Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 123, 1899

The Vineyard


August 25, 1899 [typed]

This manuscript is published in entirety in 16MR 328-331. +Note

“Hear another parable,” Christ said. “There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: and when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and [beat] one, and [killed] another, and [stoned] another. Again he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir, come, let us kill him: and the inheritance will be ours.” [Matthew 21:33-38; Mark 12:7.] 14LtMs, Ms 123, 1899, par. 1

The householder is designed to represent God, the Husbandmen the Jewish nation, whom God had appointed to cultivate His vineyard, the world. The servants whom God sent to receive the fruits of the vineyard were the prophets and teachers through whom God had called Israel to render to Him His dues. Had God’s professed people been heeding the Word of the Lord, it would have not have been necessary to remind them of this and call them to a sense of their responsibility. But them had become selfish and covetous, and they were systematically robbing Him of the means and facilities He had entrusted to them for the carrying on of His work. 14LtMs, Ms 123, 1899, par. 2

God had wrought mighty wonders before Pharaoh to show that He was the ruler of the whole earth. He designed that His church should be composed of the very ones who were bondmen in Egypt. By His mighty power He delivered them out of the hand of Pharaoh, and made them His church which was a representation of His church in all ages. Christ had purchased this people, they were His property. All that they held in trust was the Lord’s. But they were misappropriating their talents so that others could not be benefitted by the riches and grace of God. 14LtMs, Ms 123, 1899, par. 3

God had taught them that His kingdom embraced the whole world. He was definite in all His arrangements, and positive in all His requirements. His kingdom was to succeed all other kingdoms, and cover the whole earth. It was never to be transferred to another ruler. This kingdom was God’s peculiar treasure. Its principles were to test and purify His subjects, and fashion them after the image of God. 14LtMs, Ms 123, 1899, par. 4

The lessons of Christ in the parables preceding the parable of the vineyard present the Jewish nation as unfaithful in their stewardship. Men of God’s appointment had come to the vineyard for fruit, and had found none. Christ compared them to the barren fig tree, which while laden with luxuriant foliage, and apparently flourishing, was destitute of fruit. Christ searched from the topmost branch to the lowest bough, but He found nothing but leaves, and He cursed the unfruitful tree. “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth and forever,” He said. [Matthew 21:19.] 14LtMs, Ms 123, 1899, par. 5

Christ had declared, The kingdom of God is not meat nor drink. Form and ceremony do not constitute the kingdom of God. Ceremonies become multitudinous and extravagant as the vital principles of the kingdom of God are lost. But it is not form and ceremony that Christ requires. He hungers to receive from His vineyard fruit in holiness and unselfishness, deeds of goodness, mercy, and truth. 14LtMs, Ms 123, 1899, par. 6

Gorgeous apparel, fine singing, and instrumental music in the church do not call forth the songs of the angel choir. In the sight of God these things are like the branches of the unfruitful fig tree which bore nothing but pretentious leaves. Christ looks for fruit, for principles of goodness and sympathy and love. These are the principles of heaven, and when they are revealed in the lives of human beings, we may know that Christ is formed within, the hope of glory. A congregation may be the poorest in the land, without music or outward show, but if it possesses these principles, the members can sing, for the joy of Christ is in their souls, and this they can offer as a sweet oblation to God. 14LtMs, Ms 123, 1899, par. 7

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love,” Christ says. [John 15:10.] God looks for the fruit of obedience. “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you.” [Verses 8-12.] Who among us realize these things, and cultivate love one for another? 14LtMs, Ms 123, 1899, par. 8

A fashionable religion that consists of ceremony and pretension is not acceptable to God, for the love of God is not there. A church with such a religion can call forth no response from the heavenly angels, for their hearts are not receiving the rich currents of love which are flowing from heaven to earth, and which make glad the hearts of God’s people. When the love of Christ in the soul flows forth in pure, rich currents to those [who] need tenderness and kindness, it is like a draught from the river of God which flows from beneath His throne to refresh the parched and thirsty soul. 14LtMs, Ms 123, 1899, par. 9

These are the fruits that Christ would have from His vineyard, and from His saints who assemble to worship Him from year to year. Obedience to God’s commandments makes our souls precious in His sight. The church is very dear to the heart of God. He would have His people sing with the heart and with the understanding also: “Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen and planted it.” [Psalm 80:8.] “Now will I sing to my beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill. And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones there of, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein. ... The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel.” [Isaiah 5:1, 2, 7.] 14LtMs, Ms 123, 1899, par. 10

Let songs pour forth from lips that the live coal from off the altar has touched. Lift up your voices in the words of the one hundred and twenty-first, one hundred and twenty-fifth, and one hundred and twenty-sixth psalms. The angelic host will join with those who sing with the spirit and with the understanding also. 14LtMs, Ms 123, 1899, par. 11