Sermon 976. The Wedding Garment
Delivered on Lord's-day Morning, February 19th, 1871 by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him,Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants,Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.For many are called, but few are chosen."-Matthew 22:11-14.
APPARENTLY the parable of the marriage feast would have been complete without this addition, but there was infinite wisdomin appending this sequel. This is seen practically in the experience of the church of God. Those who are permitted to seelarge additions to the church will find this parable of the wedding garment to be singularly appropriate and timely. Wheneverthere is a revival and many are brought to Christ, it seems inevitable that at the same time a proportionof unworthy persons should enter the church. However diligent may be the oversight there will be pretenders creeping inunawares who have no true part or lot in the matter, and hence, when the preacher is most earnest for the ingathering of soulsto Christ, he needs to couple therewith a holy jealousy, lest those who come forward to make a profession of faith shouldbe moved by carnal motives, and should not really have given their hearts to God. We must use the net to draw in the many,but allare not good fishes that are taken therein. On the threshing floor of Zion the heap is not all pure wheat, the chaff ismingled with the grain, and therefore the winnowing fan is wanted. God's furnace is in Zion, and there is good need for it,for the gold is yet in the ore and needs to be separated from the dross. Wood, hay, and stubble building is quick work, butit is a waste of effort; we need continually to examine our materials, and see that we use only gold, silver, and preciousstones.It is most needful in times of religious excitement, to remind men that godliness does not consist in profession, butmust be proved by inward vitality and outward holiness. Everything will have to be tested by a heart-searching God, and if,when he comes to search us, we are found wanting, we shall be expelled even from the marriage feast itself; for there is away to hell from the very gates of heaven. In a word, it is well for all to be reminded that the enemies of the great Kingare notonly outside the church, but they are even in it; while a part refuse to come to the wedding of his Son, others pressinto the banquet and are still his foes. May God grant that this subject may have a heart-searching effect. May it be as thenorth wind when it blows through the marrow of the bones. May it lead us to desire to be searched and tried of God, whetherwe are truly in the faith, or are reprobates in his esteem.
The parable may be discoursed upon under five heads. Here is an enemy at the feast; here is the king at the feast; that king becomes the judge at the feast; and hence the enemy becomes the criminal at the feast; and swiftly is removed by the executioner at the feast.
I. We see in the text AN ENEMY AT THE FEAST.
He came into the banquet when he was bidden, but he came only in appearance, he came not in heart. The banquet was intendedfor the honour of the son, but this man meant not so; he was willing to eat the good things, but he intended no respect tothe prince. He did not, like others, say, "I will not come, for I will not have this man to reign over me"; but he said, "Iwill come, but it shall be in such a way that the royal purpose shall not be served, but rather hindered.I shall be present as an onlooker, but take no share in the ceremony; I will, on the contrary, show that I have no carefor the business in hand, except so far as it serves my turn." The man came in full exercise of self-will and self-love. Heresolved to yield no homage, but to assert his independent self-sovereignty. He would show the king even at his table, wherehis bounties were so largely dispensed, that he was not afraid to affront him. When he came to the door of the feast, he foundtheguests all putting on the garment suitable for the marriage banquet. As here, in our own country, at a funeral, each mourneris expected to put on the articles of mourning which are provided, so at the wedding feast each person was expected to wearthe bridegroom's favours, the garment which, as a badge, marked him as an attendant at the wedding, and as one who rejoicedin it. While others cheerfully put on this wedding dress the traitor would not; he resolved to defy the rules of the palace,and to insult the king by appearing in his own garments. He scorned to wear the livery of respectful joy, he preferredto make himself conspicuous by his daring insolence. The badge was intended to show that the wearer was a real participatorin the joy of the feast, and for that very reason he would not put it on. He did not acknowledge the king nor the prince,nor care one atom about the gladsome event. He had no objection to be there, to eat the dainties, or recline upon the seats,and seethe pomp and the show, but he was only in it, and not of it; he was there in body, but not in spirit. Are there not crowdsof people whose union to the church is nothing better than an insult to God? Custom sways them, and not sincere faith. Theyhave no regard to the great Head of the church or to the heart-searching God. They treat church membership as a trifle, andhave no tenderness of heart touching the matter. They, in effect, say, "The table of the Lord is contemptible." "Spots aretheyin our feasts, feeding themselves without fear."
