« AnteriorContinuar »
ated beneath the “wine-press,” and by a spout, the must, or expressed juice of the grape, was conducted into it, to undergo the process of fermentation. In very warm climates it would be desirable to have this large trough under ground, that by the coolness of its position, the “must” might be preserved from too great fermentation, which would produce not wine but vinegar. What strong collateral evidence of the truth of the Christian Scriptures, is evolved from this minute coincidence of all their parts with the customs and usages of the time and country in which they are said to have been composed!
The exposition of this parable is easily discovered. The householder, is Jehovab,—the vineyard, the Jewish nation,—the husbandmen, the Priests and Scribes. To these Jehovah sends servants, his ancient Prophets, whom the husbandmen beat, and stone, and kill. Such was indeed the treatment awarded by the Jews to the ancient messengers of God; and therefore Jesus exclaims, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee.” “ Again he sent unto them other servants, more than the first; and they did unto them likewise.” The word more in this verse, does not mean more in number, so much as more in dignity; “ He sent other servants greater than the former.” This seems to allude to John the Baptist; being the forerunner of the Messiah, whom he was himself permitted to see and to baptise; he was higher in dignity, because in privilege, than any of the previous ambassadors of God; and thus Jesus speaks of him, “Verily, I say unto you, that among them that are born of woman, there hath not arisen a greater prophet than John the Baptist.” After the Baptist, the Almighty Householder sent “his Son” to the husbandmen; “ And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.” Here there can be no doubt that Jesus prophesies concerning his approaching death. Having concluded the narrative, the Master inquires of the Chief Priests and Elders of the people, “When the lord [proprietor, or owner] of the vineyard cometh, what will be do unto those husbandmen?" Mark how they judge themselves, and pronounce their own condemnation.
They say unto him, he will miserably destroy those wicked men,
and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen.” Not forty years elapsed from the utterance of these words, till the Roman army besieged Jerusalem, burned their Temple, seized their holy instruments, and hung their people on crosses or led them into captivity. This was indeed a “miserable destruction." The vineyard has also been taken from them, they are no longer in peculiar covenant with God; it has been given to others, even to us Gentiles, who now enjoy all their ancient privileges. While we pity the misfortunes of those who were once God's chosen people, let us, in all civil relations, make them as comfortable, as happy, and as free as ourselves; and let us, moreover, pray without ceasing that they may soon embrace the Gospel, and thus regain their lost inheritance.
CHAFTER XXII. Verses 1-3: “ And Jesus answered, and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.”
As nothing more is mentioned of the “ marriage,” (it should have been rendered “ marriage-feast”) we are disposed to think that the original word has the same meaning here which it possesses in some parts of the Old Testament, and properly signifies, not an entertainment on the marriage of his son, but an inaugural banquet given to his subjects on putting his son in possession of the kingdom. This inaugural banquet would be styled, by a natural figure of speech, a “marriage-feast,” because on assuming the throne and the sceptre, the king and his subjects form a solemn compact, a close union, a marriage together, which is not to be violated, broken, or divorced, without some serious act of injustice or tyranny. When the monarch is disappointed by the non-appearance of the guests, who had been primarily invited to the coronation-dinner, and for whom expressly the dinner had been prepared; he commands his servants, “ Go ye into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage,” to the installation festival. It was not unusual among the Jews, when a rich man made a feast,
to invite to its participation all destitute travellers, and all indigent persons in the vicinity: it is to this national practice that reference is made in the text. Even at the present day, in many parts of the East, any poor man who happens to be present when a meal is going on (and meals there, are often very public affairs), is usually invited to partake. Sir John Malcolm, in his “ Sketches of Persia,” narrates of Hajee Mohammed Hoosein, one of the chief ministers of the late King of Persia, “A friend of mine one day breakfasting with him, was surprised to hear him say to a poor man, who brought a pair of slippers to sell, sit down, my honest friend, and
breakfast; 'we will bargain about the slippers afterwards.”” Sir John adds, “ The admission of inferiors to their society at meals, is not however uncommon with rnen of rank in Persia. It arises out of a sense of the sacred duties of hospitality; and out of parade, if they have not the reality of that humility inculcated in the Koran."
