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7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so ; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came ; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage : and the door was shut.

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know

13 - Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. 14 g For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling

Or, going out.

you not.

a Matt. xxiv. 42; Mark xiii. 33.

b Luke xix. 12.

Verse 10. The instruction impressed by of the wise virgins; a steady regard to the result of the whole cannot be misunder- the certainty of Christ's coming, however stood. They that were ready went in with him long delayed, and full and suitable prepaunto the marriage.--Heaven is prepared ration for it. Where these do not meet, only for those who are rendered "meet” the habit of true Christian watchfulness for it by sanctifying grace; and the shut- is not acquired ; and the result must be ting of the door denotes the eternal exclu- fatal. Those who have searched the Rahsion of all others. Nor can a former binical writings have produced one or profession of discipleship, nor even for- two parables bearing some imperfect simer experience of any degree of grace, if milarity to this fine parable of our Lord ; lost, like the consumed oil of the lamp, but which, instead of being the source, as avail as a plea for admission, should even they pretend, from which his was drawn, such pleas be made. When the five fool- bear, like most other examples of this ish virgins made their earnest application, kind, internal evidence of being poor the stern reply of a slighted Saviour was, imitations, in which, however, both the I know you not ; that is, I approve or re- spirit and grace are entirely lost. “How gard you not, and therefore disown you, greatly,” we are gravely told by those though my professed friends. This sense of who adopted this notion, “are the Jewish the verb rendered “to know,” answers to parables improved in coming through the the Hebrew 77', rendered by the Septua. hands of Christ!” We should rather gint yevolokELY, in Nahum i. 7, “The Lord say, How greatly are Christ's parables knoweth them that trust in him ;' he re. spoiled in passing through the hands of gards them with affection. To the whole Jewish doctors ! our Lord adds the general moral, Watch Verse 14. For the kingdom of heaven is therefore, for ye know neither the day nor as a man travelling, &c.—Our translators the hour wherein the Son of man cometh ; have supplied the ellipsis here by the kingwhere by watchfulness is meant all that dom of heaven ; others prefer the Son of is implied by the prudence and foresight Man. The former is, however, the usual


into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

15 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.

* A talent is £187 10s. Matt. xviii. 24.

form of introduction to such parables. As the benevolence of God: what is done to the necessity of deep personal and perse- promote the happiness and salvation of any vering piety had been inculcated by the of his creatures, he regards as done to former parable; this is designed to im- himself. Variously were the supernatupress upon Christians the necessary duty ral gifts by which many of the first of public usefulness, the neglect of which Christians were distinguished, bestowed would be equally fatal to the soul. A upon them,-“to one the word of wisparable somewhat similar is recorded by dom, to another the word of knowSt. Luke; but it was spoken on another ledge, to another faith, to another occasion, in the house of Zaccheus. This, the gift of healing, to another the work. like the former, was delivered on the ing of miracles, to another, prophecy," Mount of Olives, three days before the &c.; but this “manifestation of the last passover. Both, however, are ground. Spirit was given to every man to profit ed upon a custom which still prevails in withal,” that is, to promote the conversome parts of the east, for masters to en- sion and edification of men. The ortrust capital to their servants, even when dinary gifts had then and still have the slaves, to trade with, the proceeds of same variety. Knowledge, eloquence, which are rendered to the master, but and influence, or the capacity of attainrewards are bestowed upon the most dili-: ing them, and favourable opportunities of gent and successful. Among the Jews, employing them and improving them by as Maimonides informs us, when “a use, are dispensed indifferently by an inmaster went out of the land of Israel, he finite and infallible wisdom. And it is could not take his servants with him, un- here to be remarked, that as every serless they pleased.” The most profitable vant had at least one talent, so, as every manner of employing them during his ab. Christian is a servant of Christ, and has sence would therefore often be in trading. his work assigned him, not only that of His goods.-Ta unapxovta, used for pro- his own salvation, but the work of serv.


ing others, he has the means of usefulVerse 15. Five talents, 8c.—The ta- ness assigned to him, and though in a lent of silver is doubtless here meant; lower degree than some, yet at the lowest which at its lowest estimate was equal to in a large measure; for this is indicated £187 10s. ; at its highest, £342 38. 9d. by the one talent, which though but one,

According to his several ability.-AC- was no inconsiderable sum. Every Chriscording to his capacity and opportunity tian, however humble, has by his examto employ the money to advantage. The ple, his sound and savoury speech, talents represent the various gifts, and “seasoned with grace, ministering grace opportunities for employing them for the to the hearers,” and by taking his part in benefit of mankind, which are furnished some service of usefulness, the power, by to each individual ; for our Lord gracious- God's blessing, to promote not merely ly accounts the good we do to others to some temporal interest of others, in be using our gifts and opportunities to which his ability may be very limited, his profit as the great Master and Proprie- but that which is connected with the soul tor of all. Thus a fine view is opened of and with eternity.

perty of

16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.

