صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

(Th' atonement a Redeemer's love has wrought
Is not for you—the righteous need it not.
Seest thou yon harlot wooing all she meets,
The worn out nuisance of the publick streets,
Herself from morn to night, from night to morn,
Her own abhorrence, and as much your scorn ?
The gracious show'r, unlimited and free,
Shall fall on her-when heaven denies it thee.
Of all that wisdom dictates, this the drift,
That man is dead in sin--and life a gift.'

This consolatory truth is strikingly exemplified in the sequel of the following parable. "A certain man made a great supper, and bade many; and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

Then the master of the house being angry, said to his servant; go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city--into the highways and hedges, and bring

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in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you,

that none of those men - which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

That the conclusion of this parable prima rily refers to the rejection of the Jewish nation for their unbelief, and to the subsequent promulgation of the gospel to the gentiles, for whom that people entertained the most sovereign contempt, I have not the smallest doubt. But that the pharisees and doctors of the law, to whom it was delivered, understood it in this sense is not probable. Their notions of the expected Messiah and his kingdom were so secularized, that they lost sight of the spiritual blessings to be derived either to themselves or to others from his appearance in the world : and were, besides, so circumscribed, owing perhaps to the exclusive privileges by which they had been so long distinguished from other nations, as to make it questionable whether they had, notwithstanding the perspicuity of ancient prophecies on this subject, any idea that these nations were to participate the same goodness in any other way than by becoming proselytes to Judaism. It is, therefore, perfectly natural to suppose that, while our Lord predicted the awful consequences which were to follow his being rejected by that ungrateful nation, he intended the parable should, at the same time, be strikingly applicable to these whited sepulchres who had, by their doctrine and contemptuous treatment of himself, so largely contributed to accelerate its ruin.

By the servant being sent into the streets and lanes, the highways and hedges, these pharisees and doctors of the law must have perceived that the master of the feast was determined to furnish his table with guests whom they utterly abhorred: that by so doing he was, in fact, contrasting the vice attached to these despicable wretches with their virtue, and practically declaring that neither the abject situations, nor the detestable atrocities of these outcasts of society, were any bar to entertainment at his table; or to speak without a figure,

and in reference to Christ and his kingdom ; that their multiplied transgressions would not hinder the bestowment of his mercy, nor were they so incompatible with the nature of his mission, nor so likely to operate to his prejudice, as the abominable pride and selfrighteousness which the scribes and pharisees' constantly manifested by their conduct.

Now, it must have been extremely mortifying to these restless persecutors of Christ, to find that their vacant seats were to be occupied by the refuse of mankind-by harlots, publicans, and profligates. They were too proud and too carnal to view themselves as sinners standing in need of such a saviour as Christ professedly was. They expected a Messiah that would set up a temporal kingdom ; that would emancipate them from the bondage of Rome, and exalt the nation to independence, opulence, and splendour. But when they found that our Lord's kingdom was not of this world, they opposed all his claims as the true Messiah; stigmatized his character with the most reproachful epithets; and perse

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cuted him with unrelenting malice. They saw that his humility favoured not their pride, and that his meekness was not likely to raise him from the footstool of the Roman empire to the throne of the world.'

But what gave, perhaps, the greatest offence, and for which the Saviour of men was most despised and calumniated, was his unwearied attention and kindness to those whom the pharisees emphatically denominated sinners. These blind guides, leaders of the blind, were too haughty to acknowledge his divine mission: it did not quadrate with their erroneous sentiments and ambitious views. They were punctual in the discharge of various religious and moral duties that were to be seen of men-in paying tithe of mint and anise and cummin, but omitted the weightier matters of the law, such as judgment, merey, and faith. It was, therefore, imagined that they were entitled to distin. guishing marks of respectful attachmentthat, if Jesus were really the Messiah, he would certainly have testified in the most publick manner his approbation of their sanctimonious

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