Matthew 21:28
"But what do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.'
Sermons
A Sermon to Open Neglecters and Nominal Followers of ReligionCharles Haddon Spurgeon Matthew 21:28
The Authority of JesusJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 21:23-32
A Bad Promise Well Broken; a Good Promise SacrificedDr. Talmage.Matthew 21:28-32
A Hasty Refusal and a Wise RetractationE. TempleMatthew 21:28-32
A Mist of Well- WishingH. Ward Beecher.Matthew 21:28-32
A Resurrection of Dead ResolutionsH. W. Beecher.Matthew 21:28-32
Address to Young MenDean Vaughan.Matthew 21:28-32
Aids to Weak ImpulsesH. W. Beecher.Matthew 21:28-32
Basilar and Coronal CorruptionH. Ward Beecher.Matthew 21:28-32
Christian DiligenceMatthew 21:28-32
Christian Sonship and ServiceA. H. Stoate.Matthew 21:28-32
Culture the Faint Impulse to a Nobler LifeH. W. Beecher.Matthew 21:28-32
Determined Sinners have RepentedDr. Talmage.Matthew 21:28-32
Doing God's WillMatthew Pool.Matthew 21:28-32
Doing is ObedienceMarcus Dods.Matthew 21:28-32
General Drift of the ParableMarcus Dods. D.D.Matthew 21:28-32
Go, Work To-DayMatthew 21:28-32
God's Vineyard EverywhereW. Rudder, D. D.Matthew 21:28-32
He Repented: Change of Mind for the Better UnusualJohn Trapp.Matthew 21:28-32
Immediate Obedience WiseB. Keach.Matthew 21:28-32
Impulsive Goodness May Conceal CraftH. W. Beecher.Matthew 21:28-32
Lost OpportunitiesMatthew 21:28-32
Man Organized with a Principle of InstantaneityH. W. Beecher.Matthew 21:28-32
Obedience Forced and NaturalMarcus Dods.Matthew 21:28-32
Occasional GoodnessE. Paxton Hood.Matthew 21:28-32
Opportunities NeglectedMatthew 21:28-32
Our Most Real DangerH. Ward Beecher.Matthew 21:28-32
Our WorkT. Raffles, D. D.Matthew 21:28-32
Profession and PracticeAnon.Matthew 21:28-32
Promptness in WorkChristian TreasuryMatthew 21:28-32
Ready to Promise, But Slow to PerformJohn Trapp.Matthew 21:28-32
Religious ProfessionMarcus Doris, D. D.Matthew 21:28-32
Say Well and Do WellJ. R. Bailey.Matthew 21:28-32
Self-Conceit in MoralsH. Ward Beecher.Matthew 21:28-32
Small Value of PromisesMatthew 21:28-32
Swift Tongue; Slow FootE. Paxton Hood.Matthew 21:28-32
The Benefit of Momentary IlluminationH. W. Beecher.Matthew 21:28-32
The Moral Nature Injured by the Stimulation of UnfulfilledH. W. Beecher.Matthew 21:28-32
The Necessity of WorkW. Rudder, D. D.Matthew 21:28-32
The Parable of the Two SonsW. Jay., R. Winter, D. D.Matthew 21:28-32
The Parable of the Two SonsB. Keach.Matthew 21:28-32
The Two SonsW. M. Taylor, D. D.Matthew 21:28-32
The Two SonsJ. C. Gray.Matthew 21:28-32
The Two SonsJ. Vaughan, M. A.Matthew 21:28-32
The Two SonsExpository OutlinesMatthew 21:28-32
The Two SonsW.F. Adeney Matthew 21:28-32
The Two Sons; a ContrastThe HiveMatthew 21:28-32
To-DayW. Rudder, D. D.Matthew 21:28-32
Truth to Rule the Life Must Awaken Personal InterestE. Temple.Matthew 21:28-32
Two SonsR. Tuck.Matthew 21:28-32
Well-Wishing not Well-DoingH. Ward Beecher.Matthew 21:28-32
Wishing and WillingH. Ward Beecher.Matthew 21:28-32
Work for GodN. H. Parr, M. A.Matthew 21:28-32
Work for JesusC. H. Spurgeon.Matthew 21:28-32


In this parable our Lord illustrates the great principle which he more than once enunciated - that "many shall be last that are first; and first that are last." It has a special reference to the Pharisees and publicans of Christ's time. But there are publicans and Pharisees in our own day. Let us consider the parable in its bearing on ourselves and the present conduct of people.

I. THE SON WHO REFUSED AND REPENTED.

1. His hasty refusal. Doubtless he spoke in impatience. His temper was hot, and the call to work amazed him. Thus he began the day badly, as many people begin life badly. This is altogether deplorable, because no subsequent amendment can obliterate the fact that the beginning was spoilt.

2. His later repentance. We need not be the slaves of our own past. If we started wrong, we are not forced to continue in the path of evil. "It is never too late to mend." There is a pride of consistency which only comes of folly; and there is a noble inconsistency, a sublime inconsequence. The change in the son showed

(1) reflectiveness;

(2) humility;

(3) a willingness to own himself wrong;

(4) a desire to do better in future. These are all hopeful qualities.

3. His obedient action. He "went." That was everything. He may not have said another word; but he obeyed his father, though in silence. The one thing God looks for is obedience. The way to make amends for past negligence is not to promise better things for the future, but just to do them.

4. His improving conduct. We see this son in two stages, and the second is better than the first. He was evidently moving in the right direction. The most important question is not - To what have we attained hitherto? but - Which way are we moving? towards the light or from it?

5. His accepted obedience. This was the obedient son. His insolent words were forgiven when his subsequent conduct was penitent and obedient. God forgives the bad past in his penitent children. If they are now in the right path, he accepts them, although they were once far from it.

II. THE SON WHO CONSENTED AND DISOBEYED.

1. His ready assent. This was good in its way. But, being only verbal, or at best an intention not yet executed, it was of slight worth. God does not value religious professions as men prize them.

