Luke 14:16
But Jesus replied, "A certain man prepared a great banquet and invited many guests.
Sermons
The Holy CommunionS. Baring-GouldLuke 14:16
Table-Talk of JesusR.M. Edgar Luke 14:1-24
A Bad Excuse is Worse than NoneC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 14:16-24
A Common SinH. J. Wilmot Buxton, M. A.Luke 14:16-24
A Great FeastJ. Sutcliffe.Luke 14:16-24
Against Persecution for ReligionS. Clarke, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
All Things are Ready; ComeC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 14:16-24
And Yet There is RoomJ. Guyse, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
Anxious ConstraintJ. Leifchild, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
Attendance on Holy CommunionW. Cadman, M. A.Luke 14:16-24
Business Hindering ReligionThain Davidson, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
Chinese InvitationLuke 14:16-24
Compel Them to Come InT. Boston, D. D., C. H. Spurgeon.Luke 14:16-24
Compel Them to Come InJ. Jortin, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
Distinguish Between Reasons and ExcusesJ. Vaughan, M. A.Luke 14:16-24
Earnestness in Seeking to SaveHandbook to Scripture Doctrines.Luke 14:16-24
ExcusesDean Vaughan.Luke 14:16-24
ExcusesE. J. Haynes.Luke 14:16-24
ExcusesJ. A. Seiss, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
Excuses of Non-CommunicantsE. Blencowe, M. A.Luke 14:16-24
Fetch Them InLuke 14:16-24
Form of Eastern InvitationsBiblical Things not Generally Known.Luke 14:16-24
God's Anxiety for Man's SalvationLuke 14:16-24
God's BanquetJ. A. Seiss, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
Gospel CompulsionJames Footer M. A.Luke 14:16-24
Gospel Invitations Should be PersonalDr. Talmage.Luke 14:16-24
Home MissionsJ. E. Goode.Luke 14:16-24
Human Depravity At the Bottom of All ExcusesD. Fraser, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
Invitation and ExcuseT. T. Lynch.Luke 14:16-24
Kind CompulsionDr. Talmage.Luke 14:16-24
Making ExcusesN. W. Taylor, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
No Provision Made for DefeatH. P. Hughes, M. A.Luke 14:16-24
Offered MercyJ. A. Alexander, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
On Receiving the Grace of the GospelJohn Crump.Luke 14:16-24
On the Lord's SupperBishop Dehon.Luke 14:16-24
Parable of the Great SupperAnon.Luke 14:16-24
Personal Labour for SoulsJ. L. Peck, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
Refusing the Divine CallNicolas de Dijon.Luke 14:16-24
Remedy ExcusesJ. Wells.Luke 14:16-24
Room At God's Feast for AllJames Parsons.Luke 14:16-24
Room Enough in the GospelC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 14:16-24
Sinful ExcusesB. Beddome, M. A.Luke 14:16-24
The BanquetDr. Talmage.Luke 14:16-24
The Compulsion of LoveT. T. Lynch.Luke 14:16-24
The Door of Hope Yet OpenD. Wilcox.Luke 14:16-24
The ExcusesW. Hay Aitken, M. A.Luke 14:16-24
The Feast Only for Those Who Can Appreciate ItBishop Temple.Luke 14:16-24
The Gospel FeastA. P. Foster.Luke 14:16-24
The Gospel FeastD. C. Hughes, M. A.Luke 14:16-24
The Gospel FeastJ. W. Reeve, M. A.Luke 14:16-24
The Gospel FeastJames Foote, M. A.Luke 14:16-24
The Gospel FeastJ. Dobie, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
The Gospel Feast is Free to the VilestA. P. Foster.Luke 14:16-24
The Gospel InvitationJ. Burns, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
The Gospel InvitationDavid Swing.Luke 14:16-24
The Gospel SupperExpository OutlinesLuke 14:16-24
The Great Feast, and its MakerJohn Crump.Luke 14:16-24
The Great SupperH. McNeile, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
The Great SupperJ. Burns, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
The Great SupperW. M. Taylor, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
The InvitationW. H. Aitken.Luke 14:16-24
The Kingdom of God Thrown OpenW. Hubbard.Luke 14:16-24
The Love of This World is a Hindrance to SalvationF. G. Lisco.Luke 14:16-24
The Marriage FeastH. W. Beecher.Luke 14:16-24
The Power of Earnestness in Converting SoulsJ. L. Peck, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
The Reasons Why Men are not ChristiansA. Barnes, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
The Recusancy of the GuestsLuke 14:16-24
The Urgent InvitationT. L. Cuyler, D. D.Luke 14:16-24
Yet There is RoomJ. B. Brown, B. A.Luke 14:16-24
Yet There is RoomJohn Cramp.Luke 14:16-24
Yet There is RoomMark Cooper, M. A.Luke 14:16-24
We find in these words of our Lord -

I. THE CORRECTION OF A COMMON FAULT. Jesus Christ did not, indeed, intend to condemn outright all family or social gatherings of a festive character. He had already sanctioned these by his own presence. The idiomatic language, "do not, but," signifies, not a positive interdiction of the one thing, but the superiority of the other. Yet may we not find here a correction of social, festive extravagance; the expenditure of an undue measure of our resources on mutual indulgences? It is a very easy and a very common thing for hospitality to pass into extravagance, and even into selfish indulgence. Those who invite neighbours to their house in the full expectation of being invited in return may seem to themselves to be open-handed and generous, when they are only pursuing a system of well-understood mutual ministry to the lower tastes and gratifications. And it is a fact that both then and now, both there and here, men are under a great temptation to expend upon mere enjoyment of this kind a degree of time and of income which seriously cripples and enfeebles them. Thus that is given to display and indulgence which might be reserved for benevolence and for piety; thus life is lowered, and its whole service is reduced; thus we fail to reach the stature to which we might attain, and to render to our Master and his cause the service we might bring. In the matter of indulgence, direct or (as here) indirect, while we should keep away from asceticism, it is of still greater consequence that we do not approach a faulty and incapacitating selfishness.

II. AN INVITATION TO A NOBLE HABIT. "Call the poor... and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee." An act of disinterested kindness carries its blessing with it.

1. It is an intrinsically excellent thing. "To do good and to communicate" is honourable and admirable; and to do this with no thought of return from those who are benefited, is an act of peculiar and exceptional worth. It takes very high rank in the scale of spiritual nobleness.

2. It allies us with the highest and the best in all the universe; with the noblest men and women that ever lived in any land or age; with the angels of God (Hebrews 1:14); with our Divine Exemplar (Mark 10:45); with the eternal Father himself (Matthew 5:45).

3. It leaves a benign and elevating influence on our own spirit. Every man is something the better, is so much the worthier and more Christ-like, for every humblest deed of disinterested benevolence.

III. THE PROMISE OF A PURE REWARD. If the idea of recompense is admitted, everything turns upon the character of the reward, so far as the virtue of the action is concerned. To do something for an immediate and sensible reward is unmeritorious; to act in the hope of some pure and distant recompense is an estimable because a spiritual procedure. Our life is, then, based upon faith, upon hope, and especially upon patience. To do good and to be content to wait for our recompense until "the resurrection of the just," when we shall reap the approval of the Divine Master and the gratitude of those whom we have served below, - this is conduct which our Lord approves; it bears the best mark it can bear - that of his Divine benediction. - C.







A certain man made a great supper.
I. THE ELABORATE PREPARATION. Indicating the treasures of Divine wisdom, forethought, power, love, expended upon the work of redemption.

II. MEN'S PREFERENCE OF OTHER THINGS — not things sinful in themselves, but worldly pursuits, occupation, s, pleasures — to the rich provision of the Divine bounty, and their consequent slighting of the Divine invitation.

III. LOVE SLIGHTED TURNS TO INDIGNATION.

IV. GOD'S PURPOSES ARE NOT FRUSTRATED BY THE DISOBEDIENCE AND UNTHANKFULNESS OF MAN. The house is filled. If one guest refuses to come, another is brought in to occupy his place. Drop your crown, and another man will lift it and place it on his brow.

(Anon.)

I. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GOSPEL.

1. Its readiness. Nothing for man to do but come. The feast has been preparing from the foundation of the world.

2. The gospel's abundance. Grace enough in God's heart to include all the world.

3. The condescension of the gospel. No favouritism. Absolutely free. The vilest soul is good enough to be saved.

4. The gospel's urgency. Not force, but moral earnestness.

5. The gospel's triumph. Christ's blood is not shed for nought.

II. THE RECEPTION OF THE GOSPEL.

1. The gospel finds no favourable reception from —(1) The gospel-hardened. Every invitation rejected does but set more firmly in opposition a will already opposed to Christ. The heart grows stubborn and indifferent.(2) The proud.(3) The preoccupied. When Mark Antony began his famous speech with the words, "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears," he well knew that he might as well toss his words to the idle winds that swept over the dead body of his friend, as address an audience who paid him no attention. In the preaching of the gospel, the very fact that people are interested in it, talking about it, working for it, heralding it far and wide, is a guarantee of its effectiveness. We must make men think about their souls. So long as their oxen, or their stores, or their wills, or their ships are in their minds, Christ cannot get in.(4) The self-satisfied. Here is the trouble with many a man of amiability and worth. He has a pleasant home, friends he delights in, social ties, all possible comforts. He needs to see that this is Dot enough. He ought to hunger and thirst after righteousness, and at the gospel feast he might be filled.

2. The gospel is tolerably certain to find reception among —

(1)The needy.

(2)The neglected.

(A. P. Foster.)

Expository Outlines.
I. THAT GOD HAS MADE AMPLE PROVISION IN THE GOSPEL FOR ALL OUR SPIRITUAL EXIGENCIES. That provision is here set forth under the similitude of a great supper. That the gospel supper may be thus designated will appear if we think of —

1. Its Author. It has been provided by God himself.

2. The expense at which it was procured. Almost incredible sums have been expended in the getting up of sumptuous entertainments. But what were they when compared with the expense incurred here? To provide this banquet, the Son of God became incarnate, lived a life of reproach, of poverty, of persecution, and died the accursed death of the cross.

3. The greatness and variety of the blessings which are set before us. And what tongue of man or angel can describe them in their ineffable importance? They include all the treasures of grace here, and all the inconceivable treasures of glory hereafter.

II. THAT INVITATIONS OF THE MOST ENCOURAGING KIND ARE GIVEN US TO COME AND PARTAKE OF WHAT GOD HAS GRACIOUSLY PROVIDED.

1. The characters to whom they were addressed. First, to the Jews only. Then to all men.

2. The manner in which the invitations should be applied. Moral compulsion.

3. The motives by which they should be enforced.(1) That the provisions are all duly prepared. "Come; for all things are now ready." The Saviour has been made flesh; He has finished the work which was given Him to do; the sacrifice He offered has been accepted; the Spirit has been poured out from on high; the ministry of the gospel is instituted; the sacred canon is complete.(2) The amplitude of the preparations. "And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room." Although so many have been gathered in, the seats are not all occupied.

III. THAT THE DIVINE PROVISIONS, OF WHICH WE ARE SO FREELY INVITED TO PARTAKE ARE BY MANY SLIGHTED AND DESPISED. The excuses offered are —

1. Various.

2. Frivolous.

3. Evasive.

IV. THAT THOSE WHO DESPISE THE PROVISION OF THE GOSPEL CANNOT DO SO WITHOUT INCURRING THE GREATEST GUILT, AND WITHOUT EXPOSING THEMSELVES TO THE MOST AWFUL DANGER.

(Expository Outlines.)

We know that, in every department of life, happiness, health, honour, and prosperity, involve two essential elements, one of which is a provision for these things in nature and society, and the other of which is an appropriation of that provision by those to whom it is offered. And this last is as indispensable as the first. That which makes the offer and the provision of any validity or usefulness is the circumstance that there is some one to accept it. Let us look, for one moment, at this. God has made great provision of the elements of nature. Light — oh, how abundant! how beautiful! how sweet! — and all that will accept this boon of God shall have the benefit of it. The blind cannot. The wilfully blind cannot; for although there is light enough for thrice ten thousand times as great a population as that which inhabits the globe, if a man endungeons himself purposely, and shuts out the light from the room where he dwells, the abundance of the provision and the offer make no difference with him. He loses it and all its blessings. There is heat enough, and there are sounds enough, for the comfort and for the solace of the human soul; and yet, unless men accept these things, the mere fact that they have been offered to all, and that they are abundant, will do them no good. We know that in respect to those great qualities of nature the abundance of provision does not enforce acceptance. The great prime necessities of life, such as food, raiment, shelter — God has put the elements of these things within our control, and there is provision for all the wants of men, and for the growing needs of society: but if men refuse to work; if they refuse to practice frugality; if they will not put forth skill, the God of nature and the God of grace lets them pine, and lets them starve, as much as if there had been no pro. vision. The earth does not reveal its secrets except to those that search for them; and the rains, and the sun, and the soil, do nothing, except to the seed that is hid in the crevices of the ground. The summer is barren to the sluggard. There is provision enough for all the wants of men, if they accept them on the conditions on which they are proffered; but if they do not accept them on these conditions the abundance does not insure to their benefit. When men violate the laws of their being, however innocently or ignorantly, they are made to suffer the penalties of those violated laws, and sickness and pain come in. And when a man is sick, though all remedies are provided, and though the most skilful physicians are called to their bedside, these will do no good if he will not accept the remedies that skill has found out, and that kindness is proffering. These facts are familiar to us. They go to illustrate and confirm the general statement that something more is required than a provision and a proffer. Thus far I have spoken of the physical laws of nature. It may be said that this is not in the moral realm, and that the analogy is not a fair one. Therefore, I proceed to show that in the moral realm the constitution of things is even more marked than in the physical realm. We know that a man's happiness or misery in this life depends upon the manner in which he exercises his faculties. That is to say, it is not a matter of indifference which way a man uses the powers of his mind, any more than which way a man turns the key when he winds his watch. Turning it one way ruins it, and turning it the other way expedites it. It makes a difference which side of the blade of a knife you use if you would cut wood. It makes a difference which way you work a machine. One way of working it agrees with its nature, and the other way of working it disagrees with its nature. And so it is with a man's mind. It was meant to act in conformity with certain definite principles and results. If it conforms to these there is happiness, and if it does not there is misery. We also see in human society — which is as divinely-ordained as is human life itself; for a man's organs are no more fitted to be put together to make the individual man than individual men are fitted to co-operate together in society — we see in human society this same law evolved with terrible certainty at large. If men seek happiness, honour, love, there is abundant provision for them in society. All things are ready. They are accessible by right conduct. If men neglect the provision for happiness, and honour, and love, they will miss these ends, and that, too, although God is good and kind, although there is a providence that is supervising human society — a Providence that will not suffer a sparrow to fall to the ground unnoticed — a Providence that knows that we are in need of raiment, and shelter, and food, and nourishing care. If men do not accept voluntarily the provision of these things which is made in society, there is no providence that will rescue them from the wretchedness that will ensue from disobedience. The administration of God is full of goodness; but goodness in the Divine administration is employed according to law. All philanthropy, all humanity, and all sympathy and succour, carried down to grog-shops and to the Five Points, will not assuage one pang, and will not rescue one wretch, unless he is willing to return and co-operate, and bring himself under the influence of remedial law. Now, at this point we reach again the Word of God, and are prepared to receive its declarations, with all corroborations and presumptive analogies in its favour. The feast of the gospel is spread. The King, in His great bounty, sends His servants forth to say to all, "Come to the marriage supper." To lay aside the figure, God makes the proffer of forgiveness, of amnesty for the past, and of unbounded joy and happiness for the future. If you accept the provision, which is ample enough for every human being on the globe, you are blessed; but if you neglect it, or refuse it, that provision, if multiplied a myriad times, would be of no more avail to you than light to the blind, sound to the deaf, or food to the dead. It is a provision that is invalid if you fail to accept it. If you take it you live; if you reject it you die. Although, then, the doctrine of the Fatherhood of God is one of the most blessed doctrines of the Bible, and one of the most animating to our hope, we must not pervert it, and suppose that, because God administers as a universal Father, therefore, all sorts of men, under all sorts of circumstances, are perfectly safe. I would not take away one single whit of the beauty, or attractiveness, or encouragement of the thought that God loves, and that everything that love can do will be done to make men happy here, safe in death, and glorious hereafter; but I warn you not to suppose that everything can be done merely because God loves. There are limitations even in an infinite God.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. "A certain man made a great supper" — the movement originated with himself, in his own mind — HIS OWN FREE BOUNTY — his own generosity — his unsolicited willingness to make others partakers of his rich enjoyments. The man here supposed represents Almighty God Himself; and the action here ascribed to Him represents the preparation of Christianity — that rich and saving feast for a perishing world. It originated (if an eternal purpose can properly be said to have had a beginning) in His own mind, His own free love, His own unsolicited willingness to make fallen men partakers of His own happiness, "that they might be filled with the fatness of His house — that they might drink of the river of His pleasures" (Psalm 36:8). See, then, the nature of the preparation. It is the mode adopted by Divine wisdom to render it a right thing — a righteous thing — for a sovereign Lawgiver and upright Judge to deal with convicted rebels as a pardoning father and a sympathizing friend; it is, in the language of St. Paul, that "God may be just, while He justifies the ungodly" (Romans 3:19-26; Romans 5:6-8). Behold, also, the extent of the preparation. It knows no earthly bounds, it extends to heaven; its value is not to be measured by earth, but is to be found in the harmonized perfections of God.

