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companion, and your path shall be as the shining light, shining more and more unto the perfect day.
The path of the just, refreshed by the lights of God's favour, thus terminates in everlasting glory. But the way of the wicked is darkness; bright and joyous as may be their prospects in this world, the path which they are pursuing leads to death, and will take hold on hell. Let them awake, ere they stumble on the dark mountains, and the things that belong to their peace be for ever hidden froma
The kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country,
who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
The parabolic mode of instruction pursued by our blessed Lord, is founded in nature. It is difficult to convey a forcible idea of intellectual and moral truths but by the aid of similitude; thus figuratively represented, they appear with greater clearness to the understanding, and more forcibly interest the imagination and the heart. The symbolical style, therefore, connected with the constitution of human nature, has prevailed among mankind in every age and country. It was, however, particularly prevalent in the Eastern nations, where the circumstances of climate, of the face of the country, and of the state of society, were highly favourable to the excitement and the indulgence of a strong and lively imagination.
In these considerations we shall find a cause for the figurative mode of instruction adopted by our Saviour. But he had other reasons for the employment of it. The symbolical style, though aiding our conception of religious and moral truthsin order to produce this effect, requiring some attention on the part of those to whom it is addressed VOL. III.
-was a trial of the docility of his hearers; whether “seeing, they would see, and hearing, they would hear, and would understand;" that is, whether they would exercise that honest and patient attention which was necessary to the full comprehension of the truths delivered, or would wilfully close their ears to the voice of instruction. The mission of our Saviour also was to a “ disobedient and gainsaying people.” Their glaring errors were to be corrected; their gross vices were to be reproved. This was a business requiring the utmost delicacy and management, lest the provocation of resentment should lead to personal insult, or should wholly defeat the object of his reproof-the conviction of the offenders. It was therefore a dictate of prudence to soften the severity of bis reproofs, by concealing them under the veil of similitude, or allegory.
For all these reasons we find our blessed Lord so often conveying his instructions in the form of parables.
My text is the commencement of a parable, in which our Saviour represents the dispensation of his spiritual blessings to mankind, the improvement which they make of them, and the awards which he will finally assign them, under the similitude of a man who, travelling into a far country, intrusts his servants with a particular proportion of his property; and on his return, requires from them an account of the improvement which they have made of their trust, and gives them their sentence according to their deserts.
In the verse preceding the text, our Saviour had delivered the caution—"Watch, for ye know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of man cometh.” He then enforces this caution by the parable of which my text is the commencement :" The kingdom of heaven," or, omitting these words, which are not in the original_“ He,” that is, the Son of man, whose coming was spoken of in the preceding verse—“ He is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants and delivered unto them his goods.”. Jesus Christ, the Lord of all things, head of all things to his church, has ascended into heaven; but thence, from the throne of dominion, he distributes his gifts and graces to his disciples on earth.
" And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.” Jesus Christ, the Lord of his disciples, does not distribute to them equally his gifts and graces; according to their several ability, to their natural capacity of improving them, or to the stations of importance or difficulty in which they may be placed, does he proportion his spiritual favours.
The improvement which these servants made of the trust committed to them, is recorded in the ensuing verses :-“ Then he that had received the five talents, went and traded with the same, and 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.” The sincere disciples of Christ, mindful of their obligations to their Lord and Master, and of the account which they are to render to him, will zealously and faithfully improve the spiritual trust which they have received ; while the negligent and slothful Christian, like the faithless servant in the parable, hides his talent in the earth-neglects to improve the grace which he has received, to his own salvation and to the honour of his Master. But a day of account is coming. “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.” Happy the Christian who, like this faithful servant, can thus address his Saviour and Judge: • Lord, the five talents of grace thou hast given me, I have improved, an they are become five talents more! Happy the Christian who thus improves his spiritual privileges! for, like the faithful servant in the parable, “ his Lord will say 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.” Nor will the improvement of inferior talents go without its reward. For “ 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."
The unprofitable servant, who, instead of improving the talent committed to him, had hid it in the earth, now comes to render his account. “Then he which had received the one talent came, and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed: and I was afraid,