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and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he 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. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good : and the wedding was furnished with guests.
The Lord continues His parabolic teaching, proceeding to give two more parables, one growing out of the other, two as it were in one. It was the custom in the East at their marriage-feasts to bid the guests some time beforehand, and when the time was come to call or summon them. This explains how in the parable the King “sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding." But we read (strange conduct !) “they would not come.” 2 And then we are told (strange clemency!) that the King sent forth other servants who, without taking notice of their previous misconduct, should simply tell these unwilling ones that he was waiting for them, and call them again to the marriage. And now we see their unwillingness in act; carelessness and daring and rebellion. Thus they deal with the repeated summons of their King, “they made light of it.” 4 This
I To answer, as Bengel notes, is seems to unfold the scorner's progress, the act not only of one who is inter- marking another step in that downroguted, but of one to whom an ward career; showing how in the case opportunity is given of speaking. of the Jews indifference proceeded to
? Abp. Trench notes that “ofton- profaneness, and carelessness grew times in the East, a feast would have into contempt; till they who at first a great political significance-would, answered with civility at least, when in fact, be a great gathering of the bidden to the Gospel-feast, now act Vassals of the king. Contemplated with fierceness; and the spirit of the on this side, their refusal to come at former parable, “they all with one oncu assumes the aspect of rebellion.” consent began to make excuse,” is
Compare 2 Chron, xxx. 1, 10. exchanged for the still worse temper * Comparing His parable of the of this, “they made light of it.” So king who made a marriage for his graceless have they grown. Just as son, with that of the man who made a child while young receives your a great supper (St. Luke xiv. 16-24), words with respect at least, thouglı and remembering that it was spoken not found ready to obey them; but at a later stage than the other, it when the same child grows up into a
lightness, the proof and product of their unwillingness, they shewed in various ways. One went to his farm, another to his merchandise. To pleasure one, to business another. Anywhither but to the wedding. And some, with whom the spirit of rebellion burst all bounds, went so far as to disregard the person of ambassador, which has always been held sacred; and like the wicked husbandmen in the parable which goes before, spitefully entreated the servants on their errand of kindness, and slew them. This we know from their history was the actual conduct of the Jews. The parable is a prophecy. Within forty years of the time these words were uttered, the Roman armies, unconscious ministers of the Divine judgments, destroyed those murderers' and their city. And the King's messengers, turning to the Gentiles,? went out into all the world, gathering into the visible Church both bad and good. Yet has the parable an application to us Christians. To us, as to them, the King is God, the King of Kings. The Bridegroom is Christ, the very Son of God. The Bride is His Church. The Servants, who for the Jeu's were first the Prophets and afterwards the Apostles, are now to us the Ministers of His Word and Sacraments. The Parable speaks of two callings, and this second calling is repeated. How exactly this describes what is done with us! God calls us again and again. First He calls us in our Baptism, giving us this token of His favour and goodwill towards us, that we are they whom He has marked for guests hereafter at His Holy Table. And by and by when we are come to years of discretion He again calls us at our Confirmation. Then His Ministers come to us with a special message, with a direct invitation. And since, how often has
hardened man or woman, there is their steps, whence the faith might be sometimes defiance added to diso- most readily diffused. bedience.
4 St. Matt. xii. 47. * An Arab 1 Acts vii. 51-53.
prince will often dine in the street ? Acts xiii. 46.
before his door, and call to all that * The original word signifies where pass, even to beygars, in the name of two or more ways meet, coufluences of God; and they come and sit down to roads, chief places of resort, highways table."—Bp. Porteus in D'Oyly and of the world. To these the first Mant, missionaries of the faith first directed
the call been repeated! Our past negligence is not noticed. This sin, for sin it is, is not mentioned to us. We are only urged now at length to come. How much longer must it be said of any of us with regard to our Master's message, “ They made light of it?” In the Parable this call of God is spoken of under the figure of an invitation to a Feast. It is in fact more than a figure. This figure is an actual fact. There is a Feast to which every confirmed Christian is continually called, and which foreshadows the very marriage Supper of the Lamb. And how many of us come ?? Of how many must the terrible truth still be told, “They made light of it!”
THE WEDDING GARMENT.
St. Matthew xxii. 11.
And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment.
