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the Holy Ghost, and set up His Church, and ordained His Sacraments, then all things might well be said to be ready. The dinner might then be said to be prepared, the oxen and fatlings to have been killed. The servants whom He sent were His Apostles, and those who immediately succeeded them, especially those who preached the Gospel in Jerusalem. The invited persons who made light of it were the Jews who cared not for the proffered mercies, because they were rich, or busy, or ambitious, and so could find no time for listening to the claims of Jesus of Nazareth. The remnant who “took the King's servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them,” repre sent the Jews who were inspired with hatred against the Gospel message, because it wounded their national pride, or destroyed their self-confidence. These put to death first one messenger of Christ, then another; they first stoned Stephen, then James the brother of John was beheaded by Herod because he knew that such a murder would please them.
The armies whom the King in His wrath sent forth were the Roman armies, who thought whilst they destroyed Jerusalem that they were fulfilling the will of the Roman emperor, whereas they were all the time executing the just vengeance of the King of heaven. The sending forth of the King's servants to iuyite guests to fill the places of those who at first refused is the proclamation of the Gospel to the Gentiles. The Gentiles not having been hitherto of the household of God are described as the dwellers in the highways.
But what is meant by these servants going out and gathering as many as they found, both good and bad ? It seems to mean that they preached the Gospel to all, both to the righteous, such as Cornelius, who seemed, in the eye of man, to need no repentance; and to the wicked, to the fornicators, and adulterers, and extortioners, nay, even to the scum of society, and bid all repent and be saved from the present power of sin as well as from its future consequences.
And the first part of the parable concludes with the words, "the wedding was furnished with guests."
Now here it will be needful to ask, When was it thus furnished ? To which we answer, It is not furnished yet, and will not be till the door of mercy
is shut and the time of judgment come; for this calling of the guests, good and bad, on the part of the King's servants, is going on now. Whenever a missionary preaches salvation to the heathen it is one of the King's servants in the highway calling as many as are within the reach of his voice. I, as one of the King's servants, am now calling you, not perhaps to come into the hall where the feast is spread you are there already if you are baptized into
the Church-but to make good your place at the table. Here, then, is the end of the first part of the parable. And now we can see the necessity for the second part—we might almost say the second parable--of the man who had not on the wedding garment.
Suppose that our Lord had concluded with the words, “the wedding was furnished with guests :" what would have been the natural inference? Surely this, that all the guests who were invited into the King's palace, and had taken their seats at the King's table; in other words, all those who had heard the sound of the Gospel, and had obeyed it so far as to be baptized into the Church, or, having been baptized in infancy, had continued all their lives in visible communion, hearing the Gospel, joining in the prayers, perhaps even partaking of Holy Communion—that all such were safe.
The question would have suggested itself, If the Kingdom of God can be described under the figure of guests sitting down at the marriage feast of the great King's Son, must not all such guests be eternally safe? Now, in order to warn us who are in the full enjoyment of all Gospel privileges that men will not be saved thus in the lump; that there will be a further scrutiny, and at the last, and by the eye of the King Himself—that eye which nothing can deceive- our Lord attaches to the former parable the further parable of "the man who had not on a wedding garment.” “When the King came in to see the guests, He saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment. And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment ?”
Now seeing the indiscriminate and almost violent way in which the servants of the King bad collected all that they found, bad and good, there seems at first sight some harshness in at once singling out this man who had no suitable robe. Perhaps he was very poor, and had no money to purchase one; but we cannot make any such excuse for him, simply because he does not make it for himself. When the King taxed him with not having the fitting garment upon him he was speechless. If he had been too poor, or had been dragged in in too great haste by one of the King's servants, or if he could have urged any other reasonable excuse, he would doubtless have done so: self-interest alone would have compelled him to plead some excuse, but he had none. to urge—he was speechless.
You are doubtless aware that a custom common among eastern nations takes away all appearance of harshness in the conduct of the King.
A celebrated traveller in the East speaks of this custom as existing in the court of the King of Persia; that he had an incredible number of robes laid up in his wardrobe to supply to his guests on all state occasions ; that these robes were given to all; that they were magnificent outer robes, which are thrown over the guest's own garments, and that every guest is expected to appear in them, no matter what his rank, or wealth, or nation, and so that they differ very greatly in value and quality according to the dignity of the receiver. One he saw given to an Indian ambassador which, with the gifts that accompanied and were reckoned as included in it, was prized at a hundred thousand dollars; others were not worth more than a few shillings. There can be no doubt, then, why the man who was without the requisite robe was dumb when charged with the fact. He had nothing to say, simply because he had refused to receive a gift; a gift which must have been offered to him as he entered the place where the feast was held. In doing this he had manifested such pride, or such indifference, or such a spirit of opposition to the custom which the King required at the hands of all His guests, that he deserved to be ignominiously expelled.
And this was his doom. He was bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness; there to bewail with weeping and gnashing of teeth his miserable folly in having refused the King's gift, and his irrevocable exclusion from the light and joy of the marriage feast.
And now for the most important point of all. What is the wedding garment ?