2. His courtesy. The second son was courteous to his father, addressing him as "sir," while his brother was rude and insolent. Now, it is our duty to be courteous to all men, and to be especially respectful to parents. Yet there is an hypocritical tone about good manners when they are not accompanied by good actions. God prefers rude obedience to polite disobedience.

3. His subsequent disobedience. We need not suppose that this second son had lied to his father, promising in smooth words what he never intended to perform. It is more probable that our Lord would have us think of him as honest in his profession. He really intended to obey. But he did not count the cost, or the good mood of acquiescence passed away, or some other more fascinating attraction led him to forget, or at least to neglect, his promise. There is an enormous step to be taken from good resolutions to good actions. Many a hindrance, many a temptation, comes between.

4. His just condemnation. Jesus appealed to the bystanders for their verdict. He wished to convince their conscience; he desires now to make us see and feel the truth of what he says. Could there be a question as to the verdict? Good promises count for nothing, or rather they count against the man who disobeys in conduct. God judges by conduct alone. - W.F.A.









A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to-day.
I. Christian sonship furnishes the best possible motives for Christian service.

II. It furnishes the best possible facilities for Christian service.

III. It makes Christian service imperative.

(A. H. Stoate.)

I. THOSE WHO OPENLY AND ABOVE BOARD REJECT THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, I like a positive man, and not one half and half. If he turns he will be positive in the other direction. Break the infatuation now. Repent and go.

II. Those who have been promising to become Christians, but all the time breaking their promises. When did you first promise? In sickness; in time of religious awakening.

(Dr. Talmage.)

Let it be recorded of you as was recorded of this young man in the text. He said: "I will not, but afterward he repented and went." Let me tell you, my brothers, that there have been men just as much set against religion as you are, and yet they surrendered to Christ. Do you know the story of John Bunyan, declaring that he would not go into the kingdom of God with an oath so horrid that even the abandoned people in the street tried to hush him up, and yet, in a little while dreaming a dream of heaven so sweet that the mere recital of it has enchanted all Christendom? Mr. Madden went to scoff at John Wesley while he preached, and the mere announcement of the text: "Prepare to meet thy God," converted him. Only a few months ago, in New York City, a man in indignation leaped with both feet upon the Bible, so did he hate it; yet in a few weeks after, he held that very Bible on his lap reading with tearful eyes the glorious promises. Some time ago, when we were worshipping in the Academy of Music, there came in three young men and three young ladies, evidently to make sport of the religious solemnities. In the early part of the services, they wrote notes, and laughed, and jeered. In the midst of the sermon, they bowed their heads. At the close of the services, all six rose up with tearful eyes, begging for the prayers of God's people. Oh, it is a mighty gospel, charged with the invitations and the condemnations of hell.

(Dr. Talmage.)

I. What God looks for in all of us — work.

1. Inward.

2. Outward.

II. The danger of a fallacious promise is greater than the danger of a hasty refusal. The son who said, "I go, sir," was the one who went not.

(Dean Vaughan.)

1. Our Lord does not intend to approve of the conduct of the first son in every respect, "I will not." True there was no hypocrisy about him; still he was disobedient with all his frankness. Some seem to imagine they will be forgiven for being sinners because they have never pretended to be saints. Is a man less the enemy of God because he is outspoken?

2. That our Lord does not approve of this son's conduct as a whole, as if it were the only proper way of meeting God's commune! It was well that he repented; but would have been better if he had not refused. It is best to save the reflection of a wasted past.

3. Our Lord does not design to condemn the making of a promise to God when that is done sincerely and performed earnestly.

I. The NATURE OF THE COMMAND WHICH GOD MAKES ON EVERY ONE TO WHOM THE GOSPEL CALLS. "Go work," etc.

1. The test of sincerity is in deeds. Words are valuable only as the expression of an inward spirit. Works are the manifestation of our love to God; not the means of procuring His love for us.

2. The peculiar nature of the work by which our love and life are to be manifested, "Go work in my vineyard." Cultivate all the fruits of the Spirit.

3. The promptitude of the obedience which is required — "to-day."

4. The tender nature of the appeal which God makes" son." Sonship is not incompatible with service. It only transmutes that service into joy.

II. THE DANGER OF MAKING AN INSINCERE CONFESSION OF GOD. To the chief priests and scribes our Lord said, "The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom before you." Their difficulties were subjective. The insincere state of soul makes it harder for priests to enter the kingdom of heaven than for harlots to repent of their sins. Besides self-complacency which is produced by insincerity, there is also a hardening influence connected with it. It dims the moral perceptions.

III. IN THIS PARABLE CHRIST MEANT TO ENCOURAGE SINNERS OF THE VILEST DESCRIPTION TO REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL. "The publicans and harlots enter the kingdom." "Let the wicked forsake his way," etc.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

I. The first characteristic of the swift tongue and slow foot is UNBELIEF. "I go, sir." Notions constitute their religion; there is no operative faith. No mere notion will ever affect a character.

II. Another characteristic of the swift tongue and slow foot is INDIFFERENCE. Truth must be interesting to us to be impressive.

III. Another impediment is in THE MANIFOLDNESS OF INTELLECTUAL OBJECTS — wit, learning, and imagination may impede the man who says, "I go, sir." His attention may be diverted from the main object; he is wise, but not unto salvation.

IV. Every man has one load to carry which retards him in his journey. One besetting sin.

V. Religion will only become the law of life when it too becomes a ruling passion. "Oh, how love I Thy law," etc. This will unite our connections to our actions.

(E. Paxton Hood.)

Some people seem to take out their religion once a week to give it an airing; or, it is like a ticket taken at a station, put into the pocket until the end of the journey. Visit Versailles, near Paris; all its magnificent fountains on the week day are dry and repulsive, grass-grown, weed-covered. Visit them on the Sabbath day (on which day I beg to say I have never seen them) and they are tossing all their glorious waters high in the air; every Neptune, triton, or nymph flashing forth in the splendour of the magnificent water shower — a fair sad picture of Sabbath religion. How different from the flowing river, always pouring its musical, fertile, and irrigating stream! Some faiths are technical, temporary, and occasional; they are like the waterworks, or the fountain on a fete day; then the bolts are turned, and the fountains cease to play. On certain great occasions, or in certain public forms, we are saying, "I go, sir," and the largest portion of other times is showing that we go not. We enter not, because of unbelief.

