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As Jesus was now at Jericho, which was at the dis, tance of no more than 150 furlongs, or about 19 miles, from Jerusalem, and had declared his intention of going thither, most of his followers imagined that when he arrived at Jerusalem he would declare himself the Messiah, and set up the temporal kingdom which they had connected with that office.
The ensuing parable, therefore, was intended partly for the instruction of those who entertained this expectation, by representing to them that Jesus would be rejected by the Jews, and that for this rejection they would be destroyed ; and partly for the instruction of his followers in general. It contains instructions also of a more general nature, teaching that different slegrees of improvement will be expected from men, according to the advantages which they enjoy. This part of the parable I have explained before, when it occurred in Matthew, and therefore it is unnecessary to say any thing more of it in this place.
12. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
In this part of the parable there is an allusion to the custom which prevailed in Judæa and some of the neighbouring countries, for the kings to go to Rome, to have their right to the throne confirmed by the emperor, and to receive his protection.
13. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy, rather, “ traffic,” 'till I come.
14. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after hiin, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
This represents the conduct of the Jews towards Jesus, who was their rightful prince, and to whose authority they were bound to submit; and was intended to suggest to those who looked for his declaring himself the Messiah at Jerusalem, how his countrymen would behave towards him. The next part of the parable contains a different moral.
15. And it came to pass that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
16. Then came the first, saying, Master, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
17. And he said unto him, Well, or,
“ Well done,” as it is in Matthew, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
18. And the second came, saying, Master, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
19. And he said likewise unto him, Be thou also over five cities.
20. And another came, saying, Master, behold here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: 21. For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man; thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
22. And he saith 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;
23. Wherefore then gavest thou not my money into the bank, that, at my coming, I might have required mine own with usury ?
24. And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
25. And they said unto him, Master, he hath ten pounds.
26. For I say unto you, that "unto every one which hath shall be given, and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken from him.
This verse, which in its present form is not very intelligible, has been thus translated by Bishop Pearce : “For I say unto you that unto every one which hath gained shall be given, and from him that hath not gained, even that he hath received shall be taken away from him.”
27. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
This verse contains the doom of the Jews, who were condemned to destruction, for refusing to submit to the authority of Christ.
1. The conduct of Zaccheus may teach those who have offended like him, by committing acts of injustice, in what manner they ought to show the sincerity of their repentance: not merely by confessing and lamenting their sin, either to God or man, although that be highly proper; but also by endeavouring, as far as they are able to repair the injury. This is an indispensable requisite in genuine repentance. If men keep back the gains of iniquity, if they continue to enjoy the fruits of transgression, while they profess to condemn the unlawful deed, their sorrow cannot be sincere ; they do not abhor it from their hearts. It is not the sin which they dislike, but the consequences which they fear will follow. Suffer not yourselves to be deceived with such false appearances, but proceed to give the only satisfactory proof of repentance. If you value the peace of your own minds; if you hope for forgiveness from God, and would avoid the doom of those who have wrought unrighteousness, restore to the lawful proprietor what you have taken from him by fraud, by violence or by any kind of injustice; and let the restitution be as public as the offence has been. Let not the fear of losing your credit dcter you; for shame belongs to the unjust action and not to the restitution ; that deserves commendation, and
will restore to you the good character which you
Let all men be careful that, in their endeavours to enrich themselves, they do not trespass upon the rights of others. Wealth, acquired in this way, will afford them no satisfaction. It will lie as a heavy burden upon their consciences, if they are not past all feeling, and be a constant source of grief and remorse, as long as they live.
Better is a little gotten honestly, than great treasure by unjust means.
2. We see how the influence of Christianity disposes men to acts of liberality. No sooner is Zaccheus ac. quainted with the doctrine of Christ, than he gives half his goods to the poor. The precepts of Christ indeed did not require from him so great a sacrifice; yet such a voluntary act of benevolence is a noble proof of the little value which he placed upon temporal good things, in comparison with those spiritual benefits with which he was become acquainted; and of his gratitude to God for communicating them. It is also still true, that wherever the genuine principles of Christianity are felt, they teach men to regard with comparative indifference the riches of this world, and incline them to acts of liberality to the poor. Let Christians judge of the progress which they have made in the spirit of their religion, by this observation,
3. The story here told may teach us how liable we are to be deceived, in judging of individuals by the class or denomination of people to which they belong. A man who belonged to a body of people that lay under the worst name among the Jews, a tax-gatherer, and a chief in his profession, a heathen likewise, in all probability, discovers a greater readiness to receive the doctrine of Christ, and to act agrecably to its genuine. principles, than the generality of the Jews. Even the young man who had kept the commandments from his youth, and whom Jesus, when he beheld, loved on ac