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the word and doctrine; for the scripture saith thou shall
their wants, and that which they could not claim from his justice they did obtain from his compassion. “He gave every man a penny.” It does not at all say that these men of the eleventh hour were in the least degree better than the men who were taken early in the morning; for that is not the purpose of the parable. It simply shows us that the present life is a dispensation of God's justice and kindness towards all men in this world ; and he who is employed but a short time in the service of God may be assured that his daily wants shall be supplied by him who said, “Bread shall be given thee, and thy water shall be sure." And here then, he who is longing, wishing to be employed in his master's service may be quite sure that they also are his servants who stand and wait; and that we are not to measure our fitness for heaven by the quantity of our work; nor our unfitness for heaven by the shortness of our employment in the public work of the Church of Christ; that this is a thing not depending upon the human will but upon the divine. It is therefore no measure of human character, but only the exhibition to us of the will of Christ who is head over all things to his church.
In the application of this part of the parable it is indeed a great comfort to those whose hearts are given to their Saviour, and who long to do something for him, and who feel that the highest and holiest privileges of man on earth is to do and to suffer for him who died and suffered so much for us. But we are to wait upon him, that when he sends we should go, and that when he is silent we should wait. No man taketh this honour unto himself but he that is called of God as was Aaron;" and if he be long silent we shall be long waiting ; ever ready to go at whatever moment it pleases our Heavenly Maker to send us : and assured that in going to his work we shall have the daily supply of our wants, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Now let us take the second application of the parable, given to us by our blessed Saviour. “So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many be called but few chosen.” There was an acceptance of some on the part of the owner of the vineyard, and a rejection of others on the part of the same man. Is thine eye evil because I am good ?" Oh, what a reverse there will be in the expectations of many at the last day, when they who have been publicly and eminently employed in the service of God shall be banished from his presence; and they whose names perhaps, were never known on earth as being conspicuous in the Saviour's service, shall be received with acceptance, and enter into the blessedness of his glorious kingdom. Many will say in that day, “Lord have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? Then will he profess unto them I never knew you. Depart from me all ye that work iniquity.” To what principle does this parable send us for the acceptation on which we are to build our hopes of eternal blessedness ? Not certainly to our external work considered in itself; but to that state of heart that manifests us to be the called and the chosen of God. It leads us to inquire what scripture says with regard to the fitness of those who are to be at the last day the chosen. We know the ground of the eternal election of God who hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love. He hath not chosen us, as some would tell us, because he foresaw that we should be holy. but he chose that he might make us holy; he chose us that we should be holy and without blame before him. The eternal election of God is a deep mystery hidden in the darkness of the divine counsels until brought forth into the light of divine providence and grace.
It is therefore revealed to us not as a speculative, but as a practical truth, brought before us in its gradual unfolding in the work of divine grace; that no man may make God's predestination an excuse for man's delay, and take to himself those general promises of God which lie open to the -whole world. Therefore the profitable and practical use
9 choice that Christ speaks of here is to consider
the characters who are represented as being finally found amongst the chosen ones, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me and I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, nor shall any pluck them out of my hand.” It is the hearing the voice of Christ in our hearts; it is the feeling of the person of Christ in our hearts and in our minds. He that followeth shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life. We cannot have any difficulty in ascertaining whether we are really following Christ or not. Who is there that does not wish to go to heaven at last, that is, to go to heaven when he cannot help it; that when he is compelled in the providence of God to leave this
ld, then he would go to heaven because he does not wish to go to hell. This wish is no proof of divine grace, for it is found amongst the ungodly and the profane, as well as amongst the godly and the holy. The desire therefore of escaping punishment, and when we cannot help it of going to heaven, is no mark by which we may know that we are amongst the called.
But there is that following of Jesus, that preference of his person and his love, that does indeed mark us as amongst the called, the chosen, and the faithful. There is no one who takes pleasure in going into his closet and there holding converse with the Lord Jesus; who takes pleasure in pouring out his heart in trustful love; who ever takes pleasure in unfolding all his sins to that Saviour as the good physician who came to heal that which was sick, and to bind up the broken hearted; who in the closet can rest upon the promise and rejoice in the love of God in Christ; he is not merely attesting himself by his outward work in the vineyard, but by his inward state of heart. He has the good work in his heart which will be continued until the day of Jesus Christ.
He who is thus found in prayer and love in his closet will be found in labours of love, in
patience of hope, and diligence of service in the world around. We may have great work in the vineyards and have little love in our hearts; but we cannot have great love in our hearts without a great and earnest desire for work in the vineyard. If we have that earnest desire it will manifest itself in what we are really doing in life. We may not be employed officially in the vineyard as here described to us; but we shall be able to do our own work in the world as no
We shall be able to spiritualize that which is secular, and to make heavenly that which is otherwise earthly. We shall hold forth the word of life, blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. These are the few that are chosen; the whole world are the many
that are called. Brethren, let us pray that such a lesson as this may be deeply impressed upon our hearts and minds. Let us never forget the danger that there is of being employed in the vineyard of Christ on earth ; doing great work for him; bringing many souls to him, and yet being ourselves far from him, bearing food to others, and being ourselves unfed; bringing Christ to others, and being Christless ourselves. On the other hand let us not be discouraged or dejected because Christ does not give us much public work to do in his church; because it is not that which makes those accepted who are chosen at last. It is he who does the work that is given him with a faithful heart and willing mind, and who whether he is publicly working, or whether he is publicly laid aside from work, is equally loving the person and trusting in the love and mercy of God; longing for the coming of the Saviour; it is he, that will be found at the last day amongst the accepted ones unto whom Christ will say,
Come ye blessed of my father inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”