(E. Paxton Hood.)

I. THE IMPORTANT COMMAND ISSUED. The nature of the work to which the gospel calls. It is extensive, important, arduous, delightful, profitable. It may be divided into —

1. That which respects God.

2. That which regards ourselves.

3. That which concerns others.

II. THE HASTY REFUSAL GIVEN. "I will not."

1. The natural aversion of the heart.

2. The sinful love of ease.

3. Their occupation in other pursuits.

III. THE WISE RETRACTION MADE.

1. The change stated

(1)Its nature, "He repented."

(2)Its fruit, "And went."

(3)Its period. "Afterward."

2. The wisdom it evinces. It is wise to retract: refusal is

(1)Against your best interests.

(2)Betrays the greatest ingratitude to God.

(3)Issues in eternal ruin.Address —

1. Those who have complied with the command.

2. Those who are refusing.

3. Those who have complied only in profession.

(E. Temple)

All truth is true, but what if it be uninteresting? it becomes unimpressive and useless. Truth we apprehend to be necessary to our well-being; what a difference if I should strike a man on the shoulder, and say, "The three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles;" or if I should say to him, "Your house is on fire!" "Your child has just been run over and killed!" Truth is truth; but if men are not interested in it, it will not influence the life. What a difference there is between furniture in the lumber-room, or auctioneer's shop, and furniture in the household room! It is not enough that we apprehend truth to be good and valuable, if it do not influence the will and the affections.

(E. Temple.)

We have received, happily, a constitution which is adapted to the exigencies of human life. Men's minds do not act as printer's types do, every letter being selected, and every sentence being spelt out, and, when it is stamped, being stamped complete. Men, on the other hand, are so organized that they have in every part of their nature an element of what may be called instantaneity — the instantaneous effusion of feeling; the immediate perception of what is best or not best; a recognition of what is good or what is bad, what is right or what is wrong, what is safe or what is dangerous — instantaneousness of purpose. This element or principle of instantaneity of course varies. The dull and lethargic are slow; the intermediate are faster than this extreme, and less rapid than the other extreme; and the more finely organized, the higher, natures have it so that it flashes and plays without any perceptible pause between the impulses and the result. But all have it; without it life would be impossible. When men walk the very body has it. If a man should be obliged, as one that is just getting out from an attack of inflammatory rheumatism, or as one who is in the last stages of lumbago (and I speak feelingly), to pick his way as he walks, and think, "That brick is set a little sidewise," and to calculate and say, "How many inches must I lift my foot, to step over it?" how long do you think it would take him to walk from Brooklyn to New York? Going and coming back would consume almost the whole day, and the errands of life would be neglected. But a man in health is not obliged to do this. The foot itself does the calculating. The foot sees without your thinking or seeing. It rises and lowers of its own accord. You instinctively avoid the slough. You leap the little gulfs. You know the best way to accommodate your whole body to the ten thousand varying conditions of matter. The law of gravitation, of light, of heat, of magnetism, of liquidity or solidity, of things sharp or blunt — all these the body, without any care on your part, attends to. No man walks into a mortar-bed. No man stumbles over a sand-heap. Men jump, not on iron fences, but on featherbeds; and having jumped, they never get up and say, "Ah! what if we had not thought of that! How lucky it was!" Suppose a man were obliged, for all the operations of the body, to have a little monitor in his mind that should be on the look-out for him, and he should say, "If I lift my hand so and so, or do so and so with it, I shall have rheumatism in the shoulder, and therefore I won't do it?" What if such calculation as that had to be made before every movement of the body?

(H. W. Beecher.)

When, after long, long days of sailing during which no reckoning has been taken by the lost mariner, there opens, for half an hour, a rift in the cloud, he gets a view of the sun, and instantly he takes an observation; and then the cloud shuts again. Ah! but he has had an observation. The days are dark, and the storm continues; but he has had an observation, and that is of great advantage. But how much better it would have been if the storm had cleared away and given him a calm sea and an unobscured sky! Yet a momentary observation was better than nothing.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Therefore I say to every man in my presence: Do not neglect the impulses to a nobler life. Do not put them away from you. Do not prove dishonest and tricky with any of those movements in yourself which indicate that the germ of Divine life is in you. "A child is drowned! a child is drowned!" this is the cry that goes through the whole village; and the mother, well-nigh bereft of reason, dashes wildly out as they are bearing the limp, helpless body, with long streaming hair, by her door. The physician is sped for, and the neighbours are there. "She's dead! she's dead! she's dead i " cries the mother, "she's dead! she's dead! she's dead! My only child! my only child! my only child!" They would comfort her, and they say, "Oh, do not be so despondent do not be so despondent." "Dead! dead! Those eyes will never see me again. She's dead! she's dead!" And still the workers will not give over. But at last they say, "Yes, she is dead." Then, with a strange fantasy of opposition, the mother cries again, "She is not dead; she cannot be dead; she shall not be dead." And she lays hands upon her, and says, "I know she is not dead." And she gazes in anguish, until a little quiver is seen upon the lip, "Oh, my God! she is not dead." The eyes do not see, the ears do not hear, the hands do not move, the heart cannot be felt; but there is that little quiver of the lip. "There's life there! there's life there! there's life there!" Yes, there is life there; and now they come again, and remedies are applied, and the still form quickens, and the mother's faith is rewarded, and she takes the living child back to her bosom. O thou that hast in thee but the quiver of the lip, but the trembling of the eye, but the faintest pulsation of the heart, God, thine Everlasting Father, beholds it; and He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax, till He bring forth judgment unto victory. There is victory for you; there is hope for you; there is salvation for you. Oh, despise not the striving of the Spirit. Begin, accept, hold fast, and thou shalt be saved.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Work of God in world not done ver. His vineyard still needs digging and tending, pruning and cultivating.

