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these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath-day? And when he said these things all his adversaries werc ashamed, and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.
After the Lord had thus silenced the ruler of the synagogue, and whilst he observed the rejoicings of the people, he reflected with pleasure on the reason and truth which so effectually supported his kingdom : for he spake' a second time the parables of the grain of mustard-seed and of the leaven, to shew the efficacious operation of the gospel upon the minds of men, and its speedy propagation through the world in spite of all opposition.
While our Lord was passing through the cities and villages in his journey towards Jerusalem, he met with ove who expressed a desire to be made acquainted with the number of the saved. Christ, not judging this a profitable question, instead of returning a direct answer, exhorted his hearers not to trust to their privileges as Jews, but to strive to enter in at the strait gate ; for that many, deferring this consideration, should strive to enter in and should not be able. When the elect of God are gathered in, and the door of heaven is shut, they shall in vain request admission, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us ; for he shall answer and say unto thein, I know not whence you are, you are perfect strangers to me, and therefore shall not he admitted into my company, In vain shall they then allege, we have eaten and drank in thy presence, and thou hast. taught in our streets ; we have not merely been Jews, and, as such, have had the advantages of the peculiar people of God, but we have also had the advantage of thine acquaintance when upon earth; for they should be dismissed into outer darkness, as the workers.of iniquity; while many should come from the farthest parts of the earth, and sit down to the everlasting enjoyment of the kingdom of God.
The same day, some of the Pharisees intimated to Christ, that if he was desirous of seeking his safety, he ought to depart out of that country, for that Herod sought to slay him. But Christ, knowing that he had his appointed work to perform, and that no one could cut him off till his hour of suffering was come, answered, go ye and tell that fox, referring to the cruelty and craft of Herod, behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless, I must walk to-day, and to-morrow, and the day following ; for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. Our Lord here, probably, referred both to the general wickedness of that city, which was notorious for its opposition to the prophets of God, and also to the malice which he well knew that the priests and rulers had conceived against him. Our Lord then took up the pathetic lamentation, 0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hon doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not. Behold, your house, the temple in which you trust, is left unto you desolate ; and verily I say unto you, ye shall not see me until thc time come, when ye shall say, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. This last expression probably refers to the general ingathering of the Jews, with the fulness of the Gentiles, which shall take place before the dissolution of all things.
About this time, a distinguished person, among the Pharisees, with an insidious intention, invited our Lord to dine at his house. This was on the sabbath-day; and a man who was afflicted with the dropsy was present, being probably introduced for the purpose of seeing whether Christ would cure him. Not having received an answer to the question, whether it were lawful to heal on the sabbath-day, he laid his hand on the diseased man, and he immediately healed him and sent him away. Determining still further to press his adversaries with unanswerable questions, he asked them whether they would not, on the sabbath, rescue an ox or an ass from the pit into which it was fallen. As this was agreeable to their customs at that time, though not at the present, they were confounded with shame and amazement, and refrained from their purpose of cavilling at his proceedings.
Before dinner, the pride of the Pharisees discovered itself in the anxiety which each of them expressed to get the chief places at table. Jesus took notice of it, and shewed them the folly of their behaviour by the consequences to which it tends. He mentioned this in particular, that pride exposes a man to many affronts ; whereas, to cultivate humility, is the surest method to obtain respect.
As the Pharisees were equally distinguished by covetousness and pride, our Lord, addressing himself to his host, exhorted him, when he made an entertainment, to invite not only his friends and acquaintance, but to make it a matter of particular attention, to call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. For that, if this was done from a proper principle, that of genuine love to God and love to man, he should be blessed ; and as these guests could make him no recompence, he should be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
One of the company remarking the felicity of those who should eat bread in the kingdom of God, Christ thought proper to pursue the simile, and described, in the following parable of a marriage fcast, the success which the gospel, the invitation to the great feast of heaven, should meet with among the Jews ; and that, though it was to be offered to them with every circumstance that could recommend it, they would reject it with disdain, preferring the present life to that which is to come ; while the Gentiles would embrace the gospel with cheerfulness, and thereby be prepared to sit down with Abraham in the abode of the blessed. Then said he unto him., a certain man, who was equally generous and rich, made a great supper, and invited many of his professed friends and acquaintances. They did not at first refuse the invitation : but when every thing was fully ready, and the servants sent to press their immediate attendance, made a variety of frivolous excuses to justify their absence. So that servant cume and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his serrant, go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, the mained, the halt, and the blind, meaning, no doubt, the publicans and harlots, and others of the most profligate and despised of the Jews, who accepted more readily the invitatious of the gospel than such of their countrymen as had stood higher in the general estimation. The sur per being great, and the hall of entertainment spacious, all those whom the servant found in the streets and lanes of the city were not sufficient to fill the tables. Wherefore, knowing the beneficence of his lord's intentions, he came and informed him that there was still room. 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. Go and preach the gospel to the Gentiles, who have hitherto been considered as having no interest in my mercy, and they shall receive it with still more readiness than the outcasts of the Jews ; so that a number which no man can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and languages, and tongues, shall, at length, sit down together in the regions of immortal felicity. - Dr. Macknight supposes the first of these calls to be 'directed to the proselytes from amoug the Gentiles, and the second to such of the Gentiles as were living in idolatry. For I say unto you, that none of those men who were bidden shall taste of ny supper. This is not to be understood in the strictest sense of the words, as is evident from the conversiou of Saal, who was a persecuting Pharisee, and of many of the priests who became obedient to the faith ; but is intended to denote the general, but not total, Apostacy of the Jewish nation.
