Immagini della pagina

ence of the material structure in each, and the adoption of a new species of imagery, to pourtray the same kind of real or substantial truth, the history begun in the one, and carried forwards to a certain point, may be said to be resumed in the other, and prosecuted to a point beyond it; the alienation of the possession of the visible church from the Jews, with the consequent relation of being the people of God, and the translation of both to the Gentiles, for reasons in one of these cases, analogous to the causes which produce the effect in the other, being the common moral of each — but the former parable stopping with the supposed fulfilment of that one effect, the latter passing beyond it to a still more remote effect, to which even that must be supposed subservient.

The latter parable is consequently more comprehensive than the former; the one extending from the beginning to the end of all things, the other only from the beginning to the conclusion of the Mosaic dispensation; the history of the visible church in each state of its being, being the subject of the one, that of the same church, only as established among the Jews, being the subject of the other; the substance of the former parable also, being virtually incorporated in the latter, from the time of the mission of the first class of the servants, to the time of the mission of the second. The latter parable is more sublime and elevated, as well as more comprehensive, than the former; for it combines with what is common to both, a subject of greater dignity per se, which did not enter into the former, the ultimate formation of the invisible, out of the preliminary state and constitution of the visible church; and while there is the same propriety in the metaphorical denomination of husbandmen, to describe the relation of the members of the visible church for the time being, especially as confined to the Jews—there is more of dignity, and not less of fitness and decorum, in the metaphorical designation of guests invited to the nuptials of a king's son, to represent those members of the visible church for the time being, at every period of its existence, who are sometime to become the members of the invisible. On all these accounts, the latter parable would necessarily be more mysterious, and therefore more difficult than the former. Nor does it appear, that though those who heard the former at the time, had conceived something like an idea of its drift, the import of the latter was even partially understood by them.

It is peculiar to these two parables, that they were the last which our Lord is known to have addressed to the people at large; that they were both pronounced on the last day of his public ministry, and that they preceded only by two days his passion itself. It is not improbable, that the near approach of the latter event suggested the idea of the first of the two. The beauty, the pathos, the propriety of the history, pourtrayed in it, are wonderfully enhanced by such a supposition ; nor can we doubt, that whether perceptible to his hearers also or not, the speedy fulfilment, which the part of his narrative relating to the ultimate event of the mission of the son of the owner, was about to experience, must have been present to our Saviour's mind at the time. If his own rejection and personal treatment by the Jews, as last and chief in the succession of the prophets, was on any account the main fact on which the deprivation of their ancient privilege and relation as the people of God, was to depend ; that consideration alone would require such a retrospective survey of their previous history from the first, as the parable presentsin order to shew by what steps the ingratitude, perverseness, and impenitence of the Jews, through a series of trials for their reformation and amendment before, arrived at this worst and most aggravated effect of the same causes, at last ; especially, if the part attributed to the son in the parable is, in all reason, to be understood not only of what our Saviour was to suffer at the hands of the Jews at last, but of all that he had previously done, to prevent that catastrophe—of the whole order, duration, and success of his personal ministry, which had been going on so long before.

With regard to the second parable, also, there is the same general congruity between the nature of the disclosures to which it is subservient, and the circumstances of time and occasion under which it was delivered; which might so far have contributed to produce this, as well as the preceding. Parts of the parable, considered as prophetical, would receive a speedy fulfilment; especially in what related to the second mission of the servants to the guests of the first order—and in consequence of the failure of that overture, their mission to the guests of the second-besides what related to the treatment of the servants by the guests in the former instance, and the punishment which on that account would fall upon them. The proper date of the first of these missions was within fifty days after the resurrection, and the proper date of the second was within eleven years of the same event. (See my Dissertations, vol. i. Diss. xiii.)

But with respect to the import of this parable in general, and its adaptation to the time when it was delivered ; if the failure of the Messiah, as a preacher of repentance to the Jews, was to be aggravated by the failure of the apostles, in the same capacity, and the rejection of Jesus Christ was to be made worse by the rejection of his religion—the fittest period for predicting the consequences of both these facts to the Jews themselves, would seem to be when our Lord's own ministry was about to end, and that of the apostles about to begin. So far too as the parable was designed to comprehend the whole scheme of redemption, and to present a simultaneous view of God's dealings with his moral creatures, considered as the members of his visible church, through every state of its existence, from the beginning to the consummation of all things ; such a retrospect might well be taken of so much of this scheme as was already past, and such a prospect exhibited of so much of it as yet remained to be transacted—at the close of our Lord's personal ministry, which was a cardinal point in this wonderful æconomy of providence, before and after. The place of this parable in the series of disclosures relating to the first formation, the intermediate being, and the ultimate destination of the visible church, is analogous to the place of our Lord's personal ministry, in the order of the event; the one predicting the transition of the Jewish into the Christian church, at the same point of time, at which the other was mediately interposed as instrumental in effecting it. Nor further, if we consider the final issue of things in this allegorical representation of the future; the consummation of the visible in the invisible church; the separation of one part of its members from the other, which precedes ; the rule which governs that separation ; the nature of that marriage festivity to which so long a train and series of preparations was necessary to conduct; the undescribed, and perhaps indescribable, joys which are the privilege and happiness of the guests admitted to that mysterious banquet; we cannot hesitate to conclude, that as such a representation whensoever made, could not but be worthy of our Lord in general ; so at no period of his personal ministry could it have been made with more evident fitness and propriety, than when his ministry was about to expire, and the visible church, of which all this was the previous history and the ultimate result, having fulfilled the purpose of its being, while still confined to the Jews, was about to pass into a new state of existence, by being transferred to the Gentiles; which would bring it so much nearer to the effect of its final destination from the first.



MATTHEW XXIV. 1–44. MARK XIII. 1-37. LUKE XXI. 5–36.


Matthew xxiv. 1-44. 1 And Jesus went forth, and was departing from the temple, and his disciples came unto him, to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, “See ye not all these “ things ? Verily, I say unto you, Stone upon stone shall not be “ left here, which shall not be utterly luosed.”

3 And as he was sitting upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him apart, saying, “ Tell us when these things “shall be, and what is the sign of thy appearing and presence, " and of the end of the period of ages.”

4 And Jesus answered, and said unto them, “ Beware lest “ any one deceive you. 5 For many will come in my name, “ saying, I am the Christ; and many they will deceive. 6 And “ ye will be about to hear of wars and rumours of wars : but “ see to it, be not alarmed; for they must all come to pass, but “ the end is not as yet. 7 For nation shall be stirred up against “ nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there will be “ famines and pestilences, and earthquakes in such and such “ places ; 8 and all these things—a beginning of throes.

9“ At that time will they deliver you up unto tribulation, “ and will kill you; and ye will be hated by all the nations for “ my name's sake. 10 And then will many be offended, and “ will deliver up one another, and hate one another. 11 And

« IndietroContinua »