I. EVERY MAN HAS A MISSION FROM GOD. Cannot discharge himself of responsibility by openly professing not to obey. God's claim proportionate to our ability and opportunity.

II. THIS MISSION IS "WORK." God says, "Come," before He says, "Go;" "Love Me," before " Work for Me." He seeks not enforced toil of slaves, but cheerful obedience of sons. God's vineyard is not a playground in which to take our ease.

III. THE SCENE OF THIS "WORK" IS GOD'S VINEYARD. We are to make our own lives, and those of our fellows, as faithful as we can. For what spiritual sphere then does this figure stand?

1. Our own hearts.

2. Our own households.

3. Scenes of daily life.

4. Church and its institutions.Wherever you can labour for God, that is the part of the vineyard to which He calls you. And whatever you can do for Him, that is the work He bids you do.

IV. THE "WORK" IS PRESSING AND URGENT — to be done "to-day."

V. How MEN TREAT THE COMMAND.

1. Some profess to obey, but really disobey. Still call themselves Christians. Would shrink from renouncing their profession. Not hypocrites. When they said they would go, they meant it. But imperceptibly religion has dwindled down with them from its grand and beautiful reality to a mere soul-saving apparatus.

2. Others refuse at first, but afterwards obey. No justification here of first refusal. The son who repented and went is approved, not wholly, but by contrast with his brother. Nor could even he do all his father bade. For already the sun had climbed high into the heavens, and part of the precious day was gone. We cannot recall misused past. Waste no longer the golden hours.

(J. R. Bailey.)

We are all ready to say that work for God is a noble thing. What we need is to see that we ourselves may all do work for God if we try. There are some who complain that they can do nothing. "I am wearing away my life in business; I have to toil for my family; my life is frittered away in such trifling every-day tasks. I, at least, shall have nothing to show in the end for my life." Nay, but that very commonplace work of yours is work for God. It must be clone; you have to do it; and, therefore, God Himself, who placed you where you are, gave you that work to do.

I. OFFER EACH DAY'S WEEK TO GOD. Ask Him to help you to do it well and diligently, because it is His. Make your daily act of self-dedication.

II. BE ON THE WATCH FOR OPPORTUNITIES. Make it your aim and desire to be gathering with God, rooting up evil where you can, fostering the growth of good where possible; shedding the light around you which may win souls to safety.

III. BE CONTENT TO DO LITTLE THINGS WELL Your work for God may consist wholly in very little things. The poor lone woman whose home was on the cliff in the dangerous coast, knew of bat one good thing she could do. She could keep her little candle burning in her window to warn off those who came near the danger. It was but a little thing; it may have cheered a few, it may even have saved one or two. Who doubts but that her little loving effort was a glorious brightness in the Master's sight?

(N. H. Parr, M. A.)

Christian Treasury.
We should aim at being too active to stagnate, too busy to freeze. We should endeavour to be like Cromwell, who not only struck while the iron was hot, but made it hot by striking — like the missionary who said, "If there be happiness on earth, it is in labouring in the service of Christ — like the blessed Redeemer Himself, whose meat and drink it was to do the will of God. The vineyard must be cultivated; and the command is that we enter it and work.

(Christian Treasury.)

There are but few who turn and do their duty after having once refused. Men will be as big as their words, though they die for it, lest they should be accounted inconsistent. These are stingy of their reputation, but prodigal of their souls.

(John Trapp.)

The Hive.
I. THE RUDE BUT OBEDIENT SON:

1. What he said, "I will not." This very rude, very unfilial. A reasonable request unreasonably rejected.

2. What he did, "repented." Thought of his father's kindness, and his duty. Did not go and tell his father he was sorry for what lie had said, but by his conduct proved his sorrow. This is true repentance.

II. THE POLITE BUT INOBEDIENT SON.

1. What he said, "I go, sir." This right, pleasing to the father, becoming in a son.

2. What he did, "went not." His obedience mere profession and words, not real. "Leaves," but not fruit. Learn: Many, like rude, son, have said they would not serve God, but afterwards have repented. You have said the former; have you done the latter? Many, like the polite son, have shown the promise of goodness that you have never kept. Will you keep it now, by working to-day in the vineyard?

(The Hive.)

I. Dissect the characters here contrasted. The second well-meaning, good-intentioned, emotional, shallow, flippant, great in promising. The first, rude, dissolute, hardened, profligate.

II. Review their conduct. The second saying, not doing; the father's disappointment; men by action seem to say, "I go," but remain where they are. The first became thoughtful, wondered that such a son as he should be asked by the father to do anything: "repented and went."

III. Enforce the inquiry. Obeying God lies in doing His will, not in mere empty promises of amendment.

(Anon.)

I. AS HOLDING FORTH THE COMMAND OF GOD TO HIS CREATURES. His command is distinguished by three characters.

1. It is affectionate, "My son."

2. It is practical, "Work."

3. It is urgent, "To-day."

II. THE MANNER IN WHICH IT IS REGARDED.

1. One proves better than he promises.

2. One promises better than he proves. Are you saying, "I will not "? What nonsense, what madness! Are you saying, "I go, sir." Beware of insincerity.

(W. Jay.)

I. THE MANNER OF THE ADDRESS.

1. It denotes authority.

2. It is the voice of affection.

II. THE GENERAL REQUISITION WHICH IS MADE — "GO work."

1. There are difficulties which must be conquered.

2. There are duties which must be performed.

3. The great design of heaven cannot be accomplished without labour.

III. THE SCENE ALLOTTED FOR LABOUR.

1. YOU are to be regulated in all your labours by your Father's revealed will.

2. Cultivation is suggested by the text.

IV. THE PROMPTITUDE OF ATTENTION IS REQUIRED.

1. GO work today.

2. To-morrow may be too late.

3. The responsibility which is attached to the use of present advantages.

4. There is a great danger of losing religious impressions.

5. What effect has the command in the text produced upon you?

6. Encouragement to labour.

7. You will not be left to yourselves.

(R. Winter, D. D.)

