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26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.

27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.

29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.

30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.

j Matt. xiv. 5

no doubt revealed to the evangelist, who records their "reasoning among themselves," by inspiration, as they were not likely to make it publicly known; unless, indeed, we may suppose some one of the council, more favourable to the claims of Christ, as Nicodemus, might report it. They said, "If we shall say, From heaven," that is, from God, because used in that sense by the Jews, as sometimes by us, "he will say, Why did ye not then believe him," and become his disciples, instead of slighting and persecuting him? "But if we shall say, Of men," a merely human and self-instituted ministry, we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet;" which indeed was so strong a persuasion among them, that they considered the defeat of Herod's army, in his war with Aretas, king of Arabia, to be a signal judgment of God upon him on account of the murder of the Baptist. Betwixt a decision which would have condemned themselves, and one which would have exasperated the people, and lessened their credit with them, they were held so firmly, that their only way of escape was to confess their ignorance of the matter; which only brought them into a difficulty more seriously fatal to their pretensions, because it was a confession that they were unable to judge between true and false prophets, divine and self-constituted messengers,

And he

the power of which they arrogated to the Sanhedrim. Hence, when they replied, We cannot tell, our Lord rejoins, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things; that is, "Since you have confessed your inability to discriminate the marks of a true and a false prophet in the case of John, it follows that you are unfit to decide every similar case; and I refuse to put myself upon your judgment."

Verse 28. A certain man had two sons, &c.-This parable was designed to reprove the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees, for professing to pay a ready obedience to the commands of God, and yet rejecting the ministry of John. Although they declined to say whether John's ministry was from God or not, our Lord determines the case, and charges them with a sinful opposition to his authorized mission.

Verse 29. I will not, but afterwards he repented, &c.—These represented, according to our Lord's own explanation, verse 32, "the publicans and the harlots," that is, notorious sinners, who had openly and rebelliously contemned the divine authority; but afterwards believed John's doctrine, listened to his warnings, and turned with a penitent mind to God; of which class of persons it would appear that considerable numbers were recovered by John's ministry.

Verse 30. I go, sir, and went not

31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

k

32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

:

k Matt. iii. 1.

Εγω κύριε, the ellipsis being supplied by απερχομαι. This prompt but hypocritical assent, followed by disobedience, represented the criminal dissimulation of the Pharisees, who, pretending to pay the most perfect regard to every injunction of God, held the publicans and other common sinners in the utmost contempt, and yet neither received the testimony of John at first, nor, even after they had seen the mighty effects produced in the reformation of the greatest sinners, afterwards repented, and acknowledged his mission.

Verse 31. They say unto him, The first. In this kind of interlocutory argument he to whom the question was proposed was bound to answer, although he might see that his reply would only give occasion to his antagonist to turn the conclusion against himself. The debate was in public; and silence on the part of the Pharisees, who had introduced it, would have been a confession that they were refuted: they were impelled therefore to make answer to our Lord's questions, although at every step his remarks pressed with heavier weight upon them.

The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before yon.-The Teλwval, and the Toprai, stand for openly careless, or immoral persons in general; and as these were most powerfully and speedily brought to repentance by John, so our Lord declares that the same effect would follow under his dispensation of religion: they would enter the kingdom of God before the self-righteous and deluded formalists. Verse 32. In the way of righteousness.—

X

Enjoining it even to severity, and strictly practising it himself; and ye who make great professions of sanctity and selfdenial, and respect to them wherever found, did not receive him as a prophet. This is the point of the reproof: they boasted of strict righteousness, conformity to all the institutions of God; and in this way John came to them, this was the character of his ministry, which they, however, proudly spurned, and thereby declared their hypocrisy.

Some apply this parable of the two sons to the Gentiles and Jews; the former of whom, though for ages openly disobedient to the commands of God, to the law written upon their hearts, or handed down by tradition, promptly embraced the gospel; while the Jews, who, at least ever since the return from the captivity, had paid all outward respect to the worship and revelations of God, yet wholly rejected the gospel, which stood upon the same kind of evidence as their law and prophets. Still this application is only inferential and secondary; for our Lord himself explains the parable of the two classes of men among the Jews who are mentioned. It, however, frequently happens, in Christian communities, that they who are the most complaisant as to truth, are the farthest from the kingdom of God; and that the openly rebellious wills of the wicked are suddenly and effectually turned to God by the power of his grace, and that they deal more honestly with their spiritual dangers, and accept with greater readiness the free salvation of Christ.

33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.

35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first and they did unto them likewise.

37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.

38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, m This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.

39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.

40 When the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?

41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

1 Isaiah v. 1; Jer. ii. 21; Mark xii. 1; Luke xx. 9.

Verse 33. A vineyard.-The Jewish church.

A winepress.-Or wine-vat, into which the grapes were cast, and then trodden by men. It was often hewed out of a rock, and had a grated opening near the bottom to convey the expressed juice into a lower vat.

And built a tower.-The towers in vineyards were principally watchhouses, where servants were placed to observe the approach of robbers.

To husbandmen.-rewpyois, to those who cultivate the ground by their own labour, as distinguished from the οικοδεσποτης, or proprietor.

Verse 34. When the time of the fruit. The season for gathering the fruits; so

m Matt. xxvi. 3; John xi. 53.

that it appears that the rent of the vineyard was paid in produce, which was an ancient custom.

