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Let us ofren think of the End of our Christian Courfe. and have an eye to the Prize of our high Calling in Chrift Jesus, that we may run with patience the Race that is set before us.
Finally, to conclude all, let us implore the Aid and Alfistance of Heaven; to be directed and kept in the way that leads to it; often praying with the Pfalmift, Shero me thy mody, O Lord, and teach me thy Paths; guide me in the way that I should go, and let me not wander from thy Como mandments. And thus by walking circumspectly in the Ways of Holiness here, we shall e'er long arrive at the Regions of Bliss and Happiness hereafter : which God grant, óc.
DISCOURS E LI.
Matthew xxii. 1-
certain King who made a Marriage for his Song
HIS Gospel for the Day contains a Parable, in
a Marriage for his Son, and inviting many to it, is set forth the free and gracious Offer of the Gospel, together with the invaluable Blessings, and Privileges of it: which Offer was first made to the Jewish Church and Nation, and upon their refusal'twas made to the Gentiles, and in them to all Nations ; adding withal, a severe Sentence upon those that rejected this Tender, or receiv'd it not as they should. All which things being here figuratively, express’d, will require a little unfolding..
The Parable begins thus; The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a certain King, who made a Marriage for his Son.
Where, by the Kingdom of Heaven is meant the Chriftian Church, or the State of the Gospel, for which ’tis often ta: ken in the New Testament. 'The King here meant, is God the Father, the great Sovereign of the World, and the fole Maker and Disposer of all things. His Son is Jesus Christ, begotten of the Father before all Worlds. The Marriage here made was God the Father's giving his Son for the Sal. vation of Mankind; according to that of St. John, God fo layed the World, that he gave his only-begotten Son. To which the Son also gave his Consent and Compliance ; for he is faid fo to love the World, as to give himself to and for it. This is here set forth by a Marriage, to thew the Nearness of Affection, and the Dearness of the Relation between them. Hence we find Christ often owning himself related to his Church, as a Husband to his Spouse, as you may fee throughout the Book of Canticles; and God himself is
said to be marry'd to his People; Jer. 3, 14. Turn ye backNiding Children, faith the Lord, for I am married unto you.
This is the Marriage here faid to be niade, in which Christ gives himself to his Church, and the Church gives it self back again unto Christ, and so by nuptial and mutual Endearments they become nearly join'd and united to each other. St. Luke, in relating this Parable, tells us, that this Marriage was celebrated with a Feast or Wedding-Supper, Luke 14. And the fanię is imply'd here in St. Mart beto; for the making a Marriage, is often render'd by making a Marriage-Feast for his Son. Now by this Feast here we are to understand the spiritual Food of God's holy Word and Sacraments, the proper Food and Nourishment of the Soul, and the fittest Banjuet for such a Solemnity : 'tis express’d sometimes by a Feast of fat things, and sometimes' by Marrow and Fatness, the bighest and beft of all Feeding. St. John for its Excellency calls it Meat indeed, and Drink indeed ;, as also the living Bread; or the Bread of Life, that came down from Heaven: fhewing how vaftly it exceeds Moses's Manna in the Wilderness, and all earthly Dainties; for'none of these could preserve any from Death, whereas this heavenly Food not only does that, but cherisheth the Soul to eternal Life.
To this divine Gospel-Feast, we read in the next Verse of a gracious and generous Invitation : for the King sent forth his Servants, to call them that were bidden to the Wedding. Where by the Servants that were sent forth, we are to understand the Ministers of Christ
, and the Stewards of
the Mysteries of God: of whom Christ himself declares, As my Father sent me, so send I you. They are commission'd by him, and fent as his Servants; to whom he added this En. couragement, He that beareth you, heareth me, and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth bim that fent me.
But what was the Errand upon which he sent his Ministers and Ambassadors ? Why, 'twas to call them that were bidden to the Wedding ; to invite them to come away to this great and glorious Banquet, i.e. to the Participation of God's Holy Word and Sacraments; to accept of the Offers of Mercy, and the Tenders of Salvation made to them in the Gospel; and to that end, to call upon them to hear the Words of eternal Life, and to receive that immortal Food, that is able to save their Souls. This is the Message they were sent to deliver. - But what Success had these Messengers, or what Answer was return'd to him that sent them? Why, a very rude and ungrateful one indeed ; They would not come. Who could have thought, that any should be so unthankful, as to refuse so kind an Invitation? or that so much Love should meet with such Ingratitude? But so it was then, and so it is in a great measure to this day.
St. Luke niakes their Answer a little more civil, tho 'twas in effect the fame ; for he tells us, They all with one Consent began to make Excuses : One had bought a piece of Ground, and must needs go and see it, and so pray'd to be excusid: Another had bought five roke of Oxen, and was going to prove them, and for that reason pray'd 'to be excus'd: Another had marry'd a Wife, and he could not come.
