when asked whether he was Elijah or not. But he was Christ's forerunner, appointed before birth to go before Him "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke i. 17), as the Angel Gabriel had predicted (Luke i. 19), and in this sense, as Malachi had foretold (Mal. iv. 5), he came as Elijah, living in much the same way (Matt. iii. 4) as the latter had done, often in the desert (I Kings xvii. 1-6).

3. Matt. xx. 1-16. In this parable some Muslims say that the "morning" represents the Jewish, "noon" the Christian, and "evening" the Muhammadan dispensation. But the "even" of ver. 8 is the time mentioned in ch. xix. 28, as "the Regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory", that is to say, at the end of the ages, when the Lord Jesus Christ shall come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory to judge the world (Matt. xxiv. 30, 31; Mark xiii. 26, 27; Luke xxi. 27; Rev. i. 7; xx. 11-15). This is clear from the fact that Matt. xx. begins with "for", and that the parable ends with the words, "So the last shall be first, and the first last", which are repeated with little change from the end of the preceding chapter. The evening of the world's history is now drawing nigh, and both Christians and Muslims expect the return of Christ to take place very soon. As He rules up to the end of the world, and is then to judge the quick and the dead at His appearance (2 Tim. iv. 1), there is no room for the Islamic dispensation. It cannot therefore be predicted in this parable.

4. Matt. xxi. 33-44 (see also Mark xii. 1-11; Luke xx. 9-18). Muslims argue that here Christ is prophesying of Muhammad's coming and the success of his arms. They admit that the householder is God, and that Christ in this parable is speaking of Himself when He mentions the householder's son. They admit that in the parable Christ speaks of Himself as slain by the Jews. It would be well if they would ponder these admissions. If Christ said this, then they must confess


that He is the Son of God, and that He died for men's sins. If this is admitted, there is no need to find a prophecy about Muhammad. But if they do not admit that this was said by Christ, then they have no right to assert that He spoke this parable at all, and hence its meaning is of no importance to them. Here then their argument at once breaks down. It should be noted also that in the parable there is no messenger sent after the Son. As the Muslims grant that the servants whom the householder sends are God's prophets, it is evident from the parable that no prophet was to be sent after Christ. Here for a second time their whole argument is refuted. Again, Christ quotes the statement about "the stone which the builders rejected" from Ps. cxviii. 22, and in Acts iv. 11, 12, Peter explains that the Psalmist meant Christ Himself by this stone.1 He says, "He is the stone which was set at nought OF YOU the builders." Therefore the builders were the Jews of His own time, and not Abraham and Ishmael, who built the Ka'bah, as the Muhammadan story asserts. The parable said that the Kingdom of God would be taken from the Jews and "given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof" (Matt. xxi. 43). Muslims hold that this means the sons of Ishmael; but the New Testament shows that it denotes the true believers in Christ, who are "an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession", chosen to show forth the excellences of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvellous light; "which in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy" (I Pet. ii. 9, 10). This passage teaches us also what were the fruits which the Lord God required to be produced. The same lesson is taught in Titus ii. 14 (compare Gal. v. 22-24). The "other husbandmen" to whom the vineyard was to be given are explained to be the Christian Church, and the vineyard is the Kingdom of

1 See also 1 Pet. ii. 4-8.