<< THE MARRIAGE OF THE KING’S SON. >>
THE REJECTION OF DIVINE TRUTH AND GOOD.
2"The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. 4"Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.' 5"But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8"Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' 10So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11"But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless. 13"Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14"For many are invited, but few are chosen."(MATTHEW XXII. 2-14.)
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
The kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of love, wisdom and usefulness, in the mind and conduct of men, The presence of the Lord's love and wisdom makes heaven in men. The “King" is Jehovah, the Divine Father, the "King of kings." And the "Son" is the Divine Humanity,
In Jesus Christ, as the one person of the Divine Being, there is a marriage of the Divine Love with the Divine Wisdom, or, in other words, of the Divine Good with the Divine Truth. And, from the Lord, true marriage is in men, according to the degree of their regeneration. And the Lord's life is in men, in its integrity, in the degree in which there is, in their individual minds, a marriage, or complete union, of truth in their intellects with love in their hearts.
In another sense, there is a marriage between the Lord and the Church. And so, in the Lord's Word, He is called the" Bridegroom " and the "Husband," and the Church is called the" Bride " and the " Wife."
The complete marriage of Divine Truth with Divine Good, even in the ultimates, or last things, is shown in the glorification of the Divine Humanity of Jesus Christ. And this Divine marriage made it possible for fallen men to return to a state of spiritual marriage, through repentance and regeneration. And, as the marriage of good and truth in men brings them into a heavenly state of character, so the kingdom of heaven is compared to a marriage, For, in fact, the kingdom of heaven is a marriage, And no one is mentally in heaven until he is in this condition of spiritual marriage. Thus, the spiritual marriage is the re-union of the two parts of man's mind, the will and the understanding, which God had joined together, but which man, in his fall, put asunder.
MARRIAGE IN THE WORD.
The spiritual marriage is indicated in the letter of the Lord's Word, by double expressions, which are very frequent in the Scriptures, and which relate, one to the affections of the will, and the other to the thoughts of the understanding. F or instance; "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Hunger refers to a longing for goodness, and thirst refers to a seeking for the truth. Thus the Lord's Word seeks to induce the spiritual marriage in men.
In a more abstract sense, the cc “King" is the Divine Truth in the inward, spiritual sense of the Divine Word ; and the "Son" is the truth in the letter of the Word. Thus the Lord unites the spirit and the letter of His holy Word, that men may be brought into a spiritual marriage, The Lord seeks to unite Himself to men, and men to Himself that He may give them the joys of heavenly life, as a marriage-feast to their souls.
THE LITERAL PICTURE.
The parable gives us a representative picture of these things. In Oriental countries, great men frequently provided feasts. A considerable time before the day of the feast, servants were sent to invite the guests. Sometimes, the exact day and hour were not fixed; but notice was given that the guests were expected. Custom included a second call, on the day of the feast, when the servants would again go around, to notify the guests that everything was now ready. The guests having already accepted the invitation when first invited, had thus pledged themselves to attend the feast, when summoned; and to refuse, when called, would be to violate their pledged word, and to insult the host.
THE HISTORICAL MEANING.
So, the coming of the Lord was foretold by the prophets; and, though the time was not fixed, yet men were invited, and cautioned to prepare themselves for the day of His coming, and for the spiritual feast which He should bring. And When the Lord was ready to come, He sent His servant, John the Baptist, to announce His coming, and to summon men to the feast, through repentance and reformation. Thus the Divine King made a marriage-feast for His Son; for the Divine Truth is the Son, or out-birth, of the Divine Love.
THE SPIRITUAL MEANING.
Personally, each of us is called to this feast. The servants who are sent to invite us, are the truths of the Lord's Word. Every truth teaches us to look to the Lord, in love, faith and obedience. All persons who hear, or read, the truth of the Lord's Word, are thus invited to the marriage-feast, in which love and wisdom, or good and truth, shall be united in men's minds and lives.
But, “they would not come;" literally," they were not willing to come." Men were in sensuous states of merely natural affections and were not willing to enter into spiritual-minded states. The difficulty was with their will. They abused their free-will. They had the power to repent and to reform, but they had not the inclination; they were not disposed to be spiritual-minded.
