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they that were ready went in with bim to never think of furnishing it witli the oil of the marriage, and the door was shut. Af
divine grace, the fruit of which is 'a life of terwards, also, came the other virgins, say holiness. Whereas the wise, well knowing ing, Lord, Lord, open anto us. But he
that a lamp, without the supply of oil, would from within answered, and said unto them, be speedily extinguished ; that faitla, withVerily, I say unto you, I know you not, out love and fioliness, will be of no conse* Watch, tberefore, for ge know neither quence, take care to supply themselves with the day, nor the hour, wherein the Son a sufficient quantity of the divine grace, of man cometh.” Mattxxv. 6, 7, &c. and to display in their lives the works of
love and charity. While all those virgias In order to understand this parable, we though differently supplied, waiting the must remember, that it alludes to eastern
coming of the bridegroom, all slumbered people. It was usual with them for the
and slept; that is, all christians, both good bridegroom to bring his bride home in the
and bad, the sincere and the hypocrite, all evening, sooner or later, as circumstances
lie down together in the sleep of death : might happen ; and that they might be re
and while the bridegroom delays his comceived properly at his house, his female ac- ing, slumber in the chambers of the dust. quaintance, especially those of the younger sort, were invited to come and wait with The Jews have a tradition, that Christ's lamps, till some of his retinue, dispatched
coming to judgment will be at midnight, before the rest, informed them that he was
which agrees with that particular in the near at hand; upon which they trimmed / parable, “ at midnight there was a cry their lamps, went forth to welcome him, inade, go ye out to meet him.” But bowand conduct him with his bride into the ever this be, whether he will come at midhouse; for which they were honoured as
night or in the morning, it will be awfully guests, at the marriage feasts, and shared
sudden and alarming. The great cry will in the usual festivities.
be heard to the end of the earth! the trun
pet shall sound, and the mighty archangel's To ten such virgins our blessed Saviour voice pierce, even the bowels of the earth, compares all those to whom the gospel is
and the depths of the ocean. “ Behold, preached, because this was the general the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet number appointed to wait on the bride
him." groom; and to these all christian professors The graves, both earthly and watery, may be likened, who, taking the lamp of must surrender their clayey tenants, and christian profession, go forth to meet the all will then begin to think how they may bridegroom ; that is, prepare themselves as prepare themselves to find admittance to the candidates for the kingdom of heaven, and marriage-supper of the lamb. “ Then all desire to be admitted with Christ, the celes- those virgins arose,
those virgins arose, and trimmed their tial bridegroom, into the happy mansions", lamps.". But the foolish soon perceived of immortality
their folly : their lamps were gone out, to
tally extinguished ; and they had no oil to We must remember, that there always support the flame; in like manner the hywas, and always will be, a mixture of good pocrite's hope shall perish. But the wise and bad in the church, till the great day of were in a much happier condition; they separation arrives. The weakness of the bad oil in their vessels sufficient for themfoolish is represented by their taking no oil selves, but none to spare ; for, when the in their vessels, with their lamps ; that is, foolish virgins would have procured some the foolish christians content themselves from them, they denied their request, fearwith the bare lamp of a profession, and ing there would not be enough for both.
They are here beautifully represented power of godliness, will be of no service in nominal and sincere Christians. The for the last day of accounts. mer having only the bare lamp of a profession, and who have not been solicitous to The Son of man, said he, may, with regain the oil of divine grace, by a constant spect to his final coming to judge the world, use of the means assigned, will fare like the be likened, “ Unto a man travelling into a foolish virgins. While the latter, whiose far country, who called his own servants, hearts are stocked with divine oil, will, like and delivered unto them bis goods. And the wise virgins, enter into tlie joy of their unto one he gave five talents, to another Lord.
two, and to another one ; to every man ac
cording to his several abilities : and straightBut the foolish, going to purchase oil, way took his journey." Matt. xxv. 14, 15. missed the bridegroom, and behold “the door was shut.” They at last, however, Immediately on his master's departure he reached the gate, and with great importu that had received the five talents lost no nity cried, « Lord, Lord, open unto us.” time, but went and traded with the same, But he answered, and said, Verily, I say and his increase was equal to his industry unto you, I know you not.” As you denied and application ; he made them other five me on earth, I deny you now; depart from talents. He that did receive two talents me, I know you not : How justly, therefore, did the same, and had equal success. But did our blessed Saviour bid as all watch, he that received one, very unlike the con
may cometh ; or commands,
by the king of ter | digged in the earth, and hid his Lord's morors, our attendance before his judgment ney, idle, useless, unemployed, and unimseat. Let us not refuse this kind invitation, proved. of being constantly prepared to meet the heavenly bridegroom': let us fill our famps After a long time, and at an hour when with oil, that we may be ready to follow our they did not expect it, the lord of those sergreat Master into the happy mansions of the vants returned, called them before him, and heavenly Canaan.
