p. 401 Chapter XXXI.—Christs Advice to Invite the Poor in Accordance with Isaiah. The Parable of the Great Supper a Pictorial Sketch of the Creators Own Dispensations of Mercy and Grace. The Rejections of the Invitation Paralleled by Quotations from the Old Testament. Marcions Christ Could Not Fulfil the Conditions Indicated in This Parable. The Absurdity of the Marcionite Interpretation.
What kind of persons does He bid should be invited to a dinner or a supper? 4726 Precisely such as he had pointed out by Isaiah: “Deal thy bread to the hungry man; and the beggars—even such as have no home—bring in to thine house,” 4727 because, no doubt, they are “unable to recompense” your act of humanity. Now, since Christ forbids the recompense to be expected now, but promises it “at the resurrection,” this is the very plan 4728 of the Creator, who dislikes those who love gifts and follow after reward. Consider also to which deity 4729 is better suited the parable of him who issued invitations: “A certain man made a great supper, and bade many.” 4730 The preparation for the supper is no doubt a figure of the abundant provision 4731 of eternal life. I first remark, that strangers, and persons unconnected by ties of relationship, are not usually invited to a supper; but that members of the household and family are more frequently the favoured guests. To the Creator, then, it belonged to give the invitation, to whom also appertained those who were to be invited—whether considered as men, through their descent from Adam, or as Jews, by reason of their fathers; not to him who possessed no claim to them either by nature or prerogative. My next remark is, 4732 if He issues the invitations who has prepared the supper, then, in this sense the supper is the Creators, who sent to warn the guests. These had been indeed previously invited by the fathers, but were to be admonished by the prophets. It certainly is not the feast of him who never sent a messenger to warn—who never did a thing before towards issuing an invitation, but came down himself on a sudden—only then 4733 beginning to be known, when already 4734 giving his invitation; only then inviting, when already compelling to his banquet; appointing one and the same hour both for the supper and the invitation. But when invited, they excuse themselves. 4735 And fairly enough, if the invitation came from the other god, because it was so sudden; if, however, the excuse was not a fair one, then the invitation was not a sudden one. Now, if the invitation was not a sudden one, it must have been given by the Creator—even by Him of old time, whose call they had at last refused. They first refused it when they said to Aaron, “Make us gods, which shall go before us;” 4736 and again, afterwards, when “they heard indeed with the ear, but did not understand” 4737 their calling of God. In a manner most germane 4738 to this parable, He said by Jeremiah: “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and ye shall walk in all my ways, which I have commanded you.” 4739 This is the invitation of God. “But,” says He, “they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear.” 4740 This is the refusal of the people. “They departed, and walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart.” 4741 “I have bought a field—and I have bought some oxen—and I have married a wife.” 4742 And still He urges them: “I have sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early even before daylight.” 4743 The Holy Spirit is here meant, the admonisher of the guests. “Yet my people hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck.” 4744 This was reported to the Master of the family. Then He was moved (He did well to be moved; for, as Marcion denies emotion to his god, He must be therefore my God), and commanded them to invite out of “the streets and lanes of the city.” 4745 Let us see whether this is not the same in purport as His words by Jeremiah: “Have I been a wilderness to the house of Israel, or a land left uncultivated?” 4746 That is to say: “Then have I none whom I may call to me; have I no place whence I may bring them?” “Since my people have said, We will come no more unto thee.” 4747 Therefore He sent out to call others, but from the same city. 4748 My third remark is this, 4749 that although the place abounded with people, He yet commanded that they gather men from the highways and the hedges. In other words, we are now gathered out of the p. 402 Gentile strangers; with that jealous resentment, no doubt, which He expressed in Deuteronomy: “I will hide my face from them, and I will show them what shall happen in the last days 4750 (how that others shall possess their place); for they are a froward generation, children in whom is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy by that which is no god, and they have provoked me to anger with their idols; and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people: I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation” 4751 —even with us, whose hope the Jews still entertain. 4752 But this hope the Lord says they should not realize; 4753 “Sion being left as a cottage 4754 in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers,” 4755 since the nation rejected the latest invitation to Christ. (Now, I ask,) after going through all this course of the Creators dispensation and prophecies, what there is in it which can possibly be assigned to him who has done all his work at one hasty stroke, 4756 and possesses neither the Creators 4757 course nor His dispensation in harmony with the parable? Or, again in what will consist his first invitation, 4758 and what his admonition 4759 at the second stage? Some at first would surely decline; others afterwards must have accepted.” 4760 But now he comes to invite both parties promiscuously out of the city, 4761 out of the hedges, 4762 contrary to the drift 4763 of the parable. It is impossible for him now to condemn as scorners of his invitation 4764 those whom he has never yet invited, and whom he is approaching with so much earnestness. If, however, he condemns them beforehand as about to reject his call, then beforehand he also predicts 4765 the election of the Gentiles in their stead. Certainly 4766 he means to come the second time for the very purpose of preaching to the heathen. But even if he does mean to come again, I imagine it will not be with the intention of any longer inviting guests, but of giving to them their places. Meanwhile, you who interpret the call to this supper as an invitation to a heavenly banquet of spiritual satiety and pleasure, must remember that the earthly promises also of wine and oil and corn, and even of the city, are equally employed by the Creator as figures of spiritual things.
This is probably the meaning of a very involved sentence: “Quid ex hoc ordine secundum dispensationem et prædicationes Creatoris recensendo competit illi, cujus (“Creatoris”—Oehler) nec ordinem habet nec dispositionem ad parabolæ conspirationem qui totum opus semel facit?”402:4758 402:4759 402:4760 402:4761 402:4762 402:4763 402:4764 402:4765 402:4766