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came upon the nations as a draw-net which gathers together the good and the bad; that is, those who have been honestly striving to do right according to the best of their knowledge ; and those who, careless of right or wrong, have done only according to their own will. We see that among the Christian converts none were rejected for what they had been ;* and it is clear from the whole book of Acts, and from the epistles which follow, that “when the Gentiles heard (the invitation) they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord.” Thus has it been in every age, and in every land; crowds of all sorts have obeyed the gospel call, and none have beeu rejected. “The wedding is furnished with guests,” for all of those who were invited, “the bad and the good,” were gathered together, and thus was formed the visible Church of Christ.
Thus ends the first part of this parable ; and in it is the whole of that one which was spoken at an earlier time.t Solemn, most solemn, is the thought, that it is the last Jesus spake to the chief priests and pharisees, or to His enemies in general. With the history of their punishment, and of the filling up of their places at the marriage-feast, it, as it were, closes the account with them.
In the Second Chapter of Acts, at the very first lifting-up of Peter's voice, we find that "many gladly received the word ; and that on the same day three thousand souls were added to the Christian Church. In the vith chap. verse 7, we read “that even in Jerusalem the number of the disciples multiplied greatly, and a great number of the Priests were obedient to the faith ; "—that when Philip gave the invitation to the Samaritans, whose notions of religion were a corrupt mixture of idolatry and truth, (see vol. i. p. 136) “the people with one accord gave heed unto the things which he spake,” (Acts viii. 6.) and that even Simon, who had bewitched them with his sorceries, believed ; and though "the gall of bitterness," "and the bonds of iniquity” clung about him, so that he could not understand the freeness of Christ's invitation, still he prayed that he might not be rejected.
t Luke xiv, 16.
Now follows the second part of the parable spoken to those who were about to take the places of those who had been bidden, but would not come to the inarriage-feast made by the king for his son. From it sounds forth a note of solemn warning to us, who are the heirs of the promise,' which at first was made only to the children of the house of Israel.
While we read what follows, we must again bear in mind the splendour of the princes of the East, and the magnificence of their entertainments. In the first chapter of the book of Esther an account is given of a great feast made by Ahasuerus the king of the Medes and Persians. It is there told, how the princes and people feasted many days “under hangings of white and green and blue, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble,"—how they " lay upon couches of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red and blue, and white and black marble; drinking from vessels of gold the royal wine in abundance.” * The marriage of the king's son, we may therefore judge to have been a scene of great magnificence. Not till all was duly arranged did the royal giver of the feast enter. The king did not appear till all were assembled.
Verses 11-13. “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he said unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having on a wedding garment ? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him
Esther i. 3-7.
hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Why is this? Why so severe a punishment for what seems so small a fault ? A fault too, that, perhaps, it was nearly impossible to help, seeing that this unhappy guest had been called to the king's feast from the highway.
Let us examine into this, for each word is full of deep meaning, and nearly concerns ourselves. In the first place, it clearly was not impossible or difficult to be properly arrayed for the Feast; for, of the many that were gathered together, there was but one that had not on a wedding garment. And was the fault indeed a small one ?
Even in our own land, no man would think of entering our Sovereign's presence, especially as an invited guest to a royal entertainment, unless suitably dressed ; yet dress is not with us what it is in the East.* There it is looked upon not only as a sign of the rank and fortune of the wearer, but also of his state of feeling, and those who have long dwelt in Eastern countries, know at a glance the meaning of the different sorts of raiment in which a native appears. To appear in mean and soiled clothing on a joyful occasion in any man's house would be considered as an intended insult, inasmuch as such dress would plainly mark that the wearer looked with contempt upon the cause of rejoicing; while on the other hand, the more splendidly he was apparelled, the more would he be considered as a friend, whose heart was one with the giver of the feast.
The fashions of the people of the East never change, and at * We find thus described the appearance of an Eastern court on receiving a visit of congratulation about ten years since. * Everything was bright and joyous. The courtiers shone in splendid apparel. The Maharajah (King of the Sheiks) himself was bright with jewels, of which the Koh-i-noor (the famous diamond seen lately at the Exhibition, and now belonging to the Queen of England,) was the most valuable. The young Rajah Heeza Singh, old Runjeet's favorite, was radiant with emeralds and pearls, &c.-Kaye's Afghanistan, p. 324.
all times a principal part of the treasury of their kings has consisted of immense stores of magnificent dresses or robes of honor,* of which they make innumerable presents, especially to their guests at the marriages of their children. It is related of one of the Sultans,t that he gave such gifts to 20,000 persons at the marriage of his eldest daughter. To refuse such a gift, or not to wear it on the proper occasion, would be considered an insult which might cost a man his life. I
We require to be told these things that we may understand this part of the story of the parable, but it was very different with those to whom the Lord Jesus was speaking. It described customs well known to them, and as they listened they would picture to themselves a splendid scene marred only by one unsightly object; the man who dared to present himself amongst the brightly-robed guests in the common dress he had worn before he had received the invitation ; soiled and stained as it probably was from his daily occupations. On him the king's eyes were fixed; yet kindly at first he spake, “Friend, why camest thou hither, not having on a wedding garment ?” Was there any mistake? Had he not been offered one even as the others ? The man was speechless. So before the King of heaven and earth shall all be dumb, who, without having on a wedding garment, venture into His presence on that great day which shall see the eternal union of His Son with His people. What is this wedding garment ? How is it to be obtained ? Why must it be worn ?
* Caftans. + The Sultan Achmet.-See Knolly's History of the Turks. The Eastern Traveller Chardin relates an instance of this :-On a great occasion the Shah or King of Persia, sent to his Vizier or Prime Minister, a dress of honor. The officer who should have taken it to the Vizier, had a spite against him, and took, instead of the splendid robe given by the King, a plain dress. The Vizier dared not appear in public with it, for had he done so, he knew that all people would consider it a sign that he had fallen into disgrace with his Master. He, therefore, arrayed himself in a royal robe that had been given him by the late King. When he appeared in this it was considered as a marked insult—that he had disdainfully thrown aside the gift of the King his master, saying, “I have no need of thee or of thy gifts ;” and so the unhappy Vizier was put to death, See Trench, and Biblical Cyclopædia, &c. &c.
It is by Scripture only that these questions can be answered. We there find that as it was needful for each guest to put off his soiled and worn raiment before he sat down to the marriage feast, so it is needful for each one of us, that we concerning the former conversation (or way of living, “the old man,” (that is, our sinful habits,) "which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts," (our evil desires,) and that we "be renewed in the spirit of our mind, and that we put on the new man (or nature, which after God is created unto righteousness and true holiness.” “To put on Christ,” is again and again said to be the necessary condition for being received into God's family,* and the words plainly refer to the custom of putting on a bright covering robe before entering the presence of a Prince. Some do not know their need of this, and to all such Christ says, “Because thou sayest, I have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear." But such as know their need ask and receive. that see them, shall acknowledge them that they are the seed which the Lord bath blessed.”I And their joyful song is this, " I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of rightecusness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels.” Thus we see that the friends of Christ the heavenly bridegroom, shall be made in some degree like unto Him.
* Ephesians iv. 22-24.
Isaiah lxi, 9, 10.
+ Revelation iii, 17, 18.