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“ Come, for all things are now ready." “And yet there is
room.”—Luke xiv. 17, 22.
HIS is but one of the many touching and
seeks to set forth the freeness and largeness of His Gospel, and to make the sin-sick, lifeweary throngs around Him understand that His love, His life, 'was no private gift to a company
of select expectants, but God's public gift to the broad human world. Oh! the wistfulness of some of those eager eyes that were bent on the Saviour; the pining hunger of some of those hearts which were waiting for the crumbs that might fall from His
* This Sermon was preached to a very large audience of the poorest of the poor. I have not altered it, but note the fact as an explanation of some of the special allusions.
bountiful hand! But had they any right to touch them? What could the kingdom of heaven have to do with such beggared, bankrupt, God-forsaken lives as theirs ? For generations, such as they had been drilled into the belief that the kingdom of heaven was the guarded domain of the orthodox, reputable, and world-honoured Pharisees, and that they, the publicans and harlots, the scum and offscouring of all things, were scum in God's sight as well as man's, and needed simply to be swept
And when they found that the Son of Man, instead of driving them into more utter darkness, loved to see them crowd round His purity, and touch the hem of His heavenly virtue and might, it broke up the fountains of the great deep within them, it melted the rude rock of their hearts, it drew them in throngs round His pathways, it bowed them in a passion of tender devotion at His feet. They bathed them with their tears, they covered them with their kisses, and they shouted, as they attended His triumphal progress through the streets of Jerusalem, “ Hosanna, Hosanna, blessed be this King who cometh in the name of the Lord!”
For, in truth, it was the first time that any such King had been seen on earth, and the first time that any, large and lasting benediction had reached the poor. Benign words had been spoken from on high-there was the echo of them still linger
ing in the air—but the wise, the noble, the mighty, the self-styled holy of this world had intercepted and engrossed them. “They are for us--the worthy —these good words of God; the kingdom of heaven is our express domain. God is seeking a select company to serve Him, to be honoured with His commands, invited to His fellowship, and admitted to dwell in His palace halls on high. This class he has found—we are the men. Stand by, we are holier than thou. There is a broad line of distinction to be drawn, a line which God recognizes as well as man, in point of culture, manners, and morals, between us and you, who were altogether born in sins—a people not knowing the law—the helots of the heavenly kingdom the hewers of wood and the drawers of water to the Lord's true congregation for ever.”
They were right. There was a broad line of demarcation between the two great classes ; the Pharisees and the Publicans, the Scribes and the sinners, the rulers and the mob, the luxurious lords and the dog-licked beggars who lay whining at their gates.
There was a broad distinction. They were right again, for the Lord recognized it as well as man, and the Lord remembered it when He sent His Son to cast in His lot with the toiling, suffering masses, and share with them the priests' malignity and the rulers’ scorn; and when He rang
of the poor.
that warning into their startled ears which has been so terribly sustained by their history, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of heaven before you." Yes, God remembered the distinction which for ages they had been drilling into the minds and hearts of the
God remembered it, and they remember it now. “ There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, and ye yourselves thrust out.” The most damning sin in God's sight, and that which He avenges most fearfully, is the making the gate of the kingdom of heaven, whether by doctrine or conduct, too narrow for the great masses of mankind. This was the condemnation of the Pharisaic school, that having the keys of the kingdom of heaven, they neither entered themselves, nor would suffer the throngs to come near the gate. We will look more closely at
I. The scene and circumstance of this parable:“ And it came to pass, as He went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath day, that they watched Him."
It was a grand banquet, at the house of one of the chief men of the State. The rich Jews held sumptuous Sabbath-day banquets, like another people, not unlike the Jews in genius and con
viction, and with a great name for holiness, in these modern days. Indeed, it was their great day for dining out. It is but fair, however, to say that the custom probably arose out of the need of entertaining those who came up from a distance to attend the worship of the cities; so that originally it would be a banquet chiefly for the necessitous and the poor. This would give point, and, let it be also said, a limit, to our Lord's exhortation in the 12th verse.
This was manifestly a specially magnificent entertainment.
Contests for upper seats were going on, giving occasion for our Lord's rebuke. I daresay the crowd were allowed to hang about the doors and look in, like dogs watching for the crumbs. As dogs they were treated, and as dogs they probably felt, before these magnates of the kingdom. Their wistful looks struck the Saviour. I think there must have been something especially touching about the aspect of the poor crowd around the gates ; something which He thought might draw tears, even from the eyes of a chief Pharisee, if they could be got to look at it, and so He spake these words :-“When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: