Page images

Parable of the Supper.

[ocr errors]

LUKE XIV. 16-24. “ A certain man made a great supper, and bade many : And sent his servant at supper time, to say to them that were bidden, Come, for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. 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. And another snid, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife: and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, Go out quickly into the strcets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men who were bidden, shall taste of my supper.

This parable may be considered under the following heads :

1. What is signified by the great supper ?2. Who were those bidden to the supper ?

3. Whu were represented by “the poor, and the inaimed, and the halt and the blind," bidden afterwards to the supper ?

4. In what sense was it true that none of those first bidden should taste of the supper ?

The parable forms a part of a train of instructions which seem to have been drawn from the Saviour by a circumstance of trivial importance in itself. At the commencement of the chapter we are in. formed, that Jesus.“ went into the house of

one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath day.” After mixing with the guests, he perceived that some were engaged in seeking out the chief places, that they might hold an honorable station at the repast. He, on another occasion, described the Pharisees as “loving the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues.”—Matt. xxiii. 6. This circumstance led him to give the following judicious advice, recorded in verses 8-11 :-"When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest rooin, lest a more honorable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and himn come and say to thee, Give this inan place, and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he niay say unto thee, “Friend, go up higher : then shalt thou have worship in presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” From the Pharisees who were engaged in choosing the chief places, Jesus turned to the man into whose house he had entered, and who had invited the distinguished men, viz: the lawyers and Pharisees,” of whom the company was composed

66. When thou makest a dinner or a supper,” said he, addressing this man, “call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsinen, nor thy rich neighbors ; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the mained, the lame, the blind; And thou shalt be blessed : for they cannot recompence thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."-Verses 12 -14. At this one of the guests seems incidentally to have remarked, “ Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God." The observation tended inmediately to bring up to the mind of the Saviour the blessed gospel of that very kingdom; so often represented by the Jewish prophets under the figures of bread, and of a feast; and of which the Jews had been invited to partake, both by Christ himself, and by his apostles. This gospel he set forth in the parable before us under the figure of a great supper.

Before we proceed to a direct consideration of the parable, it will be proper for us to attend to a certain part of the context, which, in common with many other passages of the sacred writings, has, as we conceive, been grossly misapplied. We refer to the saying of Jesus to those whom he directed to call the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind, when they made a feast, instead of their rich neighbors. To induce them to comply with this advice, he assured them that they should be blessed in so doing; for although the poor could not recompense them, they should be “recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” From this it has been supposed, that Jesus meant to teach the doctrine of recompense in the future state for the actions of this life. Before we yield implicit credence to such an application of these words, let us inquire what real evidence they afford of the doctrine they are supposed to substantiate. Well then, it is said, “thou shalt be recompensed at the RESURRECTIon of the just.” And does not this mean, says the inquirer, that they shall be recompensed after the bringing up of the body from the grave, in what is commonly called the future life? We answer, the words prove no such thing. If that notion be correct, it is not proved by these words. All the dependance of those who take the common view, is placed on the word vi resurrection.If that word had not been there, no person ever would have thought of the usual application. For instance, suppose it had been said, thou shalt be recompensed at the deliverance of the just, would any person, from that circumstance, have inferred the fact of a recompense in the future state ? No, surely. It is plain then that the sole stress is laid on the word resurrection ; and the recompense is referred to the future state because it is said it will be given at the resurrection of the just. Now in order to have it certain that the words in question substantiate absolutely the doctrine of recompense in the future state for the conduct of men here on earth, it should be indisputable that the Greck word anastasis here rendered resurrection, signifies in this instance, the bringing up of the body from the grave, or the quickening of man into life after his natural death. But is it indisputable that this is the signification of the word in the instance before us? It is not-it is very far from being indisputable. In substantiating what we here say, we do not mean to furnish the reader with any other than orthodox authority.

The Greek word anastasis, generally translated resurrection, is derived, according to Parkhurst, from the verb anisemi, which signifies to rise.

He gives the word two shades of signification : 1st. “A standing on the feet again, or rising, as opposed to falling 2d. “A rising or resurrection of the budy from the grave.” Thus then, according to the author, the word anastasis has two meanings, or rather applications. Rising, in opposition to falling, and rising, that is from the dead. Now it is a ques. tion of the highest importance, in regard to the passage under consideration, in which of these

senses the word resurrection occurs ?

And as we have shown that this word does not necessarily signify restoration to life after natural death, it is clear that the passage of itself alone, is no proof whatsoever of the doctrine of recompense in the future state of existence. Dr. Campbell, one of the most judicious critics that ever lived, says “the word anastasis, or rather the phrase anastasis ton nekron, is indeed the common terin, by which the resurrection, properly so called, is denominated in the New Testament; yet this is neither the only, nor the primitive import of the word anastasis. It denotes simply being raised from inactivity to action, or from obscurity to eininence, or a return to such a state, after an interruption. The verb anistemi has the like latitude of signification ; and both words are used in this extent by the writers of the New Testament as well as by the LXX. Agreeably therefore to the original import, rising from a seat is properly terined anastasis, so is awaking out of sleep, or promotion from an interior condition.” Here the Dr: assures us, that the common application of the word anastasis is not its only sense.2 In regard to the words, “ shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just,” the argument in favor of recompense in the future state for the actions of this life, is founded upon them precisely as though that were its only sense.

But the Dr. says, that is so far from being the only, it is not the

1 See note on Matt. xxii : 23. 2 The same writer says, in Dis. vi : p. ii. Sec. 23—- Another mistake about the import of scriptural terins, is in the sense which has been given to the word “ anastasis.” They, confine it by a use derived werely from modern European tongues to that renovation which we call the reunion of the soul and body, and which is to take place at the last day. I have shown in another place, that this is not always the sense of the term in the New Testament.

« PreviousContinue »