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142. From Twenty-five to Thirty-five
And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Matthew 20:3-4

The reason for employing these people must have been gracious. Surely the good man could have waited till the next morning; but he charitably chose to employ the needy ones at once. He did not need laborers, but the poor men needed their pennies. Certainly it is sovereign grace alone which leads the Lord God to engage such sorry laborers as we are. Let us inquire:


1. Inasmuch as the impulse of grade comes first in every case, and none go into the vineyard till he calls them.
2. Inasmuch as there are times of revival, when the Lord goes forth by the power of his Spirit, and many are brought in.
3. Inasmuch as there are times of personal visitation with most men when they are specially moved to holy things.


It represents the period between 25 and 35 years of age, or thereabouts.

1. The dew of youth's earliest and best morning hour is gone.
2. Habits of idleness have been formed by standing in the market place so long. It is harder to begin at the third hour than at the first. Loiterers are usually spoiled by their loafing ways.
3. Satan is ready with temptation to lure them to his service.
4. Their sun may go down suddenly, for life is uncertain. Many a day of life has closed at its third hour.
5. Fair opportunity for work yet remains; but it will speedily pass away as the hours steal round.
6. As yet the noblest of all work has not been commenced; for only by working for our Lord can life be made sublime.

III. WHAT WERE THEY DOING TO WHOM HE SPOKE? "Standing idle in the market place."

1. Many are altogether idling in a literal sense. They are mere loafers and dilettanti, with nothing to do.
2. Many are idle with laborious business–industrious triflers, wearied with toils which accomplish nothing of real worth.
3. Many are idle because of their constant indecision. Unstable as water they do not excel (James 1:6).
4. Many are idle though full of sanguine intentions; but as yet their resolves are not carried out.


He would have them work by day in his vineyard.

1. The work is such as many of the best of men enjoy.
2. The work is proper and fit for you.
3. For that work the Lord will find you tools and strength.
4. You shall work with your Lord, and so be ennobled.
5. Your work shall be growingly pleasant to you.
6. Your work shall be graciously rewarded at the last.

V. WHAT DID THEY DO IN ANSWER TO HIS CALL? "They went their way." May you, who are in a similar time of the day, imitate them!

1. They went at once. The parable indicates immediate service.
2. They worked with a will.
3. They never left the service, but remained till night.
4. They received the full reward at the day's end.

Let us pray the Lord to go out among our young men and women.

Let us expect to see such come into the church, and let us guide them in their work, for they come into the vineyard to labor.

Let us inquire if some will come now.


Have you never thought with extreme sadness of the many men and women upon our earth whose lives are useless? Have you never reflected upon the millions of people who waste in nothingness their thoughts, their affections, their energies, all their powers, which frivolity dissipates as the sand of the desert absorbs the water which is sent upon it from the sky? These beings pass onward, without even asking themselves toward what end they journey, or for what reason they were placed here below. — Eugene Bersier

All activity out of Christ, all labor that is not labor in his church is in his sight a "standing idle."— Archbishop Trench

A good minister, now in heaven, once preached to his congregation a powerful sermon, founded upon the words of Christ, "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" The sermon did good to many, among whom was a lady who went to the minister the next day, and said, "Doctor, I want a spade. "We should be happy to put spades into the hands of all our idle friends. There are Sunday school spades, Mission room spades, Tract-distribution spades, Sick-visitation spades, etc., etc. Who will apply for them? "— Home Evangel

What can I do the cause of God to aid?
Can powers so weak as mine
Forward the great design?
Not by young hands are mighty efforts made.

Not mighty efforts, but a willing mind,
Not strong, but ready hands
The vineyard's Lord demands;
For every age fit labor he will find.

Come, then, in childhood, to the vineyard's gate;
E'en you can dress the roots,
And train the tender shoots—
Then why in sloth and sin contented wait?

To move the hardened soil, to bend and lift
The fallen branch, to tread
The winepress full and red,
These need a stronger arm, a nobler gift;

But all can aid the work. The little child
May gather up some weed,
Or drop some fertile seed,
Or strew with flowers the path which else were dark and wild.
—J. H. Clinch

"Are you not wearying for the heavenly rest?" said Whitefield to an old minister. "No, certainly not? he replied. "Why not?" was the surprised rejoinder. "Why, my good brother," said the aged saint, "If you were to send your servant into the fields, to do a certain portion of work for you, and promised to give him rest and refreshment in the evening, what would you say if you found him languid and discontented in the middle of the day, and murmuring, 'Would to God it were evening?' Would you not bid him be up and doing, and finish his work, and then go home, and enjoy the promised rest? Just so does God require of you and me that, instead of looking for Saturday night, we do our day's work in the day. "

Charles Hadden Spurgeon

143. Guests for the Wedding Feast
Then saith he to his servants, the wedding is ready, but them which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good; and the wedding was furnished with guests. Matthew 22:8-10

THE grand design of God is to make a marriage for his Son.

