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But now these persons are to he understood to be particularly addressed. Because you are sensible of inward poverty, because you are sensible of inward darkness, because many things in religion seem to perplex your understanding, and you cannot relieve them, because you have many doubts and scruples whether you can come; and because you have an habitual prevailing sense of your own unworthiness, and this has been made an excuse to your conscience from time to time—the invitation is accommodated to you. You are poor, and therefore you are to come; you are blind and dark, and therefore you are to come: you are unworthy ; you have a sense of unworthiness recorded in your own spirit; and your very unworthiness is a reason for you to come, is a justification to come. You are therefore addressed in this capacity, that you may be inclined to come.
Those that had the first invitation were not worthy; those who are now addressed are deeming themselves not worthy, and, therefore, are, perhaps, indisposed to come. But we are to consider, that because they have this deep, and prevailing, and growing sense of unworthiness, therefore they are embraced by the invitation ; that God accommodates especial encouragement to their state of mind, and that he means to make their very sense of unworthiness, an evidence of invitation, and the reason of approach and of confidence.
You are not, therefore, to wait until you qualify yourselves to make the invitation your own: you are not to wait until this poverty is resolved into imagined riches ; you are not to wait until the blindness and dark ness is resolved into clear light to distinguish all Scriptural truth : you are not to wait till the sense of worthiness comes over you : but you are to come just as you are; and because you are so poor, so blind, so destitute, and must perish if you remain from the Saviour-on this very account you are invited and entreated to come.
Unworthiness, then, let it be observed, has no reference to merit, or to the inward state of feeling: but it has reference to that state of mind by which we treat the invitation which is bestowed. If an individual receiving such an invitation of grace, shall treat it lightly, shall scorn it, shall put it away, he shall deem himself not embraced in it, or not interested in it, and he is therefore not worthy to partake of its bounty. But if an individual shall deem himself most unworthy, and yet, with all this sense of unworthiness in him, shall be inclined to treat the message worthily—that is, to receive it, if he could but know it was for him, if he could but know it invited him, if he could but know it embraced him, if he could but know it proposed his salvation, and his happiness—if the individual is thus disposed to treat the message worthily, then, whatever may be his sense of unworthiness, it is a message to him, and a message which he is bound to obey at the call of Christ his Saviour.
It is to be remarked, also here, to strengthen the whole representation, that only such as have this prevailing disposition of mind do actually comply with the invitation : those who had a different state of mind, whatever may be the shades of difference, did not comply. They had a variety of reasons, and they were worshipping a variety of idols, and they were living in a variety of forins : but all of them gave the preference to the world and this life, over eternity and the things of God. They did not obey it: the message came to them; they were bid; they were bidden many times, and with much love and grace in every invitation; and yet they did not accept it.
But here the message came to another class of persons, in a different state of mind; and in that state of mind it is represented as accepted. They are poor, they are blind, they want the very provisions which are proposed. They are disposed to listen to the voice which graciously and tenderly addresses them : they see the adaptation of the mercy revealed to their own circumstances. They have a sense, indeed, of unworthiness and doubt come over them; and they fear on this account they may not come. But when once the voice of invitation falls distinctly on their ear, when once their own character and state are described in that invitation, and when once they are assured they may come, they come instantly, they do honour to the invitation, and they are, in every case, accepted by the Lord of the feast.
This disposition is represented as in every case associated with the act of compliance: there will be no compliance without. While pride remains in the heart, while the world reigns over the affections, while the things of time and sense controul our preference and our judgment, it is in vain these invitations are addressed to us : we make light of thein, we pass them by, and we scorn them. It is requisite, in order to estimate a righteousness not our own, that we should be stripped of our own: it is requisite to effect a deliverance from sin, that we should taste the bitterness and the gall attached to the practice of sin: and it is necessary, in order to estimate the provisions of divine grace, that we should know how destitute we are in our own circumstances, and how life and happiness are bound up in the hands of God. Then shall we come,
then shall we joyfully come; then will all excuses as readily vanish as they were invented ; and then shall we give thanks continually to Him, who has made us “ meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”
In the second place, there is ENCOURAGEMENT TO ACCEPT THIS INVITATION. The persons who are thus addressed, are persons who from their very circumstances might feel discouraged.
