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ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise; and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. They not only slighted and treated with contempt the words of eternal life, and preferred the pleasures and the interests of the present life to all the joys of heaven, but they pursued, with unceasing rancour, the first preachers of the Gospel, and persecuted them even unto death.
"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 inflicted during the marriage feast; though it did not in fact take place till afterwards, till after the Gospel 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 find bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the high-ways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good; and the wedding was furnished with guests."
It may be thought, perhaps, at the first view, that our Lord has here introduced a circumstance not very natural or probable. It may be imagined that at a magnificent royal entertainment, if any of the guests happenned to fail 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 feast. But strange as this may seem, there is something that approaches very near to it in the customs of the eastern nations, even in modern times. For a traveller of great credit and reputation, Dr. Pocoke, informs 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; and when they have done, retire with the usual form of returning thanks.*
This adds one more proof to the many others I have already pointed out in the course of these Lectures, of the exact correspondence of the various facts and circumstances recorded in the sacred writings to the truth of history, and to ancient oriental customs and man
This part of the parable alludes to the calling in of the Gentiles or Heathens to the privileges of the Gospel, after they had been haughtily rejected by the Jews. This was first done by St. Peter in the instance of Cornelius, and afterwards extended to the Gentiles at large by him and the other apostles, conformable to what our Lord declares in another place.† "Many shall come from the east and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God; but the children of the kingdom (that is the Jews) shall be shut out." And in the gracious invitation, no exceptions, no distinctions were to be made. The servants gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good; men of all characters and descriptions were to have the offers of mercy and salvation made to them, even the very worst of sinners; for it was these chiefly that our Saviour came to call to repentance; "for they that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick;"‡ and of these great numbers did actually embrace the gracious offers made to them; for our Lord told the Jews, “the
* Pococke, vol. i. p. 57. and 182. See also Diod. Sic. 1. xiii. p.
publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you."*
In this manner was the wedding furnished 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 said unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? and he was speechless. 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: for many are called, but few are chosen."
In order to understand this part of the parable, it must be observed, that among the ancients, especially in the east, every one that came to a marriage feast was expected to appear in a handsome and elegant dress, which was called the WEDDING GARMENT. This was frequently a white robe; and where the guest was a stranger, or was not able to provide such a robe, it was usual for the master of the feast to furnish him with one; and if he who gave the entertainment was of high rank and great opulence, he sometimes provided marriage robes for the whole assembly. To this custom we have allusions in Homer, and other classic writers ;† and there are some traces of it in the entertainments of the Turkish court at this very day. It must be remarked also, that it was in a very high degree indecorous and offensive to good manners, to intrude into the festivity without this garment; hence the indignation of the king against the bold intruder who dared to appear at the marriage feast without the nuptial garment. "He was cast into outer darkness;" he was driven away from the blaze and splendor of the gay apartments within, to the darkness and gloom of the street, where he was left to unavailing grief and remorse for the of fence he had committed, and the enjoyments he had lost.
*Matth. xxi. 31. † Odyss. viii. 402. Diod. Sic. 1. xiii. p. 375. 376. At the entertainment given by the grand vizier to Lord Elgin and his suite, in the palace of the seraglio, pelisses were given to all the guests.
This man was meant to be the representative of those presumptuous persons who intrude themselves into the Christian covenant, and expect to receive all the privileges and all the rewards annexed to it, without possessing any one of those Christian graces and virtues which the Gospel requires from all those who profess to believe and to embrace it. Nothing is more common in Scripture than to represent the habits and dispositions of the mind, those which determine and distinguish the whole character, under the figure of bodily garments and external habits. Thus Job says of himself, "I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my judgment was a cloak and a diadem.”* And again in Isaiah it is said, "He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; he hath covered me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels." In the same manner we are commanded in the Gospel to put on charity, to be clothed with humility: and in the book of Revelation,† the elders are described as sitting before the throne of God clothed in white raiment. And in the nineteenth chapter there is a passage, which is a clear and beautiful illustration of that now before us. "The marriage of the Lamb is come; and to her (that is to the church) was granted, that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; and this fine linen, we are expressly told, is the righteousness of saints. "And he saith unto me, Write, blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb; that is Christ the king."|| This is a plain allusion to the parable before us; and most evidently shows, that the man without the wedding garment is every man that is not clothed with the robe of righteousness; every man that pretends to be a Christian, without possessing the true evangelical temper and disposition of mind, without the vir tues of a holy life; every one that expects to be saved by Christ, yet regards not the conditions on which that salvation depends; every profane, every unjust, every dissolute man; every one, in short, that presumes to *Job xxix. 14. Isa. Ixi. 10. + Ch. iv. 4. Rev. xix. 7, 8, 9.
say, "Lord, Lord, yet doeth not the will of his father which is in Heaven."* All these shall be excluded from the marriage feast, from the privileges of the Gospel, and the joys of heaven, and shall be cast into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth; for many, we are told, are called, but few are chosen ; that is, many are called upon and invited to embrace the Gospel; but few, comparatively speaking, receive it, or at least conduct themselves in a manner suitable to their high and heavenly calling, so as to be chosen or deemed worthy to inherit the kingdom of heaven.
I have only to observe further on this parable, that although in its primary intention it relates solely to the Jews, yet it has, like many other of our Lord's parables, a secondary reference to persons of every denomination in every age and nation, who, through indolence, prejudice, vanity, pride, or vice, reject the Christian revelation; or who, professing to receive it, live in direct opposition to its doctrines and its precepts. The same future punishment which is denounced against the unbelieving or hypocritical Jews, will be with equal severity inflicted on them.
After Jesus had delivered this parable, the Pharisees perceiving plainly that it was directed against them principally, were highly incensed, and determined to take their revenge, and endeavour to bring him into difficulty and danger by ensnaring questions. "Then went the Pharisees and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples, with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth; neither carest thou for any man, for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, what thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Show me the tribute-money; and they brought unto him a pen-ny. And he saith unto them, whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Cæsar's. Then saith
*Matthew vii. 21.