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lot of every sincere and zealous Christian; if he finds it by his own experience to be true what an apostle of Christ had long since prepared him to expect, that whosoever will live godly in Christ Jesus shall in one way or other suffer persecu tion. But let him remember at the same time the reviving and consolatory declaration of his divine Master; "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven."
NOW pass on to the twenty-second chapter of St. Matthew, in which our blessed Lord introduces the following parable:
"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding, and they would not come. Again he sent forth other servants, saying, tell them which are bidden, Behold I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise; and
the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burnt 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 could find, both bad and good, and the wedding was furnished with guests. And 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 on a wedding garment? and he was speechless. Then said the king to his servants, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth; for many are called, but few are chosen."
The primary and principal object of this parable is to represent, under the image of a marriage feast, the invitation given to the Jews to embrace the Gospel, their rejection of that gracious offer, the severe punishment inflicted upon them for their ingratitude and obstinacy, and the admission of the Heathens to the privileges of Christianity in their room.
"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son."
That is, the dispensations of the Almighty, with respect to the Christian religion, which is called the kingdom of heaven, may be compared to the conduct of a certain king, who (as was the custom in those times, especially among the eastern nations) gave a splendid feast in consequence of his son's marriage. And in this comparison there is a peculiar propriety, because both the Jewish and the Christian covenant are frequently represented in Scripture under the similitude of a marriage contract between God and
and his people*. "And he sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding, and they would not come. Again he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the marriage." This signifies the various and repeated offers of the Gospel to the Jews; first by John the Baptist, then by our Saviour himself, then by his apostles and the seventy disciples, both before and after his ascension.
But all these gracious offers the greater part of the nation rejected with scorn. They would not come to the marriage; they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise; and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. They not only slighted and treated with contempt the words of eternal life, and preferred the pleasures and the interests
See Isaiah, liv. 5. Jeremiah, Hi. 8. Matt. xxv. 5. 2 Cor. xi. 2.