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I pass on to the twenty-second
chapter of St. Matthew, in which our blessed Lord introduces the following parable :
"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and 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 fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise; and ...VOL. II.
the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city. Then saith he to his servants, 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 could find, both bad and good, and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment. And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having on a wedding garment? and he was speechless. Then said the king to his servants, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth; for many are called, but few are chosen."
The primary and principal object of
this parable is to represent, under the image of a marriage feast, the invitation given to the Jews to embrace the Gospel, their rejection of that gracious offer, the severe punishment inflicted upon them for their ingratitude and obstinacy, and the admission of the Heathens to the pri vileges 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 pecufiar propriety, because both the Jewish and the Christian covenant are frequently represented in Scripture under the similitude of a marriage contract between God and
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 fatlings 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 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 remnant 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
* See Isaiah liv. 5. Jeremiah iii. 8. Matt. xxv. 5. 2 Cor. xi. 2.
of the present life to all the joys of heaven, but they pursued, with unceasing rancour the first preachers of the Gospel, and persecuted them even unto death.
"But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed 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 does more particularly and minutely in the twentyfourth 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