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the management of five talents : and not only so, but condemned the unprofitable servant to a severe punishment, even to outer darkness; where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth : promising at the same time, That more should still be given to those who improved what they had; while they who neglected even a little, should not only lose that little, but suffer for the neglect*.
You see then, my Brethren, that the great and important duty of watchfulness is strongly enforced in each of these beautiful parables : and particularly in the last we are taught a most awful lesson, That it will not be sufficient for us to wrap up our talent, as it were, in a napkin, and thus preserve it entire; but that it will be expected from us at the day of judgment, that we shall be accountable not only for the talent itself, but also for the use or abuse of those means which the grace of God has afforded us for the improvement of it.
Our blessed LORD, having thus prepared the minds of his disciples, concluded the whole with a pathetic description of the day of judgment, dwelling on the solemnity of that appearance, the very
words of the respective sentences which shall then be past on the just and unjust, and the everlasting door of all mankind, subjects which nothing less than Divine knowledge could suggest or explain*
Not indeed that we are to regard these sentences as applicable to all mankind; for you may remark, that they relate only to one of our duties to our neighbour, without respect to the many other duties which we owe to him, the many duties which we owe to ourselves, and the many more which we owe to God. One inference, however, of great consequence is to be drawn from these sentences, that the branch of duty to our neighbour on which they dwell, namely, active compassion to the poor and afflicted, for the sake of CHRIST, is essential to salvation: and that faith, unproductive faith, will ultimately not profit him, who shall not have been careful to maintain good workst.
The parables, admonitions, and instructions, of our Lord, both to his disciples and to the people, which we have been considering in this and my last lecture, occupied part of tuesday and wednesday, that is the third and fourth
days of the weeks, in which he was to suffer. And then having finished all these sayings, JESUS informed his disciples, that within two days the feast of the passover should be celebrated, and that he should then be betrayed into the hands of his enemies, who should cause him to be crucified. The chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people, were assembled together at the palace of Caiaphas, the high priest, and were consulting how they might apprehend JESUS, by some secret artifice, and put him to death ; but they were fearful of executing their malicious designs on the feastday, lest they should thereby create an uproar among the people, who still held him in very great veneration, and gladly beard his doctrine.
But here the divine Providence permitted an opportunity to be offered them, more favourable than their most sanguine hopes could have suggested to them. Never could they have conceived, that one of his own disciples, all of whom seemed so attached to him, would be so base as to betray him. But so it was. Satan, at that very instant, entered, by the permission of God, into Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was one of the twelve. Judas was a man of a very covetous disposition, and by this impious act he thought that he should obtain a sum of money. Prompted therefore by this hope of reward, he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. This unworthy disciple did not lose sight of his object, for he begins his conference with, What will ye give me, and I will betray him unto you? Astonished, as they must be, at such a proposal, they nevertheless received it gladly, and promising to give him money, they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver : after which time he sought such an opporiunity to betray him in the absence of the multitude, as soon presented itself.
On this foul transaction I shall make one observation here. It is particularly noticed by the evangelists, that this traitor was “one of the twelve :” a circumstance which very greatly aggravated his offence. Our LORD had chosen from the rest of his disciples twelve, whom he admitted to the most honourable trust, as well as the most endearing intimacy*: And that one of these twelve should conceive and execute the horrid design of betraying him, aggravates the wickedness of the
* See Doddridge's Family Expositor.:
traitor to such an height of profligacy, that I do not desire to dwell on it for any other reason, than as it suggests a warning to those who are endowed with the greatest blessings from above: whose guilt, if they prove traitors to their LORD, must be esteemed the greater in proportion to the favours, which they have received.
Nor was it any impeachment either of the knowledge or wisdom of Jesus, that he who knew the hearts of men, should admit one to be partaker of his most intimate councils, who, he foresaw, would betray him. It shews that Jesus was not afraid of the eyes of his enemies, however malicious—that his miracles were no juggling tricks, performed by compact with his disciples; and that he was not carrying on any plot to deceive the world. If JESUS had been engaged in such a design, he must have foreseen that Judas, when he betrayed him to the chief priests, would discover the whole fraud. The choice therefore, which our LORD, with the fullest knowledge of the character of Judas, made of him for an apostle, was a proof of the most profound wisdom, instead of being an instance of imprudence; and he thereby demonstrated in the clearest