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shew him respect, and had the same hope of enjoying the privileges and entertainments of the wedding : There was a difference with respect to oil in their vessels, but there was no difference with respect to their lamps. One thing intended by their lamps, as I suppose is agreed by all, is their profesa gion. This is the same in both ; and in both it is a profession of grace, as a lamp (from its known end and use) is a manifestation or shew of oil. Another thing signified by the blaze of their lamps seems to be the light of hope : Their lamps signify in general the appearance of grace or godliness, including both the appearance of it to the view or judgment of others, and also to their own view, and the judgment they entertain of themselves : Their lamps shone, not only in the eyes of others, but also in their own eyes. This is confirmed, because on the hearing the midnight cry, they find their lamps are gone out ; which seems most naturally to represent this to us, that however hypocrites may maintain their hopes while they live, and while their Judge is at a distance, yet when they come to be alarmed by the sound of the last trumpet, their hopes will immediately expire and vanish away, and very often fail them in the sensible approaches of death. Where is the hope of the hypocrite, when God takes away his soul ? But till the midnight cry the foolish virgins seem to entertain the same hopes with the wise ; when they first went forth with the wise virgins, their lamps shone in their own eyes, and in the eyes of others, in like manner with the lamps of the wise virgins. So that by this parable it also appears, that all visible members of the Christian church, or kingdom of heaven, are those that profess to be gracious persons, as looking on themselves, and seeming, or at least pretending, to be such.
And that true piety is what persons ought to look at in themselves as the qualification that is a proper ground for them to proceed upon, in coming into the visible church of Christ, and taking the privileges of its members, I think is evident also from the parable of the marriage, which the king made for his son, Matth. xxii. particularly the 11th and 12th verses, “ And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not a wedding garment ; and he VOL. I.
saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment ? And he was speechless." Mr. Stoddard says, (Appeal, page 4, 5) “ Here is a representation of the day of judgment ; and such persons as come for salvation without a wedding garment shall be rejected in that day. So that here being nothing said about the Lord's supper, all arguing from this scripture falls to the ground.” Upon which I take leave to observe, that the king's coming in to see the guests, means Christ's visiting his professing church at the day of judgment, I make no doubt : But that the guests' coming into the king's house means persons coming for salvation at the day of judgment, I am not convinced. If it may proper. ly be represented, that any reprobates will come for salvation at the day of judgment, they will not do so before the king appears ; but Christ will appear first, and then they will come and cry to him for salvation. Whereas, in this parable the guests are represented as gathered together in the king's house before the king appears, and the king as coming in and finding them there ; where they had entered while the day of grace lasted, while the door was kept open, and invitations given forth ; and not like those who come for salvation at the day of judgment, Luke xiii. 25, who come after the door is shut, and stand without, knocking at the door. I think it is apparent beyond all contradiction, that by the guests' coming into the king's house at the invitation of the servants, is intended Jews and Gentiles coming into the Christian church, at the preaching of Christ's apostles and others, making profession of godliness, and expecting to partake of the eternal marriage supper. I shewed before, that that which is called the house of God in the New Testament, is his church. Here in this parable the king first sends forth his servants to call them that were bidden, and they would not come ; and they having re. peatedly rejected the invitation and evil entreated the servants, the king sent forth his armies and burnt up their city ; representing the Jews being first invited, and rejecting the invitations of the gospel, and persecuting Christ's ministers, and so provoking God to give up Jerusalem and the nation to desstruction. Then the king sends forth his servants into the high ways, to call in all sorts; upon which many flocked into the king's house ; hereby most plainly representing the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles, and their flocking into the Christian church. This gathering of the Gentiles into the king's house, is BEFORE the day of judgment, and the man without the wedding garment among them. It fitly represents the resorting that should be to the Christian church, during the day of grace, through all ages ; but by no means signifies men's coming for salvation after the day of grace is at an end, at Christ's appearing in the clouds of heaven. Let this parable be compared with that parallell place, Luke xiv. 16....24. The company gathered to the marriage in this parable, plainly represents the same thing with the company of virgins gathered to the marriage in the other parable, Matth. xxv. viz. the company of visible saints, or the company belonging to the visible kingdom of heaven ; and therefore both parables are introduced alike with these words, The kingdom of heaven is like unto, &c. As to the man's being cast out of the king's house when the king comes in to see his guests, it is agreeable to other representations made of false Christians being thrust out of God's kingdom at the day of judgment; the servant's not abiding in the house forever, though the son abideth ever : God's taking away their part out of the holy city, and blotting their names out of the book of life, &c.