19 After a long time the Lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

Verse 16. Other five talents, 8c.-As exertion and zeal either by right views of wealth, rightly and industriously occupied, the danger to which neglect and indifferproduces wealth, so it is with him who ence in the cause of Christ expose them, rightly, diligently, and prayerfully uses, nor animated by the noble desire of apfor the spiritual benefit of others, those proving themselves to their Lord, and of gracious gifts with which our Lord has put attaining the honours and larger rewards him in trust. The communication of reli- of the eternal world. They run not for gious knowledge produces religious know this prize, because they possess not spiritledge, and that both in himself and others. uality enough to value it. For their exThe influence of piety exerted on others in- cuses see what follows. creases our own, and usually is successful Verse 19. After a long time, 8:0.-Even as to many of those for whose spiritual until the day of final account, the reckongood we are seriously and earnestly con- ing is delayed. But then it takes place ; cerned ; and he who is strenuously and and here the following circumstances are affectionately desirous of saving others, to be noticed :-1. That “every one shall both“ saves himself and them that hear give account of himself to God." He him.” So glorious is this vocation of the reckoneth with them SEVERALLY, one by true servants of Christ; and with the po- one ; for though the last judgment may tentiality of producing such effects, so not be in its formality particular to any criminal is he that despises even the one one, it will be so really both from the setalent, which when employed might lead cret consciousness which each one has, to such results.

that the Judge is dealing with him acVerse 18. And hid his Lord's money.- cording to his merits, and from the exact He neglected, to trade with it, as being apportionment of the reward or the peslothful ; and he bid it in the earth, that it nalty. In effect and reality it will be the might be safe, and so be returned to his same as though every individual had a Master, which he vainly hoped would personal and particular trial, and an exscreen him from punishment, though it press decision on his formally stated case. might deprive him of reward ; in which 2. That the account required is exact and he was influenced, as the sequel shows, strict. This is indicated by the phrase, by a slavish fear, and false apprehensions

και συναιρει μετ' αυτων λογον, and reckoneth, of difficulty and danger, and was without compares or adjusts the account, with the animating desire of approbation and them ; his own gifts, and the use to which reward, and the courage to seek them they were to be applied, and the increase through a difficult path. This servant which was required as the result, strictly appears to represent a numerous class of compared with the actual use and improfessing Christians who are so far in- provement, or otherwise, of what had Auenced by the apprehension of Christ's been entrusted to each servant. 3. That in displeasure at last, as to avoid all direct each case the capital had been doubled by ABUSE of the talents of various kinds en- the faithful servants : Behold, I have gained trusted to them, but are not roused into besides them five talents more ;-behold, I

20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto

have gained two other talents besides them. Heaven is a place of order and governThis was successful trading, and is de- ment. This is indicated in various parts signed to show the abundant increase of of the New Testament, though with their good which would be produced in the nature and laws we are not acquainted. world by an entire fidelity in the discharge It is implied in the words, “I will make of all the active duties of the Christian thee ruler over many things," set thee life. This is a most animating motive to over a greater and more honourable excite the zeal of Christians; and it is charge, where the heightened capacity confirmed by fact. The decline of reli- shall still have employment, and be still gion in the world has in all ages resulted, exalted by it; and where the loftier sernot so much from the obstinacy of the vice of Christ, in a more perfect form, wicked, as from the slothfulness of shall bring still higher felicity. Enter Christ's servants. 4. That faithful ser- into the joy of thy Lord, es tnv xapar tou vices shall be publicly acknowledged and

