Text Matthew 25:30.
Et inutilem servum ejicite in tenebras illas extimas: illic erit fletus & stridor dentium.
And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The sentence which passed upon the unprofitable servant had two branches: Firstly, A sentence of deprivation, Taking the talent from him. Secondly, A sentence of translation, and giving it to him that hath ten talents; Now the talent is taken away, The servant himself is cast into utter darknesse.
These two parts of his punishment are by good order joyned together; not only that the talent should be taken away but that punishment should be laid upon his person, that not only the tree should be cut down, and be deprived of all power to fructifie, but to be cast into the fire, Luke the thirteenth chapter; the wastfull servant must not only lose his office, but must give an account of his Stewardship, Luke the sixteenth chapter: It were well if he might only lose his talent, and himself escape, utinam periret pecunia modo ne suo periret: but it agreeth with Gods Justice, that as the talent was lost through the negligence of the unprofitable servant; so now the servant should perish for the honor of the talent. And it stands with Gods wisdome so to punish the unprofitable servant; for if the salt be unsavoury it is good for nothing but to be cast out, Matthew the fift[h] chapter: And when the tree brings no fruit & troubles the ground, it is fittest to be cut up, Luke the thirteenth chapter, that others may be planted in the room of it, that will bear fruit. Wherefore as when Saul has lost his spirit, the Kingdom tarried not long with him after; so if our talents be once taken away, we may look that God will lay a punishment upon our persons. If we fall from our first love, Apocalyps the second chapter and use not our talents to Gods glory, we may justly fear our persons. But as God did first command, Lot to goe out of Sodom, before he destroyed the Citie itself, so he will first take away the talent, that it perish not; and after that person shall be punished.
The punishments inflicted upon his person, are reduced to two: Being first emballein; Secondly, eioballein.
Touching the first, he saith, Cast out the unprofitable servant that hath done nothing to my glorie, not servum peccatore, Luke the twelfth chapter, nor the riotous servant that wasts his Masters goods, but ulon creiaw him that doth no good with the talents committed to him, sic sic in virido, Luke the twenty third chapter. If he shew such cruelty towards him that was only unprofitable, and did no good; how severely will he punish those that doe hurt with their talents, that are riotous and mispend their whole talents. Three things make his punishment grievous: First that he is punished with a separation. Secondly, It is with a violent separation. Thirdly, This separation is with disgrace and shame: For the place from which he is separated, as the Apostle saith, It doth not appear what we shall be, the first epistle of John [561/562] the third chapter. So it appears not to us what the place is whither we shall be gathered, if we use Gods gifts as we ought. But as he speaks of the person, so of the place: We know that it is an excellent place, a place of such glory as the eye hath not seen, the first epistle to the Corinthians the second chapter: Such glory as all the afflictions of this life are not to be compared with it, Romans the eighth chapter: and therefore to be cast out from this place, will be a heavy sentence.
The separation from the Temple, which was but a type of that place, was so grievous to David's soul, as he had no rest in his spirit, and thought himself in worse state than the Sparrow, till he had accesse to the Citie of God, Psalm the eighty fourth. Much more grievous is it to be separated from heaven. If of the Church on earth it is said, there are gloriosa dicta de te, psalm the eighty seventh. Much more glorious things are spoken of Heaven, whereof to be deprived will be a great grief; for this place hath all things which may commend any place: Of light it is said, Lumen dilexit oculus, but this place hath no night, but continually light from the Lord Himself, Apocalyps the twenty first chapter. If society doe commend a place, then this place is commendable, quia janua ibi aperta. If immunity from pain, there is neither hunger, nor thirst, nor cold. If joy, then there the elders sing continually the praises of God, Apocalyps the twenty first chapter. Therefore to be excluded from this place, which is to be so desired, is a great punishment.