Many a time the question has been asked: "What was the wedding garment?" It is a question which need not be curiously priedinto. So many answers have been given that I conclude that if our Saviour had intended any one specific thing he would haveexpressed himself more plainly, so that we would have been able, without so much theological disputing, to have understoodwhat he meant. It seems to me that our Lord intended much more than any one thing. The guests were biddento come to the wedding to show their respect to the king and prince; some would not come at all, and so showed their sedition;this man came, and when he heard the regulation, that a certain garment should be put on, comely in appearance and suitablefor the occasion, he determined that he would not wear it. In this act of rebellion, he went as far in opposition as theydid who would not come at all, and he went a little further, for in the very presence of the guests and of the king he daredto declare his disloyalty and contempt. Alas, how many are willing enough to receive gospel blessings, but they are stillat enmity with God and have no delight in the only Begotten Son. Such will dare to use the forms of godliness, and yet theirhearts are full of rebellion against the Lord. The wedding garment represents anything which is indispensable to a Christian,but which the unrenewed heart is not willing to accept, anything which the Lord ordains to be a necessary attendant ofsalvation, against which selfishness rebels. Hence it may be said to be Christ's righteousness imputed to us, for alas,many nominal Christians kick against the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of the Saviour and set up their ownself-righteousness in opposition to it. To be found in Christ, not having our own righteousness, which is of the law, buthaving the righteousness which is of God by faith, is a very prominent badge of a real servant of God, and to refuse it istomanifest opposition to the glory of God, and to the name, person, and work of his exalted Son. But we might with equaltruth say that the wedding dress is a holy character, the imparted righteousness which the Holy Spirit works in us, and whichis equally necessary as a proof of grace. If you question such a statement, I would remind you of the dress which adorns thesaints in heaven. What is said of it? "They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Their robestherefore were such as once needed washing; and this could not be said in any sense of the righteousness of the Lord JesusChrist; that was always perfect and spotless. It is clear then that the figure is sometimes applied to saints in referenceto their personal character. Holiness is always present in those who are loyal guests of the great King, for "without holinessno man shall see the Lord." Too many professors pacify themselves with the idea that they possess imputed righteousness, whilethey are indifferent to the sanctifying work of the Spirit. They refuse to put on the garment of obedience, they rejectthe white linen which is the righteousness of saints. They thus reveal their self-will, their enmity to God, and their nonsubmissionto his Son. Such men may talk what they will about justification by faith, and salvation by grace, but they are rebels atheart, they have not on the wedding dress any more than the self-righteous, whom they so eagerly condemn. The fact is, ifwewish for the blessings of grace, we must in our hearts submit to the rules of grace without picking and choosing. It isidle to dispute whether the wedding garment is faith or love, as some have done, for all the graces of the Spirit and blessingsof the covenant go together. No one ever had the imputed righteousness of Christ without receiving at the same time a measureof the righteousness wrought in us by the Holy Spirit. Justification by faith is not contrary to the production of goodworks: God forbid. The faith by which we are justified is the faith which produces holiness, and no one is justified byfaith which does not also sanctify him and deliver him from the love of sin. All the essentials of the Christian charactermay be understood as making up the great wedding garment. In one word, we put on Christ, and he is "made of God unto us wisdom,righteousness, sanctification, and redemption."
The wedding garment is simply mentioned here as being a test of loyalty to those who came to the marriage feast, and as amode by which rebellion was avowed and loyalty made apparent. Here was a man then who came into the gospel feast, and yetrefused to comply with the command which related to that feast. He willfully preferred self to God, his heart was full ofenmity and pride, he despised the gifts of grace, he scorned the rule of love, he stood a defiant rebel even atthe banquet of mercy which his king had spread.
