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another to his merchandize: and the remnant took his servants and entreated them spitefully and slew them. Then the king was wrath; and sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” This was fulfilled to the very letter when the Roman army (the ministers of righteous vengeance against the wicked nation) utterly destroyed both people and city.
“ Then said the king 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;" or as it is given by St. Luke “ Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” Go preach the gospel to the gentiles : have no respect of persons or places wherever you find a sinner tell him of the Saviour of sinners: wherever
poor destitute souls invite them to my rich feast, the glorious and plentifully supplied marriage supper of my beloved son.
It is in every respect suited to their necessities. Are they hungry? The true support of the soul being communion with God, and sin having cut them off from that communion, are they in a starving state? Here at my supper is meat indeed, even the bread which came down from heaven
that a man may eat and not die. I am come to take away sin and restore their souls : I am the bread of life. Are they thirsty ? Here at my supper is drink indeed “ He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.' Are they ignorant? Here is knowledge unto life eternal even the knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. Are they guilty ?
Here is redemption through my blood, even the forgiveness of sins. Are they corrupted ? Here is renewal by my spirit unto holiness, a transformation into the likeness of my own spotless character. Go, therefore, and let your invitations be large, free, and pressing. Large as the world ; let not what I have said to you concerning the secret decrees of my father cramp or fetter you at all in this glorious work : but go preach the gospel to
Free; raise no jealous guards, require no qualification to be attained or condition to be performed by the sinner, but magnify my grace by declaring all to be free without money and without price. Pressing ; “ Compel them to come in,” not by any outward force, in this sense I compel no man, persecutions and inquisitions are things which I hate ; but be urgent, affectionate, solicitous by every sound argument and warm expostulation
to convince, impress, beseech them (as though I did beseech them by you) earnestly pray them to be reconciled to God.
This brings the application to ourselves. The gospel message is delivered : the gospel lamb is slain : the gospel table is spread : all things are ready, amply provided in the riches of the royal bounty of the great King: the gospel servants are sent out into the highways and hedges, into the cities and villages of the Gentiles, to gather together all as many as they find : immense multitudes have accepted the invitation, and made outward profession of Christianity: whole communities are now calling Christ, Lord : thousands of congregations are assembled at this moment in our own land (and in other lands) bearing the name of Christians : the wedding is abundantly furnished with guests both bad and good.
It is extremely difficult, in many instances, to distinguish between them ; no human eye can infallibly discern the thoughts, and intents, and motives of the heart; and, therefore, no human tongue can infallibly pronounce who are and who are not the true servants, the unfeignedly loyal subjects, the sincerely attached friends of the King. Thus did the guests sit at the wedding, each flattering himself that he would be welcome: that whatever reception others might meet with, he surely would prove acceptable to the royal bridegroom. And had any one of the company presumed to expose the false expectations of his neighbour, and predict his final exclusion from the feast; such an one would have been cried down as an officious, uncharitable enthusiast, elated with spiritual pride, and presumptuously pronouncing judgment upon others quite as good as himself. But, behold! the King cometh in to see the guests! He seeth not as man seeth. In vain does the hypocrite seek to be screened from the King's eye : in vain is the fair covering of outward profession spread over the hollow falsehood of the heart : the King's glance penetrates to the secret springs of the real character, the hidden recesses of the soul; and immediately fastening upon an individual of the company, he addressed him personally before them all, and said to him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment ?"
There is a tender (and to a feeling heart under such circumstances) a peculiarly severe reproach in the kindness with which this address begins. “ Friend,” he says to him, you call yourself my friend, you profess to feel an interest in my glory, and an affection for my
beloved Son, and you have now joined the guests at his wedding ; but I have appointed a certain garment which all the guests
are to wear, and I have declared I will not suffer any to be partakers of the riches of this precious feast, except those who are clothed in this garment; “ how camest thou" then to
” despise my authority, and to enter “ in here not having this” indispensible “ wedding garment? and he was speechless!” He had no possible excuse to offer. He could not plead his ignorance; for the King's servants had plainly and repeatedly told him concerning this garment. He could not plead his poverty, and say that he was unable to purchase one ; for he had been expressly informed that it was a gift from the King bestowed freely in the bridegroom's name. And he was speechless! He dare not plead the general sincerity and uprightness of his character, and that he thought the particular dress of the guest could not much signify, that the King was very merciful, and surely there were more ways than one of being right. This plausible plea, this affectation of liberality, which is in truth indifference, does indeed gain much ground in the world, and usurps the name of Christian charity and enlarged benevolence of heart; but, like many other opinions confidently relied upon before men, it cannot stand a moment in the sight of God. Every mouth must be stopped, and all the world be pronounced guilty before God. And he was speechless! Yea, let God be true and every man a liar who lightly