What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? why, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes…
There is something very affecting, very startling, in the assertion that as much had been done as could be done in order to produce from the ancient Church the "fruits of righteousness." And, if you only ponder the arrangements of the Gospel, you will feel forced to assent to the reproachful truth which is conveyed in the question of the text. There is a wonderful variety in the arguments and appeals which are addressed in Scripture to the thoughtless and obdurate. At one time they are attacked with terrors, at another acted upon by the loving kindness of God, and allured by the free mercies of the Gospel. In our text there is nothing alleged but the greatness of what God has done for us — a greatness such that nothing more can be done, consistently, at least, with that moral accountableness which must regulate the amount of influence which God brings to bear upon man. Of course, if this be so, then, if we are not convinced and renewed under the existing instrumentality, there is nothing that can avert from us utter destruction.
I. This is the first way of vindicating the question of our text — atheism has a far better apology for resisting the evidences of a God which are spread over creation, than worldly-mindedness for manifesting insensibility to redemption through Christ. It is not, we think, too bold a thing to say, that in redeeming us, God exhausted Himself. He gave Himself; what greater gift could remain unbestowed! Therefore it is the fact that nothing more could have been done for the vineyard, which proves the utter ruin which must follow neglect of the proffered salvation. Having shown yourselves too hard to be softened by that into which Deity has thrown all His strength, too proud to be humbled by that which involved the humiliation of God, too grovelling to be attracted by that which unites the human and the Divine, too cold to be warmed by that which burns with all the compassions of that Infinite One, whose very essence is love, — may we not argue that you thus prove to yourselves that there is no possible arrangement by which you could be saved?
II. Consider more in detail what has been done for the vineyard, in order to bring out, in all its reproachfulness, the question before us.
1. As much has been done as could have been done because of the agency through which redemption was effected. The Author of our redemption was none other than the eternal Son of God, who had covenanted from all eternity to become the surety and substitute for the fallen. So far as we have the power of ascertaining, no being but a Divine taking to Himself flesh, could have satisfied justice in the stead of fallen man. But this is precisely the arrangement which has been made on our behalf.
2. As much has been done as could have been done for the "vineyard," regard being had to the completeness and fullness of the work as well as to the greatness of its Author. The sins of the whole race were laid upon Christ; and such was the value which the Divinity gave to the endurances of the humanity, that the whole race might be pardoned if the whole race would put faith in the Mediator as punished in their stead. The scheme of redemption not only provides for our pardon, so that punishment may be avoided; it provides also for our acceptance, so that happiness may be obtained. Not only is there full provision for every want, but there is the Holy Spirit to apply the provision, and make it effectual in the individual case.
3. There is yet one more method of showing that so much has been done for the "vineyard" that there remains nothing more which the Owner can do. In the teachings of the Redeemer we have such clear information as to our living under a retributive government, — a government whose recompenses shall be accurately dealt out in another state of being, — that ignorance can be no man's excuse if he live as though God took no note of human actions. And we reckon that much of what has been done for the "vineyard" consists in the greatness of the reward which the Gospel proposes to righteousness, and the greatness of the punishment which it denounces on impenitence.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?