His sin lay, first of all, in coming in there at all without the wedding garment. If he did not mean to be of one heart withhis fellow guests and his lord, why did he come? If a man does not intend to yield himself up to God's will, why does he professto be of God's church? If a man is not saved by the righteousness of Christ, why does he profess to be a believer in Christ?If he will not be obedient to Christ's holy will, why does he pretend to be follower of Christ? Itis a grave mistake for any person to imagine that he can be in the church of God to his own advantage unless his heartis renewed, unless he means what he declares, and sincerely loves the rule under which he professes to put himself.
The intruder's sin was aggravated by the fact that after he had unlawfully come into the feast he still continued there withoutthe wedding robe. He does not appear to have had any compunction, or to have thought of amending his error. Only when theking came in and said, "Take him away," had the insolent rebel any idea of removing. Had he come in there, as I fear someof you have come into the church, under a mistake, thinking that there was no need of the wedding dress,when he looked around and saw all other persons wearing it, and observed that it was the peculiar mark of a guest, hewould have felt uneasy and have gone to those who kept the royal wardrobe to get such a robe for himself; and then his sinin the matter would not have been laid to his charge. But he persisted in remaining where he was, and as he was. O my dearhearers, if you have already perpetrated the sin of union with the visible church of God without having the prerequisites,withoutbeing indeed submissive to God in heart and desirous to honour Christ, I entreat you, seek what is wanted, seek faithin God, seek a new heart, seek holiness of life, seek to become a loyal subject of the King, and be not content until youhave these things, for the King will soon come in: he gives you time as yet, may he also give you grace to see to it that,being now where you ought never to have been, you may yet make your position a right one by obtaining that which will justifyyou inremaining where you are. The guest in his own clothes was a speckled bird amongst that company, it was possible for himeven then to have become one of them; but he would not, he continued to defy the King.
This persistence he retained though he probably knew the fate of those who had refused to come. He knew that the king hadsent forth his armies and destroyed those wicked men who had molested his messengers, and yet he dared to recline at his easein the very teeth, and defying the terrible power of the monarch. He made his brow as brass and hardened his heart as adamant,and forced his way into a position where his seditious spirit would be able to display itselfconspicuously. He said within his soul, "I care nothing for this marriage. I will make sport of it; I will intrude myselfinto that feast and show my contempt. I will take the provisions, but the son shall have no honour from me, and the king shallnot find me bend my will to his command." Thus he had the audacity to disport himself as a willful rebel at the feast of mercy.Are there any such among you here? The tendency will be for those who are not so to begin to condemn themselves. I knowalready one who has said, "I am that guest that had not on a wedding garment." She is not that one, for she is not evena member of the church, and therefore it cannot concern her; but many like her write bitter things against themselves. Anotherwill be saying, "I am that one," whereas, if there be one that lives near to God and whose desire is to be like Christ, andto be in all things conformed to the divine will, he is the man. You who are most assuredly right will probably be suspiciousthat you are not, and you who are insincere and have never submitted yourselves to the will of God will probably say,"What does it matter? I am doing as well as others, I give as much, I attend the means as much, surely there can be no causefor concern In me." God grant that you may feel anxiety and fear before the Lord.
II. We pass on to the next point-THE KING AT THE FEAST.
"The king came in to see the guests." What an honour and privilege this was to the poor creatures whom his royal munificencehad brought together! Was it not indeed the chief point of the entire festival'? One of our greatest joys is to sing-
The king himself comes near
And feasts his saints today!
What would church fellowship be if it had not the fellowship of God with it? To sit with my dear brethren and rejoice in theirlove is exceedingly delightful; but the best wine is fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. The king didnot provide the banquet and leave his guests to eat by themselves, but he "came in," and into every gospel church gatheredaccording to his command the King will come. I am sure the most fervent desire of this church is thatthe King may personally visit us. We trust he is with us, but we want him yet more fully to reveal himself. Our cry is,"Come, great King, with all thy glorious power, with thy Spirit and with thy glorious Son, and manifest thyself to us as thoudost not unto the world."