I. WHO PROMISED NOT, AND WENT NOT. Did not promise, but rudely refused. This wrong. He repented. How many refuse who never repent! To be inconsistent with rash vows and wicked resolutions is the highest consistency — what many call consistency is often only stubbornness and hardness of heart. What induced this repentance? The great goodness of his father; his own ingratitude; the importance of the work. Have we ever thought of these things? Without repenting.

II. WHO PROMISED, AND WENT NOT. Very ready with words — right words too. Spoken to obtain present rest — to put the father off, a c. How many patronize religion, and speak fair! How many intend to be religious! How long and how often have we promised thus! Do we ever intend to keep our word? When?

III. WHO OBEYED. The first. To one of the two classes represented by these sons we very likely belong. We have all been called to work. We have met the call either by a bold refusal, or by a fair promise. How have we ended? May God give us grace to do His will.

(J. C. Gray.)

I. THE VINEYARD.

1. This vineyard is the property of God.

2. The cultivation of this vineyard is committed to the Church.

3. The Church has neglected her duty in reference to this vineyard.

II. THE WORK.

III. THE WORKMEN. Their qualifications:

1. Ardent piety.

2. Fixed religious principles.

3. Accurate information.

4. A liberal spirit.

5. Prayer.

(T. Raffles, D. D.)

1. The argument of the appeal lay upon the sonship.

2. A call to grace is a call to work.

3. There is the instantaneousness of the obedience, "To-day."The reception, "I will not." Why that son will not work in his father's vineyard.

1. He did not really know or love his father.

2. He liked the imaginary independence which he felt in being his own master outside.

3. Doubtless the labour inside contrasted unfavourably in his mind with the gaiety outside.

4. The urgency of the demand little suited his desultory and procrastinating mind.

5. Perhaps some foolish windings of entangled thought had got into his mind, "I can't command my will." But he changed and went. His Father's will was still echoing in his heart. The vineyard appeared in happier aspect. His sentiments towards His Father changed.When he went he probably proved himself a better worker than if he went at first. This parable teaches —

1. That there is a free will in you for which you are responsible.

2. God's patience is perfectly marvellous.

3. The garden of the Lord, His Church, is ready for you.

4. God and angels are working there.

5. Many are now working there in liberty and gladness who once said, "I will not."

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Then what was the matter with them? Why did they act so? It was because they were under the influence of an exterior pressure. While there was a mind interpreting there the truth to them, they accepted it; but, the moment that influence ceased to be exerted upon them, they fell back into themselves. There was no root of that thing in them. At the first opportunity, all their under-nature worked again, just as it had worked before. That is the reason why so many persons listen, resolve, feebly try, and fail miserably. So that I sometimes think going to church hurts people. I know that going to church hurts some people. There are persons who go into church, and are stimulated and lifted up, and then they go out again, and fall back into their own old nature, and act just as if they had not been stimulated; and they go in again, and are stimulated and lifted up again, and then they go out, and fall back again. Their nature accommodates itself to the different circumstances, and they get used to them. Being lifted up and lowered, lifted up and lowered, the operative capacity of their sensibilities is lost out, and they get into sort of medium condition, in which they remain all the rest of their lives, no longer competent to carry out any generous impulse which they may have. A moral enamel comes over them; so that, though they feel somewhat, there is a disconnection between feeling and willing — between feeling as a moral emotion, and willing organized as a power of action — between transient feeling and the embodiment of feeling into character, which is the great end and drift of education in human life. This power of turning a momentary emotion to a permanent benefit they have lost; and when they have lost that, they have lost all nerve.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Where persons have good impulses, but are feeble in carrying them out, we see the wisdom of the Divine ordination of business, of society, of the family, and of the Church; for there are persons who are like pea-vines that need to be staked, in order that they may stand up. They have not strength enough to support themselves. If they had not something to lean upon they would be beaten to the ground by every rain. Many and many feeble nature has power to stand in alliance with a stronger nature, and to climb on a stronger nature, and so to be saved instead of being lost. Even the household does that for the individual which he could not do for himself. So it comes to pass that persons are not only virtuous, but high-minded when at home, who, when public duty takes them to Washington or Albany, sink into the mire. About nine men in every ten cannot afford to leave home. Their coarseness, their temper, their passions, which at home are restrained by duty, by love, by various influences, spring forth when they are abroad. The restraints from vice and the inspiration of excellence being taken away, having no root in themselves, they fall.

(H. W. Beecher.)

When a farmer wants to catch wild turkeys, building his pen in the woods, and digging his trench, he strews corn along. He must be a miser who would grudge enough corn to catch a dozen turkeys; and crafty men must be mean and selfish indeed if they cannot spare enough disinterestedness to catch you with. And so they bait themselves with good nature, with jollity, and with wit; and people say of them, oftentimes, "Now that man has a great deal that is good about him." Yes, it is about him. There are men of whom it is said, "Oh, well, a man had better look out for him in the end, but still he has ver?' good qualities." He is a pleasant fellow; but under all his pleasantness there is craft. I have seen mosquitoes. They are very delicately organized creatures. They have beautiful wings, looked at through the microscope; they sing a very sweet tenor; and if you notice how they sit down on you nothing is more graceful. Lighting, they hush their song; and it is not until they have found the right place that they commence sucking your blood. And there are men in the world that are just like them. Blood is what they want. That is the reason of their gauzy flight and their singing about you. Since it is blood they want they take the way to get it.

(H. W. Beecher.)

If men are afraid to go by graveyards, for fear that here and there some sheeted ghost will peer over the wall and chatter at them, what would they think if, out of every sepulchre, there should come up a peering, gibbering ghost, and the yard should be full of pallid spectres? Who would go past it under such circumstances? And if God Almighty should give resurrection to all the times in which you have most solemnly entertained and enfranchised noble resolutions, and then buried them ignominiously; if He should call up to your memory all the virtues, all the soul-fruits, which have been drawn out of you by the Sun of Righteousness, and which you have trampled under foot, who of you could stand in your own presence, or in the presence of any congregation.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Expository Outlines.
I. THE CASE WHICH IS HERE PRESENTED.

1. An important command.

(1)What is required — work.

(2)The sphere of labour.

(3)The period specified.

