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pathized with the foolish virgin. Character is a personal achievement, and it cannot be acquired in a moment. The critical hour may seem harsh in its dealing with men, but is never unjust. It never makes nor unmakes any man; it is simply an hour of revelation, revealing what the man has been making himself during his previous years. Wellington understood this when he said that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the cricket-field at Eton. It is an inescapable spiritual law that the unworthy are by their own act excluded from the highest achievements when life's greatest moments come. Herein consisted the foolish virgins' folly. . . . The real critical hour is therefore not the hour of the emergency, but the unobserved preceding hours." - Rev. Dr. Jackson in Biblical World.
A LESSON. "We may find in this simple parable a lesson for the cultivation of courage and self-reliance. These virgins are summoned to the discharge of an important duty, at midnight, alone, in darkness and solitude; no chivalrous gentleman there, to run for oil and trim their lamps. They must depend on themselves and, unsupported, pay the penalty of their own improvidence and unwisdom. Perhaps in that bridal procession might be seen fathers, brothers, friends, for whose service and amusement the foolish virgins had wasted many precious hours, when they should have been trimming their own lamps and kept oil in their vessels; and now as with music and banners, magic-lanterns and torches, guns and rockets, fired at intervals, the bride and groom and their attendants and friends, numbering thousands, brilliant in jewels, gold and silver, magnificently mounted on richly caparisoned horses-for-nothing could be more brilliant than were those nuptial solemnities of Eastern nations as this spectacle, grand beyond description, sweeps by; imagine the foolish virgins, pushed aside in the shadow of some all edifice, with dark, empty lamps in their hands, unnoticed and unknown. And while the castle walls resound with music and merriment and the lights from every window stream far out into the darkness, no kind friends gather around them to sympathize in their humiliation, nor to cheer their loneliness."
V. And the Door Was Shut. The opportunity came, and the gift in its hand was gained or lost. There came a time when it was too late to change.
(1) This is a fact of nature, as well as a truth of the Word. There is a tendency to fix the character, so that one will not change. In the misuse of the body there comes a time when it is impossible to ward off disease. (2) We shut the door against ourselves. No one but ourselves is to blame for our not entering. (3) We shut the door by neglecting to be prepared to enter.
"There is a time, we know not when;
A point, we know not where,
There were but two ornaments on the walls of the office where Roosevelt spent his daylight working hours. One was a rude picture of Lincoln, by an obscure artist and cheaply framed, which had no merit except that it reproduced the plainness of Lincoln's features with great fidelity. The other ornament was this signed manuscript copy of Ingalls's famous poem, "Opportunity."
Master of human destinies am I!
Fame, love and fortune on my footsteps wait.
Hovel and mart and palace, soon or late
THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS.
COMMIT V. 29.
GOLDEN TEXT. — His lord said unto him, Well done, thou 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: 21.
THE TEACHER AND HIS CLASS.
The Teacher may begin his teaching with a lesson in Arithmetic, showing that the Arithmetic of life is different in some respects from our school arithmetics.
A comparison of the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 with the Parable of the Pounds in Luke 19. The confusion of one of these with the other is well illustrated by Professor Riddle in The Sunday School Times. "The result is an inaccurate application of the details, often ludicrous. For example, the speaker of the present House of Representatives (1906), in the opening speech of his Congressional campaign, began by referring to the parable of the wise servant who returned to his master the talent entrusted to his care multiplied tenfold.' This was virtually his text. Now it was the 'pound' that was 'multiplied tenfold,' not the 'talent' (comp. Matt. 25: 20 with Luke 19: 16). Even Daniel Webster, in one of his published letters, speaks of wrapping a talent in a napkin. But no napkin could conceal so large a sum. The man entrusted with the one talent hid it in the earth' (Matt. 25: 18, 25).”
1. The sum entrusted was small in "The Pounds" and large (60 times as much) in "The Talents."
2. In the one all received alike, in the other each received according to his ability. 3. The masters were different, and gave to their servants under different circumstances. 4. The rewards were different; in the one the gains were in different multiples, in the other each one doubled what was entrusted to him.
5+5 = 10 X faithfulness Many and
5. That which was entrusted was different in each parable.
6. The teaching of each was in each a different aspect of faithfulness.
"The one parable is an encouragement for all believers in their humbler sphere of duty. The Master is testing and training them in little things, and their faithfulness therein will not fail of its reward.
"The other parable speaks to all who have wider opportunities, and asks of them similar faithfulness, but in the expectation that the results will be commensurate with the entrusted talents."
Was this a fair deal? Yes or No.
Is this what takes place in actual life? Note that this Parable is "a complement to the parable of the Ten Virgins, which it follows. The one teaches watchfulness for the Lord's return; the other emphasizes faithful work until he returns."
Matthew 25: 14-30.
LEARN BY HEART.
