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should be destroyed forever, is an absurdity of equal deformity with the other; for the Creator might have made his creature good for nothing in the first place, as well as to constitute him so as that he would become good for nothing afterwards.
5. The process of divine grace in bringing mankind into a state of holiness and reconciliation to God, is represented by WASHING, PURGING, CLEANSING, PURIFYING, REFINING, &c. Now, none of those terms can be justly applied to that which is of no value. See Mal. iii, 1, 2, 3; Behold I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: Behold he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.' In this scripture the sons of Levi are represented by gold and silver, not on account of their moral holiness or personal righteousness, for if that had been the case, they would not have needed purging or refining. The use of fuller's soap is to cleanse that which is valuable in itself, from filth which is not valuable.
6. If mankind be of as little worth in the sight of God, as christian divines have represented, the whole race of Adam might have been struck out of existence without making an unfavorable breach in the system of God's creation. If so, the continuance of mankind in being, is totally unnecessary, and unworthy of a God of infinite wisdom.
And yet it is evident that were
there no such race of beings as man, there would be no such office as mediator between God and man, nor any vestige of that gospel into which the angels desire to look. O what folly has come from unclean lips! How much to the dishonor of the divine economy are those vain notions which are considered as essential in the faith of christians! But there has been an hour and power of darkness with the christian church. Taught in tender youth such vain absurdities, men of abilities, of letters, of honest piety, and respectable for their morals, are zealous defenders and supporters of ideas which involve the greatest absurdities possible.
But the fact is, if man be acknowledged of any value in the sight of his Maker, and if it be acknowledged that God really has a love for him, the doctrine of endless punishment, or of eternal banishment from God, has nothing to support it. For who can believe that a God of infinite wisdom has created beings whom he has pronounced good, and very good, set his love upon them as his own offspring, created them in his own image, and after granting them many blessings in a temporal state, will make them endlessly miserable in an eternal world? Contrasted with such erroneous opinions, how does the gospel of the blessed Jesus shine! embracing the alienated sons of God in an everlasting covenant of salvation, ordered and in all things sure.
'Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which when it was full, they drew to the shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.'-Matt. xiii, 47.
Again he sent which are bid
It will be proper in this place to introduce a somewhat similar parable, which we find in chap. xxii, from the beginning to the 14th verse, inclusive: And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 'The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king which made a marriage for his son; and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding and they would not come. forth other servants, saying, Tell them den, Behold I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof he was wroth and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the high ways, and as many as ye shall find bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all, as many as they found, both bad and good and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment :
and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into utter darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashof teeth. For many are called but few are cho
1. Christ in this parable represents the Father of all mercies, by a king who made a marriage for his
2. Himself, by a prince, for whom his Father made a wedding.
3. The then present opportunity of receiving Christ and his doctrine, while he was graciously preaching the word of the kingdom, and evincing of his authority by incontestible evidences of power and grace, is signified by a wedding.
4. The house Israel, undoubtedly, is meant by those who were bidden.
5. The message, brought to the Jews by Christ and those whom he ordained to preach to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, is represented by the call to those who were bidden.
6. The persecution which they met with from the Jews, is denoted by the treatment which the servants experienced.
7. The neglect of the Jews on this occasion, is signified by those who were bidden making light of the invitation, one going to his farm, and another to his merchandise.
8. The destruction of the Jews by the Romans, is meant by the king's being wrathful, and sending forth his armies to destroy these murderers, and to burn up their city; meaning Jerusalem.
We now come to that part of this parable which corresponds with the one above written; the same thing being meant by the servant's being sent into the highways as is meant by a net's being cast into the sea. And the reader will easily observe, that the same thing is meant, by gathering together all, as many as were found, both bad and good, as is meant by the net's gathering of every kind. And the man who had not a wedding garment, in the parable of the marriage, answers to the bad in the parable of the net; and the binding of the man and casting him into utter darkness, answers to the casting of the bad fish away.
But let us look carefully, that we may find who were represented by bad fish, in one parable, and by a man who had not a wedding garment, in the other.
1. By a wedding garment, I understand the righteousness of Christ, of which I spoke in notes on chap. ix, 16.
2. The garment which was not accepted as a wedding garment, was the garment which we mentioned in notes last referred to, which was prepared by putting a piece of new cloth to an old garment whereby the rent in the old garment was made worse.
3. By coming to the wedding, in the one parable, and being caught in the net, in the other, is meant coming into the open profession of Christianity. Now behold the group! Here are many crying, Lord! Lord! but not disposed in heart to do the will of the Father. Here are multitudes who have been at the trouble of patching up a righteousness by depending on the righteousness of Christ in conjunction with their own : The fishers of men have caught of every kind; and now comes the division. Christians by profession, who know nothing of the all renovating power of divine