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thy possessions, freely distribute the produce to the poor, come to me, take up the cross, and follow me as my disciple, and a teacher of my gospel. Hearing this, he departed exceedingly sorrowful, that he could not obtain a place in the everlasting kingdom without renouncing those delights on which his heart had been fixed.
As soon as he had retired, Jesus looked round upon his disciples and said, · children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! You know the nature of the camel, how that it is accustomed, by descending to its knees, to pass through places which it would seem, from its height, impossible that it should ever enter but I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Divine power must be more eminently called forth to humble a rich man to the meek and self-denying spirit of the Christian, than so to compress the matter of a camel as to reduce its enormous bulk to the diminutive size of a litttle insect. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, who then can be saved? And Jesus, looking upon them, saith, with men it is impossible, but not with God, for with God all things are possible. The energy of divine grace can infuse a new spirit into men, and cause them not only to submit to all my commandments, but to account it all joy when, for my sake, they pass through the severest tribulation.
This answer, however, did not satisfy the disciples, who, no doubt, had often thought with pleasure on the honours and profits of the great offices which they expect. d to enjoy in his kingdom. Among the rest, Peter was much disappointed, finding that his stewardship was to be of little service to him; the office he supposed his Master had promised to him under the metaphor of "the keys of the kingdom." Wherefore, addressing Jesus in the name of the rest, he begged him to consider that his apostles had all done what the young ruler refused to do; had left their relations, their employments, and their possessions, on his account. And since he was pleased to tell them that rich men could not enter into his kingdom, which was the same thing as to tell them there would be no kingdom, he desired to know what reward they were to have. Jesus replied, that they should certainly have a peculiar reward even in this life; because immediately after his resurrection, when he ascended the throne of his mediatorial kingdom, he would advance them to the high honour of judging the twelve trib.s of Israel; that is, of ruling his church and people, of which the twelve tribes were a type. He further informed them, that every one who had forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or wife, or children, or lands, for his name's sake, should receive an hundred fold, and should inherit everlasting life Such as are willing to suffer for the sake of his gospel shall be no losers in the issue because God, who designs to admit them into heaven, will give them the com torts necessary to support them in their journey thither, and will raise them up friends who shall be as serviceable to them as their nearest kindred, whom they have forsaken By the special benignity of his providence, they shall have every thing valuable that relations or possessions can minister to them; and, besides, shall have persecutions, whose heat will nourish virtues in them of such excellent efficacy, as to yield them, even in this present world, joys an hundred times better than all earthly pleasures; so that they shall be fed by the bread of sorrows: but above all, in the world to come, they shall have everlasting life. Their afflictions, contributing to the growth of their graces, which are the wings of the soul, they shall, in due time, be raised on them, even up to heaven, leaving all sorrows behind them ; and shall fly swiftly into the bosom of God, the fountain of life and joy. where they shall have full amends made them for all the evils they have undergone on his account. Trus many who, in the eyes of their fellows, are last in this life, by reason of their
afflictions, mortifications, and self-denial, are really first, not only in point of future reward, but even in respect of present satisfaction. [Mat. xix. 30.] But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first. These words were spoken alse with a view to keep the disciples humble after their imaginations had been warmed with the prospect of their reward: for, in all probability, they interpreted the promise of the thrones, so as to make it refer to the highest offices in the temporal kingdom, the offices of greatest power, honour, and profit, in Judea; and supposed that the other posts which were to be occupied at a distance from Messiah's person, such as the government of provinces, the generalship of armies, &c. would all be filled by their brethren Jews, to whom of right they belonged, rather than to the Gentiles. Nay, it was a prevailing opinion at this time, that every particular Jew whatever, the poorest not excepted, would enjoy some office or other in the vast empire which Messiah was to erect over all nations. In this light, Christ's meaning was, though you imagine that you and your brethren have a peculiar title to the great and substantial blessings of my kingdom which I have been describing, the Gentiles shall have equal opportunities and advantages for obtaining them; because they shall be admitted to all the privileges of the gospel on the same footing with you Jews; nay, in point of time, they shall be before you; for they shall universally embrace the gospel before your nation is converted. [Rom. xi. 25, 26.7