THE TEACHER'S LIBRARY. Phillips Brooks' Sermons, "The Man with One Talent," and "The Man with Two Talents." Professor James' Psychology, the chapters on "Habit "; Dr. Hillis' Investment of Influence, "Investment of Talent” (Revell), and A Man's Value to Society, "Elements of Worth in the Individual." For hiding the talent in the earth see Prof. Thomson's The Parables and Their Home, "Parable of the Hid Treasure." Louis Albert Banks' The Christ Dream, "The Tragedy of the Napkin" (Eaton & Mains). Bushnell's Sermons for the New Life, "The Capacity of Religion Extirpated by Disuse."
1 Luke 19: 12.
2 Matt. 21: 33.
THE LESSON IN LITERATURE.
"The Skitzlanders," in Dickens' Household Words, is a capital illustration of loss by disuse. Trench's Poem, the "Two Sacks of Wheat." Found also in Foster's Cyclopedia of Poetry, No. 2,830. Fiske's Critical Period of American History, pp. 224-228, furnishes an excellent example of the power of small talents. Poems. "The Doomed Man,' "" "The House of Never," "The Land of Pretty Soon." (See Peloubet's Suggestive Illustrations on Matthew.)
14. 1 For the kingdom of heaven is
it is as when a man, going
own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
PLAN OF THE LESSON. SUBJECT: The Rewards of Faithfulness.
I. THE ORIENTAL FRAMEWORK OF THE
II. THE MAN WITH FIVE TALENTS.
2 as a man travelling into a far
who called his
one he gave five a talents, to another two, and to another according to his several ability; and straightway took his
3 Rom. 12: 6; 1 Cor. 12: 7; Eph. 4: 11. a See marginal note on Matt. 18: 24.
I. The Oriental Framework of the Lesson. -Vs. 14, 15. This parable shines clearest in the light of the circumstances. Jesus and his disciples are still on Olivet, overlooking Jerusalem and the Temple in all their glory. Jesus had just foretold their destruction. Let the disciples learn a necessary lesson from the cause of that ruin.
Many and great talents had been committed to the Jewish nation. No nation had ever received so great a trust as they, the divine Revelation, religious truth, and best of all the Messiah, the Son of God; and thus power to become a blessing to all the world.
This nation had refused to use these talents entrusted to them; again and again they had buried the talent instead of using it; and now they were about to murder their Messiah, instead of using Him, and thus to bury this talent in the earth.
The parable lay in full view before the disciples' eyes. What the city then was, multiplied into the new Jerusalem of the Revelation, could have been theirs evermore by faithful use of the divinely entrusted talents. The loss of all, "the outer darkness,” “the weeping and gnashing of teeth," as the fruit of unfaithfulness, lay in the prophetic vision shown by Christ.
And now that buried talent was brought forth and was to be entrusted to the disciples and to the Christian Church they were to found. The five talents were now offered to them, and the vital question was what they would do with them. The two courses were made very plain to them by the parable. It was written in letters of light on their sky, printed indelibly on their minds.
Will they neglect their duty, and perish like the city that lay before them?
Or will they take warning and be faithful? For the greatest "talents," the greatest task ever committed to anybody in all history was soon to be committed into their hands; and to-day we see the fruit of their faithfulness to their trust, their five talents not only added, but multiplied, over and over again, and the few things become many things.
THE HOUSEHOLDER. A man travelling into a far country, and therefore wishing to leave his affairs in competent hands. He represents Jesus Christ who was about to leave his disciples and go to heaven, which was a far country in the sense that his servants could
not have visible communication with him. He was to leave the spread of the Gospel, and the salvation of the world in the hands of his disciples, although he was with them in invisible but real presence.
THE SERVANTS denote all those to whom the interests of the kingdom of heaven were entrusted. The Jewish rulers are among those represented by the man with one talent, for they looked upon the kingdom of God placed in their charge as a matter of small account compared with their own selfish interests. The Apostles and early Christian leaders received some five talents, some two, some one; and so do all Christ's professed followers, and all who have received from Christ the privileges and blessings of his Gospel. The principle applies to all men, for all have been entrusted by God with many things.
THE TALENTS. And delivered unto them his goods, his property, his capital available for trading purposes. This property was in the form of talents, probably of silver. There were two kinds of talents, which represent not a coin but a weight. The heavy talent of silver is worth about $1,940. The light talent = $970, one half as much as the other.
60 mina, the pound of the parable of The Pounds in Luke 19.
A talent = 6,000 denarii, worth a little more than 16 cents each, the common wages for a day's work.
We may therefore say in round numbers that each talent committed to the servants was worth $1,000 or $2,000. Equivalent in value in our day to $10,000 or $20,000.
The talents represent the powers and means God has entrusted to his people for carrying on his work. They are the " gifts" Paul enumerates in 1 Corinthians 12. Among these talents are the Gospel itself, the truths Christ preached, training, energy, education, skill, Christian experience, health, wealth, time, opportunities, power of preaching and teaching, all the gifts and endowments of the Holy Spirit.
DR. BUSHNELL says that the capacity of religion of knowing God, of love, of faith, of being illuminated and guided by God-is the highest talent we have, because without this all other talents fall into a stunted and partially disabled state, and because "all the greatest things ever done in the world have been done by the instigations and holy elevations of the religious capacity.'
