Page images
PDF
EPUB

temporal sacrifices that they, in their hard times, were obliged to make, in order to discharge their office. It told them, that, however ill prepared their minds, in their present state, were to receive such a statement, there would be those who had not gone through such toils, nor had wrought such labours as they had, who would receive the same remuneration with themselves, - with that which had been stipulated to them,- to sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. We may, therefore, infer, that the increase represented by the “ gain of the pounds,” is something different from the sacrifices and hard service of a primitive Christian minister, contrasted with the coniparative light and easy

burden which, in these respects, Christ's servants have been called to bear in subsequent ages of his church. But the parable may well suggest a question,- Are there endowments or trusts of a particular kind, bestowed on Christ's servants here, the due improvement of which will fit them for more extensive services than others, in the kingdom which is to come?

This seems countenanced by a circumstance we shall notice below, where the pound taken from the slothful servant is directed to be given to him that had ten pounds — the pound itself, with which he should have traded upon earth — not the reward in the kingdom, which might have been represented as prepared for him had he been faithful — but the pound itself.

After all, we do not, perhaps, know enough of the heavenly qualities of those that shall reigu with Christ on earth, and of the nature of that authority they are to exercise, to be able to see the harmonizing principle that renders the equal “penny,” and the unequal number of cities, alike true, as symbols of that blessed state, and of

the services of those who serve the heavenly King. It was said, too, we shall recollect, respecting every faithful steward, that when his Lord comes, he would truly make him ruler over all that he hath : so that there must be, in the exceeding great reward that awaits all, an excellency of glory that, in some points of view, reduces the difference to nothing, - that perfect unity, perhaps, we should say, among the members of Christ, that the honours bestowed on one are the honours of all.

“ And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound which I have kept laid up in a napkin, for I feared thee, because thou art an austere man; thou takest up that thou layest not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he said, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow; wherefore, then, gavest thou not my money to the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said to them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. And they said to him, Lord, he hath ten pounds! For I say unto you, that unto every one that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those, mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me."

We may reflect on this part of the parable, that since the pound symbolizes something that a wicked man may possess - or rather, be intrusted with the thing signi, fied can be no fruit of the regenerating, sanctifying Spirit of grace. It may be personal talent; it may be ministerial trust; it may be wealth, or power, or influence, or natural abilities; but wbat is commonly called grace, it cannot be. Mark the thoughts of the slothful servant, as they a.e turned out to view by the Searcher of all hearts :

mark his impressions of his lord's character! Had he obtained mercy? Had he ever tasted that the Lord was, . gracious ? Did he know the gift of God? No: if it be any thing more than an idle excuse for sloth-the picture is that of the rigid moralist, who is, or pretends to be, so scrupulous, so exact, he will not even do good, lest, perchance, evil should spring. But the character here described stands so confessed in the outward professing church, among those who hold some portion of their Lord's goods, that we cannot but understand what is meant; and how fearful is the account that many a minister, and ruler, and man of talent - the different “ stewards of the manifold gifts of God”- must one day give to their Lord !

I would lastly observe, that the enemies to be slain are evidently the apostates of the Christian church at the time of the Redeemer's coming, of whose destruction we have read so much in former prophecies. It cannot be applied here, as some commentators suggest, to the destruction of the Jewish commonwealth : for the trust of Christ's servants had not then expired; nor was that the season of rewarding the faithful; nor could that, in Scripture language, be called the return of Christ in the character of King.

SECTION VIII.

Our Lord's Confutation of the Sadducees. We next are called to remark on some expressions of our Lord, in his confutation of the Sadducees, *

... Matt. xxii. 23; Mark, xii. 18; Luke, xx. 27.

i “ The children of this world marry and are given in marriage, but they that shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead,”—Mark, “ when they shall rise from the dead,”—“ neither marry nor are given in marriage; neither can they die any more, for they are equal unto the angels,” — Matt. “ but are as the angels of God in heaven,"_" and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection."

In this passage, we have the distinction, noticed be. fore, between “ this world” and “ that world.” “ This world” is the present period and dispensation of grace and providence: “ that world” refers to that new order of things which goes forth at the resurrection of the just, or is then, at least, developed on this earth. “The children of this world,” we remark, are not contrasted with “ the children of that world;" but with those who are counted worthy to obtain — obtain that world as their lot and inheritance, and who are, at the same time, partakers of the resurrection « The children of this world” are men and women in the flesh; and such, if we have rightly understood the former prophecies, “ will be the children of that world.” But, besides the nations upon earth, “ there will be the saints of the Most High," who, with the King of saints, are to take the kingdom and rule over these nations. The promise to Abraham and to his seed” is “ that he should be heir of the world.” Again ; we have read,“ the meek shall inherit the earth.”

These are the objects of our Saviour's animadversions in the passage before us. Those who obtain the inheritance, and reign with Christ upon earth; they are “ incorruptible;" the relations of mortality affect them no longer; they are, in these respects, what angels are: nay more, they, “ being the children of the resurrection,” - that is, evidently, of the resurrection of the just, as distinguished from the general resurrection, " they are the children of God;" not merely by creation, as angels may be so called, but by adoption, and transformation into the image of God's only begotten Son, unto whom, as glorified man," he has put in subjection the world to

come."

SECTION IX.

Our Lord's direct Prophecies respecting his Second Coming.

We now come to our Lord's express prophecies respecting the subject of our inquiry, which will demand a larger share of our attention. Our blessed Saviour, after having denounced the approaching vengeance of God upon the nation of the Jews, was heard most pathetically to exclaim,

" O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not? Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." +

Here we are to mark two distinct predictions ; one of the dissolution of the temple; “ the holy and beautiful house where their fathers served God,” and in which our Lord was then addressing them, was to be laid in ruins : another, of his coming again, when that people, who now

As'apti.

+ Matt. xxiii. 37.

« PreviousContinue »