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THE SERVANTS AND THE TALENTS.

MATT. xxv. 14—30.

“ For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling

into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 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. 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. 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 beside 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 beside 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 the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 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 strawed: 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 ten 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.”

(See also Luke xix. 11–27.)

The last Parable which we considered was the Parable of the Ten Virgins. That pointed to our Lord's coming again ; and so does this. That showed how we should wait for Him, namely, with our Lamps lighted, and our oil burning : this shows how we should work for Him.

A certain great man is here described, as quitting his family for a while, and going “ into a far country.” He leaves with his servants different sums of money; and after a time he returns, and inquires how each one has discharged his duty.

But you will perhaps say at starting-It is a thing almost unheard of in these days for a Master to leave with his servants money to be traded with in his absence. This then requires a word or two of explanation. We are told that servants formerly were often artisans, and had money given them to trade with on their Master's account; and were therefore expected to bring him in certain profits. Such were the Servants in the Parable.

These Servants are intended to represent all Christ's professing people. The going into a Far Country represents our Lord

going into heaven. And the different Talents committed to the Servants represent the various opportunities which we have of doing good.

And now, in order to understand the Parable fully, and to profit by its teaching, I will break it up into three parts; and examine each separately.

The first part of the Parable seems to show what our Lord has given us to do for Him during His absence.

The second part speaks of the manner in which men ought to fulfil their trust.

The third part brings before us the day of reckoning.

With regard to the first part, which shows how our Lord has employed us during His absence, it appears that He has given to each of us a special work to do.

When the man in the Parable sets out for the far country, he calls together his servants, and delivers to them his goods. To one he entrusts goods to the value of five talents, to another two, and to another

one. A talent is equal to nearly 4001. of our money.

It is very clear from this, that Christ allots to each person a work according to his ability -according to the station which he fillsaccording to the powers which he possesses. He knows well what we are fitted for, and so He expects from us some return.

But alas, how slow we are to discover this, and act upon it! One man goes to the plough day after day, and labours hard for his bread. Another carefully attends to his family. Another is actively engaged in business. A fourth sits at home, and whiles away his time. But perhaps neither of the four considers that his Lord has placed him here to do some work for Him.

I will mention two or three cases. We will begin with a Minister of Christ. Is it enough, think you, that he gets through his duties respectably, so that no one can find fault ? Is it enough that he keeps on good terms with his flock, and is kind and charitable to those who are in need ? Is this all ? It is enough perhaps in the world's eyes. They may speak

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