Our Lord Jesus has espoused his Church, and there must be a feast at the wedding. Is it not meet that it should be so?

A feast would be a failure if none came to it, and therefore the present need is that the wedding be "furnished with guests."


This is seen in Jewish history.

Among Gentiles, those to whom the gospel invitation specially comes are, as a rule, unwilling to accept it.

Up to this hour, children of godly parents, and hearers of the word,, many of them refuse the invitation for reasons of their own.

The invitation was refused:

1. Not because it involved suffering, for it was a wedding feast to which they were bidden.
2. Nor because there were no adequate preparations: "The wedding is ready."
3. Nor because the invitations were not delivered, or were misunderstood: they "were bidden."
4. But because they were not fit for the high joy.

  • They were not loyal to their King.

  • They were not attached to his royal Son.

  • They were not pleased with his noble marriage.

  • They were wrapped up in self-interest.

  • They were cruel to well-intentioned messengers.
5. Therefore they were punished with fire and sword.

  • But this destruction was no wedding feast for the King's Son

  • This punishment was no joy to the King.

Love must reign: mercy must be glorious; Christ must reveal his grace; otherwise he has no joy of his union with mankind. Therefore—


l. Disappointment must arouse activity and enterprise—"Go ye."
2. Disappointment suggests change of sphere—"into the highways."
3. A wide invitation is to be tried—"as many as ye shall find, bid."
4. A keen outlook is to be kept—"as many as ye shall find."
5. Publicity is to be courted—"went out into the highways."
6. Small numbers—ones and twos— are to be pressed in.

This is said to have been the result of the anger of the King.

So good is the Lord that his wrath to despisers works good for others.


The particulars of it will be suggestive for ourselves at this present era.

1. The former servants, who had escaped death, went out again.
2. Other servants, who had not gone at first, entered zealously into the joyful but needful service.
3. They went in many directions—"into the highways."
4. They went out at once. Not an hour could be left unused.
5. They pointed all they met to one center.
6. They welcomed all sorts of characters—"as many as they found."
7. They found them willing to come. He who sent the messengers inclined the guests: none seem to have refused.

This blessed service is being carried on at this very hour.


l. The King's bounty was displayed before the world.
2. His provision was used. Think of grace and pardon unused!
3. The happiness of men was promoted: they feasted to the full.
4. Their grateful praise was evoked. All the guests were joyful in their King as they feasted at his table.
5. The marriage was graced.
6. The slight put upon the King's Son, by the churls who refused to come, was more than removed.
7. The quality of the guests most fully displayed the wisdom, grace, and condescension of the Host.

The whole business worked for the highest glory of the King and his Son. Amen! So let it be among us!


The wicked, for the slight breakfast of this world, lose the Lamb's supper of glory (Rev. 19:9); where these four things concur, that make a perfect feast: A good time, eternity; a good place, heaven; a good company, the saints; good cheer, glory. — Thomas Adams

The devil does not like field-preaching; neither do I. I love a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit; but where is my zeal if I do not trample all these under foot in order to save one more soul. —John Wesley

"Call them in"—the Jew, the Gentile;
Bid the stranger to the feast;
"Call them in"—the rich, the noble,
From the highest to the least:
Forth the Father runs to meet them,
He hath all their sorrows seen;
Robe, and ring, and royal sandals,
Wait the lost ones: "Call them in."
—Sacred Songs and Solos

From hedges and lanes of conscious nakedness and need, the marriage festival is furnished with guests. To the poor the gospel is preached, and the poor in spirit gladly listen, whether they are clothed in purple or in rags. — William Arnot We might do better if we went further afield. Our invitations to Christ, which fall so feebly on the ears of those who regularly hear us, would be welcomed by those to whom we never deliver them. We are fools to waste time in the shallows of our churches and chapels when the deep outside teems with waiting fishes. We need fresh heaters: the newer the news to any man, the more likely is he to regard it as good news. Music hall work, outdoor preaching, and house-to-house visitation have virgin soil to deal with, and there is none like it.

Invite the oft-invited—certainly; but do not forget that those who have never been invited as yet cannot have been hardened by refusals. Beggars in the highways had never been bidden to a marriage-feast before; and so, when they were surprised with an invitation, they raised no questions, but gladly hastened to the banquet.

Charles Hadden Spurgeon

144. Entrance and Exclusion
They that were ready went in with him to the marriage; and the door was shut. Matthew 25:10

DURING the waiting period, the virgins seemed much alike, even as at this day one can hardly discern the false professor from the true. When the midnight cry was heard the difference began to appear, as it will do when the Second Advent approaches.

When the Bridegroom was actually come, they were finally divided.

Let us prayerfully consider—


1. What is this readiness? "They that were ready."

  • It is not a fruit of nature. None are ready to enter the marriage feast of glory while they are in an unregenerate condition.

  • It must be a work of grace; since we are unable to make ourselves fit for the vision of God, and the glory of Christ is too bright for us to be naturally fit to share in it.

