« VorigeDoorgaan »
they are introduced as pleasing themselves therewith, and saying, that they were “rich, and increased with goods :" though they were indeed “ wretched, and miserable, and poor, and naked.”
In a parable of our Saviour, where “ the kingdom of heaven," or the state of things under the gospel-dispensation, is likened to a marriage feast which a certain king made for his son, he wbo had not on a “wedding garment, Matt. xxii. 11, is manifestly one wbo made a profession of religion, and of faith in the gospel ; otherwise he had not come to the feast, nor appeared among the other guests. But he wanted holiness of life, or that true faith which produces good works.
Nor are we hereby to understand barely an observation of the positive rites and institutions of the christian religion. For that may be reckoned to be included in what has been already mentioned, a full profession of religion, in which this church does not appear to bave been defective. It cannot be supposed, that by “ gold tried in the fire," or a “ white raiment,” our Lord should intend no more than the observation of some external rites and ordinances. For in the course of his preaching he solemnly and distinctly declared, that “ unless men's righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, they shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven," Matt. v. 20. And if religion consist in external rites; if the observation of any positive appointments be that “ wedding garment,” which renders men fit for the kingdom of heaven; it may be said, that our Lord has but indifferently consulted the honour and interests of religion, by substituting a small number only of such appointments, and those very plain and simple, in the room of the numerous, expensive, and showy ceremonies of the law of Moses. Nor would it then be so hard to be saved, or so difficult to enter into the kingdom of heaven, and to walk in the way to life, as he continually represented it to be in his most excellent discourses.
What is this " white raiment," or the wedding-garment," we are expressly told in the eighth verse of the nineteenth chapter of this book of the Revelation, where it is said to be " the righteousness of the saints.”
That is a summary and general description of this " white raiment.”. And from the many exhortations to virtue, in the New Testament, conveyed under this similitude, it appears to be composed of all the virtues and excellences
• • That is, “ the righteous acts of the saints." So dikuwpara evidently signifies.' Doddridge upon the place.
that can adorn the life of a christian. It is therefore very frequent for the apostles to speak of“ putting off, or laying aside “ evil works” and habits, and “ putting on Christ, the habit or dress of a christian ; which is the “ white raiment” here recommended.
So says St. Paul to the Romans: “ The night is far spent. Let us cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour,” or dress, “ of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day," with a becoming decency: “not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof," Roin. xiii. 12–14. And to the Galatians.
of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ," Gal. iii, 27, the habit of a christian. To the Ephesians in like manner.
“ That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness," Eph. iv, 22, 24. And very particularly, and at large in the epistle to the Colossians; ch. iii. 8-10, and 12-14.
St. Peter has an exhortation to christian women in this allusive way: “ Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning, of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel. But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible; even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, wbo trusted in God, adorned themselves. 1 Pet. iii. 3, 4; comp. 1 Tim. ii. 9, 10. And he has an exhortation to all in general : “ And be ye clothed with humility," 1 Pet. v. 5.
This is the “ white raiment, the wedding-garment,” recommended to christians, sobriéty, modesty of speech and behaviour, tenderness of spirit, bowels of mercy, humility of mind, gentleness, meekness, forbearance, forgiveness, love, and all its works and offices, which are so agreeable and ornamental.b
IIJ. Which brings me to the ground and reason of this allusive way of speaking:
But precise exactness in accounting for such a form of speech should not be expected. Let then these few follow
They who find this sermon too long to be read at once, may make a pause here.
ing thoughts suffice for showing the reason and origin of it.
1. The allusion is partly founded in the ornament that clothing gives the body. In like manner the temper, or the practice of virtue, is exceeding amiable and ornamental, and puts a grace and lustre on men. In places before cited, Job speaks of his putting on righteousness as a diadem. And St. Peter recommends meekness and quietness of spirit as ornamental. Solomon speaks of Wisdom's rules, and obedience to them, as an “ornament of grace unto the head, and chains about the neck," Prov, i. 9.
2. This allusion is founded in the fitness and disposition for society which clothing gives to any person. Man, by his reasonable nature, is designed for society. And the first foundation of politeness is laid in the garments that cover nakedness. Without clothing no one is fit for society. A rich and becoming dress procures admission into the best company; nor is one in filthy garments dressed for a wedding feast, or the entertainment of a prince. In like manner envy, pride, conceit, and other evil affections, make men unsociable; whereas bumility, meekness, gentleness, and mildness, render men agreeable and entertaining.
Consequently this allusion serves to show, in a lively and affecting manner, the necessity of real holiness, in order to delightful fellowship with God, and admission to his presence, and the glorious entertainment he has prepared for his people.
