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a tree, and casting it into the fire, so in this the dig, tinction that was to be made, at the time of that calamity, between the believing and unbelieving part of the nation, is represented by the separation of wheat from chaff, the former of which was gathered into the garner, the latter was burned with “unquenchable fire.” The threshing floors of the Jews were built in places well exposed to the wind, and advantages were taken of strong winds for the purposes of winnowing. By the use of the "winnowing shovel,” a translation which Campbell prefers to the fan, the body of thresbed grain was thrown into the wind, wbich separated the lighter from the more solid parts. The chaff, of no value, was consumed, but the wheat was gathered into the granary
This figure was perfectiy just, and the propriety of it was afterwards shown by matter of fact. Jesus Christ did thoroughly purge or cleanse his threshing floor. The chaff was separated from the wheat. The unbelieving part of the house of Israel was separated from the believers. The former were destroyed by the fire of the judgments which came on Jerusalem, and which burned until the nation was wholly extirpated, for it could not be quenched. The latter were preserved. Perceiving the signs which Jesus had pointed out as precursors of the overthrow of Jerusalem, they fled into the mountainous parts of Judea, (Matt. xxiv. 16,) where, like wheat in the granary, they were safe from the raging element which devoured the chaff.
The more ancient Jewish writers were in the habit of representing nations about to be severely judged, as grain on the threshing floor. Thus Isaiah xxi. 10: “O my threshing, and the corn of my floor, that which I have heard of the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.” And in Jeremiah xv. 7: “And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land ; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people, since they return not from their ways.”
The phrase "unquenchable fire,” has been by some adduced to prove the doctrine of never ending punishment. If the explanation we have given of this parable be proper, (and we are supported in it by writers of the highest note who believed in endless misery,) we cannot see how this “unquenchable fire" can be supposed to exist in the future state at all. The threshing floor was not there, nor was the winnowing shovel there, nor was the operation of separating the chaff from the wheat done there; and why the burning of the chaff should be supposed to take place in some other state of existence, we cannot imagine. The husbandman generally burned his chaff where it accumulated after the operation of threshing and winnowing ; he did not think of taking it away into some other part of the land and burning it. The fire which is mentioned in the parable, was the fire of divine judgınent which fell on Judea, and it was called unquenchable, inasmuch as it did not subside until the work of destruction was fully done. But for a more full exposition of the phrase "unqucnchable fire,” see the notes on Mark ix. 43-48.
Parable of the Salt of the Earth.
MATT. V. 13.
“Ye are the salt of the earth : but if the salt have lost his sajour, wherewith shall it be salted ? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."
This parable occurs in the Sermon on the Mount, which appears to have been addressed particularly to the disciples of Christ. " When he was set his disciples came unto him; and he opened his mouth and taught them, saying, &c.” vers. 1, 2. That Jesus was addressing his disciples seems further evident from verses 11 and 12.
" Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you."
The disciples were “the salt of the earth.” Everyone knows the preserving qualities of salt. In the hot climate of Judea, it was so necessary a thing, that no meat could be preserved sweet, though but for a short tiine, without it. The disciples, from their knowledge of the doctrine of Christ, and their efforts to spread it in the world, would perform the same office for mankind that salt does for animal food; they would save men from corruption and impurity in their doctrines and practices.
“But if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? The application of this is very easy. It is a common thing for salt, when exposed to the air in hot countries, to lose its saline quality. Maundrell, in his book of travels, describing the valley of salt, speaks thus : “ Along on one side of the valley towards Gibul, there is a small precipice about two men's lengths, occasioned by the continual taking away of the salt; and in this you may see how the veins of it lie. I broke a piece of it, of which that part that was exposed to the rain, sun and air, though it had the sparks and particles of salt, yet it had perfectly lost its savour ; the inner part which was connected to the rock, retained its savour as I found by proof.” If the disciples should lose the savour of the divine word, how could they benefit mankind ? The church of Christ did in time lose its savour, and during that time it exercised no good influence upon the world. “It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." Adam Clarke gives a paragraph from Schoetgenius, which may with propriety be introduced in this place. “There was a species of salt in Judea, which was generated at the lake. Asphaltitis, and hence called bituminous salt, easily rendered vapid and of no other use but to be spread in a part of the temple, to prevent the slipping in wet weather. This is probably what our Lord alludes to in this place.”. Christians, without the power of divine truth, would be equally useless ; and would be rejected as insipid salt, or the vilest substances.
MATT. V. 14, 15. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house." -Matt. v. 14-15.
This parable, like the preceding, was spoken to the disciples; and the design of it was to induce them not to be ashamed of him and his words, but to make an open profession of their faith before the world.
“Ye are the light of the world.” They were the repositories of truth; and as truth was moral light, the disciples, as sources of it to mankind, are called "the light of the world.” As God made use of the sun to give light to the natural world, so he employed Christians to illuminate the minds of mankind by shedding upon them the rays of divine truth. Adam Clarke says, “light of the world was a title applied to the most eminent Rabbins. Christ transfers the title from these, and gives it to his own disciples, who, by the doctrines that he taught them, were to be the means of diffusing the light of life throughout the Universe.”
Jesus next refers to the importance of their shewing this light. “A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” It is supposed that he drew his figure from the city of Bethulia, which was situated vipon a mountain, in plain sight of the spot where he delivered these instructions. With this view Maundrell says, “A few points towards the north (of Tabor) appears that which they call the mount of