  • It should be our daily concern. He who is ready for the marriage feast is ready to live, and ready to die–ready for anything.

  • It mainly consists in a secret work wrought in us—

      In being reconciled to God by the death of his Son.
      In being regenerated, and so made meet for glory.
      In being anointed with the Spirit, and fitted for holy service.
      In being quickened into a high and holy fellowship with God.
      In being delighted with God, and so being ready to enjoy him.

  • It should be our present inquiry whether we are now "ready."

Some make no profession, never pray, nor praise.

Others make profession, but neither love, nor trust; they have lamps, but no oil with which to keep them burning.

2. What is this entrance? A going in unto glory to be for ever with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:17).

  • Immediate. "They that were ready went in." No sooner was the Bridegroom come, than they went in. Love brooks no delays.

  • Intimate. They "went in with him." This is the glory of heaven, and the crown of its joys, that we go into them with Jesus, who remains our constant Companion therein.

  • Joyous. "They went in with him to the marriage."

  • Personal. "They went in" – each one entered for herself.

  • Eternal. "The door was shut" – to shut them in for ever.

  • "He shutteth, and no man openeth" (Rev. 3:7).

  • Actual. In all the marriage-festival each one of the wise virgins had a share: indeed, they enjoyed more than appears in the parable, for they were brides, as well as maids of honor.
What a world of meaning lies in that abundant entrance which will be ministered to all the faithful! (2 Pet. 1:11).


1. What is this unreadiness?

  • It was the absence of a secret essential; but that absence was consistent with much apparent preparation.
    • These persons had the name and character of virgins.
      They had the lamps or torches of true bridesmaids.
      They were companions of the true virgins.
      They acted like the true; in their virtues and in their faults.
      They awakened as the true did, startled by the same cry.
      They prayed also, after a fashion–"give us of your oil."

  • Yet were they never ready to enter in with the King.

  • They had no heart-care to be found ready, hence flaming external lamps, but no hidden internal oil.

  • They had no faith-foresight; they had not provided for the probable waiting, and the late coming.

  • They played the fool with Christ's wedding-feast, not thinking it worth the purchase of a little oil, but going to it with torches which would inevitably go out in smoke.

  • They put off till night what should have been done at once.

2. What is this exclusion?

  • It was universal to all who were not ready.

  • It was complete: "the door was shut" – shut for those without quite as surely as for those within.

  • It was just; for they were not ready, and so slighted the King.

  • It was final. Since the fatal news that the door was shut, no news has come that it has been opened, or that it ever will be.
What if the cry were heard at this moment, "Behold he cometh"?

As yet the door is not shut. Be ready ere it closes.

Flashes from the Lamps

"Uncle Ned," a colored Baptist of the South, was talking with his former master's son. "Child," said the old man solemnly, "yer talk is too highfalutin' for me; but de Bible is plain as A-B-C, whar it says yer got ter'pent and be baptizen, or yer will be damned. Ise erfeared, fact I knows, yer's not dun nuther. 'Member, honey, ther Scripture says, 'keep yer lamp trum an' er burning, an' yer ile-can full to pour in it.'" "Now, Uncle Ned," was the evasive reply, "I hope you don't think my Lamp is without oil, do you?" "Child, 'tain't even got no wick in it. Fac' is, Ise erfearedyer ain't even got a lamp," muttered the old Negro, as he mournfully shambled off.

The poet Cowper tells us that, when under conviction of sin, he dreamed that he was walking in Westminster Abbey, waiting for prayers to begin. "Presently I heard the minister's voice, and hastened towards the choir. Just as I was upon the point of entering, the iron gate under the organ was flung in my face, with a jar that made the Abbey ring. The noise awakened me; and a sentence of excommunication from all the churches upon earth could not have been so dreadful to me as the interpretation which I could not avoid putting upon this dream."

Have you not felt a fainting of heart, and a bitterness of spirit, when, after much preparation for an important journey, you have arrived at the appointed place, and found that the ship or train, by which you intended to travel, had gone with all who were ready at the appointed time, and left you behind? Can you multiply finitude by infinitude? Can you conceive the dismay which will fill your soul if you come too late to the closed door of heaven, and begin the hopeless cry,"Lord, Lord, open to us"? —William Arnot

A lady, who heard Whitefield, in Scotland, preach upon the words, "And the door was shut," being placed near two dashing young men, but at a considerable distance from the pulpit, witnessed their mirth; and overheard one say, in a low tone, to the other, "Well, what if the door be shut? Another will open." Thus they turned off the solemnity of the text. Mr. Whitefield had not proceeded far when he said, "It is possible there may be some careless, trifling person here to-day, who may ward off the force of this impressive subject by lightly thinking, 'What matter if the door be shut? Another will open.'" The two young men were paralyzed, and looked at each other. Mr. Whitefield proceeded: "Yes; another will open. And I will tell you what door it will be: it will be the door of the bottomless pit! — the door of hell! — the door which conceals from the eyes of angels the horrors of damnation!"

Charles Hadden Spurgeon


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