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SERMON XVII.

MATT. XX. 6.

“ And about the eleventh hour he 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."

In a few years the longest lived amongst us must yield to the great enemy of man, This life will have passed away for ever, and the next will have unfolded its glories or its miseries according as we have employed our time here.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year roll by in a course almost imperceptible to the mind of man. As time passes away, we little consider that the length of that time is added to our own

“ Go

1

age.

We little value the opportunities we have of securing our own salvation; yea, we stand all the day idle, and then complain that no man hath hired us." But

ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right, that shall

ye

receive.” The parable before us appears to admit especially of two explanations. We propose to examine them as being very applicable to us all. We must remember, that the Gospel of Jesus was originally addressed to the Jews ; they were the chosen people of God. To them were the blessings of heaven vouchsafed ; to them were the glad tidings proclaimed; to them did the Son of God make himself known for the purpose of offering the terms of salvation, and of securing to them the blessings this householder, who is God, is said to have gone out several times : he went out early in the morning, -he went out about the third hour,-- he went out about the sixth and ninth hours,—and again at the eleventh hour. Now, my brethren, this contains a considerable meaning. When the householder, or God, is represented as going out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard, it is meant that he revealed himself to Adam, and afterwards to his family, in order to perpetuate the wonders of his

happy immortality. But the Jews rejected the Son of God; and therefore about the eleventh hour, he went out and found others standing idle: and these others were the Gentiles. Now. was the wall of partition broken down; and the Almighty was no longer the God of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also. But

of a

power ;

to make his ways known among the growing families of the earth; and to establish his name for ever. God again went out, as the parable expresses it, about the third hour; which may signify the more distinct economy of God, when the descendants of the patriarchs were, by his express command, formed into one society, under Moses and Aaron, and became his vineyard and peculiar people, unto whom he gave his laws and ordinances. He went again about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise ;

om whence we are pointed to the more advanced ages of the Jewish Church and people, as they were instructed by a succession of prophets, by whom this vineyard of God was dressed and cultivated. At the eleventh hour, as we have noticed, he sent his Son to call the Gentiles into his vineyard, or to admit the whole world to the blessings of salvation.

But look to another signification that the parable bears: it relates to the different ages, at which God is pleased to call the members of his Church here on earth to work in his vineyard. Some by the ordinary influence of the Holy Spirit he calls early, in their youth ; others at the prime and pride of life; others again not till old age, or the eleventh hour, and promises to give them their reward : Whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.” Now from the parable it appears, that the labourers began to murmur, when they received every man the same reward. “ And when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more. They complained against the householder, saying, “ these last have wrought but one

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hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.” Now there may appear, at the first consideration, a difficulty to be reconciled—viz. why God should reward those who had laboured their whole lives, in the same proportion as those who had worked but one hour. The answer to this is beautifully represented in the parable : “ Friend,” said the householder, “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 ? So the last shall be first, and the first last : for many be called, but few chosen;" or, in other words, if man turns unto the Lord his God, even at the eleventh hour,-even when he is old, God will be merciful unto him; yea, he will, through the merits of Christ Jesus, forgive him all his sins; he will be with him, though, like the thief upon the cross, he repent only at the eleventh hour. And who shall question

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