II. Now look at the INVITATION TO IT. He said to his servant, at the supper time, Go and "say to them who were bidden, Come; for all things are ready." This represents the commission to preach the gospel. St. Paul was determined to know nothing else, and preach nothing else. He accounted it the most distinguishing and the most exalted of the favours bestowed upon him, that he should declare among the Gentiles the "unsearchable riches of Christ" — in other words, the preparation of the Great Supper. And he exhorted — i.e., he pressed the invitation upon men — earnestly, that they might "not receive the grace of God in vain"; and urgently, because the time was short: "Now," he said, "is the appointed time, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:1, 2).

III. And now having so spoken of the preparation and the invitation, our next theme is a painful one — THE RECEPTION THAT THIS INVITATION MET WITH. The force of this portion of the parable lies in this — that the objects which, in their effects, became destructive, were in themselves lawful and right. The contrast is not between sin and duty, but between duty and duty — between duty number two and duty that ought always to be number one. The contrast is not between the house of gambling and the house of God — it is not between intemperance and uncleanness on the one side, and prayer and praise on the other; no, it is not that phase of human guilt that is exhibited; the contrast is rather between the countinghouse and the church, the shop and the house of God, domestic enjoyments and secret prayer. The contrast is between the attractions which the lawful occupations of this world possess for the natural heart of man, and the secret repugnance felt by that heart to the enjoyments of God.

IV. But the parable does not end there; the servants came in and repeated this answer, and the master was not satisfied; then he told the servants "to go out into the streets and lanes of the city, and to bring in the poor and the maimed, and the halt and the blind." There is an intimation in this part of the parable that a power would accompany the invitation such as would not be refused — such as would secure a company — such as would not leave the seats around the Master's table unoccupied, but, on the contrary, that his house should be filled. Now, think of this secret power. Here, again, we refer to the persons and resources of the Godhead. Jesus said, "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever." He shall present the preparation for the supper, and He shall urge the invitation, so as to supersede all pre-engagements, and put an end to all excuses. He has power to secure a gracious result without the slightest interference with the free operation of the moral machine that He has made. Nothing else can secure this; there is to be no force, and yet the result is to be secured; no action constrained, and yet the character totally altered. "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power" (Psalm 110.). The will rules the man; and who rules the will? There is revelation of a secret power, which, touching the will, secures all that follows in the man's life with perfect freedom. Look at a large and complicated machine under the control of a little fly-wheel; that locked, the machine is stationary; that liberated, the machine goes on. See, the machine is stationary, and ignorant violence is made use of to make it go on, but in vain — blows are aimed at it to make it go on, in the wrong place, all in vain — it may be broken, but it cannot by violence be made to work — sledge-hammers are raised on it in vain; but see, a little child, properly instructed, with a little finger frees the fly-wheel, and the whole machine goes forward in its work; every arm, and every lever, and every wheel performs its appointed action duly and freely. It was that touch that did it — that touch is promised, of God, to us — in hope of it we preach, without it we preach in vain; all is sounding brass and tinkling cymbal without this.

(H. McNeile, D. D.)

I. With regard to THE NATURE OF THE FEAST. "A certain man made a great supper and bade many." What, then, is this feast which our Lord has provided, and of which He has sent His servants to invite men to come and partake? First, as bread satisfies hunger, and is necessary to sustain life, so Jesus Christ is that true bread which cometh down from heaven — the bread of the soul — the bread that alone can satisfy and sustain the spiritual and eternal life of man. His flesh is given as meat, and His blood as drink; and this is the feast. I cannot enlarge upon the particulars of this feast, but observe that a feast is not merely bread, it is fulness of bread; it is a rich provision — there is variety of provision. This the gospel gloriously attests; here is everything that man can want; here is not only pardon for the guilty, reconciliation for him that is at enmity with God, but all the rich provision of grace, all the fulness and comfort of the Spirit of God; all the plenitude of His promises is here; there is nothing that the soul can eat or desire, in any state or condition in which it is seen, but is to be found here; in the gospel feast there is all that is wholesome, suited to its tastes, its appetites, its desires, its lofty capacities, and capable of fully and eternally satisfying them. Here, then, the children of God see their privilege. The Saviour is an omniscient Saviour and an omnipresent Saviour — a Saviour present with the Church, knowing every case, every heart, and every want; and He has in Himself fulness to satisfy every longing desire or wish.

II. We are to consider THE CONDITION OF THOSE WHO WERE FIRST BIDDEN TO THIS FEAST, AND FOR WHOM IT WAS SPECIALLY PREPARED. I say specially provided; for you will recollect that these persons were the children of the promise — the heirs of the covenant. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." So St. Paul says, "the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first." The three principal grounds on which men slight the gospel are here referred to — they are common, not to the Jews only, but common to the Gentiles. The first ground is wealth. The first said, "I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it." The disposition of mind by which a man is induced to seek the increase of wealth is opposed to the gospel This disposition is so fatal to many that it operates, as in the ease of the parable, utterly to exclude them from tasting the supper. It does not so fill and choke up the appetite — it does not so corrode the taste as to prevent their enjoying, as to prevent their fully partaking of this blessing, but it eats them off altogether — they cannot taste of this supper. Is it not so with your hearts, while you are coveting the world? Can you enjoy Christ? You cannot!

2. The second disposition of mind which excludes men from tasting the supper of the gospel grace, is that which involves them in the vortex of this world's cares. This is figured in the parable by the yoke of oxen — "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and must needs go and prove them."

3. Another said, "I have married a wife"; and therefore he was in a greater strait than the other two — he said positively, "I cannot come!" This parable is against those moral people — those honest people — those people whose lives are so irreproachable and blameless in everything except the matter of their salvation. It applies to those that are comparatively enlightened, to those that would be shocked at gross immorality, to those who would not exhibit in their lives, on any account, those vices which they condemn in others; but sin sits enthroned in their heart, in the shape of a secret and subtle covetousness, in a character that absorbs them in their pleasures, and steals and weans their affections from God. And this is, perhaps, the most awful case of all. Go and preach the gospel to those who have no ground of justification; and if you can get them to listen to the gospel, they will fall down at your feet and confess their sin. Examine, trace in your hearts the working of this worldliness, consider the objections that hold you back from Christ, and you will find that they resolve themselves into the excuses of those who were first bidden to this feast. It is the land and the oxen, it is the pleasure of this world, all which perish in their using, and will leave you hungry and naked, and poor and wretched at the bar of God! I come now to speak of —

III. THE CHARACTER OF THOSE WHO REALLY DID ENTER IN AND PARTAKE OF THIS SUPPER. You will observe that those who were thus bidden the second time were described by this character, which marked the destitution of man: "Bring in hither the poor and the maimed, and the halt and the blind"; for this was the spiritual condition of the Gentile world. It marks their destitution — they are poor, they are without God and without hope in the world. In the heathen countries they were without Christian ordinances, without Christian Sabbaths, without Christian instruction. The verse also relates to those who might justly make excuse upon any ground than that of the gospel invitation; who might by self-abasement and humility of spirit say, "How can it be? How can it be that the Prince, the King, and Lord of this supper should send for me? You must be deceiving, you must be making game of me — you must intend some derision; the invitation cannot be for me." "Go," says the King, "and compel them to come in; go and tell them how large the offer is."

(J. Sutcliffe.)

Now why is it difficult to us to represent to ourselves this unwillingness? Because we always think of the great supper simply as so much unmeasured happiness, so much unmixed delight. It will be happiness, it will be delight, but only to those who can appreciate it; not to the base, not to the selfish, not to the false, not to the weak, not to the impure. It will be the highest happiness of which human nature is capable; but it can only be tasted by those who are of kindred nature to Him who gives it. Those who would not come when they were invited would not have found it a happiness if they had come. Now this, the very principle of the parable, is just as applicable to our daily life as it is to any such critical moment as the parable supposes. We are invited to a spiritual feast; to a feast of that happiness which is got from perfect self. mastery, from peace with our consciences, from having no cloud between us and those whom we love, from having no cloud between us and God. We know perfectly well that this is a very real happiness. We have had foretastes of it now and then, quite enough to show what it is like. But this duty, which thus seems ever to pursue us and give us no rest, it is so exacting, it is so dull, it is so unrewarded, what wonder that we turn away? No, indeed it is not. There are those who find it so; those, namely, who refuse the invitation, and go to this and to that; and then — not in repentance, but in sullen acquiescence; not because their hearts are touched, but because they fear consequences, and because they are disgusted with the pleasure which they have preferred to duty — come back, like Balaam, to obey in deed but not in spirit. Such men learn what is meant by the words "None of those men who were bidden shall taste of My supper." To them the supper is no supper at all. To them that obey in an unloving, discontented, sulky mood there is indeed no happiness in obedience. They obey, and find no peace in obedience. They deny themselves for the sake of others, and instead of loving those whom they thus benefit all the more, they love them all the less. They conquer the outburst of temper, and substitute an inward brooding of ill-will. They resist temptation, and feel a kind of resentment against Providence for having put this hard task upon them. They come, but they do not taste the supper, for they refused it. But it is a real pleasure, a pleasure above all other pleasures, to those who come heartily and gladly, who make the needful sacrifice with a ready spirit and with a resolute cheerfulness, forcing away from their minds all gloomy suggestions and all discontented feelings, recognizing in the trifle which calls them as sure a summons from the Great King as if it had been the royal messenger Death; seeing in each invitation to Christian effort a call, not to pain, but to joy; not to a task, but to a supper; not to a loss, but to a service in the King's court.

(Bishop Temple.)

I. A TYPE OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.

1. Of the nature of the gospel. A supper. It is God's provision to satisfy the soul's hunger.

2. Of the abundance of God's provision in the gospel. A great supper.

(1)Every want of the soul can be satisfied by the gospel.

(2)Satisfied for ever.

3. Of the freeness of the gospel.

(1)In the grace which provided it.

(2)In the generousness which invites to it.

II. A TYPE OF THE TREATMENT THE GOSPEL RECEIVES.

1. The term used to express this treatment is very noticeable. Excuse. Not positive refusal, yet not acceptance.

2. The excuses mentioned are noticeable.(1) Though often rendered, how untenable. Feast occurring probably in evening, would not have interfered with land speculator or enterprising farmer; and the young husband could have taken his bride with him.(2) Though differing in their phases, how similar in spirit. Setting personal gratification above the claims of God.

III. A TYPE OF THE EFFECT OF THIS TREATMENT ON THE DIVINE MIND.

1. The Divine resentment is here stated.

2. Fresh orders are given.

3. New decree declared.Lessons:

1. The provision God has made for us in Christ — how satisfying and abundant.

2. Excuses for procrastination — how common — how dangerous.

3. When God says, "None of those who were bidden shaft taste," etc., seals the doom of such.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

The eating of bread mentioned in previous verse imports the enjoyment of eternal goods, both for necessity and delight, in heaven. But our Lord here takes that man off, and us in him, from a general admiration of their happiness in heaven, to a particular application of the means conducing to that happiness, even the receiving the grace of the gospel. They that would eat bread, or enjoy fellowship with God in heaven, must first eat bread, or partake of the gospel-provision here on earth.

I. THE WAY TO ENJOY THE ETERNAL, GOOD THINGS IN THE KINGDOM OF GLORY IS TO CLOSE WITH THE SPIRITUAL GOOD THINGS IN THE KINGDOM OF GRACE.

1. "Eating bread" implies most intimate and immediate union with God.

2. It denotes the abundant supply of all wants.

3. The full and familiar enjoyment of good company.

4. Complete satisfaction in the fruition of all contents and delights.

II. WHAT ARE THOSE SPIRITUAL GOOD THINGS WHICH WE ARE TO CLOSE WITH IN THE KINGDOM OF GRACE?

1. Spiritual privileges provided for us in the grace of the gospel (Isaiah 55:1; Zechariah 13:1). Reconciliation, adoption, remission, sanctification, vocation, salvation. This gospel provision is the plank after the shipwreck, or the ark in the midst of the deluge. No other way of escaping destruction or obtaining salvation.

2. Spiritual ordinances for the conveying of spiritual privileges, and ensuring them. Preaching. Sacraments.

3. Spiritual graces for the improvement of spiritual ordinances (Galatians 5:22). These are the clusters of grapes to make us in love with the Holy Land, notwithstanding oppositions. This fruit grows nowhere but in Christ's garden. The Vine which bears it is Himself.

