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[Moral qualities are often represented under the figure of a garmenth— ... ,

The scripture speaks of them as even constituting the Wedding-garment'— l!B

Nor can there be any doubt but that our mcctness for heaven consists in themk— ■ • .1

On this account we are commanded to "put on the new man"i— , ....;

And are cautioned against sin as that which defiles our garments"'— . .. , , -. . .. (-. ■;

Without such qualities we can never be admitted to the divine presence"-— /.,-fi;

But, if we possess them, we shall surelv lie counted worthy to enjoy.it"—]

We should however be carefat 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 with—•■. ": ■

Yet we should carefully distinguish their respective offices—

We must not separate them, as though either Were sufficient of itself— '. ■■ ■.

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

We must guard equally against antiwomiaflism on the one handT and self-righteousness on the other—

While we trust in Christ alone for salvation, we mtrs-t seefS 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 ft A person habited in mean apparel would not be sufc

fered 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 Lumb in heaven

[The king, in the parable, was filled with indignation at the

intrusion of the unworthy guest— „.. jiii . /

..I ■ i .t| i I

& Ps. exxxii. 9. Job xxix. U. 'Rev.xix. 7, 8. ,

* Col. i. 12. [' Eph. iv. 24. °> Rev-;RVJ. IS.

n Heb. xii. 14. * Rev. ill- iv.

Vol. III. Dd '}

-.' II-I. JM.J--.t I". ',*'.. . =

He ordered him to be bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darknes$P—

. 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 4

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-garment—<- .'< i /

And presumptuously supposed that his own was good enougli for the occasion—

Thus he had poured contempt on the liberality and kindness of .halving-

And was therefore compelled by his own conscience to acknowledge the justice of the sentence passed upon him—

Who then amongst us shall expect to imitate him with im . jrunity?— (.: ■,

To us has our Lord repeatedly offered a wedding-garment— - Us has he often counselled to receive his robe of righteousness'—

We have been invited to go to him for the influences of his spirit"—

Shall we then expect admission into heaven if wc reject his offers?-*;'

>'l'he room where the company w.is entertained being richly illuminated, the- person cast out of it is said to be cast into outer darknrjssi How awfully applicable to tliose who shall be cast out of heaven!

* He might have urged, That being brought suddenly out of the highways lie had neither time to borrow, nor money to purchase,* wedding-garment. But this would have beefi to no purpose. Opulent persons had large wardrobes for the accommodation of all their guests. Luc.tillusat Home was famed for having at least two hundred changes or 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.

uRev. iii. 18. "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 Saviours invitation—

And to feast at his table here as an earnest of that richer feast above— But have we indeed received Christ a3 our righteousness?r

Are we also renewed by his Spirit in our inward man?u— 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 our-' selves, 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-deception— We 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— -t

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 gospel-—

And thankfully put on the garment which the master of the feast has prepared for them—

1 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 parables 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 understand— Of 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.

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 times1—And it is of the greatest importance to us in all our

» 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 he 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 example0-—]

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

i> Matt. xvi. 3, 3. "Mark xii. 34

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