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as children with their heavenly Father. Let it be our concern to partake of this holy fellowship, under the influence of the Holy Spirit; that we may walk with God day by day, and may live to His glory, adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things,85 and desiring to promote His cause by every means in our power. Then we shall be of good cheer, believing that our sins are forgiven us for Christ's sake; and we shall be enabled also to look beyond this present evil world, and the perishing things of time and sense, with a good hope through grace, that when we have done with all things here below, an entrance shall be ministered unto us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 36 there to praise and magnify His holy name throughout eternity.

85 Titus ii. 10.

86 2 Peter i, 11.

SERMON LV.

FOR

THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER

TRINITY.

THE WEDDING GARMENT.

Matthew xxii. 11, 12.

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.

The parable contained in the Gospel for this day sets before us the goodness of God in the provision which He has been pleased to make for the restoration of mankind to His favour; and the ingratitude of men in refusing to accept the invitations of His mercy. It describes the blessings of the great salvation of Christ, as having been first made known to the Jewish

b b

nation ; and His displeasure against them for rejecting it. And it shows that the invitation was then to be sent to the other nations of the earth, who would thankfully accept it.

This parable is supposed to have been delivered only three days before that Passover, at which our adorable Redeemer was taken, and by wicked hands was crucified and slain.87 The Evangelist records that our Lord Jesus Christ then said : The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage, or rather a marriage feast, for his son. The blessings proposed to the children of men, by means of the gospel-dispensation, are compared to the gratification derived from partaking of a royal banquet, prepared on a most joyful occasion, when no expense would be spared in the provision of whatever might be pleasant to the eye, and delicious to the palate. But sumptuous as the entertainment was, we are told that when the king sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding feast, they would not come. How extraordinary was their conduct! These persons appear to have been previously invited, and to have expressed their intention of being present at the feast, when the time for it should arrive; but when they were informed, by a special message, that every thing was ready for their

E7 Acts ii. 23.

reception, they refused to come and partake of it. As this affords a representation of the conduct pursued by many persons under the gospeldispensation ; may it not be considered as being descriptive of those who in their infancy have been baptised into the faith of Christ, but who, notwithstanding, when they have grown up, have turned their backs upon a religious profession? The parable was, however, intended in the first instance to describe the state of the Jewish nation, which made a profession of being the peculiar people of God; but when their long-promised Messiah appeared among them, rejected His gospel, and thereby turned their backs upon the Son of God.

Notwithstanding their refusal, it is said of the gracious King of heaven, that 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 feast. Here we may observe the pains and trouble which the king took to persuade the bidden guests to partake of His feast As if He had thought that they must have misunderstood the first message, He sends a more particular one, to assure them that all was in readiness, that every thing of the best kind was prepared ; and that nothing was wanting but the guests. Such were the pains taken by God with the Jewish nation ; in sending to them His prophets, and as He said, rising early and sending them.88 Such likewise were the pains taken by our Lord Jesus Christ in sending forth His twelve apostles, and other seventy also, 89 to invite their countrymen to partake of the blessings of His great salvation. And such are the pains taken in all ages with those who enjoy the privileges of the gospel-dispensation. They have line upon line, and precept upon precept 390 one invitation after another is addressed to them. To the privilege of Baptism, by which they are introduced into the visible church, and set apart to the service of God, to be His people, is added that of Confirmation, by means of which they are taught to consider their ways, and to ratify and confirm in their own persons what was promised and vowed in their names at their baptism. In addition to these initiatory rites, which are calculated to lead those who participate in them duly to appreciate the greatness of the blessings which God has promised to bestow upon His people; we have also the regular ordinances of the house of God, in which we are called on to pray to Him, and to praise Him, and to hear His holy word. Here one invitation after another is sent to the children of men, by which the blessings of the gospel of Christ are made known, and the exceeding great

88 Jeremiah xxv. 4. 89 Luke vi. 13, x. I.

90 Isaiah xxviii. 13.

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