When the king came into the banqueting chamber he saw the guests, and they also saw him. It was a mutual revelation. Ever sweet is this to the saints, that their God looks upon them; hislook brings no terror to our minds when we are loyal and loving. "Thou God seest me" is sweet music. We desire to abide forever beneath the divine inspection, for it is an inspection of unbounded love. He sees our faults, it is to remove them; henotes our imperfections, it is tocleanse them away. Behold me, O great King, and lift up thine eyes upon me, accepting me in the Beloved. What joy it isto us who are saved in Christ Jesus that we also can see him! "Through a glass darkly," I grant you we behold him, for asyet we are not fit to behold the full splendour of his Godhead! but yet how sweetly doth he reveal himself to our souls andunveil his eternal love. Then it is that the feast is most fully a banquet of wine, when the banner of love waves over us,and theking's voice fills us with unspeakable delight.
"The king came in to see his guests." This, I say, was the crowning point of the entire banquet. Observe that he came in afterthey were in their places. They did not see him before they had entered his halls. When an inferior entertains a superiorhe always advances to the door to meet him and waits until he comes. If her Majesty the Queen were entertained by one of hernobles, he would be in waiting, and at the threshold would meet her; but when a superior entertains aninferior the inferior may take his seat at the table, and when all is ready the noble host will come in. It is so in thebanquet of mercy. You and I see nothing of God, by way of communion with him, until first we have been brought in by the messageof mercy to the marriage-feast of the gospel; for, indeed, until then a sight of God would strike us with terror-
"Till God in human flesh I see,
My thoughts no comfort find;
The holy, just, and sacred Three
Are terrors to my mind;
But when Immanuel's face appear,
My hope, my joy, begins;
His name forbids my slavish fear,
His grace removes my sins."
When I get to the banquet of mercy, then it is that I can dare to look at the King of kings, but not until then. What a joyoussight, a vision of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory as he appears in the gospel, feastingus upon his fatlings. An incarnate God makes God visible to us and makes us happy in the sight. "How canst thou see my faceand live?" was the old question, but, behold, it is answered this day. At the marriage union of Christwith his people we see the face of the King in his beauty, and our souls not only live, but we have life more abundantly.
Observe, dear brethren, that the King has special times for this. He is not always in the festal chamber; to our sorrow wesometimes miss the King's presence at his table. We have the ordinances always, but we do not always enjoy the God of ordinances.The means of grace are abiding, but the grace of the means will come and go according to the sovereign good pleasure of ourGod. The King has his times of coming in. These are glad times to his people, but they are tryingtimes to the mass of professors. When are these times? So far as unworthy guests are concerned, the times of God's visitationare those seasons when character is manifested. All times and periods do not reveal character. A lion may lie all day asleep,you may scarce know but what it is tame; but when the night brings the time for it to go forth to its prey, then it howls,and displays its ferocity. And so an ungodly man may lie down in the church of God with the lambs of the flock, and nothingmay lead you to suspect his true character, but when the time comes for him to make profit by sin, or to get pleasureby sin, or to escape from persecution by sin, then you find out what he is. These providences are the King's coming in toscrutinize the guests. Changes in the conditions of the church, changes in the condition of the individual, all sorts of providentialevents go to make up the great sieve by which the wheat and the chaff are separated.
