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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody


Matthew xxv.14-30.

The parable of the talents takes up the side of life which is not emphasized in the parable of the sower. In the story of the sower God is doing the work and man is receptive of his influence. In the story of the talents God is a master who leaves his servants to do his work, and the parable is one of activity. These men are responsible agents. Life is a trust. That is the natural teaching of the parable. All these men are accountable; there has been given to them that which is not their own, a trust from God, to be used in his service. But then enters the extraordinary teaching of this parable as to the fact of diversity. We talk of men as created free and equal. The cry of the time is for equality of condition, for leveling down the rich, and leveling up the poor; for paying the genius and the hod-carrier alike; time for time, and man for man. But this parable stands for no such definition of {125} equality. It recognizes diversity. Some have many talents and some have few. To each is given |according to his several ability.| Diversity of condition is accepted as a natural feature of human life, just as the hills and valleys make up the landscape. The parable does not make of life a prairie.

Where then, in this diversified life, is justice, the social justice which men in our time so eagerly and so reasonably claim? There is no justice, answers the parable, if the end of life is to be found in getting the prizes of this world; for some are sure to get more than others. The justice of this diversity is found only in its relation to God. It is in the proportional responsibility of these holders of different gifts. Of those to whom much has been entrusted much will be required; of those who are slightly gifted the judgment will be according to the gift. There is no absolute standard. The judgment is proportional. One man may accomplish less than another, and yet be more highly rewarded, for he may do the less conspicuous duty laid on him better than the man with the larger trust does his. The parable humbles the privileged and encourages the disheartened. {126} There is no distinction of reward between the five-talent man and the two-talent man. Each has done his own duty with his own gifts, and to each precisely the same language of commendation is addressed. They have had proportional responsibility, and they have identical reward. Both have been faithful, and both enter into the same joy of their Lord.

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