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unjust, adulterers. St. John exhorts Christians to examine themselves, and judge of their state by their love of God, their love of the brethren, their renunciation of the world. "For this is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith." (1 John ii. 3-5.) "And hereby we do know that we know Christ, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him." Such a testimony of his conscience gave a cause of rejoicing, though not of boasting, to the apostle Paul, when he said, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." All depends upon the spirit in which the words are spoken, whether it be the spirit of vanity and self-confidence, or the spirit of thoughtful humility. "By the grace of God I am what I am." All depends upon the purpose of the heart: whether it is setting up a claim, or whether it is seeking for an evidence of faith in Him, through whom alone the Christian is justified in the sight of God.
The whole may be summed up in the dying words of one, who had drunk deep of the spirit of the Gospel. "Though by the grace of God I have loved him in my youth, and feared Him in mine age, and laboured to have a conscience
void of offence to Him and to all men: yet, if thou, O Lord, be extreme to mark what I have done amiss, who can abide it? And therefore, where I have failed, Lord, show mercy to me; for I plead not my righteousness, but the forgiveness of my unrighteousness, for his merits, who died to purchase a pardon for penitent sinners." 3
PARABLE OF THE TEN POUNDS,
LUKE xix. 11—27.
11. "And as they heard these things, He added and spake a parable, because He was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear."
THIS is one of the many occasions, on which our Lord corrects the errors of His disciples, and restrains their expectations. They perceived that He was stedfastly purposed to go up to Jerusalem and they believed that His object was, not to purchase a kingdom, but to take possession: not to suffer, but to reign. They still hoped, probably, to reign with Him. So He explained by a parable the nature of God's dispensation: how a man is not crowned, till he has endured the contest: how the husbandman
3 Hooker. See his Life, by Walton.
must first labour, before he is partaker of the fruits.1
12. "IIe said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return."
13. "And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. 14. "But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.'
A clear distinction is drawn here, between the citizens, the Jewish nation, who rejected their King, and His servants, His professed disciples. To these, when He retired to a far country, when He ascended up to heaven, He committed the truths of the gospel, not to be locked up within their own hearts, but to be proclaimed abroad. And He delivered to them the powers, the means, by which this might be done. He gave them the power of utterance; He confirmed His promise, that the Holy Ghost should put into their hearts what they should speak: nay, He enabled them so to speak, that, every man should hear in his own language the wonderful works of God. And these talents they were to employ, these gifts to use, to occupy. It was no easy or safe duty: they were straitly threatened, that " they should not speak at all nor
* That his right to the kingdom might be confirmed: a practice not unusual where a foreign nation, as Rome, had others tributary to itself.
Gr. Use or employ in trading.
teach in the name of Jesus." And this He foresaw; He well knew that the great body of the citizens would hate them; and as they had treated Him, so would they treat His servants. By this their fidelity was to be tried, that they should continue to occupy, till He came to take account.1
In the same manner He assigns to all, who profess His faith, their respective portions of duty in their respective stations. A business is entrusted to them. One has the gift of fortune, another of mind; one has temporal, another has moral influence. There is no escape, no exemption from this duty, though it may be more solemnly enforced upon one than upon another: -still the command is universal, Occupy till I
15. "And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
16. "Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
17. "And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
18. "And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
19. "And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities."
We should wonder, in reading the history of 1 Cor. iv. 5.
the apostles without this key to their actions, what could influence them to be "in labours so abundant, in deaths oft, in prisons frequent, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." But "they had respect unto the recompense of reward," which the Lord has held out for the encouragement of His servants in the diligent use of the powers entrusted to them. This is the motive which we find St. Paul employing, when he excites others to "stir up the gift of God which was in them." "Every man's work shall be made manifest:" so that "whatsoever good thing a man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord." This was the motive by which he himself was actuated; which made him "labour, that he might present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:" that they whom he had" turned from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God," might be his "hope and joy, and crown of rejoicing in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming."" For He had said," Behold, I come quickly and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be." 8
Such is the mercy of God, who first bestows the power, and then rewards its use: first gives the will and the ability to serve, and then assigns an infinite recompense of service. This, too, the apostle suffers not his fellow-servants to for1 Cor. iii. 13-15. Eph. vi. 8. 8 Rev. xxii. 12.
5 2 Cor. xi. 27.