Historically, those who received the invitation of the holy Word, and who would not go to the spiritual feast, were the Jews, who had the letter of the Word, but who rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, although He came in fulfilment of the prophecies of the Word. The Jews had been invited to the feast; and they had accepted the invitation, and looked forward to the corning of the Messiah.
And when He came, and sent out His apostles, as servants, to call the Jews to the feast, they declined to attend. They did not desire the kind of a feast which Jesus proclaimed. They desired a feast for their natural evils, and that they might be exalted over other nations. But when they learned from the Lord, that His "kingdom" was "not of this world," but of the spirit; and that it was to be entered and enjoyed by self-denial, repentance and reformation, they were utterly opposed to it.
Personally, all natural-minded men, who will not repent and reform, at the call of the Lord's Word, are like the Jews in character; i. e. they are natural-minded, sensuous and selfish, and averse to goodness.
THE SECOND CALL.
“Again, he sent forth other servants," etc. Thus the invitation is repeated. Historically, the first call was made to the Jews, through Moses and the prophets; and the second call was given through John the Baptist, and Jesus Himself. Or, apart from persons, and in a general sense, the first invitation was made to men's understanding, by instruction in truth, by which they were taught about the Lord, and heaven and hell. And then, when men had sufficient instruction to know what the Lord teaches, a second invitation was extended, to their will, by seeking to awake spiritual affections in them.
Thus, in order that men may truly come to the marriage, they are called, as to both parts of their mental nature, the understanding and the will. Thus opportunity is given to them to have their will and their understanding married, or united in spiritual conjunction.
First, by truth, the Lord teaches us who and what He is, and what we are, and what are the relations between Himself and us. And then, by a second invitation, He offers to join Himself to us, and to unite us to Himself by means of love. He offers to fill all our affections with genuine and heavenly life.
The feast, or "dinner," to which we are called, is a consociation of friends. And we attend this feast, when we love the Lord, as our Friend, and desire to be united with Him, in love, wisdom and usefulness. We love the Lord as a friend, when we obey His laws of life. For He says, "He that hath My commandments, and, keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me;" and “Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." The Lord, from His own Divine Love, provides the spiritual feast; He provides everything necessary for our union with Him. He gives us the truth; . and He fills us with love of the truth, as freely as we are willing to love it. He marries our knowledge and our affection, our truth and our good, as far as we will enter into the spiritual marriage.
So, in the Church, the Holy Supper is a feast, a reception of the bread of love and the wine of truth, in union with the Lord. And it is called a communion, because, in it, the hearts of sincere men are brought nearer to the Lord and are more fully opened to His inflowing life; and, at the same time, men are brought into closer and more loving union with each other. For men increase in the love of each other, as they increase in the love of their common Father.
The Lord calls us to a feast in all the parts of our human life, will, understanding and conduct. Religion it not a matter of "faith, alone," nor of love, alone, nor of works, alone; it is the union, or marriage, of faith and love, in good works. Again, religion is not in an austere life of self-denial as to all the pleasures of human life; it is in the fulness of our life, in all its departments, but purified and ennobled by a pervading spirit of love to the Lord. O Lord, "In Thy presence is fulness of joy, and at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." But they are the pleasures of a regenerate man.
BEAST AND ANGEL.
In man are combined the animal and the angel. It is not the fulness of a man's natural and corporeal life that makes him a beast, but the abuse of it; the impurity of selfish life, and its divorce from spiritual life; its practical denial of the principle of a marriage between the two natures in man. All the orderly affections in man are good, in their way and in their place. But their quality depends on their inward life. If we indulge them merely for selfish gratification, and irrespective of the good of other persons, they are selfish and evil. But, if we use them in the love of the Lord, He will fill them with a higher quality of life, so that they will be in orderly connection with spiritual things; as the physical body, in its condition of order, is moved by the indwelling spirit.
