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to that religious dispensation, which qualifies them for obtaining, and encourages them in hoping for it. In the second place, I would observe, that the imagery of a feast is used by the sacred writers to signify both; and it may not be impertinent to add, that this phraseology is not peculiar to the scriptures ; for, without calling in the aid of similar passages, which occur in several Greek poets, and in an ancient Greek philosopher, I think it sufficient to remind you that Virgil, in one of his eclogues, and Horace, in one of his odes, have adopted the same metaphor, in describing the exalted state of those persons, who, from the splendour of their characters, were admitted into the presence of the Gods.

We now proceed to the state of the parable—to explain its various parts, and thus gradually lead you into the fair and full import of the text itself.

The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a feast, which a king (or rather a nobleman) had made for his son.

His servants are sent to call them who were bidden, and they would not come. Again, he sends forth other servants, who in terms of stronger importunity endeavoured to hasten their arrival, and who in the most engaging forms of description, represented the oxen and fatlings as killed, an all things as ready. But one went to his farm, another to his merchandize, and the rest were so unmoved by the kindness, and so unawed by the authority, of him who invited them, that they treated spitefully, and even barbarously slew, his servants. The king with just and terrible rage, sent forth his armies and slew them. The wedding, says he, is ready, but they who were bidden, are not worthy. Go ye

into the high-ways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. They gather the good and the bad, and the wedding is furnished with guests. One man, however, had not on a wedding garment. The king commands him to be cast into outer darkness. Then follows the text, for many are called, but few are chosen.

Now the kingdom of heaven implies the Gospel published by Jesus Christ, enlightened by his doctrine, confirmed by his miracles, adorned by his virtues, and sealed with his most precious blood. The feast represents that kingdom from its primary institution, through all its successive stages, up to its final completion. The servants first sent are Moses and the prophets, who followed him in the early parts of the Jewish economy, and by whom the minds of the Jewish nation were to be prepared by degrees for the brighter hopes and purer laws of the Gospel. They who would not come are the obstinate and stiff-necked Jews, who often relapsed into the impure tenets of polytheism, and the odious ceremonies of idolators. The servants sent again to invite them are partly the later prophets, in whose writings there are clearer predictions concerning the promised Messiah, and more brilliant descriptions of the glories that were to be displayed in his approaching kingdom; and partly, under the same appellation we must rank our blessed Lord himself, and his immediate disciples, by whom God's covenanted mercies were more graciously offered, and more authoritatively proclaimed.

They who slew them are the later Jews, who it seems were more bigotted even than their forefathers to the dead letter of the law, whose understandings had been perverted by the coarse and mutilated notions of philosophy which they had gathered up during the captivity, and whose spirits were rendered more stubborn and more ferocious by the temporary suspension of their religious and civil immunities. Hence they turned a deaf ear to the mild and courteous invitations, and even to the solemn and awful remonstrances of our holy Redeemer. They imputed his wonderful acts of power and mercy to the agency of Beelzebub. They dragged the Saviour of the world to an ignominious death on the cross, and they harrassed with unrelenting severity all who were melted by his benevolence, all who were astonished at his wisdom, and all who in the gloomy hour of persecution yet adhered to his cause.

When the king is said to send forth his armies, we are to understand that God made the Romans the instruments of his offended justice upon the Jews, for after many contentions and much bloodshed a siege of Jerusalem was commenced, in the course of which, and the war immediately preceding it, no less than eleven hundred thousand men are known to have perished amidst the distresses of famine, and the havock of the sword. After this, God sent his servants into the high-ways, and directs them to ask all whom they should find, for he was unwilling that so noble and costly an entertainment should be prepared in vain. That is, the Apostles and first propagators of Christianity

are commissioned to go into the Gentile world, in order to spread wider the tidings of salvation ; and the heathens, it seems, to whom this invitation was first addressed, were not so negligent and ungrateful as the Jews, to whom it had been repeatedly offered. They came from the east and the west, and from the north and the south ; the fiery African, the luxurious Asiatic, the ferocious German, the fastidious Greek, and the imperious Roman, embraced the benevolent proffer of everlasting happiness, and bowed the knee before the cross of their Saviour. Thus the Gospel flourished in many countries ; it was read in many languages, it was gradually received under the protection of many states-or, in other words, the wedding was furnished with guests.

And one came in, that had not on a wedding garment. I must here stop to explain some circumstances to which there is a proper and manifest allusion in the parable.

The Jews are known in past, and even in present times, to celebrate their marriages with great splendour. The feasts usually continued six or seven days. Their most intimate friends and nearest relations were bidden. The time of holding them was night, and the custom was for every attendant to wear a purple garment out of respect to the parties, and as a mark of the distinction shown to himself by the invitation. Now as our blessed Lord knew these ceremonies well, and as he addressed the parable to those who practised them, no room was left for misapprehension in their minds, and a little attention

will equally secure us from mistake. The want of a wedding-garment, considered in reference to one who came in from the high-ways implies a wavering, a languid, or corrupt faith, the want of a steady spirit, or an honest heart. The person who wanted it was one of the Gentiles, to whom the Gospel was preached after it had been rejected by the Jews. The sentence of driving him into outer darkness implies the punishment, whatever it might be, which was due to his crimes. And then follows the text, which

says, not only in relation to those who came in last, but to those who would not come in at all, many are called, but few are chosen. Here however I must beg of you to observe that the expression of outer darkness does not necessarily imply the gloomy and wretched mansions of the damned. But how can this be? Outer darkness, you will

is terrible to the imagination, and the terrors of the description are heightened by what our Lord adds — there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Very true ; but the allusion is yet preserved to Jewish customs ; it signifies the darkness that was out of the house, within which the wedding is celebrated with a display of grandeur, and in cheerfulness of heart. Hence the gnashing of teeth emphatically and exactly describes the extreme mortification of a guest, who wishing to partake of the feast, and having entered into the room, was rejected from it with every aggravated indignity, for the want of a proper qualification. So that the expression of darkness does not surely mean the darkness of hell, but the darkness of night, in which the degraded


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