A great and most solemn coming in of the King to see the guests is, when having looked over the church, unknown to us, hedecides that such and such a hypocrite has had space enough for repentance and time enough for mischief, and must now be summonedto the dread tribunal by death. The time when the King comes in to see his guests is not the last judgment, for that is thecoming of the Son and not of the Father, and if it were intended in the parable, we would read thatthe prince came in to see his guests. We are led to view the King himself as continually judging professors and detecting the rebelswho place themselves among the saints; by this judgment of God men are taken away from the church in their transgressions,bound hand and foot, and cast into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. I do not know, my dearbrethren, when God may be visiting this church, and taking away the men that are rebels in our midst, but I doknow that when professors die it is not certain that all of them sleep in Jesus; but some of them are rooted up, liketares from among the wheat, and are bound up in bundles to burn. The division is going on constantly. The King's presenceis known to believers in the joy which they feel, but it is made known to hypocrites by his cutting them off and appointingthem their portion in eternal woe.
If, however, there is any one time when we may be quite sure that the King comes in to see the guests, it is after large ingatheringsfrom the world, for notice here, when the servants had gathered in guests in large numbers, it was then that the king camein. Now it will be after the time of revival which we are feeling just now, when I hope a great many will be added to thechurch, that the Lord will search and sift us. If there has been no visitation of the churchbefore for purposes of love or judgment-for they go together-we shall be quite sure to have such a visit from the greatLord himself at this time.
III. Solemnly think of THE JUDGE AT THE FEAST.
To all the rest at the festival he was the king, the beloved monarch, the munificent donor of a splendid banquet, and alleyes feasted as they looked at him: it was joy enough to behold the king in his beauty, and to see his Son with all his royaljewels on, attired for the wedding feast; but he was a judge to the hypocritical intruder. The day of comfort to his saintsis also the day of vengeance of our God. He who comes to comfort all that mourn comes at the same time tosmite the rebellious with a rod of iron.
The judge begins, as you perceive, by seeing, "He saw there a man." What eyes are those of Omniscience! The parable represents but one such man as present, yet the All-seeingKing saw him at once, he fixed his flaming eyes on that one. I suppose it was a greater crowd than this, but the king fixedhis eyes on the solitary offender at once. Does the parable speak of only one because we may expect to find only one hypocritein a church? Alas! there have been many suchat the wedding feast, but one only is mentioned to show us that if there were but one, God would find him out; and, beingmany, the sinners in Zion may be the more sure that they will not escape. It is possible that none of the guests may havenoticed the man's garments; the parable makes no remark upon any expostulations made to him by others; perhaps they were allso taken up with the sight of the king, and so glad to be at the feast themselves, that they had no heart to make remarksuponothers. But this is certain, that the king detected at once the absence of what was requisite to the marriage feast. Itwas not the presence of anything offensive, but the absence of something which was requisite. He did not say to the unworthyguest, "Thou hast rags upon thee," or "thou art filthy." or "thou hast an unwashed face"; he enquired solely into the absenceof the peculiar badge which denoted a loving guest. God will judge, and does continually judge his church upon this question,the absence of what is absolutely necessary to being a Christian, the absence of honouring the Son, and obeying the Father.O soul, if thou art a professor of religion, and yet dost not love Jesus, and dost not fear the great King of kings, thoulackest the wedding robe, and what dost thou here? The King will see at once that thou lackest it. Thy morality, thy generosity,thy high sounding prayers, ay, and even thine eloquent discoursings, these cannot conceal from him the fact that thy heartis not with him. The one thing needful is to accept loyally the Lord as King.