4. Spiritual duties for the expression of spiritual graces. Praying; hearing; exhorting one another, etc.

III. HOW ARE WE TO CLOSE WITH THESE SPIRITUAL GOOD THINGS

1. We are to receive them by faith, embracing the grace of the gospel (John 1:12).

2. We are to walk as we have received Christ (Colossians 2:6); leading a holy life by virtue drawn from Him through our union with Him; giving the world a proof in our holy life of the virtue in Christ's death for rectifying our crooked nature.

IV. WHY WE MUST CLOSE WITH SPIRITUAL GOOD THINGS, IF WE WOULD ENJOY ETERNAL. Because the one is part of the other. Saints in heaven and saints upon earth make up but one family. Grace is the beginning of glory; some compare it to the golden chain in Homer, the top of which was fastened to the chair of Jupiter. Grace will reach glory, and it must precede glory.

Use 1. This informs us —(1) That it is good for man now to draw near to God (Psalm 73:28). It tends to his everlasting happiness.(2) See their vanity who draw back from God, or bid God depart from them when He comes near them in the means of grace vouchsafed to them (Psalm 73:27; Job 21:14). Sin divides between God and the soul.

Use 2. Yet this doth not make, but many may partake of gospel mercies in the kingdom of grace, and yet never come to glory. Those who have slighted their privileges and advantages will receive the greater condemnation.

Use 3. Would you come into the kingdom of glory?(1) Come into the kingdom of grace.(2) Live as under the laws of this kingdom of grace.

(a)Perform allegiance to God, yielding yourself to Him.

(b)Expect protection from God, and draw nigh to Him (James 4:8).

(c)Pray that the territories of the kingdom of grace may be enlarged more and more upon the face of the earth.

(d)Prepare for the translation of the kingdom of grace into the kingdom of glory (1 Corinthians 15:24, 28).

(John Crump.)

The election of the just, and the reprobation of the wicked, are inscrutable mysteries. Yet, as much as is necessary for us to know, Jesus reveals to us in this parable, without satisfying vain curiosity.

I. ON THE CALL EXTENDED TO MEN.

1. Nature of this call.

(1)It is Divine.

(2)It is holy.

(3)It is a free call.

(4)it is a universal call.

2. Manner of this call.

(1)God calls men outwardly: by teaching and preaching, in order to take away the darkness of understanding caused by original sin.

(2)God calls me. inwardly: by the inspiration of Divine grace.

II. ON THE DECLINING OF THE INVITATION.

1. Cooperation with the Divine call is necessary.

2. Man often refuses to co-operate with the Divine call:

(1)Because he is attached to earthly things.

(2)Because he is enslaved by the vice of pride.

(3)Because he is the slave of his own flesh.As the Jews lost all taste for the manna, because they longed for the flesh-pots of Egypt, so all taste for the sweetness of spiritual joys is lost by carnal lust.

III. ON REPROBATION. Most awful is the judgment of being excluded from Divine charity and communion; but, at the same time, it is most just.

1. The wrath of the king against those who were invited, but who refused to come, was just. With God, wrath is not the eruption of passion, but the zeal of justice, directed against him who, by not accepting His loving invitation, has insulted His infinite majesty.

2. The sentence pronounced by the king was just.(1) God does whatever is necessary for our salvation.(2) But man, the sinner, is not willing to be saved (Matthew 23:37). Man must do what he is able to do, and pray for what he is not able.

3. His sentence of reprobation is most just.(1) He gives them up to the desires of their heart, as He suffered those who were invited to go after their business (Romans 1:23, etc.).(2) God invites others instead of those who were first invited, that His house may be filled, and that the latter may be for ever cut off from the hope of recovering their place. Thus David was elected instead of Saul; Matthias instead of Judas.(3) He condemns irrevocably those who decline the invitation (Proverbs 1:24-26).

(Nicolas de Dijon.)

I. THE INVITATION.

1. The time of the invitation. Evening. At the introduction of the gospel dispensation.

2. The nature of the invitation — "Come."

(1)Free.

(2)Generous.

(3)Direct.

3. The persons by whom the invitations were sent — "His servants." Apostles, disciples, etc.

II. REJECTION OF THE INVITATION.

1. The unanimity of their refusals.

2. The various reasons which they assigned.

(1)The inspection of new-bought property.

(2)Engrossing business.

(3)Domestic duties.

III. FURTHER INVITATIONS ISSUED.

1. How extended the commission.

2. How benevolent the arrangement.

3. How urgent the appeal.

(1)That in the gospel, abundant provision is made for the spiritual wants of mankind.

(2)That the invitations of Divine mercy include all ranks and conditions of men.

(3)That these invitations are free and full, and urgently and sincerely presented by the Lord Jesus Christ.

(4)That only self-excluders will be refused a place at the feast of salvation.

(5)That it is the duty and interest of all, immediately and gratefully to obey the invitation and sit down at the gracious banquet.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

I. THE MAKER OF THE FEAST. Christ God-Man, or God in Christ, is a bountiful Benefactor to man. God in Christ is here called a Man —

1. By way of resemblance; those properties of any worth appearing in man, or spoken of man, being more eminently in God: as

(1)Sovereignty;

(2)pity;

(3)rationality.

2. By Ray of reality.(1) In respect of Christ, by whom this gospel-provision is, wherein God shows Himself such a Benefactor. Christ has

(a)the blood of a man;

(b)the bowels of a man;

(c)the familiarity of a man.(2) In respect of man for whom this gospel-provision is, wherein God shows Himself such a Benefactor. The grace of the gospel is called "the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man." And that —

(a)by way of distinction from other creatures in general;

(b)by way of opposition unto fallen angels in particular.(3) In respect of the ministers of the gospel, through whose hands this gospel-provision is distributed. Uses.

1. Observe the condescension of God.

2. The advancement of man.

II. THE FEAST. Supper — chief meal of the day: intimating the abundance of the provision made for the recovery of lost man.

1. What is this gospel-provision for the good of souls? It is the only way of man's salvation since the Fall, begun in grace, and swallowed up or perfected in glory.

2. How does the provision appear to be so plentiful?(1) Look at the Maker of the feast. God, rich in mercy, great in love.(2) The materials. Christ Himself. The sincere milk of the word. The promises. Work of grace in soul. Sum up all this: here is solidity, plenty, variety; here is for necessity and delight, for health and mirth. 'Tis a great supper.(3) The vessels. Ordinances: "golden vials full of odours."(4) The guests. Such as are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. Kings and priests unto God.(5) The attendants. Ministers instructed by God.

III. THE PERSONS BIDDEN.

1. Adam was invited, and with Him the whole race of mankind.

2. Noah was invited, and with him the old world.

3. Abraham was invited, and with him the whole nation of the Jews.

4. Moses was invited, and with him the Jews had a fresh invitation under that pedagogy of his which was to bring them to Christ.Uses:

1. Information. This shows us God's desire for man's happiness. He not only propounds a way for man to be happy, but invites man to accept of it. How inexcusable, then, is man if he refuse.

2. Caution.(1) Though men are thus generally invited, yet other fallen creatures have not so much as an invitation; so that there is somewhat of distinguishing mercy in the very invitation (Hebrews 2:16).(2) Though men are thus generally invited, yet they are very hardly persuaded really to close with the invitation.(3) Though men are thus generally invited, yet they will not be continually invited.(4) Though men are thus generally invited, yet they will be as generally rejected, if they continue slighting God's invitation.

3. Be exhorted to hearken to this call and invitation of God. To move you to accept: consider seriously —

(1)God communes with us in a way of familiarity (Isaiah 1:18).

(2)God commands us in a way of authority (1 John 3:23).

(3)God beseeches us in a way of entreaty (2 Corinthians 5:20).

(4)Upon refusal, God threatens us in a way of severity (Proverbs 1:24, 32).They who will not fecal upon these gospel dainties, "shall eat of the fruit of their own way." They that sow the wind of iniquity shall reap the whirlwind of misery.

(John Crump.)

I. WITH RESPECT TO THE INVITATION. Although the dispensations of God to Jew and Gentile may be different, the declaration of the gospel is the same. It is especially worth noting how perfectly free from all impossible conditions, on the part of man, is the gospel invitation.

II. Now look at THE WAY IN WHICH THIS INVITATION WAS RECEIVED. "They all with one consent began to make excuse." They wanted to do something else instead. And in this reply we see a lesson, how, when the passions of man are set against the truth, how additionally hard and presumptuously bold they make the heart. The spirit which actuated these excuses was worldliness — preferring something to God. And this is strictly true of every one who has not really closed with the gospel invitation now.

III. Observe again, that THE PERSONS ETERNALLY EXCLUDED FROM THE GOSPEL-FEAST ARE THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN BIDDEN TO IT; the invitation is, therefore, real: God means what He says. It was in all good faith that the invitation was given, and it is in all seriousness that God speaks when the invitation has been refused. I warn you against making excuses to-day, lest when you would accept the Lord's gracious invitation, you cannot; lest you become too blind to read, too lame to go to the house of God, and too deaf to hear — altogether too infirm to get any good. Now, I repeat to you, you know these things are true; you understand these things; you are perfectly well aware that what I say is the exposition of the parable, and you are perfectly aware that as long as you neglect God's invitation, you are wrong. You cannot say, "Lord, forgive me, for I know not what I do." You do know; your conscience speaks to you now: do not harden it by neglect.

1. I would, in conclusion, say, take these four considerations home with you: Consider, first, to-night, dear brethren, before you lay your heads upon your pillows, the greatness of the Host that invites you. Consider His love, His power, if you apply to Him, to overcome every hindrance, His grace to give you all needful strength, His mercy, which will embrace you in His arms, and take you to His heart.

2. The excellence of the feast. He sets before you salvation, pardon, peace, eternal life. Are not these things worth having? Are they not necessary to the welfare of your soul? Where can you get them, but in the way you are called to accept now?

3. The blessedness of partaking of this gospel-feast.

4. The misery of refusing — of never tasting the gospel-supper — never, never! — never knowing pardon of sin — never knowing peace of conscience.

(J. W. Reeve, M. A.)

I. THE FEAST. This is the gospel which God has provided for mankind and sinners. Great preparations had to be made before it was available for men. The law which we had broken had to be satisfied; the penalty which we had incurred had to be endured; the obedience in which we had failed had to be rendered. None of these things, however, could be done by man for himself. Christ therefore took human nature, etc.

1. A feast in respect of the excellence of the provision which it sets before us. Pardon of sin, favour with God, peace of conscience, renewal of the heart, access to the throne of grace, the comforts of the Holy Spirit, the exceeding great and precious promises of the Scriptures, and a well-grounded hope of eternal life.

2. A feast in respect, of abundance, for the supply is inexhaustible.

3. A feast in respect of fellowship. The blessings of the gospel are for social, and not simply for private, life; and what circle of earthly friends can be put into comparison with that into which we enter when we seat ourselves at the gospel table? Communion, not only with best and wisest of earth, but with redeemed before throne; yea, fellowship with Father, and His Son Jesus Christ.

4. A feast in respect of joy. The Giver of it and the guests at it rejoice together.

II. THE INVITED GUESTS. The invitation to this feast is given to every one in whose hearing the gospel is proclaimed. A great privilege, also a great peril. God's invitation is not to be trifled with or despised. In the court language of Great Britain, when a subject receives an invitation to the royal table, it is said that her Majesty "commands" his presence there. So the invitations of the King of kings to His gospel banquet are commands, the ignoring of which constitutes the most aggravated form of disobedience.

III. THE RECEPTION GIVEN BY THOSE FIRST INVITED, TO THE CALL, WHICH HAD BEEN ADDRESSED TO THEM. Animated by one spirit, moved by one impulse, under the influence of the same disposition, they all began to make excuse. Each of them considered some worldly thing as of more importance to him than the enjoyment of the feast; and that is just saying, in another way, that they all treated the invitation as a matter of no moment. Their excuses were all pretexts. If the heart is set on anything else, it cannot be given up to Christ; and every excuse that is offered for withholding it, whether the excuse itself be true or not, does not give the real reason for His rejection. That must be sought in the fact that the heart is set on something else which it is not willing to part with, even for Him. It is the old story. "One thing thou lackest:" but that one thing is everything, for it is the love of the heart.

IV. THOSE WHO PERSISTENTLY DECLINE TO COME TO THE FEAST SHALL BE FOR EVER EXCLUDED FROM ITS ENJOYMENT.

V. NOTWITHSTANDING THE REJECTION OF THIS INVITATION BY MULTITUDES, GOD'S HOUSE SHALL BE FILLED AT LAST.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

I. REASONS WHY THE LOVE OF THIS WORLD IS A HINDRANCE TO SALVATION.

1. On account of its power over the heart.(1) It is not attentive to the greatness of Divine grace.(2) It disregards the means of this grace, through which the sinner must be brought to the fellowship of it.(3) It hardens the heart against the repeated invitations of God.(4) It does despite to the free grace of God, which has at once provided everything necessary for our salvation, and invites us to partake of it without any personal desert.

2. On account of its nature.(1) It is directed to what is earthly, perishable.

(a)To goods and pleasures.

(b)To honour, influence, and consideration.

(c)To ties and connections.(2) It prefers that to what is heavenly and eternal.(3) It lays claim, in doing so, to a right frame of mind (vers. 18, 19), considering itself to have a proper excuse, and thus manifests its ingratitude, levity, and obstinacy.

II. PROOF THAT THE LOVE OF THE WORLD IS SUCH A HINDRANCE.

1. From the consequences resulting to the despisers.(1) They draw upon themselves the anger of God.(2) They forfeit the offered salvation.

2. From the subsequent procedure of God, who still manifests His mercy and grace;(1) In that He continues to invite men to the blessings of salvation;(2) and even the most wretched of men;(3) and all, without exception, in the most pressing manner.

(F. G. Lisco.)

Though this parable resembles, in some respects, that of the marriage feast in the twenty-second chapter of Matthew, it is a distinct and independent parable.

1. What those gospel blessings are to which we are here invited under the comparison of a feast. We are invited, then, to partake of the blessing of knowledge, saving knowledge, the knowledge of God, the knowledge of the truth.

2. Let us observe what is implied in coming to this feast. It supposes, then, a desire and endeavour to obtain these blessings, and an actual acceptance of them just as they are offered.

3. God employs His servants to invite persons of all descriptions to this feast.

4. We are reminded by this parable that multitudes reject the gospel invitation with vain excuses.

5. Once more, this parable teaches that, however many may have hitherto refused the invitation, ministers are bound to persevere in most earnest endeavours to bring in sinners. The office of ministers, in this respect, is weighty and responsible.

(James Foote, M. A.)