2. The manner in which it was treated.

(1)A rude refusal, followed by an agreeable change.

(2)A ready and respectful assent, but the promise so promptly made was shamefully broken.

II. THE APPLICATION WHICH IS HERE MADE.

1. The question proposed, "Whether of them twain," etc. Far preferable to be a late penitent than a confirmed formalist.

2. The startling truth declared, "Publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of heaven before you." How fearless and faithful his address.

3. The solemn charge substantiated, "For John came unto you in the way of righteousness," etc.

(Expository Outlines.)

I. SHOW YOU WHENCE IT IS THAT SOME PERSONS DO MAKE PRESENT PROMISES TOUCHING FUTURE FAITH AND HOLINESS. They make these present promises from these common convictions and illuminations of the Word and Spirit of God.

1. These may be convinced by the law of God that sin is a great evil.

2. They may see that if they die in this condition they are undone for ever.

3. They may make these promises from the nature of an accusing conscience.

4. They may be the effect of sin, affliction, or judgment.

II. WHY DO THESE PROMISES SELDOM END IN REAL PERFORMANCES?

1. It is from the grand agent that stirs them up to make these promises, which is the devil. Satan cares not what promises sinners make to become good, if he can hinder them from closing in with Christ at present.

2. Present promises and resolutions touching future faith seldom end in real performance.(1) Because it is they design to be wicked at the present.(2) Because they have but a partial work upon their hearts, their hearts are divided, though their judgments be enlightened their wills are not bowed.(3) Because they are made in opposition to the Divine command, "To-day." God will not assist a man to perform such promises that are made in contempt of His authority.(4) Because such promises are made only in the strength of the creatures.

(B. Keach.)

Because moral indisposition to close with Christ may be more increased to-morrow than it is to-day; sin is of a hardening nature; if a man, as soon as taken sick, looks out for, or sends for a physician, there may be more hopes he may be cured, than if he should neglect any means until this distemper hath got greater power, and his natural strength is wasted. It is easier to break a colt and bring him to the saddle, than it is an old horse that runs wild in the wilderness; a young plant is sooner plucked up than an old tree. To speak after the manner of men, all know that these things are so, though it is true God can as soon subject the rebellious will of an old sinner as one that is young; yet since this is the Lord's time, viz., even to-day, from what I have said, you may learn wisdom.

(B. Keach.)

An eminent divine was suffering under chronic disease, and consulted three physicians. They declared, on being questioned by the sick man, that his disease would be followed by death in a shorter or longer time, according to the manner in which he lived; but they unanimously advised him to give up his office, because, in his situation, mental agitation would be fatal to him. "If," inquired the divine, "I give myself up to repose, how long, gentlemen, will you guarantee my life? Probably six years, "answered the doctors. "And if I continue in office? Three years at most." "Your servant, gentlemen," he replied, "I should prefer living two or three years in doing some good, to living six years in idleness."

I. The character under which it calls us.

II. The service to which the Lord calls us, "Go work."

III. The time, "To-day."

IV. The place where the Lord calls us to work, "In my vineyard."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

A dying soldier, who had enlisted as a Christian, but had for three years, though a man of uprightness and integrity, done nothing to make known the name of Christ, said, "I die as a Christian; and I die contented; but oh, if I could have died as Christian worker! .... I am peaceful and assured in view of death," he said again, "but I am not joyful and glad; those three lost years keep coming back upon me." Then, lying a moment quiet with closed eyes, he added, "Chaplain, do you suppose we shall be able to forget anything after death? If so, I should like to forget those three years!"

A prisoner is under sentence of death. The fatal hour of execution is concealed from him, but he is told that if before it strikes he petitions the governor, his life will be spared. He says, "I'll send to-morrow," and when to-morrow comes he says again, "Oh, there's time enough yet; I'll wait a little longer." Suddenly his dungeon doors open, and behold the sheriff and the executioners!" Oh, wait, and I'll sign the petition." "No," they say, "the clock has struck; it's too late — you must die." The opportunity has been lost. "You are almost through this world," said a chaplain to a soldier, once a Sabbath scholar, who was in the last stages of disease. "Am I?" said he. "Yes, and I hope you are ready for the next." "No, I am not — not ready, not ready." "Well, my dear friend, Jesus is all ready, and waiting right here. Come, now. Shall I pray? .... Oh, no, no; it is too late, too late! I ought to have come long ago." And then he told the chaplain, as calmly as he could, of the time when he was " almost a Christian," and decided to let it pass till another winter. "That was the time, I might have come then, why didn't I? why didn't I?" and, pulling the blanket over his face, he sobbed aloud. It was in vain that the visitor sought to reason him out of his horrid despair, he only motioned him away, crying, "Don't talk to me any more — it's too late, I can't bear it."

As a whole, this parable shows us how God is served by men, and shows us especially that though there are greater and less degrees of disobedience and impenitence, there is no such thing as consistent uniform obedience. The best that God gets from earth is the obedience of repentance. Men must still, each for himself, try their own way, and only when this is found to be quite foolish and hurtful and hopeless, do they try God's way. No one can take God's word for it that such and such are the things to be done; such and such others to be avoided. We must for ourselves know good and evil, we must be as gods making choice between the good that sin brings and its evil, and if then God's judgment about sin tallies with our own we accept it. Such a thing as simple, perpetual acceptance of God's commands from first to last is not to be found; and repentance, though certainly to be rejoiced over, is, after all, only the second-best thing. Apology, however sincere, is at all times a very poor substitute for conduct that needs none. And yet you will often see that a man considers that a graceful apology, whether to God or men, more than repairs the wrong he has done. It is, no doubt, right to be convinced we have been wrong; it is right to turn in to God's vineyard, even though it be after refusing to do so; but that complacency should mingle with our repentance is surely a triumph of duplicity. To make our very confession of total unprofitableness matter of self-gratulation is surely the extreme of even religious self-deception.

(Marcus Dods. D.D.)

