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union was ratified and attested, and the religious parts of it concluded, it was customary for the bridegroom, among the Jews, as well as among the Greeks and Romans, to conduct his spouse in the evening from her friends to her new abode, with all the pomp, brilliancy and joy that could be manisfested. On the arrival the marriage feasting commenced, in apartments splendidly lighted, which formed the greatest possible contrast to the darkness that prevailed without. Nothing could exceed the elegance of these scenes. The couches on which the guests reclined-the sparkling ornaments of the women-the uniformity in the dress of the company-the long white robes in which they were clad-the effulgent light of the hall-all conspired to give the occasion a brilliancy surpassing description. With these preliminary obs: rvations, we proceed to ascertain the true application of the parable.
1. What is meant by the "marriage feast"? See Notes on the parable of the Supper, pp. 111, 112. "Under the image of an invitation to a feast, Christ represents the offer of the gospel to the Jews. This contained the choicest blessings which God had to bestow, and might be fitly compared to the dainties of a feast upon a most joyful occasion, the marriage of a son."s
2. Who were those first bidden to the wedding, but refused to come? There cannot be a question that the Jews are here intended. This is a construction on which we believe all commentators agree. They, first of all men, were invited to receive the gospel. The apostles were directed not to enter into any city of the Samaritans, but to "go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Isra1 Kenrick's Exposi on Matt. xxii. 2.
el." Matt. x. 5, 6. See also Matt. xv. 24. Paul said to the Jews, "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you." Acts xiii. 46. The command to preach the gospel to the Gentile nations was not given until after the resurrection of Christ. Mark xvi. 15. The Jews had been frequently invited to partake of this feast; first by the prophets, afterwards by John the Baptist, then by the apostles and by Jesus himself. They made light of these invitations. In the parable of the Supper, (see p. 113 of this work) one begged to be excused for he had bought a piece of ground; another, for he had purchased a yoke of oxen; and a third, because he had married a wife. So here it is said, one went to his farm, another to his merchandise. In this way the Jews made light of God's invitation. They considered it of greater importance to attend to their secular concerns, than to comply with Because Christ and the apostles pressed this subject upon their attention, they were enraged, and sought to destroy them. In the words of the parable, they took these servants of God, "and entreated them spitefully, and slew them." For God to send the gospel to the Jews before any people upon earth, was an evidence of his regard; but to meet it with such trifling excuses as the Jews did, and moreover to slay the messengers who brought it to them, was a high offence, well worthy of the signal punishment they suffered. This punishment is described in ver. 7. "But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city." This verse marks very distinctly, and beyond dispute, the true application of the parable. The punishment the Jews were to suffer for their
rejection of Christ, was their own destruction, and the destruction of their city, by the Roman armies, about forty years after this parable was spoken. So say commentators of all denominations. Whitby says, "upon their refusal God decreed to send. the Romans to destroy the Jews, and burn their temple, and their city: which they so fully performed as to destroy, during those wars, saith Josephus, eleven hundred thousand Jews, to burn their Temple, consume, and so long waste their city, as that all men conceived, it never could be built again." With this Kenrick, Bishop Pearce, and all the principal commentators agree. Thus the Jews proved themselves unworthy the "marriage feast;" as it is said in the 8th verse, but they which were bidden were not worthy The Jews judged themselves unworthy, as Paul told them at Antioch. "It necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, (which all who believed in Christ then enjoyed, see John v 24,) lo we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, (in Isaiah xlix. 6) I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldst be for salvation unto the ends of the earth." Acts xiii. 46, 47.
3. Who were those afterward bidden to the "marriage feast"? See the Notes on the parable of the Supper, pp. 113, 114. Those who embraced the gospel of Christ on its rejection by the Jews, were the Gentiles. There were, it is true, a few of the Jewish nation who were converted to Christ; but the wedding may be said to have been furnished with guests from among the Gentiles, as the passage just quoted from Acts shows. The
1 Com. on Matt. xxii. 7.
servants of Christ went out through all the world. They went into the highways, the lanes, the streets, the markets, and all places of public resort, and preached the gospel to mankind. They met with great success. Before the destruction of Jerusalem, the gospel had been preached to all na tions, and great multitudes had become obedient unto the faith. Thus the wedding was furnished with guests.
It should be very distinctly remarked, that the servants gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good." This shows that Jesus foresaw that some unworthy professors would claim to be members of his kingdom, or guests at the marriage feast, a fact which is stated in several of the parables. In one we find that the "wheat and chaff" are mingled together; Matt. iii. 12; in another the tares and the wheat; xiii. 30; the net that was cast into the sea gathered of every kind; xiii. 48. Many would say, "Lord, Lord," that would not do the will of their Father in heaven; they would pretend that they had prophesied in the name of Christ, in his name cast out devils, and done many wonderful works. He would reply to 'them, "I never knew you, depart from me ye that work iniquity." vii. 21-23. Let these facts be remembered, while we pass to the consideration of the guest who had not on the "wedding garment."
4. Who were signified by the guest that had not on the "wedding garment"? "When the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who had not a wedding garment. And he said unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless." The persons assembled on this occasion, were collected together from the highways, and must,
therefore, have consisted of poor, as well as of rich. Hence it may appear strange that the king should ask one of the guests, with surprise and displeasure, how he came there without a wedding garment, and punish him with so much severity for not having one, when his poverty might have been so reasonably urged in his defence, as an excuse for his dress. This difficulty is removed when we consider the customs of the eastern nations, whose wealth consisted very much in possessing large collections of dresses. Hence it is, says Kenrick, "that when our Lord speaks of laying up treasures on earth, he says, 'that the moth may corrupt,' Matt. vi. 20, plainly alluding to clothes." From these dresses, or from others collected on the occasion, it was customary, as we have said, to furnish the guests at marriage festivals; an as one was offered to each person, this man was highly blameable for appearing in his common dress; as he thereby offered an indignity to the person who invited him. He was thus left without excuse, as he might have been clad in the wedding garment,' had he seen fit.
By the guest without the wedding garment,' we are disposed to think Jesus designed to represent such of the Jews, as having nominally embraced Christianity, did not possess the virtues of the Christian character-such as cried Lord, Lord, but did not the will of God. Notwithstanding the Jews generally rejected the gospel, and made light of the invitation to the marriage feast,' some of them, it is well known, went in with the Gentiles, and were guests. But not all those that went in were fit subjects of the kingdom. There were some claiming to be Christ's disciples, who professed to cast out devils, and do many wonderful works in hin