Matthew 20:16. So the last shall be first, and the first last The Gentiles last called, and last in advantages and privileges, not having been favoured in that respect as the Jews were, and despised and looked down upon with contempt by the Jews; shall be first Shall more readily, and in far greater numbers, embrace the gospel than the Jews, and shall far exceed them in knowledge and wisdom, holiness and usefulness, and make abundantly greater progress than they in true religion. And many, whether Jews or Gentiles, that were called long after others, and even late in life, yet being more zealous and diligent in the use of means, and in the exercise of every grace and virtue, and the employment of every talent intrusted with them, shall, in every branch of godliness and righteousness, far excel others who set out in the ways of God long before them. See note on Matthew 19:30. For many be called Even all who hear the gospel, whether Jews or Gentiles; but few chosen Only those who obey it; and even many who do for a time obey it, and that in reality, and are therefore, οι κλητοι , the called of Jesus Christ, Romans 1:6; yet not persevering to give diligence to make their calling and election sure, by adding to their faith every grace, as directed by St. Peter, 2d Epist. Matthew 1:5-10, are not finally chosen to everlasting life, but excluded the marriage-feast for want of a wedding-garment: for without holiness no man shall see the Lord, and only he that is faithful unto death shall receive the crown of life. It seems necessary, before we dismiss this parable, to caution the reader against concluding, from any part of its contents, that the rewards to be conferred after death, or at the day of judgment, will be equal in all that receive them. For this would be to make the parable contradict a vast variety of the plainest passages of the New Testament, which assure us, in the most positive manner, that when our Lord cometh, his reward is with him, to give unto every man according as his work shall be, that is, in proportion to the degree of the inward and outward holiness which he had attained in the days of his flesh, and according to the efforts he had made and the diligence he had used to glorify God, and serve his generation in obedience to the divine will: and according to the sufferings which he had patiently endured. For, as one star differeth from another star in glory, so shall it be with the saints at the resurrection of the dead.
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