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trembling solicitude retires into himself, and humbly cries out, “ Lord, is it I ?”
In the affecting story before us, it is said, that when the guests were assembled, the King came in to see them; and, indeed, it would have been a dull feast, notwithstanding the richness and variety of the provisions, it would have been a poor entertainment, if he had not entered. But it is also said, that when the King came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who had not on the wedding garment. “ That is what flutters my spirits, and alarms my fears; and has raised a thousand doubts, and distressing suspicions, that.I am that unhappy character who has intruded, unasked, at least undressed, to this table;. So that if he were to come to me, and say Friend, how camest thou in hither? I fear that I should be speechless, and that he would make me a spectacleof hypocrisy and vengeance. But why should I be speechless, when I have so much to say ? O let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. I was as the rest of the world are, poor, blind, halt, and maimed; wandering about in the high ways and hedges. I perceived my misery, but knew not how to extricate myself. I applied to one friend after another, and sought relief in various duties, till I was almost tempted to despair. I knew that such a feast was provided; but I never could have thought that such a contemptible wretch could have been admitted as a guest at the table of a king; and had no hope, no expectation, but of perishing with hunger, when thy servants came out, and invited me in.' Conscious of my guilt, I hesitated, and declined it. Though I desired nothing so much, yet I feared that they might mistake, or at
least exceed their commission; and that there could not be---Lord help my unbelief!-I was afraid there could not be so much compassion even in thee. I urged my blindness, my lameness, and my utter joability to help myself. ' I objected my filthiness and rags; and said, that such a loathsome spectacle must certainly be offensive to the King, and to the company. But they insisted upon it, that I was meant in the invitation ; and that, if I was willing to be made whole, and rich, and happy, thou wast the only person that could give relief. They enlarged so sweetly on thy grace and condescension ; they told me that thou couldst have compassion on the ignorant, and them who were out of the way; that thou wouldst not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax ; that thou hadst been thyself a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, on purpose to bear our griefs, and carry our sorrows: and they assured me, that if I would come to thee, thou wouldst in no wise cast me out: so that my heart was compelled to yield to such generous goodness. I complied; not because I thought myself deserving to come in, but because I saw that I must perish if I continued without. And now, blessed Lord, have I presumed too far on thy mercy? Are the treasures of thy grace so nearly exhausted, that thou canst not pardon and satisfy my needy and perishing soul? Then, indeed, I must be speechless; but not till then. Thy love drew me, and my necessities drove me hither; and since I am here, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”
Now, my fellow Christians, have I not been speaking your language? Are you not all come to the
throne of grace to obtain mercy, and to find grace to help in time of need? Then why are ye cast down, why are you disquieted within you, at the thought of the King's coming in to see the guests? Why do you not rather, with the whole multitude of the disciples, begin to rejoice, and praise God with a loud voice, for all the mighty works which you have seen ? saying, “ Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” See where he comes, with a countenance sweetly expressive of mingled majesty and mercy. His very looks are life; and his smiles give joy and transport unutterable. " He comes in to see his guests;" and there are two or three things which he particularly observes.
First, their number:
“In my Father's house," says he," is bread enough, and to spare;" and he loves to see his table well filled. But, alas! the ways of Zion' mourn that so few come to her solemn feasts; and it is a matter of general and grievous lamentation, that so many say, by their actions they say it, “ The table of the Lord is contemptible, and his meat is contemptible.” What a pity it is that, when such a plenty is provided, there should be so few to partake of it! How are we ashamed that the King should come in to see the guests! Will he not be displeased that so many places are empty? Will he not be angry, and say to his servant, “Is it done as I commanded ? Hast thou published the invitation in the highways and hedges; and are these all the beggars and cripples thou couldst find ? Go out again, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.". And now tell me, ye neglecters of this great salvation, what answer shall I carry back to the Master of the feast? What excuse can you make, what reasons shall I give, that you will not accept the invitation?“0, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, if thou hadst known, even thou, in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace; but now they are hidden.”—No, they are not hidden; here he is, look to him, and be saved, all the ends of the earth.
Secondly, the King observes the behaviour of his guests.
It was excellent advice of the wise man, “ When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee ;” and again, Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools ; for they consider not that they do evil.” Levity and carelessness ill become a guest at a King's table. His eye, like a flame of fire, pierces through the thickest covering, and discovers the secret transactions and dispositions of every particular person ; and as he cannot be deceived, so he will not be mocked. He now perceives what we are doing. He sees whether we be slothful in business, or fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. He knows how we are affected with his goodness; and whether the remembrance of it have excit. ed in us suitable returns of gratitude and love. He observes whether our self-dedication be sincere, unreserved, and cheerful; and whether our repentance be genuine and universal, or not. He knows whether we be exulting in his love, or lamenting the withdrawing of his presence. He observes whether we be searching and trying our ways to find out the accursed thing, which has so often separated between
God and us; or whether we be easy and contented in a state of distance and darkness. He sees if we be taking pains with our careless hearts, to prepare them for divine communications; or if we be stupid and indifferent, whether he smile upon us or not. Not an action, not a word, not a thought, escapes his notice. O my soul, are all things naked and open to the eyes of him with whom I have to do? Then I will take heed to my ways that I offend not with my tongue. I will keep my heart with all diligence. But, alas ! It is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, so that I can neither know it, nor keep it; and therefore I humbly address myself to thee, O blessed God, that, since thou hast brought me into thy banqueting house, and given me a place at thy table, I may have grace to serve thee acceptably, with reverence and godly fear.
Thirdly. He sees also their wants.
He says to each of them, What is thy petition, and what is thy request, and it shall be granted ? Dost thou want pardon ? Be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee. Dost thou desire peace? “ Peace I leave with you: my peace I give unto you :' not as the world giveth, give I unto you." Dost thou want direction in difficulty, strength in the time of temp. tation, support under trouble, assistance in duty, growth in grace, the comforts of the Holy Ghost? “ Ask what ye will, and it shall be given you."
What a blessed feast is this ! Come, my fellow Christians, let us improve the golden opportunity, and, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, make our requests known to God. Tell him, O thou dejected and disconsolate believer, how long thou