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before us has a dreadful aspect upon such! Whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear; whether they will submit, or whether they will oppose; Christ is made the Head of the corner, and God will for ever establish him as such. Woe to them who, instead of joining with him, and fixing the stress of their souls upon him, deliberately set themselves to oppose his cause and interest! On such undoubtedly will he fall like a mighty rock of adamant, and miserably crush them in pieces, and grind them to powder.
Thus did our Lord warn his enemies most wisely and most graciously; but they despised the admonition, and hated him for what was so kindly intended. They sought to lay hands on him because he had spoken this parable against them. High provocation indeed, to set their danger faithfully before them, that if by any means it were possible they might be awakened to escape it! But, alas, what can save those whose spiritual distempers are exasperated by the most proper remedies prescribed for their cure.
MATT. XXII. 1-14.
AND Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 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 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 found, 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 a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.
How rich are the provisions of the gospel! a feast indeed becoming the bounty and majesty of the King of heaven; and proportionable even to the love which he bears to his own Son, in honour of whom it is made!
How wonderful is the grace which calls us to the participation of these provisions; us, who were originally sinners of the Gentiles, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise! (Eph. ii. 12.) Yet has he graciously sent his messengers to us, and invited us to his house, yea, to his table, with the additional hope of yet nobler entertainments in reserve. May none of us reject so condescending a call, lest we turn his goodness into righteous indignation, and treasure up to ourselves wrath against the day of wrath! (Rom. ii. 5.)
Let us also remember, that it is not every one who professes to accept the entertainment, not every one who talks of gospelblessings, and seems to desire a share in them, that will be admitted to it. No; in order to our partaking of an inheritance among the saints in light, it is necessary that we be made meet for it by the holiness both of our hearts and lives, (Col. i. 12.) This is the wedding-garment, wrought by the Spirit of God himself, and offered to us by the freedom of his grace. And it is so necessary, that without it we must be separated from the number of his guests and friends, and even, though we had eaten and drank in his presence, must be cast into outer darkness. (Luke xiii. 26.)
Frequently let us think of that awful day when the King will come in to see his guests; when God will take a most exact survey of every soul under a Christian profession. Let us think of that speechless confusion which will seize such as have not on the wedding-garment, and of that inexorable severity with which they will be consigned to weeping and gnashing of teeth. To have seen for a while the light of the gospel, and the fair beamings of an eternal hope, will add deeper and more sensible horror to those gloomy caverns; to have heard those
glad tidings of great joy, and to hear them, as it were, echoed back in accents of final despair, how will it wound the ear, and pierce the very heart! May God prevent it, by fulfilling in us all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power; that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in us, and we in him (2 Thess. i. 11, 12.) when the marriage supper of the Lamb shall be celebrated, and all the harmony, pomp, and beauty of heaven shall aid its solemnity, its magnificence, and its joy!
MATT. XXII. 15-22. MARK XII. 13-17.
THEN went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they watched him, and sent forth spies, certain of their disciples with the Herodians, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor. And when they were come, they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither carest thou for any man, for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not? shall we give, or shall we not give? But he knowing their wickedness, craftiness, and hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? shew me the tributemoney, that I may see it. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they answered and said unto him, Cæsar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's: and unto God the things that are God's. And they could not take hold of his words before the people and they marvelled at his answer, held their peace, left him, and went their way.
Again does our Lord renew the repeated lessons he had before
given us, both by precept and example, of uniting wisdom and innocence. How admirable was this mixture of prudence and integrity with which he confounded these Pharisees and Herodians, who, contrary as their principles and interests were, conspired against him! For of a truth, O Lord, against thine Holy Child Jesus, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, and the people of Israel were gathered together (Acts iv. 27); and their words' were softer than oil, when war and murder was in their hearts. (Psalm lv. 21.)
Let us not, with the simple, believe every flattering word (Prov. xiv. 15) since sometimes the highest encomiums may be designed as the instruments of mischief: and too often they prove so when they are not treacherously intended.
Our Lord was indeed the Person whom these artful hypocrites described and was in that respect an excellent Pattern to all his followers, and especially to his ministers. He knew no man in the discharge of his office; but, without regarding the persons of any, neither seeking their favour nor fearing their resentment, he taught the way of God in truth, and declared the whole of his counsel.
Let us particularly attend to his decision in the present case, and learn with the utmost readiness to render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, and unto God the things which are God's. Our civil magistrates, by virtue of their office, justly claim our reverent regard; and tribute is most reasonably due to those who attend continually to the service of the public, and are, under God, the pillars of our common tranquillity and happi(Rom. xiii. 6, 7.) Let that tribute therefore be justly and freely rendered with honour, and with cheerfulness; as he is surely unworthy to share in the benefits of government, who will not contribute his part towards its necessary expense. But let it also be remembered that the rights of God are sacred and inviolable: he, and he alone, is the Lord of conscience; and when that is invaded, it is easy to judge whether man or God is to be obeyed; (Acts iv. 19.) Let us be daily thankful that in our own age and country these rights are so happily united. May a guardian Providence continue to watch over both! and may we seriously consider how impossible it is, under such a government, to be good Christians, without being obedient subjects, or to fear God, if we do not honour the king! (1 Pet. ii. 17.)
MATTHEW XXII. 23-33. MARK XII. 18-27.
THE same day came to him certain of the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man's brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: and the second took her to wife, and he died childless: and the third took her likewise; and in like manner the seven also had her; and they left no children, and died and last of all the woman died also. In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her to wife. Jesus answered and said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; neither can they die any more; for they are like the angels which are in heaven; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. And as touching the resurrection of the dead, that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed. Have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? for God is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him. Ye therefore do greatly err. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine. Then certain of the Scribes