Immagini della pagina






Matthew, xxii. 1-14. 1 And Jesus answered and spake to them again in parables, saying, “ 2 The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man, a “ king, who made a wedding-feast for his son. 3 And he sent “ forth his servants to call to the wedding-feast them that had “ been bidden: and they were not willing to come. 4 Again he “sent forth other servants, saying, Say to them that have been “ bidden, Behold, my dinner have I made ready, my oxen and my “ fatlings have been slain, and all things are ready: come ye to " the wedding-feast. 5 And they, having paid no regard to it, “ went their way, one to his own farm, another to his traffick: “ 6 and the rest of them, having laid hold on his servants, " abused them and slew them. 7 And when the king had heard thereof, he was angered ; and having sent his armies, he de“stroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 Then saith “ he to his servants, The wedding indeed is ready, but they that “ had been bidden were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore to the “ outlets and passages of the highways, and as many as ye may “ have found, bid ye to the wedding-feast. 10 And those serv“ ants went out into the highways, and brought together all, " as many as they found, both bad and good ; and the wedding “ was replenished with guests. 11 And the king having come " in, to take a view of the guests, saw there a man not clad with “a wedding-clothing. 12 And he saith unto him, Comrade, “ how hast thou come in hither, not having a wedding-clothing ? “ And he became speechless. 13 Then said the king to them " that ministered, Bind ye his hands and feet, and take him up, “ and cast him forth into the darkness which is without ; there “ shall be weeping, and the gnashing of the teeth. 14 For “ many are called, but few are chosen.” To be invited then to partake of a festivity like this, and much more to be actually admitted to it as


THE subject-matter of the history, in the present parable, being the projected celebration of a certain entertainment, and the circumstances connected with the execution of that design—the parabolic relation of the parties concerned in it, is naturally that of the author of the feast, who conceives and executes the design, on the one hand, and that of the guests for whom it is intended, and with whom it must be celebrated, on the other. But the private or individual character of the master of a feastmay differ in a variety of ways from his relative one to his guests; and in a given instance, the proper personal description of the former, whatever it be, may impose a proper corresponding character on the latter. This private character of the author of the feast, independent of his relation in that respect, it appears, is that of a king ; and the consequent character superinduced upon his guests, is that of his subjects.

The fact of a certain entertainment implies also a certain end and purpose, for which it must be supposed to be given; especially where the entertainment, under the circumstances of the case, is of an

extraordinary nature. The entertainment in the parable is of this special description; being projected and given by the king to commemorate the marriage of his son. Of the possible solemnities, then, which might have answered to the idea of this extraordinary entertainment, the solemnity of a marriagefeast is truly that which is represented by it; and of the possible occasions, whether in public or in private life; which might require a peculiar mode of celebrating them, the occasion of a marriage, and that the marriage of a king's son, produces the celebrity in the parable.

Among all nations, a marriage festivity has invariably been deemed the most important and interesting of domestic events; and even in private life has always been commemorated with corresponding solemnity—with every demonstration of joy, proper for such an occasion, with every display of pomp and splendour which is suitable to the rank, or consistent with the means, of the parties in question. The nuptials of princes differ not from those of private individuals in being occasions of greater personal interest to those who are immediately concerned in them; but in the much greater and more effectual testimony to the sense of that personal interest, inspired by the occasion, which the possession of power and affluence, both of them more or less unbounded-enables them to render, in the sumptuousness and magnificence of the feasts which commemorate such events; in the length of time for which they are celebrated; in the number and variety of the guests by whom they are attended ; in the more universal sympathy with the domestic happiness of the principal parties, which their su


perior rank and dignity of station, as the head of a nation or community, are the means of diffusing, far beyond the sphere of their personal or domestic relations.

We may assume then, of such an entertainment as this in the parable, that being a nuptial solemnity in general, it must have been an occasion of more than ordinary interest to all the parties concerned in it; being the marriage feast of a king's son in particular, it must have possessed the characteristic qualities of such an occasion, to a degree unexampled in other instances of like kind : the extent of its preparations, the number of its guests, the costliness and splendour of the celebrity, must have been worthy of the nuptial festivities of royalty. There is no reason, indeed, why the king in the parable may not be considered some eastern monarch; and the marriage of his son, consequently, the nuptial solemnity of an eastern prince. The love of magnificence is eminently characteristic of the nations of the East, and displays itself upon all occasions where there is room for its indulgence. The marriage festivities of their princes are celebrated upon a scale of grandeur of which the nations of the West can scarcely form an idea ; the wealth and resources of empires being lavished upon them, and the inventions of art and ingenuity exhausted, to devise new modes of enjoyment, and to reflect new lustre upon every such occasion, by kinds and degrees of ornament and decoration, before unheard of a.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

explanation of this fact, he observes, oùdeplav cotiáoews apóþaolv ούτως έκδηλον είναι και περιβόητον, ώς την των γαμούντων και γάρ θύοντας θεούς, και προπέμποντας φίλον και ξενίζοντας, έστι πολλούς διαλαθείν των επιτηδείων ή δε γαμήλιος τράπεζα κατήγορον έχει τον υμέναιον μέγα βοώντα, και την δάδα, και τον αυλόν, & φησίν "Ομηρος και τας γυναίκας ισταμένας επί ταϊς θύραις θαυμάζειν και θεάσθαι. διο μηδενός αγνοούντος την υποδοχής και την κλήσιν, αισχυνόμενοι παραλιπείν, πάντας τους συνήθεις και οικείους, και άμωσγέπως προσήκοντας αυτοίς παραλαμβάνουσιν.

Certain it is, that the most remarkable instances of entertainments, celebrated on the largest scale, and with the greatest profusion and magnificence, of which ancient history preserves the mention, are wedding festivities. Herodotus vi. 126—131, has given an account of one of them, belonging to a time of very remote antiquity, (about B. C. 500,) in the case of Clisthenes, tyrant of Sicyon, when celebrating the nuptials of his daughter Agariste. Diodorus Siculus, xiii. 84, describes the festivities with which Antisthenes, a rich citizen of Agrigentum, about B. C. 414, celebrated the marriage of his daughter. On that occasion, all the citizens of Agrigentum were entertained, at his expense, on tables laid for them at their own doors, in the streets where they lived; besides a great number of strangers from the neighbourhood. The Metæcs of Agrigentum, with the population of the city at that time, are said to have amounted to 200,000. The festivities took place in the evening, and the whole city was one blaze of light. In Athenæus, again, iv. 245, there is an account of the marriage-feast of Caranus, the Macedonian, about B.C. 300, on a scale of great magnificence, though by a probable error in the reading, the number of guests is represented at only 20. The editor conjectures 120, which itself is probably too little. In the same author, xii. 54, there is a minute description, from the tenth book of Chares, tậv nepi Alégavồpov iotopi@v, of the marriage entertainments celebrated by Alexander, (upon his return from his Indian expedition) for five days' time, and on a scale of the utmost grandeur and magnificence. Ælian, Varia list. viii. 7. has abridged the account of Chares. Ninety marriages were thus celebrated at one

« IndietroContinua »