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not only listens patiently to what he has to say, but receives him with the utmost kindness, frees him from his confinement, and forgives him all the debt.
It so happens that this pardoned servant has a small sum owing to him from one of his fellow-servants. It is only a hundred pence, or about three pounds in our money-a mere trifle compared with what he himself had owed. But he sternly demands payment. And because he did not receive it at once, he seizes the poor debtor, and, in spite of his earnest entreaties, casts him into prison.
As soon as this comes to the Master's cars, he immediately summons the unthankful servant into his presence, upbraids him for his hardheartedness and ingratitude, and punishes him as he deserves.
Such is the Story: now for the Interpretation.
Who is the “certain King”? It is God Himself; the great King of kings, and Lord of lords. And who is the servant who owed the ten thousand talents? It is you and I, whose debts are so great, and who deserve, each one of us, to be cast into the eternal prison of hell. The King's conduct towards his servant is a picture of God's love and mercy to us sinners, freely forgiving the penitent, although he has nothing whatever to offer for his sins.
Then, the cruel conduct of the Servant towards his fellow-servant is to show us the hatefulness of an unforgiving spirit towards a brother, when God has been so patient and so gracious towards us.
What a blessed subject for us to dwell upon-Forgiveness! The Forgiveness which the penitent believer receives from God, and the Forgiveness which he ought to be ever ready to bestow on his offending brother.
1. The Forgiveness which the penitent believer has received from God:
He is a forgiven man. How is this? It is true, we all owe a debt, a heavy debt, to God. David knew the vastness of this debt, when he said, in Ps. xl., “Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up: they are more than the hairs of mine head; therefore my heart faileth me."
And again, in Ps. xix., he exclaims, “Who can understand his errors ? "_or, as our Prayer-book translation has it, “Who can tell how oft he offendeth ?” Think of all our shortcomings, and all our ill-doings. Think of all we have left undone, and all we have done amiss. Think of all our evil thoughts, all our idle words, all our unworthy acts. Think of the sins we committed long ago in our youth, or lately in our riper years; the bad deeds done in the days of our ignorance, and those which have stained our lives, since we have known something of God and of His love. What debts there are standing against us in the book of heaven! Truly we are debtors before God utterly miserable, hopeless, helpless ! "And is it not true also that, like the Servant in the Parable, we have nothing to pay off these enormous debts 'with-absolutely nothing? We are penniless. We have not a farthing to give. · We cannot pay even a particle of our debt. Our mis-spent time, for instance, that we have frittered away, which should have been given to God—how can we ever make amends for that? The
harm we have done in the world; the injury we have caused perhaps to a brother's soul by our bad example; the talents we have wasted; the opportunities lost; the laws of God which we have trampled upon—not one of these can we undo or recal.
But the Debtor in the Parable beseeches his Master to give him time, and the debt shall be discharged; “Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.” This was utterly impossible. He could never pay it. But in the fear and anguish of the moment, he is ready to promise anything, so that he may be delivered from his present danger.
And the awakened sinner, when the wrath of an offended God seems to press home upon him, is apt to fancy that he can himself pay off his debt-that he can at all events do something towards the repayment. But no; he has nothing to offer, nothing to give. He must come, simply craving mercy-as a criminal, pleading before God. It is true, he may do better in future; but he cannot undo what has been already done. If it were possible for us to lead a perfectly sinless life from this hour, our future holiness would
not atone for past transgressions—not one spot could it wash out from our sin-stained souls.
What we need is Forgiveness. This is what a sinner longs for, the moment he feels the greatness of his debt, and the hopelessness of his case. Then he anxiously inquires where pardon is to be found. He opens his Bible, and there, to his great joy, he discovers that God delighteth in mercy—that there is forgiveness with Him. Did he never know this before? Yes, he knew it all along, but never in the way that he knows it now.
A pardoning God! This is the very thing we want. Salvation for the lost! This is the very boon to meet our case. A Saviour, who has bled for us—who has died for the ungodly—who has paid the debtor's due, the ten thousand talents, when he could not pay one of them himself! Here is grace, far surpassing all our deserts.
Let me ask, Has God convinced you of your debt? Has He showed you that you are a hopeless bankrupt, deserving only to be cast away, and that for ever? Has He drawn from your lips an earnest cry for mercy ?