Jesus fiuding himself accompanied from place to place by a great multitude, who
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inds upon this sitteth not down finish it ; lest, after hele to finish it,
hot down firsernenintending to be my disciple.
were influenced by false conceptions of the nature of his fiugaom, ľurned and said unto them, if any man come to me, und hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, so as to be ready to give up ali these things rather than desert my cause, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, submitting to pain and shamc for my sake, and come after me, by the belief of my doctrines, and the imitation of my example, cannot be my disciple. Make up your minds upon this subject ; for which of you, intending to build a tower, or any other extensive edifice, sitteth not down first and counteth the cost, examining well his resources, whether he have sufficient to finish it ; lest, after he hath laid the foundation, and made some little progress in the building, but is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, this man began to build and was not able to finish his undertaking. Or what king going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first and consulteth whether he be able, from the superior valour and discipline of his troops, though he has only ten thousand men, to mieet hins that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, if the result of his deliberations be not thus favourable, while the other is yet a great way distant from his frontiers, he sendeth an embassage and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise am I going to enter on a war so unequal in point of numbers, that whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, when duty renders it neressary, he cannot be my disciple. To conclude : Jesus told bis apostles that this self-denial was pecu liarly necessary for them, because it was the spiritual salt that would preserve thein from apostacy, and others from corruption. Salt is good; but if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned ? it is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill, but men cast it out. He that hath enrs to hear let him hear.
Encouraged, probably, by what little they might understand of the preceding parable, the publicans and sinners now pressed closer to Jesus, and thereby excited the indignation and contempt of the scribes and Pharisees. To silence them, to vindicate bis own conduct, and to induce the despised outcasts of Israel to pay the greater attention to his instructions, the blessed Redeemer now repeated the same parable as he bad delivered just after his transfiguration, concerning the shepherd, who, having lost one out of an hundred sheep, left the ninety and pine to recover that which had strayed from his fold. He now also repeated another parable of similar import, of a poor woman, who, having lost a piece of silver, of which she was possessed of only ten, lighted a candle, and swept the house, and sought diligently till she had found it; and, when she had succeeded in this, invited her neighbours together, saying, rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I had lost. The succeeding parable is one which excites uncommon interest, both from the simple and affecting pature of the story, as from the importance of the consolatory truths which it is made the vehicle of communicating. We shall therefore consider it more largely than we have done either of the preceding parables.
The parable of che lost son, of all Christ's parables, is the most delightful, not only as it inforces a doctrine incomparably joyous, but because it abounds with the tender passions, is finely painted with the most beautiful images, and is to the mind what a charming diversified landscape is to the eye. And he said, a certain man had two SONS. And the younger of them, being impatient of the restraint he lay under at home, came and said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto thein his living. The indulgent parent listened to his son's desire, made an estimate of his estate, and gave him his portion ; perhaps, because he pretended that he was going to follow business. The younger son, therefore, having thus gotten possession of his fortune, lost no time. He gathered all together ;
and that he might be wholly from under the eye of his parent, who was a "person of great piety, and be freed from the restraints of religion, he went into a far country, among heathens, where was neither the knowlerige nor worship of God, choosing such companions as were most agreeable to his vicious inclinations. Here he wa lowed in unbounded riotousness and debauchery. But the ferment produced in his body by ciotous living soon clouded his understanding, and confounded any little sense he was possessed of; his mind was stimulated by mad desires, which pushed him from one extravagancy to another, till he quickly spent all. These circumstances, joined with the manner in which his father received him at his return home, are admirably contrived to shew the immense goodness and incomparable indulgence of God. No crime is so great, or so highly aggravated, that he will not forgive it if the sinner repents. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Having spent all to keep himself from starying in the famine, he submitted to the most disgraceful work that a Jew could be employed in, he hired himself to feed swine : he who the other day had been so remarkable for his luxury, extravagance, and foppish delicacy. Such are the direful consequences of vice. But the wages he earned by this ignominious service were not sufficient, in a time of great scarcity, to purchase him as much food of any kind as would satisfy the cravings of his appetite. It seems, his master gave him wages without victuals. Being halfstarved, therefore, he often looked on the swine with envy as they were feeding, and wished that he could have filled his belly with the husks which they devoured ; a circumstance which beautifully shews the extremity of his misery. Distress so great brought him, at length, to think. For one day, as he was sitting hungry and faint among the gluttonous animals, he reflected upon the happiness of the servants in his