Labor According To Thy Ability
The wise Gamaliel was once instructing his disciples in the different duties, to the discharge of which every man is bound. But the youngest of them had not yet attained such height as to feel that virtue was in itself so lovely, that for itself, and for its own sake, it was to be practiced. He therefore looked for some reward beside that which it bears so richly, so abundantly in itself, and he said to his teacher, “Master, wilt thou tell us wherefore it is that God hath not affixed to each particular good work its own special peculiar reward?” And the wise Gamaliel said, “I will endeavor to answer this question, as I have done too many others, by parable.” The disciples were hushed in reverent silence, and the teacher spoke thus:–“In the climes of the East, there lived a king who desired to lay out around his palace a beautiful and splendid garden. He called the laborers into it, and left each one free to adorn his garden with whatever tree or shrub, his fancy most preferred, the only condition prescribed being that the garden should be fully stocked, and that nothing should be wanting. The work went rapidly on, and when it was fully completed the king summoned all the laborers before him, and each one named the vegetable, or flower, or tree, which he had planted in the garden. “Nothing was wanting; no herb, no flower, nor shrub, nor tree. The glorious tulip, the lowly violet, the bright-hued rose, the soft lilly, all were there. From the fruit tree with boughs pendent with luxuriant clusters to the small herb, from the cedar to the hyssop on the wall, not one was missing; and the king looked around upon his garden, and smiled in his joy, for behold it was richly and abundantly stored and he gave to each laborer according to his work.” The teacher was silent. “How is this tale the answer to our question?” said the disciples. “Is my meaning hidden from you?” returned the master. “Think once again, and you will perceive that had the king specified the reward for each particular plant he would have defeated his own object. Would not every one of the workmen have bestowed his labor upon that to which the highest reward was affixed, and the result would have been that the king’s garden would have presented one dull and cheerless uniformity, instead of the now diversified beauty, and varied utility which made the king’s heart glad as he gazed upon the work of the voluntary choice, which made each plant a free-will offering on the part of his servants. Now, suppose the spiritual kingdom of God to be his garden, his servants to be the laborers called to work in it, and you have an answer to your question.” Krummacher (The True Wesleyan, July 13, 1850 Vol. VIII. No. 28)