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The same striking figure of the need of a covering robe, run's through the whole of Scripture, from the time when Adam in his first sad knowledge of sin hid himself from the presence of God because he knew that he was naked, down to that latest hour described by the apostle John, when in the spirit of prophecy he says of the bride the Church, that at the end of all things, “to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen clean and white : Then comes the answer to the important question, what is this wedding garment ? " for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." * The righteousness of saints! Alas, how shall it be ours?
How shall we, worn and stained with the toils and turmoils of life, obtain this fair white robe ? Blessed be God, it is His gift. It is offered, freely offered, to all who in sincerity and in truth seek for it. All may “wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb,”+-all may in spirit and in truth seek to be pardoned and made holy by Christ; and for the sake of Christ, therefore, all may, if they will, being justified by His spotless Righteousness, find at the great marriage-feast a place among those countless guests whom no man can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, who stand before the throne, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. I
The teaching of the parable is this, that as no man could be an admitted guest to the King's marriage-feast without a dress quite different from his common dress, so no man can enter the Kingdom of Heaven without something given him by God which he bas not of his own nature. What is this? Two answers are given to the question. lst. a man cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless he be clothed with the Righteousness of Christ. S
This is what is commonly called justification. A man cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless he be justified, that is,
* Revelation xix. 7, 8. # Revelation ix.
of Ibid vi. 11; vii. 9, 14. § Romans xiii. 14. Galatians iii. 27.
accounted just in the sight of God; and no man can be so accounted, except as Christ's righteousness covers him, as with a robe.
The second answer looks only to that personal holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.
A man cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless by the grace of God he becomes holy. This is what is commonly called Sanctification. Such personal holiness is the gift of God through Jesus Christ, even as the needful wedding-robe was the gift of the King in the parable of the marriage of his Son. Both these answers are true. A man cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven without being both justified and sanctified ; and in truth no man can be really the one without the other. Wherever Christ's righteousness covers the soul, the soul becomes holy.
The parable does not say what the wedding-robe is; but we may learn it from a careful study of those parts of Scripture which distinctly state our absolute need of the Righteousness of Christ and of the Sanctification of the Holy Spirit.
In the splendid throng that filled the banquet-rooms of the King in the parable, there was one who ventured there not having on a wedding-garment. How was this ?-was he deceived by the pride of his own heart, or was he a determined rebel ? Is there not some likeness in the words of the parable
Verse 12. “ Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment ? to the words spoken by Jesus but a few hours later ; “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” Perhaps the Saviour, long-suffering and kind, may have meant even then a last warning to the traitor. Judas stood among the Apostles, must he not have known that, though numbered with them, he was not of them. His love of money, like a worn and soiled garment, clung around him. He could not enter into the joy of his Lord,
for in no way was he like-minded with Him, and the hour was hastening on when he must be cast into outer darkness.
But lest our thoughts should rest on Judas, lest we should be deceived by the mention of only one unworthy guest, our Lörd immediately adds to the parable a solemn warning :
Verse 14. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Yes, many are called. All who are born in a Christian land are called into Christ's visible Church, but few can enter into the joy of their Lord. Why is this ? Ponder well the meaning of the parable and you will see.
Many made light of the invitation, because they thought their worldly business of more importance. Many refused it because they denied the authority of the King, and these ill-used his messengers. Even of those who accepted the invitation and presented themselves as guests, not all put on the wedding robe, without which they could not be suffered to stand a moment in the presence of the King.
Thus “though many are called, but few are chosen."
Are we of those whose own choice causes them to be rejected ? Or are we of those blessed ones who have put on Christ?
There need be no mistake in this matter, for we cannot have put on the fair wedding robe, without which there is no safety, unless we are like-minded with Christ, and we may certainly know whether our wishes and our objects in life are like His, whether in fact we desire to carry out His plans for God's glory in the good of man.
No robe of his own could make a guest fit for the marriage feast in the parable, no mind but the mind of Christ will make us fit for the kingdom of Heaven.
The Eastern Prince was ready to give each guest a wedding garment. Our God is ready to give to each one of us the fair white robe which is the righteousness of saints. 66 Blessed are they who,” thus arrayed, "are called unto the marriagesupper of the Lamb: "* but let us watch that we keep our garments white, lest we be brought to shame.
Prayer. “ From all blindness of heart, from pride, vain glory, and hypocrisy, good Lord, deliver us. Grant, we beseech Thee, that all who are admitted into the fellowship of thy religion, may by thy grace be aroused to put from them those things that are contrary to their profession, and to follow all such things as are agreeable to the same. Oh, grant unto us that we, by thy holy inspiration, may think such things as are good, and by Thy merciful guiding may perform the same, so that at the last we may be presented unto Thee with clean and pure hearts, by thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who died that we might be redeemed from sin and death.
Blessing, and glory, and honour, be unto His name for ever and ever. Amen.
Verses 15, 16. “ Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians.”
It is often seen that men will join with those whose principles they detest, in order to carry some much-desired point. We now find the Pharisees setting aside all lesser dislikes, and in their jealous hatred of the Lord Jesus, joining themselves with the Herodians, that they might bring about his destruction.
* xix. 8, 9; xvi. 15.
The fourth day of the week before the Passover was come, and they had not as yet been able to turn men's minds against Him. The crowded city still rung with his fame, and the belief that he was the expected Messiah was gaining ground.
The Pharisees well knew their countrymen. If they could but show them that Jesus held opinions contrary to their national pride and prejudices, it was certain that their admiration of Him would be turned into fury against Him. The subject that kept men's minds in a ferment at that time was the rule of the Romans. The people detested it, and murmured against the taxes they were forced to pay to their foreign masters. These taxes were a sign of their subjection, and grieviously wounded their pride as a nation. The Pharisees secretly encouraged this discontent. Their whole views and wishes were against the Romans. Their influence over the people depended entirely upon their national feelings as Jews, and if by degrees Judea became like the nations round, little more than a Roman province, this influence was gone. Their power was great, but uncertain, depending upon every change in men's minds, and it was this that made them fear “to offend the multitude." They were in a difficult position, for at that time there was a party holding opinions but too much like their own, and they dared to avow them in open rebellion against the state. The leader of this party was Judas of Galilee, a man of violent opinions, who with his followers refused all submission to the Roman government, and upheld as a matter of conscience the complete freedom of the Jews from all foreign yoke. They declared that to pay tribute to the Roman Emperor was a sin against God; and that Israel as His people ought to contribute their money only for the support of His service in the Temple. These were dangerous doctrines in a country entirely ruled over by the Roman power. And they were the more dangerous for they suited well the temper of the Jewish nation, and hence Pilate the Roman governor had marked his determination to root them