Mr. Stoddard says, “ This person that had not a wedding garment, was a reprobate ; but every one that partakes of the Lord's supper without grace is not a reprobate." I answer, all that will be found in the king's house without grace when the king comes in to see the guests, are doubtless reprobates.
If it be questioned whether by the wedding garment be meant true piety, or whether hereby is not intended moral sincerity, let the scripture interpret itself; which elsewhere tells us plainly what the wedding garment is at the marriage of the Son of God : Rev. xix. 7, 8. “ The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."
None, I suppose will say, this righteousness that is so pure, is the common grace of lukewarm professors, and those that go about to serve God and mammon. The same wedding garment we have account of in Psal. xlv. 13, 14.« The king's daughter is all glorious within, her clothing is of wrought gold : She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needle work.” But we need go no where else but to the parable it. self; that alone determines the matter. The wedding garment spoken of as that without which professors will be excluded from among God's people at the day of judgment, is not moral sincerity, or common grace, but special saving grace. If common grace were the wedding garment intended, not only would the king cast out those that he found with out a wedding garment, but also many with a wedding garment : For all such as shall be found then with no better garment than moral sincerity will be bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness s such a wedding garment as this will not save them. So that true piety, unfeigned faith, or the righteousness of Christ which is upon every one that believeth, is doubtless the wedding garment intended. But if a person has good and proper ground to proceed on in coming into the king's house, that knows he is without this wedding garment, why should the king upbraid him, saying, How camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment ? And why should he be speechless, when asked such a question ? Would he not have had a good answer to make ? viz. “ Thou thyself hast given me leave to come in hither, without a wedding garment.” Or this, thy own word is my warrant; which invited such as had only common grace or moral sincerity to come in."
VII. If we consider what took place, in fact, in the manner and circumstances of the admission of members into the primitive Christian church, and the profession they made in order to their admission, as we have these things recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, it will further confirm the point I have endeavored to prove.
We have an account from time to time, concerning these, of their first being awakened by the preaching of the apostles and other ministers, and earnestly inquiring what they
should do to be saved ; and of their being directed to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus, as the way to have their sins blotted out, and to be saved ; and then upon their professing that they did believe, of their being baptized and admitted into the Christian church. Now can any reasonably imagine, that these primitive converts, when they made that profession in order to their admission, had any such distinction in view as that which some now make, of two sorts of real Christianity, two sorts of sincere faith and repentance, one with a moral and another with a gracious sincerity ? Or that the apostles, who discipled them and baptized them, had instruct. ed them in any such distinction ? The history informs us of their teaching them but one faith and repentance ; believing in Christ that they might be saved, and repentance for the remission of sins; and it would be unreasonable to suppose, that á thought of any lower or other kind entered into the heads of these converts, when immediately upon their receiving such instructions they professed faith and repentance ; or that those who admitted them understood them as meaning any lower or other kind in what they professed.
Let us particularly consider what we are informed concerting those multitudes whose admission we have an account of in Acts ii. We are told concerning the three thousand first converts, how that they were greatly awakened by the preaching of the apostles, pricked in their hearts, made sensible of their guilt and misery ; « and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do ?” i. e. What shall we do to be saved, and that our sins may be remitted ? Upon which they directed them what they should do, viz. Repent and be bapiized, in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins. They are here directed into the way of salvation, viz. Faith and repentance, with a proper profession of these. Then, we are told, that “they which gladly received the word, were baptized ;" that is, They which appeared gladly to receive the word, or manifested and professed a cordial and cheerful compliance which the calls of the word, with the directions which the apostles had given them. The manifestation was doubtless by some profession, and the pro- .