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ing at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now, when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed, and marvelled, saying one to another, behold, are not all these which speak, Galileans? and how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthinans, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphilia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Lybia about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome. Jews and proselytes.”_" and the same day there was added unto them about three thousand souls." Since that period what have been the triumphs of the Prince of Peace! What myriads are now prostrate before Him who sitteth upon the throne, and before the Lamb, adoring the wonders of redeeming grace, looking, with angels, into the great mystery of godliness, if haply they may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge !” And what still more glorious triumphs remain to be displayed, when“ the fulness of the Gentiles shall be come in, and all Israel shall be saved," when 66
great voices in heaven” shall say “ The kingdom of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
The multitudes who shall flock to the Saviour, as doves to their windows, from the east and from the west, from the south and from the north, as they are partakes of the faith of the patriarchs, so they shall at length be made partakers of their joy; "they shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God."
What an assemblage of delicious images
What prospects has the gospel opened to the children of men ! Those travellers into a far country have returned to their Father's house. They pursued various tracks, but all led homeward. They were strangers to each other in a strange land, but the prevailing family likeness now lets them see that they are brothers. They sometimes fell out by the way, but now there is perfect love. They had heard of the names of their venerable ancestors and respectable kindred, now they see, and know, and rejoice in them. Their pilgrimage is ended, their“ warfare is accomplished.
They shall sit down." They were laid in the grave, they fell asleep, they saw corruption. Now they are children of the resurrection ; refreshed by the sleep of death, they have acquired immortal vigour, they have put on incorruption. Sitting is the posture assumed for the enjoyment of social intercourse, and that is the idea here conveyed. The family is assembled, the banquet is prepared, perfect harmony reigns. When men return to the bosom of their friends from tedious and painful journeys, from perilous voyages, from destructive warfare, affection suggests many an inquiry, many a communication. Alas, how often do we fondly anticipate the communications of distant friends who are never to return! But of the expected. guests, of the innumerable company invited to the marriage of the Lamb,” not one shall be missing, no bitter recollection shall intrude, no painful apprehen. sion shall arise. And with what subjects of conversa. tion are they eternally supplied ! With what enlarged views of those subjects do they discourse! The glories. of nature are contemplated with new eyes, and excite emotions before unfelt. The mystery of Providence, once so intricate and inscrutable, is unraverelled : the mighty plan, the minute parts, the universal and the individual interest are found in perfect unison. The wonders of redeeming love, intermingling with the glories of creation and the mystery of Providence, communicating to them all their beauty, all their importance.
What a theme for the whole company of the redeemed, for interchange of personal experience, for mutual congratulation and delight! What exalted employment, what inexhaustable source of joy for the endless days of eternity!
They shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.” There is a natural desire in man to be in the company of the eminently great, and wise, and good. But this desire is tempered by a consciousness of our own inferiority. We shrink from the penetrating eye of wisdom, we feel “how awful goodness is, we blush inwardly at the thought of our own littleness. But those in-gathered outcasts from the east and west feel no uneasy apprehensions on being introduced to society so dignified, for “there is no fear in love." They indeed feel their inferiority, but it excites no mortification. They are in their proper
place, and they have their proper measure of glory. While time was, they pronounced these venerable names with awe, they account those persons happy who could claim kindred to men so highly distinguished, admission to the court of the Gentiles terminated their ambition, birth had excluded them for ever from the commonwealth of Israel. Now they find that they are the real posterity of Abraham," born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” If any man hath not the spirit of Abraham, he is none of his. By the spirit they are related to the father of the faithful, and he joyfully acknowledges them as his children, and heirs with him of the promises.
They shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” This implies a participation of all the privileges of saints on earth, communion and fellowship with one another, as mem
bers together of that body whereof Christ is the head, and joint“ fellowship with the Father, and with the son Jesus Christ.” Such is the kingdom of God in this world, and such the preparation for the inheritance of saints in light, for the kingdom which cannot be moved Let us not presume to “darken counsel by words without knowledge.” Let us not presume to draw aside the veil which separates a material world from the world of spirits, which interposes between time and eternity. Scripture itself, after exhausting every image, every idea of negative and of positive glory and felicity, as descriptive of “ the kingdom of heaven,” refers us to a future revelation of that glory. Paul “ caught up to the third heaven, caught up into paradise,” admitted to the intercourse of celestial be. ings, and sent back to earth, finds himself incapable of describing the heavenly vision. The words which he heard were unspeakable, which it is not lawful, which it is not possible for a man to utter. In this blessed, undefined, undescribed state we leave it : “It is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
The contrast is dreadful: “But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out in outer darkness there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” By " the children of the kingdom,” our Lord undoubtedly means to denote the posterity of Abraham after the Aesh, the original heirs of the promises, the depositaries of the covenants, who, with all the advantages of birth, of education, of a revelation which they acknowledged to be divine, and of which they made their boast, obstinately rejected the promised Messiah, to whom all their prophets give witness; who, valuing themselves upon, and vainly resting in, a mere natural descent from il. lustrious ancestors, without inheriting a particle of their spirit, wilfully excluded themselves from the kingdom of heaven. Their means of knowledge, their peculiar Vol. IV.
privileges were a horrid aggravation of their guilt, and à full justification of their tremendous punishment. The blessedness of the righteous, in the heavenly world, is, in the preceding verse, represented under the well-known and familiar image of the banquet, or marriage feast, and various passages of the gospel history throw light upon the allusion, particularly the parable of the ten virgins. Those solemnities were usually celebrated in the night season. ments destined to the entertainment of the guests were superbly illuminated. The bridegroom and his train came to the banqueting house in magnificent procession, by lamps or torched light. The invited guests were admitted through the wicket, to prevent promiscuous intrusion. As soon as the nuptial band had entered the doors were shut. The careless and the tardy were of course excluded, and no after expostulation or entreaty could procure admittance; they were left in outer darkness, rendered more hideous by comparison with the splendour which reigned within ; left, in the cold and damps of the night, to their own bitter reflections, dreadfully aggravated by the idea of a felicity to them for ever inaccessible. By a representation so powerfully impressive, so easily understood, so awfully alarming, were the elders of the Jews admonished of the guilt, danger and misery of rejecting the counsel of God against themselves, of refusing the testimony which God had given to his Son Christ Jesus.
After this very solemn digression, Jesus returns to the subject which had given rise to it, the servants malady, and the master's marvellous faith. He bestows a present reward on the one, by instantly relieving the other. " And Jesus said unto the centurion, go thy way; and as thou has believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.” Here the Saviour condescends to be dictated to. He yields to the prayer of a faith so very extraordinary, he proceeds no farther on his way to the