enter, how many who have not had much discipline here. But let us compare the most disciplined, the most holy heart that can be found on earth, can that heart be said to be trained into all that is involved in the relationship of bride to bridegroom, of wife to husband, of companionship with such a being as the Lord Jesus Christ? Need we wonder, therefore, that in Heaven there is a state of preparation? The Romanist darkens, degrades, and renders impure this blessed truth by pointing, not up to Heaven, but to the pains of purgatory, for some purification in the intermediate state; but the bible glorifies, brightens, and makes clear to us that important truth, that he who is to be for ever with his church, and so have his church for ever with him, must even in Heaven prepare that church for the exercise of all the blessedness which she is to enjoy with him. And it is taken from the time when the first saint was taken up to Heaven down to the time when Christ shall come again to accomplish this great work, "I John saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down from God, out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Why should we think there was any strange marvel in this? How can we hope that we should know how to walk with Jesus if we were not trained for it? Capacities we receive here for spiritual enjoyment, capacities for spiritual employment also; but all that training of heart, all that exercise of mind, all that furniture of knowledge, all that discipline of skill that will enable us to be in reality and truth in all the complicated and most blessed intimacy that is implied in the bride and the bridegroom, require ages of heavenly experience, the brightness of heavenly glory and the wisdom of heavenly knowledge to produce in us the blessed state prefigured here, "She came down from



God out of Heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Here then this parable directs our thoughts to this, that the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a certain king, which had a son, and that son a bride, and that bride and bridegroom guests at the wedding feast. Now, if we turn to the 45th Psalm, we have these three things also in the 13th to 15th verses, 'The king's daughter is all glorious within, her clothing is of wrought gold, she shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework; the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee, with gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought, they shall enter into the king's palace." Here again we have the bridegroom saying, Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear, forget also thine own people, and thy father's house, so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty, for he is thy Lord, and worship thou him." And we have the bride brought unto the king with raiment of needlework, when she shall be presented without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, and wholly without blemish; and we have the virgins her companions who follow her, brought also,— those of whom Christ speaks here, considering this parable as a prediction, who shall be admitted to the marriage supper of the Lamb. If we turn to the 19th chap. of Revelation, we have those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb, in the 7th verse as I have already read, "Let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come and his wife hath made herself ready." And then in the 9th verse he saith, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb." These are therefore to be the called ones to that marriage supper at the point of time when our blessed Saviour shall be

[ocr errors]

come down from God out of Heaven with his bride; and this gives us some degree of light upon that very difficult statement, or rather, obscure statement of scripture about the work of Elias when he shall come again as our Saviour says in the 17th chap. of St. Matthew and the 11th verse, "Jesus answered and said unto them Elias truly shall first come and restore all things. But I say unto you that Elias is come already and they knew him not; and have done unto him whatsoever they listed," Elias had come in spirt in the person of John the Baptist. Elias shall come and restore all things, Elijah the prophet that is to come before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

In this respect, the guests invited to the marriage supper are especially, as a matter of prediction, the Jews. They are to be the principal guests, as a matter of prophecy, to be admitted into the wedding feast with Christ. We, the Gentiles, now have a higher and holier calling for we hope to be, not the companions, or followers, but the bride, the blessed bride herself, made meet for her Saviour-husband; as the apostle says, "I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy, for I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." But there is a discipline, a preparation of the Jewish people to be made meet for the marriage sup per of the Lamb. We find in the 20th chap. of the prophet Ezekiel, that there is a mysterious dispensation to go forward towards the restoration of all things, where the Lord says in the 34th and following verse, "I will bring you out from the people and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scatttered; with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out will I rule over you, and I will bring you out from

the people and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered; with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out: and I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you saith the Lord God. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you under the bond of the covenant, and I will purge out from among you, the rebels and them that transgress against me. I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel, and ye shall know that I am the Lord." Here is the work which probably is indicated by what Elijah the prophet was to do in restoring all things. Here we find the people, bad and good, gathered together, and the Lord will not allow to enter into the land any that are unholy, unrenewed. He will make them to pass under the bond of the covenant, and it is he that will do it. So again in the 9th chap. of Amos, and in the 9th and 10th verses, we have it declared, "Lo, I will command and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the last grain fall upon the earth. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, the evil shall not overtake nor prevent us." The Jewish people therefore, considered as a matter of prediction, and those amongst them who are without the wedding garment will then be purged out as rebels, and those who are prepared shall enter into the land, and they shall come to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The Gentile church shall experience that which we were reading this morning in the 14th chap. of Revelation, "the harvest of the wheat," and "the clusters

of the vine of the earth," as the apostle tells us in the 4th chap. of the 1st Epistle to the Thessalonians, that when the Lord shall descend from Heaven with a shout those amongst us who are prepared for his presence shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Such is then the view which scripture enables us to take of this parable, as a matter of prediction; now let us consider it as a matter of moral teaching. In this respect it teaches the same truth to all times, and that is, it teaches the need of fitness for the companionship of Christ, without which we could not sit at his future table: we must be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, or we cannot be found there. The qualification that fits one for true service on earth is the very same that fits us for true service in Heaven. They differ in degree but not in kind. He that believeth hath everlasting life; he that keeps the commandments of Jesus abides now in his love. Most beautifully was this taught by the manna that was gathered in the wilderness, and was laid up in the Holy of Holies. It was the same manna that was in the wilderness that was in the Holy of Holies, and Christ tells us that he will give to him that overcometh to eat of the hidden manna. That which we now receive as heavenly food at the Lord's table is that which we shall receive as heavenly food for ever-the hidden manna that is in the paradise of God, and therefore that nature which now enables us to feed upon that bread which cometh down from God, is the same nature that will enable us to feed upon that same bread in Heaven. And therefore the moral and spiritual teaching that belongs, as a matter of prediction, to the Jew, at the period of our Saviour's coming, is the same moral and

« ElőzőTovább »