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anfwer or excufe for his Rudeness. And therefore his doont was pronounc'd in the next words, Then faid the King to the Servants, Bind him Hand and Foot, and take him away, and caft him into outer Darkness, there fhall be weeping and gnashing of Teeth. This will be the fad Doom of all unwor thy Receivers of God's Holy Word and Sacraments, they will be for ever depriv'd of the Light and Comfort of both, and be fentenc'd to outer and eternal Darkness: fo that 'tis' not all who come to this Feaft, that will find a Welcome; for as the Jews were rejected and punish'd with utter Excifion, for not coming to it at all, fo the intruding Gentile was rebuk'd and punish'd with Damnation for coming to it unworthily.
To all which 'tis added in the Clofe, that many are call'd, but few are chofen that is, many are call'd to the external Privileges of the Gospel, that are not inwardly and ef fectually call'd or converted by them, which makes the number of thofe fmall, who are the chofen Veffels fitted for Glory, and feal'd by the Holy Spirit to eternal Life.
Thus we fee the Senfe and Scope of this Parable, appointed to be read as the Gofpel for this Day, from which we may infer many ufeful and profitable Leffons. As,
1. From the free general Invitation to this Gofpel Feast, we learn the tranfcendent Love of God to Mankind, in making fuch ample and excellent Provifion for them, and then courting them to accept it. He gave us his Son to efpouse our Caufe, and to be in a manner contrac ted and married to us; who furnish'd a Table, to keep a Fellowship and Correfpondence with us, loving us to the very Death, and inftituting a Feaft in remembrance of it to which he is pleas'd to invite all Men without exception, fending his Servants or Minifters to call and compel them to come in to tafte and fee that the Lord is gracious. And what unparallel'd Inftances of Love are thefe? God fo loved the World (faith St. John) that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting Life. And elfewhere, Bebold! what manner of Love is this, wherewith the Father hath loved us? St. Paul like one in a Rapture at the Thoughts of it, cries out, Oh the Height and Depth, and Breadth and Length of the Love of God, that paffeth Knowledg! Which fhould teach us not only to admire, but readily to accept, and answer the Defign of it.
2. From God's renewing his Invitation to the Jews, upon their first Refusal, and fending other Servants to call and woo them to the Wedding; we learn not only the great Love, but the great Patience and Long-fuffering of God towards them. Like an importunate Lover, he gave not out upon the first Denial, but renew'd his Suit, and fent other Ambaffadors to befeech them to be reconcil'd and come. He did not punish the Contempt of his Grace and his Word presently, but expected to fee whether they would repent and comply: which fhews his infinite Tendernefs and Forbearance.
3. From their standing out and refufing all these Calls and Obligations; we learn their prodigious Obftinacy and Ingratitude, that nothing could prevail or work upon them: Neither the tendereft Bowels, nor the most importunate Entreaties, nor the largest Offers of Mercy or Kindness could win them to any Compliance. And there are but too many fuch Monsters ftill, who can refift all thefe Charms, and turn a deaf Ear to all the Calls and Invitations of the Gospel.
4. We learn hence, the Juftice of God in punishing these Jews with utter Rejection, for their incorrigible Obitinacy and Difobedience, When Men have fill'd up the Measure of their Iniquities, and become fo obdurate and harden'd in them, that nothing can reclaim or amend them; then do they become ripe for Destruction, and leave themselves without Excufe or Remedy. This was the Cafe of the Jews, and will be the fad Fate of all stub born and impenitent Sinners.
5. From the Excufes made in the Parable for not coming to the Marriage-feaft, we learn that Earthly-mindedness and an inordinate Love of this World, is the main Hindrance from the Purfuit of better and more heavenly Matters; for all their Excufes were taken from thence: one went to his Farm, and another to his Merchandize; one had a Piece of Ground to fee, another a Yoke of Oxen to try, and another was kept from coming by his Wife and all thefe made light of Chrift, by hearkening to Mammon; and fo prefer'd the perifhing Trifles of Earth, before the everlasting Treafures of Heaven. But fuch Pretences cannot but appear vain and frivolous at prefent, and will ra ther aggravate than avail any thing at the laft Day.
6. From the fevere Punishment inflicted on the Jews, for not coming to this Wedding-fupper, we learn the great Vol. IV. Part 2.
Danger of abfenting our felves from God's holy Word and Sacraments. They who refus'd to come to the Feast of the Paffover, were to be cut off from among the People, Exod. 12. and they who here rejected the Dainties of the Gospel, were rejected themselves, and utterly caft off for ever. Which fhould make us afraid of wilfully abftaining from the Lord's Table, or refufing the Bread of Life, that is there tender'd to us.
