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to do as his father had desired; he did not go to work in the vineyard.
The temper and behavior of the second son were exactly conformable to those of the Pharisees. They gave God the most bonorable titles, and professed the utmost zeal for his service, in their prayers and praises; but at the same time they refused to do any part of the work that he enjoined them. The character of the other son is very clearly described in the disposition of the publicans and harlots. They neither professed, nor promised to do the will of their Creator; but when they came to reflect seriously on their conduct, and the offers of mercy which were so kindly made them, they submitted to our Saviour, and, in consequence of their faith, amended their lives.
After our Lord had finished his parable, he asked the Pharisees, which of the two sons did the will of his father? To which, without the least hesitation, they re. plied, the first. They did not immediately perceive, that by this answer they condemned themselves, till our Lord made a just application of the parable in this sharp, but pertinent rebuke. Verily, I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteous. ness, and ye believed him not, nor entered into your Father's vineyard, though, like the second son, ye prom. ised so to do in the most fair and open manner; but the publicans and harlots believed him, repented of their former disobedience, and entered into the vineyard.
Our Blessed Lord having thus rebuked the haughty Scribes and Pharisees for rejecting the preaching of John the Baptist, he next represented to them the great crime of the people in rejecting all the prophets which had been sent since they became a nation, and, among the rest, the only begotten Son of the Most High; warning them, at the same time, of their danger, and the punishment that would inevitably ensue, if they continued in their rebellion. He told them, the outward economy of religion in which they gloried would be taken from them, their relation to God, as his people, cancelled, and the national constitution destroyed; all which he pointed out by the similitude of the following parable. .
became a natione prophets which meat crime
. There was (said he) a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and diggede a wine-press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. The comparison of the church to a vineyard is frequently used in the Sacred Scriptures, but this particular parable, for the fuller conviction of the Jews, is expressly taken from the fifth chapter of Isaiah, with which they could not fail of being well acquainted, nor ignorant of its meaning, as the prophet, at the end of it, adds, “ The vineyard of the ¢ Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of
66 Judah his pleasant plant; and he looked for judgment, •• but behold oppression: for righteousness, but behold a
66 cry." Our Saviour, therefore, continued the metaphor, telling them, “ that when the time of the fruit drew near, 66 he sent his servants that they might receive the fruits 66 of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat “ one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he 6 sent other servants more than the first; and they did 66 unto them likewise.” The Almighty sent the prophets to exhort the Jews to entertain just sentiments of religion, and tread in the paths of virtue; but the Jews, irritated at the prophets for the freedom they used in reproving their sins, persecuted and slew them with unrelenting fury. But their wickedness in destroying these messengers did not provoke the Almighty instantly to pour down his vengeance upon them: he sent more prophets to exhort and reclaim them, but they met with no better fate than the former. His mercy, however, still continued, and that no means might be left untried, he sent to
fested by undeniable miracles, ought to have been acknowledged cheerfully by these wicked men; but, instead thereof, it had a quite contrary effect. This our Lord fully explained by the conclusive part of this parable, in which the householder, after the husbandmen had killed his servants, sent his son, whom he imagined they would have received. 6 When the husbandmen (said he) saw “ the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir, 66 come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inherit65 ance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the
“ vineyard, and slew him. When the lord, therefore, of “ the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those hus“ bandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably de
stroy those wicked men, and let out his vineyard unto 6 other husbandmen, which shall render bim the fruits in “ their seasons.” To confirm the truth of this, our Lord added a remarkable prophecy of himself, and his rejection, from the 118th Psalm. Did you never (said he) read in the Scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. The rejection of the Messiah by the Jews, and his being received by the Gentiles, are wonderful events; and therefore, I say unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
The chief priests and Pharisees, finding these parables were manifestly directed to them, were greatly irritated, and would have apprehended the Divine Speaker, had they not been fearful that it would have been resented by the multitude. Being, therefore, quiet, our Lord delivered to them another parable, wherein he described, on the one hand, the bad success which the preaching of the Gospel was to meet with among the Jews; and, on the other, the cheerful reception given it among the Gentiles. This our Lord illustrated by the behavior of a certain king, who, in honor of his son, made a great feast, to which he invited many guests. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son. This marriage dinner, or great feast, signifies the joys of heaven, which are compared to an eļegant entertainment, on account of their exquisiteness; and are here said to be prepared in honor of the Son of God, because they are bestowed on men in consequence of his suffering in their stead, and behalf.
