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The Gospel Supper.

LUKE XIV. 22, 23, 24.

And the fervant faid, Lord, it is done as thou haft commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord faid unto the fervant, Go out into the high-ways, and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my koufe may be filled. For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden, fhall taste of my supper.



HOUGH here is a large and folemn affembly, yet I suppose you are all convinced, that you are not to live in this world always. May I not take it for granted, that even the most prophane amongst you, do in your hearts believe, what the facred oracles have moft clearly revealed, "That as it is appointed for all men once to die, so after death comes the judgment?" Yes, I know you believe, that nothing is more certain, than that we are to " appear before the judgment-feat of CHRIST, to be rewarded according to the deeds done in the body, whether they have been good, or whether they have been evil.” And, however hard the saying may seem to you at the first hearing, yet I cannot help informing you, that I am thoroughly perfuaded, as many will be driven from that judgment-feat, with a "Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire," for pursuing things in themselves lawful, out of a wrong principle, and in too intense a degree; as for drunkenness, adultery, fornication, or any other grofs enormity whatsoever. Bad as the world is, bleffed be GOD, there are great numbers yet left amongst us, who either through the restraints of a religious education, or felf-love,



and outward reputation, abftain from grofs fin themselves, and look with deteftation and abhorrence upon others, who indulge themselves in it. But then, through an over-eager pursuit after the things of fenfe and time, their fouls are infenfibly lulled into a spiritual flumber, and by degrees become as dead to GOD, and as deaf to all the gracious invitations of the gospel, as the most abandoned prodigals. It is remarkable, therefore, that our Saviour, knowing how desperately wicked and treacherous the heart of man was, in this, as well as other refpects, after he had cautioned his difciples, and us in them, to "take heed that their hearts were not at any time overcharged with furfeiting and drunkennefs," immediately adds, and the cares (the immoderate anxious cares) of this life." For they are of a distracting, intoxicating nature, and foon overcharge and weigh down the hearts of the children of men. To prevent or remedy this evil, our LORD, during the time of his tabernacling here below, fpake many parables, but not one more pertinent, not one, in which the freeness of the gofpel-call, and the frivolous pretences men frame to excuse themselves from embracing it, and the dreadful doom they incur by fo doing, are more difplayed, or fet off in livelier colours, than that to which the words of the text refer. "And the lord faid unto the fervant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled For I fay unto you, that none of those that were bidden fhall taste of my fupper."

In order to have a clear view of the occafion, fcope, and contents of the parable, to which these words belong, it is neceffary for us to look back to the very beginning of this chapter. "And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief pharifees to eat bread, on the fabbath day, that they watched him." The perfon here spoken of, as going into this Pharifee's houfe, is our bleffed Saviour. For as he came eating and drinking, agreeable to his character, he was free, courteous and affable to all; and therefore though it was on the fabbath-day, he accepted an invitation, and went into the house of one of the chief Pharifees to eat bread, notwithstanding he knew the Pharifees were his profeffed enemies, and that they watched him, hoping to find fome occafion to upbraid him, either for his difcourfe or behaviour. If the

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Pharifee into whose house our LORD went, was one of this ftamp, his invitation befpeaks him to be a very ill man, and may ferve to teach us,, that much rancour and heart-enmity against JESUS CHRIST, may be concealed and cloaked under a great and blazing profeffion of religion. However, our Saviour was more than a match for all his enemies, and by accepting this invitation, hath warranted his minifters and difciples, to comply with the like invitations, and converfe freely about the things of GoD, though those who invite them, may not have real religion at heart. For how knoweft thou, O man, but thou mayeft drop fomething, that may benefit their fouls, and make them religious indeed? And fuppofing they fhould watch thee, watch thou unto prayer, whilst thou art in their company, and that fame JESUS, who went into this Pharifee's houfe, and was fo faithful and edifying in his converfation when there, will enable thee to go and do likewife.