Thus, a man may eat and drink, and enjoy the life of his senses, provided he does so innocently. If he “eats to live," he may enjoy his eating, because it is useful to him ; and the use is the real end in view, But, if he “lives to eat," his end, or purpose, will be sensual and selfish, and so the whole man will be selfish; for all the acts of the man partake of his characteristic quality.
When the servants go out to call the guests they say in the name of their master, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner," etc. "Behold!" calls the attention of the guests to the matter, and so brings the case pointedly before them. So, the truths of the Lord's Word arrest our attention, and give us a pointed opportunity to know what is required of us.
"My oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready." Beasts represent our affections, of various kinds. The Lord is called a Lamb, to denote His Divine principle of innocence, And Jesus called Herod a fox, to denote Herod's sensuous cunning, which the fox represents. Oxen represent the natural affections; they are the every-day working affections which we commonly exercise. Thus oxen represent the external good of our life. But fatlings, as the young, or next generation, represent our inward or spiritual affections, which are of our second birth, or regeneration. Thus they represent our spiritual good. And, in the full life of the regenerate man, both the oxen and the fatlings ,are prepared for food; both his natural arid spiritual affections
are good, and are food to him. Thus, while the unregenerate man is in disorder, both inwardly and outwardly, the regenerate man is in order, in freedom, and in fulness of life, both inwardly and outwardly. The Lord calls him to feast in all things of his full and rounded life, because they are all purified. " All things are ready" for a full and useful life. The Lord seeks to unite Himself to men, in the joys of regenerate life.
But how do men generally respond to the Lord's invitation? Nearly every man will say that he loves the truth, and that he intends to do good. But, when the test comes practically before them, the majority of men seem to prefer their own sensuous life and selfish pleasures, rather than the joys of regenerate life.
MAKING LIGHT OF THE INVITATION.
When the guests were called to the feast, “they made light of it;" they allowed it to exert very little influence upon them ; they held it in very light, or slight, esteem. The selfish mind; when called to the heavenly marriage of good and truth, regards that marriage as of no importance, and remains unconverted and unrepentant. To such a mind, the life of heaven seems to be of no essential importance toward
the life of earthly pleasures. Thus the evil mind is inverted, putting the earthly life above, and heaven below, "Then he forsook God who made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation."
“And [they] went their ways." Ways, or paths, represent mental ways, a man's ways of thinking and doing. In a good sense, ways are truths, which are ways of attaining good. In a bad sense, as in the text, ways are false principles, the ways in which evil men act. And these ways pass away from the Lord, and in the direction of self. So the selfish man separates himself from the Lord, and from the heavenly marriage of good and truth.
THE FARM AND MERCHANDISE.
“ His own farm," relates to the principles in his will, or heart, his characteristic affections. For the farm is land, in which plants are raised; and land represents good, as distinguished from water, or truth. And, as contrasted with the farm, "his merchandise," or things of traffic, represent the thoughts in his understanding, with which he mentally trades. The man declines heavenly affections and thoughts, and the heavenly marriage, and prefers his own kind of life, his evil affections, and his false thoughts, which he joins in an infernal marriage.
It seems almost incredible that men should refuse the heavenly feast of regenerate life. And yet all history demonstrates the fact of such refusal. Men would not make light of or hold as contemptible, an invitation from their earthly king, or ruler, asking them to dine with him. How amazing, then, that they should show contempt for the invitation of their heavenly King. But sensuous men see nothing attractive in the life of spiritual good and truth.
Farms and merchandise arc good, in their way and place; they are necessary and useful. But, if they engross our entire attention of heart, as well as of body, they become a snare to us. It is not merely the quantity of attention that a man gives to his external life and work, that injures his soul, but the quality of that attention. As long as he works for use, and for a good spiritual purpose, his work is useful. But when men care for external things, only, they destroy, in themselves, all the good influence of the Lord's truth.
Men hear the Lord's Word, and pay attention to it, through the "remains," or good and true states stored up in their young minds, by the Lord. These " remains" are also the Lord's servants. But, if men cling to the flesh-pots of Egypt, they become excited against the truth. Then, as the text says, they took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them."
