« AnteriorContinuar »
Cd all his faithsul servants in every age and nation of the world, that part with any thing which is dear and valuable to them for the sake of the Gofpel. Whoever has passed' any time in the world, must have seen that every man who is sincere in the prosession of his religion, who sets God always before him, and who seeks above all things his savor and approbation, must sometimes make great and painsul sacrisices to the commands of his Maker and Redeemer; and whoever does so, whoever gives up his pleasures, his interests, his same, his savorite pursuits, his fondest wishes, and his strongest passions, for the sake of his duty, and in consormity to the will of his heavenly Father, may rest assured, that he shall in no wise lofe his reward. He shall in a degree proportioned to the selfdenial he has exercised, and the sufferings he has undergone, experience the present comfort and support here promised to the apostlesand shall also, though not to the same extent, have an extraordinary recompence in the kingdom of heaven.
Let no one then be deterred from persevering in the path of duty, whatever discouragements, disssiculties, or obstructions he may meet with in his progress, either from the struggles he has with his own corrupt affections, or from the malevolence of the world. Let him not sear to encounter, what he must expect to meet with, oppofition, contumely, contempt and ridicule; let him not sear the enmity of prossigate and unprincipled men; but let him go on undaunted and undismayed in that uniform tenor of piety and benevolence, of purity, integrity, and uprightness of conduct, which will not sail to bring him peace at the last. Let him not be surprized or alarmed if he is not exempt from the common lot of every sincere and zealous Christian; if he sinds it by his own experience to be true, what an apostle of Christ has long since prepared him to expect, that whofoever will live godly in Christ Jesus shall in one way or other fuffer perfecution. But let him remember at the same time the reviving and consolatory declaration of his divine Master; "Blessed are ye when men shall' resile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of e^ against you salsely for my sake. Rejoice, and be excising glad; for great is your reward in heaven."
J NOW pass on to the twenty-second chapterof Sti. Matthew, in which our blessed Lord introduces the following parable:
"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king* •which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding, and they would not come. Again he sent forth other servants, saying, tell them which are bidden, Behold I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my sadings are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his sarm, another to his merchandize; and the remnant took his servants and entreated them spitesully, and flew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth; and he sent forth his armies^ and destroyed thofe murderers, and burnt up their city. Then saith he to his servants, the wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall sind, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they could sind, both bad and good, and the wedding was surnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment. And he saith unto him, Friend, how earnest thou in hither, not having on a wedding garment? and he was speechless. Then said the king to his servants, bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth; for many are called, but sew are chofen."
The primary and principal object of this parable is torepresent, under the image of a marriage seast, the invitation given to the Jews to embrace the Gofpel, their rejection of that gracious offer, the severe punishment inslicted upon them for their ingratitude and obstinacy, and the admission of the Heathens to the privileges of Christianity in their room.
"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son."
That is, the dispensations of the Almighty, with re/pest to the Christian religion, which is called the kingdom of heaven, may be compared to the conduct of a certain king-, who (ai was the custom in thofe times, especially among the eastern nations) gave a splendid seast in consequence of his son's marriage. And in this comparison there is a peculiar propriety, because both the Jewish and the Christian covenant are frequently represented in Scripture under the similitude of a marriage contract between God and his people*. "And he sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding, and they would not come. Again he sent forth other servants, saying, tell them which are bidden, Behold I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my satlings are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the marriage." This signisies the various and repeated offers of the Gofpel to the 3ews; sirst by John the Baptist, then by our Saviour himself, then by his apostles and the seventy disciples, both before and after his ascension.
But all these gracious offers the greater part of the nation rejected with scorn. They would not come to the marriage; they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his sarm, another to his merchandise; and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and Hew them. They not only ssighted and treated with contempt the words of eternal lise, and preserred the pleasures and the interests of the present lise to all the joys of heaven, but they pursued, with unceasing rancour, the sirst preachers of the Gofpel, and persecuted them even unto death.
» See Isaiah liv. 5. Jeremiah iii. 8. Matth, xxv. j. a Cor. au, a.
"But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed these murderers, and burnt up their city." This points out, in the plainest terms, the Roman armies under Vespasian and Titus» which not many years after this was spoken, besieged Jerusalem, and destroyed the city, and' slaughtered an immense number of the inhabitants. This terrible devastation our Lord here predicts in general terms, as he does more particularly and minutely in the twenty-fourth. chapter; and he here represents it as the judgment of God on this perverse and obstinate people for their rejection of the Christian religion, their savage treatment of the apostles and their associates, and their many other atrocious crimes. This punishment however is here, by anticipation, represented as having been inssicted during the marriage seast; though it did not in sact take place till afterwards, till after the Gofpel had been for some time promulgated.
"Then said he to his servants, the wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall sind bid to the marriage. So thofe servants went out into the high-ways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good; and the wedding was surnished with guests."
It may be thought, perhaps, at the sirst view, that our Lord has here introduced a circumstance not very natural or probable. It may be imagined that at a magnisicent royal entertainment, if any of the guests happened to sail in their attendance, a great king would never think of supplying their places by sending his servants into the highways to collect together all the travellers and strangers they could meet with, and make them sit down at the marriage seast. But strange as this may seem j there is something that approaches very near to it in t«e customs of the eastern nations, even in modern times. For a traveller of great credit and reputation, Dr. Pococke, insorms us, that an Arab prince will often dine in the street before his door, and call to all that pass, even to beggars, in the name of God, and they come and sit down to table;