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Their house was left unto them desolate, and those awful words were proceeding out of his inouth, “Ye shall not see me henceforth until ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
These are words brethren that are spoken in a voice of warning unto our souls.
We are standing upon
the same probation that they then were. We have the voice of God's prophets speaking to us now, and we may anticipate at no very distant period the sound that will announce to the world the coming of God's Son. The Kingdom of God is now probationally entrusted to us, and the word of God warns us that the same thing is applicable to Gentile christendom which belonged to Judaism of old, “ The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."
These words are our Lord's inference from the parable which he had given of “ a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a wine press in it. and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country, and when the time of the fruit drew near he sent his servants to the husbandmen that they might receive the fruits of it.”
In unfolding this parable we shall consider
III. Who are the nation bringing forth the fruits thereof, to whom our Lord here refers.
I. We have to consider its application to the Jewish Church, and in that respect let us consider,
1. What God did for that church. 2. What God expected from that church, 3. What God did to it,
If we look at what God did for that church, the prophet Isaiah explains this householder to us in the 5th chap. of his prophecy. It is the voice of mercy mixed with the voice of judgment inditing these words, “ Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard, in a very fruitful hill: and he fenced it and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a wine-press therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.” And in the 7th verse, "For the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant, and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression ; for righteousness, but behold a
The Kingdom of God therefore that was given to the Jews was not a throne and a government upon earthly principles, for the Scribes and Pharisees had no throne; it was the church, it was the ministration of the priesthood, it was the ordinances of the sanctuary, the revelations of the prophets, the dealings of divine grace. The Lord had brought that people out of their slavery in Egypt, out of the degradation which that slavery had brought upon them, and, as Jeremiah testifies, planted them a noble vine, wholly a right seed.
What he did then for that church was to bring them into the land of Canaan, having disciplined them in the wilderness, having purified from amongst them the rebellious, having made them an upright nation, wholly a right seed : giving them the tabernacle with all its ap pointments of divine worship, the priesthood with all their offices of teaching, ministering, as well as of worshipping; a priesthood to instruct the people in the law of their God. He had given them the secret teaching of his Spirit, accompanying the public teaching of his church; and therefore what God did for them was to make them a vineyard, to remove obstructions out of the way; to give them all those ordinances which were calculated to make them meet for the service of God.
2. Now what did God expect from that church? He looked unto them that they should bring forth grapes : that they should bring forth pure fruits.
He sent his messengers to demand from that vineyard, from the keeper of that vineyard, the fruits in due season. Christ tells us how these messengers were received. “ The husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did unto them likewise. And last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, they will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, this is the heir, come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance; and they caught him and cast him out of the vineyard and slew him.”
It is very important to the right understanding of this parable that we should consider what were the fruits which those prophets demanded in the name of God. We see what they were not. Exact obedience to ritual ordinances were not the saving fruits that were expected; nor was great boasting of their ecclesiastical privileges the expected fruits that the ministers of God, his prophets demanded. They looked for these, but they also demanded far more than these, Judgment, Mercy, and Faith. If we turn to this 5th chap. of Isaiah, we shall see there what were the wicked fruits they brought forth, in
contrast with the good ones that should have been exhibited ; in the 7th verse · He looked for judgment, but behold oppression, for righteousness, but behold a cry.” For judgment, that is the right exercise of government, restraining the evil, and maintaining the good : and what did he get ? Tyrrany, the exaggeration of right judgment and the perversion of it into injustice. He looked for righteousness, right acting, conformity to the divine will, and what did he find ? The commandments of men kept, and the commandments of God broken; the cry of the widow and the orphan, and the oppressed hireling reaching the ears of the Lord of Hosts, instead of that righteousness which he demanded from them. He looked for righteousness and what did he find? They were joining house to house, and field to field, that they might accumulate wealth, forgetful of that condemnation, Woe unto you rich.” He found others following strong drink, continuing until night, till wine inflamed them, and the harp and the viol, and tabret and pipe, and wine were in their feasts, but they regarded not the work of the Lord, neither considered the operation of his hands. He looked for righteous judgment respecting good and evil, and what did he find ? “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness.” He looked for a true estimate of human character, and of true humiliation before God our Maker, and he found that they were wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight; and therefore was the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, he stretched forth his hand against them, and smote them.
Here then was the voice of the Holy Prophet, one of those messengers of God, looking for the fruits of the Spirit and calling for them in God's name, but he found oppression, unrighteousness, covetousness, drunkenness, pleasure-seeking, God-forgetting, evil placed for good, and good placed for evil; and ret boastful of themselves, wise in their own eres, “And therefore hell bath enlarged herself and opened her mouth without measure; and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that reacth shsi deseend into it."
Viva e come to another prophet, another of these Negers that were sent to gather the fruits of the vzpnl, we find the prophet Jeremiah warning them of hr anze danger. He was in another age a second mes
er of God seeking the fruits of the vineyard, and he my received that ill-treatment of which our Lord peaks. In the 7th chap. of Jeremiah, and the 2nd verse, we read “stand in the gate of the Lord's house," and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord, Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these. For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; if ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other Gods to your hurt: then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers for ever and ever. Behold ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense
Baal, and walk after other God's whom ye know