The first invitation was sent through instruction; and the second invitation carne through the "remains,” to the will, That the evil men "took” these servants, means that violently, and in their will, they opposed the truths of the Word; that they " entreated " the servants "spitefully" means that they opposed these truths in their understanding, and held them in derision and contempt; that they "slew''' the servants, means that they violated such truths in daily life, and thus destroyed, in themselves, the life of such truths.
Witness how often the Jews slew the Lord's prophets, and even slew the greatest of prophets, Jesus, Himself the Divine Prophet. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."
"But, when the king heard thereof he was wroth ; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.” The Lord knows, of course, all that is going on in men's minds and conduct. When it is said that the Lord heard, it means that men recognized the fact that the Lord heard; when the truth, which is the King, displays to men their own states.
These things are said concerning the judgment, which results from men's rejection of the Lord's invitation, and of the good offices of the truths of the Divine Word. As men fix and confirm themselves in the denial and rejection of the practical work of Divine Truth, these truths that they know, and yet hold in contempt, and abuse, bring them to judgment. These truths are laws of spiritual life; and they judge a man to remain what he has voluntarily and deliberately chosen to be.
Thus, as a man fills up the measure of his character, he necessarily comes to judgment; for judgment is the outgrowth and result of his character; and when his character is fixed, his judgment must be complete, If men have truths in their memory, and "remains" of good stored up in their hearts, the more they intentionally turn themselves against these inward servants of the Lord, the more they Judge themselves to be forms of the evil which they love and live upon.
Thus the truths of the Divine Word become an army, acting In judgment, But there is no anger, or retaliation, in the Lord, nor in the truth. The wrath is in evil men though, to them, it seems to be in the Lord. For every man's idea of God is colored by his own character. "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself."
The Divine truth does not attack men, even when-they are evil, But, when the Lord sends His truths to men, evil men pervert the truth, and, in their own minds, falsify it, and turn it into falsity. And it is this falsity which destroys the mind that holds it. These armies are, then, the falses in the understanding of the evil man, And the anger which he thinks he sees in the Lord, is really the evil in the man's own will, These false principles destroy the murderers of good and truth, when they alienate such minds from the Lord, who is the only Source of life.
BURNING THE CITY.
And they burn the "city" of these murderers , i. e., they destroy all the doctrines of truth, in the man's mind, For a city represents an orderly arrangement of doctrines, in the mind, built up for the protection and use of the spirit.
Fire is the symbol of love. But perverted or evil love is lust; and such fire is evil. And this evil is the fire that burns up the city, or doctrine, of the unregenerate man. It is not the Lord that destroys men, "Evil. shall slay the wicked;" and that evil is in the men, themselves.
And because evil is a consuming fire, so the evil men, in the hells, are said to be in unquenchable fire. But the fire is in themselves. And the more they plunge themselves into evils, the more they destroy, in themselves, all good and true principles, and all heavenly marriage, and all the presence and influence of the Lord. Historically, it was the love of evil, and the life of evil, in the Jews, that led them to reject the Lord, Jesus Christ, and thus to bring themselves to judgment. Those who will not come to the Lord's marriage-feast, are those who will not meet the Lord, in His Word, and will not love, and adopt, the Divine Good, by obedience to His precepts of daily life.
THE SECOND COMPANY INVITED.
But now the king changes the form of his invitation, and calls to his feast another company of guests. "Then saith he unto his servants, The wedding is ready, but they who were bidden were not worthy. Go ye, therefore, into the .high-ways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage." Men are worthy, when they understand and appreciate the worth of spiritual life; when, in regenerate love, faith and ,obedience, they exalt the Lord above all else. Worthiness, then, does not depend upon a man's hereditary natural qualities, nor upon any outward circumstances, but on his state of regeneration. He is "worthy," in the degree in which he enters into the heavenly marriage.
But the Divine Truth of the Lord's Word, though rejected by some who are instructed in it, yet finds a home in the minds of others, who have been in the falsities of ignorance; and these by instruction, are brought into union with the Lord.
