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the feet, and casts you round his neck, and carries yoù home rejoicing, saying, “I have found him at last! Wherever he wandered, I sought him, and now I have found him.” It is strange what queer places Christ finds some of his people in! I knew one of Christ's sheep who was found out by his Master while committing robbery. I knew another who was found out by Christ, while he was spiting his old mother by reading the Sunday newspaper and making fun of her. Many have been found by Jesus Christ, even in the midst of sin and vanity. I knew a preacher of the Gospel who was converted in a theatre. He was listening to a play, an old-fashioned piece, that ended with a sailor's drinking a glass of gin before he was hung, and he said, “Here's to the prosperity to the British Nation, and the salvation of my immortal soul;” and down went the curtain; and down went my friend too, for he ran home with all his night. Those words, “ The salvation of my immortal soul,” had struck him to the quick; and he sought the Lord Jesus in his chamber. Many a-day he sought him, and at last he found him to his joy and confidence.
But for the most part Christ finds his people in his own house; but he finds them often in the worst of tempers, in the most hardened conditions; and he softens their hearts, awakens their consciences, subdues their pride, and takes them to himself; but never would they come to him unless he came to them. Sheep go astray, but they do not come back again of themselves. Ask the shepherd whether his sheep come back, and he will tell you,“ No, sir; they will wander, but they never return." When you find a sheep that ever came back of himself, then you may hope to find a sinner that will come to Christ of himself. No; it must be sovereign grace that must seek the sinner and bring him home.
And when Christ seeks him he saves him. Having caught him at last, like the ram of old, in the thorns of conviction, he does not take a knife and slay him as the sinner expects, but he takes him by the hand of mercy, and begins to comfort and to save. Oh, ye lost sinners, the Christ who seeks you to-day in the ministry, and who has sought you many a-day by his providence, will save you. He will first find you when you are emptied of self, and then he will save you. When you are stripped he will bring forth the best robe and put it on you. When you are dying he will breathe life into your nostrils. When you feel yourselves condemned he will come and blot out your iniquities like a cloud, and your transgressions like a thick cloud. Fear not, ye hopeless and helpless souls, Christ seeks you to-day, and seeking, he will save you--save you here, save you living, save you dying, sare you in time, save you in eternity, and give you, even you, the lost ones, a portion among them that are sanctified. May the Lord now bless these words to your consolation!
IIT, I shall not stop to say more, as I intended to have done, lest I should weary you. Let me only remind you, that the time is coming when that word “lost” will have a more frightful meaning to you, than it has to-day. In a few more months, some of you, my hearers, will hear the great bell of eternity tolling forth that awful word-lost, lost, lost! The great sepulchres of hell will toll out your doom-lost, lost, lost! and through the shades of eternal misery this shall for ever assail your ear, that you are lost for ever. But if that bell is ringing in your ear to-day, that you are lost, oh, be of good cheer; it is a good thing to be so lost; it is a happy thing to be lost to self, and lost to pride, and lost to carnal hope. Christ will save you. Believe that. Look to him as he hangs upon his cross. One look shall give you comfort. Turn your weeping eyes to him as he bleeds there in misery. He can, he will save you. Believe on him, for he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved. He that believeth not must be damned; but whosoever among the lost ones will now cast himself on Christ Jesus, shall find everlasting life through his death and righteousness. May the Lord now gather in his lost sheep, for Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
THE WEDDING GARMENT.
PREACHED ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON, OCTOBER 25, 1857,
BY THE REV, T. DALE, A.M.
IN THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF ST. PAUL, LONDON.
"And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment ? And he was speechless.”—Matthew xxii. 12.
