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served up, to attempt an execution of this kind*.
The Jews having thus rejected the overtures of the Gospel, which they are represented to have done by their trifling excuses for not coming to the marriagefeast; by those who were brought in from the highways we are to understand the Gentiles, to whom those gracious offers of salvation were made, which the Jews had so contemptuously refused. Gracious indeed! for not only the good were invited, but also the bad. The invitation was universal, and without distinction : as many as were found, were brought in: even the very worst of sinners received the offers of mercy and salvation. By the man without the wedding-garment you are to understand a hypocrite, one who pretends to accept the terms of salvation, but neglects to make the necessary preparation for itt. On such shall the irreversible sentence of condemnation be passed in the world to come, which is signified by the order which was given by the king to his servants, to bind the offender hand and foot, and to cast him into outer darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, an expression
to denote the greatest rage and indig nation.
We, my Brethren, are some of those Gentiles : to us has the Gospel been preached, and we are invited to partake of the blessings of it. But attend carefully, I beseech you, to the concluding words of this parable, namely, that although many be called, yet but few are chosen : intimating, that notwithstanding God has furnished every inducement to excite all men to embrace the Gospel, there will in all ages be such nuinbers of profane, careless and hypocritical persons, that many will not in the end obtain salvation. Let us then thankfully put on the wedding-garment, which is thus offered us, and never refuse to wear it; as all those do, who not only decline to take upon them the profession of religion, but also are not sound at heart in that profession*.
No sooner had the blessed Jesus thus graciously warned the jew's against rejecting the Gospel, or making an hypocritical profession of it, than the Pharisees incensed at the censure which they perceived was levelled against them in the foregoing parables, determined by some
means or other to avenge themselves on him : and that they might screen theinselves from the rage of the multitude, who are said to have heard him gladly, they took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk, by putting to him some questions, to which, according to their opinion, he would be under the necessity of returning such answers, as would give them an opportunity of taking hold of his words, that so they might deliver him into the power and authority of the governor.
Deeply did these artful Pharisees lay their scheme to bring the innocent JESUS into difficulty and danger : for they persuaded the Herodians, who were violent party-men under Herod, in upholding the Roman power, to be present at their conference with JESUS, that they might be witnesses against him*. This they begin with artifice and flattery; and complimenting him on his strict integrity, because they knew that nothing would induce him to deviate from the truth, pretend that they wish him to satisfy them in a point of conscience, whether it was lawful for them, as Jews, to pay tribute to Cæsar, the Roman emperor, or not?
Thick as the disguise was, in which the crafty Pharisees had wrapt their malicious question, it was immediately seen through by the discerning eye of JESUS: for, knowing their hypocrisy, and perceiving their craftiness and wickedness, he said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? demanding at the same time a sight of the tribute-money. And when he was informed that the image and superscription of it was Cæsar's, he returned an answer, as marvellous to them, as it was unexpected: Render, said he, unto Cæsar the things, that are Cæsar's; and unto Gon, the things that are God's; thereby both cautioning the Pharisees against using religion, as a pretence to justify sedition; aid warning the Herodians under pretence of duty to Cæsar, not to violate any of the commands of God. So much were they confounded by this unexpected reply, which was full of caution and wisdom, that they held their peace, left him, and went away disgraced and ashamed*.
But although Jesus had thus eluded the snare which had been laid for him by one sect, he did not long escape an ata tack from another. The Sadducees, who disbelieved a future state, started an ob
* Doddridge and Trimmer.
jection against the resurrection, and proposed to him a question, which they conceived unanswerable, and that their opinion therefore could not but be thoroughly established.
They put to him the case of seven Brethren, who had all married the same wife, one after the other, according to the law of Moses; which ordained, that ij a man married a wife, and died, leaving no child by her, his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. But as these seven brethren had all had the same wife one after the other in succession, and died, as did at last the woman without any children, the Sadducees demanded with an air of triumph, W'hose wife of the seven she should be in the resurrection, for they all had her ? The question was put in derision of the doctrine of the resurrection: the answer was given with that steady firmness and conviction, which will ever follow an unprejudiced study of the scriptures. Their mistake was owing to their ignorance of the scriptures, and a want of due attention to the power of God: Ye do err, said JESUS, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. Marriage will not be a necessary state in the world to come: and as to the resurrection, had