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in the period of their abode on earth, of anticipating his return to judgment, and employing themselves in the administration of his gifts. The talents given to the servants, represent the various powers and blessings which Christ has assigned to us for the salvation of our souls, the benefit of our neighbour, and the glory of his name. These are of various kinds; and to understand rightly the nature of them is the first main point necessary to a correct view of the whole parable.
Under this description of TALENTS may be reckoned all the unnumbered mercies of God, which as rational and moral agents we may convert to a good or a bad purpose : all the faculties of our minds, as well as all the members of our bodies, are like a deposit of money put into our hands to trade with, from which some gain is expected to arise. The understanding and will and imagination and memory and affections, our natural and acquired abilities, our time, our health, our influence, authority, property; privileges, family, offices, and gifts, are all a sacred trust. The duties and opportunities of the young, the middle-aged, and the old; of the sick and the strong; of the learned and the ignorant ; of the rich and the poor; of the magistrate and the subject; of the husband and the wife; the parent and the child ; the male and the female; are all like talents placed
under the respective management of each person. We are endued with reason. We have the gift of the Holy Scriptures. We have been born in a Protestant land. We have enjoyed the blessings of being initiated by baptism into the Christian church. The influence of the Holy Spirit has been secretly operating on our minds. We have had education, convictions of conscience, and calls and warnings from God in his providence. Thus we have each something committed to us. The knowledge of a Saviour and opportunities of salvation, at least, are a weighty and valuable trust. The ministers of God's holy word especially have received a solemn stewardship in the charge of souls, and in their gifts and qualifications for edifying the church.
The DIFFERENT NUMBER OF THE TALENTS, which is the next important circumstance in the parable, teaches us that the great Head of the church distributes his gifts according to his Sovereign pleasure. Some have five talents ina trusted to them, some two, and others one. A larger proportion of natural or acquired powers, å wider circle of influence, more numerous oc easions of doing good, greater vigour of body Or mind, better means of moral or religious instruction, purer and higher examples of piety, greater freedom from snares and temptations, more inviting - opportunities of glorifying God,
are granted to one, man than to another. The widow with her two mites, and Lazarus lying at a gate full of sores, differed in the amount of talents committed to their care, from the young man who, had great possessions, or the rich one who pulted down his barns and built greater. Saul at the head of a kingdom, cand Samuel the judge and prophet of Israel, -differ ed in their gifts from the retired and sorrowful Hannah and Naomi. The seraphic and royal Psalmist, and Solomon whose: wisdom. filled the earth, bąd talents, different from those intrusted to Ruth and Rahab, Bezaleel and Aholiab, again, filled with the spirit of noisdom to devise cunning works, to work in gold and silver and in brass, had not the same, endow ments or duties with Moses who sau God face to face, or Aaron who put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. The husbandman plowing all day to sow, whom his God doth in struct to discretion and doth teach, has distinct talents from the Apostle who had been in the third heavens, who spake with tongues and came behind in no gift, and who was a chosen vessel to lear, his Saviour's name to the Gentiles. In like manner, Gaius, whose charity blessed the church, and the widows trusting in God who were supported by its bounty ; Apollos, eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures, and Aquila and Priscilla, who by their Occupation were
tent-makers; the Ethiopian eunuch in the court. of Candace, and Cornelius at the head of his military band; Dorcas, with the coats and garments which clothed the poor, and Peter, who raised her to life with a word, had severally very different measures of gifts : but, perhaps, not more different than we notice continually in the visible church now, where the great Proprietor of all still doth what he will with his own. * We are to observe, however, that these talents were given TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS SEVERAL ABILITY. This is a point of great moment. There is a perfect wisdom and - equity in the divine government. We have the proportion of talents given us which is suited to our intended station in the church or community, and which would suffice, if well employed, to prove us to be faithful and valuable servants. The five talents would be a burden or spare to him who has two; and the one would not adequately engage him who has five. As God has disposed of each of us and adorned us with blessings, so he enjoins us this or that species of work,' exercises us in different active duties, raises us to various functions, and supplies the matter, and proposes the occasions of acting well..). Toe
We proceed to consider, 1. II. THE RIGHT MANAGEMENT MADE OF THEIR
TALENTS BY THE PAITHFUL SERVANTS, WITH THEIR REWARD.
He that had received 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. This teaches us the right use which the humble Christian makes of all his endowments and gifts, and the increase of them which attends it.
The RIGHT USE of the divine blessings is well represented by his trading or occupying with his master's property. This is not to be understood in a way of merit, 'for when we have done all, we are unprofitable servants; and the very first use of the means of religion which God affords us, is to fly by humble faith to the divine Saviour of sinners, for pardon and grace. But the image of trading fitly sets forth the course of active improvement of every gift, which the true Christian pursues, his diligence and industry in his calling, and the common utility which is thereby promoted. Whatever is bestowed upon him, he considers, not as his own, but as his Lord's. He employs it therefore with the scrupulous conscientiousness of a faithful servant. He does not waste his gifts in idleness, abase them to self-confidence and pride, or lessen and destroy them by rash and ambitious projects. He does not rest with complacency in the barren thought that he possesses them. He does not display