ON THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS, MATT. xxv.
Consider first, how our Lord in this parable likens himself to a man going into a far country, who called his servants, and delivered to them his goods. And to one he gave five talents, and to another two, and to another one – to every one according to his proper ability – and immediately he took his journey. Our Lord, by his ascension, is gone into heaven – a far country indeed from this wretched earth, on which we dwell. But. ‘ascending on high, he led captivity captive: he gave gifts to men,’ Eph. iv. 1. He has plentifully distributed his goods and talents amongst his servants; to the end that they might trade with them, and improve the stock, during the time of his absence, till he shall come again and take an account of their good or evil management of their trust. He is the universal Lord of all; he distributes his talents amongst us all, according to his good pleasure. All whatsoever we have, as to soul or body, nature or grace, all belongs to him. we have nothing but what we have received from him; nor anything but what we are accountable for to him. and those that have received more than their neighbours, have nothing to be proud of: for ‘what hast thou’ says the apostle, 1 Cor. iv. 7, ‘that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory?’ On the contrary, those that have received more ought to be so much the more humble, and to fear so much the more; because they are accountable for so much the more: for where more is given, more will be required. Christians, have you been rightly sensible of these truths? Have you considered your wit, your advantages of soul and body, your fortune, as you call it, your very time, and all other gifts, either of nature or of grace, as talents deposited in your hands? Have you ever seriously thought of the strict account you must one day give of them all?
Consider 2ndly, the difference use that these servants made of their master’s money. for ‘he that had received the five talents, went his way, and traded with the same, and gained other five: and in like manner, he that had received the two, gained other two. But he that had received the one, going his way, digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.’ The two former are proposed for our imitation; that by the like industry, in corresponding with divine grace, and employing in a proper manner all the gifts of God, and laying hold on every opportunity of good, we may continually advance in virtue; and, like these good and faithful servants, improve and double our stock. O, how happy shall we be if we shall trade in this manner with the talents committed to our charge! And though one of these servants gained five talents, and the other but two, yet as the latter who had received but two, was no less industrious than the former – gaining as much in proportion as he; so as to double his stock as well as he – we find him rewarded in like manner; and the same eulogium given to him by his master; ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant; because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of the lord,’ verse 23. O what encouragement is here for those who have received fewer talents; since we see, if they make proper use of what they have received, they shall be rewarded equally with them that have received more. But O, the sublime reward that is here set before us in these words: ‘enter thou into the joy of thy lord!’ for what is this joy of our Lord? O, nothing less than the everlasting possession of himself; an universal, incomprehensible, eternal good.
Consider 3rdly, how he that buried his master’s money is here condemned, both as a slothful and a wicked servant; as a warning to all such Christians as, having received talents, that is, gifts, graces, or advantages of any kind from God, do not employ them to his greater honour and glory, or to their own or their neighbour’s improvement or advancement in good; but through sloth and indolence let them be unregarded, and as it were hidden and buried in the earth; even in this unhappy earth, the world and the flesh, which engage all their thoughts, and affections more than the honour and glory of their Lord, or the eternal welfare of their own dear souls. but see where all this is like soon to end, by the sentence pronounced against this naughty servant: ‘Take ye away the talent from him, and give it to him that hath the ten talents. for to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall abound; but from him that hath not, that also which he seemeth to have, shall be taken away. And the unprofitable servant cast ye out into exterior darkness, there, shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ But if the unprofitable servant come off so ill, who only buried his master’s money, what will become of so many thousands, who do not content themselves with making no good use of the talents they are intrusted with, but squander them away, and even pervert and turn them all against their master, by making them the instruments of sin? O, my soul, hast thou never been so unhappy?