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ed talent, learn, too late for repentance, the sad fulfilment of the awful warning: “And that servant, which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes, For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required."*
When we consider, what is most strictly true, that we ourselves shall bear our part in the fearful scrutiny of that day, well may we look to ourselves with fear and trembling : For “ who may abide the day of His coming;, and who shall stand when He appeareth ?”+ It is, indeed, an overwhelming thought. But He who hath assured us of these things, hath also provided a way for us to escape the terrors of a judgment to come, If in the employment of our respective talents, we be faithful servants, good stewards, we then have one ready to answer for us in the sufficiency of His redeeming love, in the efficacy of His mediation : One who hath already paid our debt of ten thousand talents, and now offers and gives His spiritual strength to be perfected in our weakness. To Him, then, the Saviour of our souls, under the fearful consciousness of our talents received and to be accounted for, let us lift up our hearts,
+ Mal. ii. 2.
# St. Luke.
without doubt of His mercy, His help, His comfort. Never, for one moment, let us suppose that earthly advantages and personal enjoyments are not an entrusted talent, and that life may be selfishly spent in appropriating them to ourselves. He "who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared
sumptuously every day,” found, in hell, that his choice had been evil indeed, and that his abused talents there met with their fearful recompence. Let an example so terrible, so strictly applicable in its measured adaptation, to all of us, be continually before our eyes. Let us remember the lesson which it so powerfully holds out: that what God gives to each of us of temporal or of spiritual means of usefulness, must be well, and unceasingly, and conscientiously applied to His glory, and the real good of our fellow-creatures.
And, to enforce this remembrance upon our minds, let us consider the lessons of judgment, dwell on the invitations of mercy. In life it will be continually found, and in death it will finally be made manifest to our own personal consciousness, that talents abused and wasted, or confined and locked up from their proper use, shall minister to our present evil, and to our future and eternal wretchedness; but that talents employed, as God would have them
to be employed, shall be returned to us a hundred fold in present peace and everlasting blessedness : that if, whatever be our portion of talent, of earthly advantages and spiritual blessings, we use it in imitation of that exam. ple of our Redeemer, whose life was the pattern of those holy doctrines which He taught, we shall receive “a full reward.” Then, when He shall come in His glory to take account of our respective stewardships, how we shall have used or neglected our talent, then will He reward every man according as his work shall be.
And when the slothful, the wicked, and unprofitable receivers of their gracious Master's goods, shall hear the appalling sentence of condemnation which must part them from their God and Saviour for ever, they will learn the tremendous reality of a threat, to which, in their lifetime, they turn a deaf ear and a hardened heart. And when the humble and earnest endeavour of the faithful servants of God to employ their talents for temporal and spiritual good to their fellowcreatures, shall, in the Redeemer's sufficiency be accepted from the Throne, and the longpromised blessedness pronounced, then shall be exactly fulfilled the sure word of prophecy now offered to our souls for comfort and en
couragement in this day of our probation :“ And 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."*
* Dan. xii. 3.
" ONE THING NEEDFUL."
ST. LUKE, CHAPTER 10, VERSES 41, 42.
** And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha,
thou art careful and troubled about many things : But one thing is needful.”
The answer, which the holy Jesus thus gave to the over-anxious application of Martha, contains instruction for people of all times and of all conditions. What Christ told her by His own mouth, He now tells every one of us by the same word written for our learning: “But one thing is needful.”
The occasion upon which our blessed Lord spake these words must be known to us all. The two sisters of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, had gladly received Him into their house, and were equally desirous of shewing their sense of the honour conferred upon them by the presence of such a guest. But there was a different spirit in the views and wishes of the two sisters. In Mary was shewn an earnest desire after spiritual good. Her whole soul was given up to the gracious opportunity,