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placed before the fire ; for the reason, doubtless, that this, as well as the former object, is used to bear something upon it. So again may the word crown be adduced as an instance of a similar description, as it signifies a regal or imperial ornament of the head, and a coin which bears the impress of this ornament. Many similar instances might be adduced were it not that these two are sufficient for our purpose. And if individual words are thus employed, it is not necessary to explain why many of them collected into a sentence, or a story, or recital of a greater or less length, should be used in a similar manner. Of the fact of these being thus used we have instances in the poetical imagery of the prophets ; in the parables of the New Testament; and in ordinary fables, the literal import of which it would be a waste of time to trouble ourselves with, were it not for the moral which is implied in them.
It is, however, to be further observed, that languages, in respect of the figurative materials contained in them, differ in regard to the quantity of these materials from each other. To enquire why would not come within the scope of a religious discourse. To enquire into the fact is, nevertheless, quite in accordance with the purpose we have in view; that of enabling ourselves to comprehend that species of language which so frequently prevails in the conversation of our Saviour. It ought, therefore, to be known that the languages of the cold climates of the north are more plain and literal, that is, less figurative, than those of the south. The further we advance towards the south the more do we find the language of the country remarkable for the peculiarity to which we are now alluding. Thus the language of Italy is more figurative, that is, more according to the language of parable than that of England; and the language of Palestine, the country of our Saviour's birth, more so than that of Italy. And, therefore, do we find our Lord so frequently addressing his countrymen in parables, and in such language as he used when he said, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God;” and such as he used when he said, speaking of the kingdom of heaven as though he had been speaking of a marriage feast to the bystanders, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many,
say unto you, shall seek to enter therein and shall not be able.”
I feel persuaded, were such facts as these attended to, that there would be a considerable diminution in the number of those “heresies and schisms;" those fanaticisms and follies; those perversions and misinterpretations of Scripture which demoralize and disgrace the Christian world. In noticing these facts on the present occasion, however, it has not been my object to censure the tendency of those “profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science, falsely so called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith ;” and which (if persevered in) “ will increase unto more ungodliness ;"
but to enable your minds duly to receive and comprehend that invaluable truth which has been implanted in the language of our text, by the authority and the almighty power of Christ, the second Person of the ever blessed and immortal Trinity.
And in respect of this text, I would observe, that though it may consist of certain figurative expressions, as a whole it is to be regarded as containing instruction of a plain and literal character, and such as is calculated to explain the moral of the preceding figurative or parabolic exhortation of our Saviour. The master of the house may indeed be regarded as the bridegroom who closed the door against those unwise and improvident applicants, who, though perhaps known to the bridegroom, or to some of his acquaintance who might have recommended them to his notice, neglected to take the necessary precaution beforehand, and in the day time when their persons could have been recognized and their qualifications investigated, but rather chose to remain inactive until the moment of ad. mission, and to trust to their good fortune and the darkness of the night. Such as these, when knocking in vain, are here represented to have declared that they were known to the master of the house, and that they had actually eaten and drunk in his presence."
At this point we may consider the parabolic portion of our Saviour's address to terminate, and the literal part of it to begin. “ Thou hast taught in our streets," are words which seem directly to refer us to the character and office of our Saviour, who selected not the synagogues only, but the highways, and the streets, and places of the most public resort as the scenes of his ministerial exhortations. He, therefore, is it, that we now regard as the real Master of the house, who will hereafter shut the door against those who shall knock without having previously rendered themselves worthy of admission. Such as these will then in vain plead that they have enjoyed the society of the Son of God while on earth, that they have been of the number of guests to which he has chosen to attach himself. To such as these he will undoubtedly refuse admittance, when he will likewise reply unto them, “I know you not from whence ye are: depart from
ye workers of iniquity.” And if such will be the reply of the Son of God hereafter—if such will be his deportment towards those who, unqualified and unprepared, shall request him to open the door of the kingdom of heaven to them, though their only pretensions to so great a favour are that they personally knew him while on earth, what think you will be his conduct towards those who cannot urge that they have personally known him, though they may assert that, in a different sense from that which we have been contemplating, they have eaten and drunk with him; that they have even partaken of the bread and wine, the sacred symbols of his most blessed body and blood, where and when he has been spiritually present : what, I mean, will be his conduct towards those who can
merely advance such pretensions as these, while their consciences must assure them that though they may have outwardly conformed to the ordinances of the Gospel, they have inwardly and spiritually rejected them by disobeying the whole or the greater part of those divine commands which apply to the internal rather than to the external duties of their religion; to the regulation of the heart and mind, rather than to the conformity of the body with external ceremonies ? Be assured, brethren, that a knowledge of your Saviour, in order that it may avail you in the hour of need, must be a knowledge rather of the heart than of the head. It must be such a knowledge as, indeed, implies a disposition to obey the commands of God in every respect, without regard to the fact of their referring to one kind of duty or to another kind of duty. Such a knowledge, I repeat, will alone avail you in the hour of need, for by such a knowledge only can you now, during the time of your probation, become endowed with those qualities in virtue of which, by God's grace preventing and co-operating with you, you will be received as guests at the marriage which shall be hereafter solemnized in Heaven. To plead that you have strictly and sedulously observed all the ordinances of the Gospel ; that you have read the Bible; said your prayers both in private and public; regularly partaken of the Supper of the Lord; to plead all this, I say, will be of no avail unless you strenuously and religiously endeavour to do those duties to which these are clearly subservient