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[Moral qualities are often represented under the figure of a garment—

The scripture speaks of them as even constituting the wedding-garment

doubt but that our meetness for hea

Nor can there be any ven consists in them—

On this account we are commanded to "put on the new

man

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And are cautioned against sin as that which defiles our gar

mentsm

Without such qualities we can never be admitted to the divine presence”—

But, if we possess them, we shall surely be counted worthy to enjoy ito-]

We should however be careful not to confound these two ideas

[The righteousness of Christ is necessary to justify us in the sight of God

And an inward personal righteousness is necessary to make us meet for glory

Neither of these can in anywise be dispensed withYet we should carefully distinguish their respective officesWe must not separate them, as though either were sufficient of itself

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Nor must we confound them, as though they were united in procuring the divine favour

We must guard equally against antinomianism on the one hand, and self-righteousness on the other

While we trust in Christ alone for salvation, we must seek to be renewed after the divine image

It is in this way only that we can gain admission to the marriage supper

The obtaining of this wedding-garment is of infinite importance

II. What punishment awaits those that are destitute of it

A person habited in mean apparel would not be suffered to continue at the wedding feast of an earthly monarch Much less shall guilty and polluted souls sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven

[The king, in the parable, was filled with indignation at the intrusion of the unworthy guest—

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i Rev. xix. 7, 8.

m Rev. xvi. 15.

He ordered him to be bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darknessP

This fitly represents the vengeance that will be inflicted on all such intruders

They may come in for awhile and join themselves to the Lord's people-

But when the king himself shall see the guests, he will fix his eyes on them-

He will cast them out from the place they had so presumptuously occupied

They shall never dwell in the mansions of light and glory above

But take their portion in the regions of darkness and despair

And there bewail for ever their irremediable delusions-] Nor will their punishment in any respect exceed their guilt

[The intruder, in the parable, could make no reply to the the king's address

He knew that he had rejected the offer of a wedding-gar

ment

And presumptuously supposed that his own was good enough

for the occasion

Thus he had poured contempt on the liberality and kindness of the king

And was therefore compelled by his own conscience to acknowledge the justice of the sentence passed upon himWho then amongst us shall expect to imitate him with impunity?

To us has our Lord repeatedly offered a wedding-garmentUs has he often counselled to receive his robe of righteous

ness.

We have been invited to go to him for the influences of his spirits

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Shall we then expect admission into heaven if we reject his offers?

The room where the company was entertained being richly illuminated, the person cast out of it is said to be cast into outer darkness. How awfully applicable to those who shall be cast out of hea ven!

9 He might have urged, That being brought suddenly out of the highways he had neither time to borrow, nor money to purchase, a wedding-garment. But this would have been to no purpose. Opu. lent persons had large wardrobes for the accommodation of all their guests. Lucullus at Rome was famed for having at least two hundred changes of raiment, or as Horace, by a poetical licence, says, five thousand. No doubt therefore a proper garment would have been lent him for the occasion, if he had chosen to accept it.

Rev. iii. 18.

s John vii. 37-39,

Or shall we accuse him of severity if he cast us headlong into hell?

Surely if we rest in any thing short of justification by his blood and renovation by his spirit, we shall be self-condemned for ever-]

IMPROVEMENT

1. For conviction

[As Christians we profess to have accepted the Saviour's invitation

And to feast at his table here as an earnest of that richer feast above

But have we indeed received Christ as our righteousness?t

Are we also renewed by his Spirit in our inward man?". We may easily deceive those who minister to us here below

But "the king, who will come in to see the guests," can never be deceived

However specious a garb we may have prepared for ourselves, he will easily distinguish it from that which he has given to his people

Nor would he fail to discover the hypocrite, even if there were only one to be found in his whole church

Surely then it becomes us to guard against self-deceptionWe may now obtain from him a meetness to feast with his chosen

But if we persist in our delusion, we shall find him inexorably severe-]

2. For consolation

[Some perhaps are troubled on account of their past presumption

Especially, that they have unworthily communicated at the

Lord's table

Well indeed may such guilt fill them with compunction But, however presumptuously we have acted in past times, we have no reason to despond→→→

A wedding-garment is now offered to all who see their need of it

Though we were of the poorest or vilest of mankind, it should not be withheld from us--`

Nor, however many guests may come, will there be any deficiency of raiment for them all

Let all then accept the free invitation of the gospelAnd thankfully put on the garment which the master of the feast has prepared for them

t 2 Cor. v. 21. Jer. xxiii. 6.

u 2 Cor. iv. 16.

Thus, though unworthy in themselves, they shall be accounted worthy through Christ—

And shall sit down for ever at the marriage feast in heaven-]

CCLXXIII. THE BUDDING FIG-TREE.

Luke xxi. 29-31. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig-tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your ownselves, that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see those things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.

It was no small advantage to our Lord's stated followers, that they could ask him more particularly respecting any thing which they did not perfectly understandOf this privilege they often availed themselves, and obtained satisfactory information on many important points -Our Lord told them that the time was coming when that temple, which they so much admired, should be utterly destroyed-This was so contrary to their expectations, that they begged to know both the period to which he referred, and the particular signs whereby its approach might be ascertained-To this our Lord gave a very full reply; and illustrated his discourse by a parable taken from the season of the year, and, most probably, from the prospect then before their eyes-This parable, with the application of it, shews us

1

I. That we ought to notice the signs which God has given us

There is scarcely any thing needful for us to know, which is not discoverable by certain signs even before it actually exists, or is fully accomplished-We may notice

this

1. In the works of nature

[Our Lord justly observes that the seasons which succeed each other do not come upon us unawares, but manifest their approach by certain signs-The prophet describes the very birds of the air as instinctively observing their appointed times And it is of the greatest importance to us in all our

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a Jer. viii. 7.

agricultural and commercial concerns to do the same--Indeed, if we should neglect such precautions, we should deprive ourselves in many instances of the comforts, if not the necessaries, of life—]

2. In the works of Providence

[Those great dispensations referred to in the text were, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the consequent enlargement of the Redeemer's kingdom-The time when they were to take place was to be known by impostors arrogating to themselves the Messiah's office; by bitter persecutions raised against the church, and lamentable apostasies occasioned by them; by destructive wars on earth, and tremendous signs in heaven: and particularly by the Roman standard being planted upon holy ground, when their armies should enclose and besiege Jerusalem-It was of infinite moment to the church to notice these signs; for, on their observation of them, under God, depended all their safety-And their attention to them enabled them to embrace the interval, when the siege was raised, to effect their escape; whereby they were preserved, while the whole nation besides were left to suffer the greatest extremities

The signs of other times are not so clearly marked; and therefore cannot be so confidently interpreted: but it is wise to notice them with care; and our Lord warns us that our observations on the weather will turn to our condemnation, if we do not endeavour to improve with equal diligence our observations on the works of Providenceb]

3. In the works of grace

[The conversion of the soul is preceded by many symptoms from which we may form a reasonable judgment-When we behold an humiliation for sin, a teachableness of mind, a love to ordinances, a diligence in duties, a renunciation of the world, and other similar marks, we may augur well respecting the event-And it is desirable to attend to these symptoms, because we may often derive from them a comfortable hope, when other circumstances might be ready to overwhelm us with despair-Our Lord himself formed his judgment upon these grounds; and we shall turn our observations to good account, if we follow his example-]

Though we are liable to mistake when we have not God for our guide, yet we are sure

II. That whatever God has signified to us in his word shall in due time be accomplished

b Matt. xvi. 2, 3.

Mark xii. 34.

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