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ers into his vineyard. The kingdom of heaven in our Saviour's parables commonly means the gospel-dispensation. The vineyard is the church of Christ, into which He calls mankind to come, to be His servants, and to devote themselves to Him; giving them an assurance that great shall be their reward in heaven,7° or that they shall inherit everlasting life. This is the fruit which they shall reap with joy, when their labour in the earthly vineyard is over. This is the recompence of the reward1 which shall be given them, and to which they are to have respect continually. The servants of Christ do not labour for nought and in vain, however unworthy of a recompence their labour may be. .
It is said of the householder in the parable, that when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. The customary wages for such labourers in those days was a Roman penny, which was nearly eight pence of our money. The labourers who were willing to take this, were sent to perform the work appointed to them. In applying this parable to the gospel-dispensation, we may observe that its blessings were designed to be bestowed upon persons of all ages and conditions in life. This was shown with regard to the earliest period of life by our Lord Jesus
70 Matthew y. 12.
71 Hebrews xi. 26.
Christ, when He said, as it is recorded in the preceding chapter, Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me ; for of such is the kingdom of heaven. They are admitted to partake of its blessings. It is a great privilege, however lightly some may think of it, to be dedicated to the service of God in infancy, to have His vows upon us,73 by which we are taught what we are to renounce and avoid, what we are to believe, and how we are to act in order to please God, and to have a good hope of enjoying everlasting salvation. It is a great privilege to be admitted into that body, to which pertain the blessings of redemption, the means of grace, and the hope of glory. These are the persons who may be said, under the Christian dispensation, to be called early in the morning to labour in the vineyard of God. Their first energies of body and mind are required to be devoted to the service of God, and their whole lives to be given up to Him, that He may be glorified in them and by them. And in order to this, it is directed that they should be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,?* that as their minds open they may receive the instruction of heavenly wisdom, and be warned against the errors and evils with which they are surrounded in the world. It is our privilege to have been introduced into the church of Christ by baptism. Promises have been in our names that we should repent and believe the gospel75 in order that we may partake of the everlasting blessedness which will be the portion of the children of God. And this we are bound to do, if we would enjoy the blessings which Christianity proposes to us.
72 Matthew xix. 14.
73 Psalm lvi. 12.
74 Ephesians vi. 4.
These things, however, we are unable to do of ourselves; we cannot repent, we cannot believe of ourselves. But the word of God informs us that Christ Jesus is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins. 76 And therefore we are to beseech Him of His grace to bestow these His gifts upon us; since He has promised to give His Holy Spirit, by whom these blessings are vouchsafed, to them that ask Him.77 When the Spirit of God comes He convinces of sin, that the convinced sinner, seeing His lost state by nature, may thankfully embrace that Saviour who is set before us in the gospel ; and may by faith partake of the salvation which He came into the world to procure for, and to bestow upon, all them who believe in His name. Let it be our anxious concern then that we may obtain from His grace repentance whereby we may forsake sin, and faith whereby we may stedfastly believe the promises of God made to us in the Sacrament of Baptism ; that so it may be manifest that we have not only partaken of the outward and visible sign, but have also received the inward and spiritual grace, a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteous
75 Mark i, 15.
76 Acts v. 31.
77 Like xi. 13.
The parable proceeds, And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market place, and said unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right, I will give you. And they went their way. The third hour may represent to us the time of youth, when the minds of those who have been brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, are frequently impressed with the importance of eternal things. At this period our Church wisely orders that the rite of Confirmation should be administered to those who have been baptised in their infancy; or, that they should ratify and confirm in their own persons the promises and vows which were made in their names at their Baptism; publicly acknowledging before God, His church, and His ministers, that they are bound to believe and to do what was then promised for them. This should be a peculiarly solemn season of selfdedication to God by young persons.
Too many, it is to be feared, present themselves before God on these occasions without duly considering the engagements which they then make
to become in heart and life the servants of God. But when the blessing of God is really sought on these occasions, with prayer that goeth not out of feigned lips 78 the surrender that is then made, is a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing79 in His sight. He graciously declares, I love them that love Me, and those that seek Me early shall find Me.80
It is said of the householder in the parable, Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. These hours may represent the time of manhood, the meridian and decline of life. The gospel of Christ is suitable for persons of all ages. When it was first preached, it found entrance by the blessing of God into the hearts of those who were in every period of life. And still some are impressed with the importance of the things of another world at one age, and some at another. Some begin to make a religious profession earlier, and some later. None are excluded, because they have not at an earlier period of life repented and believed the gospel. How gracious is the Saviour of mankind to send the message of mercy and salvation to the sinful children of men during every stage of their earthly course; and not to reject any who turn to Him with all their heart and with all their soul, notwithstanding they may
78 Psalm xvii. I. 79 Philippians iv. 18.
80 Proverbs viii. 17.