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in reference to a common subject—the history of the first order of guests, and whatsoever is properly connected with the circumstances of the mission to them. Besides which, the former parable has two missions to as many different orders of guests opposed to the first; the latter has but one, which under the circumstances of the case must answer to the two in the former, and the one order of guests, substituted for the first, in the present parable, must comprehend both the second and the third, substituted for them in the former.
But the principal and most characteristic distinction between the two parables, is this ; that the thread of the narrative was broken off, in the parable of the supper, at that point of time in the æconomy of the process for the collection of supplementary guests, when the command to bring in the guests of the third order had just been given, but not yet executed. The narrative specified the fact of this command, which could leave no doubt that it was issued ; but it did not specify its fulfilment, as it had specified the performance of the command immediately before it ; much less did it pass to the account of any thing posterior to that fulfilment, yet prior to the commencement of the feast, and as necessarily supposing the provision of guests to be over, as the celebration of the entertainment in their company, to be yet to come. Now the parable of the wedding-garment passes beyond this point, and not only certifies the fact of the preliminary collection of guests in sufficient numbers for the celebration of the feast to have begun, but proceeds to the details of a part of the transaction, which was as necessarily consequent on the one, as antecedent to
the other; the review and inspection of the numbers assembled, in the general capacity of guests invited, before any could sit down to the feast in the particular capacity of guests admitted.
Allowing, then, that the moral design and purpose of the former parable might be something as integral, and capable of standing by itself, as that of the latter-allowing too, that so far as they agree, the import of both inust be something the same; still if we compare them together, and consider them subservient to one and the same æconomy of the original conception, the intermediate process, and the final execution of a certain projected festivity, whether that of a supper in general, or of a wedding in particular—we may justly contend there is an excess on the one hand, and a defect on the other, in the course and progress of this æconomy towards the same conclusion; the event, which must be supposed the result of all in both, is brought nearer to the point of its consummation in the latter parable, than in the former. The action of both may begin at the same point of time, and for a while may go on in conjunction; but it does not end at the same point of time, and much is seen to be transacted in the one, in the proper course and continuation of its particulars, after the train of proceedings has been brought to a close in the other. The latter parable, therefore, incorporates the moral of the former, with something superadded of its own. It is built on a similar foundation, and composed of similar materials ; but the groundwork of the foundation is extended, and the superstructure is proportionably enlarged. If the former parable was deficient in any respect, the latter would so far render it com
plete ; if the former was entire, as referred to its proper use, the latter adopts it, and makes it subservient to some more comprehensive purpose; if the former had stopped short of the point to which it might previously have been tending, the latter takes it up again, and carries it forward to the desired result.
It was shewn, as the result of a general induction, founded upon the comparison of a variety of particular passages of scripture, that the principal image which entered into the constitution of that parable, the idea of the supper, was the parabolic or metaphorical mode of expressing that state of beatitude, that exaltation, felicity, and enjoyment, of whatever kind, which may be expected to ensue at the close of the æconomy of probation, (such as we described elsewhere,) and to carry into effect the final dispensations of that æconomy of retribution, which must sometime succeed upon iti. To the propriety of such an image, as used in such a sense, it can make no difference whether the state in question be represented by the figure of a supper, or by that of a wedding-feast ; both being considered as species of entertainments in general, agreeing in these two properties of their common nature, that each is the last, and each is the most considerable and important event, of any such kind as the celebration of a festive entertainment, which could be supposed to take place in the course of one and the same day. But, as designed to express, in the most significant manner, not only the time, but the nature, of that reward, which may be expected at the
i Vide vol. i. chap. 9. p. 105.
close of the economy of the probation of the visible church, as the proper recompense of all the good and faithful who have from time to time constituted the members of its congregation, during its existence in that state ; and, more especially, in conformity to the language of parable, and scriptural allegory in general, which describes the final union between Christ and the members of the invisible church, which will then take the place of the visible—by the celebration of the marriage contract between parties long espoused, but not yet united to each other; the joy and festivity of a wedding in particular, are upon every account more expressive of the truth, and more in unison with the established language of scripture metaphor on this subject, than the same characteristic properties of a supper, however great or magnificent, in general.
The wedding in the parable, then, is the mystical union of our Lord Jesus Christ, in his character of the spiritual bridegroom, with his invisible church, in her reciprocal character of the spiritual bride; whensoever that is to take place. The king, in his relation of father to the son whose wedding the feast commemorates, is the first Person in the most Holy Trinity ; the son, who is the bridegroom of that nuptial feast, referred to the father, is Christ in his Divine capacity-referred to the feast, is Christ in his human capacity, as the Lord of his spouse, the church. The privilege of guests at that feast, is the privilege of belonging to the true and invisible church, when the union between Christ and it shall be complete ; with the consequences of that relation to its members, whatsoever they may be. The promulgation of the invitation to this feast, which precedes its celebration by a longer or a shorter time, is the communication of the privilege of belonging to the visible church, at all periods of its state of probation, among the Jews first, and among Christians afterwards. The relation of a guest invited, acquired by the acceptance of the invitation beforehand, is the relation of a member of the visible church ; the relation of a guest admitted, acquired by partaking in the feast at last, is the relation of a member of the invisible church, or that of a member of the visible in the enjoyment of his final reward. The entire assemblage of the guests invited, is the entire congregation of the visible church ; and the resulting number of guests admitted, is the entire congregation of the invisible. The guests of the first order are they to whom the offer of the privilege entailed upon the relation of a member of the visible church, in the order of time was first made; the guests of the second, are they to whom, upon the failure of the offer with the former, it was next transferred ; and that privilege being the continued relation of a member of the invisible church, when finally united to its proper Lord and Head, at the close of the period of the probation of the visible church-the offer of that privilege is virtually the offer of Christianity; the guests by whom it was rejected are the Jews; and those to whom it was transferred, are the Gentiles. The agents by whose means the offer of the invitation was promulgated, are the proper ministers by whose instrumentality either Jews or Gentiles were brought, or attempted to be brought, to Christ, and by their conversion made members of his church on earth. The review of the assemblage of guests when complete, and the separation of one