« السابقةمتابعة »
son of the master of the vineyard, and the chief priests and elders of the Jews, his younger son; whether the repentance and righteousness preached by John the Baptist, or the Gospel of Christ, be here meant by the kingdom of God; and upon what authority, harlots are mentioned as particularly flocking to John's baptism ; does not appear from the parable itself, at least, it is not in my power to discover.
The following parable, verse 33, with some trifling alterations in the expression, is taken entirely from Luke, and is very perspicuous and intelligible ; but, towards the close of it, Luke represents our Saviour, as asking, “ what, therefore, shall the Lord of the vine
yard do unto them?” and supplying the answer himself in these words, “He shall come 66 and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others;" whereas, this writer tells us, the chief Priests and Pharisees answered his question, in words nearly to the same purpose, in direct contradiction to Luke, who assures us, they were so far from denouncing such a judgment against themselves, that, when they heard our Saviour utter it, they exclaimed, God forbid !
The twenty-second chapter begins with another remarkable parable, the idea of which is evidently borrowed from one of Luke's : but the time, place, language, circumstances, and general scope of the whole, are so altered, that it may, with reason, pass for the author's own. In Luke, c. 14, the parable is merely prophetic of the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles, in consequence of the chief persons of the Jewish nation refusing to receive it, from an interested attachment to, what they thought, their temporal welfare, an event which took place before the déstruction of Jerusalem; and, therefore, the poor and lower classes of the Jews, whereof our Lord's first disciples mostly consisted, are represented by the indigent and distressed frequenters of the streets and lanes of the Jewish city, and the Gentiles, by those who were found about the highways and hedges: but this author, who, I have no doubt, wrote long after the destruction of Jerusalem, makes the invitation of the Gentiles, to accept the Gospel Covenant, posterior to that calamity. The parable, therefore, in the first seven verses, refers only to the preaching the New - Covenant to the Jews; describes their cruel persecution of the Apostles and the first preachers of the Gospel, and the vengeance inflicted on them by heaven, in the utter ruin of their city and nation; after which, the messengers of the Gospel are ordered to go and preach it to the Gentiles. The manner, however, in which that is done in the parable, shews that the writer did not live in the age of Matthew, but at a time, when Christianity was, with great numbers, a mere external profession, and the state of the Church so corrupt, that the majority of its members were bad men ; for he tells us, the king's servants furnished the wedding with guests, by collecting together “as many as they found, “both bad and good.” This is a pretty accurate description of the state of professed Christianity, as it is at present, and as I am well convinced it was in the age of this writer, and has been ever since; but nothing can be more unlike the state of the true Church of Christ, as it was founded by Matthew and the other Apostles; and as, where it subsists at all, it must for ever continue to be: for the Apostles and the first preachers of the Gospel were so far from admitting bad men into the Christian society, that Paul strictly enjoins the Gentile converts, 1 Cor. c. v. v. 11, not to suffer any man, who was guilty of any of the vices prohibited in the Gospel, to remain a member of their community, nor to associate, nor even so much as to eat, with him. In the conclusion of the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, the author informs us, as the reason of the master's partiality, that though, under the Gospel Covenant, “many are called, yet few “are chosen ;” and he repeats the same words at the end of this parable also : for, since he considered all the professed christians of his own time to be called, and was sensible that but few of them, in comparison of the whole number, were really virtuous, good men; and ignorantly supposed, that such would be the state of the Christian religion to the end of the world ; it was natural for him to conclude, that those, whom God would finally approve at the day of judgment, would be very few indeed. But had he been an Apostle of Jesus Christ, or had he understood the Gospel meaning of the kingdom of God, or the sense of the old prophecies, respecting the state of the world under the New Covenant of the Messiah, he would have known, that no immoral, bad man could be a member of the true Church of Christ,
whatever his profession might be; and that, therefore, the whole congregation of faithful Christians are denominated the chosen or elect of God; and, instead of their being found to be few at the day of general judgment and retribution, he would have known also, that the very end and design of the religion of Jesus Christ, is to bless all the families of the earth, with the happy effects of its moral influence in the present life; and that, when the marriage of the king's son really takes
place, righteousness will overspread the earth, as completely as the waters cover the
sea. With respect to the guest, who had not on a wedding garment, whatever the author meant by that figurative expression, though the man, it seems, had nothing to say for himself, one cannot help pitying him: because, from the circumstances of the parable, he appears to have been, in a manner, pressed to attend at the marriage feast; and, if any particular robe was necessary, since the king's servants must see that he had none, they ought either to have supplied him with one, or not to have invited him at all: and it seems rather hard, that, in consequence of their inattention or neglect, the unhappy wretch should be bound hand and