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shown no mercy.” Not that our forgiveness of an offender can merit or procure God's pardon : we cannot come before Him as if we expected or claimed forgiveness, because we have forgiven our enemies. In the parable, the Lord began by showing compassion on his debtor, and loosed him, and forgave him the whole. And then, when He had forgiven him, He expected to see a forgiving spirit in return. He expected that a sense of mercy received should produce in Him a merciful disposition. Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee ?
The exercise of this duty is in many cases hard to flesh and blood. The Spirit which practises it can only be produced by the gospel of Christ Jesus, which has this excellence among other proofs of its heavenly origin, that it creates the quality which it prescribes. Its doctrines establish its precepts. The belief of what the Scriptures affirm, that we are all sinners against God, to whom pardon is freely offered through the mercy of Christ, must inspire us, if it be sincere, with a corresponding feeling of mercy towards others. The Christian is “kind, tender hearted, and forgiving, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven him.”
This then is the secret for increasing such a spirit in our hearts : to meditate on our own need of mercy. If we remember the ten thousand talents which we owe, we shall forget the hun
* Eph. iv. 32.
dred pence which may be due to us. One who truly feels the weight of his own sins, finds it impossible to think severely or feel resentfully towards his neighbour. He must pardon others, when there is so much in himself to be pardoned. And if he has tasted in his own bosom the peace and comfort of his Redeemer's love, he must forgive, when he has been so much forgiven.
PARABLE OF THE LABOURERS IN THE VINEYARD.
MATT. xx. 1—16.
1. “ For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is
an housholder, which went out early in the morning to
hire labourers into his vineyard. 2. “ And when he had agreed with the labourers for a
penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.” The way of God's dealings with man under the gospel dispensation, is here compared to the conduct of a householder who employs labourers
. in his vineyard. The householder has a vine
. yard to be cultivated : he hires labourers ; he assigns them a recompence.
God too has a work for his reasonable creatures ; that they
; live righteously, soberly, and godly in this present world, in expectation of His glorious king
'For the customary price of a day's labour in that country.
dom hereafter. Early in the morning, from their
very infancy, are Christians summoned to this service : summoned to renounce the works of the devil, and to keep God's holy will and commandments, and to walk in them all their life. So is it engaged in behalf of every child in baptism; and truly happy would it be, if all, as they come to age, acknowledged the obligations by which they are bound, and kept that service which is perfect freedom."
Great indeed is the honour of the service, and great “ the recompence of reward.” Why has our heavenly King so often reason to expostulate, “ If I be a Father, where is mine honour? And, If I be a master, where is my fear ? ”3 3. “ And he went out about the third hour, and saw others
standing idle in the market place, 4. 6 And said unto them;
also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went
5. " Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise."
Reckoning the morning, as the Jewish custom was, from the sixth hour of our day, the third hour answers to the period of youth: the sixth to that of manhood: the ninth to that of advancing age.
A quarter, or a half, or even three fourths of the longest life are now past. Is it to be still said, “ The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved ?” Such is the goodness of God, that He does not abandon
See Titus ii. 11.-14. 3 Mal. i. 6. * Jer. viii. 20.
the rebellious people who have long preferred their own will to His. He does not let them alone, to reap the fruits which they have sown. The gospel is continually sounding in their ears the offer of reconciliation and acceptance ; is inviting them to seek the pardon of sin through the one sacrifice for sin, and so to go into the vineyard and work there their appointed time. Such were those whom John the Baptist brought to repentance: such were those who first listened to the message of the Apostles : and such are many in every age, who, having in their youth, been deaf to the call of duty, hearken to it in their riper years. What reason have they to bless God who has subdued their sinful and reluctant hearts, and made them willing to serve Him! How thankfully does St. Paul speak of this, and describe his own case as an encourage. ment to others ! 6. For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting." 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? 7. “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." Observe what is implied in the question, Why stand ye here all the day idle? Yet why should
1 Tim. i. 16.
they not, if there was no certain and essential concern, in which it was their duty to be engaged? And what that concern is, we need not go far to inquire. It is the working out our salvation; it is the securing our eternal state ; it
; is the preparing ourselves for eternity, by living to Him who died for us ; died for us, that He might bring us to God, and make us a peculiar people, zealous in the Lord's service, and doing all to His glory. Whosoever is not thus employed, is, in the judgment of his Maker, idle. Busy enough he may be, and probably is; for the yoke of Satan is not light, nor the burden of Mammon easy: but God will esteem him idle, and appoint him the portion of the slothful and unprofitable.
It is true concerning the Gentiles, whose case was perhaps uppermost in our Lord's view, when He uttered this parable, that they might with some justice return the answer, Because no man hath hired us. Their business in the world, though it might have been better known and practised than they did know or practise it, had not been clearly revealed. But none of us could plead a like excuse. We have been engaged, from our very birth, to the service of God through Christ Jesus. Those of us who have been standing idle, have not stood idle for want of business to perform. A business has been enjoined us which may well employ our first thoughts and our best endeavours ; a business honourable, if to serve the King of heaven is