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THE FORGIVEN SERVANT AND HIS FELLOW SERVANTS.
previously expressed, that this trait belongs not to the essentials of the Parable, but to the details of the narrative. So does the promise, with which the now terrified servant,' as he cast himself at the feet of the King, supported his plea for patience : ‘I will pay thee all.' In truth, the narrative takes no notice of this, but, on the other hand, states: “But, being moved with compassion, the lord of that servant released him [from the bondage decreed, and which had virtually begun with his sentence], and the debt forgave he him.'' A more accurate representation of our relation to God could not be made. We are the debtors to our heavenly King, Who has entrusted to us the administration of what is His, and which we have purloined or misused, incurring an unspeakable debt, which we can never discharge, and of which, in the course of justice, unending bondage, misery, and utter ruin would be the proper sequence. But, if in humble repentance we cast ourselves at His Feet, He is ready, in infinite compassion, not only to release us from meet punishment, but–O blessed revelation of the Gospel !-to forgive us the debt.
It is this new relationship to God which must be the foundation and the rule for our new relationship towards our fellow-servants. And this brings us to the second part, or scene, in this Parable. Here the lately pardoned servant finds one of his fellow-servants, who owes him the small sum of 100 dinars, about 4l. 108. Mark now the sharp contrast, which is so drawn as to give point to the Parable. In the first case, it was the servant brought to account, and that before the King; here it is a servant finding, and that his fellowservant; in the first case, he owed talents, in the second, dinars (a six-thousandth part of them); in the first, ten thousand talents; in the second, one hundred dinars. Again, in the first case payment is only demanded, while in the second the man takes his fellow-servant by the throat-a not uncommon mode of harshness on the part of Roman creditors and says: 'Pay what,' or, according to the better reading, “if thou owest anything.' And, lastly, although the words of the second debtor are almost the same as those in which the first debtor besought the King's patience, yet no mercy is shown, but he is "cast' [with violence] into prison, till he have paid what was due.
It can scarcely be necessary to show the incongruousness or the
Mark the emphatic position of the words in the original.
? According to the better reading, the word 'all' in ver. 29 should be left out --and the omission is significant. The
servant who promised to pay'all'(ver. 26) promised more than he could possibly perform; while he who undertook what he might reasonably perform, did not say'all.'
a St. Matt. xviii. 35
guilt of such conduct. But this is the object of the third part, or
We pause to notice, how near Rabbinism has come to this
outset we recall that unlimited forgiveness--or, indeed, for more ample, Shem. than the farthest limit of three times—was not the doctrine of
Rabbinism. It did, indeed, teach how freely God would forgive Bemidb. R. Israel, and it introduces a similar Parable of a debtor appealing to
his creditor, and receiving the fullest and freest release of mercy, and it also draws from it the moral, that man should similarly show mercy; but it is not the mercy of forgiveness from the heart, but of forgiveness of money-debts to the poor, or of outward injuries," and
the of benevolence and beneficence to the wretched. But King's trea- the Gospel-conception of forgiveness, even as that of mercy, could introduced only come by blessed experience of the infinitely higher forgiveness,
b For ex
e u. 8.
19, ed. Warsb., P. 77 • Comp. Shem. R. 31, where a somewhat similar Parable of a servant purloining the
LESSON AS AGAINST HARSH JUDGMENTS.
and the incomparably greater mercy, which the pardoned sinner has received in Christ from our Father in Heaven.
But to us all there is the deepest seriousness in the warning against unmercifulness; and that, even though we remember that the case here referred to is only that of unwillingness to forgive from the heart an offending brother who actually asks for it. Yet, if not the sin, the temptation to it is very real to us all-perhaps rather unconsciously to ourselves than consciously. For, how often is our forgiveness in the heart, as well as from the heart, narrowed by limitations and burdened with conditions; and is it not of the very essence of sectarianism to condemn without mercy him who does not come up to our demands—ay, and until he shall have come up to them to the uttermost farthing ?
CHRIST'S DISCOURSES IN PERÆA—CLOSE OF THE PERÆAN MINISTRY.
