Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

called, is ended, and these were the virtues which he punctilionsly performed. Did he say, Lord, I love my neighbor as myself. I do unto others as I would have then do unto me--I am kind to the distressed and unfortunate? No, the virtues of benevolence were not very precious in his sight. Here was the difference between the religion of the Pharisees and the religion of Christ. Their religion was a mere round of rites and ceremoniesmankind were not happier for it, it did not relieve the distressed; while the religion of Christ, was designed to promote “peace on earth, and good will towards men.". The Pharisee unquestionably mentioned what he thought were his best acts; and what were they? Fasting twice in the week, and paying tythes. In these and other frivolous things, the Pharisees were very punctilious; but they fasted to be seen of men, Matt. vi. 16, and paid tytheu that they might omit the weightier matters of the law, "justice, mercy and faith,” Matt. xxiii. 23. Their days of fasting were the second and fifth of every week; corresponding to our Mondays and Thursdays.

Let us turn how to the publican. He did not boast, nor think himself better than other men. He "would not lift up his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner."

What a contrast! a contrast which heightens the vanity and ostentation of the Pharisee. In the publican we see a pattern of true humility. Respectful to the feelings of the Pharisee, who he knew would not permit his approach, he stood afar off. His is a real prayer.

God be merciful to me a sinner." As though he had said, God, I stand in need of thy mercy. I pray for a sinner, that mercy may be granted him. I am that sinner, o

God, be merciful to me. I pray for the forgiveness of my own offences.

These were the characters of the Pharisee and publican; and now it is an important question, which was justified in the sight of God. Men generally would have supposed the Pharisee to possess the most religion, who declared so solemnly before God that he was not like other men, that he did not commit extortion, nor injustice, but fasted twice in the week, and parted freely of his substance for the support of religion. But Jesus, who knew men's hearts, said of the publican, “this man went down to his house justified rather than the other."

It is evident that Jesus, in this parable, intended to present what men generally regarded as purest holiness on the one hand, and extreme wickedness on the other. The Pharisees were regarded as the most holy people on earth, and the publicans as the most wicked. The object of the parable before us was to show that the religion of the Pharisees was a mere observance of rites and cerenionies, which indeed obtained for then the praise of men, but not the praise of God, for they were destitute of the spirit of pure religion ; while the publican, whom every body despised, sensible of his sins, and crying for mercy, was justified rather than the ostentatious, self-conceited Pharisee. The moral deduced from the parable is this : " for every one that exalteth himself shall be abused; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Those who are proud, who in their own estimation are above others, who assume a rank in society to which their virtues do not entitle them, must be abased; “pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” But they who are truly humble, who are sensible of their sins, who feel their utter dependance upon God, and cry unto him for mercy, shall be exalted. Pure and undefiled religion is benevolence and humility of heart, and uprightness of conduct. Those who possess this, even though they neglect what the world miscalls religion, will be justified in the sight of God. In the parable, the distinction is clearly made between spurious and true worship; and the disposition ascribed to the publican is worthy of being imbibed by all mankind.

Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard.

MATT. XX. 115.

For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 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. Ayain he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 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. 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. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And wh-n 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 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?

This parable was designed unquestionably to illustrate what is said at the close of chap. xix. viz.

6. Many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” Dr. Campbell, remarks that the particle gar with which the parable coinmences, is shows manifestly that what follows was spoken in illustration of the sentence with which the preceding chapter concludes, and which, therefore, ought not to have been disjoined from this parable.” The whole connexion belonging to the parable, extends from chap. xix, 27 to xx. 16, which should have been made a chapter by itself.

The kingdom of heaven is here put for the laws and institutions of that kingdom. The dealings of God with men in that kingdom, are like the conduct of a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard, He agreed with several for a penny a day, and sent them into his vineyard. This would be thought a very sinall compensation for a day's labor. It should be remembered that the piece of money here referred to was Roman coin, about the value of ten cents. This was the ordinary price of a day's labor at that time. See Tobit ¥. 14. Adam Clarke remarks, that “in 1531 the price of labor was regulated in England by Parliament; and it is reinarkable, that corn weeders and hay makers, without meat, drink, or other courtesy demanded, were to have one penny per day. In 1314 the pay of a chaplain to the Scotch Bishops was three half pence per day. See Fleetwood's Chronicon Precios, p. 123, 129."2 This would have been miserable wages, had not every thing been cheap in proportion. The householder went out again about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market place, and he sent them into his vineyard, with the assurance that whatever was right he

* Note on the place. 1,52 Note on Matt. xx. 2.1,

« AnteriorContinuar »