Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

the labourers, the master, it will be observed, made no regular agreement with them. He simply promised to give them what was right.

CCCCXII.

THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.

St. Matthew xx. 8-15.

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. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman 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. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no 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, because I am good?

At the end of the day, which represents the end of this life, the Proprietor of the Vineyard tells his Steward, his Bailiff, as we might say, or Overseer, to settle with the men in his presence. The last are called up first, and they receive, to their glad surprise, a whole day's pay for an hour's honest work. So with the rest in succession,-who received so much more than was their due, above all that they asked or thought, -until it came to the turn of the first, who thereupon supposed that they should have received more; more than they deserved, more than they had bargained for. Had they not known what was given to the rest, they had been well satisfied, and departed content with their wages. "Where there

But now they cannot see

is no comparison, no envy." another's good without grudging. Their eye was evil,2 that is, envious. No harm was done to them, but good was done to another. They complain not of their own loss (for loss there was none) but of another's gain. All this shows what manner of spirit they were of. And of this the Master, without irritation at their unreasonableness and uncharitableness and envy, convicts them, with the calm dignity of a judge; addressing himself to one, the most forward and presumptuous, for all the rest. If justice was their plea, let them know that in the course of justice they had no further claim, being already paid to the full. Did they imagine,‘– having quite forgotten the contract, and possessed with that unwarrantable notion of absolute equality with which the enemy of mankind has from the first puffed up the minds of men,—that the others having been made equal to them, they would in one sense be made equal to the others; that as these had received, out of mere bounty, a day's pay for one hour's work, they must receive, in the same proportion, the pay of twelve days for the work of one? 6

Bacon in his essay on Envy has Some "curiosities" on this expression. 2 Prov. xxviii. 22; Ecclus. xiv 8; St. Mark vii. 22.

3 Good is used in v. 15 in its sense of liberal.

In referring to motives, &c. we seem to be treating the Parable as a reality. This must however be allowed us. The very nature of a Parable, embodying abstract truth in a concrete form, involves such treatment. This remark may disarm a possible criticism as to crediting imaginary characters with motives. Motives are the springs of action. The action often reveals the motive. We may remember Rousseau's whimsical objection to Fables on a kindred ground, and Cowper's playful but profound answer

"I shall not ask Jean Jacques Rousseau If birds confabulate or no;

"Tis clear that they were always able To hold converse, at least in fable."

5 Gen. iii. 5.

Turbulent discontent, mutinous conduct, seems to have been a characteristic of the Jews, and of that time. St. Luke iii. 12-14. In the Acts of the Apostles we have frequent instances of this. From the reply (literally) Take up, we may suppose the rebel leader here to have contemptuously thrown down the coin tendered to him. There is an evident antithesis between "that thine is" and "mine own." (See the original phrases.) q. d. These are mine as entirely as that is thine. You have no more right to dictate to me what I shall do with my moneys, than I have to dictate to you how to lay out, each man, his one denarius.

CCCCXIII.

THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.

St. Matthew xx. 16.

So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Leaving those points which, while necessary to the structure of the Parable, had no application to the case of the Apostles, (being but the scaffolding as it were of the building) the Lord repeats his instructive saying to these; striking again this key-note at the close of the harmony, and adding,— what should make them think more humbly of themselves,-that of the many called into His Church here, few (and these perhaps not always those of whom it might have been expected) would be found chosen hereafter for those chief places which they claimed as their own. Of the incidental lessons of the Parable we may note that this phrase “the eleventh hour" has become proverbial in our language; and it may be applied, together with those other periods of the Parable, by way of encouragement to those who at any period later than the first enter heartily into their Lord's service. But let us remember (for this is not to encourage us in putting off the work of repentance and amendment) none were hired at the twelfth hour. Then the day was done. "Therefore, brethren, take we heed betime, while the day of salvation lasteth; for the night cometh, when none can work." 3 As for us, we have been called or hired even from the first. None of us can say, if standing idle in the market-place of this world, "No man hath hired us."

1 This incidental lesson, among the other lessons, and besides the main lesson, is well brought out by Abp. Trench, who however very properly draws a distinction between an application and the application of a parable. It may be illustrated from The Christian Year (First Sunday after

Christmas):

"In his unerring sight who measures life by love."

And again Sunday next before Advent):

"But love too late can never glow."

2 St. John ix. 4; xi. 9.
3 Commination.

The heathen, who have never heard the Gospel-sound, might say it; but as for us, we were called into Christ's Church, hired into His service, at our Baptism, and He has been calling us continually ever since. Now it is with us, it may be, the third, or the sixth, or the ninth, or (who can tell?) even the eleventh hour. How have we been living all this time? What sort of work have we been doing in the Lord's vineyard? Another lesson also we may draw against envy and murmuring. What a hateful exhibition of it we have here! That base spirit of magnifying oneself and detracting from another; which, instead of rejoicing in another's good, is envious and jealous if another have more than ourselves; which leads us to make so much of ourselves, our services and sufferings, and ends by murmuring and rebellion even against God. This spirit is of the devil. He envied God Himself, and so fell from his first estate. He envied our first parents, and procured their fall. And after Adam's fall we see it coming out in the morose and sullen countenance of Cain, in the miserable murder of Abel.3

CCCCXIV.

HE FORETELLETH HIS PASSION.

St. Mark x. 32-34.

And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: and

1 "Our ears have heard th' Almighty's
call,

We cannot be as they."-The
Christian Year, Eighteenth Sun-

day after Trinity.

2 Gen. iv. 5, 6.

v. 9.

See St. James iii. 14-16; iv. 5;

they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.

6

They were "amazed" at His manner,' which filled them with a strange, mysterious fear. The Jews of late had sought to stone Him at Jerusalem, yet went He thither again; went again to that place from which before He had withdrawn himself. He went before them, as some intrepid Captain goes at the head of his company to certain danger; as the Good Shepherd goes before His sheep. They followed Him, though they had their fears for Him and for themselves. This is the third time that He plainly predicts His passion. It is, He is careful to tell them, the fulfilment of prophecy. "All things that are written concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished; "all things which in His human nature for our sakes He should undergo. It was the chief priests and scribes of the Jews who condemned Him, for they procured His condemnation. They delivered Him to the Romans, "and though there was no cause of death in Him, yet required they Pilate that He should be slain." It was passing strange. Had He been secretly assassinated, or slain in some popular tumult, or stoned by connivance of the Sanhedrim, it had not been so surprising. But the unlikely manner of his death, crucifixion preceded by scourging, a Roman not a Jewish punishment, the mocking sport of the soldiery, the shame and spitting, are all foretold with a minuteness which reads more like a history

1 46 Though very little is said in the Gospels concerning our Lord's external appearance and deportment, yet there are frequent indications of its effect on others."-Bp. Wordsworth. See St. Mark ix. 15; St. John xviii. 6. 2 St. John xi. 7, 8.

3 St. John viii. 59; x. 39, 40. St. John x. 4.

5 St. John xi. 16.

6 St. Matt. xvi. 21; xvii. 22, 23.

St. Luke xviii. 31.

8 "Such indeed we know was their intention; but it was overruled by God, who in His providence led them

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« ElőzőTovább »