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would give them. « The Jews computed their hours of the civil day from six in the morning till six in the evening : thus their first hour corresponded with our seren o'clock, their second to our eighth, their third to our nine, &c.” The householder went out about the sixth and' ninth hours, and sent others into the vineyard. Again, about the eleventh hour, five o'clock in the afternoon, he went out, [into the market place, see ver. 3) and found others standing idle, and saith unto thein, why stand ye here all the day idle? The reason they assigned was, because no man hath hired us. He sent them into his vineyard, with the promise that what was right he would pay. It seems to have been the custom for laborers, to go early in the moruing to the market, and stand there until hired ; and the customary hours of working were from six in the inorning until six in the evening. ?
We shall now turn from this notice of the customs on which the parable was founded, to seek the proper application of it. We have already stated, that the whole subject connected with this parable, extends from chapter xix. 27 to xx. 16,
1 Horne's Intro. iii. 161. 2 This custom remains to the preseut day in Persia. In the city of Hamadan there is a maidan or square in front of a large mosque. “ Here,” says Mr. Morier, t we observed every morning before the sun rose, that a numerous band of peasants were collected with spades in their hands, waiting, as they informed us, to be hired by the day to work in the surrounding fields. This custom, which I have never seen in any other part of Asia, forcibly struck me as a most happy illustration of our Saviour's parable of the laborers in the vineyard in the 20th chapter of Matthew, particularly, when passing by the same place late in the day, we still found others standing idle, and remembered his words, why stand ye here all the day idle? as most applicable to their situation : for in putting the very same question to them, they answered us, hecause no one hath hired us, Morier's second Journey through Persia, p. 265.
which should have formed a chapter by itself. There is even a remote connexion with circumstances which are narrated farther back in chapter xix. than the 27th verse. A young man came to Jesus with the question, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" xix. 16. Jesus answered him in substance, that he must keep the law. His reply was, “all these things have I kept from my youth up : what lack I yet » xix. 20. In reply Jesus told him, to sell all that he had, and give to the poor. When the young man heard this, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 22. This drew from the Saviour the following remark: “a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." 23, 24. This similitude, drawn in the strong eastern manner, was designed to shew the extreme difficulty with which the rich in this world's goods, were persuaded to leave their possessions, and become poor and enter the kingdom of Christ, and become his followers. The young man had just afforded an instance of the truth of the remark; and as to become a follower of Christ, in that persecuting age, required a sacrifice of all earthly considerations, so, of course, it would be more difficult for the rich, who were bound to the earth by a thousand ties, to get released from its influences, than the poor. When his disciples heard his remark, concerning the difficulty with which the rich would enter his kingdom, they expressed their surprise by saying, “who then can be saved ?" We have already given the sense of this phrase, pp. 96, 97. Jesus intimated that even such would be converted, for although with neu this was inipossible, “ with God all things are possible.” Ver. 26. We have now arrived at the more immediate context. Peter, who had listened to all his Master had said to the young man, that he must be willing to part with ali his earthly possessions, now breaks out in an expression of his own feelings, and shews what thoughts were predominant in his own mind, “ Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee: what shall we have therefore ?" 27. As though he had said, Lord, we have obeyed thy com mands; we have given up all we had on earth, and followed thee; and now what reward are we to have ? A question of a similar nature was asked by some of the disciples on another occasion : "who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven ?” Matt. xviii. 1. xx. 20. Luke xxii, 24. In both these questions, the followers of Christ manifested some impatier.ce for their reward; and evinced a desire to be exalted above others, in consequence of their services. This ought to be borne in mind, when we come to the application of the parable. The answer of Jesus to Peter's question was as follows: "Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Sun of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel ;" 28. i. e. in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye which have followed me shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel-a figurative expression to denote that the apostles would be raised to stations of eininence in the church, at the cosning of Christ. Furthermore, Jesus said in Peter, “ And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or inother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” 29. The meaning of the expression, “to enter into life," we have already fully explained. See particularly pp. 12, 21, 22. Everlasting life was that state of peace and rest into which the believers of the gospel entered, and which the church of Christ preeminently enjoyed, when delivered from her persecutors at the coming of Christ to destroy the Jewish nation; and this is called, in our version, everlasting life from the Greek phrase zoen aionion, which is generally, if not invariably, applied to the time of the gospel dispensation. See our remarks on Matt. xxv. 46, under the parable of the Sheep and Goats, and compare also the following passages of scripture : John v. 24. vi. 47, 54.. xvii. 3. Roin. vi. 22. 1 John v. 13. In pursuing the context, we have now brought ourselves to the last verse of chap. xix. as follows: “But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." The apostles, who were the first to embrace the gospel, would not receive their reward until the last; while those who were last, who did not embrace the gospel until after the apostles, should be rewarded first. The apostles did not receive their reward until a late period-their preeminent services exposed them to preeminent dangers and sufferings, and persecntion rage.. against them longer than any others. The parable of the laborers in the vineyard was designed to illustrate the facts here stated, and to reprove the apostles for the desire they had manifesteri to receive greater rewards than should be coulered on others. See particularly Mark x. 35, 37. We have already shown, that there can be no question that the parable before us was designed to illustrate what is
said xix. 30, “but many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first;" and this fact is rendered more evident from the circumstance, that immediately on closing the parable, Jesus adds. “80 the last shall be first, and the first last," as he had illustrated in the parable.
We proceed then to say, that the dealings of God with men, in the dispensation of the gospel, were like those of a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. The earliest professors of Christianity, were those who went first into the vineyard. Those who subsequently embraced the gospel, were such as entered the vineyard later in the day. As the lord of the vineyard rewarded all the laborers, so all the followers of Christ were assured of their reward ; and as the master of the house, in rewarding the laborers, began at the last, and proceeded unto the first, so some that embraced the gospel at a late season, would be rewarded before others who had been more conspicuous in their defence of Christianity. As those who entered first into the vineyard murmured against the good man of the house because he gave to each laborer a penny, so the disciples were desirous of being exalted above others, in consequence of their labors in the vineyard of their Master.
This, it appears to us, was the original design of Jesus in utiering this parable. We are willing to admit, however, that it is easily susceptible of an application to the Scribes and Pharisees, who murmured at Jesus Christ, because he received sinners, and showed them favor. In fact the words which, as we have shown, the parable was designed to illustrate, are applied in another place to the Jews. See Luke xiii. 28-30, where the evangelist de