ordered them to give an account of their
several trusts. Upon which he that had reBut, as this duty was of the utmost im ceived five talents, as a proof of his fidelity, portance, our blessed Saviour, to shew us produced other five talents, saying, “Lord, more clearly the nature and use of christian thou deliveredst unto me five talents, behold watchfulness, to which he exhorts us at the I have gained besides them five talents conclusion of the parable of the ten virgins, more.” Matt. xxv, 20. His Lord, highly he added another, wherein he represented applauding his industry and fidelity, said the different characters, of a faithful and to him, “ Well done, thou good and faithslothful servant, and the difference of their ful servant ; thou hast been faithful over fature acceptation.
a few things, I will make thee ruler over
many things; enter thou into the joy of thy This parable, like the former, is intended Lord.” Matt. xxv. 21. to stir us up to a zealous preparation for the coming of our Lord, by diligence in the dis In like manner also, he that had received charge of our duty, and by a careful im two talents declared he had gained two provement of our souls in holiness ; and at other; upon which he was honoured with the same time to expose the vain pretences the same applause, and admitted into the of hypocrites, and to demonstrate that fair same joy with his fellow-seryant ; their speeches and outward form, without the master baving regard to the industry and
fidelity of his servants, not to the number appoints us. But then we are to observe of the talents only, but the greatness of that these are committed to us as a trust or their increase.
loan, for whose due management we are
accountable to the donor. After this, he that had received the one talent came, and with a shameful falsehood, If we faithfully acquit ourselves of this to excuse his vile indolence, said, “ Lord,
probationary charge, we shall receive far I knew thee that thou art a hard man, greater instances of God's confidence and reaping where thou hast not sown, and ga favour ; but if we are remiss and negligent, thering where thou hast not strawed : and we must expect to feel his resentment and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent displeasure. in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.” Matt. xxv. 24, 25.
A time will come, and how near it may
be none of us can tell, when our great This perversion of even the smallest por
Master will demand a particular account of tion of grace greatly excited the resentment every talent he hath committed to our care. of his lord, who answered, “ Thou wicked This time may, indeed, be at a distance ; and slothful servant, thou knewest that I
for it is uncertain when the king of terrors
will receive the awful warrant to terminate reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed : thou oughtest, therefore,
our existence bere below : yet it will certo bave put my money to the exchangers, tainly come, and our eternal happiness or and then, at my coming, I should have re misery depends upon it ; so that we should ceived mine own with usury. Take, there
have it continually in our thoughts, and enfore, the talent from him, and give it unto him grave it, as with the point of a diamond, which hath ten talents. For unto every one
on the tables of our hearts. that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance ; but from him that hath not shall We learn from this instructive parable, be taken away, even that which he hath. that infinite wisdom hath intrusted men And cast ye the unprofitable servant into with different talents, and adjusted them to outer darkness ; there shall be weeping and the various purposes of human life. But goashing of teeth.” Matt. xxv. 26, &c. though the gifts of men are unequal, none
can, with justice, complain, since whatSuch is the parable of the talents, as deli. ever is bestowed, be it more or less, is a vered by our blessed Saviour : a' parable favour entirely unmerited. containing the measures of our duty to God, and the motives that enforce it, all deliver Each then should be thankful, and satised in the plainest and simplest allusion. But fied with his portion ; and instead of envyits views are so extensive and affecting, that ing the more liberal endowments of others, while it instructs the meanest capacity, it apply himself to the improvement of his own. engages reverence and attention from the And it should be attentively observed, that greatest, and strikes an impression on the the difficulty of the task is in proportion to most improved understanding. We are to the number of talent's committed to each. consider God as our Lord and Master, the He who had received five, was to gain Author and Giver of every good gift, and other five; and he who had received two, ourselves as his servants or stewards, who, was to account for other two. in various instances and measures, have received from his goodness such blessings and Surely then, we have no reason to comabilities, as may fit us for the several stations plain if our Master has laid on us a lighter and offices of life to which his providence burden, a more easy and less service, than
what he has on others. Especially as our tion. But regard must be had to all the interest, in the favour of the Almighty, means for cultivating those gifts of nature does not depend on the number of our and grace, such as all opportunities of intalents, but on our diligence and applica- struction, the ministry, and ordinances of tion in the management of them : so that religion, the reproots and examples of the moral design of this parable is to en good men, the occasions offered, and the gage our utmost attention, to improve abilities given for the exercise of virtue. such talents as our heavenly Father has All these are talents, or gifts of God, thought proper to bestow upon us.