On this account, it is meant to overcome their discouragement, in the first place, by embodying their very character and their very fears in the substance of the invitation. For instance: if a prince should give a general invitation to the nobles and to the people at large, you might feel that the invitation did not comprehend you. You might be ready to say, “ My circumstances are so poor, I am so unknown to the sovereign and court; I have so little pretensions to meet others there, my superiors in life, that I cannot imagine the invitation, after all, is meant for me." You would be discouraged ; and under this discouragement you would stay away. You would hear others listen to the invitation, and comply; and yet you would not comply; because you would think that your circumstances would exclude you, although the king might not exclude you. But when the invitation should come, and that invitation should embrace your particular state, that you might have this discouragement put away, that you might be constrained to come, you would instantly comply.
Now this is precisely the position in which infinite mercy places you. You have had your discouragements : you have not had previous privileges; you have much darkness on your mind; you have many difficulties on Scriptural subjects ; and many impediments have laid in your way to yielding your hearts to Christ. And the woria especially has taken advantage of all these difficulties, and held you in bondage till now Now here is an invitation in which your name is written, in which your very discouragements are put down, and which are made an encouragement and a motive to come to Christ, and to put your trust in God.
Still the encouragement advances upon us as the parable opens. Our Lord invites those who are thus discouraged to come: and we are assured by Luke in his testimony that they do come, and that the house is filled with the guests, and that there is yet abundant room for the supplies of divine mercy, and for the justification of that mercy to sinful man. All these particulars connected, supply large encouragement to those who are most discouraged.
Observe, in the first place, that the designs of God's mercy shall be realized. His house shall be filled: there may yet be room; the invitation may be refused, and slighted, and neglected by many; and many scorners may scorn it to their own destruction : but, nevertheless, God's covenant shall stand ; God's love shall not be frustrated; the designs of his richest mercy shall be accomplished. Some may reject in scorn, but others shall receive in gratitude, and at last his house shall be filled ; and the number of his redeemed which no man can number for multitudes shall have been brought into his family, shall have been seated at his table, shall have partaken of his bounty, and shall even sit down at the marriage-supper of the Lamb in heaven, for ever and ever.
His purposes of mercy and grace, therefore, shall stand. Many have actually complied with the invitation which is thus given. It is given to the poor, to the blind, to the halt, to the destitute, and to those who in the first instance thought themselves unworthy to come. But, nevertheless, multitudes have complied; they have cast themselves upon the truth of the invitation, upon the grace of the person who gives the message, and finding this truth and this grace, they have found it never to fail; they have gone and claimed a place in God's house, a name with God's children, and cast their hopes on heaven ; and they have never been disappointed in doing so. Multitudes have come, and of this very class and description have they come; for this is only the description which will ultimately realize the grace of salvation. And they have all been received; there is no record of an individual thus coming being rejected : “ All who come unto me shall be received; I will in no wise cast them out.” Can he invite the poor, and yet reject the poor? Can he invite the maimed, and yet reject the maimed? Can he invite the blind, and yet reject the blind? Can he invite, by express message, the unworthy, and yet reject you on the account of that unworthiness? This is impossible.
Then the encouragement goes as to the fact that multitudes have entered, and have been received. This is the encouragement, and the reason, why you also should accept the invitation ; and why you should haste to partake of it. Multitudes have received, and have partaken of all the blessings consequent on it. God's purposes of grace have been accomplished in every age; they are accomplishing under this dispensation in a larger measure than at any
former time; and at the present time there is reason to say, that many are listening to the invitation, and many are bowing to its authority, and many are blessed in its mercy. Many have entered, and many have partaken.
Might not this argument be pressed even closer? Might it not be said of ourselves, as a congregation, that many have been thus addressed from time to
tiine; and that many graciously constrained, have esteemed the invitation; have cast themselves on the authority of God, and have received, and do possess this great salvation? Is this true? Is it not an encouragement, a motive, an inducement to you also to strive to enter in at the strait gate, and to partake of the ineffable mercy? Has your parent entered, and will not you enter? Has your wife entered, and will not you enter? Has your child entered, and will not you enter? Is there not reason in these circumstances ? While many are pressing into the kingdom, while many are repenting of sin, and while many are professing his name—is there not reason, brethren, why you should earnestly and instantly seek also your personal salvation? O there are many under convictions of sin, and you are not convinced ; and many whose scruples and difficulties have been overcome, and your's have not been overcome; and many in the high-ways, and streets, and lanes, who never had your privileges, and do not now possess your knowledge, who have actually de ded for Christ and entered into his kingilom and blessing.