The parable from which these words are taken, my brethren, and which most of us, I will hope, have already heard entire in the gospel of the day, has this peculiarity, that while it is in its details, like other parables, symbolic, or teaching by signs, at the time of its delivery it was also parabolical, declaring things to come. As yet, the gospel of the kingdom was preached only to the seed of Abraham; they “ of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came," that is, the Jews, were the guests originally bidden. By the refusal of those who were first invited, is typified the unwillingness of the great body of the Jews to receive the gospel, even when proclaimed by him who “spake as never man spake.” And at this point it is that, though parable does not end, prophecy begins. The despiteful usage of the servants who carried the invitation foreshows the persecution of the early Christians, and more especially the sufferings of that great cloud of witnesses whom in the church's sublime hymn of praise we designate “the noble army of martyrs;" while it must be self-evident to all, that the sending forth the king's armies, the destroying of the murderers, and the burning of their city foreshadows one of the most memorable events in the records of bygone ages, even that crisis of agony and bitter desolation which British India itself cannot parallel, when Jerusalem lay prostrate before the Roman Conqueror, steeped in the blood of her children, and the remorseless enemies left not one stone in her upon another, because she knew not the time of her visitation. From this point, however, another and a happier view developes itself before us, even the calling of the Gentiles, and their incorporation into the universal church, upon a footing of perfect equality with the privileged and at one time the exclusive people of God. The command, “Go ye, therefore, into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage," is the same in substance with that which the Lord uttered on the eve of his return to his primal and eternal glory—“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;" while the gathering of as many guests as the servants of the king could find, both bad and good, is prophetic of the success which should follow the faithful ministry of the Word, and the speedy and complete evangelising of what was then the Roman world. “The wedding was furnished with guests."
Thus far the general scope and tenor of the parable; thus far also the fulfilment of the prophecy. But here the teaching of the Lord becomes not only comprehensive of all, but personal 10 each. “The king, " we further read, “caine in to see the guests ;” and it was then found that the servants, if not negligent of their duty, had not been found competent to the right performance of it, for they had admitted into the king's palace and banquetting room one who was not arrayed in the wedding garment, one who therefore came into the presence of the sovereign not as a guest duly bidden and qualified, but as an unwarranted and unauthorised intruder. At once the eye of the king detected him amidst the crowd; and although all nations will at last be gathered before the Lord, “every one of us must give account of himself to God." And the voice of the king indignantly demanded of him, “Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless."
Here, then, and from this point, as I shall now proceed to show, the parable bears immediately and individually upon ourselves, and has a voice for every one here present. It describes our condition, it declares our own duty, it foreshows our own trial, and if we are found unable to abide that trial, it prefigures and predetermines our own eternal destiny. O may
God enable us to lay it well to heart, and to derive a lasting profit from its teaching; through Jesus Christ our Lord !
I. First, then, the parable declares our own condition, both nationally and individually. We 100 have been gleaned by the servants of the great king out of the highways and hedges of the Gentile world. At the period of our Lord's ministry upon earth, the inhabitants of Britain were intellectually and morally what they were supposed in the imperfect state of science to be locally and geographically, as the Roman poet terms them, “the last of human kind." The last have become first. This day is the Scripture fulfilled in our ears. From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same the name of Jehovah is now great among the Gentiles, and in almost every place and region of the habitable globe, through the agency of Britain, is offered unto the Lord the incense of Scriptural prayer and the pure offering of gospel thanksgiving. He has laid bare his mighty arm in the sight of the nations, and “all the ends of the world have seen the salvation of our God.” Here, in the Lord's house, now, on the Lord's own day, is the Lord's own word accomplished; and no? now and here alone, but it has been accomplished on every one of those past Sabbaths which have gone 10 bear witness, whether for us or against us, before the judgment-seat of God. Still, however, those who outwardly and ostensibly seem to accept the king's invitation are but a part of the many called. Too many are unheeding, though not unconscious of the lesson to be learned from the destruction of the first invited; and too many imitate their contumacy, if not their cruelty, who dwell in this professed metropolis of the Christian world. Among a population, of which no small part is not even nominally Christian, and a very considerable part practically heathen, around this very edifice, and around every other consecrated temple of the living God within this thronged and teeming city, dwell a mixed multitude who, if not actually worshippers of Dagon or of Moloch, of Baal or of Ashtaroth, of Brahma or of Juggernaut, are yet the idolators of their own lusts, the bondsmen of their own passions, the sport of their own vanities, the slaves of their own gold, the vassals now, and hereafter to be the victims of their own intemperance and excess. Of these, however, I speak not now: I have to do here only with you who have entered within, passing over those who are lingering and loitering without. of yourselves it may be asserted that you at least have beard the invitation; you have accepted it; you have been brought into the king's palace, most of you in unconscious infancy, by the open door of baptism; you have recognized and ratified the obligation by your voluntary attendance in the house of prayer to-day; you thus avow yourselves the soldiers of Christ your captain ; you acknowledge yourselves the subjects and the servants of Christ your king; and accordingly, when he is pleased to confer upon you the high privilege of inviting you to become his guests, it is quite clear that with the relation is connected a responsibility, and out of the privilege must arise a duty.
