A FAITHFUL SERVANT BY JOSEPH A. SEISS, D.D., LL.D.

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His Lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant ; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. — Matt. 25 : 23. THIS was one of the servants in the Saviour's Parable of the Talents, where He compares the kingdom of heaven to a man travelling into a far country, who called his servants and delivered nnto them his goods, giving to each a certain number of talents with which to trade and get gain until he should return. The servants of those times were mostly persons captured in war, and often were people of intelligence, skill, and business capacity. Except that their lords had property in them, and had the right to command them, they were not at all to be confounded with the slaves with which we used to be familiar. Nor was it uncommon for one and another of these ancient masters to let out their money or properties to the sole management and control of their servants to do business for the mutual profit of owner and servant. And it is a servant of this description that is here in view. 297

298 A FAITHFUL SKKVANT.

The Saviour would teach nsthat it is after this manner He deals with lis as His servants. All men are His; but He does not hold nor force them as slaves. He does not lash them to their tasks. He gives them liberty of action. He lets or delivers to them certain talents, which they are free to use as they deem best, only that they must account to Him for them in the end. This servant had been entrusted with five talents, a very large sum of money. It was double the amount given to another servant, and five to one of what was given to a third. God does not give to every one alike. There are often very wide diversities. Some are rich and some are poor. Some have much and others have but little. And yet these distributions are not arbitrary or capricious. They are made on a just principle, — " to every man according to his several ability." Each gets as much as he can handle. These "talents" include all our endowments, faculties, powers, possessions, and means and opportunities for profiting ourselves and others, and for securing gain for the great Master. There are diversities of gifts. "To one is given the word of wisdom ; to another, the word of knowledge ; to another, faith ; to another, the gift of healing ; to another, the working of miracles ; to another, prophecy ; to another, the discerning of spirits ; to another, divers kinds of tongues; to another, the interpretation of tongues. " And as with these spiritual gifts, so in respect to

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natural capacity, culture, fortune, office, relations, and positions in the world ; all of which are parcelled out according to the divine will and goodness. And all these together constitute the talents with which the great Master has entrusted us. This servant made good use of what he had received. It was meant that he should use these talents and trade with them, and he did it. And this is what our lyord intends for us to do with our gifts and talents. Whether they be great or small, many or few, they are meant for active, earnest, and gainful use. The Lord in giving them means business^ — honest, resolved, faithful, and soul-engaging business. When parents give their children capital, it is not that they may waste it, bury it, or throw it away on idle prodigality ; but that they may go into business with it, invest it in profitable trade, make their fortunes out of it, and be able to give a good account of it to the credit and joy of all concerned. And so the divine command with regard to the pounds and talents given us is: " Occupy till I come^'^'' — use them, work out of them all the profit you can. Just what sort of business this servant did is not told; nor is it prescribed to us precisely how and where we are to lay hold in order to make the most of our talents. In general, the opportunities lie all around us, in such spheres of life as Providence has assigned us, or to which He seems to be calling us. We are where we are, and have what we have, that we may act and do profitable

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service for Christ and ourselves. As pastors, teachers, parents, Churchmen, learners, professionals, business men, and masters and members of homes, we all have the openings for good, usefulness and gain near at hand, and can make much out of them by proper diligence and fidelity. In a measure we may choose our fields, spheres, and methods of operation; and a true religious, honest, and dutiful spirit in such offices and relations will never fail to yield us honorable gain. The great matter is, to be true to God and duty. This man was pronounced a "good and faithful servant;" that is, he had well filled his position. He was minded to do his best for his lord; and he did it. He was willing, thoughtful, conscientious, diligent, earnest, and persevering. He felt that he had work to do, and responsibilities to meet; and he gave himself to them in good earnest. In the nature of things, his career was not all sunshine. He had his difficulties, perplexities, disappointments, and reverses, as all people in this world have; but he was not therefore disheartened. He pressed on through fair weather and through bad. He did not give up because things were not always to his mind. He believed in the goodness of his lord. He knew what the master expected of him. And he kept at it without faltering, surrender, or despair. With cheerful alacrity he held on his way, doing the best in his power, and never falling out with his duty. And this is what the Lord expects of us. He

FIRST SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 3OI demands no impossibilities, and has covenanted that His grace shall be sufficient for us in all

emergencies, if only we are true to Him. But sloth, negligence, and indifference to our duty and calling He will not and cannot honor. We are not responsible for what we cannot do; but ' ' he that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." There was one servant who hid his talent and let it lie unused, having made nothing out of it, murmuring perhaps that he had not as others had. But he fared badly in the end. A lazy, unwilling, or fault-finding soul can never hope for the Lord's commendation. There are people on whose tombstones it may be written: " Here lies the man who never did an hour's work for God in all his life. ' ' Men may be very active and energetic in affairs of this world, but all for self and pelf, and never in the way of dutifulness to Him who has given them the power to do. Neither the slothful, the careless, the selfish, nor any mere Mammon-worshippers, can be called the Lord's good and faithful servants; nor yet those who do well for a time and then drop off, or do only in some things while others are left. This servant was held accountable for his talents. It was " a long time " before his lord came back from his journeyings; but he came; and when he came it was to receive account of what had been done with his money. And so it is appointed unto us. Our Lord will call every one to account for the manner in which we have dealt with His gifts and graces, whether rich or poor.

