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that very hour sought to lay hands on him ; for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them. But they feared the people, because they esteemed him as a Prophct. And they left him and went away
REFLECTIONS. When we read this parable, and consider it as levelled at the Jews, we applaud the righteous judgment of God in revenging so severely upon them the quarrel of his covenant, and the blood of his Son ; but let us take heed to ourselves, lest we also fall after the same example of unbelief. God has given to every man some part of his vineyard to cultivate and improve, or some advantages 10 know and serve him, And as for us who enjoy the Christian dispensation, we have particular reason to say, the lines are fallen to us in pleasant places. What could ke have done more for this part of his vineyard? How ungrateful therefore shall we be, and how miserable too, if we with-hold the fruits he so reasonably expects; if we slight the messengers by whom he so frequently and so pa hetically demands them; yea, if by wilful impenitence and unbelief we in effect renew the slaughter of his beloved Son, after that amazing favour he has done us, in charging him with an embassy of peace to us, whose aggravated crimes had long since deserved that he should have sent amongst us the messengers of his vengeance. Oh that we may never be condemned out of our own mouths in the censures we pass on the guilty Jews !
We cannot surely think of the awful threatening of our Lord without some secret terror for ourselves, when we consider how shamefully we of this nation have abused our privileges. The kingdom of God, said he, shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. God had been just, had he long since executed such a judgment upon us : may he be merciful to us all in suspending and averting it! May his compassion particularly extend to those amongst us who reject Christianity! for the passage 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. Wo 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?
Christ further warns the Jerus of their danger in rejecting the gospel, or
resting in an insincere profession of it, by the parable of the marriagefeast and the wedding-garment, MATT. xxii. 1-14. 1 ND Jesus answered and spake to them again in parables, say2 ing, The kingdom of heaven is like a man that was a king, 3 who made a marriage-feast for his son: And he sent his servants to
call those who had been invited to the nuptial banquet : But they 4 would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, tell them
that were invited; Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen
and fatted beasts are slain, and all things are ready ; come to the 5 marriage-feast. But not regarding it, they went away ; one to his 6 field, and another to his merchandise. And the rest laying hold on 7 his servants insulted and slew them. And when the king heard of
it, he was provoked; and, having sent his armies, he destroyed those 8 murderers, and burnt their city. Then he says to his servants, The
marriage-feast is prepared; but they who were first invited were 9 not worthy, Go ye therefore to the public ways, and invite as majo ny as you find there to the wedding-banquet. "And those servants
went out, into the public ways, and assembled all that they met with,
whether bad or good ; and the feast was abundantly supplied with Il guests. But the king coming in to view the guests, saw a man 12 there not clothed with a wedding garment* : And he said to him,
Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? 13 And he was struck speechless. Then the king said to his servants,
Bind his hands and feet, and take him away, and cast him into the
darkness which is without; there shall be weeping and gnashing of 14 the teeth. For many are called, but few chosen,
REFLECTIONS, 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 frow the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise! Yet he has 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!
Let us also remember, that it is not every one who prosesses to accept the entertainmient, not every one who talks of gospel-blessings, and seems to desire a share in them, that will be admitted to it. No:
* Such a distinguishing habit was common at wedding-feasts, and often provided by the person who inade the entertainment. In this case we are to sup-/ pose that it was contemptuously refused. [Or that this man stoie in among the guests without being properly introduced].
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. 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 out into outer darkness.
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, 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!