κυριου σου. . Some take xapa to signify a rewarded by Christ at his second advent. feast or entertainment; and the honour to There was indeed no meritorious claim to be, that the servant is permitted to sit peculiar distinction in the approved ser- down with his royal master. But though, vants. They themselves were the Lord's under this metaphor, the heavenly reward property; the money with which they is sometimes exhibited, we have a much traded was his; their time, abilities, and better exposition of the phrase in the activity, equally belonged to him; yet words of St. Paul, who, speaking of here we see that “no work of faith, or Christ, says, that “ for the joy set before labour of love,” shall be forgotten. Com- him, he endured the cross,” &c. That mendation from the lips of such a Being, Joy was the glorification of his humanity in the acceptance of our persons and services body and soul; and into that joy the faithby him whose “favour is better than ful servant shall come, he too shall be life,” and the joys of heaven must, from glorified in his own person, and be like their nature, be, not rewards of merit, but Christ. Thus he shall enter into joy; of stupendous grace. They are therefore “enter,” says an old writer, “as it were, subjects of promise, to encourage us to into an abyss, a sea of joy, be every way fidelity, sustain us against temptation, surrounded with it, and dwell in it for and to show the regard which God has ever.” The same reward is conferred to all that is benevolent and holy upon him who was faithful in the two tain his creatures, by stamping it with lents. The trust was less, the “ability" the seal of his munificent bounty. smaller, but the principle of fidelity the 5. The manner of conferring the reward, same in both ; and therefore the language and its exalted nature, are also to be of the rewarding Judge the same. The noted. Well done, eu, a word of force absolute equality of the future rewards of and emphasis ; the word, indeed, with the redeemed does not, perhaps, follow which the spectators, at any public per- from this. The reward, however, is the formance or exercise, expressed their ap- same in kind, and equally felicitous, as plause. Here it is pronounced by the filling the capacity with joy that has no Judge himself. I will make thee ruler deficiency. 6. The case of him that buover many things. The servant is now to ried his one talent next presents itself. be raised into the condition of a ruler; The excuses he makes for his conduct are and the few things committed to him on not to be understood as describing any earth, as a laborious and responsible thing which shall be alleged at the great trust, are heightened into many things put day of account; but as intended by our into his power to regulate and enjoy. Lord to open the false views upon which

me five talents : behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant : thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will

the slothful palliate and disguise their slothful to be useful, is a melancholy fact; neglects, and which, in the end, lead to their talent is buried, their time, their 60 fatal a result. I knew that thou art a abilities, their opportunities of doing good hard man, okanpos, severe and unreasonable neglected ; and the true reason will be in thy demands upon thy servants, reap- found in the secret hard thoughts they ing where thou hast not sown, and gathering, have of the severity of Christ's service, collecting corn, where thou hast not strawed, and the difficulties, reproaches, and inor scattered seed ; that is, exacting more conveniences to which it must expose from thy servants than they have ability them if they fully engage in it, and carry to perform, or ought to be required of on an offensive warfare against the evils them. The key to this allegation of the of the world, and endeavour strenuously slothful servant is to be found in the to attain the highest degrees of salvation scope of the parable. Its design, as above themselves and bring others into the same stated, is to inculcate active usefulness ; state. They shun therefore the cross, but our Lord had not hidden it from his they evade difficulties, they retire into disciples that the consequence of their fi- themselves, they put their light under a delity and diligence in this respect would, bushel, and hide their talent in the earth; in this world, be great reproach, persecu- and because they are not positively protion, and suffering, and that the true dis- fane and wicked, because they do not absociple must “ deny himself and take up the lutely abuse and mis-employ their advancross.” It is to these difficulties and tages, they still hope to escape condemsufferings in Christ's service that the nation. But what is the decision? The slothful servant alludes. As this was the slothful servant is judged as a wicked serservice, the master was concluded to be a vant. He is silenced upon his own prinhard man, and to make harsh and most ciples : if the master was indeed severe unreasonable demands. The principle of and exacting, he ought at least, from his sloth would magnify the difficulty, by professed fear of him, to have put his molooking at that alone, losing sight of ney to the exchangers, that it might be renthe promised help and consolation; and a dered back with usury, or interest. He base cowardly spirit would shrink from ought to have made some effort to imthe danger. Hence those false views of prove the talent though small and imperChrist and his service were generated in sect; and the absence of this showed that the soul, and led to the desertion of duty. the true principle of fidelity was wanting, And I was afraid ; yet this very fear ought not only in degree, but altogether. His to have roused his slothful spirit into ex- talent is taken from him, all his means ertion ; but it was fear without love. So and opportunities of getting good and far, however, it operated, that he hid the doing good, and that for ever. These are talent in the earth to keep it safe; he did multiplied to him who had the ten talents, not mis-employ though he did not em- but to the negligent they are for ever ploy it ; and for this negative virtue, such lost; and, as unprofitable, he is cast into is the inconsistent reasoning of a deceived outer darkness and torment. Weighty heart, he hoped even from him whom he here are the words of Baxter : Unproesteemed a hard master to escape punish- fitableness and omission of duty is dam. ment: Lo, there thou hast that is thine. nable ; unfaithfulness in us, who are but To this pretence how many answer! stewards and servants. To do no harm is That many professed Christians are too praise fit for a stone, and not for a man.”

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