302 A FAITHFUL SERVANT. He means to reward the faithful and honor their fidelity; but He must first see whether they have duly appreciated His kindness, and with what sort of activity and temper they have dealt toward Him. Hence, He ^'^ reckoneth with them;'''* not

in the way of harsh and severe arraignment, as culprits to be punished; but as servants whom He is anxious to reward and bless. The day of judgment is not meant to distress us, harm us, or make our comforts less. There is no judgment unto condemnation to those who are in Christ; nevertheless there must be inquiry respecting our fidelity and works, on which our rewards depend. A school examination may be a time of anxiety to the pupils; but it is not for their disturbance or disadvantage. It is simply to ascertain their progress in learning, and their fitness for advancement, for which they have meanwhile been candidates. And so it is with Christ's reckoninsf with His servants. It is for our promotion and greater joy, and not for our grief. The inquest will, indeed, necessarily be strict, impartial, and just. Nothing can be kept back, — nothing can be hid. People may wonder how the lives and deeds of so many myriads on myriads can be so minutely examined ; but there will be no difficulty in the case. Everything concerning every one is fully written on each one's own soul, and a single glance from the Lord will read and reveal every item. There can be no shams, no trickery, no misrepresentation, no disguises, no mi.stakes. Every one's whole life will stand open.

FIRST SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 3O3 and what each has been doing with his talents will appear. There can be no concealment or equivocation. And as the facts are, so will the award of our Lord and Judge be. People generally think of that time, if they think of it at all, with some degree of alarm and

terror. The best of us have been such unprofitable servants that we naturally fear to be called to account. But it is necessary and part of the process to bring us to glory. All our occupying and doing for our Lord would be a bootless drudgery, if He were never to come again to take account of us, and to adjudge to us our promised reward. Our faith and devotion would have no outcome, no crown, without this. The gladdest day this servant ever had was the day his lord returned, — even the day of reckoning. Often had he been in doubt and danger by reason of his infirmities and failures. Many had been his anxieties, his trials, his straits, his discouragements. But he had faith in the goodness of his Lord ; and when tempted to despond he rallied to the music of the promises, and held on even in his tears. And now, at last, his Lord came ; and with holy boldness and joy he hastened to meet Him, his heart bounding with delight and words of exultation bursting from his lips : " Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents ; behold, I have gained besides them five talents more. ' ' And so it shall be with all who truly love the Saviour, and are honestly set to serve Him. Believing in Him, working for Him, and awaiting

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His coming, the final meeting will be one of triumphant gladness. And then shall come the

blessed commendation, "Well done, good and faithful servant ; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things ; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. ' ' Dear friends, a blessed assurance is thus given us. No faith in Jesus shall ever be disappointed. No efforts, labors, gifts, sacrifices, or suff'erings, — no prayers, tears, sighs, or loving anxieties for Him and His cause, — shall ever be lost. Their record is on high. They are all treasured in heaven. And not so much as the gift of a cup of cold water given in His Name and for His sake shall lose its reward. And that reward ! How does it here loom up before us ! How vastly does it transcend the best that any one can do to deserve it ! The measure of it is not the greatness of the work we have done, but the faith and fidelity with which we have done the little that is within our power. It is the faithfulness over the few things that brings rulership over many things. The mercenary spirit is not the true Christian spirit. Not for wages nor reward, but out of love and devotion to our Lord and His cause we are to serve Him. Nevertheless, where such love is the motive reward will come, — reward far beyond the desert of our doing. True and loving service carries joy and blessedness in itself. Where that exists and controls there is always an inward satisfaction, of which nothing can deprive the soul. But beyond this

FIRST SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 305 is the approval and commendation of the Lord, and glad welcome into His own joy, with promise of rulership and dominion.

The holiest and most useful will, of course, rise the highest and share the most "They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament ; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever. " But for the weakest and the poorest, if faithful in doing for the Master the best they can, there is blessedness eternal. 1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books 2. ALL WRITINGS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000

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