That our LORD's converfation was not trifling, but fuch as tended to the use of edifying, and that he behaved among the guests as a faithful phyfician, rather than as a careless, indifferent companion, is evident from the 7th verfe of this chapter, where we are told, that he marked how they chofe the chief rooms;" or, to speak in our common way, were defirous of fitting at the upper end of the table. And whether we think of it or not, the LORD JESUS takes notice of our behaviour, even when we are going to fit down only at our common meals. Would to Gop, all that make a profeffion of real christianity, confidered this well! Religion then would not be fo much confined to church, or meeting, but be brought home to our private houfes, and many needlefs unchriftian compliments be prevented. For (with grief I fpeak it) is it not too true, that abundance of profeffors love, and are too fond of the uppermoft places in houfes, as well as fypagogues? This was what our LORD blamed in the guests where he now was. He marked, he took notice, he looked before he fpake (as we fhould always do, if we would speak to the purpose) how they chofe out the chief rooms. Therefore, though they were rich in this world's goods, and were none of his guests, yet unwilling to fuffer the leaft fin upon them, or lofe any opportunity of giving inftruction, he gave them

them a lecture upon humility, faying unto them, or directing his difcourfe to all in general, though probably he fpake to? one in particular, who fat near him, and whom, it may be, he took notice of, as more than ordinarily folicitous in choofing. a chief room, or couch, on which they lay at meals, after the cuftom of the Romans; "When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding (which feems to intimate that this was a wedding-feast) fit not down in the highest room, left a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and fit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may fay unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then fhalt thou have worship (or refpect). in the presence of them who fit at meat with thee." O glorious example of faithfulness and love to fouls! How ought minifters efpcially, to copy after their bleffed Master, and, with fimplicity and godly fincerity, mildly and opportunely rebuke the faults of the company they are in, though fuperior to them in outward circumftances? What rightly informed perfon, after reading this paffage, can think they teach right and agreeable to the word of GOD in this refpect, who fay, we must not, at least need not, reprove 'natural men? Surely fuch doctrine cometh not from above! For are we not com→ manded, in any wife, to reprove our neighbour (whether he be a child of GoD or no) and not to fuffer fin upon him? Is it not more than probable, that all these guests were natural men? And yet our LORD reproved them. Help us then, O Saviour, in this and every other inftance of thy moral conduct, to walk as thou haft fet us an example!

Neither did our LORD ftop here; but obferving that none but the rich, the mighty, and the noble, were called to the feaft, he took occafion alfo from thence, to give even his hoft (for the best return we make our friends for their kindnefs, is to be faithful to their fouls) one of the chief Pharifees, a wholesome piece of advice. "Then faid he also to him that bade him, when thou makeft a dinner or a fupper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinfmen. nor thy rich neighbours, left they alfo bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast,

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call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and thou fhalt be bleffed; for they cannot recompence thee: For thou fhalt be recompenced at the refurrection of the juft!" Thus did our LORD entertain the company. Words spoken in such due feason, how good are they! Would CHRIST's followers thus exert themselves, and, when in company, begin fome ufeful discourse for their great mafter, they know not what good they might do, and how many might be influenced, by their good example, to fecond them in it.

An inftance of this we have in the 14th verfe: "And when one of them that fat at meat with him heard these things, he faid unto him, Bleffed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of GOD." Happy they who fhall be recompenced at that refurrection of the juft, which thou hast been speaking of, A very pertinent faying this! every way fuitable to persons fitting down to eat bread on earth, which we should never do, without talking of, and longing for that time, when we shall fit down and eat bread in the kingdom of heaven. This opened to our LORD a fresh topic of converfation, and occafioned the parable, which is to be the more immediate subject of your prefent meditation. As though he had said to the person that spoke laft, Thou fayeft right: blessed are they indeed, who fhall fit down to eat bread in the kingdom of GOD: But alas! moft men, especially you Pharifees, act as


you did not believe this; and therefore he said unto him, A certain man made a great fupper, and bade many;" by the certain man making a great fupper, we are to understand GOD the Father, who has made provision for perishing souls, by the obedience and death of his beloved Son CHRIST JESUS. This provifion is here reprefented under the character of fupper, because the Cana or fupper, among the ancients, was their grand meal: Men could never have made fuch provifion for themselves, or angels for them. No, our falvation is all from GoD, from the beginning to the end. He made it, and not we ourselves; and it is wholly owing to the divine wifdom, and not our own, that we are become God's people, and the sheep of his pafture. This provifion for perishing fouls, may be juftly called great, because there is rich and ample provifion made in the gofpel for a great many fouls. For however CHRIST'S flock may be but a little flock, when



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