In Bible lands and times, the poor were often called in from the streets, or ways, to dispose of the remnants of a feast. A mental way is the path, or direction, in which the mind moves towards its purpose. What a man's mental way is, will depend on what his ruling-love is. High-ways, or principal paths, are the main roads of the mind; the ways, truths, or doctrines, by which the mind travels to its ruling purpose. In the text, the expression is, literally, "the partings of the high-ways ;" i. e., the cross-ways, The high-ways to heaven are the truths of the Lord's Word, But the “partings of the high-ways," that is, the cross-ways, are the indirect ways of the mind, the ways less clear, and more out of the beaten path.
The Gentiles, not having the written Word, did not know the straight and direct road to heaven; but they wandered in cross-ways and by-ways, in errors of opinion, in false doctrines. They were “ a people that walked in darkness." The Jews, as a Church, were unworthy, And the Gentiles were called to become a new Church. They were ignorant; but some were well-disposed, while others were evil.
But we have, in our own minds, both Jew and Gentile states. And when our Lord cannot turn us from our evils by means of direct truths, on the main road of our mental life, He will send out His servants, the truths of His holy Word, to appeal to our Gentile states of mind, to whatever may be well-disposed in our natural minds. And, often, where we would resist His plain leadings, He meets us in the cross-ways and by-ways of our mental life; and He reaches us indirectly, perhaps through some permitted discipline. Thus, the way to heaven is finally made attractive to all who have any disposition to walk in it. They "hear a word behind [them], saying, This is the way, walk ye in it."
GATHERING THE GUESTS.
“So those servants went out into the cross-ways, and gathered together all, as many as they found, both bad and good; and the wedding-feast was furnished with guests." Thus the truths of the Lord's Word, neglected by our sensuous minds, still come to us, even indirectly, in the by-ways of our thought and feeling; and they seek to influence everything- in our natural mind, both bad and good. For the Lord's Word is sent to all, that all may be regenerated, if possible; that the kingdom of heaven and the feast of spiritual marriage, may be furnished with guests from the human race.
Thus the Divine Truth is given to all, and the Divine Providence is over all. There is no predestination of any one to hell. The Divinely-intended destiny of every man is heaven; the marriage-feast of the spirit is spread for all. And those who do not attend it, or who cannot remain at it, are those who, in spite of all that the Divine Love and Wisdom can do, are not willing to be drawn away from their evil and selfish life.
“And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who had not on a wedding-garment," etc. By Oriental custom, when a king, or a great man, made a feast, and when the guests had assembled, the host came into the room, and passed among his guests, speaking to each. The" king" is the Lord. He comes in to see His guests when He sends His inflowing spirit into the minds of men. And the fuller inflowing of the Divine spirit into a man's mind, produces judgment upon the man, If he loves the Lord, he will then more fully reject his evils; but, if he does not love the Lord, he will then more fully reject all that he knows of good and truth.
The man addressed as a “friend " [literally, an "acquaintance"], means one who is acquainted with the Lord, by knowing truths, but who does not love the truth, and does not love the Lord.
When the king carne in, he found a man without a wedding-garment; i. e., he was not properly dressed for the occasion. Literally, it seems very harsh and unfair, to censure a man for not being properly dressed, when, according to our modern customs, he would not have had any opportunity to dress himself suitably ; for he was taken from the street, without adequate notice, and without opportunity to go home to prepare himself.
But a knowledge of Oriental customs relieves the case of its apparent harshness. Oriental kings, and other rich men, kept large supplies of extra clothing, for the use of their guests. And so it was expected that each guest would appear in the banquet-room, properly dressed. And if he failed to do so, his action would be regarded as an insult to the host. And, very naturally, the offender would be expelled from the house.
And, in the spiritual sense of the text, the man would commit an offence, and would exclude himself from the spiritual marriage-feast. In the Sacred Scriptures, much is said about the garments of men, of angels; and of the Lord. For instance, in the transfiguration of Jesus, the changes in His appearance extended to His garments, also. Garments, or clothing, represent truths, in which the mind is clothed. Every affection is clad, or expressed, or manifested, in some corresponding truth. Excited and powerful affection clothes itself in vigorous and direct thoughts and language; and a listless, dreamy feeling comes slowly forth, in easy and moderate thoughts and words.
