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are weak, and sickly among us, and many sleep. Our religion instead of burning as a brilliant light before men, resembles a little spark, slumbering, and almost suffocated in the surrounding embers. But should this be pleaded as a reason for not observing the ordinance ? If the appointed communion of the body and blood of his dear son, be so precious in God's sight, that he thus punishes an unworthy observance of it; can we suppose that he will suffer a wilful neglect of it, to be persevered in with impunity? No, brethren: without faith our condition is desperate: sin is inevitable. If we neglect the plain commandment of Jesus Christ, “ Do this in remembrance of me,” we sin. If we eat and drink in obedience to that commandment, but without“ discerning the Lord's body,” we sin. How shall we avoid sin in this important matter? Only by believing; and in the lively exercise of spiritual discernment keeping our new testament passover.
Here as elsewhere, we perceive the paramount importance of faith, and knowing, as we do distinctly from other passages of scripture, that faith is a gift from God freely bestowed upon whom he will; we are brought in this, as
part of true religion, to a feeling of our entire dependance upon the mercy of Jehovah. Lord, we believe : help thou our unbelief.
THE GOSPEL WEDDING GARMENT.
ALL ARE NOT ISRAEL, WHICH ARE OF ISRAEL,
“ 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.”
DURING During the three years which elapsed between the baptism and the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, he had frequently long discussions with the Jewish priests and elders. In these he not only exposed their false interpretations of the law of Moses : but also, in prophetic
ables, he announced their rejection of the long promised Messiah, the approaching destruction of their city and temple, the abrogation of their fondly cherished ceremonial worship, and the extension of true spiritual religion among the gentiles.
These parables were intended not for their instruction and conviction only, but for the benefit also of the whole church of Christ and the concluding circumstances of many of them (although primarily addressed to the Jewish doctors) apply to the state and character of
gentile converts, and those who seem to be converts: that is, to the aggregate of all those who profess and call themselves Christians in all ages of the world, consisting of a mixture aptly represented by the tares and the wheat in the same field, the bad and good fishes in the same net, those who bave the form only, and those who enjoy the power also of vital godliness in the same community, in the same congregation, in the same family. All are not Israel, which are of Israel.
The discussion now before us, commences at the twenty-third verse of the preceding chapter, “ When he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, by what authority doest thou these things ? and who gave thee this authority ?” In his reply to this enquiry he makes them feel the disingenuous motive by which they were actuated, and for the concealment of which they falsely plead their ignorance. He then addresses two parables to them in the one exposing their hypocrisy under the character of the son who said to his father “ I go, sir, and went not” in the other, under the similitude of wicked husbandmen, reproving their ingratitude, their perse
vering and malignant rebellion against his long suffering goodness; and plainly declaring to them that “ the kingdom of God should be taken from them, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And when the chief priests and pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.”
Christ was not to be deterred by the malice or opposition of men; he proceeds by another parable, to declare to them the same truth with some additional particulars ; “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 which 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 fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandize. And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wrath and sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” So far the subject was exactly applicable to those to whom our Lord at the moment addressed himself. They had been frequently invited to the marriage of the king's son; called to be partakers of the gospel feast, and they would not come. John the baptist had been sent with the invitation to them declaring that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and pointing them expressly to the Lamb of God; and they would not come. The seventy disciples had been sent out two and two, carrying the invitation through their cities and villages; and still they would not come. Again other servants were sent with a still more pressing invitation : the apostles, after the Lamb was slain proclaimed the blessed tidings to the jews first, saying, “ Behold all things are ready, the God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him, all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Come ye to the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm,