Christ Jesus made use of many similes in his efforts to impress upon his hearers the truth concerning the kingdom of heaven. He had bidden the apostles to preach its near approach, even as John the Baptist had declared it and he himself had taught; but though they had been most intimately associated with the Master, had listened to his teachings and witnessed his healing of the multitudes from all manner of diseases "with the finger of God,"—even they were looking for the immediate coming of a temporal kingdom, a speedy reversal of conditions so far as rulers were concerned, and a triumphant entry upon the long-promised reign of the seed of Abraham. They had yet to learn that though the kingdom of heaven was indeed at hand, they must first be tested as to their ability to possess it, prove their faithfulness, when the Master had gone away from them, to the commission with which they had been entrusted. There was to be no slighting of the task, no delay in its execution, "for ye know," he told them, "neither the day nor the hour when the Son of man cometh,"—when they that are faithful shall hear the welcome invitation, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

In the parable of the talents the value of faithfulness is strongly emphasized. To each servant, "according to his ability," there was given that with which he might increase his master's store. All were to be diligent against his return, but each was to be accountable only for that which he had individually received. The master had departed, and there was only the desire to prove their faithfulness to spur them on in anticipation of his homecoming. At last the day came, and he who gained five talents and he who had gained two could welcome their lord in joyful assurance of work faithfully done, and hear with gladness the deserved commendation, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things."

But no such happiness awaited him who had wasted his opportunity of gain in fear lest he should lose that which he had in charge, who had buried his talent in the earth of slothfulness and selfishness, and well might he tremblingly await the righteous judgment of his faithlessness. In his desire to excuse and explain his own failure to profit by the opportunity he had shared with his fellow servants, he even sought to thrust the blame therefor upon the master he had wronged; but his plea availed not, and he had to submit to have taken from him even that which he had, and to be cast out as an unprofitable and untrustworthy servant.

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August 19, 1911

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