(St. Luke xiii. 23-30, 31-35; xiv. 1-11, 25–35; xvii. 1-10.)
St. Luke xiii. 23-30 b
Matt. vii. 13,
From the Parables we now turn to such Discourses of the Lord as belong to this period of His Ministry. Their consideration may be the more brief, that throughout we find points of correspondence with previous or later portions of His teaching.
Thus, the first of these Discourses, of which we have an outline, recalls some passages in the “Sermon on the Mount,'b as well as what our Lord had said on the occasion of healing the servant of the centurion. But, to take the first of these parallelisms, the differences
are only the more marked for the similarity of form. These prove •VV.28, 29; incontestably, not only the independence of the two Evangelists d in
their narratives, but, along with deeper underlying unity of thought in the teaching of Christ, its different application to different circumstances and persons. Let us mark this in the Discourse as outlined by St. Luke, and so gain fresh evidential confirmation of the trustworthiness of the Evangelic records.
The words of our Lord, as recorded by St. Luke,e are not spoken, as in “The Sermon on the Mount,' in connection with His teaching to His disciples, but are in reply to a question addressed to Him by some one—we can scarcely doubt, a representative of the Pharisees:
Lord, are they few, the saved ones [that are being saved]?' Viewed in connection with Christ's immediately preceding teaching about the Kingdom of God in its wide and deep spread, as the great Mustard-Tree from the tiniest seed, and as the Leaven hid, which pervaded three measures of meal, we can scarcely doubt that the word 'saved' bore reference, not to the eternal state of the soul, but to admission to the benefits of the Kingdom of God—the Messianic Kingdom, with its privileges and its judgments, such as the Pharisees understood it. The question, whether · few' were to be saved, could not have been put from the Pharisaic point of view, if understood of
• St. Luke xiii. 23 &c.
I See also
THE FIRST OF CHRIST'S PERÆAN DISCOURSES.
personal salvation;' while, on the other hand, if taken as applying to part in the near-expected Messianic Kingdom, it has its distinct parallel in the Rabbinic statement, that, as regarded the days of the Messiah (His Kingdom), it would be as with reference to the entrance into the land of promise, when only two (Joshua and Caleb), out of all that generation, were allowed to have part in it. Again, it - Sanh. 111 a is only when understanding both the question of this Pharisee and the reply of our Lord as applying to the Kingdom of the Messiahthough each viewing the Kingdom ’ from his own standpoint—that we can understand the answering words of Christ in their natural and obvious sense, without either straining or adding to them a dogmatic gloss, such as could not have occurred to His hearers at the time.?
Thus viewed, we can mark the characteristic differences between this Discourse and the parallels in the Sermon on the Mount,' and understand their reason. As regarded entrance into the Messianic Kingdom, this Pharisee, and those whom he represented, are told, that this Kingdom was not theirs, as a matter of course—their question as to the rest of the world being only, whether few or many would share in it—but that all must “struggle 3 [agonise] to enter in through the narrow door.'4 When we remember, that in the Sermon on the Mount'the call was only to "enter in,' we feel that we have now reached a period, when the access to the narrow door’ was obstructed by the enmity of so many, and when it needed 'violence' to break through, and take the Kingdom' by force.' This St. Matt. personal breaking through the opposing multitude, in order to enter in through the narrow door, was in opposition to the many—the Pharisees and Jews generally—who were seeking to enter in, in their own way, never doubting success, but who would discover their terrible mistake. Then, 'when once the Master of the house is risen up,' to welcome His guests to the banquet, and has shut to the door, while they, standing without, vainly call upon Him to open it, and He replies: 'I know you not whence ye are,' would they begin to
"It is difficult to understand how Wünsche could have referred to Succ. 45 b as a parallel, since anything more thoroughly contrary to all Christ's teaching can scarcely be imagined. Otherwise also the parallel is inapt. The curious reader will find the passage in detail in Schöttgen, on 1 Cor. xiii. 12 (p. 652).
* Thus, Canon Cook makes this distinction : • They who are said to seek, seek (i.e. desire and wish) and no more. They
do not struggle for admission.' But
3 The word implies a real combat to
+ So according to the best reading.