324 Monday after Tenth Sunday after Trinity.
Lord, we will keep thy statutes; O forsake us not utterly. Amen.
Isaiah 5, 1-7. Now will I sing to my well-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 thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 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? And now, go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up: and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: And I will lay it .waste: it shall not be pruned nor digged: but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
“What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” says the Lord in regard to Israel; and must the same thing not be said of us? He has planted us to be his church, and fenced us in with his almighty power and fidelity, bestowed upon us rich and beautiful gifts, given us the light of his word, appointed watchmen among us, and chastened us according to our need and strength; — what could have been done more to us, that he has not done? He delivered up his only Son to die for us; and all paths on which he led us were paths of mercy and salvation. “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?” Yes; why are we evil, and bring forth evil fruits? Of a truth, it is deplorable. Here grow hatred and falsehood, deceit and injustice, idolatry and covetousness, enmity and contentions, gluttony and drunkenness and lasciviousness; and they who avoid these things look calmly on, and say and do nothing; or they take hold with the wrong hand, because they are wanting in love. Alas, love is wanting; but why? After his ineffable grace and mercy toward us the Lord might well “look for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry!” His love should have knit our hearts together, and embellished us all with the beautiful fruits of the Spirit; but behold, we are cold and divided, and agree only in love of self; resembling indeed the like poles of a magnet, which repel each other. Therefore the Lord must remove the candlestick from us, except we repent. He says: “I will lay my vineyard waste, and there shall come up briers and thorns.” He has done this with the people of Israel, though they were the choicest vine which he had planted. Their city is a waste, and the people scattered to all the winds. These conditions now obtain before our eyes, and serve as a warning to us. — Let our scripture lesson impress upon us these two things, between which there is an intimate connection: 1) God has given us abundantly all grace and every gift, that we lack nothing needful to faith and holiness. 2) If we do not bring forth better fruit than heretofore, he will take the light from us; and we deserve this judgment.
We pray thee, merciful God, help us to see and hear, in order that we may escape destruction. Wake us, and let the Holy Spirit be victorious. This is yet the prayer of all the upright. Have mercy on our people. Drive out the evil spirit, thou strong and faithful, longsuffering and merciful God; and let the Spirit of grace and peace obtain victory in us and among us, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Send forth thy heralds, Lord, to call
The thoughtless young, the hardened old,
A scattered homeless flock, till all
Be gathered to thy peaceful fold.
Send them thy mighty word to speak,
Till faith shall dawn and doubt depart,
To awe the bold, and stay the weak,
And bind and heal the broken heart.