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Yet though the Field was the Lord's, it was open to the intrusions of an Enemy. The Foe of God and Man contrived to sow his Tares among the Good Seed. Hence as the growth of the Church advanced, it was discovered, that corruptions were blended with the pure and genuine doctrines of the gospel, that false Christians were among the true, that Wicked men were intermingled with the Righteous.
The consequence of this intrusion is a frequent subject of lamentation to many pious Christians; some of whom in their zeal for their Master's honour might suppose it consonant to justice, that the Lord of the spiritual field should interfere in his mediatorial
government and root out all evil doers from the earth. But such a special interference, however suitable to his justice it may he thought, is not in harmony with his wisdec! and benevolence. In the common course of things the eradication of the wicked must endanger the being and well being of the righteous. Out of care for the stability and welfare of his Church on earth, he determines for a time to bear the evil on account of the good, to
endure the wicked for the sake of the SERM, righteous.
But though he may for a season be content to see mankind walking according to their own ways; some wandering into error, and some adhering to the truth; those totally neglecting his service, and these having respect unto his commandments; yet a time will arrive, when his attribute of justice will transcendantly appear. When the harvest of the world is ripe, the Son of Man shall send forth his Angels to be the Reapers of the spiritual Field : and according to his word they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and all who do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Very different from theirg will be the destinies of the Righteous : as Children of light they shall be gathered into the realms of light; and being invested with the glories of the Sun of Righteousness, they shall shine us the Sun in the kingdom of their Father.
In concurrence with this parable of the Tares among the Wheat I have to notice another, which our Lord delivered afterwards, when he was apart
SERM. with his Disciples. This also like the
former was suggested probably from the circumstance of the scene he had newly deft and of the company that still attended him. He had been preaching from a ship or fishing vessel on the coast of the sea of Galilee, and his present Hearers were his Disciples ; some of whom he had called on that very coast, when they were following the business of Fishermen.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a Net, that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind; which, when it was full, they drew to shore, und sate down and gathered the Good into vessels, but cast the Bad away. Now this is an image of our Saviour spreading forth his gospel for the reception of mankind, as also of his Disciples after him, whom from the humble employment of Fishermen he had called to the important office of being Fishers of men. sequence of whose preaching the gospel is professed by Men of every kind both Bad and Good. But at the end of the world a final separation will be made. For the singel$ shall come forth and shall
Matt. xiii. 47, 48.
şever the IFicked from among the Just, serm. and shall cast them into the furnace of v. fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
I need say no more of this similitude, since the doctrine it contains is stated more at large in the parable, on which I now discourse, of the Tares among the Wheat.-When our Lord had given his interpretation of this parable, he made this solemn call upon the attention of his audience, Iho hath cars to hear, let him hear : - who hath faculties of understanding, let him, understand, According to this admonition I would first examine the doctrine which the parable contains, and afterwards inquire into the practical improvement.
Before I enter upon the doctrine, which the parable was intended more expressly to inculcate, it may be useful to consider it in a more general point of view, as it serves to illustrate the economy of divine Providence in permitting the existence of evil, not only in the Christian Church, but in the total order of the Universe.
- Matt. xiii. 49, 50.
SERM. When we inquire into the nature and
attributes of that Power, who created and who controls the world, we cannot but regard him as a Being of consummate wisdom, justice, and benevolence. But when we look into his works, our reason is discomposed on beholding what is obvious to daily observation, that good is intermingled with evil. This problem frequently ongaged the inquiries of the Heathen Philosophers; and in their endeavours to solve it we may suppose them to say to the Creator and Governor of the world like the Serrants in the parable, Didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? Ilhence then hath it tares?
After all their inquiries the problem still remained unsolved, being far too difficult for the powers of reason to investigate. It was left for God himself to explain this question by a revelation from above. We learn from his holy word, that the fabric of the world originally came out of the hands of its divine Artificer complete and pure; and at the close of the creation it is recorded, that God saw every thing that he had mude, and behold it was very good a. This
# Gen, i. 31.