All these shall vanish away, in the day when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the land, and men shall say, in spirit and in truth, as Christ their Lord has said before,—’Sacrifice and burnt-offering thou wouldest not. Then said I, Lo, I come. In the volume of the book it is written of Me, that I should do the will of God.’ And in those days shall be fulfilled once more, the text which says,—’That the people glorified God, saying, A great Prophet, even Christ the Lord Himself, hath risen up among us, and God hath visited His people.’
SERMON XVIII. THE WICKED SERVANT
St. Matthew xviii. 23.
The kingdom of heaven is likened to a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
This parable, which you heard in the Gospel for this day, you all know. And I doubt not that all you who know it, understand it well enough. It is so human and so humane; it is told with such simplicity, and yet with such force and brilliancy that—if one dare praise our Lord’s words as we praise the words of men—all must see its meaning at once, though it speaks of a state of society different from anything which we have ever seen, or, thank God, ever shall see.
The Eastern despotic king who has no law but his own will; who puts his servant—literally his slave—into a post of such trust and honour, that the slave can misappropriate and make away with the enormous sum of ten thousand talents; who commands, not only him, but his wife and children to be sold to pay the debt; who then forgives him all out of a sudden burst of pity, and again, when the wretched man has shown himself base and cruel, unworthy of that pity, revokes his pardon, and delivers him to the tormentors till he shall pay all--all this is a state of things impossible in a free country, though it is possible enough still in many countries of the East, which are governed in this very despotic fashion; and justice, and very often injustice likewise, is done in this rough, uncertain way, by the will of the king alone.