"In religious things the right use of the talent of speech has brought forth precious fruit. Many millions of souls have been converted, because men have used the power of speech in the right way. Probably most of those of us who are believers are so because some one used the power of speech in the right way. Some mother, or brother, or friend spoke to us, and we heeded their invitation. Whoever has the power of speech has a measureless great talent. Deeds are of great power; for actions speak louder than words. Many a soul has been comforted and blessed through the godly life of some one else. Example wins where advice won't work. For our deeds we are responsible; they lead others to God or to ruin. Good looks are a talent. Many a young woman has realized this, and has used her beauty to ensnare some one else. But if good looks can be used for evil, they can be used for good as well. A musical voice is a very great talent. Many a soul that never heeded a sermon has been sung into the kingdom of God. But barrooms use music quite as much as churches. Money is a great talent. He who has money has power stored up. He can use it to ruin or to help. Many think that a million is a talent, but that five dollars is not. This is a mistake. A dollar, even a dime, is a talent, and for its right use we are responsible. A Christian who belongs to God all but his pocketbook is no Christian at all. If Christians, rich and poor, realize that their money is the Lord's, all church debts and all mission debts would at once disappear, and the Gospel would have wings given it to fly with." Schauffler.
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON was talking one day to the children of a school in Samoa about the Parable of the Talents, and told them there were three possessed by them all. Tongues, to be used to make all about them cheerful and happy. Faces, to be kept as bright as a new silver coin, that they might shine like lamps in their homes. Hands, to be kept employed in useful work cheerfully done.
15. To every man according to his several ability. "The natural gifts are as the vessel, which may be large or small and which receives according to its capacity; but which in each case is filled." Prof. Broadus. But this natural ability may be greatly increased by right use, by training, education, faithfulness, as was the case with those who by faithfulness, gained double the ability as well as double the number of talents. The added talents, "the many things were given only "to every man according to his ability."
THE TRADING is the wise and earnest use of all the talents God has entrusted to us, in accomplishing his work and aiding the progress of his kingdom.
Then he that had received the five talents went and traded Straightway with the same, and made them other five talents. he that had received gained other two. 18. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
he also two'
17. In like manner
After 19. Now after a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. maketh a reckoning
20. And so he that received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant : thou hast been faithful over a few things, 'I will make thee ruler over many things enter thou into 2 the joy of thy lord.
I Vs. 34, 46; Luke 12: 44.
22 Tim. 2: 12; 1 Pet. 1: 8.
II. The Man with Five Talents and His Reward. — Vs. 16, 19-21. And made them other five talents. In an honest business way he doubled his capital. In all true bargains the other side gains as well. A good bargain is one that is good for both parties. Both the capacity and the entrusted talents are increased by proper use. But it was through diligence, faithfulness, hard work, sacrifice, skill, business ability.
For this faithfulness there were given him five rewards.
FIRST. INCREASE IN HIS CAPITAL. THE MULTIPLIED MAN. Both the capacity and the entrusted talents are increased by proper use. God gives larger opportunities, fuller measures of the Spirit, more important work, new spheres of action, to those who have increased their ability to use them. The first reward of the faithful use of talents or ability, is more talent, greater ability. The reward of faithfulness is more faithfulness; of good work, is more work to do; of love, is more capacity for loving.
ILLUSTRATION. William Wickham, being appointed by King Edward to build a stately church, wrote in the window, "This work made William Wickham." When charged by the king for assuming the honor of that work to himself as the author, whereas he was only the overseer, he answered that he meant not that he made the work, but that the work made him, having before been very poor, and then in great credit.
ILLUSTRATION. 66 Jules Michelet, the French historian, referring to his great History of France, said: 'My book created me; it was I that was its work.' That is true of every man's work. The things we do make or unmake us. Every task sincerely wrought out makes the man who performs it larger and finer and nobler. Whoever links himself with a great enterprise begins to grow toward its greatness. If a preacher preaches greatly on the great themes of the gospel, or as a pastor serves with self-forgetful fidelity all the needs of his people, his great preaching and his work in which he has put his whole heart and conscience will constantly recreate him and mold him into larger and nobler moral stature. And so the work of the wholly devoted Sunday school superintendent or teacher, or scholar."
THE SPIRITUAL MULTIPLICATION TABLE. Every additional gift or virtue or talent in a man is not merely so much added to him, but is a multiplier, for it increases the value of each and every other gift. Add common sense to genius, and the man is multiplied many fold. Add to these consecration, zeal, grace, and love, and you multiply him many fold more. One note is a sound; add a score or two more, and you have an anthem. One color, no matter how beautiful, is monotonous; add other colors, and you have a cathedral window. Such is the wonderful reward of the man who adds five more to his five talents, or two more to his two, or one more to his one.
THE SECOND REWARD. 21. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant. He had his lord's approval. Faithfulness, not success, nor the amount gained, was rewarded. God will say "Well done" only to those who have done well. There are no empty compliments in the Day of Judgment. "Handel tells us that when he wrote the 'Hallelujah Chorus' he saw the heavens opened and all the angels and the great God himself! " A modest man of moderate ability said that he could not expect God's Well done, but he did expect that he would say, Well tried; Well attempted.