(Matt. xxv. 24, 25.)
Brother E. McKinney, of Missouri, desires our views on Matt. xxv. 24, 25, “Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I know thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou has not sown, and gathering where thou has not strewed: and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.” These words are part of a parable which was spoken in connection with the several parables of servants left in charge of their Lord’s household, to give them their meat in due season, the parable also of the ten virgins, and of the sheep and the goats; all of which, we think, were spoken in admonition to the disciples and especially to the servants of the household of our Lord to rule, and feed the members of his house in due season until he should return from his journey. A special application is probably had to the time of his being delivered up to be crucified, and extending to the period when he should, by his spirit, return to them, as he did by his spirit on the day of penticost. This was a time of peculiar trials, in which they did not know at what hour their Lord would return to them. These servants, according to chapter xxiv. 42-51, were his, Christ’s own servants, on whom he had bestowed gifts qualifying them to feed and watch over the household; and those of them who should at his coming be found in the faithful discharge of the duties enjoined on them were pronounced blessed; but if any of them should say in their hearts, My lord delayeth his coming, and should begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken, the lord of that servant would come in a day when they looked not for him, and cut them asunder, and appointed them their portion with the hypocrites; and there should be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
We do not understand this to mean that these unfaithful servants should be sent down to hell; but that in the wholesome discipline of the church and kingdom which was to be set up, they should be cast out from the fellowship of the saints, and mingle with hypocrites; for within the walls of the holy city is the tree of life, and they are blessed and happy who do the commandments of Jesus, that they may have right to the tree of life – to the privileges of the church of God; for without are dogs, sorcerers, hypocrites, &c. – Rev. xxii. 14, 13.
Then, at that time, when the king should return and sit in the throne of his Mediatorial glory, shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins; for the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants and delivered unto them his goods, and to 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. Observe these recipients of the talents were not only servants, but they were his own servants. They were of different capacity or ability, but all alike as his own servants, and the gifts were distributed according to their several ability. Even so has God set the gifts in the church which is the body of Christ, as it hath pleased him. He knows the several ability of all his members, and has wisely varied the gifts which are for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ, so as to accomplish his design; and he that has but one talent, has as much according to his capacity as he that has five, and is under no less obligation to be actively engaged in the use o fit as he would be if he had five. It may be thought an easy matter to say that this slothful and wicked servant was an alien. But has our Lord ever bestowed any gift for the feeding and edifying of his church on any but his own servants? And may we not press home to ourselves a still more soul-stirring inquiry, Have we not ourselves complained almost in the very words of this wicked and slothful servant? Have we always been free from murmuring when paddling our little canoe so near the shore, while we have witnessed the superior gifts bestowed upon those of greater capacity bounding over the raging billows of the broad ocean with safety and ease? Nay, have we not concluded, and said in our heart, Our gift, if it be indeed a gift, is too small to be of any use, we will hide it in the earth; for if the Lord requires us to occupy a gift, he is a hard master, reaping where he has not sown? If our Lord would give us five talents, and make us equal in point of gifts and ability to the most gifted, then we would be satisfied that he had sown, and had a just right to reap; but as he has not, we are afraid, and think it more prudent to hide or conceal what little we have, and return it to him at the day of reckoning.
This wicked slothfulness is not peculiar to those who are called to the work of the gospel ministry. Some of the new-born children have said in their heart, My hope, which I cannot quite throw away, is so small that I am afraid, and will keep it hid, in the earth, in the secret chambers of my earthly heart, and wait until the Lord shall give me as clear an evidence as I think he has given to others, then I shall not be afraid, and will no longer hide it. It will then go and tell the church what the Lord has done for me. Our Lord is entitled to a revenue of praise for every gift however small it may appear to us, and if we cannot use it to any great profit and edification of others, we should at least put it in the bank, or church, where it would be appreciated by the saints and through the saints produce usury, of praise to God.
At the time of reckoning, the slothful servant of the one talent is severely reproved, and chastened. The enjoyment even of his little hope or talent is taken from him, and given to him who has ten talents, and the slothful servant is cast out from the light and liberty of the faithful, into darkness, and in company with hypocrites, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.” If we understand correctly, it is the chastened child of God who for his disobedience is cast into outer darkness who weeps, for none but God’s own dear children weep when cast into that darkness which is the element of the ungodly. They truly weep when they remember Zion, and the privileges which they once enjoyed. But it is the company into which they are cast who gnash upon them with their teeth. Derisively their enemies require of them to sing the songs of Zion in the strange land; for without are dogs, sorcerers, hypocrites and scoffers.
May we all be admonished by the application of these parables, especially those who are called to feed the church of God, when allured by the delusive vanities of the world to drink in the intoxicating doctrines of men, and to smite their fellow servators – or to neglect the gift that is for them, however small it may be, for, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Nor would we have the little trembling ones who feel afraid because they have not as great an evidence as others, fail to ponder well the application of the admonition of this parable. Small as their talents may seem, it is the Lord’s, and in the improvement of it they shall be enlarged, and shall enter in through the gates into the Holy City, and have right to the tree of Life. But with their Lord’s money hidden, they must have for their associates the scoffing enemies of the cause of God. “Joy is sown for the righteous,” and “The willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land;” but the disobedient shall be beaten with many stripes.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Middletown, N. Y.
Signs of the Times
Volume 49, No. 2.
January 15, 1881