deposited with us, to be diligently madé
use of, and for which we are accountable By these talents are principally meant to him, the communication and graces of the Holy Spirit which God bestows in different mea We shall therefore proceed to shew what sures, “ dividing to every man severally as duty is required from us, in the improvehe will.” And subordinate to these are all ment of these talents. It is here supposed, the means, opportunities, and abilities to that these talents are improvable, or otherexerçise or improve their graces: all the wise they would be of no use or value ; and advantages of station, fortune, education, indeed we are bound by the command of and whatever may enable us to do good; God, who has threatened to inflict severe for we having received all we enjoy from penalties, if we neglect to improve them. God, are strictly obliged to promote the And if they are not improved, they will wise ends for which he bestows his favour. not continue long with us, but be lost; the And here let us take a short and imperfect finest parts and capacities, without proper view of what God bas done for us. He culture, will make but a mean and contempbas given us reason and understandimg to tible figure. No kaowledge can be preservdiscern good from evil, and enquire into ed, without use and exercise, and the same the causes, relations, and consequences of holds with regard to moral accomplishments. things, to collect from them proper rules of requires great care and attention to form judgment and actions. Indeed, since the a virtuous habit, but much more to prefall, this faculty has been much obscured ; serve it in its vigour. Unless we co-opebut still it remains an universal gift of God rate with the motions of God's grace, and to men, and though not equal in all, yet it is cultivate it by use and application, its imgiven to every man in such measure, as is pressions will gradually wear out, and be sufficient for their direction. In the know İost. “The spirit of God will not always ledge of our duty, and the pursuit of our strive with man." He gives us a stock to happiness, God has, by the gospel, so gra manage, equal to the service be expects ciously supplied the defect of reason, that from us ; but if we are slothful and neglithe weakest understanding may know how gent, and will not apply it to the purposes to be happy ; such assistances of divine for which it was given, he will recal the grace attend every Christian, if he will useless gift. “Take from him (says he) apply to God for it, as may enable him to the talent, and give to bim that haih ten direct his inclinations, govern his passions, talents.” Let us, therefore, diligently imand subdue his corrupt affections. These prove every talent committed to us, because talents of nature are in some degree com this will be required of us, in the day of mon to all men; and by the improvement accounts, and if not improved, will be imof that grace which is conferred on every mediately taken from us. What this im. one, all have sufficient to conduct them provement implies, and how we may disthrough the several stages of life, if they charge this duty, is an enquiry of the nearwill use but proper diligence and applica- l est concern to us. The proper improve
ment of all God's gifts is the employing, many excellent talents; but he who gave them so, as may best promote bis glory. can restore. Indeed, the most circumspect
piety will, in the great day of accounts, This is the end the Almighty has proposed want much to be forgiven ; and must expect in our creation ; in all the powers be bath his reward from the mercy of liis Judge, endued us with, and in all the aids of grace not from the merit of his service. Let us he has vouchsafed us. Whatever other then do all in our power to bring forth improvements we make of them will not fruits, meet for repentance. For though profit us, nor be admitted as any proof of the awful day of the Lord may be at a our fidelity, in the day of reckoning. We great distance, yet the time allotted us to may cultivate our understanding by learn prepare for it is limited by the short space ing and study, and extend our knowledge of human life. The night of death cometh, through all the subjects of human enquiry; when no man can work. To-day, there. but if our end be only to gratify our curiosity fore, while it is called to-day, let us be or our vanity, we are not serving God, but diligent in the work of the Lord, correct ourselves: we may increase our portion of our errors, and finish what is imperfect, God's outward gifts, but if we only apply that we may obtain bis approbation, and them to enlarge our own conveniences, we make our calling and election sure. are not making the improvements our Master expects; we may take pleasure in our We shall now proceed to the third parable knowledge and fortune, rejoice in them as delivered at the same time by the blessed our portion and instrument in our present Jesus, namely, that of the last judgment. situation ; but we must still remember, that When the Son of man (said he) shall come in our reckoning with God, all these im in his glory, and all the holy angels with provements of our capacities and abilities, him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his will be added to our account. And the only glory. And before bim shall be gathered use God will admit us to set in balance of all nations; and he shall separate them our debt to him, is to employ them as one from another, as a shepherd divideth his means of increasing and multiplying our sheep from the goats ; and he shall set the virtues, or as instruments of exercising sheep
sheep on his right hand, but the goats.on the them in the work of piety and religion.
left.'; Matt. xxv. 31. It is common, in
the Old Testament, to compare good men From hence we may infer, that there to sheep on account of their innocence and will be degrees of future glory and bappi- usefulness ; and wicked men to goats, for ness, proportioned to our eminence in the their exorbitant lusts. Our blessed Saviour, divine life, and the service we have done however, does not pursue the allegory farto the cause of Christ.
ther, but describes the remaining, and in
deed the greatest part of this awful scene Dreadful will be his case, who has squan in terms perfectly simple: so that though dered away the stock itself, suffered his the sense be profound, it is obvious. gifts to perish for want of use; or by abusing them to the service of sin, bas provok Here the judgment of all nations, Gened the Almighty to take them from him. tiles, as well as Christians, is exhibited :
and the particulars on which these awful How shall the prodigal recal the fortune trials are to proceed, displayed by the he has spent, and appease the anger of his great Judge himself. Judge? The terrors of the Lord may justly affright him; but it should not extinguish Here we learn, that we shall be conhis endeavours in despair. He has lost demned or acquitted, according as we have