As he, who in an improper dress intrudes into a royal entertainment, is turned out for that very reason ; so all, destitute of righteousness, will be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. A profession of religion, or a desire of glory and happiness, is not sufficient. And one may wish to partake in a princely entertainment; but with such wishes there should be also some care to be a worthy and acceptable guest. If we follow peace with all men, and holiness, we shall see God," Heb. xii. 14, not otherwise. They who add works to faith, and they only, are justified in the sight of God. And, as St. Peter assures us, if we “ give all diligence to add to faith, virtue, and knowledge, and brotherly kindness, and charity, an entrance will be ministered to us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” 2 Pet. i. 5–11.
IV. APPLICATION. I come now to the application, which will be in these three particulars; that we should bearken to the counsel in the text, and buy of Christ this wbite raiment. They who obtain this raiment ought to prize it, and likewise to keep it well.
1. Let us hearken to the counsel here given by Christ, and buy of him this white raiment.
Let us view him in his life, and in his death. Let us be at the pains of considering seriously the spiritual and heavenly nature of his doctrine, the concern he has shown for our welfare, and the end of all his humiliations and sufferings, which is, that he might“ purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” Tit. ii. 14. If we attend to these things, we shall be convinced, that he who is destitute of virtue and good works, ought to reckon himself as wretched and miserable in a spiritual sense, as he who is destitute of necessary clothing; and that we must add to a fair and open profession of the principles of religion the lustre of a holy life and conversation.
Let us observe St. Paul's exhortation to the Colossians, where he recommends so many virtues; and let us see how we may learn them of Christ, or buy of him this white raiment.
“ Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness,” Col. ii. 12. Labour after a kind and merciful disposition, and let every virtue appear in your conversation. Put them on as your clothing, without which you would not willingly be at any time surprised. And for this end consider that you have experienced great mercy from God, through Christ Jesus. He has brought you out of a state of darkness into great light, and has made you his people, who once were far off. God clothes himself with goodness, as his garment. And the ordinary course of his providence is beneficial to the human race in general ; but you have obtained some distinction by being brought into the fellowship of his son Jesus Christ. And are therefore under special obligations to do those things which are agreeable to his will.
“ Put on,” particularly, “ bowels of mercies.” If any among you are afflicted and distressed, do you, who are at ease, and have ability, sympathise with them, bear their burdens, tenderly compassionate their case, and afford them help and relief, proportioned to their exigence.
“ Put on,” also, “ kindness.” Be not fierce and severe towards
any, but be affable in your discourse, courteous in your behaviour ; show, in all things, such mildness, and tenderness, as by no means to discourage and grieve those you converse with, especially such as are of a broken and afflicted spirit.
“ Humbleness of mind.” Be willing to condescend, and to behave, as inferiors, toward those who ought to serve and honour you; even as Jesus Christ was among his disciples, and otbers," as one that serves,” Luke xxii. 27.
“ Meekness :" Not resenting every injury done you, but quietly submitting to some ill-treatment, rather than disturh the peace
your society. Long-suffering :” Enduring many and repeated offences, without being provoked to wrath and revenge.
“ Forbearing one another:" Mutually bearing with one another's failings and weaknesses, from which none are entirely exempt.
“And forgiving one another if any have a quarrel against you :" And even forgiving and forgetting injuries, and being willing to be reconciled again, though differences may have arisen, and subsisted for some time. Of this also, however great the condescension may seem, you have a pattern in God's dealings with you. And no more is expected from you to others, than you have experienced from Jesus Christ. “ Even as Christ forgave you, so do ye."
“ And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfection :" And upon all these put true, and undissembled, and ardent love; which, as a girdle, may enconipass and bind
you all about, as one body, and secure a coinplete and amiable harmony and union in the several parts of your society.
By humble and earnest prayer, by a sincere resolution to deny yourselves, as to some present advantages, by often and carefully viewing the example of Jesus, and the whole of his transactions from the beginning to the end, in his humiliation, and abasement on earth, and in his glory and exaltation in heaven, you may buy and obtain of him this white raiment, that you may be clothed, and may walk with him in white, and be among the noble and honourable of bis kingdom.
2. They who bave obtained this “ wbite rainent,” the wedding-garment, ought to prize it.
Never therefore suffer yourselves by scoft and ridicule to be put out of countenance in it. A rich and costly dress may be depreciated by those who want it. And it may excite the envy of some others. But it fails not to procure respect from many. By this clothing you are in some measure fit for fellowship with God, and Christ, and for the society of perfect spirits.
It will never cause pride in your own hearts, nor excite to a lofty deportment toward others. But the real excel