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to Him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God." Jesus followed up the remark by the parable before us; in which He showed that great as the blessing undoubtedly would be, it was one which was slighted by the great multitude of those who were invited to partake of it; and that the most trifling excuses were commonly deemed sufficient for the neglect of it.
This parable has been supposed to intimate primarily, that the Jews, who were first bidden or invited to partake of the blessings of the gospel of Christ, would reject the offer of mercy; and that in consequence of their rejecting it, the invitation would be sent to the Gentiles, who would gratefully accept it. That such was the result which followed the preaching of the gospel of Christ, we know; and we have truly reason to rejoice that to us, sinners of the Gentiles, the word of salvation hath been sent. Let us, however, rather consider the parable as it is applicable to those to whom the invitations of the gospel are now addressed; praying that the Spirit of God may be pleased to bring it home to our hearts, so that we may be numbered among those who partake of its blessings in time and in eternity.
The blessings conferred by the reception of
74 Luke xiv. 1, 15.
the gospel of Christ, are compared to a great supper. A certain man made a great supper, and bade many. The prophet Isaiah, foretelling the benefits which the promulgation of the gospel of Christ would bring to mankind, calls it a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.75 It is a feast, however, which does not communicate earthly and sensual enjoyments. Its blessings are spiritual and eternal. It may be called a great supper, on account of the magnitude of the blessings which it confers, and the multitude of those who are invited to partake of it. Its blessings are suited to the necessities of the immortal soul of man. The full soul loatheth a honey-comb. The blessings of the gospel are slighted by those who are insensible of their spiritual wants. But to the guilty and selfcondemned, the needy, and helpless, and perishing, it supplies all that is requisite for the relief of their necessities. It proclaims pardon to the guilty, righteousness to the sinful, strength to the helpless, eternal life to the perishing. It states these to be the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord." And it invites many, even all who are willing and desirous to receive them, to come and partake freely of these rich gifts of
75 Isaiah xxv. 6. 76 Proverbs xxvii. 7. 77 Romans vi. 23.
Divine bounty; and it assures them that they shall not be sent empty away.
And as the lord of the feast sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready; so the Lord Jesus Christ sends forth His servants, His ministers, to invite the children of men to come to Him for life and salvation; to call upon them to believe the message of His grace, and live. All who hear the sound of the gospel, all to whom the means of grace are vouchsafed, are invited to partake of the blessing. What an invitation is this! Come; for all things are now ready. The table is spread, the provisions are prepared, guests only are wanted to partake of the banquet. Pardon of sin is ready to be bestowed upon the guilty and perishing. Come and receive it freely, all ye who are sensible of your need of it, and who cannot be happy without it. Your wretchedness and misery will cause you to welcome it. These are your qualifications for receiving it. Behold, then, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.78 Behold Him, who poured out His soul unto death, who bore the curse due to sin, in His own body, as the substitute for the guilty, that He might deliver us from the wrath to come.80 Believe that the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, cleanseth
78 John i. 29. 79 Isaiah liii. 12.
801 Thessalonians i. 10.
from all sin.81 Put your trust in it; and rejoice in the provision which Divine mercy has made for the deliverance of transgressors from the wretchedness and misery to which we are all of us heirs, because of our iniquity. Here is a rich supply provided, adequate to the utmost wants of our immortal souls. Here is a fulness of grace, of which sinners are invited to come and partake, to the relief of their necessity, and that they may be filled with joy and consolation. Such is the gracious message, which it is the privilege of the ministers of Christ to address to all around them. How often has it been addressed to you! How often have you been invited to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that you might be saved!
Has the message of mercy
found access to your hearts? Have you been made partakers of the blessings which the gospel of Christ conveys to them that believe it? What kindness does it manifest in the Lord of the feast to make such a gracious provision, and to give so free an invitation to the children of men to partake of it.
How ungrateful was the conduct of those to whom the invitation of mercy was first sent. They all with one consent began to make excuse. seems as if they had promised to attend when they were first bidden; but afterwards when
the time came, they excused themselves from fulfilling their engagements. Is not the case
similar with those who make a profession of Christianity, and call themselves Christians? We all profess that we desire to obtain the blessings which the gospel of Christ sets before us. In token of our dedication to the service of God, we were baptised in our infancy; and we have, many of us, ratified and confirmed in our own persons the vows which were then laid upon us. But, alas, when the sinful children of men are called upon actually to renounce the world and the flesh, agreeably to their baptismal engagements, how many are there who begin to make excuse; and would defer to a more convenient season,83 or put off altogether what is so contrary to the desires of the carnal mind.
When the servant went to call them that were bidden, to tell them that the supper was prepared, and to invite them to come and partake of it; the first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. The time of supper in the evening, just before sun-set, was not a likely time for looking after such a matter; and therefore this was evidently a mere pretence to conceal the true reason for not going to the feast. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen,
83 Acts xxiv. 25.