Page images

tiles, and the privilege which they would thence acquire of being ranked among the people of God.

2. The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king which made a marriage, rather, a marriage-feast,for his son.

Under the image of an invitation to a feast Christ represents the offer of the gospel to the Jews. This contained the choicest comforts which God had to bestow, and might be fitly compared to the dainties of a feast upon the most joyful occasion, the marriage of a


3. And sent forth his servants, to call them that were bidden, « invited,to the feast; and they would not come.

The persons invited were the Jews, the covenantpeople of God, who had been informed by the prophets of the approach of the Messiah's kingdom, and afterwards by John and Christ himself, and exhorted to prepare themselves for it by repentance of their sins. To these invitations the majority of the Jewish nation paid no regard.

4. Again he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are invited, Behold I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings, “ fattened beasts,are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the feast.

The other servants, sent to carry the second invitation, were the prophets and other preachers of the gospel, after the resurrection of Christ and his ascension on high At the time of their mission the prophecies had been accomplished in the person of Jesus; his doctrine had been delivered, his miracles wrought, and he himself had risen from the dead: the evidence, therefore, of the divine origin of his religion was complete; the kingdom of heaven, which had been before announced, was begun; the feast was ready; nothing was wanting but the guests.

5. But they made light of it; and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandize.

6. And the remnant, 'the rest," took his servants, and intreated them spitefully, ill-treated them,” and slew them.

These messengers were as unsuccessful as their predecessors; the men to whom they came, undervaluing the honour which was offered them, went to their business; but some of them, more rude than the rest, insulted, beat and slew the messengers who were sent to invite them to a feast. This was intended to represent the reception which the apostles and other first messengers of the gospel would meet with from the Jews, to whom it was to be first offered: they would not listen to their invitations, and attended only to their farms, their merchandize, and other gainful employments.---To neglect they would add insult, cruelty, and barbarity, by shamefully abusing and putting to death the preachers of the gospel.

For the king to send to invite his subjects and his supposed friends to the marriage feast of his son, was a strong expression of his regard, and the highest honour that he could confer upon them. To excuse themselves from complying with it from such trifling considerations, and much more to wound and to kill those who brought it, was a high affront and great outrage; we are not to be surprised, therefore, to find that it was considered in this light by the king, and treated accordingly.

7. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth, and he sent forth his

[ocr errors]

armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city.

This part of the parable plainly alludes to the destruction of the Jews, and the sacking of Jerusalem by the Roman armies; and to the cause of these calamities: it was for killing the prophets, and stoning them that were sent unto her.

8. Then saith he to his servants, The feast is ready; but they which were invited are not worthy.

That is, they are highly unworthy; as the Jews had discovered themselves to be by their conduct. Paul and Barnabas probably alluded to this part of the parable, in the language which they held to the Jews on the occasion of their turning from them to the Gentiles. Acts xii. 46. " Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary the word should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”

9.' Go ye, therefore, into the highways,

" the cross-roads,and as many as ye shall find invite to the feast.

The king had first sent to invite a select class of his friends, for whom he had more than an ordinary regard; but they had rejected his invitation, and illtreated his messengers; "he now sends servants into the public roads, to invite all that they should meet, without distinction. This refers to preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, who had not hitherto been favoured with prophets and revelations of the divine will, but seemed to be a people cast off and neglected by him; with whom he had no more connection, than a person has with those whom he accidentally meets with in the high-roads. As the Jews shewed themselves unworthy of the longer continuance of his peculiar favours, they were now offered to the Gentiles; without any distinc


tion of nation or rank, to the Greek and burlarian, to the bond and free.

10. So those servants went out into the cross-roads, and gathered together as many as they found, both bad and good; and the feast was furnished with guests.

The servants executed the orders which they had received, by bringing in to the feast all that they met; not by force or compulsion, but by argument and persuasion; by telling them of the dainties of the feast, and assuring them that they would have a hearty wel

In the same manner would the first preachers of Christianity bring into the Christian church, from among the Gentiles, men of all characters, the bad as well as the good.

11. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment.

12. And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

As the persons assembled on this occasion were collected together from the high-ways, and must, therefore, consist of poor as well as rich, it may appear extraordinary that the king should ask one of the guests, with surprise and displeasure, how he came there without a welding garment, and punish him with so much severity for not having one, when his poverty might so reasonably have been admitted as an excuse for his dress. But this difficulty is removed, when we know the custom of the eastern nations, whose wealth consisted very much in possessing large collections of dresses: hence it is that when our Lord speaks of laying up treasures on earth, he says, “that the moth may corrupt;" plainly alluding to clothes. From these dresses, or from others collected on the occasion, it was usual to furnish the guests at marriage feasts; and as one was offered to every individual, this man was highly blameable for appearing in common clothes. He hereby offered an affront to the master of the feast, and to the other guests; nor had he any excuse to make for himself; he might have been dressed in a wedding garment, if he had chosen to accept of it.

This wedding garment was intended to represent to us the virtues of the Christian life, which we are all furnished with the means of attaining by the gospel of Christ, and which if we do not possess, it is our own fault.

13. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Entertainments were usually made at night by the ancients, and the rooms were well lighted with torches or lamps. This will serve to explain to us what is meant by outer darkness: it means the darkness without the room; into this darkness the guest was ordered to be thrown, who had ventured to join the company without a wedding garment. Thus driven from a royal banquet, and bound hand and foot, he would feel the highest degree of mortification and disappointment, which he would express with the strongest marks of sorrow and anguish, by weeping and gnashing the teeth. The punishment of this man was intended to represent to us the unhappy condition of those who, having embraced Christianity, and joined themselves to the society of Christians, have not acquired the virtues which the gospel of Christ requires. The difference between them and others will be observed by the discerning eye of God: they will be separated with disgrace from the society of the virtuous, and condemned to pain and misery.

« PreviousContinue »