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plied, to the great dismay of well-meaning Christians, and the great dishonour of Christianity itself. For if we should for a moment admit that it does point to a future judgment, the fair and obvious deduction to be made from it is the very reverse of that, which rash and misguided enthusiasts are so prone to expect and eager to enforce. Many persons are collected from the high-ways and the hedges, and even the good and the bad are admitted, and sit down at the feast. But we hear of one, and of one only, who was cast into outer darkness ; and this too, not from any arbitrary rejection pronounced by the master of the feast, but through his own voluntary misbehaviour. Now, if only one was cast out, the text does not indirectly countenance the gloomy descriptions, and frantic assertions of those, who suppose that they do honour to God, when they represent the greater part of his creatures as cut off from his favour. If only one was cast out, it cannot be said of the persons with whoin he sat down, that many are called, but few are chosen ; for of all that were called, according to this hypothesis, all were chosen except one; and for the rejection of this one a specific, an adequate and

just reason is assigned-because he had not on a wedding garment.

In the foregoing interpretation I have intentionally not availed myself of such aid as might easily be drawn from verbal criticism, or metaphysical distinction. I have spoken in common language the dictates of common sense. From the whole of the parable perspicuously, I hope, and impartially explained, I have reasoned on that which appears to be the meaning of the text, and by comparing the words themselves, even with the part of the parable immediately preceding, I have shown, upon the predestinarian's own limitations, what the meaning cannot be.

In respect to the comparative number of those who will, or will not be saved in the last day, religion does not authorize us to form an unfavourable opinion, and humanity surely inclines us to hope, that as the present life, amidst all its anxious cares, all its galling disappointments, all its moral, all its physical imperfections, is, on the whole, friendly to virtue and happiness; the scenes to be hereafter disclosed, will terminate in the greatest possible good to the greater part of our species. As to the fact itself, the Scriptures are silent; and confident I am that the text, either according to the inconsistencies of the interpretation I oppose, or according to the plain and obvious one, which many approve, furnishes not the slightest information. Instead, therefore, of torturing the words of our Lord in order to support our own wild and fierce decisions about the pains of hell, we should have rather recourse to history, and consider how far the lenient explanation which I have recommended, is made probable by the course of God's providence in the religious government of his creatures during the present life.

But the text, you will reply, says plainly and peremptorily, that many are called, and few are chosen. It does so, and in reference to all the parties enu

merated in the parable, to those who, at various times, and in various forms were bidden, the assertion is to me intelligible. Consider how frequently the Jews deserted or violated the law-how long, and how obstinately they resisted the Gospel-consider how many difficulties obstructed its progress through the countries where it is now believed consider how many nations yet sit in darkness, and how large a portion of the world which once were blessed with the light, are now deprived of it-and above all, consider how many who profess it by their words, dishonour it by their actions. But many of you are called, and no wonder is it that few have been yet chosen, when the offers of salvation are so little regarded by those who hear them, and so much slighted by others, who will not listen to them at all.

You see then, that I consider the text as referring to the whole parable—that with this reference there is nothing very hyperbolical or improbable in the assertion that few were chosen—and that, according to the opinions of those who would narrow the premises to the condition of the persons who were last bidden, the narrative is at open and direct variance with the conclusion. You see further, that neither from the less punishment of him who was cast into outer darkness for the want of a wedding garment, nor from the greater punishment of those who were destroyed by the king's armies because they had slain his servants, are we authorised to form any

minute calculations, or any general hypothesis on the number of those who will be con

demned or rewarded in the great and awful day of
judgment; and finally, you see that, as all these
offences of all the parties were voluntary, the text
cannot, without the most glaring absurdity, and
even the most desperate presumption, be pressed
into the service of those, who call themselves the
advocates of election and predestination.
To conclude. It has ever been

my
fixed

persuasion, that in the explanation of parables, the peculiar and distinguishing genius of the composition itself, the main and ultimate views of the speaker, and the local and national circumstances of the audience should be carefully observed, and that no doctrine of great pith and moment should ever be extorted from particular and detached passages alone. Those passages are sometimes allusive to manners, and clothed with metaphor ; they are employed sometimes to decorate, and sometimes to enforce. They suggest, but rarely establish, some collateral truth. They illustrate the general meaning; they invigorate the general effect; but they occupy too narrow a space, and they are composed of materials too scanty and too brittle to support those large and irregular, and ponderous superstructures, which are often heaped upon them by fanatics ---by dogmatists — by zealots without knowledge, and bigots without charity. And sure I am, that the text we have just been considering, when wrenched away from the main body of the parable, is not sufficient to form a foundation, so broad and so seated, that we may rest upon it all the complicated and comprehensive principles of God's religious govern

ment, and all the eternal interests of all those beings who are the subjects of that government in all countries, both within and without the pale of Christianity, and in all ages, both before and after its publication.

To the great and general scope of parables, therefore, our attention should be chiefly directed; and with the result of this alone, whether it be a precept to regulate our practice, or a proposition to exercise our faith, we should always be contented. Now the evident and direct design of the parable before us is, to show that God's benevolent purposes to establish the Gospel were often counteracted, that the Jews were punished for their contumacious rejection of it, and that though Gentiles are among those who were admitted to the feast, all were not worthy of partaking it. The indirect and more extensive application of it may show that God is gracious, though man be unthankful, that he offers his favours to all, and that many will not accept them; that his approbation will be conferred on those who entertain a right sense, and make a wise use of them, and that the ungrateful or the perverse have no right to expect a continuance of blessings they are too infatuated or too depraved to apply.

What remains for us, my brethren, but to pour forth our fervent prayers, and to exert our most strenuous efforts, that we who are called among other Christians in this life, may make our calling and election sure in that which is to come.

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