From the earliest ages it has been common to speak of God's merciful provisions for fallen men under the imagery of a fast. Thus Isaiah sung: "In this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all people a fewest of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined." And so familiar was this conception to the ancient Jews, that many of them were led to indulge the grossest notions about feasting and banqueting in the kingdom of the Messiah. Many of the Rabbins took it literally, and talked and wrote largely about the blessed bread and plenteous wine, and delicious fruits, and the varieties of fish, flesh, and fowl, to be enjoyed when once the Messiah should come. It was to this coarse eating and drinking that the man referred whose exclamation — "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God" — called forth this significant parable. But, although the Jews much perverted the idea, it still was a proper and expressive figurative representation of gospel blessings. The Saviour Himself takes up the idea, approves and appropriates it, and proceeds to speak of the provisions of grace as a δειπνον — a supper — a feast — a banquet. Very significant also is this imagery.

1. A feast is not a thing of necessity, but of gratuity. If a man makes an entertainment to which he invites his friends and neighbours, he does it out of favour and good feeling towards them. It is because he takes an interest in their happiness, and is pleased to minister to their enjoyment. And precisely of this nature is the blessed gospel.

2. Again: a banquet is furnished at the cost of him who makes it. And so the gospel comes to men free of expense to the guests. All that it embraces is proposed without money and without price.

3. A banquet also implies the spreading of a table, plentifully supplied with all inviting, wholesome, and pleasant viands. It is an occasion when the very best things, and in the greatest profusion, are set before the guests. True, "the kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink"; but it is to our inner life what the most precious viands, are to the body. The soul has appetites, and needs meat and drink as well as the physical man. It must be fed, nourished, and refreshed with its appropriate spiritual aliment, or the man must starve and die, notwithstanding the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And this life-giving spiritual food is what God has provided for us in the gospel.

4. A banquet is also a social thing. It involves the coming together of multitudes to exchange civilities, to form and strengthen fellowships, and to enjoy communion with each other, as well as with the maker of the feast. The gospel embraces a holy fellowship of believers with believers, and of each with God. It embraces a coming together of men in common brotherhood and communion with each other and with the Master, as full of sweetness, cheer, and blessedness as the viands of which they are invited to partake. Christianity is a social religion.

(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)

Come; for all things are now ready.
I. THE FEAST.

1. The author of this feast.

2. The provisions.

(1)Abundant.

(2)Various.

(3)Statable.

3. The characteristics of the feast.

(1)It is a sacrificial feast.

(2)It is a great and universal feast.

(3)It is a gratuitous feast.

(4)It is a heavenly feast,

II. THE INVITATIONS — "Come." Now this implies distance. All men far from God, etc. Prodigal

1. To what must they come? To the Word of God. To the preached gospel (Romans 10:15).

2. How must they come? By repentance. Humbly, believingly, unreservedly, immediately.

3. To whom may this invitation be addressed? To the young, middle-aged, and to the old. To the moralist, profligate, and backslider. To the rich and poor, the learned and illiterate.

III. THE MOTIVE URGED — "For all things are now ready."

1. The Father is ready. To embrace the repenting prodigal.

2. The Son is ready. To speak forgiveness and peace.

3. The Spirit is ready. To regenerate and save.

4. Ministers are ready. "And now then as ambassadors," etc.

5. The ordinances are ready. And you are freely welcome.

6. The Church is ready. To own you as her sons, etc.

7. Angels are ready. To bear the tidings of your repentance to glory.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

The invitation to come is in harmony with the kingdom of heaven, and in harmony with the character of man. An invitation implies a happiness. When a calamity or a sorrow is before us, we are not invited to it — we are drawn hither by an irresistible power. But when earth has a joyful event, or one that promises happiness, invitations are issued, because it is not conceivable that man would need to be driven toward happiness. Thus the invitation harmonizes with the kingdom of Christ, for it is a happiness. Whether you contemplate that kingdom as reaching through eternity with its blessedness, or as filling earth with its virtue and faith and hope, it is the highest happiness of which we can conceive. It is, indeed, a feast of love, of knowledge, of virtue; and hence is a blessedness worthy of the word "Come." The word is also in harmony with the character of man, for, being a free agent, he is not to be forced towards blessedness, but only invited.

I. Now this word "COME" CONTAINS NO DEEP MYSTERY. It is not a tantalizing request to do what we cannot do. It is not irony, as though one should say to a blind man, "See this rose!" or a deaf mind, "Oh! please hear this music." The Bible is the last book in the world to be accused of trifling with the soul, for it is the soul it loves, and for it it prays and weeps. It is not to be inferred from this that the heart can correct itself and forgive itself and sanctify itself; but what is to be inferred is that the will is not a mockery, not a dead monarch, but is a king upon a throne, and can command the soul to go many a path that leads to God. You can all start upon a heavenly road, for there is not a movement of the heart toward God that is not a part of this large "Come." Where the human ends and the Divine begins no one can tell, any more than in nature one can tell where the rain and earth and sunshine cease to work in the verdure, and where they are supplanted by the presence of God. There is no tree that stands in the woods by its own act. God is there. So no Christian stands up strong in his own sole effort. God's grace is somewhere. But yet, for all this, great is the power and responsibility of the soul. Nothing in religion can be true that renders void the law of personal effort.

II. But we pass by this "coming," and go to the second thought — "ALL THINGS ARE READY." I shall not restrict myself here to the exact import of the text, but shall accept of the words in all their breadth and application.

1. Religion is ready for you. Having passed through myriad shapes — Pagan, Mosaic, Grecian, Roman — religion seems to have found in the gospel of Christ a final readiness for human use. Reason may learn to deny all religion, science may hear and then teach atheism, but when the thought turns to a positive religion, there is at last one ready, the religion of our Lord; it is ready for you and me. But when we have declared it ready as a philosophical system, we have only told half the truth, for to this it adds the readiness of an ever-living Father and Saviour standing by each of you as a mother, and waiting to welcome you.

2. Let us proceed now to our second head: You are ready for this religion. I do not mean that you feel ready, for there are doubts and sins that stand between the soul and religion. The obstacle is not in the world without, but within. But I have said you are ready. In what sense? In this: that your life has come to its responsible, intelligent years. The lineaments of God — knowledge, wisdom, reason, love, hope, life — have all unfolded, and here we are all to-day, moving in all the spiritual qualities of Deity, and yet are willingly in the vale of sin. The ignorance of youth has passed away: we are children no more. Vice has revealed her wretchedness, and virtue her utility and beauty, and with intellects so discerning, and with an experience so complete, and then clothed with the attributes of God, we are all marching to the grave, a solemn gateway between action and judgment, between time and eternity. These facts make me declare we are ready for that sentiment called religion, that makes man one with God. I confess that we all are ready for the gospel of Christ — ready for its virtue, its mediation, its sunny hopes.

3. Society is ready for you to accept the gift. I hope that old day has wholly gone when men were afraid to profess Christianity lest an outside world might ridicule the "new life." Little of this fear is any longer per. ceptible. I imagine that the growth of individual liberty — the growth of the consciousness of it, rather — has silenced both the ridicule and the sensibility to it. It is only ignorance and narrowness that ever ridicule the profession of religion. But we pass from this conscious readiness to that of need and fact. Society is toiling to-day under the awful calamities of vice, slavery, dishonour, and crime, and is sorrowfully ready for millions of wicked ones to read and imitate the life of Jesus Christ. When society was ruled by brute force, as in the days of Caesar or Peter the Great, it mattered little what might be in the hearts of the populace, for, if it was crime, there was a policeman for each citizen; and if it was sorrow in the heart of woman or child or slave, nobody cared. But in our day, when the vice of the heart breaks out, and there is more reliance upon education than upon the knout or chains, and when the upper classes have reached an education that makes indifference to sorrow impossible, in such an age society begs the Christian religion to come to its help. In the old empire of Cyrus there were, all along the highways, criminals with hands or feet cut off, or heads of offenders raised up, to keep the populace in constant fear. What that age demanded in its heart was not a gospel, but an ever-present police. It did not know of anything better. But our land, based upon the nobleness and equality of man, and springing up out of brotherly love, and every day strengthening this sentiment by education, silently begs that its millions, high and low, shall come unto Jesus Christ.

(David Swing.)

1. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is ready. No banqueter ever waited for his guests so patiently as Christ has waited for us.

2. Again, the Holy Spirit is ready. That Spirit is willing to come to-night at our call and lead you to eternal life; or ready to come with the same power with which He unhorsed Saul on the Damascus turnpike, and broke down Lydia in her fine store, and lifted the three thousand from midnight into midnoon at the Pentecost. With that power the Spirit of God this night beats at the gate of your soul. Have you not noticed what homely and insignificant instrumentality the Spirit of God employs for man's conversion? There was a man on a Hudson river-boat to whom a tract was offered. With indignation he tore it up and threw it overboard. But one fragment lodged on his coat-sleeve; and he saw on it the word "eternity"; and he found no peace until he was prepared for that great future. Do you know what passage it was that caused Martin Luther to see the truth? "The just shall live by faith." Do you know there is one — lust one — passage that brought from a life of dissolution? "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof." It was just one passage that converted Hedley Vicars, the great soldier, to Christ: "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin." Do you know that the Holy Spirit used one passage of Scripture to save Jonathan Edwards? "Now, unto the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, our Saviour, be glory."

3. The Church is ready.

4. The angels of God are ready.

5. Your kindred in glory are all ready for your coming. Some of these spirits in glory toiled for your redemption. When they came to die, their chief grief was that you were not a Christian. They said: "Meet me in heaven"; but over their pillow hung the awful possibility that perhaps you might not meet them.

(Dr. Talmage.)

I. GOD IS VERY URGENT WITH MEN TO ACCEPT OF GOSPEL-PROVISION FOR THE GOOD OF THEIR SOULS. He speaks once and again (Jeremiah 7:25). This truth will thus appear:

1. By the several acts of God put forth in gospel-provision for man's salvation.(1) He has prepared the provision without any desert or desire of ours (Titus 3:4, 5).(2) The means of grace are vouchsafed to many that do not improve them (Matthew 11:16, 17, 21).(3) God propounds a way, and offers help to do us good, before we inquire after it (Isaiah 65:1).(4) God forbears His wrath when we do not presently close with His mercy. He stays, though man lingers.(5) God reproves where we are defective, and happy are the wounds of such a friend. He who first reproves is unwilling to punish.(6) God stops our way when we are running headlong to our own misery (Hosea 2:6). Many times He keeps us short that He may keep us humble.(7) God makes us consider our ways, and recollect our thoughts, whither our course tends (Haggai 1:5).(8) Notwithstanding our obstinacy, God persuades us by a sweet and holy violence. He not only stops our way, but changes our wills.

2. By the manner of God's speaking to sinners in the Scriptures.(1) By way of interrogation — "Why will ye die?" (Ezekiel 18:31).(2) By way of lamentation (Luke 19:41, 42).(3) By way of protestation with the strongest asseveration (Ezekiel 33:11).Uses.

1. This informs us that the destruction of man is a thing displeasing to God.

2. But though God be thus urgent about the salvation of man, yet He is quick and peremptory in the destruction of many. Although He seem to come slowly to punish man, yet His hand will fall heavily upon those who abuse His patience.

3. Answer God's urgency with you to accept of gospel-provision.(1) Be urgent with your own hearts to turn to the Lord by faith; and then be as urgent to bless His name for turning them.(2) Urge your hearts to turn from all sin by true repentance.

II. THE SERVANTS SENT OUT.

1. All the prophets.

2. Pre-eminently, Christ Himself.

3. The servants of Christ.

III. THE TIME OF SENDING THE SERVANTS. Supper-time; the fulness of time, the very nick of time for man's redemption. Now is the accepted time; improve it.

IV. THE MANNER IN WHICH THE MESSAGE IS TO BE DELIVERED. By word of mouth. Uses.

1. Information.(1) The gift of utterance is very requisite for a minister (Ephesians 6:19).(2) The calling of the ministry is very useful (Titus 1:2, 3).

2. Ministers should not only preach with their tongues, but likewise with their hearts feelingly, and with their lives.

3. Let us be thankful to God that the Word of faith is so nigh us in the preaching of the Word (Romans 10:6, 7, 8). Manna falls at our very doors; we have but to step out and take it up.

V. THE WORD OF INVITATION — "Come."

1. Whither God would have us come.(1) To ourselves (Luke 15:17).(2) To His people (Hebrews 12:22).(3) To Him.

(a)The Father would have us come (Jeremiah 4:1).

(b)The Son would have us come (Matthew 11:28).

(c)The Spirit would have us come (Revelation 22:17). He comes to us, that we may come to Him to get victory over our sin.

2. By what means we should come.(1) By the use of all means of grace (Psalm 95:6).(2) By the exercise of the truth of grace, and especially the acting of faith (Hebrews 11:6).(3) By pressing forward towards the perfection of grace (Philippians 3:12).

3. In what manner we should come.(1) Humbly (Luke 15:19).(2) Speedily (Luke 19:6).(3) Joyfully, as we come to a feast.

VI. THE READINESS OF ALL THINGS.

1. The mind of God, concerning the salvation of all His elect, is ready (2 Timothy 2:19).

2. The work of Christ for the recovery of lost man is ready (Hebrews 10:12). The incarnation, passion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, are all over.

3. The remission of sin upon the score and account of Christ is ready (Nehemiah 9:17; 2 Corinthians 5:19).

4. The glorious inheritance in heaven is now ready (Hebrews 2:16).Uses.

1. For information. Man has nothing to do toward his own happiness, but to receive what God has prepared, and to walk as he has received it. The receiving is by faith.

2. For caution. Though all things be said to be "now ready," we must not think, as if all were hut now ready: we must know that Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), so that Christ's blood in its virtue, and God's acceptation was of force for man's salvation long before He came personally into the world. Then, again: though all things are said to be "now ready," yet there is much to be done before all the elect come to heaven; many enemies of Christ must be pulled down, etc.

3. Be exhorted to answer this readiness of God.

(1)Be ready to receive this grace of the gospel.

(2)Be ready to express this grace of the gospel.

(a)In acts of piety towards Him.

(b)In acts of charity towards men.

(John Crump.)