Verse 37. They will reverence my son. -This is another proof that the minor circumstances of parables are not to be interpreted strictly. God foreknew that the Jews would reject the Son, which is made the subject of prophecy; but it was their duty to receive him with reverence, and so the words are used to express what it was fitting and reasonable to expect.

Verse 41. He will miserably destroy those wicked men.-Thus were the scribes and Pharisees made to pass sentence upon themselves. They were the descendants of a race who had persecuted God's ser

42 Jesus saith unto them, " Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

n Psalm cxviii. 22; Acts iv. 11.

vants, the prophets, beating one, and stoning another; and now they themselves were conspiring against the life of the son, the heir of the vineyard. Their church privileges were therefore to be abolished, their nation destroyed, and the vineyard let out to others, who should render the fruits in their seasons. This was a plain allusion to the calling of the Gentiles.

Verse 42. Did ye never read in the scriptures? &c.-The passage quoted by our Lord is from Psalm cxviii. 22, 23. It was first spoken of David, who, after having been persecuted by Saul, and rejected by the chiefs of Israel, at last triumphed over all his enemies, and raised the state to unexampled prosperity and strength. He might therefore be well compared to a stone rejected by the builders, which had become the headstone of the corner, giving grace and strength to the whole building. Our Lord applies this passage to himself, for to him it ultimately referred; and thus, as he had predicted his own death at the murderous hands of the scribes and Pharisees, he predicts also his future glory, as at once the foundation and the chief corner-stone of that vast spiritual temple which God was about to set up in the earth. The princes and chiefs of a people were called, rendered in the Septuagint, yuvial, corner-stones: so, 1 Sam. xiv. 38, πασας τας γωνιας του Ισραηλ, “all the chief of Israel." Christ has this eminence, that he is both the foundation-stone and the chief stone of the corner. Thus he supports and completes the fabric of his church, sustains the whole weight, unites

the various parts, and crowns the whole with strength and beauty.

Verse 43. Therefore say I unto you, &c. The connexion of this verse, which some have thought out of its place, is marked by the words dia TOUTO, 66 on this account, I say unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you," &c.; because you builders have rejected the stone chosen of God, elect and precious, his church shall be built up among another people, even the Gentile nations whom ye despise and hate. One of the Jewish commentators, Jarchi, has a singular note upon the words in Jer. xiii. 17, "My soul shall weep in secret places for your pride." "Because of your grandeur, which shall cease; because of the excellency of the kingdom of heaven, which shall be given to the profane."

Verse 44. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken, &c.—The allusion here does not appear to be to one method of stoning, which Maimonides says was practised among the Jews, that is, first casting down from a precipice upon the rock below, which, if not fatal, was followed by rolling a large stone down upon the criminal; which is somewhat far-fetched, and indeed was not the common method of inflicting that punishment. It rather arises out of the metaphor of the stone rejected by the builders, whether considered as a foundation or the top stone of the corner. As the one represented our Lord's humiliation and sufferings, the only foundation of saving trust, the other was an emblem of the glory and majesty of his exaltation to the right hand of God. In the former, he

44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.

46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

CHAPTER XXII.

1 The parable of the marriage of the king's son. 9 The vocation of the Gentiles. 12 The punishment of him that wanted the wedding garment. 15 Tribute ought to be paid to Cæsar. 23 Christ confuteth the Sadducees for the resurrection : 34 answereth the lawyer, which is the first and great commandment: 41 and poseth the Pharisees about the Messias.

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1 AND Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,

o Rom. ix. 33; 1 Peter ii. 7; Isaiah viii. 14.

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was a stone of stumbling, and rock of offence;" first, to all the Jews who rejected a suffering Messiah, and by consequence, his sacrificial death; and then to all others who equally spurned Christ crucified as the only ground of their hope of salvation. Thus they were broken, so wounded as to sustain great injury, yet not but that they might repent and find mercy; for their case is not represented as absolutely fatal, until the stone at the head of the corner should fall upon them. This signifies a judicial wielding of Christ's power and supreme authority against all such as rejected him, though after much long-suffering and delay. With respect to the Jews as a nation, this took place after the gospel in its perfected form, with all the additional attestations of Christ's resurrection and ascension, and the effusion of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, had been for many years proclaimed among them, and pressed upon their acceptance. But they continued to full upon or stumble at the foundation, and still more grievously to wound and injure themselves; until at last Christ turned against them the weight of his power as the Judge, and utterly destroyed their city and nation. Thus also it shall be with every individual who rejects Christ as a Saviour: he

a Luke xiv. 16; Rev. xix. 9.

too must meet him in his glory as Judge, and in "the hour of death, and in the day of judgment," shall awfully realize the truth of the words, “On whomsoever this stone shall fall, it will grind him to powder." uvexarea, and Aikμay, are of different degrees of force: the former signifies to bruise; the latter, to disperse, as chaff, from Xukuos, a winnowing van; and hence is used figuratively for utter destruction, or a dashing in pieces.

Verse 46. They feared the multitude.— This shows that not only the people who came up with our Lord from Jericho, but vast numbers who were now collecting from all parts to celebrate the passover at Jerusalem, admitted his claims as prophet, and would have been excited to tumult by any open attempt to apprehend him. This rendered it necessary for his enemies to proceed with circumspection and subtlety; and therefore St. Luke adds, "They watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor."

CHAPTER XXII. Verse 1. And Jesus answered, &c.-It has been before remarked that this formula does not always signi

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