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the kingdom seem all the more to occupy His thoughts, albeit the pathway lay through Gethsemane, Calvary, and the grave. Thus we find it in the chapter before us, also in chapter xxi., and again, more remarkably still, in chapter xxii, as revealed in those loving words spoken to His disciples ere He went from the supper table to the garden-“I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me; that ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom.”

In the parable of the pounds our Lord describes Himself (i.) as a nobleman going into a far country, (ii.) to receive for Himself a kingdom, and (iii.) to return. The whole tone of the parable indicates that He designed to disabuse the minds of His followers of the idea that the kingdom was then to be established; and had the disciples understood this, they would not have asked on the day of His ascension into heaven, “ Wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

(i.) The Lord's departure from this world is given to us at the end of this gospel; (ii.) His receiving the kingdom, in Rev. V., when He takes the seven-sealed book from the hand of Him who sits upon the throne; and (iii.) His return to take an account with His servants and to punish His enemies, is the theme of all the prophetic writings.

Two classes are mentioned in this parable, the servants and the citizens; and the former are divided into the faithful and unfaithful. These “servants” include all professed Christians, and the "citizens" represent the enemies, especially the Jewish nation, who are here described as saying, “We will not have this man to reign over us,” words which were soon uttered by their own lips.

In a previous parable in this Gospel the Lord had said, in the person of the Good Samaritan, when committing the wounded man to the keeper of the inn,“ Whatsoever

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thou spendest more, when I come again I will repay thee,” and now, in the parable before us, as the Master speaking to His servants, He says, “ Occupy till I come;" that is, carry on in the meanwhile the business that has been committed to your care. In the parable of the talents in Matthew, the servants are entrusted with different amounts -one, five, and ten talents--but the faithful ones receive identically the same commendation and reward, because proportionately rendering the same service; but in the parable of the pounds, while the amount received in each case is the same, the result of their respective labours is different, and their rewards vary greatly. A divine righteousness is thus brought to bear upon

the subject of rewards hereafter, which must never be lost sight of, and this is especially noticeable in the words spoken by the apostle Paul, when he knew that the time of his departure was at hand—: have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day;” and, as if to show that love of the appearing of Christ could not possibly exist without faithfulness in service, he adds“ and not to me only, but unto them also that love His appearing.”

There is much in this parable that in principle, so far as the faithful servants are concerned, connects itself with the judgment-seat of Christ, corresponding with the time when the nobleman returns, having received the kingdom, and his servants are called that he may see how much each man has gained by trading. The apostle Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, says in reference to builders and workers in the church of God, that if on the one hand any man build upon the foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, or on the other, wood, hay, stubble, each man's work shall be made manifest, for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire;” and according to the result of the proving by fire will be the reward on the one side, or the loss on the other. This is strikingly illustrated in the parable under review. The first servant comes with the result of his diligent labour, and lays ten pounds at his master's feet; to him the nobleman says, “Well, thou good servant, because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.” Here is one like the apostle Paul himself, whose one aim in life had been to serve the gracious Master who had loved him and given Himself for him, and he was content to suffer the loss of all things, and to count them but dung, that he might win Christ. How sweet to such an one in that day will be those precious words from the Master's lips, “ Thou good servant!” What a compensation for all toil, and loss, and suffering, will such a commendation be! Let us remember also the force of the word “faithful.” In these days we are too prone to regard apparent success in work rather than faithfulness of heart and obedience of life. As stewards, we are required to be faithful, and to him who regards things aright, all that he has, and all that he is, belongs to his Master; he is a slave, bought at an infinite price, and all his rights belong to Him who redeemed him.

It is further interesting to observe the disproportion between the “very little” in which he was found faithful, and the greatness of his reward. One pound was all that he had received; his patient toil had made it ten; and now “ ten cities” are placed under his control. Truly the heart will say, when the awards of service are given hereafter, that a little work has reaped an exceeding great and abundant reward, and workers for our Master will wonder at the eternal recompense of the labours of this fleeting



life. May this thought make us prize and use yet more and more each passing moment that bears us onward to eternity

The second servant brings only five pounds for the one pound entrusted to him. He had received from his lord the same as the one who went before him, but how different is the result of his labour! We can but infer that there had been less whole-heartedness in service, a lack of entire consecration to his master's interests, and the using of opportunities for his own selfish gratification and purposes. Half his time had been spent for himself and half for his master; and he had forgotten that as he was himself “ bought with a price,” his master had a claim to all. Like the one of whom the apostle speaks in 2 Cor. iii, he suffers loss when he comes before the judgment-seat, and instead of being over ten cities, he is placed over five only. Nor is it undeserving of notice, that he receives not those precious words of approval, “ Thou good servant,” so grateful to the ears of that whole-hearted servant who had given his lord his all, and brought him the ten pounds. What makes the omission the more remarkable in this case is the fact, already noticed, that in the parable of the talents in Matt. xxv., the one who receives two talents and brings two more, is commended in precisely the same terms as the one who received five talents and brought other five. A word now upon the unfaithful servant.

The charge made against him was not that he had misused, or spent for his own selfish ends, the pound entrusted to him, but simply that, with a heart unappreciative of his Master's character and claims, he had folded it up in a napkin, and left it unused. To him the Master says, « Thou wicked servant." This at once stamps his character, and shows that he does not represent a believer, however weak, frail, and shortcoming, but an unbeliever, who fails to

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realise his responsibility to God as a servant, and virtually disowns His claims upon him. Like those spoken of by the apostle in Hebrews ii., he has neglected God's salvation. It is well to remember and to remind the sinner of God's claims, for man is very prone to think that if he does no definite wrong or injury he will escape the righteous judgment of God; forgetting that man is punished not only for what he does amiss, but also for what he neglects to do.

That faithful servants will have their respective places of honour in the kingdom, is taught by David's rewards to his true followers when he came to the throne, and is also manifest from the Lord's parting words to His disciples before they went from the supper table to Gethsemane, to which we have already referred—“I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me, that ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

But while at the heavenly judgment-seat the Lord's servants receive their reward, the enemies have also to be judged, as we read in those solemn words with which the parable closes : “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring them hither and slay them before Me." A few words on this point will shew how deeply prophetic this parable is.

In verse 14 we read, “But His citizens hated Him, and sent a message after Him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.'' “Behold your King!” was Pilate's

· utterance to the Jews when the Lord stood before him ; but they cried out, “ Away with Him, away with Him; crucify Him!”

When Pilate asked, “Shall I crucify your King ?” the chief priests answered, “We have no king but Cæsar.” They who had chosen the murderer Barabbas,

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