Imatges de pÓgina


'For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an house-holder, which went out early in the morning to hire Jaborers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market place, and said unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was, come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning with the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the good man of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? is thine eye evil because I am good? So the last shall be first and the first last : for many be called but few chosen.'-Matt. xx, 1—16.

This parable contains the meaning of the words of Christ in the close of the former chapter, where he saith, But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first.'


1. The Pharisees are represented by the laborers who were first hired, who bore the burden and heat of the day.

2. The disciples of Christ, who were called by his

grace from among the publicans and sinners, are intended by those who were sent, or invited, into the vineyard at the eleventh hour.

3. God's divine purpose in making mankind equal, is intended by the householder's paying the laborers all alike the same sum.

4. The great objection which the Pharisees held against Christ and his doctrine being, that he preached the same favor, life and salvation to those whom they despised for their wickedness, and on whom, they looked with utter contempt for their vileness, as to themselves who were so holy in their own esteem, as to thank God that they were not like other men, is meant by the laborers murmuring at the good man of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, who have borne the burden and heat of the day.'

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5. That publicans and harlots should enter the kingdom of heaven before the scribes and Pharisees is shown by their receiving their money first who were hired last; which answers to the saying alluded to, 'the last shall be first.'

6. That the Pharisees would finally be accepted, is seen in that those also who were first hired received their penny last; which answers to the saying alluded to,' the first shall be last.'

7. That the Pharisees had no reason to find fault at the salvation of those whom they called sinners above themselves, is meant by the householder's saying to those who murmured, Friend, I do thee no wrong.'


8. That the evil and jealous eye with which the selfrighteous look on the gospel salvation of sinners is wounded with nothing but its divine goodness, is shown by the question asked, 'Is thine eye evil because I am good?'

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9. Of those who object to the justice of the salvation of the ignorant, and those who are out of the way, the question is asked; 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?'

The opinion of some, which we acknowledge appears plausible, that this parable of the laborers specially regarded those disciples of Jesus, who first entered into his service, and those who were later converted to his doctrine, and labor in his cause, seems not well to agree with the words of the Savior with which he closes the parable. So the last shall be first and the first last : for many be called but few chosen. As it is evident that Jesus chose those whom he first called into the vineyard of his gospel, it seems unwarrantable so to apply the last words of the parable as to mean that although they were called they were not chosen.

The mistake to which we here allude no doubt owes its origin to the conjunction but, found in the last verse of the xix of Matt. 'But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first.' In the preceding context Jesus informs his disciples that they and all others who had forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or fathers, or mothers, or wife, or children, or lands, for his name's sake, should receive an hundred fold, and should inherit everlasting life; and then said, as reads the translation, 'But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first.' This conjunction but seems to indicate that those who were first who should be last, and those who were last who should be first, were all included in the company before designated as having forsaken all for the name of Jesus. But by turning to the passage in the Greek testament, we find that the conjunction (De) which is rendered but, may, and undoubtedly ought to be rendered for; by which rendering the parable, which immediately follows the verse where it occurs, is easily understood in agreement with the foregoing notes, and also with many other passages which relate to the failure of the Pharisees to obtain, by their rituals, what the disciples of Jesus obtained by divine favor.


The reader has already noticed in a digression, under a former parable, something on the divine authority of the scriptures, drawn from the blindness of the Jews, which was used as a means to convert the Gentiles to the gospel; and also from the apostacy of the christian church, which will be a means of the conver

sion of the Jews. This argument,which was inserted by way of digression, properly belongs to the illustration of the present subject. The reader is therefore referred to the illustration of parable vi, page 41, where this parable is illustrated as applying in a national sense. But it is well to notice that a parable, the primary meaning of which, may regard a nation, or a dispensation, may very justly be applied to minor sections of mankind, to minor events than the dispensation of law, or gospel, taken in their largest sense, and even to individuals. The reasonableness of thus varying the application of parables, is in the correspondence that there is between great and small events, as we reckon them, between large and small communities, or between an individual and many.

As the great end of all parables is to convey the truth, in a profitable manner, to the mind, the parables ought to be applied to individuals as far as they will bear, that every one may the better receive benefit from what is communicated. For instance, there is a striking correspondence between the character which the Jewish church possessed, when the Saviour was in the flesh, and the character which the christian church, in general, has exhibited for many centuries past. Of course, a parable which answers to the former character, will in many instances, apply to the latter. Likewise, as there is a resemblance between those two churches, so there is between individuals belonging to them. The Pharisee who went into the temple to pray, who thanked God that he was not like other men, especially a publican on whom he had his eye, and who, he conceived, was much more wicked than himself, is as perfect a resemblance of a superstitious christian, who thanks God that he is not wicked like

his neighbor, whom he supposes is reprobated to endless misery, as face answers to face in water.

The general tenor of this parable being to show the impartiality of the divine economy, and the riches of God's goodness in making his favor to be equally administered, is an important and well directed argument against the partial views which men entertain of the divine goodness; while it also holds up to view the odiousness of that spirit of envy which is ever wounded at the happiness of others. Perhaps envy may justly be called the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity; it is the most acid fruit that grows on the stock of sin, a fluid so subtle that nothing but the fire of divine love can purge it from the soul. Notwithstanding the wants and necessities of those who came into the vineyard at the eleventh hour were equal to theirs who entered in the morning, yet it would have been more pleasing to the envious spirit of the latter, to have had the former dismissed with nothing, or next to nothing, than to have them receive as much as they. The three main branches of this envy are the following: 1. It views its own works of righteousness immensely meritorious, and expects great reward. 2. It can see little, or nothing, in another, but occasion of censure and blame, and calculates on the great difference which must in justice be made between itself and another. 3. It is ever murmuring at divine goodness, because the undeserving receive as much as the most worthy.

These are the reasons which rendered the gospel of Christ so offensive to the Pharisees of old; and these are the reasons why christian Pharisees have so modified the gospel, that it now perfectly suits their spirit, except in the case of waiting until hereafter for

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