« ПредишнаНапред »
in darkness at noon day? They know not at what they stumble. Their feet stand on slippery places, and every thing with. in them and without them, is constantly pushing them on to the gulf of destruction. While God is letting them alone, their situation is growing more and more dangerous every day. And they and others may despair of the efficacy of all external means alone, to awaken, convince, or convert them. These they have resisted, and will continue to resist, unless God, by his special grace, removes their resistance.
6. This subject affords ground of hope, that some who are now in the path to ruin, will be sooner or later taught of God, and drawn to Christ. God is able to awaken the most stupid, to convince the most hardened, and make the most obstinate willing to come to Christ. The Father has promised to do this for all whom he has given to his Son, and his Son places full confidence in the faithfulness of his Father. Hence he says, “ All that the Father hath given me, shall come to me." If there be any here whom God has given to Christ, and whom he has not savingly taught, these he will take into his own hand, and effectually teach them the strait and narrow way to eternal life. He has hitherto delayed to do this, for wise and good reasons; either because he is waiting till they arrive at the brink of destruction, to make a more signal display of his almighty and sovereign grace; or because he is waiting to be inquired of by his friends, to take away the hard, stony, stubborn hearts of his enemies. Those, therefore, who have been taught of God, have great encouragement to cry sincerely and mightily to him, to arise and plead his own cause, and have mercy upon those who are abusing his mercy, and filling up the measure of their sins, and ripening themselves for ruin. You have a right to the promises of God. “ It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God;" that is, all the elect. And it is written in the Psalms, “ The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
THE EXCUSE OF SINNERS THEIR CONDEMNATION.
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gath.
ering where thou hast not strewed. — MATT. XXV. 24.
It is easy to understand the general design of the parable which contains these words. By the owner of the servants, Christ means to represent the Creator and owner of the world. By the servants, he means to represent mankind in general. By the different talents, he means to represent the different pow. ers and faculties, and the different privileges and advantages, with which God distinguishes one person from another. By the two servants that faithfully improved their talents, he means to represent good men, who serve God with fidelity. And by the slothful and unfaithful servant, he means to represent the sinner, who entirely neglects the service of God, and blames him, rather than himself, for his negligence. “Lord, I knew thee, that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed.” This language of the slothful servant, expresses the feelings of every impenitent sinner. From this we may conclude that all sinners are disposed to complain of God for requiring that of them which he has not given them. I shall,
I. Show what God does not require of them which he has not given them.
II. What he does require of them which he has not given them. And,
III. That they have no reason to complain of his requiring that of them which he has not given them.
I. I am to show what God does not require of sinners which he has not given them.
Here it may be safely said that he never requires any talents of them which he has not given them. Christ uses the term talents in the parable in its most strict and proper sense, to sig. nify a piece of money. The Jews reckoned a talent of silver at four hundred and fifty pounds sterling, and a talent of gold at seven thousand two hundred pounds sterling. * But as the parable itself is to be understood figuratively, so the term talents is to be understood figuratively, to signify all intellectual powers and faculties, and all external privileges and opportunities of getting and of doing good. These natural talents God bestows upon sinners in larger or smaller measures as he sees best. He gives greater talents to some than to others, and more talents to some than to others. To one he gives ten talents, to another two, and to another one. To some he gives great powers of mind, and great opportunities of cultivating, enlarging and strengthening their mental powers. And to some he gives great corporeal strength and activity, and peculiar opportunities of exerting these faculties to valuable and important purposes. But he never requires men to have more or better natural talents than he has given them. He never requires the man, whom he has given but one talent, to have two; nor the man, to whom he has given but two talents, to have ten.