Again to be separated not only from so good a place, but from such company; not only of holy Angels, where if it were a great blessing to lodge, while they were clothed with mortality, Hebrews the thirteenth chapter; then it is a greater blessing to dwell with them in this perfect glory. None of the saints, who albeit on earth they be despised and called fools, Wisdom the fifth chapter, yet shall be glorious in heaven, and not only their souls, but their bodies made like the glorious body of Christ, Philippians the third chapter and the twenty first verse; of whose company to be deprived will be a grief; but to be cast out of the company of Jesus Christ, who when he did give but a taste of his glory, it was so glorious it ravished his Disciples, Matthew the seventeenth chapter, so as they said, Bonum est nobis hîc offici, will be a great grief: for there he shall be in perfect glory at the right hand of God, where he now sitteth, which shall much more rejoyce us than these drops. Lastly, If the comfort of Gods countenance in earth, where the light of it is greatly eclipsed and darkned, doe afford more comfort than aboundance of corn and oyle, Psalm the fourth; then what a difference a discomfort will it be to be separated from the light of it, when God shall shew the brightnesse of it? but even then shall the unprofitable servant be cast out from beholding the same. Secondly, That which doth aggravate his punishment is, that this separation shall be done with violence, cast him out; not bid him goe out, or lead him out. The separations that are made from the Church militant, are not done without great difficulty; no man would willingly be excommunicated: [562/563] But it will be a farre greater grief to be separated from the Church triumphant, but howsoever they be unwilling, yet they shall be separated violently: no man will willingly come to judgment at the last day, but God will bring every thing to judgment, Ecclesiastes the twelfth chapter; He that doth evil hates the light, John the third chapter: but we shall be brought to light whether we will or no: and death, which is a preparation to the last judgment, is fearful: So as no man willingly dyeth, nay we make many pleas, because we would not be separated, we say, Lord, have not we prophecied? and yet Christ tells, all will not serve the turne, Matthew the seventh chapter: Not every one that saith, Lord, Matthew the twenty-fift[h] chapter: When did we see the hungry or naked &c. But Christ for all that (we are so unwilling to be cast out) tells us, In as much as you did it not &c. So that albeit man will not goe out of himself, yet he shall be cast out with violence, which makes his punishment more grievous. Thirdly, This separation shall be with contumely and disgrace; to be thrown out of the company of the Angels is a disgraceful separation. Many times Malefactors, though they suffer for their offences, yet have no disgrace offered them: But the unprofitable servant shall not only be punished with the losse of this heavenly place, but shall be cast out to his shame; for he that dishonoureth God by burying his talent bestowed upon him, God will punish him with dishonour and disgrace; Them that hate me I will hate, the first book of Samuel chapter two.
Secondly, The place into which he shall be cast out, is utter darknesse. The Apostle when he saith, Ad quem ibimus? in habes verba aeternæ vitæ, John the sixth chapter and the fifty eighth verse: tells us, It is an excellent thing to be in presence of them that have the words of eternall life; but it is farre more excellent to be present with eternal life it self; but not only to be deprived of his presence, but to be cast out into utter darkness is to extreme misery. If we might be choosers for our own selves as the Devils choesed to go into the hoggs, Matthew the eighth chapter and the thirty first verse. So if we might choose some place, if it were but to return to the world again, it were some mitigation; but when we have not only emballein; but eioballein, that is greater cause of misery; we are not only deprived of light, but cast into a place of darknesse. And this punishment is very just, that the unprofitable servant should be cast into darknesse, which did darken his talent, and hid it; as the Prophet speaks of cursing, Psalm the hundred and ninth. He loved not blessing, then let it be farre from him, So quia non dilexit lucem, non veniat ei lux, extinguit scintilla gratiæ, ne videat lumen gloriæ: Which punishment how grievous it is, appears, for that the beholding of light, as the Preacher saith Ecclesiastes the eleventh, is so comfortable to the eyes: As Paul was out of hope of recovery, when he and the rest could see nothing but darknesse, Acts the twenty seventh chapter: And God plagued the Egyptians with darknesse, as the greatest plague he could lay upon them. And the Apostle, to shew the grievous punishment of the evil Angels, saith, They are reserved under darknesse, [563/564] the second epistle of Peter the second chapter; for tenebræ formidolosæ.
Again, He is punished not only with darknesse, but also with weeping and gnashing of teeth: A man may have some comfort in darknesse, it is the best time to sleep and meditate; but the unprofitable servants being cast into darknesse, shall have neither of these comforts to mitigate his punishment. For there he shall feel the worm of conscience gnawing him, which shall never dye, and be tormented with the fire that never goeth out, Mark the ninth chapter: He shall have all things that may continue and increase his weeping.
But in these words the Holy Ghost pointeth out two things. The certainty, and the measure of weeping in this place.
Touching the first, We see by experience, that in this life many unprofitable servants, that bury their talents, doe for all that to enjoy light, and withall have great joy and gladnesse; and therefore the Holy Ghost tells them, that howsoever they escape here, yet in the world to come they shall be sure to be cast into darknesse, and to weep continually; they hear that Memento which the rich man received from Abraham, Luke the sixteenth chapter: Thou in thy life time received pleasure, but now pain: So shall it be with the unprofitable servants, that are not diligent to imploy their talents to their Masters glory.
Secondly, He alludes to the measure of weeping, which is found in this place; for many unprofitable servants lose their talents in this life, and are deprived of the comforts that should cheer them up; they weep and indure much sorrow: But because our weeping in this life is mixed with many comforts, which doe mitigate our grief, the holy Ghost tells us, That howsoever they may finde means to delay grief and weeping here, yet the greatest weeping is behinde in the world to come, where shall be no mitigation of grief. Rachel wept and lamented much for her children, because they were not; but the weeping and lamentation of these men shall be far greater; not only because they are destitute of comfort in the midst of these miseries, but for that they shall never finde any means to mitigate their anguish and grief: Therefore as one giveth counsel, Sic legat homo historias ne fiat historia; so, sic audite parabolam hanc ne fiatis parabola.