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husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
Jesus said unto them, Did you never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner ; this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes ?
Therefore I say unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. .
For whosoever shall fall upon this stone, shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables they perceived that he spake of them.
And when they had heard it, they said, God forbid.
But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. It appears that the Jewish Sanhedrim, finding no one would venture to lay hold on Jesus, resolved to confront him in the Temple, not doubting but they should find some pretence for having him apprehended and brought before their tribunal : they therefore insisted upon his producing his authority for all the extraordinary things he had said and done in the Temple. Instead of returning an answer, our LORD proposed another question to them. Nothing could so effectually hare confounded his persecutors as the appeal which our Lord made to their own consciences; for it reduced them to the necessity either of acknowledging that he came from God, as John had declared, or of concealing their real senti. ments. The reply which the Jews made shewed that the Sanhedrim had not yet examined the proofs of John's
mission; from which our Lord fairly inferred, that this was necessary to be done before they questioned his authority; because John's preaching related entirely to the Messiah, and he appeared as a witness that Jesus was the MESSIAH. Finding that the priests and rulers could not answer his questions, our LORD proposed a parable to them, which as we find, from his explanation of it, was intended to teach them, that notwithstanding their great profession of righteousness, they were, on account of their hypocrisy, regarded of God as disobedient children; and that even the greatest sinners of the age were more open to conviction than they were ; and should, on repentance, be admitted as members of the kingdom; while they, for obduracy, should be excluded.
It was as our ORD remarked, very evident that John's doctrine was from heaven, because it related entirely to spiritual things, and his life and conversation were consistent with it: therefore they were inexcusable who did not pay attention to what he taught.
When our LORD had thus reproved the chief priests and elders, he delivered another parable, which related to the whole Jewish nation.
God is here represented under the character ofa householder, or one who has an estate of his own. The vine. yard is his church, or religion, which he planted in the Jewish nation. By the hedge is meant, the covenant of circumcision, and the ceremonial law, which served to divide the Jews from other nations. The wine.press and tower signify the altar and temple. God may be said to have let his vineyard or church to the Jews, or rather to have hired them into it, when they were chosen to be his people. The fruit which God required was an observance of his laws. The servants sent to reprove the Jews for a violation of them were the prophets ; many of
whom were used with great cruelty, as we read in the Old Testament. The Son was the MESSIAH.
The Jews did not comprehend this parable; and were inadvertently led to pass sentence upon themselves, which our LORD told them should be executed upon them; for they should be cast out, and those heathen, nations which they had hitherto despised should be planted in their stead; and he also prophesied, that God would derive more glory from the Gospel dispensation than from the Jewish. When the Jews heard this denun-, ciation, and understood that the parable was addressed to them, they said, God forbid this should be the case ; neither could they give credit to his assertion. Our LORD, therefore, with the greatest solemnity, appropriated to himself and his gospel a passage in one of the Psalms; thus intimating the high dignity to which he should be advanced, notwithstanding his present humiliation, and warned them not to reject his doctrine; assuring them, that whoever through weakness, and fear of persecution, should be discouraged, or fall into unbelief, would be no longer a member of his kingdom, but would be utterly ruined; and whoever should obstinately resist the gospel would provoke divine vengeance to inflict judgments on him, and consign him to utter destruction.
Our Lord, in comparing himself and his gospel to a stone, seems to allude to Nebuchadnezzar's dream*, in which the kingdom of the God of heaven is compared to a stone cut out of a mountain without hands. When the chief Priests and Scribes found that CHRIST set them all at defiance, they were more enraged than ever; but as the people, though not convinced that Jesus was the MESSIAH,regarded him as a prophet, his persecutors could. not, without the hazard of their own lives, seize him by
* See Sect. xxvii. Vol. V.
open violence; they therefore retired to consult in private by what means they might best effect their malicious purpose.
If the Scribes and Pharisees had fairly examined the evidence of our SAVIOUŘ's authority, they could not have disputed it; for the ancient prophets particularly described him: John the Baptist, who was allowed by the Jews in general to have spoken by divine inspiration, declared him to be the Son of God: and the miracles which our Lord wrought, and the doctrine he preached, were certain demonstrations that he came out from God.
Every one who reads the parable of the housholder must perceive the justice of God in rejecting the Jewish nation, and should be cautious not to expose himself to the same condemnation. It will be to no purpose that we are admitted into the vineyard of Gov, if we forget that we have a part of it to cultivate. God expects that we should bring forth the fruits of good works, and treat his Son with reverence. If we neglect the former, our pretensions to piety will be of no avail; if we despise our SAVIOUR, we are partakers of the guilt of those who put him to death.
There is a great resemblance between this discourse of our Lord's, and a part of Isaiah's prophecy *
THE PARABLE OF THE MARRIAGE
OF THE KING'S
From Matthew, Chap. xxii.--Mark, xii.
And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes, and the chief of the people, sought to destroy him.
* See Annotations and Reflections, Sect, xc. Vol. V. VOL, VI. D
And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.
And Jesus answered and spake unto them again boy parables, and said,
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which were bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.
But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:
And the remnant took his servants, and intreated them spitefully, and slew them.
But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth : and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city.
Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.
Go ye therefore into the high-ways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.
So those servants went out into the high-ways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he said unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither; not having a wedding.garment? And he was speechless.
Then said the king to his servants, Bind bim hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.