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who had already received it; a repetition coinciding with that period in the history of the preparations for the celebration of the banquet, when every thing which depended on the master of the entertainment, and which must be left exclusively to him-down even to the sending of the notice to his guests— having been duly completed, nothing remained, in order to the actual celebration, but what the guests must do for themselves; remembering the fact of their previous engagement, considering themselves morally bound to comply with its terms, whether personally convenient or inconvenient to themselves -and by a prompt and cheerful attention to the commands of the king, desiring to shew themselves not unworthy of the distinction which he had condescended to bestow upon them.
A notification of this kind, however, could not be described as conveyed from the principal to the subordinate parties, in a manner consistent with his personal dignity, except through the medium of messengers; who might bear the invitation of the king to his subjects, without prejudice to the superiority of his rank and station. The author of a projected entertainment, whether a marriage feast, or any occasion of like kind, in public or in private life, may naturally be supposed the head of an household also ; and while he may stand in one relation to the parties designed to partake of his entertainment, he may stand in another to the members of his own family. It is a necessary consequence then of the course of proceedings from this time forward, when every preparation being over, the celebration of the feast should have begun; that
it brings into action the services of another class of subordinate characters, whose personal relation to the master of the feast, is that of his servants, and whose parabolic character is that of his emissaries to his guests. This personal relation is the same in all these servants, and the office which they discharge, in subserviency to the æconomy in the parable, is the same in them all likewise. They are all alike, in private, the members of the household of the king; and they are all alike, in their public
capacity, his messengers to his guests. · The purpose, however, for which their services are first and properly wanted, is not to convey the invitation to any, for the first time, but to repeat it to persons, who had already received it—by announcing to them that the time, against which they had been invited, was come; to notify to them, in the name of their master, that all things were ready, the preparations for the feast were completed, and nothing was wanted but their presence, that the wedding festivity might begin. It is manifest, therefore, that their duty would so far consist in reminding the persons to whom they were sent, of an existing engagement, and in persuading them to the observance of an acknowledged obligation; and the difficulty which they might have to contend with, should any such arise, would be rather the disinclination of persons not disposed to keep their own word, when put in mind of a promise,—than the repugnance of those, who might not be inclined to accept what they were at liberty, perhaps, to reject.
The message which was sent, in this first instance
of all, was followed by an unexpected effect. The guests who had already been invited, and had already accepted the invitation, when reminded of their engagement, and when told that the time for fulfilling it was arrived—refused to come. The reasons of the refusal, and under what circumstances it was made, are not specified ; which may lead to the inference that, unexpected as it was, there was some ground for not considering it final; and that a renewal of the invitation, and a more distinct representation of the nature of the overture itself, might possibly cause it to succeed even with those who had rejected it once. At the same time, it must be confessed that in the case of persons who were under a previous obligation to attend upon a certain summons, this first refusal implied a growing indisposition to keep their promise, which might lead in the end to a second instance of refusal, under more aggravated circumstances; and in any case, even the first refusal might have been justly resented by the king, as a personal affront to himself, besides being a personal breach of faith in his guests; which if he was disposed to forgive, in the hope of overcoming their reluctance by a renewed urgency of persuasion, or by a clearer representation of the value and dignity of the privilege which he was offering them—the effect must be attributed to no equitable claim of theirs to such treatment, but to his own indulgence, condescension, and good-will towards them.
A second message then is sent to the same persons, who had already rejected the former ; the direct effect of which is to place in a striking point of view, the benevolence, patience, and forbearance of the principal party; and therefore to contrast these points of his conduct the more strongly with the ingratitude, the perverseness, and the aggravated ill-usage by which they are requited on the other side. The condescension and indulgence of his conduct is wonderfully enhanced, if we consider that the persons, in whose favour it is displayed, are his own subjects, who were bound to obey his commands, whether reasonable or unreasonable ; who could not have resisted his power, had he been inclined to exercise it, and might easily have been intimidated into submission, even against their inclination—if submission extorted by violence, or enforced by the apprehension of punishment, could have been of a nature to please.
Two facts are connected with this renewal of the solicitation, which renderit perceptibly different from the previous overture, already sent, and already disappointed of its effect. It is addressed to the same persons, but not by the same messengers. It has for its object the same compliance with the notice to attend, but the arguments by which this attendance is enforced are different. Nor is it implied, by the first of these facts, that the personal character of the servants, who came on this second message, was any thing different from that of those who had come on the former ; or the duty which these had to discharge, was any thing different from that which had been discharged by those; only that the lord of a common household, commissioned as his emissaries to his guests, on this second occasion, a different class of his servants from before. Nor is it implied by the latter, that no arguments had been
used to give effect to the commission of his emissaries on the former occasion, but not such arguments as were employed for that purpose on the second.
With regard, then, to the first of these distinctions-it appears only reasonable to conjecture that the personal agency of the messengers is changed, to give additional weight to their solicitations; in other words, that the messengers sent upon the second occasion were persons of greater dignity and consequence in the household of the king, and therefore more likely to succeed with his guests, than those who had been sent on the first. And with respect to the second—it is evident that the argument which these were directed to employ, in enforcing the object of their mission, was one which endeavoured to prevail with the parties addressed, by setting forth the good-will of the king towards them ; how much he had done for their reception and entertainment—the magnitude of his preparations—the adequacy of his provisions—which left nothing to be desired for the utmost enjoyment of the pleasure and festivity which might be expected upon such an occasion, but a cheerful compliance with his summons on the part of the guests. Such
c The king attempts to prevail upon his guests to attend the summons to his feast, by setting forth the nature and extent of his preparations, and commissioning his servants to say to them, “My dinner have I made ready, my oxen and my fatlings have “ been slain—and all things are ready.” In like manner is Adonijah's feast spoken of, 1 Kings i. 25; “ For he is gone “ down this day, and hath slain oxen, and fat cattle, and sheep “ in abundance, and hath called all the king's sons, and the “ captains of the host, and Abiathar the priest; and, behold,