Now we come to our Lord's description of what a really religious life is. He gives it to us under the figure of a feast. Let us try and get some lessons from this; for when our Lord employs a figure, we may be sure He has a meaning in it. What are the thoughts connected with the figure? In the first place, A FEAST IS DESIGNED FOR THE SATISFACTION OF OUR NATURAL APPETITES, is it not? We go to a feast, not that we may be hungry, but that we may be fed. Wherever Christ goes, the first thing He proposes to do, my dear friends, is to satisfy the wants of our souls. He knows better than we what those wants are, and how incapable we are of satisfying them; and you know it too, if you will but reflect. Is there not in your daily occupations, and pleasures, and cares a certain secret sense of something wanting? When you succeed in life, do not you feel strangely disappointed with the results of success? How little pleased you are with that which you thought might be expected to give the most exquisite pleasure! Oh, my young friends, how strange it is that we all fall into the fallacy, or, at any rate, so many of us do, of supposing that we can make up in quantity for that which is radically deficient in quality. You understand what I mean. Here is a boat-load of shipwrecked mariners, tossing about on the wide waste of waters. We will suppose that one of them, burning with thirst, dips his fingers into the briny ocean, and just puts two drops of the water on his tongue; does that satisfy him? Not a whit; on the contrary, it increases his thirst. Suppose the man thinks, "What I want is increased quantity; two drops will satisfy no man's thirst; if I can only get enough I shall surely be satisfied." And suppose he were to lean his head over the gunwale of the boat, and take a deep draught of the brine, would that satisfy him any more than the two drops? Some time ago a friend of mine was coming home from Australia in a ship that took fire. Those on board were saved in two boats one a large and the other a small one. On board the smaller boat was this gentle. man and his wife, and into it had been cast, in the conclusion and hurry of the moment, several cases containing solid gold to the value of many thousand pounds in each. In the large boat there was a considerable quantity of provisions, but in the smaller boat there was a very slender supply of provisions, but a large amount of gold. The men pulled away from the burning ship; there was a stiff breeze rising, and they knew that in all probability they should not see each other in the morning dawn; so just before they separated for the night, they began to overhaul their provisions. The men on board the smaller boat found that they had only a meagre supply. My friend remarked that he should never forget the moment when three or four stalwart sailors lifted up a huge case of gold, held it before the eyes of the men in the other boat, and shouted across the water, "Ten thousand pounds for one cask of bacon!" A big price, was it not? The men would not look at it! That one cask of bacon was worth all the gold in the world to them. Why? Because the meat was congruous to their natural appetite, and the gold was not; they could feed themselves with the one, but not with the other. Now, young man, the world is whispering in your ear: What you want is, not to change your mode of satisfying your appetite, but to have a little more. You are not very rich, you cannot indulge yourself in going to the theatre every night? perhaps you can only go once a fortnight or once a month; make a little money; get on in life; set up in business for yourself, and then you will be able to go every night in the week if you like.

2. Then again, a feast is not only an occasion for satisfying our wants; IT IS ALSO USUALLY AN OCCASION FOR MERRIMENT, HILARITY, ENJOYMENT, IS IT NOT? We do not go to a feast to wear very long faces, to look very mournful and miserable. It is true, men sometimes do look very grave at feasts, because they are so unlike what feasts ought to be; there is so much form and ceremony, and so little social enjoyment in them. Everything is real that God gives. Blessed are they who are permitted to sit down at the board which has been spread by the hands of Jesus. But you say, "Do you really believe it? Is it true? Do you mean that it is all a lie that the devil has been telling us — that if you become a real Christian, you will grow so gloomy, and look so sad, and that life will lose all its charm? Is that really false? Surely it never can be." Why do so many people say this? I will tell you. Look yonder. There is a man who is a Christian — at any rate, he calls himself so; and, dear me, what a miserable sort of being he is! Yes, with shame and sorrow I admit it; there we discover the foundation of the devil's lie. The truth is, there are so many of us who name the name of Christ, but do not give ourselves wholly up to God. There are many people who call themselves Christians, but who give occasion to the enemies of God to blaspheme. There is many a Christian, for instance, who does not walk by faith, but by unbelief. Look at a man like Paul; there you find one who has committed himself to God's will. At first sight the man of the world might say, "Well, he gets a rough life of it. I should not like to lead such a life, tossing about to and fro over the wide world like a waif and stray in human society, with nobody to say a kind word to him, sometimes shipwrecked, sometimes exposed to perils of robbers, sometimes thrust outside the city. Dear me, I should not like to lead such a life!" Would you not? Look a little closer, my dear man. Look at the man's face; listen to some of the openings of his heart. Amid all his outward trials, difficulties, and persecutions, he says he is always rejoicing. Are you always rejoicing? Where is the worldly man in London who is always rejoicing? Ah, who are so happy as real Christians? Young man, when you form your idea of a Christian, take care that you get hold of the genuine article. Suppose I were to say, "Have you ever seen a rose?" "Well, no," you might reply; "I have heard a good deal about the rose, but I have never seen one." And suppose I were to say, "I will show you one; come along with me," and then were to take you down to one of the purlieus of London, to some miserable, sodden-looking, uncultivated little garden, and show you a poor, half-dead, struggling plant, just trying to put out a few little crimson leaves, which were already being mercilessly nipped and shrivelled up by the chemical compounds which make up the air of this city of London. The thing is already decaying; there is no fragrance about it, no beauty, no perfection or symmetry of form. Suppose I say, "There is a rose I did you ever see such a beautiful thing in your life?" And suppose there was a friend from the country beside us; would he not say, "Don't call that a rose. The man will turn back, saying, 'I have seen a rose; but I wouldn't go a couple of yards to see another.' Take him clown to my garden in the country, and show him the standard rose-bush outside my door; he will remember that if he has never seen one before. Come with me, my lad, and I will show you what a rose is like." Now, when you form an idea about a Christian, don't get hold of some poor, blighted Christian, shrivelled up by the east wind of worldliness; don't get hold of a Christian who tries to serve two masters — God and the world too; don't get hold of a Christian who leads a life of chronic unbelief, a sort of asthmatic Christian, who cannot get his breath at all. No, no; get hold of a Christian in good, sound health, who can honestly say, "To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Then compare his life with your own; and if you do not come to the conclusion that that man is, all round, a hundredfold happier than you are, or ever can hope to be, so long as you remain a child of the world, then I will say that my gospel is no longer worth preaching, and the Word of God no longer worth trusting. But you will be constrained to make the admission.

3. Again, what is a feast? It is a time for feeding the body, a time for enjoying ourselves; IT IS ALSO A TIME FOR PLEASANT SOCIAL INTERCOURSE. I find that a great many people are kept back from Christ, especially young men, because they think they would have so much to give up in the way of friends. Not very long ago a gentleman said to me, "One of the things that struck me most after my conversion was the effect on my relations with other people. I always passed for an affectionate husband, and loving father; but really, really, as I looked at my wife and my children, it seemed as if I loved them with an entirely new affection, as though I had never really loved them before. I loved them with such a new and mighty love, that it just seemed as if I had become their father or husband over again. But that was not all. When I came into contact with other Christians, I found out that I got to know more of, and to be really more attached to, men whom I had only known ten days or a fortnight — real Christians — than I was to men whom I had been meeting day after day in business, or social life, and coming constantly in contact with, long, long years before. I seemed to know more of a man in a week than I had been able to know of a man of the world in a twelvemonth before. So wonderful was the change in my own personal feelings towards others, that I felt that the number of my brothers was indefinitely multiplied." My friends, it will be so. Believe me, where the grace of God gets into the human heart it makes us brothers.

(W. H. Aitken.)

Let us, then, consider the readiness of all things as a reason for coming to Christ now. And as the simplest way of doing this, let us consider what it is that hinders us from coming. No external force; you act freely in refusing to come. What inward cause, then — why do you not come? Alas! I need not ask; for in the way of every sinner who knows what it is to think, there always rises up one barrier which effectually stops his course till God removes it; it is guilt — the paralyzing and benumbing sense of guilt. The very same thing that creates the necessity of coming, seems to render it impossible. God is a holy God, a just God, and a Sovereign. But, perhaps, your way is not yet open; your obstacles are not. yet all removed. Whatever you may think of the benevolence of God, you cannot lose sight of His justice. However His compassion might consent, His holiness, His truth, His righteousness, still stop the way. But now, perhaps, you feel another hindrance, one of which you took but little note before. Though God be ready to forgive you for the sake of Christ's atoning sacrifice, you find a hindrance in yourself, in your heart, in your very dispositions and affections. Expiation, pardon, renovation, the grace of the Father, the merit of the Son, the influence of the Spirit, the Church on earth, and the Church in heaven, safety in life, peace in death, and glory through eternity, a good hope here, and an ineffable reality hereafter — all things, all things are now ready. Will you come? If not, you must turn back, you must retrace your steps, and take another view of this momentous invitation. Higher we cannot rise in the conception or the presentation of inducements. If you must have others, they must be sought in a lower region. The feast is a figure for salvation or deliverance from ruin. To refuse it, therefore, is to choose destruction. This must be taken into view, if we would estimate the motives here presented. Such is the brevity of life, and such the transitory nature of the offer of salvation, that even the youngest who decides this question, may be said to decide it in the prospect of death', and on the confines of eternity.

(J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

Do you know why more men do not come to Christ? It is because men are not invited that they do not come. You get a general invitation from your friend: "Come around some time to my house and dine with me." You do not go. But he says, "Come around to-day at four o'clock and bring your family, and we'll dine together." And you say: "I don't know that I have any engagement; I will come." "I expect you at four o'clock." And you go. The world feels it is a general invitation to come around some time and sit at the gospel feast, and men do not come because they are not specially invited. It is because you do not take hold of them and say, "My brother, come to Christ; come now! come now!" How was it that in the days of Daniel Baker, and Truman Osborn, and Nettleton, so many thousands came to Jesus? Because those men did nothing else but invite them to come. They spent their lifetime uttering invitations, and they did not mince matters either. Where did Bunyan's pilgrim start from? Did he start from some easy, quiet, cosy place? No; if you have read John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" you will know where he started from, and that was from the City of Destruction, where every sinner starts from. Do you know what Livingstone, the Scotch minister, was preaching about in Scotland when three hundred souls under one sermon came to Christ? He was preaching about the human heart as unclean, and bard, and stony, Do you know what George Whitefield was preaching about in his first sermon, when fifteen souls saw the salvation of God? It was this: "Ye must be born again." Do you know what is the last subject he ever preached upon? "Flee from the wrath to come." Oh! that the Lord God would come into our pulpits and prayer-meetings, and Christian circles, and bring us from our fine rhetoric, and profound metaphysics, and our elegant hair-splitting, to the old-fashioned well of gospel invitation.

(Dr. Talmage.)

I. In the first place, then, WHAT IS NOT PRESUMPTION WITH REFERENCE TO THE MATTER BEFORE US? The invitation — "Come, for all things are now ready," may be applied to that Holy Communion to which all who flee to Jesus are invited.

1. And I would observe, in the first place, that it is not presumption to be obedient to the Lord's command. Knowledge ought to induce obedience. The victim is slain, the sacrifice is offered; Jesus has "died, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." He who has done all this as our Surety enjoins this ordinance upon us, and tells us to "do it in remembrance of Him?" Gratitude should induce obedience. "All things are ready."

2. But, secondly, it is not presumption to accept the invitation of our heavenly King. If we are invited there is no presumption, and there can be no presumption in accepting the invitation.

3. And so, I observe, thirdly, that it is not presumption to come to the Holy Communion, as all other worthy communicants do come. How do those who are worthy come? that is, those whom God esteems to be worthy? Do they come because they are holy? that is, because they are perfectly free from sin? because they have no temptations around them, to which sometimes they feel inclined to give way? No; it is that, feeling their weakness, they flee to God for grace in this holy sacrament of His own appointment.

II. But now, let us look at the other side of the question, and examine WHAT IS PRESUMPTION IN THIS MATTER OF WHICH WE ARE SPEAKING.

1. I answer, then, to this inquiry, that it is presumption for any one to profess practically to be wiser than God. This is what those do, who neglect Holy Communion.

2. But further, it is presumption, I will allow, to attend this holy ordinance in thoughtlessness and willing ignorance.

3. Then, thirdly, it is presumption to attend this holy ordinance while living in wilful and acknowledged sin.

4. Lastly, it would be presumption to come to the Lord's table in an unforgiving spirit.

(W. Cadman, M. A.)

I. IT IS GOD'S HABIT TO HAVE ALL THINGS READY, whether for His guests or His creatures. You never find Him behindhand in anything. He has great forethought.

1. God's thoughts go before men's comings. Grace is first, and man at his best follows its footsteps.

2. This also proves how welcome are those who come.

II. THIS READINESS SHOULD BE AN ARGUMENT THAT HIS SAINTS SHOULD COME continually to Him and find grace to help in every time of need.

1. All things are ready; there. fore come to the storehouse of Divine promise.

2. Come to the mercy-seat in prayer; all things are ready there.

3. Christ is always ready to commune with His people.

4. For a useful life in the path of daily duty, all things are ready.

5. For a higher degree of holiness all things are ready.

III. THE PERFECT READINESS OF THE FEAST OF DIVINE MERCY IS EVIDENTLY INTENDED TO BE A STRONG ARGUMENT WITH SINNERS WHY THEY SHOULD COME AT ONCE.

1. All things are ready.

2. All things are ready.

3. All things are now ready. Therefore, come now.

IV. THIS TEXT DISPOSES OF A GREAT DEAL OF TALE ABOUT THE SINNER'S READINESS OR UNREADINESS. He only needs to be willing.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

When a person of respectable rank in society proposes to celebrate a feast in his house, he forthwith circulates his invitations to the friends he wishes to be of the party, either by card or by a verbal message, carried by a servant of the house, or a person hired for the purpose, and superbly decked, according to the rank of his employer. The following is a specimen of the form of invitation: "Such a person [naming him] sends best compliments to such another person [naming him also], and begs to inform him that as to-morrow there is a little gaiety to take place in his house, and he wishes his friends, by their presence, to grace and ornament with their feet the house of this poor individual, and thereby make it a garden of roses, he must positively come and honour the humble dwelling with his company." Having after this fashion gone to all the houses, and returned with assurance from the invited friends of their intention to come next day, a messenger is again despatched for them at the appointed time, to inform them that all the preparations for the banquet are completed. This second invitation is included by our Lord, and is very characteristic of Eastern manners. When Sir John Malcolm was invited to dine with the eldest son of the Shah, the invitation was given two days before, and one of the prince's attendants was despatched at the hour appointed for the banquet to tell him that all things were ready. And Morier also informs us, that having been engaged to dine with a Persian Khan, he did not go till his entertainer had sent to the English ambassador and his train to say that supper waited. After the same manner, the invitations to the great supper described in the parables, seem to have been issued a considerable time before celebration; and as the after invitation was sent, according to Eastern etiquette, to the guests invited, they must be understood as having accepted the engagement, so that the apologies they severally made were inadmissible, and could be regarded in no other light than as an affront put upon the generous entertainer, and an ungrateful return for all the splendid preparation he had made for their reception.

(Biblical Things not Generally Known.)

Amongst the ancient Chinese an invitation to an entertainment is not supposed to be given with sincerity until it has been renewed three or four times in writing. A card is sent on the evening before the entertainment; another on the morning of the appointed day; and a third when everything is prepared. The invitation to this great supper is supposed to have been given when the certain man had resolved upon making it; but it is again repeated at supper-time, when all things are ready. Now, as it does not appear that the renewal of it arose from the refusal of the persons invited, of which no hint is yet given, it is clear that it was customary thus to send repeated messages. The practice is very ancient among the Chinese, and no doubt it prevailed amongst the Jews; it certainly gives a significance to the words not otherwise perceived.

