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Matt. x. 5, 6. This is a direct confirmation of the application we have inade 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 tbe 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 wife: these 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
means we are assured will continue to be exercised, “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." But,
4. In what sense was it true, that none of those who were first bidden should partake of the supper? We have here arrived at a point of our inquiries, that will be regarded probably with particular interest. Those who believe in endless misery have long used this circumstance under consideration to prove that some of the human race will finally be cast out from the favor of God, and not be permitted to taste the blessings of his love forever and ever. A sentiment so dishonorary to the character of God, and fatal to the hopes and happiness of men, should not be received on slight evidence. Let us examine then, the evidence which the parable before us is supposed to furnish of the truth of that doctrine, Those who were first bidden to the supper, and refused attention to the request, and of whom it is said, “none of those men who were bidden shall taste of my supper, must be lost forever, according to the usual application of the parable. But did Jesus mean to teach any such doctrine? Did he who said, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” mean to teach that those “ lost sheep” never would be restored? We think not. Did he mean to teach, that the Jews who were first bidden to the supper of the gospel, must be lost and miserable forever? It does not seem reasonable to us. Indeed, we know that cannot have been his meaning. If we never should succeed in ascertaining positively what was the meaning of the Saviour, we do know positively what it was not: he did not mean to declare the endless misery of the Jewish nation, nor of any part of that nation. Is it reasonable that the dear Saviour who
said, “ if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me,.. John xii. 32—all that the Father hath given me shall coine to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out;" John vi. 37-Is it reasonable that he meant to be understood as teaching the eternal exclusion of the Jews from his gospel kingdom ? Was it not the covenant of God in relation to these very people, “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people; and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for ALL SHALL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST?” Jere. xxxi. 33, 34. Heb. viii. 10, 11. To know God is eternal life; John xvii. 3, and if they are all to know him without exception," from the least to the greatest”will any be eternally excluded from the blessings of the gospel? If the opinion of the apostle Paul is to be relied on in this case, that question must be answered in the negative. In his epistle to the Romans, this eminent servant of Jesus Christ, pursues a luminous course of argument to prove the salvation of buth Jews and Gentiles. Drawing towards the close of that subject he says, “For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery (lcst ye should be wise in your own conceits) that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. AND SO ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED." Rom. xi. 26. This appears to settle the question. Here it is said in regard to those people who were first invited to the supper, and did not come, and of whom it was declared 66 none of those men shall taste of my supper”--that they shall all be saved.”
the question is settled, Jesus did not mean to teach that the Jews would finally he lost.
The sense of the parable before us is, in our opinion, clear. Those who were bidden to the supper and refused, did not taste of it, not one of them—they were cast into outer darkness, where was wailing and gnashing of teeth. Blindness happened to thein; they had, eyes but they saw not. They were sunk in the darkness of unbelief; but God concluded them in unbelief only that “he might have mercy upon all.” Rom. xi. 32.
Here we see then, that the gospel which Jesus preached by himself and with his apostles, and more particularly the opportunity he furnished men of embracing the gospel when he labored personally on earth, preaching and working miracles in his Father's nanie, is compared to the supper. The servants of God first invited the Jews to the feast. They refused, missed the first opportunity and were miserably destroyed-yet they shall eventually be saved, even fr m the least unto the greatest of them. The servants of God next went into the highways, and invited the poor Gentiles; they no longer confined themselves to Judea, but went through all the world, preaching the gospel. So it was ordained in the order of Providence, the Gentiles were first to be converted and afterward the Jews. Thus Paul saith to the Gentiles, “For as ye (Gentiles) in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief; even so have these (Jews) also now not believed, that through your mercy they also inay obtain tuercy For Gud hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” Rom. xi. 30-32.