7. From the dreadful Sentence pronounc'd against him, who came to this Feaft without a Wedding-Garment, we may learn the extreme Danger, as of not coming at all, fo of coming to it unworthily. The Danger is exceeding great on both fides: for he that cometh not at all, ftarves his Soul, by withholding from it its proper Food; and he that cometh unworthily, poifons his Soul, by corrupting this facred Nourishment: Death and Damnation will be the certain End and Iffue of both. To prevent which fad Events, let us take care to prepare our felves beforehand, by Faith and Repentance; and then reverently approach this Holy Table with a facred Hunger and Thirst after Righteousness, and then we may be fure to be fill'd. Let us put on our Wedding-Garment, which confifts not in the Finery of outward Attire, of which many are careful enough, but in the inward Ornaments of a meek, humble, and quiet Spirit, which are in the fight of God of great Price.
Laftly, From the concluding Words of the Parable, Many are call'd, but few are chofen, let us learn not to depend wholly upon the outward Call to the Privileges of the Gof pel, but labour to be inwardly call'd by the renewing of our Minds, that we may be found in the number of those that are chosen to eternal Life.
The EPISTLE for the One and Twentieth Sunday after Trinity.
Ephef. vi. 102 1.
My Brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the Power of his Might; put on the whole Armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the Wiles of the Devil: for we wrestle not against Flesh and Blood, but against Principalities and Powers, &c.
HE Petitions we offer up in the Collect for this Day, are for Pardon and Peace; that being cleans'd from all our Sins, we may ferve God with a quiet Mind. To obtain which,
The Epiftle for the Day begins with an Exhortation to be ftrong in the Lord, and in the Power of his Might: that is, to be confirm'd in the Faith of Chrift, to be fortify'd with Grace and fpiritual Strength from him, and to labour for fuch a Firmness and Conftancy of Mind, as may carry us above and beyond all Temptations.
To which end, the next Words exhort us, to put on the whole Armour of God, that we may be able to ftand against the Wiles of the Devil; that is, to make ufe of all Defen fatives and Weapons that Chrift hath furnish'd us with, to repel the Stratagems and Devices of Satan and that because, We wrestle not against Flesh and Blood, i. e, against human and ordinary Enemies, but against Principalities and Powers against the Rulers of the Darkness of this World, against Spi ritual Wickedneffes in high Places; that is, against the feveral Ranks of evil Spirits, that hover in the Air, and haunt the Earth; against the God of this World, who feeks to blind the Minds of them that believe not, and against the dangerous Sins of Pride, Envy, and Malice, which feat
themselves on high. And because this Combat is attended with many and great Difficulties from the Power and Subtlety of the Adverfaries, the fame Advice is renew'd in the next words; Wherefore take unto you the whole Armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil Day, and baving done all, to ftand. What this Armour of God is, we fhall fee by and by; the Ufe whereof is, to withstand all Temptations in the evil Day of Perfecution, Affliction or any other Trial, that we may be exercis'd withal: and having done our utmoft, to ftand, which you know is the Pofture of Conquerors, who are wont to ftand and keep their ground, when the Vanquish'd run away, or fall before them. Accordingly the General or Captain of our Salvation once more commands all his Followers to stand, Stand therefore, which is elsewhere exprefs'd, by quitting your felves like Men, and enduring Hardship as good "Soldiers of Jefus Christ. And this gives us to underftand, that a Chriftian Life is a fpiritual Warfare; we enter upon it in our Baptifm, at which time we lift our felves under Chrift's Banner, and folemnly engage to be his faithful Soldiers and Servants to our Lives-end. The Enemies we engage againft, are the Enemies of Chrift and our own Salvation; viz. the Devil, the World, and the Flesh: against all which we are enter'd into a Holy War, and bid an open defiance to them at our Entrance upon Chriftianity.
The Devil, with his accurfed Crew of evil Spirits, having revolted from their Maker, are ftill feeking to draw us into the fame Confpiracy; they tempt us to Pride, the Sin by which they fell, to bring us into the fame Condemnation; they follicit us to Unbelief, Difobedience, and all other Wickedness, whom we therefore renounce with all his Works.
The World too fets upon us with many Charms and Temptations; it hath Smiles to allure, and Frowns to affright us from our Duty, which fhould make us to look about us, left we be infnar'd or inveigled by them: and therefore St. John feeks to take off our Love from the World, and the things of it, that we may fix it on God, the Love of both being inconfiftent with each other: 1 John 3. 16. Yea, our Saviour wills us to hate and defpife the World, when it ftands in competition with God, and not to fuffer our felves to be led away by any of its Allurements.
The Flefh likewife is ftill enticing and importuning of us to Evil, and feeks many Ways to circumvent and betray