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" For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abund-
ance ; but from him that hath not shall be taken away, even that which he
hath."— Matthew xxv, 29.

" For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abund-
ance ; but from him that hath not shall be taken away, even that which he
hath."— Matthew xxv, 29.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jun 21, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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LABOR— THE LAW OF SPIRITUAL PROGRESS.BY REV. JOH E. EDWARDS, A. M.," For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abund-ance ; but from him that hath not shall be taken away, even that which hehath."— Matthew xxv, 29.The parables of the Great Teacher are, for the most part, foundedupon some well-known custom among the people of his day, or uponsome established law of nature, or upon some recognised principle of action in the business affairs of life. The parable of the virgins isbased upon a prevalent oriental custom ; the parable of the mustardseed, of the leaven, and of the corn from the early blade to the mature ear, each has for its foundation an established law ; the parableof the treasure hid in a field, and that, also, of the creditor anddebtor, furnish us examples of that class of parables founded onbusiness transactions. Some of the parables combine more than oneof these elements as a basis ; and I may mention, as a striking ex-ample of this class, the parable of the talents, with which the textstands intimately connected.Having thus briefly introduced the text, I shall go on, as prelimi-nary to the main object of this discourse,I. To lay before you an explication of the parable of whichthe text contains the pith or moral.A chronological arrangement of Christ's parables, I doubt not,would exhibit a gradual progress and development in his sublimeinstructions, rising, by almost insensible gradations, from the simpleand elementary to the more abstruse and profound ; from the germi-nant seed to the mature grain. The parable of the wise and foolishvirgins, with which this chapter opens, represents the church in astate of repose and expectancy, looking ahead for something in thefuture ; the parable of the talents, which follows it, represents thechurch in a state of activity and responsibility. As has been happilysaid by some one, we are presented in the one case with persons pre-suming on the mercy of God ; in the other, with persons deterred by330 LABOR — THE LAAV OF SPIRITUAL PROGRESS.fear. In both parables we have examples of persons saved and of persons lost. The parables stand closely connected, and are in-
structive.The parable of the talents is based on a custom Ijnown in the Eastin the days of Christ. The familiarity of his hearers with the customin question, excited a deeper interest in their minds as he proceededwith his discourse. The moral lessons inculcated peered through thealmost tangible imagery which he employed ; at first, phantom-like — mere skeletons stalking in the twilight — but presently, as the atten-tion became more fixed, and the interest grew more intense, the truthflashed full on the mind. The phantom became a reality ; the skele-^ton a thing instinct with life and energy.A man of fortune, owning slaves in the Orient, when he travelledout of the province in which he resided, could not carry them withhim, and as he wished to derive the greatest possible profit from theirlabors, on his leaving he committed certain trusts to them on certainconditions. He made each servant an interested party, and promiseda suitable reward to a proper use and improvement of the goods withwhich he severally intrusted them. He knew, from intimate personalacquaintance, the different capacities of his servants, and he there-fore gave to them according to their several ability, in the proportionof one, two, and five. Having made a judicious distribution of hismoneys among his servants for improvement, he took his departure,and spent his time in foreign travel and diversion in other lands. Onhis return, after a long absence, he called his servants together forsettlement. Each one was required to render a just account of themoneys committed to his hands, and receive the promised reward forimprovement. In every case where there had been activity and in-crease in the use of the talents intrusted to the servant's managementand care, he bestows a compliment and the merited reward ; in eachcase of failure to improve, he refutes the false reasoning urged in justification or extenuation of the neglect, and inflicts condign pun-ishment for the delinquency.It will be observed that no servant is rewarded simply because hehad five or two talents, and that no one is punished simply becausehe had but one talent. The reward is bestowed for improvement ; thepunishment is inflicted, not for waste or prodigality, but for simpleneglect.On this custom of the East, Christ founds the parable of theLABOR — THE LAW OP SPIRITUAL PROGRESS. 331talents. Christ himself is the master of the household ; we are all
his servants , the goods committed to us severally are our naturalendowments and our temporal possessions, but mainly our spiritualblessings, the measure of grace imparted to us, and our capabilitiesfor usefulness in the church, in promoting the happiness and welfareof those around us, and of advancing Christ's kingdom in the world.The travelling " into a far country" is evidently intended to repre-sent Christ's departure from earth, and his ascension to the righthand of the Father. The " long time" is the interval between hisascension from Mount Olivet and his second advent, when he shallcome " without sin unto salvation." The " reckoning" unquestion-ably has reference to the final judgment, when every man shall berewarded according to his works : a day of reckoning — a day of settlement — a final settlement between God and man. 13y the " good"servants, we are to understand those Christians who have beenactive and diligent in the improvement of all their means and capa-bilities of usefulness ; those who have industriously employed what-ever of ability God has given them fpr the advancement of theRedeemer's kingdom. By the " wicked and slothful servant," weare to understand the man who refuses to employ his limited meansof usefulness, simply because they are limited ; who pretends to jus-tify his indolence and neglect, either on the ground that he could dobut little for God's cause any way, or on the ground that he couldnot hope to meet God's exactions by the most vigorous improvementof the little talent which he possesses. The whole practical bearingand application of this parable is summed up in the text : " For un-to 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 hehath ;" and it contains the following proposition, namely : That anactive improvement of the gifts of God for our personal salvation, orfor usefulness in the church, will be followed by a proportionate iti-crease, whereas the neglect to improve what God has given, will befollowed by decrease, and, ultimately, by an utter deprivation of allthat was originally bestowed.II. It is my purpose to illustrate and establish the doctrineof this proposition. The illustrations of this doctrine are abundant.1. We briefly advert to some natural and obvious facts that striketne mind on every hand as illustrative of this subject. God has332 LABOR — THE LAW OP SPIRITUAL PROGRESS.endowed us with wonderfully contrived bodies. His wisdom andgoodness are singularly displayed in the mechanism of our physicalorganization. There is an admirable adaptation of the various parts

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