The vineyard yields us spontaneous fruit. Man must work, and he must work in the line of God's laws — observing the demands of the plant, supplying the conditions of atmosphere and soil — or else no rich vintage will gladden the hills or reward his toil. And so in the culture of the soul. It is not through rest, but through action — not in seclusion, but by brave labour ant in the open field, under the noontide and under the dew — that its powers are to be developed and its highest possibilities attained. You must not suppose, however, that in insisting upon the great truth that the proper issue and the proof of a real Christianity are in action and work, in the doing by each one of us of his Father's business in the world, I would put dishonour upon the subjective side of the religious life. This, too, with its seasons of retirement, of quiet meditation, of self-recollection, of communion with God who is the Fountain of all power, is necessary. Nay, more than this: it is the condition precedent and absolutely essential to the highest life and best action of the soul. It is here in the life of the soul as in the life of the material universe. Nature has her seasons of apparent rest when she gathers her energies in secret chambers and in silent ways. But these gathered energies only reveal their value and reach their proper end when they pass out into action and clothe the world with bloom and fruit and beauty for the use and service of men. And this great truth, like every other great moral and spiritual truth, finds illustration in the life of Christ. He retires again and again from the multitude to the secret oratories of the desert and the mountain-top. ]But the full meaning and purpose of His retirement are made manifest when He comes forth again, with all His spiritual energies refreshed, to labour and suffer more devotedly for men, and so to do His Father's work in the world. The danger against which I would warn you is the belief that Christianity is simply a doctrine or a sentiment. It is these; but above all it is, as the fruition of these, a life and a work. What the world needs to-day, but what, alas! our saintliness not seldom fails to give, is this living, loving, labouring piety. What in this hour our religion lacks especially is red blood. It wants, in place of its too often sickly complexion — the paleness, as it were, of the cloisters — the rich tan of a vigorous health, which comes only from brave and devoted labour under all the changing skies. And so the command comes to you and to me, "Son, daughter, go out and work." It bids us leave our shaded hermit-caves in the valley, come down from our high peaks of mere religious sentiment or rhapsody, and go, each one of us, to his own proper field along the hot and stony hillsides of our life, toiling there with energy and patience and devotion until the whole landscape shall hang thick with the burdened vines.

(W. Rudder, D. D.)

Am I wrong in saying that when this command reaches us, the common interpretation of it is that we are thus bidden to enter upon distinctly religious exercises and observances, and that the command goes no further? Church, prayers, sacraments, spiritual exercises — these cover and limit the vineyard of God. And then the assumption is that as this enclosure is God's vineyard, so, on the other hand, the so-called world and the life in the world are each man's personal property, to do with as seems to him best. When, e.g., you go to-morrow from the services of to-day, or from the devotions of your closets, to your evils or to your pleasures, you leave one territory and enter upon another. But there is no such separation or distinction in the command. God, be assured, does not limit His vineyard by the boundaries of Church or sacrament or prayer. He sends out His voice into the very thick of the crowd to-morrow, and that voice follows you wherever you may be, in the street or the office or the study, in the counting-house or the workshop, on the large and public arena or in any narrowest corner where some poor woman endures and labours patiently for love and God's dear sake. Here is my vineyard; here work out your salvation; here, amid these seemingly most unfavourable conditions, gather sweetness and beauty, strength and glory into your souls; here prove yourselves true sons and daughters of God, and know that in all your ways, the hardest and darkest, your steps are directed by a Father's care, and over all is His unsleeping love. How this truth brightens and ennobles all our life — lightening labour and sorrow by love and the consciousness of being loved, and changing the meanest drudgeries to worship and praise!

(W. Rudder, D. D.)

"To-day!" It is our privilege, our opportunity, our responsibility. "To-day!" It is the flower of all the past, it contains within itself all the possibilities of the future. And this priceless treasure is in the hands of every one of us, the poorest and the humblest. But, "tomorrow!" It stands behind the curtain of the midnight, under the seal of all the stars. The richest man in all this rich England, who owns vast landed estates, who owns rich ships coming homeward across all the tossing seas, owns not one second of to-morrow.

(W. Rudder, D. D.)

The second son gives his answer in the one word "I," as if he meant, "Oh! you need have no doubt about me. I am ready. I am at your service. My brother is a shameless fellow, but as for me you have only to command me." This son takes it for granted he is the dutiful son; he puts no pressure on himself to secure obedience; he is conscious of no necessity to guard against temptations to forgetfulness, indolence, selfishness. He takes for granted that no deficiency will be found in him, and his complacency is his ruin. We all know this kind of man: the tradesman to whom you give elaborate instructions, and who assures you he will send an article precisely to your mind, but actually sends you what is quite useless for your purposes; the friend who bids you leave the matter to him, but who has no sooner turned the corner of the street than he meets some one whose conversation puts you and your affairs quite out of his mind. If promising had been all that was wanted no community could have been more godly than Jerusalem. These priests and elders spent their lives in professing to be God's people. Their day was filled with religious services. They had no secular business at all; they were identified with religion; their whole life was a proclamation that they were God's servants, and a profession of their willingness to obey. And yet they failed to do the one thing they were there to do — to prepare for and receive the Messiah. Their whole profession collapsed like a burst bubble; they were proved to be shams, to be dealing in mere words with no idea of realities.

(Marcus Doris, D. D.)

Hypocrites purpose oft, and promise fair to do better, but drive off and fail in the performance; their morning cloud is soon dispersed, their early dew is quickly dried up, their heartless essays come to nothing. The philosopher liked not such as are always about to live better, but never begin. A divine complains that the goodness of many is like the softness of a plum, soon crushed; but their wickedness is like the stone in the plum, hard and inflexible.

(John Trapp.)

This is plain; for what was the will of the father, but that they should do the work He had set them to do? This the latter did not. The father's will was not only that the son should give him a cap and a knee and compliment him, but that he should go to work in the vineyard. It is the least part of God's will that men should give Him good words, be a little complimental and ceremonious toward Him; but that they should repent and believe and obey His Gospel. This some publicans and harlots did; the generality of the Pharisees refused. It is a hard thing to convince a moral, righteous, civil man, that he lacks anything to salvation; and hence it is that profane persons many times repent, believe, and are saved, when others perish in their impentitency and unbelief because they think they have no need of repentance, or any further righteousness than they are possessed of.

