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the resurrection of the just and, at that time, those who had done them favors were to be
recompensed. Unless this is the proper sense we are unable to account for the reply made by one of the guests to Jesus, when he uttered the words. As soon as he had said, thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just,' this guest remarked-"Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God"-an expression certainly that the Jews did not apply to a future state. At the time of the rescue of the church from her enemies at the coming of Christ, the kingdom of God was to come with power, Matt. xvi. 27, 28, Luke ix. 26, 27. This resurrection of the just,' was to take place, at the coming of Christ, when the kingdom of God came with power; and hence, when Jesus spake of it, it called up to the mind of the guest, that kingdom of God. And that Jesus understood this guest, as speaking of his gospel kingdom, which was to be fully established, is evident, because he immediately proceeded to speak of his gospel under the figure of a supper; and to describe the final rejection of the Jews and the conversion of the Gentiles, all which was accomplished at the time to which we have referred the passage.
But the passage we are examining is true also as embracing a general principle. If we favor the poor and distressed with our kind offices, when they rise they will recompense us. And if they are just, they will rise. God will crown their exertions with success, and enable them to repay their benefactors for the blessings they had bestowed. By this rational interpretation, we avoid the heathen notion of recompensing men in one state of being for the conduct they do in another. Of all reveries this is the wildest. It is as rational as to suppose
that a field of grain sowed in one quarter of the world shall be reaped in another.
The parable of the Supper is very similar to one which we find in Matt. xxii. 2-10. In the one case the scene is laid at supper, in the other at a wedding. In both cases those that were first bidden refused to attend, and went their way to engage in the secular pnrsuits of life. In both cases also, after those who were first invited had refused attendance, the servants were sent into the high places to gather together whomsoever they should find. The punishment denounced on those who were first invited and refused, was, in the one case, that they should not taste of the supper; in the other, that they should be destroyed by the armies of the king, who were to "burn up their city."
1 What is signified by the "great supper?" There will be but little question, we think, that by the great supper is represented the gospe There is no figure of more frequent occurrence in the scriptures than that of food to represent the gospel. Isaiah describes it as "a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the less well refined." Isaiah xxv: 6. So in the language of earnest entreaty and expostulation, the same prophet says, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat: yea come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." lv: 1, 2. Jesus pursues the same figure when he says, "For the bread of God is he who cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto the world." His disciples say to him, "Lord, ever
mcre give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE: he that cometh to me shall never thirst." John vi: 33-35. Again says Jesus, "I am that bread of life;" 48-"I am the living bread which came down from heaven; 51. When he came to explain the figure, and show what he meant by saying he was the bread of life, and by urging mankind to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he said, "the flesh profiteth nothing;" that is to say, meat literally speaking, profiteth nothing in a moral point of view; I am not to be understood in the literal sense; I am setting forth the virtue of my, doctrine under these similitudes: "THE WORDS that I speak unto you. they are spirit and they are life" it is from my gospel, after all, that you are to derive the spiritual life of which I have been speaking, ver. 63. From these observations we think it will appear, that it was a custom with the Saviour to represent his gospel under the similitude of food, which was the life of the body, as the words of Christ were the life of the soul. "Under the image. of an invitation to a feast," says Kenrick on Matt. xxii. 2, "Christ represents the offer of the gospel to the Jews. This contained the choicest blessings God had to bestow, and might be fitly compared to the dainties of a feast upon the most joyful occasion; the marriage of a son."
2. Who were those first bidden to the supper? They were unquestionably the Jews. It was the appointment of heaven, that this nation first of all should be invited to receive the gospel of the Son of God. When the twelve were sent forth to preach the kingdom of heaven, Jesus explicitly directed them to go not into the way of the Gentiles, nor enter into any city of the Samaritans; but "go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
Matt. x. 5, 6. This is a direct confirmation of the application we have made of the parable before us. The Jews were first bidden to the gospel feast. "I am not sent," said Christ, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Matt. xv. 24. The command to preach the gospel to the other nations Jesus did not give until after his resurrection. Mark xvi. 15. Paul said to his brethren the Jews, on a certain occasion when they bitterly opposed the doctrines he taught, "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldst be for salvation unto the ends of the earth." Acts xiii. 46, 47. The same eminent apostle, after having addressed his countrymen whom he found in the city of Rome, and perceived that they made light of his instructions, spake plainly to them as follows: "Be it known, therefore, unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it." Acts xxviii. 28. That the Jews made light of the invitations of the gospel, is indisputable; and that for the most frivolous reasons and pretences they excused themselves from attending to the instructions of Christ and his apostles, is equally evident. One had bought a piece of ground, another five yoke of oxen, and a third had married a wifethese are their excuses as represented in the parable.
3. Who were represented by "the poor, and the maimed, and the halt and the blind," bidden afterwards to the supper? We answer, the Gentile na
tions. They were universally regarded as poor, and despicable by the Jews. In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the Gentiles are represented by a beggar, full of sores, who fed on the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. Luke xvi. 20, 21. The Gentiles, in a moral point of view, were truly poor. They were "without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world." Ephes. ii. 12. It cannot be disputed, that the Gentiles were invited to receive the gospel on its being rejected by the Jews. This fact we have already proved. See Acts xiii. 46, 47. Peter was one of the servants sent out into the streets and highways to invite the Gentiles to the "great supper" of the gospel. He at first was unprepared to go; but by the vision of the vessel let down from heaven, God instructed him to call no man common nor unclean, and taught him that to the Gentiles was granted repentance unto life. He went through all places, inviting the poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind, to accept the gospel of Christ. Paul also preached the gospel to the Gentiles. So far as it was possible for one man to do it, he went through "all the world, preaching the gospel to every creature." In the language of the parable, he went into the streets and lanes of cities, and the highways and hedges of the country. At Athens he disputed in the market place daily with them that met him. This work of inviting the Gentiles to embrace the gospel is not yet done. The heralds of the cross are still inviting mankind to receive the bread of everlasting life, to eat that which is good, and to let their souls delight themselves in fatness; and these