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penny. And when 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 bur"den and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no

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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 as unto "thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I "will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, be"cause I am good?" Thus ends the parable. Then our Lord again repeats the aphorism with which he had introduced it: "So the "last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen."

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The metaphors of a vineyard and the Lord of the vineyard were of frequent occurrence in the Old Testament, and were well understood by the Jews to denote the state of those who were admitted into covenant with God. The Jews were bound by that covenant to the observance of a burdensome ritual; on which depended their acceptance with God. To them "pertained the adoption, and the "glory, and the covenants, and the giving of "the Law, and the service of God, and the

Matt. xx. 1-15.

"promises." And when our Lord himself appeared, he first opened his mission to the Jews; declaring that "salvation was of the "Jews," and that he "was not sent but to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." All these circumstances concurred to impress the minds of the Jews in general, and of the Apostles in particular, with strong persuasions of their national interest in the coming of the Messiah, and of their being marked out for future distinctions and rewards to which no other people had an equal claim.

But to these national claims as Jews, the Apostles, it has already been observed, superadded others, which they conceived to be personally and exclusively their own. They had been individually called by our Lord himself, at the very first hour of his ministry; and in their alacrity to obey the call had "forsaken

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all, and followed Him." Hence the petition of the mother of Zebedee's children, that her two sons, James and John, might sit the one on his right hand, and the other on his left, in his kingdom. Hence the strife among them which should be the greatest. Hence their solicitude to know, after his resurrection, whether he would then restore the

c Rom. ix. 4.

d John iv. 22.

e Matth. xv. 24.

kingdom to Israel. These and other similar occurrences shew that before their minds were thoroughly enlightened by the miraculous descent of the Holy Spirit, they were very much disposed to arrogate to themselves high claims, and to form somewhat extravagant expectations of their future destinies.

These expectations the parable was calculated to moderate and restrain. It taught them that their final recompense would be grounded on claims of a more general nature, and not on those of national or personal favour that in this respect "God's ways were "not as their ways, nor his thoughts as their

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thoughts;" that "His ways were equal, and "theirs unequal;" that the kingdom of heaven being now opened to all believers, was accessible to the Gentile as well as to the Jew; to the late penitent as well as to the early convert; to future ages as well as to that of himself and His Apostles; that there was ONE Covenant, ONE hope, ONE faith, ONE promise, by which all were equally and alike to be bound, who should either then or thereafter become his servants; and that by their actual fulfilment of that covenant would their ultimate reward be regulated, whatever were the circumstances in which they might individually be placed.

The main features of the parable sufficiently correspond with this view of its design. The chief difficulty arises, not from the first labourers receiving no more than the wages of a whole day, but from the last receiving so much. This it is proper to observe, because it shews the complaint of the former to have been unjust; and that they had no pretensions to interfere with the bounty bestowed on the latter. Yet this conduct was strikingly exemplified in the Jews, who vehemently complained of the admission of the Gentiles to the same privileges with themselves. The parable also intimates that it was not the fault of those who came late into the vineyard, that they did not enter sooner. No man had hired them. The Gospel had not first been preached to the Gentiles. They could not come until the invitation had been given, until the Gospel had been actually made known to them. Their case, therefore, was not to be regarded with feelings of envy or jealousy. Here lies the force of the reproof to the first labourers who murmured against the householder,— "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will "with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I "am good?" Was the unprofitable state of the heathen world, while living in darkness

and ignorance, to be alleged as a reason against their receiving a full share of the light and blessings of the Gospel, if, as soon as they were called to the knowledge of it, they readily obeyed the call? Or was God himself to be restricted in the offer and the exercise of his mercy, by the selfishness of those who from the first had partaken of his favour?

If we take the parable in a more restricted point of view, as specially addressed to the Apostles themselves, who had been first called by their Lord to be labourers in his vineyard; the same considerations will press with equal weight. For though the labours of the Apostles, and their immediate successors in the primitive church, were doubtless attended with extraordinary hardships and difficulties, and the harvest of their labours was the fruit of incessant toil, and peril, and persecution; yet their peculiar advantages and the extraordinary aids vouchsafed to them were proportioned to these difficulties. And since it was the design of Providence to perpetuate throughout all ages of the church a sacred ministry for the admission of mankind into the covenant of salvation, and for their instruction in the way of righteousness; the labours of subsequent teachers, at whatever

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