(Matthew Pool.)

Work and give, for the night cometh: — A missionary in the West Indies having called on the people for a little help in spreading the gospel, one came forward, and putting his hand in one pocket pulled out some silver, saying, "That for me, master;" and another parcel from another pocket, "That's for my wife, massa;" and another still, making in all upwards of twelve dollars, "That's for my child, masse." "When asked if he was not giving too much, he said, "God's work must be done, masse, and I may be dead." Let us do and let us give what we can. God's work must be done, and we may be dead!

The second son appears the more amiable at first than the other, though he was worse. The first son seems to have been one of those men who are rough externally, with a good heart inwardly, who speak rudely, but make it up in activity afterwards. Their tongue is hard, hasty, perverse; but their heart rebukes the hardness of the tongue, and rises up to repair by kindness the rude utterance. The second son was one of those compliant creatures who promise everything and perform nothing. They are subjects of universal impressibility. They feel the slightest influence, and yield to it a certain way, but only in a certain degree, and that this side of any profit. They never convert impressions to ideas. They never ripen impulses to purposes. They never change emotions to principles, nor principles to fixed habits. They cry easily, they love easily, they give up easily, they fall back easily, but like an aspen leaf that is moving the whole day, they are at the same place at night as in the morning. They quiver but do not change, and for ever moving, and for ever stationary. A large class of men, in every community, are drawn to the church who are of this kind, and may be called well-wishers to religion, but not well-doers in religion.

(H. Ward Beecher.)

To wish and to will are very different things. There are a thousand men who wish. where there is one who wills. Wishing is but a faint state of desire. Willing is a state of the reason, and of the affections, and of the will, in activity, to secure what one desires. A man may wish and yet reject all the steps and instruments by which that wish can be carried into effect. No man wills until he has made up his mind not only to have the end, but to have all the steps intermediately by which that end is to be secured. Doing requires concentration of purpose. Doing has both hands and feet, and uses them. Wishing has neither, or else, having them, puts neither of them to use.

(H. Ward Beecher.)

As a cloud of silvery mist drops down over a ship and shuts it in, so that it cannot go any further, but casts anchor and waits, so conscience, when it begins to be troublous, is shut down in the midst of this silvery mist of well-wishing. So that a well-wisher is one of those persons who bid fair to wear out the influence of appeals of the gospel in the sanctuary. His temperament is one that lasts better and longer than any other.

(H. Ward Beecher.)

The corruptions of the passions are more likely to be healed than is spiritual conceit. The passage teaches, not the safety of passional corruption, but the danger of self-righteousness. A man in the almost hopeless state of passional corruption may recover; but for the recovery of a man that is in the hopeless state of spiritual corruption and conceit, there is scarcely a chance. The value and excellence of the photographer's plate which is hidden within the camera does not consist in what it is, but upon its susceptibility when the object-glass of the camera is open to that light which streams upon it. If it is unprepared, and is like the common glass, all beauty might sit before it, and no change would be produced by the streaming of light. The glass might be as good in the first case as in the second, with the exception that, when it is prepared, the photographer's glass reveals the impression of beauty made upon it by the light. The criterion of hopefulness in a man, then, is not that he has gone so high in moral excellence. A man's hopefulness consists in the fact that eternal life is the gift of God. It consists in the mixing, as it were, the Divine nature with ours, and the breathing into us of the spirit of God's love. The criterion of hopefulness is the openness of a man's soul to the Divine influence, and its susceptibility under the Divine shining.

(H. Ward Beecher.)

Corruptions through the passions, or through the moral sentiments. At the recent great flood at Albany, where those warehouses were undermined and thrown down, one man was in the base and the other in the attic. The man at the base, being right where the danger was, saw the pressure and the wearing, and heard the grinding. He saw brick after brick, and stone after stone ground out by the sawing ice. And seeing and knowing these things, as the danger came on he could flee; but the man in his office in the attic neither saw the danger nor believed that there was any danger, and went on summing up his profits, and laying out his plans. Which of these men had the best chance of escape, the man at the bottom who saw the danger, or the man at the top who saw nothing and heard nothing?

(H. Ward Beecher.)

Do not think that your danger lies in outbreaking sin. In some cases the danger lies there; but in some cases the danger lies in an intense spiritual conceit; in an arrogant morality, in an overweening estimate of your own goodness and safety. You do not feel that you need a physician, and therefore you will die in your sins. You do not feel that you need a Deliverer, and therefore Christ is nothing to you. You are not conscious that you need bread, and therefore the bread of life is not brought to you. You say, "I am not blind — I see; I am not naked — I am clothed; I am not hungry — I am fed; " and yet you are blind, and naked, and hungry; and so you will perish, though there is salvation proffered to such as you are.

(H. Ward Beecher.)

Compel yourself to all duties now, and soon you will like the duties that are now distasteful. The man that is drawn out of the water hall-drowned can only be restored by artificial respiration, but if this is persevered in the natural breathing at last begins, and the functions of healthy unforced respiration super-cedes the artificial means. And thus God educates us to ease and naturalness in all duty. Under cover of the outward conduct the new spirit grows and grows to such strength, that at last it maintains the outward conduct as its natural fruit.

(Marcus Dods.)

Says Socrates to his friends, in the Phaedo, "If you take care of yourselves everything will go well with you, whether you make me any promises about the matter or not: but if hereafter you shall neglect, and be unwilling to govern yourselves by the rules I have laid down, though you make me ever so many promises, you will be never the better for them."

The question is, What have you done .' The passer-by, who saw the one son stripped and hard at work under the sun among the vines, while the other lounged whimperingly on the road, telling people what an admirable man his father was, and what a pleasure it was to work for him, and how much he hoped the vintage would be abundant — I say, the passer-by would not have the slightest difficulty in forming a judgment of the two sons. Do not believe in)our purpose to serve God better until you do serve Him better. Give no credit to yourself for anything which is not actually accomplished.

(Marcus Dods.)

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