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this curious inquirer, and the rest of the Jews, that he had no intention to erect a secular kingdom, answered his question in a spiritual manner, by which he gave the |. to understand, that very few of them would be partakers of the honour and happiness of his kingdom; and he exhorted them to use their utmost efforts to know the truth, and become members of the church, and heirs of glory, by improving the means which were afforded them; for the time would soon come, he assured them, when the means which they now enjoyed would be taken away, and they would perceive their state to be finally and irrevocably determined, and then however earnestly they might desire such opportunities as they now enjoyed, they should not be able to attain them: Strive, said he, to enter in at the straight gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. JP'hen once the master of the house, has risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open-unto us, and he shall answer, and say unto you, I know you not whence you are. This sentence our Lord informed them would be final, and not to be altered by their most earnest petitions and expostulations: Then, added our great Redeemer, shall ye begin to say, JWe have eaten and drank in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence you are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. ...And they shall come from the East, and from the JPest, and from the North, cnd from the South, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. ...And behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.
Soon after our blessed Saviour had delivered these sentiments, some of the Pharisees thinking to intimidate him, and cause him to depart out of the country, came to him and pretended that Herod had a design against his life. It is not likely that Herod, who had suffered so much remorse on account of his having put John the Baptist to death, should so soon attempt the life of one whose works declared him to be a greater prophet; perhaps, that prince might wish JEsus to depart out of his territories, though he durst not use force against him: nor is it unlikely that the Pharisees were desirous of his departure out of the country, because his discourses tended to expose their hypocrisy, and lessen them in the opinion of the people. The answer which our great Redeemer made to this message, is contained in the following words: “Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day, and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless, I must walk to-day, and to-morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be, that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.”
Having returned this answer to the Pharisees, and considering the treatment which the prophets had met with from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and well knowing the wickedness of that unbelieving city, and their designs against his life, he pathetically lamented their obstinacy and perverseness, and the terrible desolation which would soon overtake them for their sins; O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, said he, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate; and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come, when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
One of the chief of the Pharisees, soon after our Lord had made this pathetic exclamation, invited him to his house, to take a repast: JEsus well knew, that this invitation did not proceed from hearty good-will: but, as he never shunned an opportunity of doing good, even to his most implacable enemies, he thought fit to accept it. It was the Sabbath-day, and when he had entered the Pharisee's house, a man was brought before him who was diseased with a dropsy. The Pharisees well knew the benevolent disposition of our great Redeemer, and they thought so miserable an object would not fail of exciting his compassion, and cause him to work a miracle on that day, which would give them the opportunity of accusing him as a prophaner of the Sabbath. Jesus, who knew the secret thoughts of their hearts, asked the Pharisees, and lawyers, whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath-day 2 But they refusing to give any answer to the question, our Lord laid his hand on the diseased person, and immediately his body was reduced to its former dimensions, and his health and strength returned. So kind, so salutary and benevolent, as well as wonderful an action, ought to have convinced the Pharisees, that the person who wrought it, must be endowed with power from on high, as no less than the mighty power of God could produce such events; or if they could suppose that wicked agents had the power, that is not the way in which they might be expected to exert it; but these hypocritical wretches, instead of being persuaded that JEsus was sent from God, and exerted his miraculous powers for the good of mankind, were labouring to turn this miracle to his disadvantage. But our Lord soon put an end to their wicked designs, by proving, that according to their own allowed practice, he had done nothing but what was lawful: Which of you, said he, shall have an ass, or an or fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the Sabbathday P Our Lord's. argument stood thus, If a misfortune happens to one of your beasts, you make no scruple of assisting it on the Sabbath, though the action be attended with considerable labour; and surely, I may relieve a descendant of Abraham, when nothing more is required, than touching him with my hand. This reasoning was so strong, forcible, and R. T.
conclusive, and, at the same time, so simple and easy, that the most illiterate of mankind, must see its propriety, and feel its force, and the most prejudiced could not contradict it. This was manifest from the profound silence with which these remarks of our Lord were heard, and which continued after he had done speaking. None of his adversaries, however inveterate their malice, or hot their resentment, durst at this time appear against him, for they could not answer again to these things.
... Before they sat down to meat, our blessed Saviour had an opportunity of remarking the pride of the Pharisees, which manifested itself by an anxious and eager desire to obtain the most honourable place at the table; nor did he fail, on this occasion, to give them such a rebuke, as their ridiculous behaviour deserved. To make them sensible of their folly, our Lord called upon them to consider, that pride generally exposes the person to frequent mortifications, and many af. fronts, while an humble deportment is a sure way to honour and respect: “When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding,” said he, “sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden, of him; and he that bade thee and him, come and say to thee, Give this man 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 may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher : then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.’
Having directed this discourse to the Pharisees in general, our Lord turned to the master of the house, and said unto him, “When thou makest a dinner, or a supper, call not thy friends, northy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, northy rich neighbours. But when thou 'makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind:' limit not thy hospitality to the rich and great, but let the poor and needy be partakers of thy bounty: and thou shalt be blessed, added our Lord, for they cannot "recompense thee; but thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
While our Lord was thus discoursing, one of the Pharisees, seeming to be ravished with the delightful prospect of the happiness which good men will enjoy in the heavenly world, cried out, ‘Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.” Our Lord, in answer to this, took occasion to deliver to the company, at the table, the parable of the marriage-supper: * A certain man,’ said he, 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 excuses. 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 said, 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 streets, 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 which were bidden, shall taste of my supper.'
By this parable, our Lord elegantly and beautifully described the infidelity of the Jews, and their final rejection of the heavenly message, while the poor, blind, despised Gentiles, brought by a powerful grace, like the persons who were compelled to come in from