Some time before the dinner was ready, the servants were sent forth to call the guests to the wedding, but they would not come : when the fulness of time approached, the Jews, as being the peculiar people of God, were first called by John the Baptist, and afterwards by Christ himself; but they refused all these benevolent calls of mercy, and rejected the kind invitations of the gospel, though pressed by the preaching of the Messiah, and his forerunner. After our Saviour's resurrection and ascension, the apostles were sent forth to inform the Jews, that the gospel covenant was established, mansions in heaven prepared, and nothing wanting, but the cheerful acceptance of the honor designed them. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Be. hold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fat. lings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But these messengers were as unsuccessful as the former. The Jews undervaluing the favor, mocked at the message; and some of them, more rude than the rest, insulted, beat, and slew the servants that had been sent to call them to the marriage. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth ; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed the murderers, and burnt up their city. This part of the parable plainly predicted the destruction of the Jews by the Roman armies, which afterwards took place, not only the greater part of them being put to death, but likewise their temple and city totally destroyed. Then said the king unto his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden (that is, the Jews) were not worthy. Go ye, therefore, into the highways, and as many as ye shall find (that is, of the Gentiles) bid to the marriage. This was immediately done, and the wedding was furnished with guests; but when the king came into the apartment, he saw there a man, which had not on a wedding garment; and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the ser. vants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but fewo are chosen. Matth. xxii. 11, &c.
We may learn, from the conclusion of this parable, that the profession of the Christian religion will not save a man, unless he acts from Christian principles. Let those, therefore, who have obeyed the call, and are by profession the people of God, think often on that awful day, when the king will come in to see his guests, whep
every soul will be strictly examined that lays claim to the joys of heaven. Let us think of the speechless confusion that will seize such as have not on the wedding garment, and of the inexorable anxiety with which they will be consigned to weeping and gnashing of teeth. Let us remember that, to have seen, for a time, the light of the Gospel, and the fair beams of an eternal hope, without having paid a proper attention to the gracious offers made us thereby, will add deeper and more sensible horrors to our punishment: while, on the contrary, if we continue steadfast in the faith, and persevere in those Christian precepts which are laid before us, we may an-, ticipate the joyful hour which will consign us to bliss im- . mortal.
The last parable delivered by our Lord at this time being apparently levelled at the Pharisees, they were so irritated, that they immediately left the temple, and consulted with the Herodians, or Sadducees, on the most proper method of putting Jesus to death. It is sufficiently evident that their hatred was now carried to the highest pitch, because the most violent enmity, which had so long subsisted between the two sects, was, on this occasion, suspended, and they joined together to execute this cruel determination on the Son of God. They, however, thought it most eligible to act very cautiously, and en. deavor, if possible, to catch some hasty expressions from him, that they might render him odious to the people, and procure something against him, that might serve as a basis for a prosecution. Accordingly they sent to him some of their own people, whom they thought best able to hold a controversy, with orders to feign themselves just men, who maintained the greatest veneration for the Divine law, and dreaded nothing more than the doing any thing inconsistent with its precepts; and, under this specious cloke of hypocrisy, to beg his determination of an affair that had long lain heavy on their consciences, namely, the paying tribute to Cæsar, which they thought inconsistent with the zeal of their religion.
The question was, it seems, furiously debated in our Saviour's time; one Judas, a native of Galilee, having inspired the people with a notion that taxes to a foreign
vina, who maintary, with orders they thought best