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at the time of our own blessed Reformation. In all the successive ages of the gospel-dispensation, it may be said that those who have refused to receive the message of Divine mercy, have been divided into two parties; some are utterly careless about eternity, and give themselves no concern respecting it, being entirely immersed in secular pursuits; and others take offence at the gospel of Christ itself, and through enmity to the truth, persecute its ministers; they hate the light, and come not to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved.99 Their language with regard to the messenger of heaven, is that of king Ahab respecting Micaiah, the prophet of the Lord, I hate him, for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. For while the gospel of Christ is a message of peace, a declaration of good to all those who embrace it; it denounces evil upon all who disregard or reject it. It declares that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men; and therefore it calls upon them to flee from the wrath to come, by receiving that gospel which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth it; whereby alone they can be delivered from everlasting perdition. Ungodly men persuade themselves that they are in no such danger,
99 Jobu iii. 21. 2 Kings xxii. 8. 2 Matthew iii. 7. 3 Rom.i. 18, 16.
and therefore are displeased with those who point out to them a way of escape. They are resolved to pursue that course which is gratifying to their carnal minds, and cannot bear to be told that the end of it is death eternal. They therefore vent their displeasure, in some way or other, upon the messengers of heaven who disturb their golden dreams of peace and security, while they reject with scorn the offers of mercy which are held out to them. Such is the folly of those of whom it is said, that the god of this world hath blinded their minds, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them, and they should believe and be saved.*
This parable proves that the King of heaven is not indifferent to the treatment which His messengers receive. For when the king heard thereof, he was wroth ; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city. Similar will be the awful end of all who persecute the messengers of Christ, because they hate the message of mercy which these deliver in the name of their Lord and Master. When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, He will take vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.
42 Corinthians iv. 4.
5 2 Thessalonians i. 7-9.
As the guests who had been bidden to come to the marriage feast, had refused to attend when summoned to it, Then saith the king to His servants, The wedding feast 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 feast. As the Jewish nation, to whom the gospel of Christ was first sent, rejected it, and put to death the Son of God and some of His apostles; the salvation of Christ was sent unto the Gentiles.Ö The disciples of the Lord Jesus were commanded to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, to go
and teach all nations ,8 to call upon all men every where to repent, and believe the gospel. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all, as many as they found, both bad and good; and the wedding feast was furnished with guests. The message of mercy was to be made known to persons of all descriptions; the bad and the good were equally to be invited to receive the salvation of Christ. This is a matter which proves offensive to the self-righteous heart of man. By the gospel of Christ pardon is proclaimed to men of the worst characters as well as of the best. For since all have sinned, and come short
6 Acts xxviii. 28. ?Mark xvi. 15. Matt. xxviij. 19. 'Acts xvii.30.
of the glory of God ;10 it calls upon all, without any exception, to acknowledge their offences, and to seek forgiveness through the propitiation effected by the sacrifice of the death of Christ, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Of the smallest sins, as men esteem them, humble confession must be made, and pardon earnestly implored, as well as of the greatest. Whatever shades of difference may appear in the guiltiness of different persons in the eyes of men, all sin is rebellion against God; and unless it be confessed, repented of, and forsaken, and unless pardon be implored for Christ's sake, it cannot be forgiven. But the Saviour of sinners receives all, both good and evil, who humbly and earnestly implore His mercy. Their past offences form no barrier to their salvation. Of all who truly turn to Him, He says, Their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more ;11 though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.12 All who are accepted by the Father of heaven, are justified in His sight, not on account of their own worthiness, but because of the comeliness which He puts upon them, when they obtain an interest in His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased.13
10 Rom. iii. 23, "Hebrews viii. 12. 12 Isaiah i. 18. 13 Matt.iii. 17. 14 Revelation xix. 8.
To this point the latter part of the parable particularly refers; in which it is stated, that When the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment. As it was customary on such occasions for kings to provide garments for their guests," it was considered a dishonour done to the master of the feast, not to appear in the robe which was provided for the occasion. The king therefore said unto the man who had refused to put on the robe which had been offered to him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? It was a rule that none should be admitted into the king's presence without it. This man appears to have thought that his own raiment was sufficiently good, and that it was therefore unnecessary for him to accept the robe that had been presented to him. As he had refused the wedding garment, and now found that he had no right to appear in the guest chamber without it, he was speechless ; he had no answer to make. It was an affront offered to the king, to come into his presence without complying with the rules of the feast. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; where he will be excluded from the light of the guestchamber and the pleasures of the banquet; there