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SERMON XI.

THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS.

MATTHEW, 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 lors money. After a long time, the lord of those servants cometh and reckoneth with them. And 80 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. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful

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weeping and

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 slothfub 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

gnashing of teeth.

There are few of our Lord's parables more plain and important than this. The accountableness of man for every blessing he receives is a fundamental point in religion; and the statement of it contained in this parable is so express and authoritative, as to demand our most attentive consideration. It was addressed by our Saviour to his disciples in order to correct their false expectation that the kingdom of God would immediately appear, and to direct them to a right use of the various advantages intrusted to them during his personal absence : but it is applicable to the servants of Christ in every age. It appeals at once to the conscience. It exhibits to the world at large a general rule of the moral government of God with his rational and intelligent creatures ; whilst it displays especially to the church the order of the divine proceedings in the last awful day of judgment. It

is of course very possible, by expounding it - without a due reference to other parts of the

sacred volume, to pervert the design of this, as well as of many other of our Saviour's parables. But where the primary doctrines of the fall of man, bis responsibility, his condemnation by the holy law, redemption by the death and sacrifice of Christ, justification by faith, salvation by grace, the regenerating and sanctifying influences of the Holy Ghost, and the necessity of

holy obedience, are rightly enforced, according to the general scope of Scripture, the instruction of this particular portion of it will be eininently useful. In considering it, there are three parts which seem to demand explanation.

I. The talents intrusted to the management of the servants.

II. The right employment of them by the faithful servants, with their reward.

III. The character and doom of the slothful servant.

We are to notice,
I. THE TALENTS INTRUSTED TO THE MANAGE-

MENT OF THE SERVANTS.

The man travelling into a far country, who called unto him his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods, represents to us our Lord and Saviour, who is the master and proprietor of his creatures; the absolute owner of all things, and the Lord and Redeemer of his church ; and who has left his disciples, as to his visible presence, by his ascension into heaven. The servants to whom the talents were intrusted, represent the professed disciples and members of Christ, the visible body of the faithful ; but particularly the ministers and stewards of his mysteries. The command given to them to manage his goods during his journey, teaches us the duty which he has enjoined on Christians,

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 náme. 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

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