SECTION CLIV. Our Lord confounds the Pharisees and Herodians when they hoped to
have ensnared him by their question about paying the Roman tribute. МАТт. xxii. 15—22. MARK xii. 13-17. LUKE XX. 20-26. THEN the Pharisees went and took counsel how they might en
snare him in his discourse. And they watched him, and sent out spies to him, who should pretend themselves to be righteous men ; even some of the disciples of the Pharisees, and some of the Herodians; ra party zealous in the interest of the Roman government). that they might lay hold on his words, to deliver him up to the power thority of the Roman governor. And when they were come, they accosted him with flattering expressions, and asked him saying, Master, we know that thou art true ; and 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. Therefore tell us, What thinkest thou ? Is it lawful for us Jews to pay tribute to Cæsar, or not? Shall we give it, or shall we not give it? But Jesus, knowing their hypocrisy, perceived their craftiness and wickedness, and said to them, Ye hypocrites, Why do ye tempt me? Shew me the tribute money : bring me a penny that I may see it. And they brought him a Roman penny. And, he says to them, Whose is this image and inscription which it has ? And they answered and said to him, Cæsar's. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render therefore to Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, and to God the things which are God's.-And when they had heard his answer, they could not take hold of his words before the people; and they wondered at his reply, and held their peace, and left him, and went away.
REFLECTIONS. Again does our Lord renew the repeated lesson 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, againsi thine holy Child Jesus, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, and the people of Israel, were gathered together; and their words were sofer than oil when war and murder was in their hearts.-Let us not, with the simple, òctieve every flattering word, 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 happiness. 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 reiembered 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. 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!
Our Lord proves the resurrection to the Sadducees, and answers their foolish objection against it. Matt. xxii. 23-33. MARK xii. 1827. LUKE XX. 27-40,
and Herodians, some of the Sadducees came to him, who deny there is any resurrection of the dead, and asked him, saying, Master, Moses said and wrote to us (Deut. xxv. 5.) “ That if a man's brother o die, and leave a wife, and no children behind him, his brother should • take his wife, and raise up seed to his brother." Now there were
with us seven brethren ; and the first, when he had married a wise, died, and having had no children, left his wife to his brother. And the second took her to wife; and he likewise died childless. And then the third took her; and in like manner also all the rest of the seven had her; and they all died, and left no children. And last of all the woman also died. Therefore when they shall rise, as you say they will, in the general resurrection, whose wife shall she be of the seven? for all the seven had her to wife. And Jesus answered and said to them, You are mistaken, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. The children of this world indeed marry, and are given in marriage : But they who shall be counted worthy to obtain that world, and the resura rection from the dead, when they shall rise, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: For they can die no more ; since, in this respect they are equal to the angels of God in heaven, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection,
But as for the evidence of the resurrection, even Mos es in effect shewed that the dead are raised*. Have ye not read in the book of Moses ( Exod. iii. 6.) how God spake to him in the bush, what was in effect spoken to you by God, saying “I am the God of Abraham, and “ the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Now God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living : so that all live unto him. Therefore you greatly err in denying this doctrine. Then some of the scribes said in reply, Master, thou hast spoken well. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine. And after that, they (that is, the Sadducees) durst net ask him any thing at all, but retired in silence and confusion,
REFLECTIONS. With what satisfaction should we read this vindication of so importa ant an article of our faith and hope ! Easily was this boasted argument of the Sadducees unravelled and exposed, and all the pride of those bold wits, who valued themselves so much on that imaginary penetration which laid men almost on a level with brutes, covered with just confusion. Indeed objections against the Resurrection, much more plausible than this of theirs, may be answered in that one saying of our Lord's: Ye know not the scriptures, nor the power of God. Were the scripturedoctrine of the Resurrection considered on the one hand, and the oma nipotence of the Creator on the other, it could not seem incredible to any that God should raise the dead,
How sublime an idea does our Lord give us of the happiness of those 'who shall be thought worthy to attain it! They shall be equal to the angiels ! Adored be the riches of that grace which redeems us from this degenerate and miserable state, in which we had made ourselves so much like the beasts that perish, to raise us to so high a dignity, and marshal us with the armies of heaven! Let us csteem so glorious a hope aright, and with the greatest intenseness of soul pursue and insure it. And as for those enjoyments of this present world, which are
* MATT. “When at the bush, he calls the Lord, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,”