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have neglected His mercy in the time of their youth; and may even have spent the meridian of their days also in forgetfulness of Him. Still He says to all of every age who hear the sound of His blessed gospel, To-day, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. Behold, now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation.82 May it not now be addressed in vain to those who have hitherto neglected it. But late though it be, let them at length go without delay into the vineyard. Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,83 and seek His favour and blessing before mercy shall be clean gone for ever.
Again it is said, 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. This may denote that some who have not heard or attended to the message of the gospel at an earlier period, are through Divine grace admitted to partake of its privileges and blessings, even in their old age. According to the ancient computation of time, there were twelve hours in the day of these, eleven are represented as having been spent in idleness, or in ignorance
81 Hebrews iv. 7. 82 2 Cor. vi. 2. 831 Peter v. 9. 84 John xi. 9.
of the message of mercy and salvation; but then it was sent to call these aged sinners to repentance and faith; and then it was made effectual to the salvation of those who heard it. Such cases are indeed uncommon. Small is the number of those who are enabled to believe the gospel of the grace of God at this late period of life. But it does please God sometimes of the riches of His mercy to call some to receive the glad tidings of the kingdom of God, even in their old age, as a token of His almighty power, to show that He is not to be limited by times and circumstances.
The parable proceeds, So when even was come, the Lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. It is literally true that those who are called last in life to the knowledge and love of Christ, are the first to receive the reward of grace which the God of heaven bestows upon His servants. This is not withheld from them because they have been so lately admitted into the vineyard of His church on earth. As soon as the believer in Christ departs out of this life, he goes at once to be with his Lord and Saviour in a far better place than any that is to be found on earth, to partake of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the
85 Luke xviii. 1.
paradise of God. His happiness is then complete with regard to his disembodied spirit, although he may still have to wait for a further recompence which is promised to him at the resurrection of the just, when this mortal shall put on immortality, at the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself. Then indeed it will be found that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in89 the children of God; when Christ who is the life of His people shall appear, and they shall also appear with Him
We are told in the parable that when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. They found that more was given to them than they had any reason to expect. This will be the general feeling of all those who are admitted to partake of the blessedness of the kingdom of heaven, when they have departed this life. Their feeling of gratitude will be, How undeserving am I of being admitted to the enjoyment of this blessedness. A sense of their own unworthiness will bow them down in self-abasement
86 Rev. ii. 7. 87 Luke xiv. 14. 88 Phil. iii. 21. 89 Rom. viii. 18.
before Him who has had mercy upon them, that His gifts should so infinitely exceed their deserts. How ashamed will they be that they had been so little devoted in heart and life to Him who is so good and gracious to all His servants. how thankful, that notwithstanding they were so far from rendering according to the benefits done to them, notwithstanding they fell so far short of their bounden duty and their reasonable service, yet He had not dealt with them after their sins; for He had not only been merciful to their unrighteousness, and passed by their transgressions, but had accounted their feeble and cold love to Him, the spark of which had been kindled in their breasts and kept alive by His grace alone, as if it were meritorious in His sight. Oh! that we loved Him more, who has so abounded in love to us, and who will so wonderfully recompence those who do love Him above all things.
It is further observed in the parable, that when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more, and they likewise received every man a penny. As the Lord of the vineyard had been so good and bountiful to those who were last admitted into it; the labourers who had been hired early in the morning expected to receive an addition to what they had agreed for. And therefore when they had received a penny, the same as the others, 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. Such is the natural selfish disposition of mankind; to be displeased that others should enjoy greater benefits, or be more highly favoured than themselves. We are naturally disposed to set a high value upon our own performances, and to think that we are hardly dealt with when others seem to be preferred to us. How unreasonable the conduct of these labourers was, appears from the reply of the householder. He answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong, didst thou not 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, because I am good? As he had not withheld from them what was their due, he was surely at liberty to dispose of his own property as he thought fit. He did not wrong any by his gracious determination in favour of those who had gone last into His vineyard.
This parable has been supposed to refer primarily to the calling of the Gentiles, and to intimate the feelings with which this subject was regarded by the Jews. In the view which has now been taken of it, its reference to the Christian dispensation has alone been considered, in