In Psalm civ., 2, we read of the Lord, "Who coverest Thyself with light, as with a garment." And light is the symbol of truth, for truth is the light of the mind. Thus the Lord covers Himself with truth, as with a garment. The garment of the Lord is the Divine Truth. And so the Church is thus addressed, "Put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city."
As the mental marriage is the union of good and truth, or of love and wisdom, so the wedding-garment is the truth which is loved and practised, and which is thus joined with love. For instance, the truth which is held by “ faith alone," is not a wedding-garment, for it is not married to our affection.
Thus, the man who presented himself at the wedding-feast, without arraying himself ill the suitable clothing provided by the king, represents the man who expects to attain and enjoy the heavenly delights of regenerate life, by “faith alone," without waiting to clothe his mind in the truths of heaven, spiritually married to a heavenly love of good and truth, and confirmed in the practise of good and truth, in his daily life.
The truths of the Lord's Word will call men to the feast; but they will also conduct them to the Sacred Scriptures, as the King's wardrobe, provided for His guests, that they may clothe themselves in suitable wedding-garments, for the marriage-feast of the King's Son.
WITHOUT A WEDDING-GARMENT.
But the man without a wedding garment is one who, at the call of the Divine Word attempts to come into heavenly life and into intimate communion with the Lord, without a thorough and living love of the truth; without doing the work of repentance and reformation, The Lord cannot give heaven to those who will not do their part to make themselves receptive of heavenly principles. And heavenly principles do not become fixed and confirmed in the man, except by a life according to them. “Why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"
That the Lord saw the man without a wedding-garment, means that the presence of the Divine Truth displayed the real character of the man, as not heavenly.
THE SUPREME MEANING.
In the best sense, the wedding-garment, in which we attend the marriage-feast of the King's Son, is the truth of the Divine Humanity of Jesus Christ, in which the Divine and human natures are married, in the one person of the one God, Jesus Christ. In the light which comes to the sincere mind, in the affectionate reception of this great truth, the mind is inwardly open spiritually and rationally to understand 'the Lord, Himself and His holy Word ; and to commune with the Lord, in His Word, as in a feast of love and wisdom.
So, the Lord calls all men, even the Gentiles, to feast in the good and true things of His holy Word. And He informs them that, to enjoy this feast, they must first clothe themselves, mentally, with the truths of the letter of the Word, the commandments of life. "A good understanding have all they that do His commandments."
Thus, if a man does not love the truth, and will not practise it, his theoretical knowledge of it will not suitably array his mind for a heavenly feast. In the judgment, he will be seen to be without the life of truth; and then, as he develops his real character, he will lose even the knowledge of truth. For a man carries with him , into the active life of the spiritual world, those things, only, which he has built into his practical life on earth. And they who, knowing the truth, would neither love it nor practise it, will then utterly reject it, even as theory.
If they attempt to claim heaven, by reason of their supposed faith, the light of heaven will be let in upon their minds; and it will show them not only what their real character is, but also that the real character of heaven is not all congenial to them.
And then they will be "speechless," like the man in the parable; i. e., they will be convinced of their unfitness for heavenly life, and unable to offer any excuse. Speech is the expression of thought. And one who is speechless is one who has nothing to say, no thought to express, in defence of himself. And spiritually, he has no thought in favor of heavenly life, for he is not mentally clothed in heavenly truth.
When evil is given control of the affections, and thus of the secret thoughts, it binds a man in slavery to sin. "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." Thus the kings said to his servants, concerning the man without a wedding-garment, "Bind him, hand and foot, and take him way, and cast him into outer darkness." To" bind him hand and foot," is to bind his powers, or faculties, of the interior mind, and of the exterior mind; for the hands are the upper extremities, and the feet are the lower extremities. And they both represent our powers, which we exert by them, in the works of our hands, and in the walk of our feet.
