pounds, it is represented as something that may be taken from one, at the great day, and given to another, to his honour and advantage. This, I think, strongly argues, that by pounds and talents are intended that official character, or those especial endowments and gifts, which enable a man, not "to make his own calling and election sure," as a private Christian and member of Christ, but which enable him to promote the public interest of Christ upon earth. Indeed, the term talents, from its use in this parable, seems to have acquired in our language some such meaning.
The chief difference in these two parables is, the equal pound as committed to all the servants in the former, and the unequal talents in the one now before us. Perhaps our divine Instructor, in the one, had the general trust of the ministry in view, which, as to its essentials, is alike in every minister of God's word; and in the other, the different gifts and qualifications with which his servants, for special purposes, are seen to be endowed. The circumstance, that our Lord should choose to represent the unfaithful servant as the least gifted, and as put in the least trust, certainly is not designed to teach that unfaithfulness is not sometimes found among the greatest of his servants, and among those whose spheres of usefulness might have been the greatest. This erroneous interpretation is corrected by matter of fact. But our Lord's design may be, to caution his servant against a fault, and a very dangerous temptation, but too common to man,that because they have but little that they can do, think it not worth their while to do any thing, while they flatter themselves, perhaps, that had they been intrusted with
more, their diligence would have been as conspicuous as that of others.
We now come to the parable of the shepherd dividing his flock. If the last parable concerned the ministers and stewards of the Lord's household, this certainly concerns every member of the family; for brotherly love, effective in deed, and not existing in word only, is essential to the character of every Christian, let his station and situation be what it may. And as faithlessness to ministerial trust in the shepherds that feed the flock, is decisive of character in the one case; so, in the other, to be destitute of this charity is equally decisive that a man is not one of the sheep of Christ; and this the great day will publicly declare in the face of the whole world.
"When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the 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 separateth his sheep from his goats; and he shall set the sheep at his right. hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed children of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 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; 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, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? Aud the King shall answer and say to them, Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say to them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an
hungered, 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 hungered, 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 unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal."
Whatever be the allowable accommodation of this parable to the examination of individual character, its primary intent is to illustrate the proceedings of the King Messiah, with respect to his professing people, when he shall appear upon earth. One great business of the second advent, as we have learnt from former prophecies, is Christ's judgment of his people. This he executes, not only by vindicating them in their destined and promised rights, but in separating from among them all the wicked and unsound members. This has been represented already by various images. "He shall be as a refiner's fire, and as fuller's soap, and he shall sit as a refiner of silver," &c. "His fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor; his wheat will be gathered into his garner, but his chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Compare also the close of the parable of "the tares," and of that of " the great net cast into the sea." This refers not to the general judgment, when ALL the dead shall stand before the tribunal of Christ. It is intended to represent what will take place at the appearing of the Son of Man, "when he shall sit upon the throne of his kingdom." The general judgment could not be represented as forming its decision on one trait of
character alone-love to Christ, effective in charity to his members. Since the general judgment is a judgment according to works," each is to receive according to that which he hath done, whether it be good, or whether it be bad. Thousands and ten thousands that will be summoned to that tribunal never knew the Lord Jesus, nor were called to show kindness to his brethren - to "disciples in the name of a disciple!" This, therefore, cannot mean the general judgment, and it will be found hereafter, that this general judgment does not take place, nor the general resurrection of the dead, at the commencement of Messiah's reign upon earth, when he shall sit upon the throne of his kingdom, but after a thousand years.
Again, we should remark, that though all nations are said to be gathered, yet they are spoken of as being before all mingled together-up to that very time, though essentially different in their nature, as goats from sheep, they were all feeding promiscuously together. One point of the comparison is, "As a shepherd separateth his sheep from his goats, so shall the King separate them one from another." Hence it follows, that the church found on the earth at the time of the Saviour's appearing, in" every nation under heaven," is the flock intended as the object of this judgment. Thus we read in the parable of the tares," the field is the world."
It extends not to the dead: the sheep among them that slept had long ago been placed at the King's right hand, or, at least, had been separated from the goats, and were in Abraham's bosom in the resting-place of the spirits of the just: they come with Christ on this occasion, appearing with him in glory. The goats also, whom, as individuals, death had cut off from the professed church, were 66 gone to their own place:" they