When the guests were seated and the feast spread, their royal entertainer discovered among the number, one who was not arrayed like the rest of the company, and demanded of him, (verse 12,) “ Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment?” a festival garment. We at the present day should think this a strange question to be put to a way.faring man, or a wandering mendicant, who had been summoned without previous notice to the entertainment. Among the Orientals, however, long white robes were worn at public feasts, and those who appeared on such occasions with any other garments, were esteemed not only highly cul. pable, but worthy of chastisement for the insult offered to the host. The host prepared such a garment for each of the guests, for the occasion merely; and with this garment each individual was at once furnished, on application to the ruler of the feast. It was this that made the conduct of the guest perfectly inexcusable; he knew that the castoms of the country, the rank of his entertainer, and the greatness of the occasion, required him to be so arrayed; he knew, moreover, that he might have had the necessary robe, by merely asking for it; he was therefore culpable, and merited exclusion from the pre
pared festivities. Such punishment did overtake him; for the king said to his servants, (verse 13,) “ Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Feasts among the Jews, were generally held in the night season.
Within, the house was brilliantly illuminated, shining with the radiance of a bundred lamps, warm with stoves, and plenty of the richest viands smoking on the board. Without, were darkness, cold and want. The inconsiderate guest was cast into “outer darkness,” the darkness which was outside the royal palace; there he endured “weeping,” both from hunger and from a remembrance of the fare of which he had been deprived; and “gnashing of teeth,” arising from the cold of night, from the recollection of his own disgrace, or from resentment against the monarch by whose command he had been ejected.
This parable, like the last, refers to the rejection of the Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles. The former were the first invited to partake of the privileges of the Gospel; but they refused the invitation; and not only so, but “entreated spitefully, and slew” the messengers whom God had sent to them with the gracious proposal. Their consequent fate was, that the King “sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” Afterwards, God invites the Gentiles, those “on the highways," to be the recipients of Christianity. They respond to the call; they sit down at the feast; they are made partakers of all those religious privileges which formerly pertained only to the descendants of Abrabam. However, while they have been “called," and while they have obeyed the summons, they shall not sit forever in the presence of the King, unless they provide for themselves“ festival garments,” “ white garments," purity of soul, and life, and conversation.
Three attempts are now made by the chief sects among the Jews, either to entangle Jesus in his talk, and thus find means of bringing a criminal accusation against him, or to puzzle him by difficult questions, and then, if he were unable to answer them, expose his ignorance to the populace.
The Herodians, who commence this assault, were a
sect deriving their origin from Herod the Great. That monarch had voluntarily placed himself and his nation in subjection to the Romans, in opposition to the declaration of the Law, “ Thou shalt not set a king over thee which is not thy brother.” He had also built temples, erected images, and joined in heathen worship, though he professed the Jewish religion. From this may be inferred the characteristic opinions of his followers; they were these two: 1st, they held it lawful to transfer the divine government to a heathen ruler; and, 2d, to conform occasionally to heathen rites in their religious worship. The question which some of them propounded on this occasion was one of considerable difficulty:-,
Verse 17: “ Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cesar, or not?” If Jesus replied in the affirmative, he irritated the people who acknowledged no king but Jehovah; he gave the Pharisees occasion to stir up the populace against him; he even invalidated his own claim to be monarch of Israel, when only a day or two had elapsed since his proclamation and triumphal procession to Jerusalem: and, on the other hand, if he replied in the negative, he gave the Herodians occasion to accuse him before their master and the Roman Prætor (who were then both in Jerusalem) of treason against the Emperor. His behaviour in these circumstances, displays the most consummate wisdom. He asks for a denarius, a Roman coin, and demands whose image and superscription it bears? He is answered, “ Cesar's.” This reply of his tempters, demonstrates at once, that Tiberius Cesar, then Emperor of Rome, was their acknowledged sovereign, for his coin circulated throughout their country. This admission furnishes Jesus with the first part of his answer, (verse 21) “ Render therefore unto Cesar the things which are Cesar's.” He is aware, however, that the Herodians carry submission to the conqueror too far, even to submission in spiritual affairs; he therefore subjoins the reproof and command, “ And render uuto God the things that are God's.” This is a beautiful distinction between the allegiance we owe to God, and that we owe to our temporal rulers. We are bound to obey our human sovereign, in all things that merely concern our earthly interests, at least so far as such obedience is conducive