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he sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city. After this he sent out into the highways, to invite all that could be found to come to the inarriage ; but one of the guests happening to sit down to table without a wedding-garment, the king ordered him to be bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness.
But it is clear, that this allegory relates only to the kingdom of heaven; therefore, afluredly no man can aflume a right from thence to fetter or imprison his neighbour who should come to dine with him, without being properly dresed; nor do I believe, that history furnishes us with any instance of a prince causing one of his courtiers to be hanged upon such an occafion: and there is little reason to apprehend, that when the emperor fend his pages to any of the princes of the empire to invite them to an entertainment, those princes should fall upon the pages and kill them..
The invitation to the marriage-feast, is a type of the preaching of the gospel; and the murder of the king's servants, is figurative of. the persecution of those who preach wisdom and virtue..
The other parable is that of a private person who made a great supper, to which he invited many of his friends I, and when he was ready to sit down to table, sent his servants to tell them that all things was ready; but one excused himself, by saying, that he had bought a piece of ground, and must needs go and see it; an excuse which was not admissible, as no one goes to visit their lands in the night-time; another said he had bought five yoke of oxen, and was going to prove them; he was as much to blame as the other, since no one would go to prove oxen supper-time: the third said he had married a wife, and could not come; this last was certainly a very good excuse. The master of the house being very angry at this disa appointment, told his servants to go into this streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, and the maimed, the halt, and the blind; this being done, and finding that there was yet room, he said unto his servant, “ Go out into
the highways and hedges, and conspel them “ (that you find) to come in.”
It is true, that we are not expressly told that this parable is a type of the kingdom of heaven, and the words compel them to come in,"
| St. Luke, chap. xiv.
have been perverted to very bad purposes; but it is very evident, that one fingle servant could not forcibly compel every person he met to come and fup with his master ; besides, the company of people so compelled would not have made the supper very agreeable. " Compel them to come in,” therefore, means nothing more, according to commentators of the best reputation, than pray, defire, prefs them to come in; therefore what connection, for heaven-sake, can prayers and invitations have with persecution ?
But to take things in a literal sense, is it nem cessary to be maimed, halt, and blind, or to be compelled by force to enter into the bofom of the church? Christ says in the same parable, “ When thou makest a dinner, or a supper, call
not thy friends nor thy brethren, nor thy rich “ kinsmen ;” but did any one ever infer from thence, that we should never dine or sup with our friends or kinsmen, if they happen to be worth money?
Our Saviour, after this parable of the feast, says, “ If any man come to me, and hate not “ his father and mother, his wife and children, of his brethren and sisters, yea, and his own “ life also, he cannot be my disciple, &c.” But
is there any person living so unnatural to conclude from hence, that he ought to hate his father and mother and his nearest relations? And is it not evident to one of the meanest capacity, that the true interpretation of these words is, hesitate not between me, and your dearest affections ?
The following passages in the eighth chapter of St. Matthew is also quoted; “ Whosoever heareth not the word of God shall be like to
an heathen, and like one who fitteth at the
receipt of custom ;' but certainly, this is not saying that we ought to persecute all unbelievers: and custom-house officers; they are frequently cursed indeed, but they are not delivered up the, arm of secular power. And so far from depriving the latter of any part of the prerogatives of citizens, they are indulged with the greatest privileges; and though their profession is the only one condemned in scripture, it is of all others the most protected and favoured by every government. Why then should not we show some indulgence to our brethren who are unbelievers, while we load with benefits our breth, ren the tax-gatherers ?
Another passage which has been grossly abused, is that in St. Matthew and St. Mark, where we are told, that Jesus being hungry in the morning, and coming to a fig tree which had no leaves, (for it was not the time of figs) Jesus cursed the tree, and it immediately dried up.
This miracle has been explained several different ways; but not one of them appears to authorize persecution. Tho'a fig-tree could not be expected to bear fruit in the beginning of March, yet we find it blasted : but is that a reason why we should blast our brethren with affliction in all seasons of the year? When we meet with any thing in holy writing that may occafion doubts in our vain and inquisitive minds, we should pay it all due reverence, but let us not make use of it to countenance cruelty and persecution.
The spirit of perfecution which perverts' every thing, has also strained in its own-vindication the story of Christ driving the buyers and fellers out of the temple, and that of his fende ing a legion of devils out of the body of the man poffeffed with an evil spirit into two thou. fand unclean animals ; but cannot any one perceive, that these two instances were no