The king next began to deal with the rebel. Note how he spoke with him. He took him on his own ground. It was too high a dayfor the king to use rough speech; the man pretended to be a friend, and he addressed him as such, but though the word I doubtnot was uttered softly, it must have stung him if he had any feeling left. Judas exemplified in his own person this character.When he gave the Saviour the traitor's kiss, our Lord addressed him as "friend." He pretended to bea friend. A friend, indeed, to insult his king at his own table, and to select for the insult the delicate occasion ofthe prince's marriage to which he had been hospitably invited! This was infamous! Friend indeed! Where will you find enemiesif such shall be called friends? The king put it to him, "How camest thou in hither?" What business hast thou here? What couldhave induced thee so maliciously to defy me? To smite me in my tenderest point, and mock my guests, and trample on my son?Didstthou intend such daring insolence? "How camest thou in hither? In hither? Was there nowhere else to pour forth thy sedition, no other spot in which to play the traitor? Needest thou come into mypalace, and to my table, and before my son on his wedding day to reveal thy enmity? Was there a need to do this?" So may theLord say to some of us. "Were there no other ways to sin, but that you must profess to be my servant when you were not so?Were there no other bowls that you could drinkfrom, that ye must profane the cups of my table? Was there no other bread that you could put into your wicked mouths butthe bread that represents the body of my Son? Had you nowhere else to sin in that you must needs sin in the church? Couldyou do nothing else to show your spite but that you must make a lying profession of faith in my Son, who bled upon the crossto redeem the sons of men? Could you assail me nowhere else but through the wounds of my only-begotten Son? Could you vexmy Spiritby no other means than by pretending to be my friend, and thrusting yourself in hither, while defiantly rejecting thatwhich was necessary to do me honour, and to do my Son honour, at the festival of my grace?" I dare not dwell upon the topic.I give you the text; I pray that your conscience may preach the sermon.
Notice however, one thing, and that is, that the king, when he thus turned a judge, dealt with this man only about himself."How camest thou in hither?" Did I hear a whisper in some one's mind, "Well, if I am unfit to be a church member, there are a great many otherswho are in the same condemnation." What is that to you? See to thyself! When the king came in to see the guests he did notsay to this man, "How came yonder persons here without the wedding garment?"His dealings were personal with him alone: "How camest thou in hither, not having on the wedding garment?" Professor, look to thyself, look to thyself. Let thy charity begin at home.Cast out the beam from thine own eye, and then mayst thou see clearly to cast out the mote that is in thy brother's eye. Hefixed on the one man, made him his entire audience, and directed to him the solemn question, "Friend, how camest thou in hither?"Ah, my dear hearers, as the pastor of this church ithas been a very great joy to me to see our numbers increased; many have been added to us, and many have gone forth fromus to form other churches; my joy has been constant in God concerning this matter. Our beloved brethren associated with mein office have done their best to keep any of you back who have sought membership in whom we could see no fruits corresponding.We have not used our office deceitfully; as in the sight of God we have tried to be neither too severe nor too lax, but forallthat I cannot but know that there are some of you who are not Christians though you bear the name. Like those of old,you say you are Jews and are not, but do lie. I am not now speaking of any who have fallen into sin and have suffered ourrebuke, or have been separated from us by excommunication and yet remain in the congregation; I mean others of you whose livesare all that could be desired openly, and yet there is a worm at the heart of your profession; you are not vitally godly,you have aname to live, and you keep that name untarnished as yet, but you are dead. Search ye yourselves; do not from this tabernacledescend into hell; let your prayer be, "Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men." I am as concerned aboutmyself as about you, that I should be found "accepted in the Beloved;" lest after having preached to others I myself shouldbe a castaway! Do let it be a matter of solemn anxiety with each one. If you have never come to Jesus, come now; if youhave never sought holiness of life, seek it now. If you have never had the wedding garment, it is yet procurable; go yeto him who freely gives it, the Lord will not refuse you; go to-day and he will accept you.