They all with one consent began to make excuse.
I. Our first point relates to THE CAUSES OR REASONS WHY MEN ARE NOT CHRISTIANS, OR IN OTHER WORDS, WHY THEY WISH TO BE EXCUSED FROM BEING CHRISTIANS — which is the form in which it is presented in the text. There is something remarkable in the aspect which the subject assumes on the first view of it. Men ask to be excused, as if it were a matter of favour. It is natural to ask, From what? From a rich banquet, says the parable from which my text is taken. From the hope of heaven through Jesus Christ. From loving God and keeping His commandments. From that which is fitted to make a man more useful, respected, and beloved in life, remembered with deeper affection when he is dead, honoured for ever in heaven. In searching for the causes or reasons why men wish to be excused from becoming Christians, I may be allowed to suggest that they are often under a strong temptation to conceal those which are real, and to suggest others which will better answer their immediate purpose. My idea is, that the real cause is not always avowed, and that men are strongly tempted to suggest others. The actual reason may be such as, on many accounts, a man would have strong reluctance to have known. The grand reason why men are not Christians, as I understand it, is the opposition of the heart to religion; that mysterious opposition that can be traced back through all hearts, and all generations, up to the great apostasy — the fall of Adam.

1. A feeling that you do not need salvation in the way proposed in the gospel; that you do not need to be born again, or pardoned through the merits of the Redeemer. The feeling is, that your heart is by nature rather inclined to virtue than to vice, to good than to evil; that the errors of your life have been comparatively few, your virtues many.

2. You suppose that in your case there is no danger of being lost — or not such danger as to make it a subject of serious alarm. The idea is this, that if the duties of this life be discharged with faithfulness, there can be no serious ground of apprehension in regard to the world to come.

3. A secret scepticism about the truth of Christianity. The mind is not settled. The belief is not firm that it is a revelation from heaven.

4. A fourth class are deterred by a feeling that the Divine government is unreasonable and severe. In one of His parables the Saviour has taught us expressly that this operated in preventing a man from doing his duty, and being prepared for His coming (Matthew 24:24, 25).

5. A fifth class are deterred from being Christians by hostility to some member or members of the Church.

6. A sixth reason which prevents men from becoming Christians is worldliness — the desire of this world's goods, or pleasures, or honours.

II. Our next point is, TO INQUIRE WHETHER THESE REASONS FOR NOT BEING A CHRISTIAN ARE SATISFACTORY. Satisfactory to whom? you may ask. I answer, To conscience and to God. Are they such as are sufficient reasons for not loving God?

1. You dare not yourselves urge them as the real cause why you do not attend to religion, and embrace the offers of mercy. They are so little satisfactory to your own minds, that when we come to you and urge you to become Christians, we are met with other reasons than these. You resort to some difficulty about the doctrine of ability, and the decrees of God, some metaphysical subtlety that you know may embarrass us, but which you think of on no other occasion. Who will dare to urge as a reason for not becoming a Christian the fact that he is sensual, or proud, or worldly-minded, or ambitious, or covetous, or self-righteous, or that he regards God as a tyrant?

2. These excuses will not stand when a man is convicted for sin. All, when the hour comes in which God designs to bring them into His kingdom, confess that they had no good reasons for not being His friends, and for their having so long refused to yield to the claims of God.

3. The same thing occurs on the bed of death. The mind then is often overwhelmed, and under the conviction that the excuses for not being a Christian were insufficient, the sinner in horror dies. But I will not dwell on that. I pass to one other consideration.

4. It is this. These excuses will not be admitted at the bar of God.

(A. Barnes, D. D.)

I. ALL EXCUSES FOR DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD ARE VAIN.

1. One is, God makes us sinners, either by creating sin as a substantial property of the soul, or by the laws of propagation, just as the other properties of the mind, or as the members of the body are propagated. But can this be so? No. Sin is man's work. Sin is moral action — the act or exercise of the heart. God creates the man a free moral agent; and the man makes himself a sinner. "O, Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself."

2. Again, it is a sort of standing excuse with some sinners, when urged to perform their duty, to reply, We cannot. But what is the nature of the inability? Their own consciousness, and the Word of God, alike testify that it is the simple inability of disinclination.

3. Others say there are so many hypocrites in the world, that we have our doubts whether, after all, religion be a reality. But why should there be hypocrites, if religion itself is not a reality? If there were no true bank-notes, no bank, would there be counterfeits? Do you excuse one debtor from the payment of his debts, because others have paid you in base coin? There is one principle which exhibits them in all their vanity. God has not revealed His law and precepts for men to alter. He knew all the reasons which would or could exist to impair the obligations of each, to extenuate the guilt of transgression; and as a righteous Sovereign, if one such reason could exist, would have made the exception. But He has not made it.

II. ALL EXCUSES FOR DISOBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD ARE CRIMINAL. To make an excuse for what we have done is impenitence, and for not doing what we ought to do, is determined disobedience.

III. THIS PRACTICE IS MOST RUINOUS. The real nature of disobedience to God cannot be altered by any delusive covering we can give it. To that heart which "is deceitful above all things," self-delusion is an easy task. Nor is there any form in which it can prove more certainly fatal than by leading us to make habitual excuses. And who shall hope to conquer his sins who refuses to see them; who shall turn from and escape the danger on which he shuts his eyes? The sinner must take the shame and guilt of sin to himself, and clear his Maker, or nothing can be done for him. Concluding remarks:

1. How infatuating is the power of sin.

2. How opposite is the spirit of excuses to the spirit which the gospel inculcates. The one is the spirit of treachery and impenitence — the ether, of frank, open confession, and of devout contrition. The one a spirit of determined perseverance in sin, the other a spirit of prompt, cheerful obedience. The one prays, "Have me excused"; the other, "Search me, O God!"

3. Let all self-excusers reflect how they must appear at the judgment of the great day. Should they be permitted to offer these excuses at the bar of God, how will they look? You plead your inability to love God. Plead it, then, at the judgment-seat of Christ. Go there and expose your ingratitude and enmity, by telling the Judge on the throne, the Saviour that died for you — that you could not help trampling His blood underfoot, by not believing the record of His Son. Plead the incessant occupation of your time — exhibit then its results — shew your bags of gold, your houses, your farms, your shops, and tell Him these so occupied you, that you had no time for the concerns of your soul. Bring forward these and other apologies. Will they dazzle the eye of Omniscience — will they beguile the Judge of the quick and the dead? You know it will not.

(N. W. Taylor, D. D.)

1. Some men will say they have no need to come to Christ. This arises from insensibility, and ignorance of their lost condition.

2. Others imagine they are already come to Christ; and the act being performed, they have no need to repeat it. Their hope is too firmly fixed to be shaken, and their confidence too deeply rooted to be overthrown. Is there not daily need of Christ? Have there been no departures? and do they not call for a return? Is faith to be exercised but once? Why, then, are we told, that "the just shall live by his faith"?

3. Pre-engagement is another excuse which sinners make for not coming to Christ.

4. Some say they have tried, but cannot come to Christ.

5. Others, who are deeply bowed down in spirit, do not so much plead their inability, as their unfitness and unworthiness. They do not say they cannot come, but dare not come. There are some preparations and dispositions necessary, and they are destitute of them. Willingness is the only worthiness that Christ looks for: so that we are to come to Him not with qualifications, but for them.

6. Some stumble at the austerities of religion, and the dangers to which it will expose them. They own that it is glorious in its end, but complain that there is something very discouraging in the way.

7. It is the fear of some, that if they do come to Christ, they shall either be rejected, or dishonour Him.

8. Many who do not come to Christ now, purpose to do so hereafter. What is hard to-day will be harder to-morrow; and it is only the present hour, the present moment, that we can call our own.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

I. Let us try to ACCOUNT FOR THE FACT, THE SAD FACT, THAT MEN ARE SO READY TO MAKE EXCUSES RATHER THAN TO RECEIVE THE WORD OF GOD. We account for it in the first place by the fact that they had no heart at all to accept the feast. Had they spoken the truth plainly, they would have said, "We do not wish to come, nor do we intend to do so." If the real secret of it was that they hated Him and despised His provisions, is it not melancholy that they were not honest enough to give Him a "nay" at once? It may be that you make this excuse to satisfy custom. It is not the custom of this present age to fly immediately in the face of Christ. There are not many men of your acquaintance or mine who ostensibly oppose religion. It may be you make these excuses because you have had convictions which so haunt you at times that you dare not oppose Christ to His face. Satan is always ready to help men with excuses. This is a trade of which there is no end. It certainly commenced very early, for after our first parents had sinned, one of the first occupations upon which they entered was to make themselves aprons of fig-leaves to hide their nakedness. If you will fire the gun, Satan will always keep you supplied with ammunition.

II. We come to RECOUNT THESE EXCUSES. Many will not come to the great supper — will not be Christians on the same ground as those in the parable — they are too busy. They have a large family, and it takes all their time to earn bread and cheese for those little mouths. They have a very large business. Or else, if they have no business, yet they have so many. pleasures, and these require so much time — their butterfly visits during the morning take up so many hours. Another class say, "We are too bad to be saved. The gospel cries, 'Believe in Jesus Christ and live,' but it cannot mean me; I have been too gross an offender." Then comes another excuse, "Sir, I would trust Christ with my soul this morning, but I do not feel in a fit state to trust Christ. I have not that sense of sin which I think to be a fit preparation for coming to Christ." I think I hear one say, "It is too soon for me to come: let me have a little look at the world first. I am scarce fifteen or sixteen." Others will row in the opposite direction, pleading, "Alas! it is too late." The devil first puts the clock back and tells you it is too soon, and when this does not serve his turn, he puts it on and says, "The hour is passed, the day of grace is over; mercy's gate is bolted, you can never enter it." It is never too late for a man to believe in Jesus while he is out of his grave. Here comes another, "O sir, I would trust Christ with my soul, but it seems too good to be true, that God should save me on the spot, this morning." My dear friend, dost thou measure God's corn with thy bushel? Because the thing seems an amazing thing to thee, should it therefore be amazing unto Him? "Well," says one, "I cannot trust Christ, I cannot believe Him." It means, "I will not." A man once sent his servant to a certain town to fetch some goods; and he came back without them. "Well, sir, why did you not go there?" "Well, when I got to a certain place, I came to a river, sir, a very deep river: I cannot swim, and I had no boat; so I could not get over." A good excuse, was it not? It looked so, but it happened to be a very bad one, for the master said, "Is there not a ferry there?" "Yes, sir." "Did you ask the man to take you over?" "No, sir." Surely the excuse was a mere fiction! So there are many things with regard to our salvation which we cannot do. Granted, but then there is a ferry there! There is the Holy Spirit, who is able to do all things, and you remember the text, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?" It is true you cannot make yourself a new heart, but did you ask for a new heart with sincerity and truth? Did you seek Christ? If you say, "Yes, I did sincerely seek Christ, and Christ would not save me," why then you are excused; but there never was a soul who could in truth say that.

III. HOW FOOLISH THUS TO MAKE EXCUSES. For first remember with whom it is you are dealing. You are not making excuses before a man who may be duped by them, but you make these excuses before the heart-searching God. Remember, again, what it is you are trifling with. It is your own soul, the soul which can never die. You are trifling with a heaven which you will never see if you keep on with these excuses. Remember, again, that these excuses will look very different soon. How will you make excuses when you come to die, as die you must?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. GOSPEL-PROVISION, AS IT IS GENERALLY OFFERED, SO IT IS GENERALLY REFUSED.

I. Refused by most of the

(1)Rulers (John 7:48; 1 Corinthians 2:8);

(2)Learned men (Acts 17:18);

(3)Common people.

2. In what respects this refusal is general.

(1)In respect of the doctrine of the gospel, which men generally look upon as strange and incredible, and so will not believe, but rather scoff at it.

(2)In respect of gospel discipline, which seems hard, and so men will not submit to it.

(3)In respect of gospel professors. Men generally despise them, and care not for their company (John 7:49).

3. Why this refusal is so general. The three grand enemies of man's salvation are opposed to the gospel.

(1)The world, or the powers of the earth without us.

(2)The flesh, or the power of corrupted nature within us.

(3)The devil, or the power of hell beneath us.Uses.

1. Information. Christ's flock is a little flock (Luke 12:32). Multitude is no true note of a Church.

2. Caution.

(1)Though men generally refuse true happiness, yet men generally desire some kind of happiness (Psalm 4:6). Their natural desire is a stock to graft the plant of grace upon.

(2)Though men generally refuse the gospel, yet there may be more receive it than we are aware of (Romans 11:3).

(3)Though men generally refuse the gospel, yet many do receive it (Hebrews 2:10):

(4)Though the Jews generally refused the gospel, yet they shall generally receive it (Romans 11:26).

3. Exhortation. Do not follow a multitude to do evil.

II. UNANIMITY OF CONSPIRACY IN REFUSAL.

1. The refusers of the gospel agree in that, though they may differ in many respects, such as nation, religion, affection, etc.

2. How they agree. This will appear —

(1)In the design they drive at, which is to oppose the power of godliness.

(2)In the principle they act from: natural light, carnal reason, which is not only dim-sighted about, but prejudiced against, spiritual things.

(3)In the rule they walk by, which is their own will, their lust their law (Ephesians 2:2, 3).

(4)In the way which they take to carry on their opposition to the gospel.

(a)They lay their heads together as one in a way of consultation.

(b)They join their hearts together in a way of approbation, taking pleasure in the sins of one another (Romans 1:32).

(c)They strike their hands together as one, in a way of confederation (Psalm 83:5).

III. READINESS TO REFUSE.

IV. THE PLAUSIBILITY OR HYPOCRISY OF THE EXCUSES. Men will have none of Christ, and yet would put it off fairly if they could (Psalm 36:2).

1. What are the excuses or pleas which sinners make?

(1)They plead multiplicity of worldly business.

(2)The frequency and urgency of outward temptations.

(3)They plead the society and fellowship of others in their way.

(4)The weakness of their nature.

(5)The smallness of the sin.

(6)Their good intentions.

(7)The unnecessariness of such strictness in religion.

(8)The impossibility of fulfilling God's law.

(9)The inequality of God's ways.

2. Why do stoners make excuse?

(1)It is the nature of fallen man to do so (Genesis 3:12, 13).

(2)Sin is so ugly that sinners will not have it appear in its proper colours; therefore foul sins must have fair names to make them go down the better.If sin were to appear in its cursed nature and wretched effects, it would so frighten men that they would take no pleasure in committing it. Uses.

1. This informs us of the madness of wickedness.

2. Though sinners excuse their sin, yet their sin will accuse them.

3. Do not deceive yourselves by vain excuses or false reasonings (James 1:22).

(John Crump.)

