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THE WEDDING GARMENT.

DEAR BRETHREN BEEBE & PURINGTON: – According to request of brother A.G. McKenney appearing in the MESSENGER, July 1st, I proceed to notice the text found in Matt.22:12, “And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.” I seldom hear or read this text, without thinking of what Elder George Lumpkin once told me. He said, when he had preached on the subject the best he could, he called on an old Methodist minister present, by the name of Blanton to close, the old man rose up hastily and exclaimed, “And he was speechless! And he was speechless! And well he might be when the garments were made ready, and there in the Piazza, and he would not put one on.” In about the same way Arminians all speak of the garments of salvation, {or the robe of righteousness,} as though they were made ready for every sinner of Adam’s race, but would do them no good, unless they put them on, or comply with some conditions by which they get them on. But my brother wishes to know what I think of the text, and I will proceed to remark that the language is a portion of a parable spoken by Jesus to the Chief Priests and Elders of the Jews, who asked him by what authority he did the many wonderful works they beheld, and who gave him this authority. They no doubt wanted to get some advantage of him or catch him in his words, but he put them to silence by asking them of the baptism of John, whether it was from heaven or of men, and they answered, “We cannot tell.” Neither would Jesus tell them by what authority he did these things, but proceeded to answer them by parables, in which he represented the manner in which they had received, and treated the Prophets, {including John the Baptist,} which God had sent unto them, and also their treatment of him, the Son of God, or King of saints under the old dispensation as well as the new. First, the two sons commanded to go and work in the vineyard of their father; the first saying he would not, but afterward repented and went, the second agreeing to go, but went not; by this he showed them their treatment of John, and his preaching, which they did not believe, and now though they could not tell whether his baptism was from heaven or of men, yet they had not repented of their wickedness in rejecting him, while publicans and harlots had believed, and should go into the kingdom of God before them. He then brings up the parable of the householder and his vineyard, and his servants sent unto the husbandmen when the time of the fruit drew near, their treatment of his servants, and lastly, the householder’s Son, and their treatment of him, showing their wicked treatment to servants whom God had before sent, and also how they should treat the Son of God, and what their miserable end should be; and Jesus keeps up the same subject to the same people by another parable, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king which made a marriage for his Son.” The kingdom of heaven must be the church or people of God in a militant state under the old as well as the new dispensation. The king represents the eternal God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is represented by the Son. The first servants sent may represent the prophets and teachers, God continued to send to the Jews who were bidden, and would not come; the other servants, John the Baptist and those after him, till the time when the gospel church, under the new covenant, was fully set up, whose labors were mostly confined to the Jews or them that were bidden, and though all things were ready and they were called to the marriage, or preached to by the servants sent, and testifying that the kingdom of God was at hand, yet they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise, and the remnant took his servants and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. The King sending his armies, and in his wrath destroying those murderers, and burning up their cities, I have thought, was realized in the destruction of Jerusalem, and the awful calamity that fell upon the Jews; but before this time the king’s servants were sent into the highways, or outside of the Jewish province, to bid to the marriage as many as they should find, as those who were bidden were not worthy; so these servants went out into the highways and gathered all, as many as they found, both bad and good, and the wedding was furnished with guests. Here some difficulty arises to understand, not so much how the proclamation was general, but the servants gathering all, as many as they found both bad and good. The servants last spoken of may represent the Apostles and all succeeding ministers of the gospel. While their proclamation of the glad news of life and salvation was general, yet but few comparatively are chosen and made savingly to realize its benefits, and while these are found and gathered by its proclamation into a church capacity or into the great chamber, God’s servants have never been able to prevent impositions on the church by bad men, who occasionally have been gathered and brought in. For the kingdom of heaven, {or gospel church and its ministry in its progress,} is like a net that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind. Matt.13:47. But when the King comes, {not at the general judgment or at his second coming, without sin unto salvation,} but in his judgment, in his church here, and causing his people to pass through fiery trials, for the trial of their faith and for the thorough purging of the sons of Levi, he finds such as have only a cloak of religion, and have not on the wedding garment or the robe of righteousness which Jesus wrought, and through the faithful ministry of his word by his servants, together with the faithful execution of gospel discipline by his church, all moved by himself, he comes with authority, finds, and says to such, “Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment;” and such are speechless, or placed where they cannot speak in the church; and by commandment of the King in the execution of gospel discipline such are bound hand and foot by his servants and taken away and cast out from all church privileges into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth; for many are called, but few chosen. Of this sort John speaks, saying, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” Many have been found by the King during the last thirty years, and have been cast out through the faithful exhibition of his word, at which they have taken offense, because they could not bear sound doctrine, and have turned their ears away from the truth, and have been turned unto fables. Such begin to be manifested by first finding fault of the doctrine, and by trying to injure such as believe and preach it, by denunciations and misrepresentations privately and publicly, and they soon go to their own place, carrying as many as they can lead. I have hastily given such views as have occurred to me in connection with the subject, and leave it for the reflection of my brother, and all others interested. Praying God may guide us in the way of all truth.

Yours in love,
D.W. Patman.
Oglethorpe Co., Georgia, July 12, 1860.