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Certain of them are represented as having endured toils and labours very disproportioned to the services of some others, and, as naturally supposing, according to their human-we may say, worldly-conceptions, that they were entitled to a proportional reward above the others. These prophetic parables, we shall remark, are often intended to meet the present feelings and conceptions of the minds to be instructed. They do not discover what will be their real feelings when, as glorified spirits, they receive the reward of the kingdom; but what are their feelings and conceptions in the present misinformed state of their minds, and which need to be exposed and censured.
This parable is evidently meant to reply to Peter's somewhat too boastful claim, for himself and his fellowapostles, of the sacrifice of their all at their Master's call. Our Lord's reply had said, that they should have an exceeding great reward. But the parable seems to say, the other labourers will receive an equal reward, although some of them will not have made such sacrifices, nor have endured such toils, as you my first followers: and in your present views, if you could see the future method of rewarding the labourers in my vineyard, your carnal and envious hearts would rise against your employer; seeing others, who have done so little, whose labours in the ministry, and sufferings for Christ's cause, seem, in the eye of men, to have been so small, rewarded " even as you." This is clearly the spirit of the parable. Peter will have no such "evil eye" on his generous Master's proceedings when, as a glorified spirit, he is called to receive the particular reward for his ministerial labours, at the time that the chief Shepherd shall take account of his servants; but this carnal thought was then in Peter's
mind, and needed to be reproved; and it is written for our admonition.
The parable, therefore, intimates a particular remuneration of the services of Christ's ministers. We may suppose, from the thrones mentioned above, that this remuneration is a superior rule or charge in the future kingdom of the Messiah. The parable certainly seems to say their remuneration shall be alike. The master engages to give a penny to his first labourers, who had borne the burden and heat of the day, and he fulfils his engagement: but he is also pleased to give to all the rest, of his bounty, without respect to their different proportion of labour, even to those who had wrought but one hour," the very same súm that he had engaged to give to the first. Does not this say, that Peter and his fellows, whose sacrifices in Christ's cause are pleaded before him, shall sit on thrones, for this he has promised them; but so shall also the other labourers, even those that have done but little, and suffered but little?
Such strikes me as being the meaning of the parable; and the expression, "but the first shall be last and the last first," I understand to be proverbial; - there shall be an equality, the first as the last, and the last as the first.
"Many called and few chosen," must, I fear, be applied to the awful circumstance, that, of the great number of persons, in the different ages of the church, who are outwardly called to discharge the sacred functions of the ministry, but few will be acknowledged as the real labourers of Christ in the work of the Gospel.
But, though something particular in the glorifying of the labourers is specified — perhaps relating to their particular employments in governing the nations upon
earth,- I would keep steadily in view, that all the members of Christ are heirs of the kingdom, are joint heirs with Christ; all shall wear a crown; all shall sit with the Redeemer upon his throne, and participate in his rule and kingdom: so that the distinction between those symbolized by the labourers and those symbolized by the vineyard, is not in any essential possession of glory, or of regal dignity, or in any different measure of participation in the Redeemer's likeness: "He is the first-born among many brethren;" all" are predestinated to be conformed to the image of the only begotten Son of God." But official employments, perhaps, may create à difference at least during the reign upon earth-even among equal brethren; and, it may be, the crowned elders, and the cherubim around the throne of the Lamb, are meant to symbolize these distinctions. Could we fully understand the mysteries of the kingdom, we, no doubt, could reconcile the positive declaration of this parable, that all the labourers in the vineyard have the same reward, and yet he who had gained ten talents be seen to reign, as it were, over ten cities, when another had but five committed to his charge. The differences are somehow lost in the greatness of the universal glory; and every part of God's word will find its true explanation in the event.
This parable of the ten pounds is what comes next to be considered.
11. "He added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear."
They expected such a kingdom, as to its eternal grandeur and universal rule, as the Scriptures had predicted; and they expected, according to prophecy, that Jerusalem would be the seat of this kingdom. This we discover very plainly from the cry of the multitude when Jesus actually entered the city:" And those that went before, and they that followed after, cried, saying, Hosannah! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! Blessed be the approaching kingdom of our father David!"*
To obviate this expectation of the immediate appearance of the predicted kingdom, and to prepare the minds of his followers for the state of things which was actually to follow in the intermediate space, our Lord speaks this parable:
"He said, therefore, a certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return."
Their situation, with respect to the kingdom of Messiah, which they expected, might be compared to the circumstance of one of their great men, who, by descent or otherwise, was become heir to the throne of his country, but who, in order to his receiving the regal authority, must, in the present circumstances of the world, leave his country, the seat of his future reign, and journey to a far distant country, even to imperial Rome, who alone could dispose of crowns. So the child born to the house of David, though mature in years to receive the kingdom, would not now take possession, but depart from earth to heaven, and having received of his Father the investiture of the promised kingdom, would return again at the
Mark, xi. 9.-Vide GRIESBACH.
season appointed. In the meantime, his immediate servants must not think of reigning, but of serving in his absence:
13. "And he called his ten servants, and delivered to them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us."
A plain description of the state of things upon earth, and among that nation in particular, during the interval between the two advents. His servants, instead of participating in the honours of a kingdom, must live and serve in a world hostile to their Master and to them:
"And it came to pass, that when he returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound has gained ten pounds: and he said to him, Well, thou good servant, because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds; and he said likewise to him, Be thou also ruler over five cities."
This certainly seems to say, that in proportion to the faithful application of their gifts and talents, in the church below, the servants of Christ will be put in trust with offices and authority in the future kingdom. The parable, so interpreted, appears, indeed, to hold a different language from the parable of the labourers, where each receives a penny, notwithstanding their very disproportionate labours!
That parable was spoken to check in the minds of the first disciples, an undue appreciation of the personal and