« הקודםהמשך »
tythes and making proselytes; but the commands of God they did not obey. By their professions they said they would obey, but their conduct evinced that they would not. They said, “if they had lived in the days of their fathers, they would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets ;"Matt. xxiii. 30, but Jesus told them that they proved the uselves the sons of those who killed the prophets : They had persecuted John ; they had persecuted Christ'; and they had proved abundantly, that their professions were not to be depended on ; for, as the Saviour remarked, Matt. xxiii. 3, " they say and do not.”
The conduct of the publicans and harlots was directly contrary to that of the priests and elders. They professed nothing, and made no pretensions to religion. They were like the son, who said he would not go and labor in the vineyard of his father. He did not give any encouragement that the least service might be expected of him ; neither did they put forth any indications that they would be likely to embrace the religion of Jesus Christ. They however did give attention to the instructions of Jesus, and turned to God; and hence Jesus said to the priests and elders, “the publicans and harlots believed him;" i. e. they regarded what John had said concerning the Messiah. Here then the case is fairly before the reader. The priests and elders were professedly a religious people, and claimed to be regardful of the commands of God; but notwithstanding this they opposed the religion which God sent Jesus into the world to establish. On the other hand, the publicans and harlots laid no claim to be considered religious, and from their characters, the world in general would have concluded them the last who should be con
verted to the religion of Christ; but like the son who said he would not, but afterwards repented and went, they, against all their foriner indieations, were among the first to enter the kingdom of the gospel. “The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." Ver. 31.
There can be no question that what is here stated was a fact. This class of people became exceedingly fond of the society of Jesus, and listened to his instructions with great delight. Matthew himself had been a publican. They eat and drank with Christ, and he was contemptuously styled by the Pharisees, the friend of publicans and sinners. Despised as they were by the leading religious people of the age, accustomed to reproach and contumely, they rejoiced to find their cause espoused by the great teacher sent from God. His doctrine met, and satisfied their desires, and they received it with joy. “The comnion people heard him gladly,” Mark xii. 37. For the proud, the censorious, the self-righteous—those who thought they had gained heaven by their own exertions, and who anticipated with fondness the joyful day when they should see those they despised suffering the fierce displeasure of God-for such the benevolent, impartial religion of Jesus had no charıns. Such people always opposed Christ when he was on earth; and in every age since, those of a kindred disposition have hated his doctrine. These are the reasons why the publicans and harlots entered the kingdom of God before the professedly religious Scribes and Pharisees. We learn from this what class of people it is, among whom, it may be expected, at the present day, the doctrine of the impartial Saviour shall flourish in its purity.
Parable of the Unfaithful Husbandmen.
MATT. XXI. 33-41. ---MARK XII. 1-9.---LUKE XX. 9-16.
“There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a wine-press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servanti, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto' them, his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves This is the heir ; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his heritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 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 sea
-Matt. xxi. 33–41. The design of this parable was borrowed in part from the prophecy of Isaiah, although it is conrsiderably extended hy our Lord. Isaiah ý: 1, 2. It was spoken to the chief priests and elders, ver. 23, as was the parable which we last noticed. This is evident from ver. 33, “Hear another parable;" a sure proof that both were delivered to the same · persons. Let us attend first to the illustration of the terms of the parable, and second to its true application.
6. There was a certain householder which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and dig
ged a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it! out to husbandmen, and went into a far cuntry.” The vineyards of the east were sometimes hedged about with thorns, and sometimes enclosed by walls. Psalms lxxx. 12. The wine press is repre: : sented to have been dug in the vineyard. This, says Kenrick, “is agreeable to the custom of the east, where winc presses are not moveable, as with Europeans, but formed by digging hollow places in : the ground, and surrounding them with mason work." The tower was placed so as to overlook the whole vineyarıl, and it was designed not for purposes of security, but of watching, to guard the vineyard from thieves, when the fruit was ripe.2 "And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent', his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 2. The rent of the vineyard was paid from the products of it. This was a very general custom, as we have illustrated under the parable of the “Unjust Steward.?'
The means of divine instruction which God from time to time had afforded the Jews, are, in the parable, represented by a vineyard hedged round about, and put in the most perfect order,
The servants whom the householder-sent to the husbandmen to receive the fruits of the vineyard, represent those whom God had sent, at different times, to the house of Israel, to induce them to
1 Exposition on the passage." ? Mr. Buckingham, an eastern traveller of considerable note, remarks, that in the route between Jerusalem, and the convent St. Elias, he wis particularly struck, with the appearance of several small and detached square towers, in the midst of the vineyards." These, his guide informed him, were used as
as watch towers, whence watchmen to this day look out, in order to guard the produce of the lands from depredations.'
bring forth fruit worthy of the distinguished advantages which they had enjoyed.
These servänts were treated with contumely and cruelty. Some were beaten, some were stoned, and some were slain. Other servants were sent, and they were treated in the same manner. Last of all the householder sent his son, and he was slain. The application of this can hardly be mistouk. All the messengers whom God had sent to the house of Israel met with such a reception from the Jewish nation, more particularly from their priests and elders, and ecclesiastical leaders. They shed the blood of the prophets, Matt. xxiii. 30 ; the apostles were persecuted in every variety of form ; and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Jewish nation seized and slew.
" When the lord of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto these husbandmen?” inquired JeSUS. The answer is," he will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandınen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons."'1 This was the fate of
1 Matthew represents this answer to have been made, by the chief priests and elders : bu: Mark (xii. 9) and Luke (xx. 16) represen! Christ hiinself as answering the question. Bp. Pearce notices the discrepancy without attempting to account for it. The usual opinion is that the answer was given by Christ, and not the priests and elders ; and that the words in Matt. they say unto him, are an interpolation. This suspicion is confirmed by one or two ancient MSS. not having the words. See A. Clarke on Matt. xxi. 41. The suspicion is confirined also by Lake's account, since there the Pharisees are represented as saying “ God forbid," when they heard that the lord of the vineyard would destroy the husbandmen. xx. 15. Ken
According to the evangelists Mark and Luke, Jesus hinselř answered the question which he had proposed ; and Luke adds, " when they,” i. e. the priests, " heard it, they said, God forbid." This corresponds perfectly well to the question which Christ puts to them in-43d verse, which seems to imply that they had denied the propriety of the conclusion which he had made. It is high