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with the formal question-our title to Heaven, as the Apostle Paul, in an early chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, declares "we are justified by faith without the deeds of the law." Other passages of scripture are dealing exclusively with our fitness for Heaven, and one of these is the parable of the wedding garment, from which our text is taken.
The characters of men are constantly described in scripture by a garment, because we can judge of the qualities within by the dress without. No two people can really dress exactly alike; even if we put the same clothing upon them they will adjust it in some degree so as to evidence their character, their feelings of heart, and their capacities of mind by their clothing. We never could suppose that the meek, the humble, the self-denying would voluntarily clothe himself with the bedizenments of mere gaudy ornament; we feel there would not be a congruity between the clothing without and the clothing within. And so the scriptures teach us to speak of men's character under the figure of a garment, because, indeed, if there be no reason for hypocrisy,-if there be no obstruction,—that which is external is conformable to that which is internal. Now, in order to describe our christian character, we have our blessed Saviour set before us, as his people's clothing, that is, that as we judge of men's character by their clothing, so we are to judge of the character of the christian church by its conformity to the image of Christ.
In describing our title to Heaven, the sinner is represented as putting on Christ upon him, because that only clothing in which the guilty soul,—the sin-spotted soul can stand before God with acceptance, is Christ between the sinner and the Creator, so that when God looks upon
the sinner he is represented as looking at him through Christ, and so seeing Christ and not the sinner, as the apostle describes it in the 3rd chap. of Galatians, "as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ." These are the garments of justification in which the sinner in all his guiltiness without, in looking for change of mind, or heart, or any such thing, is just in the midst of his sins to look up to Heaven and to believe that he who is there now, at the right hand of God, is he who hung upon the cross for his sins; that he whom God has accepted in that blessed Son of God and son of man, who is pleading there, is accepted through the atoning blood of that cross. The guilty sin-defiled soul for whom he shed his blood, is he who is to trust in him as him that justifieth the ungodly; counting faith in that Son of God in the place of righteousness.
But there is another garment in which men, who have already been baptized, are said to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, as you will find in the closing verse of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, c. 13, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof." And here it is not Christ imputed but Christ imparted; that is not the glorious robe of Christ's merits counted as our merits, but the glorious robe of Christ's sanctifying grace imparted to Christ's people, so that they shine in the loveliness of his imparted beauty, and in the spotlessness of his imparted holiness, standing perfect and complete in the presence of the allsearching Creator, and seeing there in beauty their vile. bodies made like unto the Saviour's glorious body; their vile souls made like unto the Saviour's glorious soul; body, soul, and spirit, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, before the brightness, presence, spotlessness, and faultless holiness of God.
Now it is to teach this latter truth that our Saviour gave this parable of the wedding garment. In examining the parable of the wedding of the king's son, we are to consider it as a prophecy, and as a moral teaching, in which two respects it has a very great diversity of aspect. As a prophecy it refers to times yet future ; as a moral teaching it refers to all times. It speaks here of the Kingdom of Heaven being like unto a certain king who made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to invite guests to the wedding. Now, these guests were not the bride; they were guests who feasted with the bridegroom and the bride, but not the bride herself. The first time the message was sent forth they that were invited would not come again he sent other servants to ask them a second time, but worldly things made them neglectful, some of the servants were shamefully treated and some were slain, but none of those who were invited attended. And then the king is represented as sending forth his armies to destroy those murderers, and to burn up their city. And then sending his servants into the highways and hedges to invite all, as many as they should find, into the marriage, and "so those servants went out intɔ the highways and gathered together all as many as they found in them, both bad and good, and the wedding was furnished with guests."
As a prediction, this parable would set before us Jew and Gentile in the various invitations that were made, and it gives us the same view of the church of Christ, that we have already seen in the parable of the net, the indiscriminate gathering into the Gospel net of Christ. They gathered together as many as they could find both bad and good, so that the wedding was furnished with guests, teaching us that Christ's mercies were
thrown open to the whole world and that not merely was there an invitation made, but no scrutiny before admission into the feast; that they were admitted in without any scrutiny and brought into the privileges of God's house. They were not examined at the door whether they had the wedding garment, but they were allowed to sit down as guests. It was not the servants but the King who came to search into the character of those who were seated there as his guests; for ever rebuking the folly of those who regard the Christian church as if it were intended of God to be a collection of none but holy persons. It was intended of God to be a great school for the reception of the ignorant,-a great hospital for the reception of the diseased, that they might obtain instruction to remove their ignorance and to take away all the diseases. But, as a prediction of the latter times, if we come to consider this parable of the wedding feast, we have not only to consider these guests, but the bride and bridegroom.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a certain King which made a marriage for his son. Now that marriage for the King's son refers to the time of the coming marriage the coming wedding of the Lord Jesus Christ. While in its moral and spiritual bearings this parable applies to all time, as a prediction it fixes upon one particular point of a time yet future, when a great voice shall be heard from heaven saying, "the marriage of the lamb is come and his wife hath made herself ready." As a pre diction, it sets before us the thought of a preparation to receive the Lord Jesus Christ in a very peculiar character, the husband of his glorified church; and it sets before us the thought of those who have departed hence in the Lord, in a very peculiar manner, as the bride of that
blessed son of man returning with him in glory; so that as a prediction, there are three parties in this parable,— the bridegroom, the bride, and the guests collected together both bad and good. In the 19th chap. of Revelations we have the bridegroom and the bride very strikingly brought before us when it is said in the 7th verse, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him, for the marriage of the lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready, 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." We must parallelize this declaration with the 21st chap. and 2nd verse of this same book in order that we may arrive at its real meaning. And I John saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Here then we have a very important and very deep truth brought before us. Where was the bride? With God in Heaven, otherwise she could not be said to come down from God out of Heaven. And how was she occupied there? His wife hath made herself ready. Heaven is no place of idleness; Heaven is no place of stagnation, Heaven is a place of active exercise, of holy preparation, of blessed discipline. of soul, of glorious deepening in brightness even in the divine presence, of most fervent continual, kindling of divine love, in the reception of a deeper impress of the Saviour's image; for it is no small privilege to be in reality the bride of Christ; it is no small attainment to be made meet to be in that holy companionship, and most blessed intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ which is intended to be implied in this, She is the bride, the lamb's wife. In heaven nothing that defileth can enter, and yet there how many infant souls