He never requires a blind man to see, nor a deaf man to hear, nor a man that has no feet to walk, nor a sick man to be well, nor a weak 'man to be strong, nor a short man to be tall. He never requires any man to have a better understanding, or a better memory, or any better intellectual faculties, than he has given him. And he never requires any man to do any action which he has not given him knowledge, strength, time and opportunity for doing. In a word, he never requires either saints or sinners to have any natural talents which he has not given them, nor to exercise any natural talents which they do not possess. I now proceed to show,
II. What God does require of sinners which he does not give them. The slothsul servant tells his lord that he reaps where he has not sown, and gathers where he has not strewed; by which he means to say that he required that of him which he had not given him. And sinners at this day generally say the same with respect to God. They say that he requires that of them which he has not given them. Though sinners, like the slothful servant, have a bad meaning in saying this, yet their assertion must be allowed to be true; for God does most expressly require that of them which he has not given them. Though he does not require them to have faculties which he has not given them, yet he does require them to have a heart to improve in his service the talents he has given them, which he has not given them a heart to do. He requires every sinner to love him with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, though he has not given him such a heart. When he gave the law at Mount Sinai to all the congregation of Israel, he required them to love him supremely, though he knew and implicitly said that he had not generally given them a heart to love him. He now commands all sinners every where under the gospel to repent. He now commands all sinners every where under the gospel cordially to believe and embrace it. And he now commands sinners every where, whether they eat, or drink, or whatever they do, to do all to his glory. Or in fewer words, he commands them to have a heart to improve all the talents he has given them in his service and to his glory, though he has not given them such a heart. He requires them to exercise the same holy love, holy joy, holy hope, holy patience, holy submission and holy obedience, which he requires saints to exercise, though he has never given them such holy exercises of heart. It appears from the whole current of scripture, that God does reap where he has not sown, and gather where he has not strewed; that he does require sinners to have a heart to improve all the talents he has given them, in his service; and that he does require them to have the same holy heart which he has given to others, but has not given to them. I use this phraseology because it is scriptural, and because it is the very phraseology which sinners themselves use upon the subject, and upon which, like the slothsul servant, they found their complaint. But though I admit the propriety of their saying that God does require of them that which he has not given them, yet I will endeavor to make it appear that their complaint, even in their own terms, is entirely groundless. Accordingly, I now proceed as proposed,
* See Cruden's Concordance.
III. To show that they have no reason to complain of God for his requiring that of them which he has not given them. The idle servant complained of his master, because he required that of him which he had not given him. “ Then he which had received the one talent came, and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed.” By this language of the idle servant, Christ meant to represent the language and feelings of sinners in respect to God." They all complain that he is hard, severe, and even unjust, in requiring that of them which he has not given them. But that they have no reason at all to complain of God, for his requiring that of them which he has not given them, will clearly appear, if we seriously, candidly and attentively consider the following things.
1. What God has given sinners, is a good reason why he should require what he has not given them. He has given them talents by which they are capable of having what he has not given, and which he requires them to have; that is, a heart to improve them in his service. He has given them all the rational and moral powers which are necessary to constitute them moral agents. And these rational and moral powers, which are natural talents, are the proper and only proper foundation of moral obligation. The bare knowledge of right and wrong, or of moral good and evil, lays sinners under moral obligation to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. The bare knowledge of duty, in all cases, lays men under moral obligation to do it. “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” The natural talents, which form the natural capacity of sinners, lay them under moral obligation to love and serve their Creator. It is impossible that any creature of God should know his character and perfections, and not be bound to love him; which is precisely the same thing as being bound to have a good heart, which essentially consists in love. The natural talents, or the rational and moral powers, which God has given to sinners, lay them under moral obligation to have what he has not given them; namely, a good heart
. They are under the same obligation to have a good heart before they have it, as afterwards. For their obligation to have a good heart is entirely founded in their rational powers, and not in their actually having a good heart. As God has given them the same rational powers that he has given saints, so they are under the same obligations to have a good heart that saints are. Their not having a good heart does not destroy their obligation to have one. Though God does not, and cannot, consistently require sinners to have talents which he has not given them, yet he does, and can, consistently require them to have a heart which he has not given them. There is an essential difference between natural talents and moral exercises. Though it be not right that God should require sinners to have talents which he has not given them, yet it is perfectly right that he should require them to have a heart which consists in holy exercises, that he has not given them. And every sinner is capable of seeing and feeling that the very talents God has given him, lay him under moral obligation to have a heart to improve them, which he has not given him. And it is upon this very ground that the master of the unfaithful and slothful servant judges and condemns him out of his own mouth, for complaining of his injustice and severity. “ And he said unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow; wherefore then gavest