The parable of the talents.
I. It is not to be concluded from this parable that sufficient grace is given to all men, by which they may be saved if they will. For,
1. All men are not designed by the servants to whom the talents were committed; these are not all Christ’s servants, nor so called; much less with an emphasis his own servants. No more can be included under this character here than belong to the kingdom of heaven, the visible gospel church-state, the subject of this parable, which does not consist of all mankind; yea, even all the elect of God are not intended; for though they are the servants of Christ, and his own servants, whom the Father has given him, and he has purchased, by his blood, and subjects to himself by his grace, yet all that come under this character here, were not such; for one of them is represented as a wicked and slothful servant, and to be justly cast into outer darkness; but the servants of the man travelling into a far country, meaning Christ, are the ministers of the gospel, who are, in a peculiar sense, the servants of Christ; and who, whether faithful or slothful, are in a lively manner described in this parable, which is a distinct parable from that which is delivered in the preceding part of this chapter; for as that gives an account of the several and different members of the visible church, so this of the several and different ministers in it; and being spoken to the disciples, was an instruction, direction, and caution to them, and not only to them, but is so to all the ministers of the word in succeeding ages.
2. Sufficient grace is not intended by the talents, but gifts; and these not merely the gifts of natural and acquired knowledge, of wealth, riches, and honor, of the external ministry of the word, gospel ordinances, and opportunities of enjoying them; but spiritual gifts, or such as fit and qualify men to be preachers of the gospel, as appears from the name, talents, these being the greatest gifts for usefulness and service in the church, as they were the greatest of weights and coins among the Jews; from the nature of them being such as may be improved or lost, and for which men are accountable; from the persons to whom they were delivered, the servants of Christ; from the time of the delivery of them, when Christ went into a far country, into heaven, when he ascended on high, and received gifts for men, and gave them to men; and from the unequal distribution of them, being given to some more, and to others less; all which perfectly agree with ministerial gifts. Now these may be where grace is not; and if they are to be called grace because freely given, yet they are not given to all men, and much less unto salvation, for men may have these and be damned. See Matthew 7:22, 23; 1 Corinthians 13:1, 2. And therefore,
II. It is not to be established from hence that a man has a power to improve the stock of sufficient grace given him, and by his improvement, procure eternal happiness to himself; since such a stock of grace is not designed by the talents, nor is it either implanted or improved by man; nor does the parable suggest that men, by their improvement of the talents committed to them, do or can procure eternal happiness. Good and faithful servants are indeed commended by Christ, and he graciously promises great things to them, which are not proportioned to their deserts; for whereas they have been faithful over a few things, he promises to make them rulers over many things, and bids them enter into the joy of their Lord; into the joy which he of his grace and goodness had provided for them, and not which they had merited and procured for themselves.
III. It is not to be inferred from hence that true grace once given or implanted may be taken away or lost; for the parable speaks not of what is wrought and implanted in men, but of goods and talents, meaning gifts, bestowed on them, committed to their trust, and received by them; which may be lost, or taken, away, or be wrapped up in a napkin, and lie useless by them; when true grace is the incorruptible seed which never dies, but always remains that good part which will never be taken away nor lost, but is inseparably connected with eternal glory.
 Vid. Whitby, pp. 30, 175; ed. 2. 30. 171.