and hired others,
without stipulating what he should pay them. Each hour of the day, from the first to the
eleventh, the man went through the streets and
engaged men to work in his fields, saying to each, " Whatsoever is right I will pay you."
When the day was done he ordered his steward to call all the laborers and pay them their hire, beginning with the last engaged.
Therefore those that were engaged at the eleventh hour were paid first, and each man received
received the same wage as the first who were hired. Seeing how liberal the man had been to those who had not worked above one hour, those who worked twelve hours expected to receive a sum proportionate to the time of their
service. But upon receiving their pay, they found that they, too, had received
the same wage - for which they had agreed to work.
Thereupon they bitterly complained of their employer's injustice, saying "These whom you first
paid have worked but one hour, and you have made them equal to us, which have borne the burden and heat of the entire day."
But the man reminded the complainers that he had fulfilled his promise, and that
they had no right to charge him with injustice when he had paid them the sum which they freely engaged to work for.
"Is it not lawful," said he, " to do what I will with
my own money?"
This parable was recited to illustrate the character of God's mercy; that the promise of eternal life is held out to all men, and that there are
no measures of glory whereby men shall be rewarded in proportion to the length of their service in God's vineyard; but that all who are absolved
completely from guilt, through the acceptance of the Holy Spirit. Even if the change
from sin to righteousness is made within the last hour of life, the reward shall be as great as the mercy of God can make it.