Thus evil binds the whole man in sin. And, as evil men must be restrained from doing evil to others, it appears, to them, that the Lord binds them, when, in fact, they are bound by their own evils. And the Lord really comes to them, to set them free, “to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."
Evils also “take" a man “away" from the Lord. His character grows more and more antagonistic to the Lord, and further from the standard "measure of a man that is of an angel." He takes himself away from the heavenly marriage. And he casts himself into outer darkness, or falsity.
There are two kinds of falsity, the falsity of ignorance, or want of instruction, which is excusable; and the falsity of evil, which is intentional, and not excusable. The latter is the outer (or utter) darkness, which falls upon the mind that will not love and do the Lord's truth, even when knowing the truth. Such minds "love darkness, their deeds being evil." “If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness." These two kinds of darkness are referred to in Isaiah lx. 2; "Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people." The greater the light which a man has, the greater his darkness, if he rejects that light. It is not the Lord that rejects men, as it is not the sunlight that rejects the diseased eye.
"There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." "Weeping" indicates an unhappy state of the will, because the man is necessarily made unhappy by evil, and cannot be free to carry out his desires. "Gnashing of teeth" is an uncomfortable state of the intellect, which is in violent collision with truths, and is disturbed by the light of truth.
CALLED AND CHOSEN.
"For many are called, but few chosen." Literally, this may refer to the Hebrew soldiers. All men over twenty years of age were called, or enrolled; but when war arose, these men were passed in review, and the requisite number of the most fit men were "chosen" for the occasion. And the Hebrew soldiers were called bahurim, which means "chosen."
But, spiritually, all are "called," who hear the truths of the Lord's Word. But those are "chosen," who not only hear the truth, but also love it, and do it; i. e., who have chosen the Lord's truths as their principles of actual life, For men, are not saved by knowledge of true doctrine, but by a life according to true doctrine; for it is the life which spiritually marries their knowledge and their love, and unites men with the Lord. And “they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithIul."
MANY AND FEW.
Spiritually, numbers do not express quantity, but quality. The “ few " who are chosen are those who cultivate the few necessary principles of a good life, love, faith, and obedience to the Lord. The "many" who are called, are all those who are living in the many selfish and worldly principles of evil life. Men choose their own spiritual destiny, by their manner of life. The Lord invites all men to the marriage-feast of goodness; but His gracious invitation is very differently received and treated by different men, The Lord does all that He can do, for every man. But men do not do all that they could do.
The Lord says, "And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt Me and My vineyard. What could have been done more, to My vineyard, that I have not done, in it? Wherefore, then, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? . . .. For the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His pleasant plant: and He looked for judgment, and behold, oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry."
This parable somewhat resembles the last one, on "The Wicked Husbandmen;" but that parable more especially related to the states of the understanding, and the rejection of truth: and the present parable relates more especially to states of the will, or heart, and the rejection of good.
The fact that many men do not desire to enter into the heavenly marringe of good and truth, is sadly and abundantly illustrated, in these days, by the general looseness of the outward marriage relation between individuals: for the general state of personal external marriage, in any community, will always depend on the general state of spiritual marriage, in that community. How little there is, in the social marriage relation, as generally observed, to indicate any heavenly origin. How selfish, sensuous and worldly it generally seems to be! Men and women enter into it for merely worldly motives, and thus pervert its holy uses.
And the New-Church has a duty to perform, in this matter of social marriage. We cannot control the world in general; but we can control ourselves. We can by teaching, and by example, show the relation between external and internal marriage. And, especially, we can save our children from the terrible falsities about marriage, that are now prevalent in society. We can teach them rationally to see that the man or woman who marries for any other cause than sincere and exclusive love, at who practises deceit in the marriage-relation, is taking a long step towards spiritual destruction. And woe to those who "make light" of either the external or the internal marriage; their spiritual destruction is impending, In every truth of His holy Word, our blessed Lord is calling us to the marriage-feast of heavenly life. And one of the most effective means of attaining a spiritual marriage, is a sincere, pure external marriage.
Author: Edward Craig Mitchell 1887