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concludes with that remarkable Maxim, which I had Occasion to take Notice of before, Unto every one that hath skall be given, and be mall bave Abundance ; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
Another Instance of a Parable, abounding with various and admirable Instructions, is that of the Marriage - Feast. We have the Substance of it in Luke xiv. 16-24: And afterwards, when he came to Jerufalem, a little before his last Sufferings, he delivered it more fully, and with some Variations and Enlargements. Matt. xxii. 2-14
This Parable is so contrived, that, besides the clear Intimation that is given in it, as I had Occasion to observe before, of the Rejection of the Jews, and of the Calling of the Gentiles, it contains several excellent Points of Instruction of great Use in all Ages, fuch as the Freedom and Univerfality of the Gospel Offers, and the marvellous Grace and condescending Goodness of God in inviting Sinners, even those of them that seemed to be most unworthy, to a Participation of the most glorious Benefits ; the ungrateful Reception and Entertainment these kind offers would meet with among the Generality of those to whom the Gospe! thould be published; the true Cause of Mens' rejecting or making Light'
of the gracious Invitation, viz. their havo ing their Hearts possessed with an inordinate Love to this present World, and being immersed in it's Pleasures, Interests, or Cares; and, lastly, the utter Insufficiency of a mere outward Profession of Religion without real Holiness and a Conversation becoming the Gospel of Christ, which is fignified by the Exclusion and Punishment of that Man that is represented as fitting down to the Feast without a Wedding-Garment. All these Things are beautifully figured in this Parable, in a Manner that is very fit to make an Impression, and the Design of which is sufficiently plain to an attentive Mind.
The like Observation may be made, with Regard to the Parable of the ten Virgins, Matt. XXV. -13.
It exhibiteth a just Representation of the State of the Church, in which there is a Mixture of fincere and unsound Profeffors, They all pretend to have a great Regard for their Lord, and to wait for bis Coming : But some of them content themselves with mere external Profeffions, without the inward abiding Principles of Grace, in their Hearts, or the Virtues of an holy Life: Others of them act à more wife and consistent Part, and take Care to get their Souls furnished with those excellent Habits, those holy and vir
tuous Principles and Dispositions, which shine forth in a well ordered Life and Conversation, All this is signified here in Allusion to the Custom that then obtained among the Jews in celebrating Marriages : When we are told, that the Kingdom of Heaven (i. e, the Gospel Dispensation, or State of the Christian Church) Mall be likened unto ten Virgins, which took their Lamps, and went forth to meet the Bridegroom. And five of them were wife, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their Lamps, and took no Oil with them : But the Wife took Oil in their Vessels with their Lamps. Ver. 1, 2, 3, 4. The seeming Delay of our Lord's Coming, and the Suddenness of it at last, at a Time when he is not expected, with the Surprise which this shall occasion, is represented in a most lively Manner, Ver. 5,6,7. While the Bridegroom tarried, they all sumbered and Nept. And at Midnight there was a Cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh ; go ye out to meet him. Then all those Virgins arose, and trimmed their Lamps. The following Words set before us the Confternation that shall then seize the formal hypocritical Professors, and their ineffectual Endeavours to prepare themselves, when it is too late. Ver. 8, 9,
And the Foolish said unto the Wise, Give us of your Oil; for our Lamps are Vol. IV.
But the Wife answered, saying, Not fo; left there be not enough for us and you ; but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And, while they went to buy, tbe Bridegroom came.
The last part of the Parable representeth the happy Reception those shall meet with who were prepared for their Lord's Coming, not merely by an outward Profession, but by real Holiness and persevering Obedience; whilst the others shall be irremediably excluded from the Joys of his beatific Presence. Ver. 10, II,
And they that were ready went in with bim to the Marriage, and the Door was fut. Afterwards came also the other Vire gins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But be answered and said, Verily 1 say unto you, I know you not.
Our Lord concludes this Parable with this important Exhortation : Watch therefore, for ye know neither the Day nor the Hour, wherein the Son of Man cometh. Ver. 13.
And now, having gone through all that we proposed to consider, with Relation to our Saviour's Parables, as recorded in the Writings of the Evangelists, it appeareth, upon this brief View of them, that they contain an admirable Variety of excellent Lessons, delivered in the most agreeable and affecting Manner, relating to Things of the highest Importance to our Duty and
our Happiness. One would therefore be apt to wonder, that there should have been Persons that have made our Saviour's making so much Use of Parables an Objection against his Way of Teaching, when it is no small Proof of the Excellency of it. There is no Man of Taste that would with these Parables out of the Gospel, which are far better fitted to strike the Mind, to affect the Heart, and fix upon the Memory, than if the fame Things had been expreffed in the common Way without any Figure at all. Whosoever impartially considereth them will find Reason to admire their Beauty and Variety, their Propriety and Justness, the useful Instructions they yield, and the easy and familiar Way in which they convey those Instructions: They are, for the most part, plain and accommodated to common Capacities, and yet capable of instructing and delighting the most Judicious. They are not like the allegorical Fables of Plato, and some others of the Ancients, fine indeed, but, for the most Part, too abstracted and philosophical for the common People : Nor is there any Thing of that monstrous Extrava. gance which is to be found in many of the Jewish Fables, as delivered in their Talmuds. Instead therefore of cavilling at this Way of Instruction, we should admire the