father's family, who had more meat than they could use, whilst he was ready to die with famine in a strange country. The consideration of these things inade him willing to return home ; but that he might be received again, he resolved with himself to go in all humility, and confess his crimes to his father, acknowledging that he was utterly unworthy to be owned as a son, and praying that he might be taken into the house only as a hired servant. I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto hin, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee. He meant that God was injured in the person of his earthly fatlier. And, certainly, nature itself teaches this, that whoever is insolent or disrespectful to his parents rebels against God, who, by making them the instruments of communicating life to their children, has imparted to them some of his own paternal honour. He resolved to say, likewise, and an no more worthy to be called thy son, inake me as one of thy hired servants. Having the idea of his undutiful behaviour strongly impressed in his mind, he was sensible that he had no title to be treated at home as a son. At the same time, he knew that it never would be well with him till he was in his father's family again; so, with joy, he entertained the thought of occupying the meanest station in it. Thus, while the liberality of the great parent of men makes them wantonly run away from his family, the misery which they involve themselves in often constrain them to return. By the natural consequences of sin, God sometimes makes sinners to feel that there is no felicity to be found any where but in himself. And now the young man, having taken the resolution of returning to his father, put it immediately in execution ; he set out just as he was, bare-footed and all in rags. But when he came within sight of home, his nakedness and the consciousness of his folly made bim ashamed to go in. He skulked about, therefore, keeping at a distance ; till his father, happening to spy him, knew him, had compassion, ran, though old and infirm, fell on his neck, and kissed him. The perturbation which the aged parent was in with eostacy of joy enus Pring but 10, thcond yet to the pared by
hindered him from speaking ; so the poor, ragged, meagre creature, locked in his arms, began, and made his acknowledgments with a tone of voicc expressive of the deepest contrition." But the father, grieved to see his son in that miserable plight, interrupted him, ordering his servants, some to bring out thc best robe immediately, and a ring, and shoes, that he might be clothed in a manner becoming his son ; and others to go kill the fatted calf, that they might eat and be merry. For this my son was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found. We looked upon him as utterly lost; but lo! he is come back again, beyond all expectation, in safety. And they began to be merry : they sat down to the feast, rejoicing exceedingly at the happy occasion of it. ' · And now, while every one in the family heartily joined in expressing the account of the safe return of the second son, the elder brother, happening to come from the field, heard the noise of singing and dancing within ; wherefore, calling out one of the servants, he asked what these things meant ? The servant replied that his brother was unexpectedly come, and that his father, being very glad to see him, had killed the fatted calf, and was making a fcast, because he had received him safe and sound. When the elder brother heard this, he fell into a violent passion, and would not go in ; the servant, therefore, came and told his father of it. The father, rising up, went out; and, with incomparable goodness, intreated his son to come and partake in the general joy of the family, on account of his brother's return. But the kindness and respect which his father shewed him on this occasion did not soften him in the least. He stubbornly persisted in his anger, and answered the affectionate speeches of his parent with nothing but loud and haughty accusations of his conduct. And he answered and said to his father, lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment, and yet thou never gavest me a kid that I might make merry with my friends. This branch of the parable is finely contrived to express the high opinion which the Pharisees, here represented by the elder brother, entertained of their own righteousness and merit. But as soon as this thy son the ungracious youth disdained to call him brother, and at the same time insolently insinuated that his father seemed to despise all his other children, and to reckon this prodigal only his son—as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. The father meekly replied, son, as thou hast never been absent from me for any considerable time, I could not in this manner express the affection which I entertain for thee. Besides, thou hast not been altogether without a reward of thy service; for thou hast lived in my family, and hast had the command of my fortune as far as thine exigencies, or even thy pleasures, re- quired. And he said unto him, son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thinc. By calling bim sou, after the insolent speech he had made, the father insinuated that he acknowledged him likewise for his son, and that neither the undutifulness of the one or of the other of his children could extinguish his affection, or cancel the relation subsisting between them. It was meet that we should make merry and be glad. Both reason and natural affection justify me in calling the whole family to rejoice on the present occasion. For as thy brother is returned to us sensible of his folly, and. determined to lead a better course of life, his arrival is like his revival after death, at least, it is his being found after he was really lost : for which reason, our joy ought to bear a proportion to the greatness of this occasion. For this thy brother was dead: and is alive again, was lost and is found. Though he has devoured my living, with harlots, he is thy brother as well as my son; wherefore, thou shouldest not be angry because he has repented, and is returned after we thought him irrecoverably: lost. Thus the goodness with which the father bare the surly peevishness of his i