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obstinacy, and the admission of the Heathens tothe 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 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 fatlmgs 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
* See Isaiah liv. 5; Jeremiah iii. 8. Matth. xxv. 5. 2 Cor. xi. 2.
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 rem" hant 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 of the present life to all the joys of heaven, but they pursued, with unceasing rancour, the first preachers of the Gospelt, and persecuted them even unto death.
"But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth; and he sent forth his armies, and de-* stroyed these murderers, and burnt up their city." This points out, in the plainest terms, the Roman armies under Vespasian and Titus, which, nOt«many years after this was spoken, besieged Jerusalem, and destroyed the city, and slaughtered an immense number of the inhabitants. This terrible devastation our Lord here predicts in general terms, as he
K 2 does does more particularly and minutely in the twenty-fourth chapter; and he here represents it as the judgment of God on this perverse and obstinate people for their rejection of the Christian religion, their savage treatment of the apostles and their associates, and their many other atrocious crimes. This punishment however is here, by anticipation, represented as having been inflicted during the marriage feast; though it did not in fact take place till afterwards, till after The Gospel had been for some time promulgated,
"Then said he to his«ervants, 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 found, both bad and good; and the wedding was furnished with guests."
It may be thought,perhaps, at the first view, that our Lord has here introduced a circumstance not very natural or probable. It may be imagined that at a magnificent royal entertainment, if any of t he guests happened to fail in their attendance, a great king would never 4 think
think of supplying their places by sending his servants into the highways to collect together all the travellers and strangers they could meet with, and make them sit down at the marriage feast. But strange as this may seem, there is something that approaches very near to it in the customs of the eastern nations, even in modern times. For a traveller^ great creditand reputation, Dr. Pococke, informs us, that an Arab prince will often dine in the street before his door, and call to all that pass, even to beggars, in the name of God, and they come and sit down to table; and when they have done, retire with the usual form of returning thanks*.
This adds one more proof to the many others I have already pointed out in the course of these Lectures, of the exact cerrespondence of the various facts and circumstances recorded in the Sacred Writings to the truth of history, and to ancient oriental customs and manners.
This part of the parable alludes to the calling in of the Gentiles or Heathens to the privileges of the Gospel, after they had been
* Pococke, vol. i. p. 57, and 182. See also Diod. Sic. l.xiii. p.375, 376.
K 3 haughtily haughtily rejected by the Jews. This was first done by St. Peter in the instance of Cornelius, and afterwards extended to the Gentiles at large by him and the other apostles, conformably to what our Lord de-r clares in another place. "Many shall come from the east and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and J'a-r cob, in the kingdom of God; but the chil-r dren of the kingdom (that is, the Jews) shall be shut out*." And in this gracious invita.? tion, no exceptions, no distinctions were to be made. The servants gathered together alias many as they found, both bad and good; men of all characters and descriptions were to have the offers of mercy and salvation made to them, even the very worst of sinners; for it was these chiefly that our Saviour came to call to repentance; "for they that are whole need not a.physician, but they that are sick^:" and of these, great numbers did actually embrace the gracious offers made to them; for our Lord told the Jews, "the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God ber fore you;];/'