Then said he to him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:…
If I invite you to my house: "My friend, on Tuesday evening I shall be at home, amid my pictures you admire, with music which you love, gathering a circle of gentlemen whom you like: will you make one of us?" Then, if you do not care a straw for my friendship, had as lief as not I rate you a boor, you would probably return me no answer, or tear up my message in the face of the messenger, or say, "Go tell him I won't come — and that's all." But if you return me an excuse, you acknowledge our friendship and yourself a gentleman. Perhaps the above is a small class; at any rate it is not a class to be reached by kind appeals. Such persons do, indeed, become converted, but it is through some fear, by the lash, by some shock. You are, however, not of that class; you render an excuse. Observe, then; taking up my former homely illustration, which, lest I offend, we will transpose. You invite me to your pictures, music, board, entertaining. I read, thinking: "This man would do me a favour, would make me happy; he is my father's friend and mine; has seen me in trouble, coming to me: now sees me prospered, and would rejoice with me, going to him; but my feet are slippered, I am sitting at my ease, by my own grate, with Motley or Dickens. I prefer home." Is this an excuse sufficient, and would our friendship outlive such a truth-telling? No; I might lie: "I am sick, excuse me, have an imperative engagement." These society lies! — and these are good reasons, if real reasons. You cannot see my heart to detect the truth or falsehood. Neighbours, hear me, for eternity's sake, receive it. Christ's word is: "Come, for all things are now ready." Your excuse must be a sufficient excuse; and it must be an honest excuse, for He can see clean through camel's hair and silk, through Melton and broadcloth, to the secret reason written on the heart. "My business is such that I pray Thee, O Christ, have me excused." Well, let us suppose you are, in this, sincere. Is yours an immoral business? No. Do you transact it in a dishonest or otherwise immoral way? No. What, then, do you mean? I mean this: Times are hard, trade must be watched. "I am well enough off now:" and this time it is a woman who speaks. Why should she worry herself? She has a good husband; to be sure he is not a Christian, but where is a nobler man? What lacks she yet? Nothing. Good lady, may I ask, dare you put that in a prayer: "O Lord, because I lack nothing, I pray Thee excuse"? Dare you say in good English, "Lord, my heart is full. That husband! If I was widowed, childless, roofless, desolate, then I — "? You ask me if I mean to hint that you love these too much? A thousand times then, no; but that you love the Giver too little, yes. "I pray Thee have me excused, because I am good enough now; I need no conversion." Well, neighbour, that means something or nothing. Tyndall calls me to his marvellous evenings of experiment with light. It is from the point very far from me to profess a knowledge of grammar, addition, subtraction, as thorough as my neighbour. Can the great philosopher teach me ought — no matter how much I know of algebra? Christ professes to have come not to recall the righteous but sinners. They that be whole need not a physician, but the sick. And I humbly urge upon you, the purest moral man of this good audience, that this call is sent for your ears. He invites you to His heart-feast. If now you can truthfully say: "Christ, I am good enough; my soul is as beautiful as Your soul; my thoughts, are as lofty as Your thoughts; the walls of my spirit are hung with pictures as rare as Your own, and the feast of my heart at its own board leaves nothing to be desired," then your excuse means something. You ought to be excused. Indeed, you are not invited. No, ninety and nine of a hundred do not mean what they say when declaring that they are good enough, needing no conversion. It is too bare conceit. "I could not hold out; have me excused." Friend, be honest; such is not your real reason. You are not the man to undertake and fail; or to refuse to undertake what you really desire. The truth is, you do not desire to follow Christ. "I do not believe in the Book." Be honest. You have tried to disbelieve ever since you backslid, five years ago; yet you do believe in the Bible. The truth is, your proud heart will not say "Forgive."
(E. J. Haynes.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
WEB: But he said to him, "A certain man made a great supper, and he invited many people.