The making of idle excuses is the oldest, as it is the commonest of sins. It began with Adam in Paradise, and ever since that time men have, more or less, continued with one consent to make excuse. First, let us look at some excuses which people make for putting off repentance. Now listen to the story of one who repented late, but in time. During the London Mission, a lady, one of the Church workers in a certain parish, noticed a young girl lingering one night by a church door, where the mission service was about to commence. She invited the girl to enter, but she excused herself on the plea that she had no Bible. The lady offered her own, and accompanied the girl into church, where she was evidently much affected. On leaving the church, the lady begged her companion to accept the Bible, in which her own name was written, and the girl passed out of her sight. Next morning the lady visited a hospital, where she was accustomed to read to the patients, and a nurse informed her that they had a Bible bearing her name which had been brought in on the previous night. The young girl, after leaving the mission service, had been run over, and taken mortally injured to the hospital, carrying the Bible with her. She died the same night, and her dying words were these: "Thank God it was not before last night." Another common excuse for delaying repentance is this, "I am no worse than others." I was speaking lately to a mother about the sin of her daughter, and she excused her on the plea that she was no worse than others in a higher position, and instanced a lady who had sinned in the same way. But, my brethren, surely sin is none the less a sin because it is committed in the company of others. Again, people excuse themselves by saying, "It is so hard to repent." But it is still harder to die in our sins, and receive the wages of sin, which is death. It is hard to give up bad habits, but it is harder still to be ruined by them. Now let us look at another class of excuses which people make for staying away from church. One of these excusers says, "Church-going will save no one." That is quite true. You may come to church in a wrong state of mind, or from an unworthy motive, and no good will come out of it. Attendance at church is a means of grace, not grace itself. If rightly used it is a means of placing us in the way of salvation, and of keeping us there. If you get into a railway carriage at the station, the mere act of doing so will not take you to London, but if you do not first get in, the train cannot carry you there. Another self-excuser says, "Churchgoing is a mere form and show; pure religion is not outside, but inside one." It is perfectly true that pure religion is inside, and not outside. But surely we must show outside what we feel inside. Suppose that your landlord were to reduce your rent 20 per cent. because of the bad times, and were to give your children ,, handsome present as well, you would, I think, go up to his house to thank him, and you would not consider it a mere show. You would not leave him to imagine the gratitude inside you. Well, one of the chief reasons why we come to church is to thank God for His goodness, and to openly declare "the wonders that He doeth for the children of men." Another meets us with the old, old plea, "I was not very well on Sunday." It is a curious fact that more people are unwell on Sunday than on any other day of the week. They are quite able to attend to business on Saturday, and are quite fresh and ready for work on Monday, but they are poorly on Sunday. I am afraid the disease is one of the will rather than the body. I will only speak of one more excuse, as common as it is foolish. "I don't go to church myself," says a man, "but my wife goes." So much the better for the wife, so much the worse for the husband. You cannot do your duty by deputy, and you cannot save your soul by deputy. Every one of us must answer for himself. There is an old legend of a man who never attended church, but whose wife went regularly. Both died, and when they came to the gates of Paradise the woman passed in. But when the husband presented himself, the keeper of the gate said, "Your wife worshipped God for both of you, now she has gone into Paradise for both of you, you cannot enter here." My friends, you who have been trying to excuse yourselves from doing what is right, think on these things.

(H. J. Wilmot Buxton, M. A.)

There is scarcely a sin which we can commit, for which, to ourselves if not to others, we cannot find some excuse. If we have told a direct falsehood, we say to ourselves that we were surprised into it: we were asked a question on the sudden; and in the hurry, taken off our guard, we answered it one way when we should have answered it another: it was the fault of the master who asked such a question; why could he not have let it alone? For other acts of sin there is the excuse of temptation: we should not have done it but for bad example, or the suggestion or solicitation of another; it was scarcely our act; circumstances caused it; and so Providence itself is sometimes made to share the blame with us. So much for sins of commission; each has its appropriate excuse. And even more is this so with our omissions. We scarcely ever neglect a private duty without making to ourselves some excuse for it. We omit or post. pone our morning prayer; which of us does not excuse this for the time, and then find that the excuse extends itself indefinitely to other times? The Bible is left unread one day; we have an excuse for it; the next day it is still less thought of, still more easily let alone. But excuses made for these single acts of neglect are only examples of those with which we palliate a life of neglect. Do not matte excuse for forgetting God. Think of it as a sin, a daily, hourly sin. Think of it too as a toss, a daffy, hourly diminution or deprivation of happiness. Think that, if you continue thus, you are undone; that it is only by turning to God that you can escape. This, which sounds little, is a great thing. Put away excuses. Attempt none to yourselves; attempt none to God. No man will make an excuse to himself for not being happy; then do not you. Excuses will never cease till earth ceases. Then they will. Before the judgment-seat of Christ no excuses will be heard; none will be attempted. Then, in the words of Scripture, "every mouth will be stopped."

(Dean Vaughan.)

If I invite you to my house: "My friend, on Tuesday evening I shall be at home, amid my pictures you admire, with music which you love, gathering a circle of gentlemen whom you like: will you make one of us?" Then, if you do not care a straw for my friendship, had as lief as not I rate you a boor, you would probably return me no answer, or tear up my message in the face of the messenger, or say, "Go tell him I won't come — and that's all." But if you return me an excuse, you acknowledge our friendship and yourself a gentleman. Perhaps the above is a small class; at any rate it is not a class to be reached by kind appeals. Such persons do, indeed, become converted, but it is through some fear, by the lash, by some shock. You are, however, not of that class; you render an excuse. Observe, then; taking up my former homely illustration, which, lest I offend, we will transpose. You invite me to your pictures, music, board, entertaining. I read, thinking: "This man would do me a favour, would make me happy; he is my father's friend and mine; has seen me in trouble, coming to me: now sees me prospered, and would rejoice with me, going to him; but my feet are slippered, I am sitting at my ease, by my own grate, with Motley or Dickens. I prefer home." Is this an excuse sufficient, and would our friendship outlive such a truth-telling? No; I might lie: "I am sick, excuse me, have an imperative engagement." These society lies! — and these are good reasons, if real reasons. You cannot see my heart to detect the truth or falsehood. Neighbours, hear me, for eternity's sake, receive it. Christ's word is: "Come, for all things are now ready." Your excuse must be a sufficient excuse; and it must be an honest excuse, for He can see clean through camel's hair and silk, through Melton and broadcloth, to the secret reason written on the heart. "My business is such that I pray Thee, O Christ, have me excused." Well, let us suppose you are, in this, sincere. Is yours an immoral business? No. Do you transact it in a dishonest or otherwise immoral way? No. What, then, do you mean? I mean this: Times are hard, trade must be watched. "I am well enough off now:" and this time it is a woman who speaks. Why should she worry herself? She has a good husband; to be sure he is not a Christian, but where is a nobler man? What lacks she yet? Nothing. Good lady, may I ask, dare you put that in a prayer: "O Lord, because I lack nothing, I pray Thee excuse"? Dare you say in good English, "Lord, my heart is full. That husband! If I was widowed, childless, roofless, desolate, then I — "? You ask me if I mean to hint that you love these too much? A thousand times then, no; but that you love the Giver too little, yes. "I pray Thee have me excused, because I am good enough now; I need no conversion." Well, neighbour, that means something or nothing. Tyndall calls me to his marvellous evenings of experiment with light. It is from the point very far from me to profess a knowledge of grammar, addition, subtraction, as thorough as my neighbour. Can the great philosopher teach me ought — no matter how much I know of algebra? Christ professes to have come not to recall the righteous but sinners. They that be whole need not a physician, but the sick. And I humbly urge upon you, the purest moral man of this good audience, that this call is sent for your ears. He invites you to His heart-feast. If now you can truthfully say: "Christ, I am good enough; my soul is as beautiful as Your soul; my thoughts, are as lofty as Your thoughts; the walls of my spirit are hung with pictures as rare as Your own, and the feast of my heart at its own board leaves nothing to be desired," then your excuse means something. You ought to be excused. Indeed, you are not invited. No, ninety and nine of a hundred do not mean what they say when declaring that they are good enough, needing no conversion. It is too bare conceit. "I could not hold out; have me excused." Friend, be honest; such is not your real reason. You are not the man to undertake and fail; or to refuse to undertake what you really desire. The truth is, you do not desire to follow Christ. "I do not believe in the Book." Be honest. You have tried to disbelieve ever since you backslid, five years ago; yet you do believe in the Bible. The truth is, your proud heart will not say "Forgive."

(E. J. Haynes.)

Excuses are specified by our Lord, and these all relate to necessary and even laudable things. These excuses may be taken as in division or in succession; that is to say, one man may be supposed to make one excuse, and another man another, or you may suppose the same man making all these excuses one after another. For Truth does not make to a man one good offer, and then no more; but if we are invited by Truth, we are invited again and again. Perhaps it will be most useful to ourselves to think of these excuses as made in succession. Thus, we are under an engagement to give our attention to things just and true; we are under it by virtue of our training, by virtue of our own voluntary effort directed to good; we are under an engagement to attend at the banquet of Truth. Well, now the hour arrives; Truth wants us, and the messenger comes. We are very sorry, but that "piece of land"; — still we consider ourselves under the engagement; we shall be more fortunate next time; for, after all, it is we that have to regret our failure. Another time, then, arrives; we are very sorry, but that "piece of land" has engaged us so much, that we have found it necessary to obtain several "yoke of oxen" to bring it into proper condition; we are very sorry; still we consider ourselves under the same engagement, and we hope to be more fortunate the next time. Then the messenger comes a third time: our services are indeed wanted now; our presence cannot be dispensed with; and now we say, "This is unfortunate. Our land is in excellent condition; indeed we have had so much to look after, that we have felt it necessary to take a wife, in order that our domestic affairs may be superintended. We have met with an amiable person, possessing an agreeable fortune, and we have concluded a domestic and commercial arrangement." And now, perhaps, Truth leaves us, and "lets us alone." But three times may represent any number of times, and Truth often comes more than three times. Let, then, Truth be supposed to come a fourth time. Well, now we are all very much engaged; the whole house is in a flutter of delight; there is a feast to celebrate the birth of our firstborn! So, then, Truth comes a fifth time, just when one of the children is sick of fever; and we look at Truth quite reproachfully, and say, "You would not expect me to come now, would you?" And once again Truth comes, for the last time; and now the house is in confusion, and there are signs of distress, and Truth is informed that we were not content, though we were prospering exceedingly well; but that, hearing of some gold-diggings, we had gone out, and whilst we were in the golden pit,. a great piece of quartz rock had fallen and crushed our chest right in, and there was a nugget found in the very middle of our heart, and so an end of us I That is a plain picture of what happens again and again. There are all sorts of nuggets — they need not be made of literal gold — there are all sorts of nuggets upon which a man sets his heart; and often the very attainment of the nugget, when he gets it right into the centre of that heart, is his utter destruction. For now the world will never get any more benefit of him; and Truth has visited him for the last time.

(T. T. Lynch.)

I said one day to a respectable tradesman, "When are you going to begin to think of eternity and come to the house of God?" His reply I shall never forget. "I know, sir, that I ought to come; but it's no use; my mind is so full of business, I can think of nothing else."

(Thain Davidson, D. D.)

I was at a conference held about the state of the people in Liverpool. It was a large conference, with the Mayor in the chair. They were conferring about why it was that so many of the working people particularly would not go to church or chapel, but would lie about on Sundays and seem to have nothing but an animal life. One man after another made a speech about it. You never heard such a number of reasons given: too hard work on Saturdays — which seemed to me to be a strange thing; or they had no place near them which suited them; or the preachers did not preach well enough; or the sermons were too long; or they did not like pews; or they did not get the best seats when they went to church; or pew-rents were required. You never heard such a number of reasons — the people that did not go to church were not to blame, it was always the people about the church, or in the church, who were to blame, till at last an old man got up (I think from his speech he was a Scotchman, and said, "Mr. Mayor, there is one reason that strikes me that I have not heard a word about yet" — they had spoken for an hour and a half — "I think it is the reason of the whole thing." We were all struck dumb to hear what this was. "What I have to say is that the most of it comes from human depravity."

(D. Fraser, D. D.)

An "excuse" is an entirely different thing from "a reason." "A reason" comes into the mind before a conclusion; "an excuse" follows after. The conclusion rests upon the "reason." Its only wish is to appear to rest upon the "excuse." "A reason" is a reality; an "excuse" is, generally, an invention: or, at the best, an "excuse" is the second or inferior "reason." It is not the primary, actuating motive. The "reason" Adam ate the fruit was that he liked it; the "excuse" was, "She gave it me." The "reason" why the man "hid his talent," was, that he was indifferent and lazy — "a wicked and slothful servant"; the "excuse" was, "I knew thee — thou art an austere man." The "reason" the Jews killed Christ, was, because they were jealous of Him; and hated Him for His holiness and His reproofs; the "excuse" was that He spoke against Caesar, and uttered blasphemy. The "reason" why all the men who were "bidden to the great supper" refused to come, was that they did not care for it; or preferred something else; the "excuses" were the same — of duty, and prior or more important engagements. If you knew God — and what those "things" are "which He has prepared for them that love Him," all "excuses" would be flung to the winds. It would not be, "Have me excused!" but, "I come!... I come!" "Me first — me now — me for ever! Lord, bid me — Lord, let me — Lord, make me come!"

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

God's supper is ready, and the call to it is pressed with urgency, but people make excuses, and do not come. People have no mind for salvation. The many have too much to do, too many pressing cares, too many honourable engagements pre-occupying their attention, and so cannot comply with the calls of God. Such useful citizens, such respectable men of business, such thinkers for the comfort of their fellow-citizens, and for the welfare of the State, are, forsooth, not to be expected to give their time and thoughts to piety and to God! Of course, they are to be excused! But, alas for thee, deluded man, if with thy lands, or thy oxen, or thy "material interests," or even with thy learned investigations, though they should be in divinity itself, thou hopest to compensate for thy neglect of the calls and invitations of thy Maker! But others are so happy in the objects of their earthly affection, so blessed with things of their own, that they see no reason to disturb or burden themselves with attention to these sacred matters. Why, the world was made to be enjoyed! God would not have created for us all these pleasant things if it were not excusable in us to make the best of them while we can! Why should we incommode our pleasant homes and joyous circles with religion's rigid rules? Surely the good Father in heaven does not wish to make us unhappy. He will not be offended with what harms no one, and yet is so delightful to us! He will excuse us! "Alas, they have married themselves to earthly loves, and lusts, and vanities; and so they "cannot come." Effeminate pleasures, though mingled with pains, and transient as the honeymoon, are their apology for letting go their chance to secure the eternal blessedness of heaven.