In the former part of this double parable we saw the conduct, or misconduct rather, of those who “would not come” when called to the Gospel-Feast, "who most unthankfully refused to come.” Here we have the case of those who come in an unbecoming manner. For though one only is here spoken of, he is to be taken as the representative of a class. This one is put for many;* for all in
Compare Prov. ix. 1-6. Alford Minister giveth warning for the celenotes that “as the former parable had bration of the Holy Communion.” an Old Testament foundation, so * See South, Ser. xx. Of Sacrathis.” See also Prov. i. 20-32. mental Preparation.
? “ Ye know how grievous and un- * See v. 14. One of the morals kind a thing it is, when a man hath also of a former parable, St. Matt. xx. prepared a rich feast, decked his table 16. * Townson instances it as an with all kind of provision, so that example of ... “the lenity of suppothere lacketh nothing but the guests sition' which finds place in our Lord's to sit down, and yet they who are parables; just as in another one called (without any cause) most un- servant only fails to turn his Lord's thankfully refuse to come.” See money to account.”—Abp. Trench. the second exhortation “when the
fact who come for any reason but the right one; who, coming for whatever reason, shew such a spirit of carelessness and contempt as excludes them as effectually from the Feast as though they had never come at all. By thus singling out one, our Lord may have meant to bring the matter home to the heart of each; but chiefly to the traitor Judas, that he might pause before his dreadful deed. And if we want any further reason why one only is mentioned when more are meant, we may find it in the fact that not one at the last shall escape the unerring eye of the great Judge and King. " Think not that you shall escape in the crowd of sinners.? Having seen the case of the open enemy, we come now to this of the so-called friend. And let us not imagine that in this exclusion of that careless one there was any undue harshness, as though he could not get a wedding garment. For he might have come properly attired if he would. That he did not so come was altogether his own fault.
For it was the custom in the East at their Marriage Feasts to provide wedding garments for all the guests. This was a particular dress, a loose white robe, which might easily be put on over the other garments. We have even among ourselves customs and ceremonies which may help us to understand the idea of the parable. No one, for instance, can go to Court but in Court dress. What soldier would venture to appear on parade in anything but his proper uniform ? In like manner, the Ministers of Christ's Word and Sacraments come to minister in the Congregation, clad in the habit of their order. And so in other cases there are prescribed garments for particular and state occasions, which may not be dispensed with. And if we bear in mind that in the case con
| Abp. Trench cites from the Jeru- 3 See 2 Ki. x. 22. All the comsalem Talmud, Esau the wicked mentators note the existing custom of will veil himself with his mantle, and clothing with a cajtan those who sit among the righteous in Paradise are admitted into the presence of in the world to come; and the holy the Caliph, or Sultan of Turkey. blessed God will draw him and bring As to the possible number of mantles him out from thence, which is the required, see Hor. Ep. I. vi. 40-44. sense of those words, Obad. 4, 6." Plutarch however reduces the num
2 Sce Jer. Taylor's First Sermon ber of the robes of Lucullus to two on Christ's Advent to Judgment. See hundred, also Ecclus. xvi. 17-20,
templated in the parable, these were provided for all, and offered to all, we shall see the inexcusable misconduct of the wedding guest who ventured to appear without a wedding garment. What now is the meaning of this? What does it signify to us? It seems to have a double meaning, to signify two things; which yet are always found together, and so in fact are the two sides of one and the same thing. It is in one word, righteousness. First the righteousness of Christ imputed to or put upon us, and then the same righteousness infused or put into us. For the righteousness of Christ is
. offered to us as a robe to cover our spiritual nakedness, without which we dare not appear, and with which we may make bold to appear, even in the very presence-chamber of the King of kings. But wherever this is received, there you will be sure to find in some good degree the other also. “Whom He justified, them He also sanctified.” So that if, with some, we call this wedding garment “the habits of faith and charity,”? it amounts to the same thing. For charity is faith in action, "faith which worketh by love.”3
THE SAME SUBJECT—continued.
St. Matthew xxii. 12-14.
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
Or, to use the precise theological faith. is not independent of the terms, it means Justification and free-will and co-operation of the Sanctification ; the being made just in believer. It may be the proper spiGod's sight, and the being made holy. ritual covering of the soul, and
* Jer. Taylor, Devotions for all neither of mortal texture nor of Occasions.
human acquisition, but immediately 3 " This proper garment was to be derived from the wardrobes of Heaven ; furnished iudeed from the vestry of and yet it must be received, and put the king, but its assumption depended on, by the wearer for himself."ou the guests themselves; and even Greswell.