Luk_19:12-13. A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
MANKIND are prone to amuse themselves with prospects of earthly grandeur, and to neglect the most important ends and purposes of life. The Jews were expecting their Messiah to erect a temporal kingdom; the Disciples themselves also were led away by this fond conceit. At our Lord’s last ascent to Jerusalem, this expectation prevailed amongst all orders and ranks of men [Note: ver. 11.]. To rectify their notions and turn their attention to their proper concerns, he delivered to them this parable [Note: The parable states, that a nobleman, having been invested with royal dignity, reckoned with his servants to whom he had committed money, and punished the citizens who had refused submission to his authority. These being perfectly distinct, we shall treat them separately, and confine our attention at present to the former.]. Christ is the person here intended by the nobleman; he has committed to every man something which is to be improved for him; and he is shortly coming at the day of judgment to reckon with us. These points are so clear that we need insist on them only in a way of application—
Has not Christ given us something to improve for him?
[We are ready enough to fix a high value on what we possess, when we think it will reflect honour on ourselves: but we are apt to think lightly of it, when we are reminded of the responsibility connected with it. Few indeed have great talents or extensive influence; but every person has at least a pound [Note: The value of the mina is not ascertained: some think it was equal to about three guineas; others, that it was rather more than five.] committed to him. Have we not, in the first place, been endued with reason? This surely is capable of great improvement. Have we not also enjoyed many sabbaths and ordinances? These might have been turned to a good account for God. Have we not also had access to the Holy Scriptures? From these we might have learned all the mysteries of godliness. We should therefore have studied them with all humility and diligence. Have we not experienced many convictions of conscience and gracious operations of God’s Spirit? These are inestimable, and may be made subservient to our eternal welfare. Have we not received many calls and warnings from God in his Providence? These, if duly attended to, might have been occasions of much good to our souls: and all these things are mercies, of which we must hereafter give an account.]
What improvement have we made of his favours?—
[The injunction given to all, is, “Occupy, that is, Trade, till I come;” and all these things are given us to be improved for God [Note: 1Co_12:7.]. What use then have we made of the pound committed to us? Have we employed our reason in search of Divine truth? Have we spent our Sabbaths in meditation and prayer? Have we profited by the ordinances as we might have done? Have we taken the Scriptures as a guide to our feet and lantern to our path? Have we obeyed the dictates of conscience, and the motions of God’s Spirit? Have we laid to heart the various dispensations of Providence which we observed in our own concerns, and in the world around us? Have we, in short, laboured to improve our time, our money, our influence for him who has entrusted them to our care? Have we laboured earnestly to fulfil that apostolic injunction [Note: 1Pe_4:10.]—?]
What excuse have we for neglecting to improve them?—
[The slothful servant cast the blame upon his lord: nor are there wanting amongst ourselves those who resemble him. We say, God requires more than he will enable us to perform: but can this be affirmed with even a shadow of truth? Do not his promises extend to all our wants? May not every one adopt the words of the Apostle Paul [Note: Php_4:13.]—? Even if this assertion were true, it would not justify our supineness. The more “austere” our Lord were, the more we should fear to provoke him: we should endeavour at least to approve ourselves to him as we could. If we could not do all, it is no reason that we should do nothing. If we could not improve his money by trading, we should “put it into the bank.” Our excuses then will only turn to our confusion. God will justly say to us, “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee.”]
What recompence have we reason to expect?—
[Our Lord will reward every man according to his works. Are we ready then to give up our account to him? Can we say, “Lord, thy pound hath gained ten, or five pounds?” Can we say upon good grounds that it hath gained even two? Happy for us, if we have the testimony of our conscience respecting this. We shall gladly, like the good servants, ascribe the honour to our Lord [Note: They do not say I have gained, but, “Thy pound” hath gained: they knew and acknowledged that they had nothing of their own to trade with.]: we shall adopt the language of the Apostle [Note: 1Co_15:10.]—, and of David [Note: 1Ch_29:14.]—: nor will our Lord be backward to reward our faithful exertions. He will recompense every one in proportion to his labour and success [Note: 1Co_3:8.]; and to every one he will give what infinitely exceeds the value of his services [Note: The government of five or ten cities is a rich compensation indeed for the improvement of one pound.]. But, alas! are there not many who have hid their money in a napkin? What recompence then must such slothful servants receive? Christ will shortly deprive them of the means of grace they possess, and make them monuments of his everlasting displeasure: nor will this be the reward of those only who dissipate his money: it will be the certain recompence of unprofitableness. Let not any one therefore hope to be approved while he continues idle: let not any one be satisfied with mere negative holiness: let our exertions in our Master’s service be unwearied: let us, like the saints of old, look to the recompence of reward [Note: Heb_11:26.]: and let us stand ready to give up our account with joy. So shall we have confidence before him, and not be ashamed at his coming [Note: 1Jn_2:28.].]