(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)

"I pray thee, have me excused." I do not think you can offer a worse prayer than that. Of all the prayers that ever left human lips, and of all the desires that ever formed themselves within human hearts, I think this is the most fatal. Must I not go as far as to say that such a reception of the offer of God's mercy constitutes the grand crowning sin of man? One might have expected there would have been quite a demand for invitations, that everybody would have been besieging the house and asking the chamberlain, or the secretary, or the great person, whoever he might be, "Can you give us an invitation to the feast?" When one of our princes is married, only a certain number of invitations are issued; and only a certain number of people can be present on the occasion. Supposing the tickets for such a ceremony could be sold, I wonder what they would fetch. I should not be surprised if some gentlemen in London would be ready to pay down a hundred or five hundred pounds, just for the privilege of being present and being able to say, "I saw Prince So-and-so married." But the honour cannot be bought for money; you must occupy a high social position before you can get such an invitation. Whoever heard of a man in such circumstances making an excuse? Now about these excuses. I want you to observe, my friends, how these men received the message. In Matthew's Gospel we read of some who "entreated the servants spitefully, and slew them." And there has been always a class of that kind — I mean to say, that there is always a certain number of persons bitterly hostile to religion. They hate it. If they could, they would kindle the fires of Smithfield again. There was another class of persons to whom the invitation came; and who are they? The man whom he now addresses is a most polite and civil person, a perfect gentleman. Oh, dear me, no! Say a rough word! Never thought of such a thing. "My good sir, now I hope you will understand that the very last thing I wish is, to convey to the mind of that admirable person who sent you on your errand anything like a feeling of contempt for the kind invitation which he has been good enough to offer me. On the contrary, I have the greatest possible respect for him. I should be very sorry indeed if anything I said hurt his feelings in the least degree; but the real plain truth of it is, that you know, sir, I am in a very awkward position. I should be very glad to go to the feast; I have no doubt it is an excellent feast. It is a great honour to be asked to go to such a place; at the same time, it so happens very unfortunately that I have got something else on hand. I have just bought an estate over there; I am just going to start to see it. That is the way it was done — civilly, respectfully, I may almost say, reverently: but it was done all the same. And that is just the way it is done by many still. When I ask the question, How is the Lord Jesus Christ rejected in our England in the nineteenth century? I find my answer, not merely in the open blasphemy, not merely in the atheism and unbelief. I find the terrible answer coming back to me, "He is rejected by the people who go to church, who hear the message of salvation sounded in their ears from Sunday to Sunday, who have had great privileges, and who will tell you they have great respect for religion." They subscribe to the Church Missionary Society, or to any other society they think will do good. Now observe the excuses that these men made did not refer to things evil in themselves. Then, observe, once again — and this seems to me to be a very interesting and instructive point — it was not, after all, the pressure of necessary engagements that kept these people back from the feast. That is a very remarkable thing. The man does not say, "I am just on the point of transacting a bargain for a piece of land; but the deeds are waiting to be signed; and I cannot sign the deeds before I see the piece of land." It is not a ease of necessity of that kind. Observe the lesson. It is not the necessary occupations of life that keep men back from Christ. What is it? What did the man want to go and see his land for? In order that he might gloat over his acquisition. He might look round and round and say, "Dear me I it is a nice snug place after all — as sweet a little house as ever I saw — nicely situated; the land, too, is the best in the country side. I have made a very good bargain; I think I shall make myself very comfortable here." The man's mind is given over to the thing, and he has no time to accept the invitation to the feast. So it is with many a man still. It is true to life, as God's Word always is. There is no harm in domestic happiness; but how many a man there is that allows the pleasures of his home to take the place that belongs to God; that puts those home comforts before his soul as a kind of substitute for the presence and power of God in his heart? Whenever a man does that, he turns the pure and holy relationships of life into the devil's own snare, and the things which were for his peace become to him an occasion of falling. So they made their decision; and that decision was — "I pray thee have me excused." What I said at the start of my sermon, I say again; it is the worst prayer ever offered, and, like many a bad prayer, my friends, it was a prayer that was answered. And I am persuaded that whenever men offer such a prayer, they will get an answer. "Yes, not one of them shall taste of My supper." So they were excused; and by-and-by the table was spread, and the guests were gathered together: and the minstrels tuned their harps, and the song commenced, and the feast, and the joy, and the pleasure; and the King came in to see the guests. Yes, and all the while these men were excused. That man over there is walking round and round his land, until at last I think I can hear him saying to himself, "Well, after all, there isn't much to be got out of a field." Ah, he is beginning to tire of it already! And the other man feels it, too. After all, you cannot make a heaven out of five yoke of oxen. And my eye follows the man that had married his wife — where is he now? Look! he and his wife are bending over the corpse of their firstborn child; and the hot, scalding tears are falling. He has found it out now; after all, domestic happiness is a very different thing from heaven. My brothers, are there any of you that are saying in your hearts, "I pray Thee have me excused"? Well, let me ask you, what are you asking the Lord to excuse you from? "O Lord, I pray Thee have me excused from being happy. I want to go on in my misery; let me alone. O Lord! I have got a load of unforgiven sin in my heart; I don't want to part with it just yet. 'I pray Thee have me excused.'" My young friend there went to the meeting, last night, at Exeter Hall, and cast his burden on his Saviour. I met him in the street; I scarcely knew him. "Have you heard the news, old fellow? I am a new man." He was evidently very happy; I never saw a man so happy. Lord, I pray Thee have me excused from such happiness.

(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)

I have often wondered at the cleverness with which people make excuses for neglecting heavenly things. A poor woman was explaining to me why her husband did not attend church. "You see, poor working folks nowadays are so holden down and wearied out, that they are glad to rest a day in the house when Sabbath comes." An unopened letter was lying on the table, which she asked me to read, believing that it was from her sick mother. It was a notice to her husband that the football team, of which he was captain, was to meet on Saturday at 3 p.m., and that, like a good fellow, he must be forward in good time. And that was the man for whom my pity was asked, as being so worn out with his work that he could hardly creep up to the church! Another woman admitted to me that she never read her Bible, but pleaded that she was too busy, and had too many cares. My eye caught a great bundle of journals above the clock. She confessed that these were novels, on which she spent twopence halfpenny every Saturday, and that she read them on the Sabbath. If you wish an excuse, the smallest thing will give you stuff enough for the weaving of it.

(J. Wells.)

I. First, then, it is not uncommon for people to say, "I do not pretend to be a scholar, and I do not understand the meaning of this sacrament." Can you really say that you have been earnest to gain instruction? or have you not rather been well satisfied to be ignorant? Let me ask you, dear brethren, if the life of your body depended on your knowing how to plough, or sow, or reap, would you not take pains to learn? Should you not think yourselves justly blamed if you did not?

II. I come now to consider another excuse, which is most commonly made, for not attending this sacrament — "I am not fit to come."

III. Another excuse is, "I am now too much troubled with worldly cares; I cannot attend as I ought to my soul; but I hope the time will come when I shall be more at liberty."

IV. Again, youth is made an excuse for not coming to the Lord's table. God says in the Bible, "Those that seek Me early shall find Me." (Proverbs 8:17).

(E. Blencowe, M. A.)

The causes which prevent men from observing this ordinance of our religion are various It may be presumed that a leading cause of the neglect of this ordinance is a thoughtlessness of its nature and obligations.

1. The pressure of the business and cares of this world is urged by many as a reason why they neglect to receive this sacrament.

2. Further. A sense of sinfulness deters many from approaching the table of the Lord. They are so oppressed with the consciousness of having transgressed many commands, and omitted many duties, that they dare not go to so holy an ordinance.

3. There are many persons, who have a lively sense of the holiness of this ordinance, and wish to join in the celebration of it, who are deterred by a fear that they shall not be able afterwards to live up to their obligations.

4. Another cause which prevents men from receiving this sacrament is the existence of anger and animosity in their bosoms — the consciousness of ill-will between them and some of their fellow-beings.

5. It is urged by some who neglect this ordinance that they see many go to the Lord's table who seem not in any respect to be benefited by it. There are many persons deterred from receiving this sacrament by a particular passage of Scripture, which is frequently misunderstood. I mean that striking observation by St. Paul, that "he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." There are two causes from which the misapplication of this passage proceeds — from affixing a meaning to the word "damnation," which in the original it does not bear, and from indefinite or erroneous ideas of the unworthiness which the apostle condemns. By damnation is not here meant, as by many is supposed, everlasting destruction, but immediate disapprobation, the displeasure of the Most High; which displeasure is manifested, as the apostle states, by visiting the unworthy recipients with divers temporal judgments; and this too in order to their final salvation; if, haply, being chastened of the Lord, they may not be condemned with the world. And, accordingly, the same word which is here rendered "damnation" is rendered in one of the following verses of the same chapter, by "condemnation." Moreover, we should have definite ideas what it is to eat and drink unworthily. The Corinthians, whom the apostle here addresses, had fallen into an irreverent, and in some cases profane, manner of celebrating the Lord's Supper. They brought their own bread and wine; they blended this sacred mystery with their common feast; the rich waited not for the poor; the poor were jealous of the rich.

(Bishop Dehon.)

Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city
I. THE PARTIES TO WHOM THE SERVANT WAS DIRECTED TO MAKE KNOWN HIS BENEVOLENT COMMISSION. Stripped of its figurative clothing, the passage intimates to us the calling of the Gentiles upon the rejection of the gospel by the Jews. But the compassion of the Lord was as large as His provision and the creature's necessity; therefore the servant was sent further from home — he was to "go out into the highways and hedges," to pick up the vagrants and the wanderers, to address those for whose condition no man had eared, and to invite and urge them to partake of the banquet of heavenly mercy. The parties to whom our attention is to be directed are presented to us under a twofold aspect. They are described — First, by the nearness of their residence to us. They are the miserable and the distressed in the streets and lanes of the city. Next to our own individual conversion to God, our attention is to be directed to the conversion of those around us. But the persons to whom this merciful attention is to be directed are described — Secondly, by their miserable and destitute condition. The dismal description which is given us of these wretched beings in the parable is borrowed from temporal things, and is expressed in terms which convey a lively picture of misery and wretchedness.

II. THE METHOD TO BE EMPLOYED BY THE SERVANT IN ORDER TO BRING THESE PERSONS TO THE ROYAL BANQUET. He was to "bring" them in, and "compel" them to come.

1. The servant must "compel" sinners by setting before them their guilty and perishing condition.

2. There must be, in connection with this, an exhibition of the Saviour's grace.

3. He must "compel" sinners to come in by unfolding the encouragement which is given to comply with the invitation and to believe the gospel. And these encouragements are neither few nor small.

4. The servant of the Lord must "compel" men by a solemn testimony of the guilt and danger of a refusal.

(J. E. Goode.)

I. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS OPENED AMONGST MEN. It is here now. We have not to go to it — it has come to us. There is nothing to wait for; all things are ready. The love, the light, the pardon, the mercy, the sonship, the welcome, the plenty, are all waiting.

II. GOD INVITES ALL MEN INTO HIS KINGDOM. The feast was always intended for all. God's own people were to be admitted first, as being members of His household; and they were expected to entertain the strangers who should afterwards come in. But when the time came they failed. So without them, instead of through them, the gates of the kingdom had to be thrown open, and the universal invitation given. They shut themselves out, but not, therefore, would God permit the despised and perishing everywhere to remain uninvited. The feast should not therefore spoil. The abundance of the feast shows it to be for all. The freeness of it says it is for all. Those for whom it is prepared — the stricken and needy everywhere-show it to be for all. Can infinite love be restrictive? Can infinite pity be elective?

III. THE KINGDOM IS NOT YET FULL. We need not be afraid of inviting; and we need not be afraid of coming. There is room yet. Grace will endure a vacuum as little as nature.

(W. Hubbard.)

"How shall we gain the masses?" "Go for them!" was Moody's rough but sensible response. Let the text be our guide. Scripture, reason, history, and experience corroborate it. There is a vast work outside our ordinary Church connection. Those whom we daily meet in business, in the neighbourly intimacies of life, or in circles of pleasure — many of them are neglecters of God and His worship. Shall we let them die? Our Christianity needs to be more abundant in labour; our prayers need feet!

1. This work is to be done by you, or the blood of souls will be found on your skirts.

2. You have the facilities for doing it. Let not religion be the last thing on your tongue in "society." Remember, you must give account for your opportunities.

3. It is inhumanity to neglect this work.

4. It takes but little time.

5. It is the most successful kind of work. It builds up Sunday-school, prayer-meeting, Christian character.

6. No special talents are needed. Only a special consecration. The diversity of works fits to the varied talents we have, as one cog-wheel works into another. But only the gifts that are on the altar can God use.

(J. L. Peck, D. D.)

I once knew a wonderfully successful winner of souls. Few were so blessed. Yet he could not speak six words without stuttering and stammering painful to hear. Everybody would have said, "He'd better keep still"; but everybody would be wrong. The love of Christ will burn up the chaff of your excuses. The angel was terribly in earnest when he laid hold of Lot and brought him out of Sodom. If you are thus roused, then your vigils of prayer and hand-to-hand labour for souls will prove the reality of your Christian life. A gay girl went to Troy to buy a ball-dress, fell in the way of a newly-converted companion, and came under the power of an endless life; returned home, roused her father out of his formal piety, and then sought out and led to Christ the pastor's daughter. These two girls started a prayer-meeting, and in ten days from the time that the unworn, now useless, ball-dress was brought home, so mighty a work of grace had begun that the pastor sent to Troy for help in the new and unlooked-for burdens thrown upon him. "Go ye out into the highways. Compel them to come in; for yet there is room."

(J. L. Peck, D. D.)

Christ has spread the table, and our poverty, our imperfections, our limping steps, our blindness of spiritual sight, are the reasons why He would have us come. The island of Molokai, in the Hawaiian Archipelago, is set apart for the occupancy of lepers. These poor, filthy beings stagger about there in all stages of disease, a most pitiful sight. Now, suppose a famous physician lands upon the island, and sends out his invitations through the community. He has spread a table large enough for all, and on it placed a variety of delicacies such as none there had ever tasted, which are a sovereign specific against the prevalent disorder. "Come," says he, "poor diseased company, and sit at my table just as you are. This feast will cure you. You are incurable otherwise." All Molokai is in commotion. The lepers gather in knots and talk the matter over. "Oh," say they, "what a looking company are we to sit down at a rich man's table! We had better wait awhile. By and by, perhaps, we shall be more presentable, and then we will go." So they send up a delegation to the doctor, with their compliments and thanks, but beg to be excused till they are more deserving of the honour. And so the good man sadly turns away, leaving the islanders slowly to rot into their graves. The passage before us presents a case precisely parallel. Christ invites a sin-stricken world to His feast. The fact that we are sin-stricken, unworthy, lost, helpless, and hopeless is why He asks us to come.

(A. P. Foster.)

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