« السابقةمتابعة »
for every thing which man can wish, or ought to ask.
But waving this usual defence, we would seriously ask under what circumstances this holy prayer of our Lord can ever be said to be too frequently repeated ? Our ignorance in asking is palpable and confessed, and it is much to be feared, that from errors both in the manner and the matter of our devotions, they might sometimes almost degenerate into sinfulness. What then can be more wise, or just, or holy, than at short and frequent intervals to recall to our minds, both for what, and in what manner, we ought to pray, by the insertion of the Lord's prayer, whose perfection will cover every evil, and whose fulness will supply every defect. Superior that prayer is in excellence, comprehensive in brevity, holy in substance, solemn in manner, and simple in expression. But it were an idle task to attempt to give dignity, by human praise, to that which pro. ceeded from the Lord of all. It was he, who spake as never man spake--it was Jesus the wise, the holy and the just, who gave this prayer for the use and imitation of his disciples ; and if we are not moved to adore and to adopt it, by the reverence and gratitude we feel for the Speaker, it were in vain to endeavour to influence the heart or the understanding by the weak applauses of a creature's tongue. Remember, therefore, the authority of him who commanded us thus to pray, and remember, also, in obedience to his commandment, both when and wherever
“Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name ; Thy kingdom come ; Thy Will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven : Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us ; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, for ever, Amen.'
Matt. XXII. ll.
“ When the King came in to see the guests, he saw there
a man which had not on a wedding-garment.”
The parable of the Marriage Supper, as it is related to us in the Gospel of St. Matthew, consists of two separate parts, having a distinct reference, but a common connexion ; a distinct reference as to the subjects, and a connexion common as to the object they have in view.
The first of these two portions of the parable records the invitation of those whom the King had originally intended to be his guests; and who, though at first they seem to have expressed no disinclination to accept the honour, yet, when actually called upon to fulfil their promise, refused, upon various but frivolous pretences, to obey the call; and proceeding still farther in their folly, did add wickedness to contempt, and destroy the servants who bore the message from their Master. “A certain King made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding, and they would not come. Again he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my feast; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm and another to his merchandize. And the remnant took his servants and entreated them despitefully and slew them.” Such was their conduct; and their punishment was made as awful as their crime deserved. “ The King was wroth when he heard thereof, and he sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city." His offended majesty was kindled into vengeance, and the offenders themselves were slain and their habitation left desolate.
It is here that the instructive lesson conveyed in the first portion of the parable ends; but it is only to make way for one still more impressive on the second, which recounts the substitution of other guests in the room of those who had thus proved themselves unworthy of the offer, and the conduct which the King observed towards these new guests when they had waited upon him. For his care and kindness would not that the good things which he had prepared should be lost and wasted. He therefore “sent forth his servants to gather together as many as they should find, both good and bad ; and the table was furnished and filled with guests. But when the King came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding-garment. And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in bither not having on a wedding-garment. And he was speechless. Then said the King to his servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”
To the conduct of this King our Saviour compares the conduct which has been and will be pursued by the Ruler of the kingdom of Heaven ; both the manner in which the Almighty hath hitherto acted in the dispensations of his grace on earth, and the principles upon which he will hereafter act in the distribution of glory to mankind in Heaven. The proceedings of the Ruler of " the kingdom of Heaven,” with regard to that kingdom, both as it comprehends the kingdom of grace here and the kingdom of glory hereafter, are like unto those of “a certain King who made a marriage,'' and in honour of the marriage, a marriage feast, “« for his son.”