“ And there is yet room." This is also made an additional encouragement by Christ. You might otherwise have said, “O, so many have entered, and so many come, and so many participate, that the company is made up, the number is complete, and there is no room for more. Thus, in the first instance, you might stay away under false scruples, until the place seemed to be occupied; and then stay away, because there was no place to be found for yoli. But " yet there is room.' Many have come; many are coming; but “yet there is room” for you. 0! if you stay away, God is resolved that you shall be left without excuse. There is yet room; room in the immensity of his designs of grace; room in the immensity of the might, and mercy, and merit of Christ, our Saviour; and room, immense room, in that heavenly world of light, in which we are all to be connected together in Christ Jesus, and to be at last resented to the Father. There is yet room. Through every age multitudes have come, and multitudes are still coming ; yet there is room: room in the church for you; room at the table for you ; room to all the privileges of the Gospel, and the gratifications of the saints, fory
ryou. “ And yet there is room." Your children have come, and you have not conne; but there is yet room for you: your parents have come, and you have not come; and yet there is roorn for you : those with less privilege, and less knowledge, and less understanding, have come, and you have dared to stay away: and yet there is room for you. The door is not yet shut; mercy is not yet expended ; truth does not yet become silent ; but the invitations are here ; mercy is abundant; and you are invited still to come, for “ yet there is room.”
We glance at the remaining part of the subject, which is, that this INVITATION, IP ACCEPTED, SHOULD BE ACCEPTED IMMEDIATELY, AND WITHOUT DELAY. There are several expressions supporting this representation. Our Lord sends forth his servants in haste : some have been rejected : he sends them forth in laste, commissioned with all his authority to tell others to come. The poor, the blind, the ignorant, those who are sensible of their unworthiness, are to come instantly, that his house may be filled. He renews the invitation, and says not only “ Invite them,” but “ Compel them to come.” Surround then with such arguments, fill them with such persuasion, touch them with such
motives. Speak in my name; speak, it possible, as men could not speak : and thus bear witness to their consciences, and “compel them to come in."
All this is designed to shew, that the compliance should be immediate, and without delay. It should be so from the painful example already presented before us.
The invitation had been made sincerely ; given graciouslv; given, aud repeated with much inducement; and yet those who were bidaen did not come. They made light of it; and He who had invited them at last made light of them ; passed them by ; consigned them to weeping, to darkness, and to despair. Here, then, is the example, the fearful example, on the one hand, of persisting in slighting his name. They did but slight it: many of them might have reasoned as you possibly have reasoned: they meant to do it; thev meant to comply with it at a convenient season ; after they had tried their oxen, after they had visited their farm, after they had enjoyed domestic delights. They meant, possibly, at a future time, to do all possible honour to this invitation; but the present tiine was not the suitable time. They made light of it; and God passed them by, and the invitation is no more given. This is an inducement to you to yield an immediate compliance with the invitation. Where there is much mercy there is much judgment: the mercy which melts one, is followed by the judgment which condemns another; and the greater the mercy neglected and rejected, the greater and the more immediate may they expect to be the displays of his indignation and his wrath.
O then, by the very instance of his righteousness and his judgments, vou are constrained immediately to comply. Do not make light of it; do not despise it; do not pass it by, and promise it attention and thought another day : for others have done so, and others have been ruined in doing so.
This is the chief concern of life; and therefore it should be complied with instantly and without delay. We deem it wise and necessary to attend to business according to its call, and according to its importance : and the business which we regard of first-rate importance, is the business which we attend to first, whatever other things we may put away. But here is an occupation, and an avocation, and a concern, of infinite moment to each of us. He who does not deem it the first concern of life, has not entertained any just conceptions of his own convictions, or the authority of God, or the religion he professes to acknowledge. It is the chief consideration ; and therefore if it is to be attended to, it is to be attended to immediately and without delay. It is not to be put aside until you have made your wealth, until you have discharged your merchandize, until you have regulated your accounts, until you have established your household, until you have got rid of the present burden of care, or the present pursuits of ambition which are occupying your attention. God will not suffer it to be put by for these ; but these are to be put by for it. The world is to wait; domestic comfort is to wait; the world's occupations and pursuits are to wait; all the endearments of life are to wait, and the claims of ufe to wait rather than this is to wait: you must give your first and chief attention to your suuls salvation, and the claims of Christ upon your conscience.
It demands immediate attention, without delay, because all things are waiting for our good. Our Lord himself has offered an exposition on this subject, and we bare bad reason to attend to it. It is but an argument for an immediate : Itention, against all delay, and all scruple and difficulty. All things are