IV. He who was the unworthy guest is now THE CRIMINAL AT THE FEAST. The king has now become a judge to him; the question hasbeen personally put to him, and he is speechless. Why is he silent? Surely it was because he was convicted of open, undeniable disloyalty. No evidence was required; he hadcome there on set purpose with malice aforethought to display his disloyalty, and had done so in the presence of the King.I do not think he represents at all a person whoenters the church through ignorance, with a sincere but ignorant intention, but he pourtrays one who makes a professionwithout care to make it true-willfully despising the Lord's commands. He is a man willing to be saved by grace, and professingto be so, but refusing to acknowledge his duty to God and his obligations to the Son. He was speechless; he could not havechosen a worse place, nor a more impertinent method of ventilating his disloyalty than that which he selected; there wasnothing he could say in self-defense. At that moment, when the King looked him through and through, he saw the full horrorof his position; his loins were loosed, like Belshazzar of old when he saw the handwriting on the wall; he saw now that histime to insult was over, and the day of retribution had come. He was taken in the very fact, and could not escape. He hadbeen guilty of a superfluity of naughtiness, of an unnecessary extravagance of wickedness in coming into the feast to airhispride. He had committed a suicidal intrusion. He might have kept himself away at any rate, and not have thrust himselfinto the Judge's presence. He saw now that the cause of sedition was hopeless, the King was there and he was in his powerand none could rescue him. Why did he not burst into tears? Why did he not confess the wrong? Why did he not say, "My king,I have insulted thee, have pity upon me"? His proud heart would not let him. Sin made him incapable of repentance. There isa verse inone of Hart's hymns which runs thus-
"Fixed is their everlasting state:
Could they repent, 'tis now too late."
That is true enough, but it supposes an impossibility, and I think it would have been far better to have said-
"Fixed is their everlasting state;
They can't repent, 'tis now too late."
Because the sinner goes on to sin he continues still to suffer; he will not turn, he cannot turn. As the Ethiopian cannotchange his skin, nor the leopard his spots, so when sin has reached its height the man cannot bend, or bow, or retrace hissteps. Oh, if he could have repented even then! But he could not; and the tears that came after the king had pronounced thesentence where no tears of penitence, but only of despairing pride. He stood speechless. It was not onlythat he had no excuse, but he would not confess his wrong. Have I anyone here in such a condition of heart, that whilehe has been sinning by making a false profession, and knows it, yet he sullenly refuses to confess his fault? Yield thee,man! Yield at once. Fall at the King's feet at once. Even if you are not a hypocrite, if you have any suspicion that you are,fall down and say, "My King, make me sincere; I submit myself to thy will, and am ready to put on the wedding badge; if thereis anymethod by which I can honour thy Son, I cavil not at it; let me wear his colours, and be known by all men to be trulya lover of the great Prince."
But now, lastly, while he stood speechless in the king's presence, the king gave place to THE EXECUTIONER, for he utteredthese words, "Bind him hand and foot." He was lawless, make him feel the law; he said, "I am free, and I will do as I like," let him never be free again; bind him,pinion him. Executioner, do your duty, prepare him for death. Alas, there are some who are bound and pinioned even beforethe breath is out of their bodies. In their dying hours falseprofessors have often found that they could not pray, and could not repent; like dying Spira, that arch-hypocrite andapostate, they have been sensible of misery, but not penitent, and no gospel promise has availed to comfort them. Their heartswere seared, they were twice dead before they were dead. Then came the sentence, "Take him away," which is sometimes executed by the church in her excommunications-deceivers are taken away from the gospel feast by justdiscipline; but which ismore fully carried out in the hour of death when the man's hope fails him. Ah, sirs, what will ye do if ye have no truegrace in your hearts when you are taken away from the Lord's table, taken away from the baptism in which you gloried, takenaway from the doctrines of the gospel which you understood so well by head, but which you did not know in your heart. JohnBunyan's description of the man dragged by seven devils, bound with cords, comes up before my mind. "Bind him hand and footand takehim away." How thankful I am that the servants who brought them in are not the same who were commanded to take them away.The Douloi brought them in, the diakonoi took them away, the King has a special order of servants for the taking of deceivers away; his angels do that in the hourof death-they execute his vengeance. He gives us ministers a better office, he bids us be his heralds of