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acted to the very letter, was, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.' And the wisdom of so rigorous a rule, in that critical juncture, is evident from the consideration, that a few devoted servants who had already broken every tie upon the world, must have been more efficient in his cause, than thousands of lukewarm and timid advocates, who had to compromise between their stern duty and the safety, the conveniences, and the blandishments of life. He foresaw, too, that the time would soon come, ́ when the sacrifice must inevitably be made; and he knew, that they who would not submit to it at first, would likewise fail him in the hour of trial, and bring disgrace on the cause they attempted to support. The sacrifice was, therefore, required of them at the outset, that they might at once give a pledge of their devotedness, and strip themselves of every incumbrance.
"Under such conditions, it was, of course, extremely difficult to induce the rich to become his disciples, and enter his kingdom. They might, indeed, believe on him, and favor his cause; they might observe the moral precepts he taught, and secretly practise his religion. But all this alone, though it rendered them good men, in their private sphere, did not adequately fit them for the momentous duty to which the servants of his rising kingdom were then called. The rich, least of all, could be expected to throw themselves utterly, destitute and unfriended, into an undertaking, where hatred and persecution were the certain reward, and death the probable end. Therefore, in the striking language of our Saviour, it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. With men, it was impossible; but with God, all things were possible.'
"That we have correctly explained this passage, is evident from the very next words; 'Then answered Peter, and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?' We ought also to mention the particular incident, as it is re
lated by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which gave rise to all this conversation. A certain ruler came and asked Christ what he should do to have eternal life; and was answered, keep the commandments.' All these,' said he, have I kept from my youth up.' Then Jesus beholding him, loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest; go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, take up thy cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved; for he had great possessions.' It is evident, that this was a good man, in the true sense of that term, and, as such, beloved by Jesus. But he was not perfect. He wanted that fortitude and self-devoting zeal necessary to meet the trying exigencies of our Saviour's cause. He could not descend at once, from opulence to absolute poverty, and exchange a fixed residence for the life of a disciple."
XXIII. "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 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." Matt. xxii. 11-13. See also Luke xiv. 16-24.
These words form a part of the parable of the marriage feast, extending from verse 2-13. Those who wish to see the whole subject treated at length, are referred to my "Illustrations of the Parables," pp. 286.299; and Paige's "Selections," section XXXIV. That the parable does not refer to the things of eternity, but to the things of time, is evident from the nature of the punishment, which was inflicted on those who rejected the invitation to the feast, as described in the following words; "But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city." ver. 7. Such punishment as this, we suppose, will not be inflicted in the future world.
The above would suffice to show, that the passage at the head of this section has no reference to the things of eternity; but, for the gratification of serious inquirers, we offer the following remarks on the case of the man which had not on the wedding garment. He was present at the wedding, without being properly qualified therefor, and for this breach of custom, he was cast
By the guest without the "wedding garment," Jesus designed to represent such of the Jews, as, having nominally embraced Christianity, did not possess the virtues of the Christian character, such as cried, “Lord, Lord,” but did not the will of God. In Rev. xix. 8, we read; "And to her was granted, that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints; " and again, in vii. 13, 14 ; "What are these which are arrayed in white robes ? and whence came they? These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the lamb." Notwithstanding the Jews generally rejected the gospel, and made light of the invitation to the "marriage feast," some of them, it is well known, went in with the Gentiles, and were guests. But not all those that went in were fit subjects of the kingdom. There were some claiming to be Christ's disciples, who professed to cast out devils, and to do many wonderful works in his name, to whom he said, in the day of his coming to destroy the Jews; "I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Matt. viii. 21-23.
These, we think, were represented by the guest without the "wedding garment." He accepted the invitation to the feast, and mixed with the approved guests; and was detected, exposed, and punished, because he was not arrayed in the dress he should have worn at the feast. The order was given to the servants, to "bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." This was the fate which
awaited all the Jews who rejected Jesus Christ. (Matt. viii. 12; Luke xiii. 28.) It was the fate of those represented by the tares, in the parable of the Tares of the Field (Matt. xiii. 42); of the wicked, represented by the bad fish, which were taken in the net (xiii. 50); of the Unfaithful Servant (xxiv. 51); and of the Unprofitable Servant (xxv. 30).
Previously to bringing our remarks on this passage to a close, we wish to offer a few observations in illustration of the phrases "outer darkness," and "weeping and gnashing of teeth." These expressions are found in the following passages; Matt. viii. 12; xiii. 42, 50; xxii. 13; xxiv. 61; xxv. 30; Luke xiii. 28. The expression, "outer darkness," is derived from the circumstances of Jewish weddings. The nuptial ceremonies took place at night. "Hence at those suppers, the house of reception was filled with lights, called torches, lamps, candles, and lanterns, by Athenæus and Plutarch; so they who were admitted to the banquet, had the benefit of the light; but they who were shut out were in darkness; that is, the darkness on the outside of the house, in which the guests were; which must have appeared more abundantly gloomy, when compared with the profusion of light within the guest chamber." The phrase, "outer darkness," was derived from these circumstances; and as those who were thrust out were exposed to shame and disappointment, it is said they wept and gnashed their teeth; a proverbial expression to describe their extreme anguish. These expressions have long been applied to the imagined misery of the damned, in the future world. We have endeavoured to give their primitive sense. They are a part of the parable, and are to be understood as representing the extreme misery of the Jews, excluded from the kingdom of the gospel, shut out from the light of truth, enveloped in the darkness of error, and suffering the tremendous misery brought upon them at the destruction of their city and nation. This is not only their primitive, but their only application. If this was the sense Jesus affixed to them, what right have
the doctors of the church to give them any other sense The parable now under consideration was completely fulfilled within fifty years after the Saviour's death; and there is no reason that any part of it should be supposed to refer to the events of the future existence. The words of the Great Teacher should be interpreted with the greatest caution; their original meaning should be sought; and when this is ascertained, it should not be put aside, or caused to share credence with any secondary sense whatsoever.
XXIV. "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers! how can ye escape the damnation of hell." Matt. xxiii. 33.
In this place Jesus was discoursing of the judgments which were then impending over the Jews; and he says, verse 34, "all these things shall come upon this generation." On this Dr. Whitby remarks, that it signifies "in that very age, or whilst some of that generation of men lived; for the phrase, this generation, never bears any other sense in the New Testament, than the men of this age." Com. on Matt. xxiv. 34. Let it be particularly remembered, that the calamity which was described here by the word Gehenna, was a temporal calamity, and was to come on the generation which was on the earth at the time of the Saviour's ministry. If it be asked, what calamity it was, we reply, the same calamity that Jeremiah (Jer. chap. vii. 29-34, and xix. 1-15) had described under the figure of Gehenna, viz. the destruction of the city and nation of the Jews, which is described (Matt. xxiv. 21) as a "great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."
XXV. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not." Matt. xxiii. 37. Luke xiii. 34, 35.
This passage is very frequently used to sustain the doctrine of endless misery, but we think such a use