This doctrine Jesus illustrated by the parable of the householder who hired labourers into his vineyard at different hours, and, in the evening, gave them all the same wages, beginning from the last unto the first. The true scope, therefore, of the parable is to shew, that the Jewish nation, who, of all people, were first, in respect of external privileges, and particularly in respect of the offer, should be the last in receiving the gospel; and that when they did receive it, they should enjoy no higher privileges under that dispensation, than the Gentiles who were called at the eleventh hour. The application of the parable suggests this interpretation, "So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many be called, but few chosen.' The vineyard signifies the dispensations of religion in general which God gave to mankind in the different parts of the world. The hiring of the labourers early in the morning represents that interposition of providence by which the Jews then alive were born members of God's church, and laid under obligations to obey the law of Moses. [Mat. xx. 1.] For the kingdom of heaven (the master of the kingdom of heaven) is like unto a man that is an householder, (the master of a family) which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard, God's bestowing the gospel dispensation upon mankind, and the preparations previous thereto, may be illustrated by an householder's sending labourers, at different hours of the day, to work in his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, (a denarius, equal to our seven pence halfpenny, and the common wages of a day-labourer in those times) he sent them into his vineyard to work according as the steward or overseer should direct them. The hiring the labourers at the subsequent third, sixth, and ninth hours, signifies the various interpositions of providence by which many of the Gentiles, in the different ages of the world, were converted, either in whole, or in part, to the knowledge and worship of the true God, becoming, some proselytes of righ teousness, others proselytes of the gate And he went out the third hour, and saw others stand idle in the market-place, where the labourers usually waited in order to be hired. And said unto them, go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour and did likewise. The invitation given at the eleventh hour signifies God's calling the Gentiles in every country by the light of the gospel. And about the eleventh hour
ke 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. The householder did not, in the bargain which he made with those whom he hired at the third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours, fix any particular sum as their wages, he only said he would give them what was right, that is, give them in proportion to the hours which they should work; therefore his bestowing on them a whole day's wages was an act of generosity, especially to those who came at the eleventh hour. The labouring of those who began early in the morning, signifies their performing the various duties imposed by the law of Moses, the dispensation they were under which, because it was a grievous yoke, obedience to its precepts was fitly expressed by bearing the heat and burden of a whole day. The labouring of such as were called at the subsequent hours, signifies the obedience which the proselyted Gentiles yielded to such precepts of the law as were obligatory on them. The labouring of those who were called at the eleventh hour, signifies the works of piety, justice, tem perance, and charity, performed by the converted.
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. The equal reward bestowed on all, the penny given to each labourer as his wages, signifies the gospel, with its privileges and advantages, which they all enjoyed on an equal footing. The steward who called the labourers to receive this reward, represents the apostles and first preachers, by whom the gospel was offered to both Jews and Gentiles. And the rewards being first bestowed on the labourers who came at the eleventh hour, signifies that the idolatrous Gentiles and proselytes should all enjoy the gospel, with its privileges, before the Jewish nation was converted; the condition, not of a few individuals, but of great bodies of men, being represented in the parable. It is true, the labourers who came in the morning are said to have received the penny. Nevertheless, we cannot from hence infer that our Lord meant to say they would embrace the gospel. On the contrary, they murmured against the householder, and, in their passion, threw the money down upon the ground, as appears from his ordering them to take it up. [Mat. xx. 11.] And when they had received it, 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 But he answered one of them and said, friend, I do thee no wrong; didst not thou agree with me for a penny? take up that thine is, and go thy way; I will give unto this last even as unto thee. not lawful for me to do what I will with my own? Is thine eye evil because I am good? Seeing I have given thee the hire which I promised thee, thou hast no reason of complaint and if I choose to give unto those who came last into the vineyard as much hire as I have given to thee, who can find fault with it? I own it is an act of generosity, but am I not free to bestow what is my own as I see proper? And because I am bountiful, shouldst thou be envious? This part of the parable, therefore, is a striking representation of God's goodness in bestowing upon the Gentiles the gospel dispensation, in preference to the Jews themselves, and without subjecting them to the grievous burden of the Mosaic yoke. So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many shall be called, but few chosen a proverbial expression, which, as it is here applied, imports that the Jews should all be called by the apostles and first preachers to receive the gospel; they should have the gospel preached to them: but that few of them in comparison would obey the call, or become chosen
servants, the generality of the nation remaining in infidelity and wickedness. Wherefore, this branch of the parable very fitly represents the pride of the Jews in rejecting the gospel, when they found the Gentiles admitted to its privileges, without becoming subject to the institutions of Moses. In the mean time, we must not urge the circumstance of the reward, so as to fancy that either Jews or Gentiles merited the blessings of the gospel by their having laboured faithfully in the vineyard, or having behaved well under their several dispensations. The gospel, with its blessings, was bestowed entirely of God's free grace, and without any thing in men's meriting it. Besides, it was offered promiscuously to all, whether good or bad, and was embraced by persons of all characters.