II. This, then, we are next to consider : for the parable having first described our condition and defined our relation to the king, goes on to declare our duty as arising out of it. Our condition is that of subjects, our relation that of guests; and having as subjects obeyed the king's command, and having as guests entered into the king's palace, we are to be habited as guests, and the only proper habit of the guest is that which is termed in the parable the wedding garment. Here, then, in order to the right understanding of our Lord's teaching, we must advert in passing to a remarkable custom of the Eastern nations. It seems that on occasions of great public or religious festivals, whether solemnized by sacrifices in the temple of a god, or celebrated with banquets in the palace of a king, the worshippers in the one case and the guests in the other were to be arrayed with suitable garments-garments which were provided either at the cost of the prince, or, as the case might be, out of the endowments and revenues of the temple. Thus you will recollect that when Jehu proclaimed a solemn assembly to Baal, and sumnioned all the votaries of the idol to the temple of their god, even from the remotest parts of the realm, so that the house of Baal was filled from one end to the other, he said to him that was over the vestry, “ Bring forth vestments to the worshippers of Baal,” and numerous as they were, this was no unwonted or unforeseen requisition; "he brought forth vestments for them all.” Now, this illustrates the parable. The wedding garments were provided by the king at his own cost; they were not left to be furnished by the guests themselves, who, having been summoned thus unexpectedly from the highways and the bedges, the streets and the lanes, could not be expected to come in gar
ments meet and fitting for the royal banquet. Nothing was wanted from them but what might be done in a moment—10 pause in the vestibule, and array themselves in the vesture provided by the master of the feast. Hence it is manifest that the appearing at the banquet without a wedding garment must be either an act of great presumption or an act of gross insubordination. It were an act of great presumption for a guest to presume that his own garments, even if unsullied and untorn, were good enough to appear at the banquet of the king; and it were equally an act of gross insubordination to refuse to obey the king's command. Nor will our view of the case be materially changed, if we resolve it into an act of indifference, and disregard of all with whom he had entered into the palace, and with whom he was associated at the board.
The question for ourselves, therefore, is, What are we to understand by the wedding garment ? Ile who appeared without it was, equally with others, an invited guest; but then he knew full well that the condition of the invitation was, that he should array himself in the wedding garment. And just so it is with ourselves. The invitation, “Come in to the marriage,” “ Enter into the kingdom of heaven,” “ Lay hold on eternal life," is addressed to all who are made Christ's by the covenant of baptism; but still “ Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The wedding garment, then, is the influence of the Spirit of God realised within the heart, is the principle of love manifested and reflected in the life by the practice of holiness. Now, it is a primary and essential element of Christian doctrine, that, as our church declares, “we have no power by nature to do good works and such as are acceptable to God.” Baptism does not of itself give us this power; it only places us in a condition to attain it by the use of appointed and accredited means. Baptism is the entrance into the palace; it brings us, according to ihe similitude of the parable, into the wardrobe or repository of the wedding garments ; it presents to us the key by which we may open it, if we will; but it does not compel us to take one out and to array ourselves therein, that so we may be made meet to appear in the presence of the king. Baptism imparts both creating and co-operating grace; but it does not exercise a constraining and controlling power. It brings us in by the open door, but it does not bring us through: that is for the wedding garment alone. “No man can say that Jesus Christ is Lord but by the Holy Ghost." So that if the wedding garment be holiness, it is holiness by the Spirit of the Lord, holiness through grace given in answer to prayer, holiness that works by faith and works in love; it is holiness blended with humility, which can appeal to the heart-searching God, when we have left least undone, as one who seeth that we put not our trust in anything that we do-holiness, that takes delight in ascribing all the glory to God, and at the best of times and in the best of acts looks not to the works of righteousness which we have done, but only lo the mercy of God in Christ, only to the mediation of the Lord Jesus, by which that mercy is extended to ourselves. Consequently we are to regard our Christian baptism, the highest privilege which man possesses, not only as a sacrament once received, as a seal once impressed, as an ackvowledgment once made, as an homage once rendered, but as representing to us our profession, which is to follow Christ, and be made like unto him, that as he died