All which fri volous Excuses betray'd not only a Coldness, but a Contempt of the Invitation. The Design of all this is, to represent the great Obstinacy and Perverseness of the Jews, in rejecting the Doctrine of Christ, in despising his Miracles, and refusing all Overtures of Grace and Mercy that could be made to them. i.
But how did the King resent these Slights and Indignities offer'd to him ? Why, he was not presently mov'd to Indignation, but bore with them a while, and was willing to try them again; for the next words tell us, that he sent forth other. Servants, saying, tell them who are bidden, Behold, I have prepar'd my Dinner, my Oxen and Farlings are killed, and all things are ready, come unto the Marriage. He chang'd his Messengers, lest they should have any Prejudices against
the former, and fent other Ambassadors to treat with them, letting them know, that their Master had prepar'd an Entertainment for them, and that all things were ready for their Reception, and that nothing was wanting but the Guests to sit down and partake of it:: which is in effect the fame that St. Paul told the Corinthians, Chrift our Pafover is sacrificed for us, come therefore and keep the Feaft.
But how was this second Message receiv'd? Why, much like the former ; for they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his Farm, aud anotber to his Merchandize. Their worldly Business, engross'd all their Time and Thoughts, and they had none of them to spare upon o ther, tho more heavenly matters: their. Minds were fet upon earthly Profits and Preferments, and look'd chiefly how they might prosper and be promoted in this World, and therefore cared not for a Messiah, who only talk'd of advancing them in another. Yea, there was a worfe matter in it than this, for they handled these other Servants worse than the first; so the following words tell us, The Remnant took his Servants, and entreated them Spitefully, and new them. One would think, if they would not come to the Feast, they might have had so much Manners as to have return'd thanks for the Invitation, and to treat the Messengers civilly, who came upon so kind an Errand. But instead of that, they abus'd and persecuted them 3 yean they used them barbarously and killid them. - This Passage relates to the Jews barbarous Usage of the Prophets and Apostles that were fent unto them, of which our Saviour most pathetically reminds them, Mat. 23. 37.10 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killeft the Prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gather'd thy Children together, as a Hen gathers her Chicken under her wings, and ye would not? Where we see how tenderly Christ refented their wicked and inhuman Carriage towards his Ser. vants, as he still does all ill Treatment of his Ministers.
But how did the King take these repeated Refusals of his Offers, and the cruel Usage of his Messengers ? Why that the next words declare; When the King heard thereof, be was foroth, and sent forth bis Armies, and destroy'd those Murderers, and burnt up their City. Their stubborn and incorrigible Ingratitude kindled his Wrath against then, and when the Ministers he sent to then could not prevail to win them, he fent forth his Armies to destroy them, and to burn their City. The Armies he fent forth were
the Romans, who were the Executioners of God's Ven. geance upon them; for they destroy'd the Murderers that flew ihis Servants, fack'd Ferufalem, and laid both the Temple and City in alhes. Bebold (faith our Saviour) your House is left unto you defolate, and all things are fallen to zutter quina. Which made him when he drew near the City, weep over it, faying, Othat thou hadît known in this thy day the things that belong to thy Peace, but now they are hid from :: This is the First Part of this Parable, which contains the many gracious Offers of Mercy and Pardon made to God's own People the Jews, together with their wilful Refusal of them all, and God's utter Rejection of them for their obstinate Infidelity and Unbelief,
The Second Part of it refers to God's calling in of the Gentiles, and taking them within the Pale iof his Church, who were before Aliens and Strangers, And that begins in the next Verse: Then saith the to his Servants, the Wedding is ready, but they who were bidden were not worthy s go ye therefore into the High-ways, and as many as ye Mall find, bid to the Marriages meaning, that tho all things are prepar'd for this Wedding or Gospel-Feast, yet the principal Guests that were invited, are not prepar'd for it, and having by their wilful Contempt fhew'd themselves unworthy of it, they fhall be waited for no longer. Go ye therefore into the Highways, where the Heathens and Gentiles walk; and how vile soever they may seem in your eyes, bring thena in to the Feaft. St. Luke expresses it thus, Go ye quickly into the Streets and Lanes of the City, and bring in hither the poor and the Maim'd, the Halt and the Blind. All that you meet with, whether Poor or Rich, Gentle or Simple, preach the Gospel to then, and invite them to the Feast. Here is God Almighty's free and general Invitation to all People and Nations, to come in and accept of the Grace and Favour of the Gospel : Ho, every one that thirfteth, come ye to the Waters, come buy and ear ; yea, come buy Wine and Milk without Many and without Price. The Apostles Gommiflion was, Go and preach to all Nations, make Disciples of them, and bring them to me. Which Commiflion they executed, as the next words tell us : So those Servants went out into the Highways, and gather'd toge sher all as many as they found, both bad and good ; and the Wedding was furnish'd with Guests. This was the calling in