mercy. Then the judgesaid, "Cast him," fling him like a useless, worthless thing.That wretch has dared pollute my marriage feast, cast him away, as men fling weeds over the garden wall or shake off vipersinto the fire. There is none in heaven or earth thought more despicable, more fit to be thrown away as rubbish and offal,than a man who had a Christian name, but had not the essentials of the Christian nature. Cast him away. Where? "Into outer darkness" far from the banquet hall where torches flame and lamps are bright; drive him out into the cold, chilly midnightair. He has once seen the light, it will be all the darker now for him when he is driven into the dark. There is no darknessso dark as the darkness of the man who once saw light. Cast him into outer darkness. What will he do there? We are not toldwhat would be done to him, it was not needful; we learn elsewhere as much as could be revealed to us, but we are told what he did, for "there shall be weeping," not the gush of tears which gives relief but the everlasting dropping ofscalding tears which create fresh sorrow and enlarge their own source. The outcast shed no tears of regret, but of sullendisappointment, because he could not after all dishonour the king, and had even served to illustrate the royal justice andpower, and so had brought glory to the king whom he hated in soul. Then came the "gnashing of teeth," caused by wrath andenvy because he could do no more mischief. No sorrow is equal to that of a malicious spirit, that having attempted a daringdeed ofatrocious wickedness, has been defeated and has contributed to the triumph of the good and excellent. The misery of hellis not a misery which God arbitrarily creates, it is the necessary result of sin, it is sin itself come to ripeness. Hereyou see the picture of the man who was insolent enough to come into the church without being a Christian, and now for everhe gnashes with his teeth against that glorious Majesty of heaven which it will never be in his power to injure, but whichit willalways be in his heart to hate; and this will be his hell-that he hates God, this his darkness-that he cannot see beautyin God, and this the outerness of the darkness-that he cannot enter into God's will. "Depart ye cursed," is only love repellingthat which is not lovely, it is only justice giving to man what his fallen nature craved after. "Get away from me, ye didnot honour me; when ye did come to me it was with your lips only. Go where your hearts were; depart from me, you cursed."Oh, may God grant that not one here may come under the lash of this terrible parable, but may we be found of the Lordin peace in the day of his appearing. You see, then, how the Lord sifts us. First we are sifted by the preaching of the gospel,and many will not come-there is one heap of chaff: next, by the judgment of God in his church, and others are found wanting-thereis another heap of chaff. Ah, when this is done, and the two great sieves are used, shall we be found among the wheat?
Do you say, "the sermon has nothing to do with me, I never made a profession, I shall go home easy enough." Come hither friend,I must not let you go. There is a vagabond brought before the magistrate accused of theft, he says he is perfectly innocent,but he is convicted and has to suffer for it; after him comes a bragging fellow, who says, "I do not make any profession ofbeing honest, I rob anybody I can, and I mean to do so, I do not pretend to keep the law." Why,methinks the magistrate would say, "I condemned the one who did at least pretend to something decent, but to you I givedouble punishment, you are evidently incorrigible, and your case needs no consideration." You who do not say you are Christians,who confess you are not, you avow yourselves the enemies of Christ; get no comfort therefore out of this parable I pray you,but yield yourselves to the Saviour, and believe in him, for he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Epistle of Jude.
The attention of all our friends is earnestly directed to the SERIES OF SPECIAL SERVICES AT THE TABERNACLE. In order thatLondon friends may unite with us we publish the meetings week by week, and at the same time our country friends can join withus in spirit:-
Lord's-day, February 26th.-Sermon to the Sabbath School and young people generally. By C.H.S., at 3 p.m.
Monday, February 27th.-Prayer-meeting for females only, at six. Young people's prayer-meeting at the same time. At seven, Elders and Deacons willdeliver addresses to the unconverted at the usual prayer-meeting.
Tuesday, February 28th.-Great meeting of butcher's men, invited by Mr. Henry Varley. Addresses in the Tabernacle at 7. (Tickets.) C.H.S. to preside.
Wednesday, March 1st.-Prayer-meetings at the houses of our friends, according to the list, which will be issued. May the prayers of all the householdsbe heard in heaven.
Thursday, March 2nd.-Mothers' prayer-meeting at six. Meeting for persons under concern of soul at half-past eight, after the lecture. Fathers'prayer-meeting at 8:30.
Friday, March 3rd.-Meeting of our young friends above fifteen, and yet unsaved. Tea at six. (Tickets to be had of the Elders.)