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country, and there were Samaritans, to whom it was not yet known that God had "remembered his holy covenant," and "visited and redeemed his people." These were obscure persons, compared with the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and some of them much despised: treated as maimed, and halt, and blind. But all souls are alike in the sight of God: and our Lord, before he ascended up to heaven, commanded his apostles to go into these streets and lanes: saying, "Ye shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria."" And it was done as He commanded, "They that were scattered abroad by the persecution at Jerusalem, went every where preaching the word." 3
Thus according to the will of God, "the grace of God that bringeth salvation" was first made manifest to the Jewish people. But his mercy was intended for the Gentiles also.
23. "And the Lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
24. "For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper."
Here a doom is passed upon the unbelieving Jews of that day, like the sentence which had been pronounced in the wilderness: "Unto whom I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest." Grace despised, is grace forfeited. The Jewish people were disinherited.
2 Acts i. 8.
3 Acts viii. 1-5.
As a nation, they lost the favour of God: nay, they incurred his heaviest anger. "Because of unbelief they were broken off," as branches of a tree which bore no fruit. And the Gentiles, who received the word of God with joy, and repented, and embraced the faith of Christ; these were "grafted in." Justly may we say with the apostle, (Rom. xi. 22,) "Behold then the goodness and severity of God: towards them that fell, severity; but towards thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness." O that every Christian nation, and every Christian individual, would walk more worthily of his goodness, more worthily of the vocation wherewith they are called!
One remark must be distinctly made, before we dismiss this parable. The things which are represented here as keeping men at a distance from God, and preventing their return to Him, are not things sinful in themselves, but things needful and proper: the lawful concerns, the indispensable business, the ordinary transactions of life. Many, no doubt, perish through open transgressions, and bold defiance of God's law. But many also perish by things which no law forbids, things which they might justly and unblameably have done, if they had not, for their sake, left things still more needful undone.
Mixed with this warning, there is also comfort in the parable. We learn, that yet there is room: that it is God's will, that his house shall be filled: that "all should come to repentance and the
knowledge of the truth:" and that not until the end, when mercy has been long despised and grace neglected, is the sentence issued, None of those men that were bidden shall taste of my supper.
SELF-DENIAL AND RESOLUTION NEEDFUL.
LUKE XIV. 25—35.
25. "And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them;
26. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27. "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple."
THESE words bring our religious state and character to a point. To be a disciple of Christ is a personal thing, which every one must take up for himself, individually and deliberately.
Our Lord sees a multitude around Him; thinking perhaps that to follow Him was the easy road to temporal success, and wealth and
He turns round and undeceives them: if any man come to me, let him come with full purpose of heart, prepared to renounce every thing else, ry thing dear to him in the world, for he
may be called so to do. I warn you of this now, that you may not discover it too late; that you may not be disheartened, and turn back, after having professed to be my followers.
The persons first concerned in these remarks were the individuals to whom they were addressed, and who would be literally forced, in many cases, to act as if they hated father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and their own life also.
But Jesus had those likewise in his view, who should hereafter believe in Him through the Scriptures recorded for their instruction; and these are warned that even under a different order of things, when Christianity is the religion of a land, still a national religion is one thing, and personal faith another. There must be an individual adherence to Christ, as Saviour and as Lord, in all who shall profit by His redemption. Is this always considered? Because we are early baptized and bred up in the Christian faith; because an acquaintance with Christian truth comes gradually to our minds; we are in danger of looking upon our religion, as we look upon our native country, as a thing of course, in which we have no choice or concern.
man is not thus made a disciple of Christ. We see that he is not: we see that he is not thus led to Christian practice, led to oppose the prevailing current, or leave the beaten road: whenever these are in a wrong direction, the nominal Christian goes along with them. He is a
Christian as far as Christianity and the world agree, and no farther. Still the words remain against him; Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. And the serious, resolute determination which is required is illustrated by two examples.
28. "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29. "Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him
30. "Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31. “Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
32. Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33. "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
34. "Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 1
35. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
The disciples of Christ are the salt of the earth, and their influence is good, and keeps the world from corruption. But if this salt have lost its savour; if Christians do no more than others; if, as soon as tribulation or persecution arise because of the word, they are offended if in time of temptation they fall away; where
1 See Matt. v. 13.