The conclusion of the parable deserves our attention; many are called, but few chosen; words of vast meaning and high importance, and therefore should often be meditated upon, that we may not content ourselves with having the offers of the gospel made to us, or even with being in the visible church of God, but may give all diligence to make our calling and election sure.
Some time after delivering the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, Jesus proceeded on his journey to Jerusalem with an intention to celebrate the passover, and to suffer the things predicted concerning Messiah by the prophets. [Mark x. 32.] 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. The rulers at Jerusalem had issued out a proclamation against our Lord immediately after the resurrection of Lazarus, and probably promised a reward to any that would apprehend him. [John zi. 37.] This, it should seem, was the reason why the disciples were astonished at the alacrity which their Master shewed in this journey to the capital city, and afraid while they followed him. They all expected, indeed, that the kingdom was immediately to appear. [Luke xix. I.] But recollecting what had been said to them concerning the difficulty of rich men entering into it, and comparing that declaration with the behaviour of the rulers who had hitherto opposed and persecuted Jesus, they became very apprehensive of the dangers they should be exposed to at Jerusalem. In such circumstances, our Lord knew that a repetition of the prophecy concerning his own sufferings was proper, because it shewed the disciples that they were entirely voluntary. And as he told them expressly that they had been predicted by the prophets, and consequently decreed by God, the opposition that he was to meet with ought only to increase their faith, especially as he had informed them that he should rise again on the third day. The apostles, however, understood not these things, and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.
On this occasion, the disciples shewed their ignorance of the prophecies, by an action which likewise discovered, in the clearest manner, the temper of mind they were in, and the motives from which they followed their Master. James and Jolm, the sons of Zebedee, who seem to have fancied that, by their Master's resurrection after his sufferings, was meant his taking possession of the great empire which they believed he was come to erect, no sooner heard him mention his rising from the dead, than they came and begged the favour of him that he would confer on them the chief posts in his kingdom. This they expressed by asking to be seated, the one on his right hand, the other on his left, in allusion to his late promise of placing the twelve apostles on twelve thrones, to judge the tribes. It appears from Matthew that they had employed Salome in making this request to our Lord, in which they might rather suppose that she would succeed, as she had always treated him with the greatest attention, and was known to have possessed much of his esteem. But Jesus answered and said, ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of,
and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, we are able. And he saith unto them, ye shall indeed drink of my cup: ye shall certainly share with me in my lot, and be baptised with the baptism that I am baptized with: shall partake of my afflictions; but to sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father; or rather, It is not mine to give, except to them for whom it is prepared by my Father. I can give the chief places in my kingdom to none but to those who, according to the immutable counsels of my Father, are capable of enjoying them.
Jesus, perceiving that this ambitious project of the two brothers had excited the indignation of their companions, called the apostles around him, and said, ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them; and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister. And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Thus powerfully did he inculcate the lesson, that true greatness consisted in the most self-denying obedience to all his commandments, and that humbling ourselves is the truest way to be exalted.
Pursuing their journey, they at length arrived at Jericho, near which city they met with two blind men, the most distinguished of whom was Bartimeus, the son of Timeus. This poor beggar, perceiving a great crowd pass by, enquired what was the occasion of this concourse, and they told him that it was Jesus of Nazareth, who was travelling that way. As he was well acquainted with our Lord's fame, his name was no sooner mentioned, than he conceived hopes of obtaining a cure; and being deeply impressed with a sense of his own affliction, he cried out so vehemently, that the people, in a passion, rebuked him for making such a noise Still, however, he persisted to cry out as well as his companion. O Lord, thou Son of David, thou blessed Messiah, who art come to deliver the nation, have mercy on us. Having been called by Christ, and told him that their request was the recovery of their sight, he assured them that their faith had saved them, and they followed him, glorifying God, and exulting in the possession of all their senses. This miracle attracted general attention, and produced a very favourable effect on the minds of the multitude.
Another transaction of our Lord in the neighbourhood of Jericho, though not at all miraculous, excited considerable interest. A certain publican of great authority and wealth, having the disadvantage of a diminutive size, climbed up into a sycamoretree to see Jesus pass by. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and saw him, and being perfectly acquainted with the secrets of his heart, though he was an entire stranger to his personal acquaintance, said unto him, Zaccheus, make haste and come down, for to-day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, saying, that he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. Zacchens, probably overhearing them, stood and said unto the Lord, behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, i. e, unjust exaction of the taxes, I restore him four-fold. He said this to vindicate his own character, and shew how unreasonable the prejudices were which the multitude had entertained against him, on account of his profession. Jesus, without saying any thing which might encourage self-righteousness in him or his accusers, only observed, This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is the son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost, and therefore, though Zaccheus had been really as bad a man as the multitude took him and his vocation