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X.

THE FEAST OF THE GOSPEL.

ST. LUKE xiv. 17.

“Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with

one consent began to make excuse.”

THE parable of which the words of the text form a part, being the Gospel for this Sunday, is still fresh in your memories.

It requires little explanation, but is capable of much application.

The " certain man » who made the great supper signifies Almighty God—God the Father, the First Person in the Trinity.

The supper is the kingdom of heaven; not the kingdom of glory at last, but that state of grace which is called in Scripture " the kingdom of God,” because, equally with any future state of glory which may be awaiting us, it is set up by God. The men first bidden may be taken to signify the Jewish people, since the Gospel was first proclaimed to them: “to the Jew first was ever St. Paul's rule of precedence in making known the Gospel message.

The fact that they “all with one consent began to make excuse" signifies the national rejection of the Gospel on the part of the Jews.

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That a few noble spirits here and there accepted it, and that these, when counted up, made many thousands, does not undo the fact that the nation rejected it.

Or it may be that the guests who were first bidden were the Jewish rulers and scribes, and priests; these, from their knowledge of the law of Moses, were undoubtedly “bidden" or “called” in a sense in which the unlearned and ignorant were not at first, and when such rejected the Gospel, the Holy Spirit brought it home to those who had not any such advantages, viz., to those common people whom the rulers in their pride of legal knowledge held to be cursed.

The people in the highways and hedges signify then the poorer and meaner Jews who received Christ,—the common people who heard Him gladly—or else they signify the Gentiles, whom the Jews considered in a hopeless state of alienation from God.

Such is a rough explanation of the parable. When so explained, it seems to point to a by. gone state of things—the time when “all things were ready."

But the application is for all time. There is a perpetual application of this parable possible. It suits the case of every age, and every nation; and every church. And I doubt not, for the sake of this perpetual application, the Holy Ghost caused it to be written by the Evangelist for our learning.

First of all, let us notice that the Gospel is in this parable represented as a feast, to which God Himself invites us. By such a mode of describing it our Lord, as is His wont, employs a figure consecrated by the use of prophets in the Old Testament.

Thus in the book of Proverbs, no doubt in anticipation of Gospel times, we read : “ Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: she hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, whoso is simple, let him turn in hither : as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine that I have mingled."

Let us pause for a moment, and consider this way of speaking which God adopts when He brings before us the good things of the Gospel. It is very different from the way in which manunregenerate man, that is—would describe it, if he were to tell us what he really thinks of it. I dare say that whenever I, or my brother ministers, describe the Gospel or the things connected with it, as a feast, many who hear me think that what I say is absolutely unnatural, and many more think that it is unreal. They would not like to say so aloud, because they know that in the Bible this way of speaking is very frequent, but they do not the less think

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in their hearts that it is an exaggerated way of speaking. Now such persons are by no means unbelievers. They would cheerfully acknowledge the Gospel to be a remedy; but then, like many other remedies for our diseases, it presents itself to them as the taking of a bitter medicine, to be put off as long as possible. They hope at some time to take this medicine. They would be in a wretched state of mind if it were told them by one who knew the future that they would certainly depart out of this world without taking it, but still they associate the reception of Gospel truth into their hearts with anything rather than with the enjoyment of a feast.

Now, my friends, let us look this matter thoroughly in the face, and see whether it is just and true, and right, and in accordance with the fitness of things to call the Gospel invitation by this name, or to describe it in this way.

First of all, take the grossest and lowest view : imagine a table spread with all manner of good things, contribution being laid upon earth, air, sea ; every quarter of the globe, and every climate contributing something, and you are invited, and take your place. Whose gift, after all, are the good things before you, and who gave you the power to taste them even? Who but God? God, amongst His other gifts, bas given to man a palate to taste and enjoy what other be ngs would loathe.

Again, what more common than to hear men talk of an intellectual feast? They had a treat in reading such a book, or in hearing such a lecture, or in conversing with such or such a wise and good man.

Men of the plainest way of speaking express themselves in terms akin to this. They enjoyed such a book; they devoured the words of such an orator.

Now, in endeavouring to form any estimate of the reality with which we, or rather our Master, applies such ways of speaking to the Gospel, let us remember that the God Who gives us all our enjoyments, and who also gives us all our powers of enjoyment—the God Who made our bodies, and gave them power to take pleasure in the food which sustains them—the God Who made our souls, minds, and spirits, and gave them the power of taking pleasure in the works of His hands and in the society of our fellows—in the memories of the past and in the hopes of the future-this God, through His own Son, calls the things of His kingdom, or of the Gospel, a feast.

He compares His Church of redeemed souls, believing in, contemplating, realizing, and being edified and strengthened by, the truths of the Gospel, to guests sitting down at an entertainment.

The truths of the Gospel—that is, the character of God, especially His paternal character; the attributes of God, the love and holiness of

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